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Web Log - "Watching the pot come to a boil"

23-Dec-14 World View -- Furor in India over Muslim/Christian conversions to Hindu

UN Security Council discusses North Korean human rights crimes

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US suspected in massive North Korea internet outage


Kim Il Sung 101st anniversary in Pyongyang, North Korea
Kim Il Sung 101st anniversary in Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korea for several hours on Monday suffered massive internet outages affecting the whole country, or at least the few people that the North Korean government permit to access the internet. According to Dyn Research, which monitors North Korea:

"For the past 24 hours North Korea's connectivity to the outside world has been progressively getting degraded to the point now that they are totally offline.

There's either a benign explanation - their routers are perhaps having a software glitch; that’s possible. It also seems possible that somebody can be directing some sort of an attack against them and they're having trouble staying online."

Last week, President Barack Obama named North Korea as the perpetrator on the massive attack on Sony Pictures, and promised a "proportional response" at the place and time of our choosing. Many people suspect that this is a US counterattack, although there's no evidence of that, and it's being flatly denied by the administration.

Whether the US is actually responsible or not, if the North Koreans assume that the US is really responsible, then they may plan their own retaliation, making the situation extremely dangerous. Reuters

UN Security Council discusses North Korean human rights crimes

North Korea issued its usual litany of threats of war and world disaster on Monday, after 11 of the 15 members of the UN Security Council voted to put the issue of North Korean human rights on the Security Council's agenda. The discussion will be based on a report issued by the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year in February. The report documents North Korean crimes against humanity, including torture, abductions, forced prostitution, starvation, and imprisonment for believing in Christianity.

North Korea said that the US was using the human rights issue to overthrow the government. It also calls the dozens of defectors who fled the North and aided the commission of inquiry "human scum."

Among the Security Council nations voting in favor of the resolution were Australia, Great Britain, Jordan, Lithuania, the United States, France and South Korea. Both Russia and China voted against it, calling the resolution "counterproductive." The Security Council will be asked to vote to send North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC), but that resolution can be vetoed by any of the five permanent members, and Russia and China will almost certainly do so. There's honor among thieves. AP and Bloomberg and UN Human Rights Council

Furor in India over Muslim/Christian conversions to Hindu

Outrage is growing in India among minority groups, including Muslims and Christians, because of allegedly forced massed conversions to the Hindu religion. Indeed, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organization claims to have brought 500 people from 100 Christian families "back into the Hindu fold" in large ceremonies. At a ceremony on Saturday, all participants were given a pendant with an image of Lord Ram, along with a Rudraksh [Hindu prayer beads] necklace.

According to one VHP official:

"A yagna [Ritual of Sacred Fire] was performed and participants were given pendants with an image of Lord Ram. They discarded the pendants of another faith. We did not lure any participant."

According to another VHP official:

"Several Hindus had left the religion on account of the inhumane treatment they got. They were taken to Christianity under the influence of foreign money and other temptations. Within Christianity, they have realized they were facing neglect. Hence, many are willing to return to Hinduism. Sometimes, it would become a trend."

Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) has become an extremely contentious issue in India since the election of self-described Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi as prime minister in May. ( "24-Aug-14 World View -- Narendra Modi and rise of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) in India")

Hindutva activists supporting Modi refer to India as "Hindustan":

"Hindutva is the identity of our nation.

Hindustan is a country of Hindus.

The entire world recognizes Indians as Hindus, therefore India is a Hindu state. The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture."

However, Modi and his political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have disavowed the forced conversions. Times of India and Indian Express and Times of India

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Dec-14 World View -- Furor in India over Muslim/Christian conversions to Hindu thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Dec-14 World View -- Israel-Palestine struggle moves to the United Nations

Reader comments say that Vietnam can defend against China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel-Palestine struggle moves to the United Nations


Sisyphus
Sisyphus

The mythical Sisyphus was condemned to perform hard labor by pushing a heavy rock to the top of a hill, watching it roll downhill, and push it again, continuing to eternity. The participants in cursed the Mideast "peace process" are all like Sisyphus, in that they keep doing the same things over and over, and start all over again after each failure. And as I've written many times starting in May, 2003, the "peace process" will fail with mathematical certainty, and the Sisyphean negotiations will finally end only with a major new war between Jews and Arabs, re-fighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

In the latest chapter, Jordan, which is currently a member of the United Nations Security Council, has submitted on behalf of the Palestinian Authority a resolution formulated by France that specifies:

Several countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates, all support the resolution.

But Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is bitterly opposed to the resolution, saying, "we will not accept attempts to dictate to us unilateral moves on a limited timetable."

And the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also bitterly opposes it, saying that it presents a false view of the conflict as one between equal partners with legitimate rights and interests, it provides no punishment for Israel for failing to meet its obligations and, most important, it negates the "Palestinian refugees' inalienable right to return" to the homes of their ancestors in Israel.

At first, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas demanded a vote in the Security Council and, assuming it doesn't pass, a vote in the General Assembly were passage is all but certain, but non-binding.

However, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that if the resolution passed prior to Israel's March 17 elections, it would strengthen the hardliners in Israel's government and affect the elections.

And so, a vote on the resolution has been postponed, this time until after March 17. And thus ends the current round of labor. For the next three months, the participants can watch the boulder roll down the hill again, after which they move on to the next Sisyphean round of their task.

Middle East North Africa Financial Network (MenaFn) and AFP and Jerusalem Post and Palestine News Network

ISIS executes 100 foreign fighters for trying to flee Syria

Syria is turning into something of a roach motel for would-be jihadists who had hoped to join the fight against Syria's genocidal president Bashar al-Assad: They can check in, but they're discovering that they can't check out.

The Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) has reportedly created a military police force to penalize those who do not report for duty. Hundreds of foreign fighters have been arrested and held prisoner by ISIS, while several dozens have been executed. They've become disenchanted with the grueling fight for various reasons. Some who escaped complained that they were fighting against other rebel groups in Syria rather than against the al-Assad regime. One said, "We aren’t able to speak the truth, and we are forced to do useless things." Another said, "[If] you turn against ISIS, they will kill you." International Business Times

Reader comments say that Vietnam can defend against China

Whenever I express my belief that Vietnam's military is no match for China's, I always get reader comments disagreeing, and my latest such analysis did the same. ( "20-Dec-14 World View -- Philippines and Vietnam launch military and legal buildup to confront China")

Many recalled how the Vietnamese defeated America:

"I remember they said the same thing about Vietnam, back in the sixties. The flags on the ships bringing supplies into Haiphong Harbor will be different this time."

Another pointed to Vietnam's long history with China:

"Vietnam is no match for China?

Well, tell that to the 5,000 year history of Vietnam, and Vietnam is still Vietnam standing tall today. Certainly, China didn't learn any lesson from the last deadly anti-China riot in Vietnam. Did China shamefully pick up over 10,000 Chinese losers in Vietnam back to mainland China?

Vietnam - a country like no other, has a great history of resisting and defeating the world's great powers. Well, bring it on because the Vietnamese are ready."

Indeed, the explosive Tay-Son rebellion of the late 1770s is the most celebrated military event in Vietnamese history, when the Vietnamese troops repelled a much larger Chinese army in a brilliant battle that united the north and south for the first time. (See "18-May-14 World View -- A generational history of Vietnam")

Another reader, Emily Han, laid out an entire Vietnamese military strategy:

"Of course, if the Chinese compare numbers and incite continued Han-based nationalism so to feel good of thumping these 2 regional challengers then, yes the Philippines and Vietnam would be no match. However, given the world-wide attention and background of South China Sea conflict, Chinese aggressions are limited to at the most, "a justifiable return of foreign occupied assets" and even that will be near impossible to pull off without chain reactions:

* Australia, Japan and India will not watch and in fact are awaiting for such act to populate South China Sea with their warships, lands-based military counter-measures (India) and East China Sea's naval maneuvers (Japan), starting with a Chinese ship-lanes closure.

* Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore will step out of their faked "neutral" interested parties as they can't cover under "salami slicing" and "cabbage peeling". Minimally, they will shut down Malacca Strait as part of the economic blockade.

* To avoid the triggering of US-Philippines treaty, Chinese will target Vietnamese 29 positions with missiles launchers from warships and follow up with amphibious assault vehicles and without air forces. Strategically, Vietnam's asymmetric warfare has sufficient sustainable counter-measures for several months: every position is a self-defense line against individual landing and 9 positions have a 50-kilometers radius of coordinated defense. Within 1 hour of notification, squadrons of Su-30's and Mig's will directly engage en-route Chinese ships while awaiting arrivals of 3 Kilo submarines, 4 Gepard frigates and 24 Molniya high-speed (40 mph), shallow water (500 tons), missiles carriers (16 Kh-35) to conduct hit-and-hide tactics.

* While Chinese navy must build its offense with replenishment waves, Vietnamese goal is simply 1:1 exchange of ships, delaying landing, disrupting re-supplies and retreats (3 days to nearest Hainan base vs.1/2 day or less to Vietnamese shore)

* When Vietnam destroys or damages more than 2 dozens of Chinese warships (regardless of their own losses), the invasion will be called off and the fight will end. China, however may select to save-face by launching ballistic missiles against Vietnam's mainland targets to cause civilian casualties and claim victories - like they did in the failed 1979 cross-borders. Such move will be ill-advised as it will then, invite global interventions beyond South China Sea theater."

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Dec-14 World View -- Israel-Palestine struggle moves to the United Nations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Dec-14 World View -- After 'Pakistan's 9/11', war is declared on the Taliban

For the first time, US, Afghanistan and Pakistan will cooperate against Taliban

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan declares no more 'good' and 'bad' Taliban


Shoes lie in blood in aftermath of Peshawar school massacre (Reuters)
Shoes lie in blood in aftermath of Peshawar school massacre (Reuters)

After Tuesday's horrific attack on a Peshawar army school, in northwest Pakistan, killing over 130 schoolchildren, Pakistan is essentially declaring war on the Taliban.

The Taliban are not viewed monolithically in Pakistan, as they are in the West. Pakistan's army and the public generally approve of the Afghan Taliban, which attack American and Nato-allied targets in Afghanistan, including Afghanistan's government. And they also generally approve of the Punjabi Taliban, which attack India-linked targets, usually in Kashmir. That's why the first remarks by Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif, following the massacre, referred only to "terrorist" perpetrators, not to the Taliban.

By Wednesday, Pakistanis were beginning to refer to the attack as "Pakistan's 9/11," and were calling for a full-scale attack on the Taliban. According to Sharif:

"We announce that there will be no differentiation between 'good' and 'bad' Taliban, and resolve to continue the war against terrorism till the last terrorist is eliminated.

We have decided that all parliamentary and political leaders will form a national consensus to defeat terrorism. We have decided to draft an action plan against terrorists and act upon it immediately."

He added that "the entire region (of South Asia) should be cleaned of terrorism," and indicated that the army will conduct a massive counter-terrorism operation in the tribal area along the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan ends moratorium on hanging terrorists

He also announced an ended to the moratorium on the death sentence. The moratorium had been adopted in 2012 in the hope of a negotiated peace with the Taliban. Pakistan has one of the largest death row populations in the world, with more than 8,000 prisoners awaiting hanging.

Pakistan hanged two convicted militants Friday in the country's first executions in years, while warplanes and ground forces pounded insurgent hideouts in a northwest region bordering Afghanistan. So far, 150-200 militants have been killed in the counter-terror operation announced on Wednesday.

However, the United Nations human rights office issued a statement on Friday asking Pakistan to refrain from hangings, saying that they would not stop terrorism and might even feed a "cycle of revenge."

The Taliban have announced that the reason that they attacked army schoolchildren was in revenge for previous army attacks on Taliban hideouts, which their own wives and children. They promised more attacks on schools, and they also promised revenge for the two hangings.

According to Pakistan's foreign minister, "This has shaken the entire Pakistani society to the core, and in many ways it’s a threshold in our strategy for countering terrorism." India Times and Asian Age and The Nation (Pakistan)

For the first time, US, Afghanistan and Pakistan will cooperate against Taliban

For the first time, Pakistan has agreed to cooperate with Afghan, US and coalition forces in Afghanistan in a joint operation against the Taliban on both sides of the border.

One of the peculiarities of most of the last year or two has been that the Pakistani Taliban has been headquartered in Afghanistan, while the Afghan Taliban has been headquartered in Pakistan. This was convenient for both terror groups, because each side could conduct massacres and terror attacks and then flee across the border to the other side, thus escaping the security forces pursuing them.

Part of the new agreement still forbids "hot pursuit" of fleeing Taliban militants across the border in either direction, as that would breach Pakistan's or Afghanistan's sovereignty. However, the intention is that both the Pak and Afghan armies would cooperate in an anti-Taliban operation, so in theory the Taliban would not be able to escape by crossing the border. ("In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not." -- Albert Einstein.)

The agreement also provides additional open Pakistani approval of American drone strikes targeting Taliban officials in the tribal area. A drone strike on Saturday ago killed five militants in North Waziristan.

However, in a sign that the era of cooperation may not last, former prime minister Pervez Musharraf rose from political death long enough to blame Afghanistan and India for ordering the attack on the Peshawar school. Daily Times (Pakistan) and The National (UAE) and Dawn (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Dec-14 World View -- After 'Pakistan's 9/11', war is declared on the Taliban thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Dec-14 World View -- Philippines and Vietnam launch military and legal buildup to confront China

China's Achilles' Heel -- the law of the sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Philippines and Vietnam launch military and legal buildup to confront China


Philippine troop and Chinese maritime police boat confrontation at Second Thomas Reef.
Philippine troop and Chinese maritime police boat confrontation at Second Thomas Reef.

With China taking aggressive military actions to annex Philippine and Vietnamese territories in the South China Sea, both of these countries are building up the military capabilities, though nothing that they plan would have more than a small token resistance when facing the massive Chinese military -- until the United States got involved.

The Philippines aims to buy two frigates, two helicopters, and three gunboats for deployment in the South China Sea. South Korea, Spain, France, Italy and Indonesia are bidding on the contracts to supply the weapons.

India is planning to sell to Vietnam several warship -- four patrol boats at first, with seven more later. The sale of these warships has strategic implications for India as well as Vietnam, since India has oil drilling blocks off the coast of Vietnam. New Delhi TV and Reuters

China's Achilles' Heel -- the law of the sea

China continues a massive military buildup in the South China Sea, even going so far as to build an artificial island to use for its air force. But on the legal front, China continues to hide behind bluster.

Outside of China, there are few international law experts who believe that China's South Sea China claims, or their notorious "nine-dash-line" doctrine, have any basis in modern international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China has been nothing but evasive in response to arbitration procedures in front of the UN Arbitral Panel in the Hague, initiated by the Philippines in 2013 and later joined by Vietnam and supported by the United States. China has refused to recognize any form of arbitration, and last week missed an important deadline in submitting a statement of defense to the panel. No one seriously believes international law will affect China's vast military operation in the South China Sea, but for the time being, the law of the sea is an embarrassment to China. Straits Times (Singapore) and National Interest and VOA

China: Vietnam and Philippine militaries are no match for China

According to an analysis by China's military, the countries of the South China Sea are no match militarily for China, but among them, Vietnam is the strongest, followed by Malaysia and the Philippines.

China Military Online

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Dec-14 World View -- Philippines and Vietnam launch military and legal buildup to confront China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Dec-14 World View -- Floating weapons armories present new terrorist threats

Stock market continues parabolic climb with high volatility

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Floating weapons armories present new terrorist threats


Weapons storeroom on a floating armory
Weapons storeroom on a floating armory

The explosion of piracy off the coast of Somalia, which reached a peak between 2008-10, has resulted in a new, unexpected terror threat. The widespread privacy gave rise to a number of "Private Maritime Security Companies" (PMSCs) that a shipper can hire to provide protection for his ships from pirates.

To perform their service, PMSCs need access to large stores of weapons -- arms, ammunition, body armor, night-vision goggles, and other military equipment. Storing this equipment on land has several problems -- national governments don't like having it there, and the PMSCs constantly have to return to home port to get the equipment.

This has given rise to an explosion of PMSCs with floating armories. These are fishing vessels, tugs, patrol boats and other weapons that have been converted by private companies into floating weapons stores. Sometimes the weapons are made available to third parties for a fee, according to Mark Gray, a director of the British company MNG Maritime:

"It's not the Hilton. As well as storing their weapons, we provide hotel services for security guards who are between jobs. We have bunk beds in cabins, the kind of accommodation they were used to during their military careers. Plus two chefs, a gym on deck and the ever essential WiFi."

It's believed that there are currently 31 floating armories at the present time. Many are in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, but they might be in international waters anywhere.

There's nothing illegal about them, but they're unregulated, and the vessels that were converted have special security features. Pirates or terrorist groups could seize the weapons, hijack the weapons, or blow them up. A recent statement by the government of India says that it stood "exposed and seriously threatened due to the presence of largely unregulated floating armories with large amounts of undeclared weapons and ammunition." BBC and Oxford Research Group and Full Report (PDF)

Stock market continues parabolic climb with high volatility


Dow bounces back
Dow bounces back

As I've written several times recently, the extreme volatility of the stock market is very dangerous, because it indicates that the stock market is being used as a gambling parlor completely unrelated to the company stock shares underlying the market. As we reported ten days ago, the Bank of International Settlements has taken the same view. ( "8-Dec-14 World View -- Bank of International Settlements warns of 'fragile' and 'sensitive' markets")

The drunken euphoria that I heard from analysts today, after the parabolic 421 point surge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is a sign of just how dangerous the situation. They don't seem to realize that if the Dow can go up 428 points in one day, then it can just as easily go down 428 points in one day. And with the S&P 500 price/earnings ratio at around the astronomically high 19, well above the historical level of 14, it's only a matter of time before the stock market bubble bursts.

And that's exactly the kind of situation that triggers a panic. These swings are getting wider and wider, just as they did prior to the 1929 crash.

The stock market fell 90% following the 1929 panic, but that didn't happen all in one day. It fell 13% on Black Monday, and then another 12% the next day, but then it gained back 17% on the next two days, so by the end of the week, people were wondering whether it would recover completely. But it kept relentlessly falling, and only bottomed out in the summer of 1932, despite repeated interventions by the Fed, and repeated claims by President Herbert Hoover that "Prosperity is just around the corner."

It shouldn't be called the "Crash of 1929," since the stock stock market didn't really crash in 1929. It should be called the "Panic of 1929" since, after all this time, the day that America remembers is the day of the panic, October 28, 1929. That's how it will happen again. These wild swings will keep increasing, until one day these computerized trading computers ("algos," as they're now called) will take over and produce some sort of "flash crash," and a lot of people will lose a lot of money. That will be the panic that everyone remembers. Then the stock market will partially recover, and people will cross their fingers, but the worst will be yet to come. Detroit News / AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Dec-14 World View -- Floating weapons armories present new terrorist threats thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Dec-14 World View -- Cuba's shift is similar to E. Germany, Hungary, Poland, others

US officials say that North Korea is responsible for Sony hack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US officials say that North Korea is responsible for Sony hack


Screen shot from the Sony Pictures movie 'Annie', which hackers stole and made available on the internet
Screen shot from the Sony Pictures movie 'Annie', which hackers stole and made available on the internet

As I wrote two weeks ago, Sony Pictures suffered a serious hacker attack that's so widespread and destructive that Sony Pictures may not survive. ( "6-Dec-14 World View -- Sony suffers catastrophic breach, possibly from North Korean hackers")

US officials are now saying on background that US intelligence and the FBI have pulled out all the stops to track down the hackers, and they've pieced together the evidence that North Korea ordered the attack, although the individual or group behind the attack were not in North Korea. Analysts have been speculating what the U.S. can do in retaliation.

However, I haven't yet heard mentioned by these analysts what is possibly a more significant point. Sony Pictures may be an American corporation, but it's a subsidiary of a Japanese corporation, Sony Inc. It will not be missed by the people of Japan that North Korea has launched a major attack on a Japanese company, and their retaliation may be a lot more serious. ABC News and AP

Cuba's shift is similar to E. Germany, Hungary, Poland, others

On Wednesday, US president Barack Obama and Cuba's president Raul Castro simultaneously announced the restoration of diplomatic relations, for the first time since the Cuban Revolution of 1960 and the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. Although politicians are crowing about this and taking credit, it has nothing to do with politicians, but with generational changes in Cuba itself.

This wasn't even the most important change in Cuba. The major change occurred in 2010, when Cuba announced the end of its Communist economy. (See "16-Sep-10 News -- Cuba's seismic shift has global implications") Wednesday's restoration of relations was just the next step in a process that Cuba is still undergoing.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the 2010 announcement was an "Awakening climax," which means that a generational conflict has been settled. The announcement occurred 50 years after the end of Cuba's last generational crisis war, the Cuban Revolution.

All countries follow a similar pattern following the end of a generational crisis war:

For many countries (not Cuba), the last crisis war was World War II, which ended in 1945. Here are some examples of Awakening climaxes following WW II:

Here are some additional examples of Awakening climaxes that illustrate different possibilities:

Really, none of this should be surprising. Fidel Castro ruled for decades by demanding that the Cuban people suffer because of the evil United States. Now Fidel and his brother Raul are in their 80s, and they're simply too old and tired to continue to drive the anti-US fervor, especially because the younger Cubans couldn't care less about the Revolution. And so, Raul agreed to renewing diplomatic relations with the US.

In many ways, Iran is similar to Cuba. Iran's last generational crisis war was the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, followed by the Iran/Iraq war that ended in 1988. Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has been trying to maintain revolutionary fervor by citing threats from the evil United States, just like Cuba. If Iran follows the usual pattern for an Awakening climax, then the hardline Iranian regime will collapse 40-50 years later, or within 2008-2018, which would be within the next four years. [Correction: Sorry, but apparently I can't add. This computation is all wrong. 1988+40 = 2028, not 2008. So the time range should be 2028-2038.](Paragraph modified. 18-Dec)

Havana Times and Miami Herald/AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Dec-14 World View -- Cuba's shift is similar to E. Germany, Hungary, Poland, others thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Dec-14 World View -- Pakistan Taliban crosses a red line with mass slaughter of army children

Russia's crisis deepens as ruble falls another 11%

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Germany's anti-Islam demonstrations become too large to ignore


PEGIDA demonstrators in Dresden on Monday (Reuters)
PEGIDA demonstrators in Dresden on Monday (Reuters)

For each Monday in the past nine weeks, supporters of the explicitly anti-Islam far right Pegida movement have been protesting in cities like Dresden and Düsseldorf. (The phrase "far right" has different meanings in Europe and America.) The demonstrations have been growing in size from a few dozen to start to the 10,000 who demonstrated in Dresden. Germany's government ignored them at first, but the rapid growth of the demonstrations is forcing it to deal with them. Germany's justice minister Heiko Maas said that the protests were "an embarrassment for Germany" and that the country was experiencing a new "level of escalation of agitation against immigrants and refugees."

Pegida is an acronym for "Patriotische Europaeer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes," which translates to "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamification of the West." Much of the discontent comes from the fact that Germany has accepted a record number of refugees this year, especially from Syria, and has also witnessed the rise of Salafist movements in German cities with heavy populations of immigrants.

Many of the complaints are about the economy. One elderly man shouted: "I'm a pensioner. I only get a small pension but I have to pay for all these people (asylum seekers). No-one asked me!" However, a woman said, "I am not right wing, I'm not a Nazi. I am just worried for my country, for my granddaughter." Deutsche Welle and BBC and Getty and Pegida facebook page

Pakistan Taliban crosses a red line with mass slaughter of army children

Terrorists from Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP, Pakistan Taliban) attacked an army school in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 141 people, 132 of them schoolchildren, most of them children of soldiers. The attack, which is being described as the worst in years, is being described as revenge for the army's operations against the TTP in Pakistan's tribal area.

During the last few years, the Taliban have splintered into three branches -- the Afghanistan Taliban, targeting US and Nato forces, the Pakistan Taliban, and the Punjabi Taliban, attacking Indian targets. According to analyst reports I've heard, the army has good relations the first and third of these, but has lost control of the Pakistani Taliban.

Many Pakistani people believe that the Taliban are good people, defending their religion, and some even believe that the terrorist attacks are being perpetrated by Iran or the U.S. to discredit the Taliban. Tuesday's attack is thought to be so horrific that it will wash away these attitudes and change minds once and for all. Others point to the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in 2008 that took place just a couple of blocks from the government buildings. That was also a horrific bombing, and it was thought that this attack would change mind permanently, but instead, old attitudes took hold as soon as the initial shock wore off.

Prime minister Nawaz Sharif ran his election campaign with a promise to end TTP attacks by negotiating with the TTP. As we've described many times, these negotiations always were a farce, and were treated with contempt by the TTP. Tuesday's attack should end those attempts once and for all though, although it has been noted that when Sharif condemned Tuesday's attack, he referred only to "terrorists," and not to the Taliban.

Pakistan's major opposition politician is Imran Khan, the former cricket superstar turned anti-American politician. He's been even more supportive of the Taliban, calling for an end to American drone strikes against the Taliban, and calling for the resignation of Nawaz Sharif for allowing the drone strikes.

At the very least, this attack has infuriated the army, who are now promising blood revenge against the perpetrators. Daily Times (Pakistan) and Dawn (Pakistan)

Pakistan and Australia move from denial to shock

One of the characteristics of a generational Crisis era is the enormous state of denial about many things. Just one illustration of this in the US was the real estate bubble of the mid 2000s decade. Even though I wrote repeatedly about this bubble, starting in 2004, mainstream economists were ridiculously clueless about this, and didn't even begin to talk about the bubble until around 2009, when the real estate crisis was in full flower.

Pakistan's population have clearly been in denial about the danger of the Taliban, despite major terrorist attacks every few days. Some of the attacks have targeted Sufi or Shia Muslims, but most of them have been political, attacking the government or the army by massacring civilians. Tuesday's senseless attack on hundreds of schoolchildren in Peshawar has transformed the denial to shock.

The terrorist attack in Sydney on Monday and Tuesday has had a similar effect on the people of Australia. Australia is a peaceful, open, generous, multi-cultured and inclusive country with strict gun control laws, so Australia's sense of denial took the form of believing that a terror attack would not occur there.

Now Australians are waking up to the fact that dozens of young Australian men have gone to Syria to become jihadists.

The biggest political battle will probably be over gun control. After a 1996 gun massacre, strict gun control laws were imposed, and over a million guns were destroyed in two buybacks since then. Now it's being revealed that the number of guns is back to pre-1996 levels, thanks mainly to gun smuggling operations.

When a country's population moves from denial to shock during a generational Crisis era, then results can be very dangerous, because nationalist forces may be triggered that leads to further shocks, and then to a war. India Times and Daily Telegraph (Sydney) and Sydney Morning Herald

Russia's crisis deepens as ruble falls another 11%

Russia's desperate move yesterday, raising interest rates to 17%, seems to have backfired. The value of the ruble plunged another 11% against the dollar on Tuesday. It's now fallen 20% this week, and fallen more than 50% since the beginning of the year.

It may be that the currency crisis is now being driven by sheer panic, as Russia has several hundred billion dollars saved up in reserves. According to one analyst I heard, Russia could get revenge against the west by bailing out Russian government debts denominated in dollars, but let the corporate debts denominated in dollars simply default. Since most of the holders of Russian dollar-denominated debt are European banks and American investors, Russia could make the currency crisis the West's problem. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Dec-14 World View -- Pakistan Taliban crosses a red line with mass slaughter of army children thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Dec-14 World View -- Desperate Russia raises interest rates to 17%, as ruble and oil prices collapse

China: 300 Chinese citizens join ISIS in Iraq and Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China: 300 Chinese citizens join ISIS in Iraq and Syria


ISIS fighters (AFP)
ISIS fighters (AFP)

As we've reported in the past, young men from Asia are flocking to Syria and Iraq to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). ( "6-Oct-14 World View -- ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support") Young jihadists throughout Asia, including China, Pakistan, India, Indonesia and Australia, have been drawn by the youthful ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi to Syria to join the jihad.

The horrific terrorist attack in Sydney on Sunday and Monday have reminded Australian authorities that some 60 young men from Australia have gone to Syria to join ISIS.

China rarely releases similar figures about Chinese citizens, but did so on Monday, when state media reported that some 300 Chinese people are fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria. According to the report, these are Uighurs who have joined the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and traveled through Turkey to Syria, where they join the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP). Chinese media blame "ambiguous policies" by Turkey's government that allow easy access to Turkey through southeastern Turkey's Sanliurfa Province, and then to join ISIS:

"The fact that these extremists can easily enter Turkey and later travel to Syria and Iraq to join IS is a direct consequence of the Turkish government's ambiguous policies."

Turkey's embassy in Beijing called the claims "ridiculous," saying that they only issue passports to Turkish citizens. They blamed the governments of China and other Asian countries:

"The illegal issuance of passports and visas and customs loopholes in some Southeast Asian countries have allowed extremists to travel to Turkey and then go on to join the jihadists. If there weren't so many illegal passports and visas available, there would not be so many members of ETIM in Syria and Iraq."

Reuters and Global Times (Beijing)

Desperate Russia raises interest rates to 17%, as ruble and oil prices collapse

A desperate Russian central bank raised interest rates to 17% from 10.5% early Tuesday morning to halt the collapse of the ruble currency. On Monday, the ruble fell 10% in one day against the dollar, for a total of 49% fall this year, resulting in rampant inflation.

Prices of West Texas Intermediate oil took another plunge on Monday to less than $56 per barrel. It was just a few months ago that it was priced at over $100 per barrel.

Russia's economy appears to be spiraling out of control, in the same way that Greece's economy did a couple of years ago. The reasons for Russia's crisis are:

Reuters and Nasdaq

Russia builds a road connecting Dagestan to Georgia

Russia is rushing at breakneck speed to complete a road connecting Dagestan, its province in the North Caucasus, across the Caucasus mountain ridge to Georgia. The road construction is raising alarm in Georgia, as it will allow Russia to invade Georgia rapidly. Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, and occupied two Georgian provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The road would also establish a land corridor with Armenia, Russia’s ally in the South Caucasus, and cut off the Caspian and the Central Asian region, which is rich in energy resources, from international markets. The highway is expected to be completed by March 2015. Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Dec-14 World View -- Desperate Russia raises interest rates to 17%, as ruble and oil prices collapse thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Dec-14 World View -- Lynchings of 43 students revive the Mexican Revolution fault lines

Oil production to increase despite, or because of, crashing prices

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Lynchings of 43 students revive the Mexican Revolution


Wanted poster for Pancho Villa - March 9, 1916.  He was wanted in Columbus, New Mexico, for killing American citizens in Mexico
Wanted poster for Pancho Villa - March 9, 1916. He was wanted in Columbus, New Mexico, for killing American citizens in Mexico

On September 26, a group of 43 students in a rural teachers' college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, in southern Mexico all disappeared, while traveling to the town of Iguala for an anti-government demonstration. At first it was believed that criminals from drug cartels had abducted and killed the students. But later it turned out that José Luis Abarca, the former mayor of Iguala, working hand in hand with the police and the drug traffickers, ordered the lynchings. The 43 students were believed to be burned and dumped, though only the remains of one have been found. Abarca was later arrested by federal officers and charged with murder.

These atrocities led to violent mass protests in Mexico City last month. They are inflaming the fault lines of the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s. Mexico's last crisis war was the Mexican Revolution, running from 1910-1922, so Mexico is deep into a generational Crisis era, and overdue for a new crisis war, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics.

Mexico is like other Latin American countries in that the major fault lines are between the indigenous peoples ("Amerindians") and the indigenous descendants of French and Spanish invaders. The indigenous peoples in Mexico are the Mayans in the south and the Aztecs and Comancheros in the north. The French and Spanish descendants generally live in the center, around Mexico City. During the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s, Pancho Villa (from the north) was the leader, along with Emiliano Zapata, of the indigenous rebel insurgency groups in the south.

Ayotzinapa is in a region populated mostly by indigenous Mayan descendants. The students were called "normalistas" because they went to a "normal" college, one of those that were set up in the 1920s, following the Mexican Revolution, to help the poor indigenous people.

José Luis Abarca was born nearby in Arcelia, Guerrero. He started out poor but got into the gold business and, as a member of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), became mayor of Iguala in June 2012, despite having no political experience. He and his wife María de los Ángeles had ruled as "the Imperial Couple." Three of María's brothers were drug traffickers, but had been killed or captured.

The atrocities and massive corruption are pushing all the buttons of the indigenous activists. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Mexico is headed for a new war, refighting the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s along the fault line separating the people of European ancestry versus the indigenous peoples. This war may spread into southwestern United States, as there are Aztec descendants in the Aztlán movement who claim that the southwest really belongs to them, and was their ancestral homeland. Reuters and Vice News and Yucatan Times

Oil production to increase despite, or because of, crashing prices

Oil prices have been plunging due to increased supply from US shale production (fracking), and due to falling demand caused by a slowing world economy. The oil importing countries (Indonesia, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan) are benefiting enormously from the plunge in oil prices, while it's a disaster for several oil exporting countries -- Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria. Saudi Arabia has announced it will try to increase oil production, presumably in the hope of putting the US fracking industry out of business.

An analysis by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) that may shed some light on what's going on. Even though the price of oil is plummeting, US fracking production is going to continue increasing, though perhaps slightly less rapidly than has been previously predicted.


Oil production in 2014.  WTI is West Texas Intermediate (EIA)
Oil production in 2014. WTI is West Texas Intermediate (EIA)

The graph on the left shows that drilling permits have been holding steady, while the number of rigs has fallen slightly. The graph on the right shows that oil production continues to increase, despite the fall in oil prices.

The existing wells are backed by hedge funds and junk bonds that are now in distress because of the fall in prices. As a result, production in the existing wells will actually be increased as much as physically possible, to generate revenue at low oil prices to meet margin calls for these junk bonds.

It occurs to me that the Saudis may be in a similar situation. They may also have shaky investments backing up their oil wells, and so they too would have to keep production as high as possible to make their own margin calls.

This is a good illustration of how deflation feeds on itself, and how some deflation causes more deflation, almost as if were caused by a deflationary attitude. By the law of supply and demand, falling prices normally should cause production to decrease. But the current situation we're in, a highly leverage debt bubble, is an anomalous situation. Falling oil prices are causing production to increase, not because of the oil market, but because of the debt market, resulting in a deflationary spiral. Businesses desperately increase production and sales in the hope of making up for lost earnings, in order to meet their debt margin calls, but the increased supply simply causes prices to fall even faster, resulting in more deflation.

This is a dangerous situation because, as the price of oil continues to fall, one or more of these funds may go bankrupt, and that may cause a chain reaction of multiple bankruptcies. US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Investment Watch/Wolf Richter

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Dec-14 World View -- Lynchings of 43 students revive the Mexican Revolution fault lines thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Dec-14 World View -- The GCC honeymoon: Arab countries reach a 'historic' agreement

Pragmatic attitudes towards Israel and Iran

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gulf Arab countries reach a 'historic' agreement


Gulf Cooperation Council meeting, December 9 (AFP)
Gulf Cooperation Council meeting, December 9 (AFP)

The Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) has succeeded in getting through its summit meeting last week, apparently in relative harmony. (See "21-Nov-14 World View -- Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December")

It's being called a "historic turning point" for the GCC, with potentially far-reaching consequences, because the GCC members have stopped quibbling with each other, and have unified against their common enemies.

As I've written several times in the last few months, the Gaza war has brought about a major Mideast realignment, splitting the GCC members apart. Egypt was the catalyst for this split, at two points. First, when Egypt's army ousted democratically elected Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government, and replaced him with former army general Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, who proceeded with a very bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Muslim Brotherhood supporters Turkey and Qatar turned vehemently against al-Sisi, while Saudi Arabia supported him.

Second, when the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas began this summer, al-Sisi supported Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and turned against Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, Iran supported Hamas against Israel. This created a de facto realignment of the Mideast, with Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia plus the Palestinian Authority in alliance versus Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey plus Iran.

The newfound friendly Arab consanguinity

The reasons being given for this newfound friendly Arab consanguinity is that a unified GCC stance is necessary "to stop ... attempts led by neighboring countries to intervene in Arab affairs." The two countries referenced are:

According to the final communiqué issued by the summit:

"On Egypt, the Supreme Council reiterated its firm position in support of the Republic of Egypt and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s roadmap, stressing the Council’s full support and stand with the people and Government of Egypt in achieving stability and prosperity. The Council underscored the role of Egypt at Arab and regional levels for the benefit of both the Arab and Islamic countries."

The communiqué also indicates unanimous opposition to the al-Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria and Iraq:

"The Supreme Council welcomed the UN Security Council resolution No 2170 in August in 2014, under Chapter VII, which condemned the spread of serious human rights violations by terrorist groups, including terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, in particular the Daash and Al Nusra Front, and the sanctions imposed on individuals associated with these groups."

"Daash" is the contemptuous Arabic name for the the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL).

So everything's agreeable. Is there any trouble in paradise? The problem is that the communiqué doesn't mention Israel, Hamas, or the Palestinian Authority. The only mention of Gaza is the following:

"The Supreme Council praised the results of the Gaza reconstruction conference, which was held in Cairo in October 2014."

Well that's nice, but are all the GCC nations really going to turn against Hamas, which would make all the member nations de facto allies of Israel and the Palestinian Authority? How long is this pleasantness going to last?

Well, at the very least, we can understand the old Arab saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Eurasia Review/Arab News and Asharq Al-Awsat (Riyadh) and Saudi-US Relations Information Service

The GCC honeymoon: Pragmatic attitude towards Israel and Iran

An explanation of the GCC compromise with respect to Iran and Israel was given in a television interview by a Saudi writer, Abdullah Hamidaddin. Does Israel pose a threat to Saudi Arabia? His answer was characterized by extreme pragmatism:

"No. Israel is a troublemaker in the region, but it poses a threat to the Palestinians, not to the Saudis. This has nothing to do with the fact that the Palestinians have rights. Israel is an aggressor on many levels. It is an unjust country. We condemn the violence that we witness day and day out. I am not talking about Israel's injustice towards the Palestinians ...

It is imperative to distinguish between the two. The pan-Arabists and the Islamists believe that because Israel occupied an Arab or Muslim country, it must be annihilated as a matter of principle.

I have a different perspective. There is no doubt that Israel plundered [Arab] land, but today the region is divided into countries, one of which is Saudi Arabia. Israel attacked the land of others, not my own land. By no means am I justifying this attack, but with all its evils, it does not pose a threat to the Saudi state or the Saudi citizens."

The interview pointed out that according to the official and declared Saudi position, the Palestinian cause is the cause of all the Arabs.

"There are two reasons for this. First, there is a real problem. Israel's crisis with the Palestinians has generated a regional problem. This crisis has ramifications – although, by the way, these ramifications are highly exaggerated.

The second reason is the need to align with the general [Arab] position. King Abdullah's 2003 initiative involved complete normalization, and it was signed by all the Arabs, including Syria. People were convinced that relations with Israel could be normalized, and that we could have coexistence with it, on condition that the problem in the West Bank and Gaza was resolved.

It is in Israel's interest for the problem to remain unresolved. Israel is not a peaceful country. It is a very oppressive country towards its Palestinian neighbors, and it does whatever it can do to prolong the problem, because it benefits from it."

Hamidaddin concluded by saying that the Arabs have wasted resources attacking Israel in the past:

"No, but I want to focus on the issues that affect me. If Israel does not pose a strategic national threat, we should not treat it as if it does. ...

[Israel did not create the threats coming from Iraq and Iran.] No, it was us. Since the 1960s, when we turned Israel into a problem, we have wasted our resources. Since the 1950s, the Arabs have spent billions on the conflict with Israel, and have sacrificed hundreds of thousands of lives. The outcome is that we are in decline, whereas Israel is on the rise. If we had treated the Palestinian cause differently right from the start, we would have been today stronger and more capable than Israel, and the Palestinians would have been better off."

So is the GCC crisis over? Another Saudi columnist, Salman Aldossary, suggests that the honeymoon may not last, and that the worst may be yet to come:

"It is premature to think that the crisis has been completely resolved. We should admit that only some of the roots of the problem have been addressed. In addition, some details remain vague. Perhaps the coming months will be sufficient to demonstrate if the good intentions that have been expressed about putting the GCC’s general interests above the narrow ones of its member states are genuine. It should not be overlooked, however, that this acute crisis produced fierce reactions that went beyond those of previous inter-Gulf disputes. This was the case when some sides, affiliated with some parties involved in the dispute, lashed out at certain states or figures. These incidents will definitely not be forgiven, no matter how hard those who were responsible for them try to reach out to their brothers. There is a big difference between disagreeing with someone and registering one’s position through objective criticism on the one hand, and throwing the worst insults at someone on the other. It is true that the Gulf states have overcome their political differences and are quite pragmatic, but they do not forget personal differences and the insults that accompany them.

The GCC [has witnessed] a honeymoon period in the run-up to its ... annual summit. ... Who knows, the honeymoon may last throughout the next year. ...

It would be dangerous if the crisis returned and the wound opened once again, God forbid. In this case, the crisis would certainly be more extreme, dangerous, and complex than before, and would produce decisions whose impact no one will be able to comprehend.

May the honeymoon last forever! Nevertheless, wishes need to be accompanied by deeds."

Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be a new war between Arabs and Israelis, refighting the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Memri and Asharq Al Awsat (Riyadh)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Dec-14 World View -- The GCC honeymoon: Arab countries reach a 'historic' agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Dec-14 World View -- Stocks plunge again, as economy spirals into deflation

Russia may pause military hostilities in Ukraine for the winter

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Stocks plunge again, as economy spirals into deflation


NY Stock Exchange
NY Stock Exchange

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 315 points on Friday, capping off a brutal 3.8% fall this week on Wall Street. In Europe, Britain's FTSE fell 2.5%, Germany's DAX fell 2.7%, and France's CAC 40 fell 2.8%.

Oil prices continued their free fall, into the below-$60 range. West Texas Intermediate oil fell 3.6% to $57.81 per barrel, down 12.6% for the week.

Also on Friday, the Dept. of Commerce announced that wholesale prices (Producer Price Index) fell 0.2% in November, faster than the 0.1% fall predicted by analysts.

The fall in wholesale prices was led by a fall in overall energy costs. Those prices fell 3.1% on the month, due to a sharp drop in the cost of petroleum products. Energy prices have declined for five straight months. The gasoline index declined 6.3% in November. Home-heating oil costs fell 2.8% and diesel-fuel prices declined 3.5%. From a year earlier, energy prices were down 5.9%, according to the producer measure.

According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the plunge in stock prices has pushed the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (December 12) down to an astronomically high 18.66, down from the even more astronomically high 19.54 from last Friday (December 7). This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market is in a huge bubble that 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.

As I've been saying for years, starting in 2003, Generational Dynamics predicts that the economy is in a deflationary spiral. Since mainstream economists have been predicting inflation and hyperinflation, it's pretty clear that mainstream economists don't have the vaguest clue what's going on. Today's reports may give them pause.

One more warning: Hedge funds and other investors now have the entire weekend to think about what they're going to do next, and they may all reach the same decisions -- up or down. The major plunges of the 1929 crash and the 1987 false crash both occurred on Monday. So we may know by midday Monday whether the stock market is going to continue plunging, or whether it's going to recover in the short run. USA Today and Bloomberg and Nasdaq

Russia may pause military hostilities in Ukraine for the winter

In the last few days, Russian military attacks on Ukrainian positions in east Ukraine have markedly subsided, and Russia's state media has cooled its rhetoric on the highly nationalistic "Novorossiya" (New Russia) project, referring to all of southern and eastern Ukraine. According to Ukrainian General Staff estimates, Russian troops in Donbas currently total 32,000, including between 6,000 and 10,000 regular Russian Army personnel, the remainder being irregulars recruited locally and from Russia. But the Russian troops have avoided full scale conflict, for fear that the West would impose further sanctions. Instead, the troops transitioned to a kind of positional warfare, but have failed to make any gains against the Ukrainian forces in doing so. In particular, the Ukrainians have blocked Russian probing moves on Mariupol, and the land route from Russia to occupied Crimea.

Part of the calculation is that Russia's economy is heading for disaster. Putin’s policy of state and crony capitalism plus protectionism has eliminated Russia’s economic growth. Since July, Western sanctions have stopped all refinancing of Russian foreign debt, whether private or public. Since June, the price of oil has fallen by 40 percent and with it the ruble exchange rate. These three factors are likely to worsen.

Russia's adventures in Ukraine, while politically popular, have been extremely costly for Russia. Now that Russia has invaded, occupied and annexed Crimea, Moscow is saddled with annexation costs and providing any humanitarian aid that's necessary. In east Ukraine, Russia must provide for an estimated 3.5-4 million people that live on the territory that Russia occupies. Russia is now preparing its tenth humanitarian convoy of hundreds of trucks with food, medicines and other supplies, but these are only a temporary emergency procedure.

There's a debate among economists as to how long Russia can continue in this way. It's true that Russia has hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign reserves that it can tap, but it's also true that Russia's economy may be in a downward spiral. So it now appears that Russia is going to pause for the winter in order to consolidate its gains, and make plans for warmer weather. Jamestown and Peterson Institute for International Economics

Uganda calls for mass Africa pullout from International Criminal Court

Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni said Friday that at the next meeting of the African Union, set for January 30-31, he will propose that all African countries withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC)

"I will bring a motion to the next sitting of the African Union to have all African states withdraw from the court, then they [Western nations] can be left alone with their own court. They have used it as a tool to target Africa."

Museveni's remarks came just a few days after an ICC case targeting the president of Kenya collapsed in an embarrassing debacle. Museveni accused the West of using the ICC to destabilize African nations.

Although that ICC does appear to have targeted Africa, that's only because war crimes trials for other countries have taken place in other courts. There are trials targeting the Khmer Rouge for their alleged war crimes in Cambodia's "killing fields" war in the 1970s, but that trial is being held in the "Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia" (ECCC) in Angk Snuol, Cambodia.

There's a trial targeting Ratko Mladic for atrocities committed at the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in the Bosnian war, but that trial is being conducted in the "International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia" in The Hague.

There were trials in 1945 for Nazi war criminals, but they were held in special courts in Nuremberg, Germany. Japan's war crimes trials were held in 1946 in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in Tokyo.

So, taken as a whole, war crimes courts have certainly not specifically targeted Africa.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these war crime trials are only for political show, and will do nothing to prevent war crimes in future. AFP and Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Dec-14 World View -- Stocks plunge again, as economy spirals into deflation thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Dec-14 World View -- Palestinians threaten to halt security coordination with Israel

Palestinian Authority decides on actions following death of Ziad Abu Ain

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Palestinians threaten to halt security coordination with Israel


Funeral for Ziad Abu Ain in Ramallah on Thursday (AP)
Funeral for Ziad Abu Ain in Ramallah on Thursday (AP)

The death of a Palestinian Cabinet minister following a clash with Israeli police has caused the Palestinian Authority (PA) to make a series of threats, including a halt to security coordination with Israel.

The Cabinet minister, Ziad Abu Ain, had been participating in a confrontation between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers. At one point, an Israeli grabbed Abu Ain by the throat and pushed him. After the confrontation, Abu Ain spoke to tv cameras, and then collapsed. An autopsy showed that he had a major heart attack. The Israelis are saying that he would have had a heart attack sooner or later anyway. The Palestinians are saying that the heart attack was the direct fault of the Israeli soldiers, who caused Abu Ain to have "anguish and stress." Abu Ain was the PA Cabinet minister in charge of organizing protests against Israeli settlements and the West Bank separation barrier.

The death of Abu Ain has (further) infuriated the Palestinians, leading the PA to threaten to end security cooperation with Israel. If this occurs it will be a major big deal. It would mean that the Palestinians themselves would not take any further responsibility for any kind of crime occurring the West Bank, and that Israel, as the "occupying power," would be responsible for all West Bank security. The cooperation agreement is very unpopular with the Palestinians, because it often means that Palestinians are prevented by other Palestinians from violence and protests against Israeli settlements.

Although the PA is making this threat, it's not thought that PA president Mahmoud Abbas will go through with it. As I've written many times, Abbas was born in 1935, and survived the horrific 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that following the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Like most survivors of generational crisis wars, Abbas has literally devoted his life to doing everything possible to prevent that horrific kind of war from occurring again. As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that he will not succeed in preventing that horrific war, though he may continue to postpone it.

In this case, Abbas is well aware that ending the security cooperation agreement with Israel is a sure-fire way to create a lot more confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis, and may well be all that's needed to trigger the new war between Jews and Arabs that Abbas has devoted his life to trying to prevent. AP and CNN

Palestinian Authority decides on actions following death of Ziad Abu Ain

According to senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, in an interview on al-Jazeera, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has tentatively decided to take six actions in response to the death of Ziad Abu Ain (my transcription, sometimes edited for clarity):

The Palestinian Authority will meet on Sunday to decide how to move forward on these actions. Irish Times and Jewish Virtual Library

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Dec-14 World View -- Palestinians threaten to halt security coordination with Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Dec-14 World View -- UN says nations should make saving migrants' lives the highest priority

Wall Street sell-off deepens as oil prices plummet

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

No World View column yesterday

Due to circumstances beyond my control, there was no World View column yesterday. My apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced.

Russia deploys nuclear capable missiles into occupied Crimea


Iskander mobile missile system (Russia Today)
Iskander mobile missile system (Russia Today)

Russia is deploying nuclear capable Iskander missiles in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, which is occupied by Russia in violation of international law, unapproved by the UN Security Council. Iskander systems could be fitted with up to ten different types of warhead, including tactical nuclear warheads, which can be transported to Crimea in a matter of hours.

This is part of a project to build up Russia's existing military infrastructure in occupied Crimea, particularly associated with the basing of its Black Sea Fleet, to extend its level of control in the Black Sea region more broadly. Nato commander General Philip Breedlove has expressed his concern about what he described as Russia’s "militarization of Crimea," which received widespread publicity in Moscow. He also noted the increasing numbers of weapons in Crimea and cruise missiles, which could affect the regional military balance.

Last year, Moscow confirmed the deployment of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, on the border with Nato and the Baltic states. Combined with a deployment of the system to occupied Crimea, NATO’s eastern flank is heavily exposed to the capabilities of the Iskander. Jamestown and Russia Today (16-Dec-2013)

UN says nations should make saving migrants' lives the highest priority

UN human rights chief Antonio Guterres is calling many countries "mean-spirited" for making keeping migrants out a higher priority than saving migrants' lives. According to Guterres:

"This is a mistake, and precisely the wrong reaction for an era in which record numbers of people are fleeing wars. Security and immigration management are concerns for any country, but policies must be designed in a way that human lives do not end up becoming collateral damage."

According to the UN, there have been at least a record-breaking 348,000 "boat people" so far this year, migrants who risked traveling over water to go to another country:

Related to the increasing flood of refugees are the unprecedented numbers of countries in crisis. For the first time, the UN has declared five "Level 3" humanitarian crises: West Africa (Ebola), Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, and the Central African Republic. Many crises are centered in the Palestine region, with a population that grew from 600,000 a century ago to 12 million today -- the most rapid population growth in the world.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there are many simultaneous trends -- population growth, increased food prices, increased nationalism, increased recklessness, increased fragility of the global economy -- that are leading to a new world war in the current generational crisis era. And to emphasize the point, the BBC is reporting that 5,000 people worldwide have been killed by jihadist attacks in November alone. Euro News and UN High Commissioner for Refugees and AFP

Wall Street sell-off deepens as oil prices plummet

As I wrote a couple of days ago, the Bank of International Settlements is confirming the view that the wild swings in the stock market are similar to those that occurred just before the 1929 crash, and are extremely dangerous today. ( "8-Dec-14 World View -- Bank of International Settlements warns of 'fragile' and 'sensitive' markets")

Analysts are blaming the three-day sell-off in Wall Street stocks, capped on Wednesday with a fall of 268 points in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, on a dramatic plunge in the price of oil. West Texas Intermediate oil fell to $59 dollars a barrel on Wednesday, before closing at $61.21, and OPEC predicted reduced oil demand next year, suggesting that oil prices will go a lot lower. It's thought that the plunge in oil prices is a proxy for slowing economies in Europe and Asia.

According to one analyst I heard on Wednesday, this is a "global margin call." 15 of the 20 largest sovereign wealth funds get their money from oil, and now they're being forced to sell their assets as their oil-linked investments plummet in value. As with any broad-based margin call, this is causing a chain reaction that's affecting markets around the world.

The S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio (stock valuation index) is above 19, which is astronomically than the historic average of 14. This indicates that the stock market is in a huge bubble which, like all bubbles, has to implode at some point. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this could happen at any time. It remains to be seen whether the current round of volatility settles down. CNBC and Fortune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Dec-14 World View -- UN says nations should make saving migrants' lives the highest priority thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Dec-14 World View -- State of Palestine joins the International Criminal Court

Canada and Britain close their Cairo Egypt embassies over security concerns

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Canada and Britain close their Cairo Egypt embassies over security concerns


British Embassy in Cairo
British Embassy in Cairo

Canada on Monday joined Britain in closing its embassy in Cairo Egypt over security concerns raised by the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). According to a statement from Canada's foreign affairs minister:

"As a security precaution, and to ensure the protection of Canadian staff, we have closed our embassy in Cairo for the day. We take the safety of our personnel and our mission overseas very seriously. We are monitoring events closely and taking appropriate security measures. ... We don't comment publicly on security precaution specifics at our missions."

According to the UK government web site, "Public services at the British Embassy in Cairo are currently suspended. The office of the British Consulate-General in Alexandria is operating as normal."

The U.S. issued a travel warning, but the Cairo embassy remains open.

The security concerns are thought to be related to recent terrorist attacks in Egypt, and threats by ISIS. The concerns were heightened by a suspicious yellow powder sent to multiple Western consulates in Istanbul, Turkey.

According to an Australian travel advisory:

"Reports of early December, 2014, indicate that terrorists may be planning attacks against tourist sites, government ministries and embassies in Cairo."

Decision on whether to reopen the embassies are being made on a day by day basis. Globe and Mail (Ottawa) and UK Government

State of Palestine joins the International Criminal Court

Carrying through on his threat, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) with observer status on Monday. In doing so, the PA came one step closer to seeking membership in the ICC in order to bring war crimes accusations against Israel for the Gaza war earlier this year. At present, Palestine has the same observer status as the US, Russia, China, India or any other country that is not a signatory of the Rome Statute.

However, if the ICC takes jurisdiction over crimes committed in the Israel-Palestine conflict, then both sides would have to be held accountable. The Palestinians would have to deal with the following problems:

For those reasons, Abbas may completely avoid making charges related to the Gaza war and, instead, accuse Israel of human rights violations in the West Bank. Al Jazeera and Open Democracy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Dec-14 World View -- State of Palestine joins the International Criminal Court thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Dec-14 World View -- Bank of International Settlements warns of 'fragile' and 'sensitive' markets

Israel's warplanes strike Syria, in areas near Damascus

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel's warplanes strike Syria, in areas near Damascus


Hezbollah-provided picture of Sunday's Israeli air strike (Al Arabiya)
Hezbollah-provided picture of Sunday's Israeli air strike (Al Arabiya)

Syria said on Sunday that Israel's warplanes had bombed areas near Damascus international airport and in the town of Dimas, near the border with Lebanon. Syrian state media said that messages had been sent to the United Nations demanding sanctions against Israel:

"The messages read that Israel has committed a heinous crime against the sovereignty of Syria as Israeli warplanes attacked two safe areas in al-Dimas and near Damascus International Airport in Damascus Countryside, causing material damage in a number of institutions there.

The Ministry stressed that the attack is in the framework of extending help and support to the armed terrorist groups in Syria, especially after the series of achievements made by the Syrian army in Deir Ezzor, Aleppo, Daraa and other areas. ...

The attack reflects the Israeli explicit involvement in supporting the armed terrorist groups in Syria, on top of which Jabhat al-Nusra, along with well-known regional and western countries."

Israel and Syria have been in a state of war since 1948. Israel refused comment on the accusations.

It's thought that Israel was striking advanced weaponry or chemical weapons held by the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and in transit to Hezbollah in Lebanon for use in attacking Israel. However, a Lebanese TV correspondent reported that Israel struck 10 crucial intelligence-linked locations in Syria that belong to Iran. SANA (Syria) and Jerusalem Post and Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia)

Egypt continues building buffer zone on Sinai border with Gaza

Schools in Egypt's North Sinai region along the border with the Gaza Strip are reopening after ten days closure due to Egypt's counter-insurgency operations in the area.

Egypt's army is attempting to eliminate "once and for all" the threat from Hamas terrorists from Gaza, following a massive October 24 terrorist attack with a car bomb that killed 33 Egyptian troops. Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi labeled the attack an existential threat to Egypt, and ordered that a buffer zone be built along the border with Gaza with the objective of eliminating the smuggling tunnels under the wall that separates Gaza from Sinai.

The original plan was that the buffer zone would be 500 meters (1/2 km) wide and 13.5 km along the border. However, several days ago Egypt announced that it would double the width of the buffer zone to 1 km. According to the state news agency:

"A decision was taken to increase the buffer zone along the border in Rafah to one kilometer. The decision ... came after the discovery of underground tunnels with a total length of 800 to 1,000 meters."

Egypt has been demolishing homes in Sinai along the Gaza border in order to make room for the buffer zone. Egypt originally announced that 802 homes were to be demolished and 1,156 families to be relocated. With the doubling of the width of the buffer zone, it's assume that 1600 homes will be demolished and 2300 families displaced and relocated.

There has been little international condemnation or interest in Egypt's plan to demolish 1600 homes. However, there has been a great deal of international condemnation when Israeli forces demolished the home of Abdelrahman Shaludi, a terrorist who had purposely plowed his car into pedestrians on October 22, killing two people. Daily News Egypt and Daily News Egypt (18-Nov)

Bank of International Settlements warns of 'fragile' and 'sensitive' markets

Last week, on one of days when the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a fresh all-time high, I heard one of the male anchor on CNBC say something like: "The Dow Jones has reached an all-time high 48 times this year. That's the highest number since 1929." The female anchor said, "What are you saying????" and quickly changed the subject.

In fact, the near-parabolic spike in stock prices is only one of the ways that Wall Street is signaling danger. According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) on Friday (December 5) has shot up to 19.54. This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market is in a huge bubble that could burst at any time.

On October 16, I warned that wild stock market swings, which are similar to the wild swings that occurred in October 1929, were particularly dangerous, because the next wild swing could be sharply downward by hundreds of points.

Now the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) is confirming this view in its quarterly report:

"These abrupt market movements (in October) were even more pronounced than similar developments in August, when a sudden correction in global financial markets was quickly succeeded by renewed buoyant market conditions.

This suggests that more than a quantum of fragility underlies the current elevated mood in financial markets. Global equity markets plummeted in early August and mid-October. Mid-October's extreme intra-day price movements underscore how sensitive markets have become to even small surprises."

The BIS pointed out that the US dollar has been strengthening significantly in recent weeks against the euro, the yen, and other emerging market currencies. This is happening because the Federal Reserve is cutting back on quantitative easing ("printing money"), at the same time that the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) have been significantly increasing their quantitative easing programs. On Friday, there was an unemployment report of a larger-than-expected rise in U.S. jobs in November, and this sent the dollar to multi-year highs against the yen and euro.

Many companies in emerging economies have been going increasingly into debt, just as American companies did in the mid-2000s, leading to the financial crisis. However, many of the emerging market company debts are denominated in dollars, and so a significant strengthening of the dollar means, in effect, that the amount owed is growing substantially, relative to the country's own currency. This could force these businesses into bankruptcy, creating a chain reaction of further bankruptcies. Also, it could force many hedge funds and businesses to liquidate their assets, such as stocks and bonds, in order to pay their debts, causing a chain reaction of asset sales, causing a stock market plunge.

According to one currency analyst, Kit Juckes at Sociéte Générale, this could have an effect as early as Monday morning:

"It's the warning that the rising dollar could bring more (emerging markets) trouble in its wake - as it did in the 1990s - that is going to challenge FX [foreign exchange] markets tomorrow [Monday] morning while we're all thinking about what the U.S. non-farm payroll data mean for Fed rate hike timing."

Reuters and AFP and Bank of International Settlements (BIS)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Dec-14 World View -- Bank of International Settlements warns of 'fragile' and 'sensitive' markets thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Dec-14 World View -- Obama orders 1000 more troops for Afghanistan

Britain will open a new military base in Bahrain

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain will open a new military base in Bahrain


The base will be an expansion of Bahrain's Mina Salman port, with limited facilities that Britain has been using since 1971
The base will be an expansion of Bahrain's Mina Salman port, with limited facilities that Britain has been using since 1971

Britain and Bahrain announced a deal for Britain to open a new military base in Bahrain. The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is also based in Bahrain, and Britain has been sharing some of its facilities. This new agreement will permit Britain to substantially expand its presence in the Mideast. Britain closed all is major bases east of the Suez canal following major defense spending cuts in 1971, so this agreement marks the first permanent base in the Mideast since then. According to Britain's defense secretary:

"This new base is a permanent expansion of the Royal Navy's footprint and will enable Britain to send more and larger ships to reinforce stability in the Gulf."

Immediate plans including using the new facilities in the fight against ISIS. The US has been escalating its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it appears that Britain is doing so as well. Guardian (London) and AFP

Obama orders 1000 more troops for Afghanistan

Outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced on Saturday that the administration is increasing by 1,000 the number of soldiers that the US will keep in Afghanistan next year. Hagel noted that there has been a particularly violent surge of Taliban attacks in Kabul recently. "The recent wave of Taliban attacks has made it clear that the international community must not waver in its support for a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan," he said.

President Obama had promised to have all US troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of 2014. He brought in anti-war politician Hagel as Secretary of Defense in order to complete the withdrawal, but circumstances, especially the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), have forced him to order American troops to re-enter Iraq, and then to continually increase the US presence. ( "8-Nov-14 World View -- Obama sharply escalates U.S. involvement in Iraq war") It now appears that increased Taliban violence is beginning to force a similar escalation in Afghanistan. Reuters and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Dec-14 World View -- Obama orders 1000 more troops for Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Dec-14 World View -- Sony suffers catastrophic breach, possibly from North Korean hackers

Mahmoud Abbas blames Gaza war on lies by Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sony suffers catastrophic breach, possibly from North Korean hackers


Publicity poster for Sony's movie 'The Interview'
Publicity poster for Sony's movie 'The Interview'

You may have read some news reports that hackers broke into Sony Pictures's computer network, downloaded some movies and made them available for free online. According to the reports, North Korean may have perpetrated the hacks in retaliation for the pending release of a move, "The Interview," which is a comedy that mocks North Korea's easily mockable president Kim Jong-un. North Korea has previously reacted to news about the film by threatening war.

It turns out that the hacker breach was far more serious than the release of a couple of movies, and is so widespread and destructive that Sony may not survive. The hackers downloaded a dozen terabytes of data, including substantial corporate data and intellectual property. The data included employee salaries, performance reviews, criminal background checks, passwords, RSA tokens, global network maps, email accounts, and 47,000 Social Security numbers. The hackers are releasing much of that data online. The data includes everything that a hacker would need to compromise Sony all over again, in the manner of their choosing.

As bad as that is, it goes far beyond even that to wholesale large-scale system destruction. The hackers released malware designed to completely erase all data files throughout Sony's entire network, including servers and PCs.

The attack was so vicious and so personal that it may well have been a North Korean attack. However, the hackers had customized the malware with specific knowledge of Sony's internal networks, indicating that the hackers may have had help from an insider, someone like the American traitor Snowden.

Other corporations are looking on the Sony situation with horror, because they know that they could be next. They're appalled at the seeming ease with which the hackers entered the system, the sheer volume of data that was released, and the amount of destruction that was wrought. Any corporation that hasn't been worried about cybersecurity in the past should start worrying now. Dark Reading and Bloomberg and BBC

Mahmoud Abbas blames Gaza war on lies by Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on November 30 gave a lengthy interview on his strategy for dealing with Israel, Egypt and Hamas. He repeated many things we've described before -- plans to gain worldwide recognition for the State of Palestine, plans to bring war crime charges against Israel, opposition to the plan to declare Israel a "Jewish state," as that would degrade positions of the Arab Israelis.

Abbas also laid out how the Gaza war began. As we've written in the past, three Israeli teenagers were abducted on June 10, and their dead bodies were found on June 30. This triggered a spiral of violence that led to the Gaza war, and further violence in Jerusalem since then. Israel accused Hamas of the murders of the teens, and Hamas denied it. Abbas says that it was this lie by Hamas that led to the war:

"We agreed [with Hamas] that we would establish the [unity government between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah], but that it would not include a single member of the Hamas movement. This government was sworn in on June 2,.[2014], and exactly ten days later, on June 12, they kidnapped the three settlers [near] Hebron. I tried to avoid creating a crisis. I spoke with [Hamas political bureau head] Khaled Mash'al and asked him whether Hamas had anything to do with the kidnapping of the settlers, and he said: We have nothing to do with it. I wanted him to confirm it again, and he swore by Allah that they had nothing to do with it. I told him: I believe you. That was in Doha.

Then the war in Gaza broke out, and I visited Qatar and Turkey to consult [with them] about the Egyptian initiative. I had a meeting with the Emir of Qatar, and I asked him [to hold a meeting] attended by the Hamas leadership and by members of the movement who were in Qatar. Before this meeting [was held], Hamas member Salah Al-'Arouri officially declared from Istanbul that it was Hamas that had kidnapped the three settlers and killed them, in order to promote Hamas's attempt to mobilize the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Then I asked Mash'al again about those involved in the affair, and he said that Al-'Arouri had spoken for himself, not for Hamas.

I want to say here that no one lies more than them [Hamas] and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). I am not against Islam, but I am against the MB. I am a good Muslim – I fast, I pray, and I read the Koran – while they are a bunch of liars...

Because of Hamas's lie, this regrettable Gaza war broke out. I phoned the Egyptian president and asked him to submit a proposal to stop the war. I clarified that [such] an initiative would save the Palestinian people, and that it was the entire Palestinian people that was asking him to do this, not Hamas. [I explained this because] I sensed from his words that he wanted nothing whatsoever to do with Hamas. President Al-Sisi met my request, and the Egyptian initiative was proposed. They [had to] propose it for 51 days, because of Hamas's obstinacy, and during this time the land [Gaza] was completely destroyed. On the last day [of the war], Hamas members begged me to declare a ceasefire with no reservations or conditions, after many had already been killed and wounded and Gaza was in ruins.

During the 50-day war, everyone spoke out against me, first of all Fatah. I told them that I am not willing to destroy the West Bank and Ramallah. Hamas, for example, killed three [Israelis], and it wanted an intifada, and I did not respond... At the end of the war, my men told me: You were right. Had we acted like them [i.e., like Hamas], the [entire] land would have been ruined..."

I wondered why Hamas did not accept the reconciliation from the outset, instead of [allowing] the destruction that was caused in the [Gaza] Strip. The same thing happened when they blew up the homes of the Fatah leaders in Gaza recently [on November 7], but claimed that they were not involved in this and that they were investigating the incident. They are liars."

Abbas simply can't understand why Hamas leaders seem to want a war that would destroy Gaza when he does not, but this is exactly the kind of thing that Generational Dynamics explains. Abbas was born in 1935, and lived through the horrors of the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. He says, "Had we acted like [Hamas], the entire land would have been ruined." How did he know that? Because the entire land was ruined by the 1948 war.

The Hamas leaders are young, and have no personal memory of the horrors of the 1948 war. They look at Iran's 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, where a popular uprising overwhelmed the existing government, and installed a hardline Shia government. Using that as a model, they believe that a war with Israel would bring about a popular uprising that would destroy the state of Israel, and put a hardline Sunni government -- governed by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood -- in charge of all the Palestinian territories -- that is, the State of Palestine.

Generational Dynamics predicts that a new war between Jews and Arabs will in fact take place, though it may not turn out exactly as the Hamas leaders hope. The state of Israel may or may not survive, but the Hamas government may not survive either. One thing is pretty certain: That Abbas's worst fears will come true, and the entire land will be ruined. And the Hamas leaders, if they survive, will almost certainly be sorry that the war ever started. MEMRI

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Dec-14 World View -- Sony suffers catastrophic breach, possibly from North Korean hackers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Dec-14 World View -- AQAP in Yemen bombs Iranian ambassador's house, killing six

AQAP in Yemen threatens to kill journalist not saved by failed US rescue attempt

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

AQAP in Yemen bombs Iranian ambassador's house, killing six


Aftermath of bombing of Iranian ambassador's home in Sanaa Yemen (Reuters)
Aftermath of bombing of Iranian ambassador's home in Sanaa Yemen (Reuters)

A car bomb exploded near the home if Iran's ambassador to Yemen on Wednesday, killing six people and injuring seventeen. Hossein Niknam had only just become Iran's ambassador a few days before, and was apparently the target of the bombing, though he was not at home and was unharmed.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has claimed responsibility for the attack. In addition, their statement boasted that "despite the security precautions put in place by the Yemeni regime forces and the Houthi political committees, the mujahideen managed to park the explosive laden vehicle and detonate it at 9:02 am (local time)."

Sectarian Sunni versus Shia violence has been growing in Yemen ever since the Iran-backed Shia Houthi tribes from northern Yemen invaded the capital city Sanaa in September and took control of the government. On October 9, a suicide bomber struck a Houthi checkpoint, killing 47 people. AQAP are still holding embassy staffer Nour Ahmad Nikbakht who was abducted in July last year. Saba News (Yemen) and The National (UAE) and Long War Journal

AQAP in Yemen threatens to kill journalist not saved by failed US rescue attempt

AQAP has threatened to kill 33-year-old Luke Somers, an American photojournalist born in Britain, whom AQAP kidnapped in September, 2013 from Sanaa, the capital city of Yemen.

US officials have for the first time public acknowledged a failed attempt to rescue Somers last month. According to the White House:

"As soon as the US government had reliable intelligence and an operational plan, the president authorized the Department of Defense to conduct an operation to recover Mr Somers. Regrettably, Luke was not present."

However, in the assault on a cave, US and local security forces rescued six Yemenis, a Saudi and an Ethiopian, and killed seven Al Qaeda kidnappers.

AQAP commander Nasser Bin Ali Al Ansi issued a video condemning the American "stupidities" -- attempts to rescue abducted hostages, and gave Washington three days to meet al-Qaeda's demands or "otherwise, the American hostage held by us will meet his inevitable fate." The video does not specify the demands, but says that Washington is aware of them. Reuters and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Dec-14 World View -- AQAP in Yemen bombs Iranian ambassador's house, killing six thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Dec-14 World View -- Nigeria mobilizing thousands of vigilantes to fight Boko Haram

Iran strongly denies it's targeting ISIS with airstrikes, despite video

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria mobilizing thousands of vigilantes to fight Boko Haram


Vigilante fighter in Nigeria (AP)
Vigilante fighter in Nigeria (AP)

The Nigerian terror group Boko Haram continues to abduct schoolgirls and to take control of entire villages in the northeastern state of Adamawa, especially near the border with Cameroon. Nigeria's army continues to appear to be helpless against Boko Haram, and some reports indicate that soldiers have been shedding the uniforms and fleeing when Boko Haram approaches.

Authorities in Adamawa now say they're implementing their own plan. They plan to mobilize some 4,000 vigilantes from the local villages. Bala James Nggilari, the governor of Adamawa, said:

"The vigilantes and hunters are local people, local boys who know the terrain. When you bring a soldier from Bayelsa [in southern Nigeria], for example, who is coming here for the first time he doesn't know the terrain.

The people we are fighting are also part of the local community. There is nothing on their forehead that says 'insurgent' but these local hunters are familiar with them, they know them, they have the native intelligence which the regular army may not have."

These vigilantes, in cooperation with the army, have already retaken several towns that Boko Haram has captured.

Boko Haram is afraid of these vigilante groups, according to one resident. The local men know some of the insurgents personally and would be able to identify them to security forces. For Boko Haram to operate freely, "they must be sure they overcome those vigilante groups."

Boko Haram last week attacked Damasak, a town on the Cameroon border, killing dozens of people. There is evidence that this attack was a revenge attack against the town's young men who have been joining anti-Boko Haram vigilante groups. BBC and VOA

Iran strongly denies it's targeting ISIS with airstrikes, despite video

There has been video on al-Jazeera and elsewhere of Iranian war planes striking ISIS targets in Iraq, and also of Iranian special forces on the ground in Iraq. American officials have confirmed it. And yet, Iran's foreign ministry has firmly denied any Iran military presence in Iraq against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL).

The situation is embarrassing for both America and Iran. American officials have insisted strenuously that America and Iran are not cooperating or coordinating air strikes or any other military action in Iraq, and that that Iraq government was responsible for an coordination of the two air forces that might be necessary, presumably to make sure, for example, that American and Iranian war planes don't crash into each other. That's because the administration doesn't want to be seen as cooperating in any way with Iran.

It's even worse for the Iranians. The Iranian leadership, starting on top with the delusional Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, blames everything on "the Zionist regime" (Israel) and the "minions of Arrogance" (America). To show even the slightest cooperation with either the Zionist regime or the minions of arrogance would undermine the entire purpose of his daily rants. In fact, I suspect that the entire government might collapse if he admitted to cooperating with the Americans.

There's another reason. Iran and Iraq fought a generational crisis war in the 1980s, climaxing in 1988. Iraqi Sunnis do not trust the Shia Iranians in any way, and one of the reasons that many of them have joined ISIS is because they believe that Iraq's Shia government in Baghdad is in league with Iran -- which is undoubtedly true. To admit that Iranian warplanes were bombing targets in Iraq would only further infuriate the Iraqi Sunnis. The bombing is also making Iran's Sunni enemies in Saudi Arabia and Qatar nervous.

Still, more and more commentators are noting the irony of Iran and American working together to oppose ISIS. I wrote ten years ago that American and Iran would be allies in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, and we're seeing that prediction come closer and closer to confirmation almost every week. With Iran now bombing Sunni targets in Iraq, it would take only one or two miscalculations to turn this into a broader sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias. Mehr News (Tehran) and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Dec-14 World View -- Nigeria mobilizing thousands of vigilantes to fight Boko Haram thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Dec-14 World View -- Wife and son of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi captured in Lebanon

Kenya's government in crisis after al-Shabaab kills 36 Christians

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya's government in crisis after al-Shabaab kills 36 Christians


Soldiers of Kenyan Defense Forces look over the bodies of some 36 Kenyans killed by al-Shabaab on Tuesday (AP)
Soldiers of Kenyan Defense Forces look over the bodies of some 36 Kenyans killed by al-Shabaab on Tuesday (AP)

On Tuesday, al-Shabaab terrorists killed 36 mainly Christian miners working in a quarry in northern Kenya, near the border with Somalia. The 60 or so workers were asked to recite the Shahada, an Islamic creed declaring oneness with God. Those who couldn't were shot and killed.

This follows a similar incident that occurred on November 22, when Al-Shabaab terrorists forced a bus carrying 60 passengers to stop. They asked the passengers to recite Koranic verses, and those who were unable to do so were lined up and then killed. 28 people were killed, 19 men and 9 women.

Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta has been facing growing criticisms ever since al-Shabaab terrorists attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last year, killing 67 people. Facing a political crisis, Kenyatta on Tuesday announced a government shakeup, and replaced two of his top security chiefs.

Other Christians working in the same area are in dread for their lives. Many of them have no money and are in debt, so they're unable to leave the area. ("You load 16 tons, and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter don't you call me, cause I can't go - I owe my soul to the company store." - Tennessee Ernie Ford) Standard Media (Kenya) and AP and Bloomberg

Wife and son of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi captured in Lebanon

Officials in Lebanon's army say that they've arrested the wife and son of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the self-describe caliph and leader of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). The pair were arrested ten days ago as they tried to enter Lebanon from Syria. The arrests were made in conjunction with American and Western intelligence sources. It's believed that authorities waited ten days to announce the capture in order to have time to interrogate the pair and get information that could be used for a surprise attack on ISIS or al-Baghdadi himself. For example, she might know where al-Baghdadi is now, or what routes he uses to travel around.

The name of the captured woman is Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi. It's unclear whether she actually is one of al-Baghdadi's three wives, or whether she's a former wife, or whether she's really married to some other jihadist unrelated to al-Baghdadi. There are also questions about whether the child who was captured was a boy or a girl. And if al-Dulaimi is al-Baghdadi's wife, then why was she coming to Lebanon? Was it to escape from al-Baghdadi, for whatever reason?

Whether al-Dulaimi knows enough to provide useful intelligence is unknown, but her greatest value may be as a bargaining chip to win the release of 26 Lebanese security personnel previously kidnapped by ISIS. Daily Star (Beirut) and Daily Star (Beirut) and CNN and Time

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Dec-14 World View -- Wife and son of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi captured in Lebanon thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Dec-14 World View -- World Food Program terminates aid to 1.7 million Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees increasingly threaten regional stability

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

World Food Program terminates aid to 1.7 million Syrian refugees


Syrian refugee camp
Syrian refugee camp

Some 1.7 million Syrian refugees, who have depended on the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to provide food vouchers so that they can eat at least one meal a day, are now going to have to go without that food. The WFP food voucher program has been shut down as of December 1 for lack of funding, just as winter is approaching.

Every month, the UN feeds over four million people inside Syria, and almost two million more now sheltered in other countries. The food voucher program allowed 1.7 million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt to purchase food in local stores.

Many countries have pledged money to the WFP without honoring their pledges. That lack of honor is not true of the United States which has given almost $1 billion to the WFP for its operations with Syrians since the conflict started, including a donation last week of $125 million. But that money covered food vouchers issued in November, and was not enough to stave off the end of food vouchers on December 1.

The food voucher money not only allowed refugees to purchase food, but it also provided cash that traveled through the community to create jobs and business opportunities. The loss of this funding, especially with the cold winter approaching, is going to mean increased instability in a region where instability is growing on a daily basis anyway.

Syria's refugees are currently the world's largest humanitarian disaster, but not the not the only one. Recently, the WFP was forced to cut food rations for the half-million Sudanese and Somalian refugees in Kenyan refugee camp. The Ebola crisis in West Africa is creating food shortages for more than a million people. The growing millions of people in crisis are overwhelming United Nations' aid agencies to the point where they can no longer operate effectively. CS Monitor and LA Times

Syrian refugees increasingly threaten regional stability

It's been personally astonishing to me to see the Syrian conflict unfold from peaceful demonstrations into a proxy war threatening the region and the world.

The Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) is a creation of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and his supporters, including Russia's president Vladimir and Iran's Supreme Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. These are all war criminals because they participated in and supported wholesale genocide against innocent Syria Sunnis. Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad has flattened entire Sunni villages with Russia's heavy weapons, he's killed children by sending missiles into exam rooms and bedrooms, he's killed dozens with sarin gas, and he's killed countless more with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas. In addition, he's used electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on tens of thousands of prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale, and does with complete impunity, and in fact with encouragement and support from Russia and Iran.

When I was growing up in the 1950s, it was hard for me to understand how Hitler and Stalin could have gotten away with what they had done, and why they had so many supporters. I remember asking my mother that very question and not getting a satisfactory answer. Now I understand why, as I see the sycophants of al-Assad and Putin defend their horrific actions. And the sycophants have been rewarded. Al-Assad's genocidal actions against innocent protesting Sunnis have encouraged jihadists from around to world to join ISIS and other jihadist organizations. We can now see how stupidity brings about disaster.

When refugees began crossing borders in 2011, they were treated with sympathy and given the aid that they needed. But as the hundreds of refugees have grown into thousands, then tens of thousands and then hundreds of thousands, their welcome has worn thin, and they're straining the resources of the neighboring countries. Syrians are willing to work for low wages, forcing everyone's wages down. Rents are rising because of the refugees, and schools and hospitals are becoming crowded. The refugees complain of discrimination, abuse, and sexual exploitation by landlords and merchants.

And there's no end in sight. Apparently nobody is going to stop al-Assad and his chemical-weapons-laden barrel bombs being dumped on neighborhoods filled with innocent women and children. So there's really no expectation that the refugee crisis will end anytime soon. Al-Assad and Putin will continue with mass murder, and ISIS will continue to become more powerful.

Lebanon has attempted to enforce new measures aimed at limiting the number of Syrians entering the country. These new measures have reduced the influx of refugees, but rights groups have denounced the measures, claiming that they violate international law.

Jordan is a small country, but it's hosting 1.2 million Syria refugees. The Syrians are the third big wave of refugees to enter Jordan since independence in 1946. First came the Palestinians – those who lost their homes when Israel was created in 1948, and a second exodus in the wake of the 1967 war. Iraqis arrived in 1991 and again in 2003. Now the Syrian refugees have done it again.

Like Lebanon, Jordan is closing its border to all but a small number of further Syrian refugees. This is motivated largely by security needs. The refugees are coming from regions of Syria under control of ISIS, and there's a danger that ISIS terrorists will enter Jordan pretending to be refugees. VOA and Guardian (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Dec-14 World View -- World Food Program terminates aid to 1.7 million Syrian refugees thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Dec-14 World View -- Arab League agrees on plan to 'end Israeli occupation' of Palestine

Hong Kong police clash with protesters, worst violence in weeks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong police clash with protesters, worst violence in weeks


Protesters clash with police officers on the main road outside government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sunday (AP)
Protesters clash with police officers on the main road outside government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sunday (AP)

Police used batons and pepper spray to beat back pro-democracy protesters trying to surround government headquarters in Hong Kong. Protesters yelled "I want true democracy!" and "Surround the headquarters. Paralyze the government." Protesters wore surgical masks, hard hats and used umbrellas -- which have come to symbolize the pro-democracy movement -- to shield themselves from the pepper spray, and pelted the police with water bottles and other objects. The clashes began on Sunday and continued through the night into Monday. The protests had been simmering down recently, but this was the worst violence in weeks. 40 protesters were arrested.

The renewed violence comes just one day after Taiwan's pro-Beijing governing party (KMT) had a disastrous election loss, giving power to Taiwan's pro-independence opposition party (DPP). ( "30-Nov-14 World View -- Taiwan voters choose independence from China")

Activists say that many people in Hong Kong are excited and inspired by the results of Taiwan's election. According to one, "If Taiwan can create change, so can Hong Kong in the future."

It's thought that China would like to end the Hong Kong protests peacefully, so as not to further encourage the anti-Beijing activists in Taiwan. However, the Hong Kong activists point out that they have no other way to get their demands heard except by occupation. AAP and AFP and Central News Agency (Taiwan)

Arab League agrees on plan to 'end Israeli occupation' of Palestine

Saying that "Israel is no longer a peace partner," Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said that "the current situation of the Palestinian territories is not sustainable. ... We have no option but to internationalize the issue." He added that in case the statehood bid is thwarted, "we would move towards defining our relations with Israel by halting security coordination and calling for the occupation to assume its responsibilities" under international law as "an occupying power" of the West Bank. The statements were made at an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Saturday.

Abbas laid out a specific timeline for "ending the Israeli occupation," and gaining international recognition of Palestine:

Abbas noted that the parliaments of three separate Western countries (Sweden, the UK, and Spain) have recognized "Palestine," and that France will be voting on the issue.

Abbas referred to proposed legislation by Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare Israel as a "Jewish state." Abbas said that the proposal was "racist," and that "Palestinians will not recognize Israel as a Jewish State," which would attempt to enshrine Israel's "apartheid regime." Abbas pointed to other Israeli laws that he considers "racist."

Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be a new war between Arabs and Israelis, refighting the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that following the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel, and that there is no guarantee that Israel will survive that war. WAFA (Gaza) and Israel National News

Egypt promises troops for Palestine to assist police forces

The summer Gaza war made public some very bitter disagreements between Saudi Arabia and Egypt versus Qatar and Hamas. As we reported two weeks ago, Saudi Arabia mediated a truce to last at least through the summit meeting on December 4. ( "21-Nov-14 World View -- Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December")

At Saturday's Arab League meeting, all the nations were able to continue papering over their differences by agreeing that the biggest issue facing all the Arab states is the "Israeli occupation of Palestine." One of the issues in resolving that conflict is to find a way to provide security in the West Bank without relying on Israeli security forces.

This issue was not discussed at the Arab League meeting, since it would have opened up new bitter disagreements.

Egypt's president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi had previously stated in an interview that he would be willing "to send military forces to a Palestinian state" in order to reassure Israel and assist police forces. In a TV interview on Saturday, Abbas said that there is no objection to the presence of Egyptian troops on Palestinian territories. "It is welcomed, as Al-Sisi wouldn’t say anything contrary to the interests of the Palestinian people."

However, this agreement leaves completely unresolved the question of Gaza and Hamas. Qatar supports Hamas, while Egypt considers them to be a terrorist group. Hamas would not tolerate Egyptian troops in Gaza. Furthermore, Hamas is tolerating Abbas as president of the Hamas-Fatah unity government only because of political expediency, and Hamas would expect to govern the entire State of Palestine. This means that Egyptian troops would not be tolerated, and there would immediately be a state of war between Israel and Palestine.

Saturday's Arab League meeting was able to maintain cordiality by focusing narrowly on Abbas's plans to force international recognition of a State of Palestine. However, Abbas's plan makes no mention of Gaza and Hamas, and the intrinsic contradiction in any plan to have a fully independent State of Palestine alongside Israel. Daily News Egypt and Gulf News (Dubai)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Dec-14 World View -- Arab League agrees on plan to 'end Israeli occupation' of Palestine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Dec-2014) Permanent Link
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30-Nov-14 World View -- Taiwan voters choose independence from China

Sunflowers and Umbrellas

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taiwan voters choose independence from China


Student protests in Taiwan in April of this year (AFP)
Student protests in Taiwan in April of this year (AFP)

Taiwan's ruling nationalist party KMT (Kuomintang) suffered disastrous losses in local elections across Taiwan on Saturday, giving victories to the opposing DPP (Democratic Progressive Party), and forcing the resignation of the prime minister. Thousands of municipalities, including the capital city Taipei, that had been ruled for years by KMT mayors and politicians will not be ruled by DPP mayors and politicians.

The Kuomintang (KMT) is the modern day incarnation of Chiang Kai-shek's original nationalist party of soldiers that fought against Mao Zedong's Communist Revolution and lost, and fled to Hong Kong, then a British colony, and from there to Formosa (Taiwan) in 1949, at the conclusion of the civil war. The KMT position has always been that Taiwan would reunite with China.

KMT held an iron grip on power in Taiwan after the war, and that only began to fade in the 1980s with the founding of the DPP. However, the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, which people in Taiwan viewed with horror, proved to be a catalyst in turning Taiwanese people against Beijing, and by 2000 the DPP won a national election. A DPP corruption scandal in 2006 put KMT back into power, and KMT officials have been working closely with Beijing officials to woo Taiwan's public to voluntarily want reunite with China.

The policy hasn't really been effective. There are two groups of people who don't want to reunite. One group is the indigenous Taiwanese people who lived there before 1949, and who have suffered at the hands of the KMT. Young people generally form the second group, and they distrust China and they distrust the KMT for selling out to China. Central News Agency (Taiwan) and BBC and Forbes

Sunflowers and Umbrellas

In April of this year, hundreds of university students and other activists protested the proposed Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement (CSSTA), which KMT had negotiated with Beijing in secret. The students occupied the legislative chamber for several days, and moved to occupy the cabinet offices. This triggered a violent response from the police. The scenes of bloodied protesters, injured police officers and water cannon trucks galvanized the resolve of the protesters.

In the first week of the occupation of the legislature, a supporter brought bunches of sunflowers to the building to symbolize the need to let sunlight into the black box of KMT negotiations between Taiwan and mainland China. The protesters became known as the Sunflower Student Movement.

The Sunflower movement fizzled out as the summer began, but over in Hong Kong a new protest began, which later came to be known as the Umbrella Movement, because protesters used umbrellas to fend off police tear gas. In fact it was the use of tear gas that galvanized the Hong Kong protesters, just as police violence galvanized the Taiwan protesters last Spring.

The two protests have become synergistic in the sense that each one is providing energy to the other. According to some reports, the leaders of the two protests are helping each other out, providing mutual support and strategies.

The anti-Beijing movement in Taiwan really took off after the Tiananmen Square massacre, and each new show of force by government officials serves to renew the contempt that these protesters have for Beijing. With the KMT in power, Beijing has followed a conciliatory policy towards Taiwan, but in the months to come if it looks like the DPP is going to come back into power in 2016, then Beijing may feel forced to take some military action. The China Story (April) and Thinking Taiwan

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Nov-14 World View -- Taiwan voters choose independence from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Nov-14 World View -- Britain's David Cameron draws a red line on immigration

David Cameron accused of 'blackmail' on immigration demands

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's David Cameron draws a red line on immigration


David Cameron on Friday (AFP/Getty)
David Cameron on Friday (AFP/Getty)

Britain's prime minister David Cameron offered a set of proposals on Friday to discourage migrants from "benefit shopping" -- coming to the UK just to take advantage of the generous welfare benefits. His proposals are not targeted at Muslim migrants coming from Syria or northern Africa, entering the EU illegally. They're targeted at mostly Christian EU citizens in eastern Europe, for example in Bulgaria, where wages are typically 20% of those in the UK, or in Poland, with wages that are 40% of those in the UK.

Cameron is under tremendous political pressure to find a way to limit east European migrants from coming to UK. The UK Independence Party (UKIP), which favors Britain leaving the EU entirely, is gaining strength because of the immigration issue, and the fact that EU immigration is reaching record levels.

Previous proposals to simply put an annual cap or limit on the number of migrants have met with almost universal hostility from leaders across the EU, because they violate "guaranteed freedom of movement," which is one of the founding principles of the 1957 Treaty of Rome on which the EU is based.

So now Cameron is trying something different: To limit migrants by making Britain's welfare benefits less attractive for migrants.

The major elements of Cameron's proposal are:

Guardian (London) and BBC

David Cameron accused of 'blackmail' on immigration demands

In his speech, Cameron warned against the UKIP -- "betraying you" with "simple solutions":

"The British people will not understand - frankly I will not understand - if a sensible way through cannot be found, which will help settle this country's place in the EU once and for all. ...

Because those who promise you simple solutions are betraying you.

Those who say we would certainly be better off outside the EU only ever tell you part of the story. Of course we would survive, there is no doubt about that.

But we would need to weigh in the balance the loss of our instant access to the single market, and our right to take the decisions that regulate it. And we would of course lose the automatic right for the 1.3 million British citizens who today are living and working elsewhere in Europe to do so. That is something we would want to think carefully about giving up.

For me, I have one test, and one test only: what is in the best, long term interests of Britain? ...

If I succeed, I will, as I have said, campaign to keep this country in a reformed EU. If our concerns fall on deaf ears and we cannot put our relationship with the EU on a better footing, then of course I rule nothing out."

European leaders have accused Cameron of blackmail in the past, for threatening to put to a vote a referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union. Those accusations were renewed on Friday over his threat to veto new members from joining the EU unless his demands are met. Albania is likely to be the next EU member - population nearly 3 million - but there are several others in the wings, including Bosnia (3.8 million) and Montenegro (650,000)

Friday's speech is a change in tactics for Cameron. He's given up the idea of putting any sort of cap on the number of immigrants to Britain, since that proposal has received almost unanimous hostility from other EU nations. Instead, he's proposing to make Britain less desirable for migrants by limiting benefits. He's hoping that those proposals will be more acceptable to other European leaders, and that they will be enough to satisfy British citizens who are increasing turning towards UKIP. BBC and Daily Mail (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Nov-14 World View -- Britain's David Cameron draws a red line on immigration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Nov-14 World View -- Oil prices crash after OPEC meeting ends in discord

Russia and Venezuela on their knees with oil prices plunging

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Oil prices crash after OPEC meeting ends in discord


OPEC
OPEC

The 12-nation oil cartel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), ended its meeting in Vienna on Thursday in discord. Poorer members, such as Iran, Iraq, Angola and Venezuela, had been calling for an agreement where all cartel members would cut production of oil, in order to force a global increase in the price of oil.

However, Saudi Arabia refused to agree to any such cuts. News of the discord led to a crash in oil prices. Oil was selling for $100-120 per barrel just a few months ago. But on Thursday, West Texas Intermediate plunged to $67.75 a barrel (for January delivery), while London's Brent North Sea crude nosedived to $71.25.

The plunge in oil prices is occurring because of a glut in the oil markets, and the glut in turn is caused by high production and decreasing demand. A lot of the glut has come about because of America's increased production of shale oil (fracking), which has made America the number one oil producer in the world. Even the OPEC cartel, which was supposed to be limiting combined oil production from the 12 members to 30 million barrels per day actually produced 30.6 million barrels per day in October. The reduction in demand is largely due to slowing growth in Europe and China. Reuters and AFP

Oil price plunge pressures budgets of oil exporting countries

Although the plunge in oil prices will cause a fall in gasoline prices, which is good news for consumers, it's going to put a great deal of pressure of the budgets of oil exporting countries that were counting on oil prices above $100 per barrel.

I've been listening to a number of analysts throw out different numbers for how high oil has to be for each country's budget to balance. The following list is a synthesis of all that I heard:

+----------------+--------+
| Libya          |   $184 | 
| Iran           |   $131 | 
| Algeria        |   $131 | 
| Venezuela      |   $110 | 
| Russia         |   $105 | 
| Nigeria        |   $100 | 
| Saudi Arabia   |   $ 98 | 
| UAE            |   $ 80 | 
| Kuwait         |   $ 78 | 
| Qatar          |   $ 77 | 
+----------------+-----------+
Table: Oil price per barrel required
to balance each country's budget

According to analysts, in order for American fracking operations to make money, oil prices have to be at least $65-70 per barrel. Analysts say that Saudi Arabia is keeping prices low as a long-range investment in order to suppress America's fracking industry, and that Saudi Arabia has enough currency reserves that it can sustain these low prices for 6-12 months. However, poorer countries will be in trouble much more quickly.

Russia and Venezuela on their knees with oil prices plunging


Oil revenue as share of government revenue (Quartz)
Oil revenue as share of government revenue (Quartz)

When Vladimir Putin first became president of Russia in 2001, oil revenues accounted for just 9% of the Russian economy. In 2013, oil revenues accounted for 52% of the Russian economy. On Thursday, the ruble currency slumped to historic lows against the dollar and the euro. Even at a price of $80 per barrel of Urals crude, the federal budget will run a deficit of 2-2.5%.

There's a feeling that Venezuela is getting its comeuppance with the plunge in oil prices. Hugo Chávez used to stick it to the United States whenever he could, because high oil prices made his country wealthy. But instead of saving any of that money, he wasted it on huge socialist programs design to buy popularity for himself and for his party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). These included things like subsidizing food so that prices are one-sixth of market prices.

But now Chávez is gone, and oil prices are plunging. His successor, Nicolás Maduro, doesn't have anything like Chávez's charisma, so he's been trying to borrow some charisma from Chávez by pretending to be able to talk to him in the afterlife. According to Maduro:

"I'm going to confess that a bird approached me, and approached me again and said ... that the commander [Chávez] was happy and full of love for the loyalty of his people ... must be proud."

I don't know how many people believed the talking bird story, but other PSUV politicians are saying things that are much harsher. According to one of Chávez's cabinet ministers, "It’s painful and worrying to see a Presidency that doesn’t show leadership." He criticized the “repetition of the approaches formulated by Comandante Chávez, without the necessary coherency."

The broader picture is that the plunging oil prices are part of a global deflationary spiral. I said, starting in 2003 when I first began writing about Generational Dynamics, that it was predicting deflation. Mainstream economists have been predicting high inflation and even superinflation every quarter for years, so they've been wrong every quarter and Generational Dynamics has been right. Quartz and Moscow Times and Panama Post and ABC (Madrid) (Trans)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Nov-14 World View -- Oil prices crash after OPEC meeting ends in discord thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Nov-14 World View -- Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland forming alliance to confront Russia

Two British brothers jailed for training at Syria terror camp

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland forming alliance to confront Russia


Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko, right, greets Lithuania's president Dalia Grybauskaite in Kiev on Monday (AP)
Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko, right, greets Lithuania's president Dalia Grybauskaite in Kiev on Monday (AP)

Lithuania may supply weapons to Ukraine as part of plans to increase its support to the Ukrainian military with the formation of a joint Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian Brigade project. According to Lithuania's Defense Minister Juozas Olekas:

"A joint brigade formed by Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland will provide an opportunity for Ukraine to learn from Lithuania's and Poland's experience of Nato integration and to develop efficient armed forces."

The plan grew out of a visit to Kiev this week by Lithuania's president Dalia Grybauskaite and Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko. Grybauskaite announced that Lithuania would be providing Ukraine with military aid, but did not specify if this would include weaponry or be of the non-lethal kind.

In a bizarre statement of a kind that we've come to expect from the Russians, Russia's foreign ministry warned that supplying weapons to Ukraine would violate international agreements:

"We heard repeated confirmations from the [US] administration, that it only supplies non-lethal aid to Ukraine. If there is a change of this policy, then we are talking about a serious destabilizing factor which could seriously affect the balance of power in the region."

This is bizarre because Russia hasn't worried about seriously destabilizing the region when it invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, and continues to pour weapons and troops into east Ukraine, all in violation of international law.

Lithuania already has a tense relationship with Russia. Grybauskaite recently called Russia a "terrorist country" because of its troops in east Ukraine.

Ukraine has been lobbying for months to receive military assistance from Nato as a whole or from the United States, but those requests have always been refused. The new alliance will allow Ukraine to become integrated with two Nato countries - Lithuania and Poland - though obtaining far fewer resources.

Ukraine is already in an alliance of post-Soviet countries. The alliance is called "GUAM - Organization for Democracy and Economic Development" where GUAM stands for Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova. It used to be called GUUAM, but the fifth member, Uzbekistan, dropped out. However, GUAM is more an economic union, while the new alliance is primarily military in nature. Paul Goble and Army Technology and Russia Behind The Headlines and Global Security

Health workers boycott Pakistan's polio vaccination campaign after shooting

Gunmen killed four polio workers and injured three others on Wednesday morning in Quetta, in southwest Pakistan. The Lady Health Workers (LHW) association in the province subsequently announced a boycott of the polio campaign in Balochistan.

The polio vaccination campaign was announced earlier this month. Over 238,000 children under the age of five were to be administered polio vaccine. The boycott will put the campaign on hold. At least 10 cases of polio were reported so far this year from the region around Quetta. Many parents refuse to allow their children to receive polio vaccine, believing the Taliban claims that the polio vaccination campaign is a Western plot to sterilize Muslim children. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, while polio has also reemerged in Syria.

Polio cases in Pakistan have been surging to record-breaking levels, thanks to the Taliban's opposition to polio vaccine, claiming that it's a Western plot to sterilize Pakistani children. The Taliban have been murdering health care workers in Pakistan involved in polio providing vaccines, ever since the U.S. administration bragged in 2011 that a hepatitis vaccination program in Pakistan was used as a cover to locate and capture Osama bin Laden. Dawn (Pakistan)

Two British brothers jailed for training at Syria terror camp

Two brothers, Mohommod Nawaz, 30, and Hamza Nawaz, 24, both citizens of Britain, were sentenced to 4 1/2 years and 3 years in jail, respectively, after admitting to having attended a terrorism training camp in Syria in 2013. According to the judge,

"It is clear from the evidence from mobile phones that you both had been in a camp in Syria used for terrorist training. The evidence shows you were there for jihad, or holy war, and wanted to join an extremist group."

In August 25 of last year, the pair said they were going out for a meal, but instead left for France by car, and then flew to Turkey and ultimately crossed the border to join a jihadist training camp. Later, they send a message by social media to selected friends confirming what they had done.

They returned to the UK in September but were stopped by border officers who found ammunition designed for use in AK-47 rifles, mobile phone pictures of a training camp, and videos of their trip to the war zone.

The jailing of the two men is the first in a string of cases, with several men convicted of terrorism offences in relation to Syria waiting to receive sentences. At least three other men face similar charges directly linked to activity in Syria. Others are awaiting sentencing for planning their own activity or assisting others.

European officials are becoming increasingly alarmed that thousands of young men and women are traveling to Syria to join terrorist groups, including the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). Some of them have already returned to Europe and others are expected to return. The fear is that they'll use the skills developed in Syria to perform terrorist acts in their home countries. Britain can't prevent young men and women from going to Syria, but the new laws mean that they can't simply return to Britain and resume their former lives as if nothing had happened. BBC and Independent (Ireland)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Nov-14 World View -- Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland forming alliance to confront Russia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Nov-14 World View -- Pope Francis calls Mediterranean a 'vast cemetery' for migrants

E-Cigarettes can infect your computer with malware

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pope Francis calls Mediterranean a 'vast cemetery' for migrants


Pope Francis at the European Parliament on Tuesday (AFP)
Pope Francis at the European Parliament on Tuesday (AFP)

Pope Francis has previously spoken out on the treatment of migrants. Last year he criticized the "globalization of indifference" towards migrants, saying that the western society had "forgotten how to cry," and that "the culture of our own well-being makes us insensitive to the cries of others."

On Tuesday he gave a speech to the European Parliament in Brussels:

"There needs to be a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery.

The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance. ...

One of the most common diseases in Europe today is loneliness. You can see it in the eyes of migrants who came here seeking a better future."

Francis also said that the European Union had lost its way:

"Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness.

We encounter a general impression of weariness and ageing, of a Europe which is now a grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant.

The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership."

Francis also declared that the EU had lost its bearings, and was hostage to a uniform economic model that undermined democracy while the centrality of human rights was becoming confused with and supplanted by individualistic narcissism.

Over the past weekend alone, some 800 migrants were rescued from drowning by naval vessels from Italy and Libya. At least 215,000 asylum seekers arrived in Europe so far this year, while only 43,000 arrived during the entire year 2013. Guardian (London) and Reuters and AFP

Mali attempts to prevent the spread of Ebola

Two weeks ago, a 70-year-old sick Imam traveled by car from Guinea to Bamako, the capital city of Mali, where he went to a local hospital and died. Hundreds of people touched his body in the funeral preparations that followed, before anyone realized he had Ebola. ( "15-Nov-14 World View -- Ebola cluster growing in Mali, hundreds possibly exposed")

Mali officials said on Monday that another person had tested positive for Ebola, bringing the total number of cases to eight. Six previously identified patients have died. Health officials in Mali are currently monitoring some 300 people who may have come in contact with the Imam, or with someone who had been in a contact chain to the Imam. Teams of people check each of these people twice a day, every day, to catch anyone who may be sick with Ebola. Not everyone is cooperating, but Mali officials are being aggressive in chasing down anyone who avoids monitoring.

Health officials have been successful so far in preventing widespread Ebola infections outside of the three main West African countries - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. They're hoping that quick action has prevented Mali from becoming the fourth country devastated by Ebola.

The level of anxiety and panic has also simmered down. Thanks to political crises over immigration and Ferguson, I haven't heard a peep lately out of anyone demanding that anyone traveling by plane from West Africa be refused entry into the United States.

There was a time last spring, for about a month, when everyone thought that Ebola had been all but eradicated in West Africa. Then suddenly it turned out that there were dozens of cases that had previously been unreported, and soon these turned into hundreds, and then thousands.

Officials are hoping that nothing like that will happen in any other country, but the case of the Imam shows what can go wrong. All you need is one Ebola patient who travels to a crowded city or a war zone. Since an infected patient may not show symptoms for 21 days, it would be possible to start a new Ebola cluster anywhere, just as recently happened in Mali. VOA and Reuters

E-Cigarettes can infect your computer with malware

E-cigarettes are a great invention for people who are addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. E-cigarettes look like cigarettes, they fulfill the need for nicotine, but they do not have any tars and other poisons that cause lung cancer. The "smoke" they give off is only water vapor.

However, an e-cigarette contains a battery that has to be charged, and many of them are recharged by connecting them to a computer with a USB cable. At least one brand of e-cigarette made in China infects your computer with malware when you connect the USB cable.

Apparently the same thing is possible for photo frames, MP3 players, or any other device that plugs into the computer via a USB cable. Guardian and Reddit

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Nov-14 World View -- Pope Francis calls Mediterranean a 'vast cemetery' for migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Nov-14 World View -- After swallowing Crimea, Russia goes after Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel fired by President Obama

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

After swallowing Crimea, Russia goes after Abkhazia and South Ossetia


Novoafonsky Monastery Abkhazia
Novoafonsky Monastery Abkhazia

Russia and Georgia's province of Abkhazia signed a treaty on Monday that will put a Russian commander in charge of all security forces in Abkhazia. The treaty envisages a gradual, but ultimate merger of Russian-occupied Abkhazia’s defense, security, law enforcement, border, customs, economic and healthcare agencies with that of Russia’s within three years. Many analysts believe that this is a step along the path of Russia annexing Abkhazia, just as it invaded and annexed Crimea earlier this year.

In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and took control of two Georgian provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Last week, South Ossetia declared that it is negotiating a new "comprehensive agreement on integration" with Russia, which will raise the relationship between the two sides to a "qualitatively new level," indicating that South Ossetia is on the same path as Abkhazia.

We now have two countries -- Russia and China -- using military force to annex territories belonging to other countries. This is a very dangerous situation that could spiral into a wider war at any time, just as happened in the 1930s. Russia Today and Jamestown and AP

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel fired by President Obama

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is a Republican, mainly because he's pro-life on abortion, but he's well on the political left on defense issues. He and Obama worked together on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the mid-2000s, where they opposed the Iraq war. Obama selected Hagel in January 2013 to be Secretary of Defense in order to pursue Obama's goal of reducing the military power and footprint of the U.S., and to manage the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pretty much all of Obama's foreign policy decisions have been debacles, and those were no exception. The rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) has forced Obama to send troops back into Iraq, and there have been several escalations in recent weeks. On Friday of last week, Obama escalated the U.S. mission in Afghanistan for 2015.

Pundits have been giving three reasons why Hagel was fired. The first reason is that Obama is using him as a scapegoat for his string of foreign policy debacles.

The second given reason is that Hagel contradicted and indirectly criticized the President. In January, Obama referred to ISIS as a "JV team in Lakers uniforms," where "JV" stands for "junior varsity." But in August, Hagel said that ISIS was "an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it's in Iraq or anywhere else," and that ISIS was "as sophisticated and as well-funded as any group we've seen."

The third reason given by pundits is that Hagel was an ineffective manager of the armed forces.

Whatever the reason, Hagel's successor is going to have deal with a military and foreign policy in chaos. NBC News and Investors' Business Daily

Iran nuclear deal collapses, forcing another seven months of talks

For weeks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was saying that a deal to halt Iran's development of nuclear weapons would be successful by Monday, the self-imposed deadline. Even as late as Sunday evening, Kerry was saying that a deal was close. But apparently he wasn't telling the truth, since on Monday it was announced that the deal would be postponed for seven months, until June, 2015.

Kerry wants a deal because the administration could tout it as a success, breaking the string of foreign policy debacles by the Obama administration.

Iran wanted a deal, because it would mean the end to Western sanctions. Sanctions have already been eased as an "incentive," and the remaining sanctions have been leaking badly, but the deal would remove the sanctions completely.

As things stand, the sanctions remain, and Monday's collapse is another debacle.

This is a good time to repeat something I've written about several times. There is no doubt in my mind that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. Iran was attacked with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in 1988 by Iraq, and Iran would already have developed nuclear weapons if Saddam Hussein hadn't been expelled by the Iraq war in 2003. Iran sees itself surrounded by potential enemies, Pakistan and Israel, both having nuclear weapons. For Iran, developing nuclear weapons is an existential issue.

However, as I've described before, Iran takes an enormous amount of pride in not having invaded other countries, even though other countries have invaded Iran. If you look back at Iran's major wars of the last century -- the Constitutional Revolution of the 1900s decade, the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979, and the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, Iran never attacked anyone else. This is now part of Iran's DNA, and even the top leadership would be repulsed by the idea of a preemptive attack on Israel.

So my conclusion is that Iran will develop nuclear weapons as a defensive measure, but has no plans at all to use them on Israel, which is what is widely believed. USA Today and Foreign Policy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Nov-14 World View -- After swallowing Crimea, Russia goes after Abkhazia and South Ossetia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Nov-14 World View -- China's military strength and poor civilian control alarm neighbors

The disappearance of the 'Long March' generation

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's military strength increasingly alarms neighbors


China's military
China's military

China's Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan was forced to respond to concerns from China's Asian neighbors who are expressing alarms at China's rapid military expansion and aggressiveness in the South China Sea and elsewhere. According to Chang:

"The remarkable growth of China's comprehensive national power, and the continued progress in national defense modernization, have become a focus of international attention in recent years. China has learned a bitter lesson from its wretched history [as a victim of aggression and the] practical need to secure its own territory."

As we've reported many times, the "practical need to secure its own territory" means using military power to confiscate and annex regions in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. Channel News Asia/AFP and Reuters

Fears increase over poor civilian control of China's military

Along with a simmering concern about China's intentions in building a huge military machine, alarm bells have also been rung over whether China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) does what it wants with little civilian control by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). There have been a number of incidents where the CCP has been caught by surprise by PLA actions. One that got worldwide publicity occurred when the PLA ran a surprise stealth fighter test during a visit by then U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in 2011. Apparently the PLA wanted to send a message to both the United States and the CCP. A similar event occurred in September 2012, during a visit by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

An analysis by Andrew Scobell finds a "civil-military gap" with two meanings:

Members of the military are "tougher than ... civilian officials" and more "hawkish" toward the United States and the international system. Much of this is related to the preoccupation with achieving unification with Taiwan, and the US military is the PLA's likely adversary.

I would modify Scobell's analysis to say that the gap between the CCP and the PLA is a generational gap, not a "civil-military gap." The policy-makers in the CCP are survivors of Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49), while the military is filled with younger generations. We all know how, in the United States, many Millennials and Gen-Xers think that all Boomers are completely full of crap. The same thing is true in China, with the younger officers in the military thinking of the geezers in the CCP as hilarious and irrelevant.

The disappearance of the 'Long March' generation

In fact, Scobell himself gives a generational explanation. According to Scobell, the loss of CCP control over the military occurred with a generational change in the 1990s, when the generations of survivors of Mao's Communist Revolution all disappeared. Scobell refers to these survivors as the "Long March generation," referring to Mao's Long March that started China's civil war in 1934:

"The disposition and background of the post-Long March generations of political and military leaders have altered the format of civil-military relations and structure of the mechanisms of control.

A core distinguishing characteristic of the Long March generation was the substantial overlap of political and military elites. Former top leaders Mao Zedong, who dominated the Chinese Communist Party from the mid-1930s until his death in 1976, and Deng Xiaoping, who was the paramount figure from the late 1970s until his death in 1997, were the most prominent members of this famous generation of leaders who had participated in the legendary 1930s trek that ensured the survival of the Communist movement. In fact, most leaders of this generation were both political and military elites.

By the mid-1990s, with the passing of the Long March generation, China's civil-military relations had evolved. In subsequent generations, civilian and military leaders became more differentiated and distinct. At the highest echelon, elites such as retired top leader Jiang Zemin and current [2009] paramount leader Hu Jintao, while holding the position of head of the PLA in addition to their formal government and party posts, did not exert the same kind of influence in, or engender the same kind of deference from, China's military. In the twenty-first century, China's Communist Party leaders are civilian technocrats with little or no military experience or expertise. Twenty-two of the 25 members elected to the Politburo at the 17th Party Congress in October 2007 have no military experience, and two of the three remaining are PLA generals."

As I've written many times, it's a core principle of Generational Dynamics that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians. Thus, Hitler was not the cause of WW II. What politicians say or do is irrelevant, except insofar as their actions reflect the attitudes of the people that they represent, and so politicians can neither cause nor prevent the great events of history.

With this generation gap between the PLA and the CCP, we can see how a war with China could start. We've already seen a number of aggressive moves by younger, more impetuous PLA members. These include, for example, provoking confrontations with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, and provoking dangerous confrontation with U.S. surveillance planes flying over international waters in the South China Sea. One of these impetuous acts could quickly lead to miscalculations that spiral into a wider war. However it happens, the loss of CPP control over the PLA is a very dangerous situation. Diplomat and Andrew Scobell (2009)(PDF) and Foreign Policy (2013)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Nov-14 World View -- China's military strength and poor civilian control alarm neighbors thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Nov-14 World View -- Somalia's Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for religion-based Kenya attack

Obama expands the U.S. mission in Afghanistan for 2015

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Somalia's Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for religion-based Kenya attack


File photo of al-Shabaab
File photo of al-Shabaab

Al-Shabaab terrorists forced a bus in Mandera County to stop carrying 60 passengers to stop. They asked the passengers to recite Koranic verses, and those who were unable to do so were lined up and then killed. 28 people were killed, 19 men and 9 women.

"The Mujahideen successfully carried out an operation near Mandera early this morning, which resulted in the perishing of 28 crusaders [Christians or non-Muslims], as a revenge for the crimes committed by the Kenyan crusaders against our Muslim brethren in Mombasa."

Early this week, police in Mombasa shot dead a man and arrested over 376 others when they searched four mosques in the largely Muslim coastal town of Mombasa that they said were used to recruit militants and store weapons.

Kenyans have not yet recovered from the horrific three-day attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September of last year. ( "23-Sep-13 World View -- Minnesota link to Kenya shopping mall attack raises U.S. fears") 68 people were killed and hundreds injured.

After Saturday's attack, President Uhuru Kenyatta called for calm, as he did after the Westgate mall attack. Kenyatta's own nephew was killed in the Westgate mall attack, as was the nephew's fiancée. Abdikadir Mohammed, a senior adviser to Kenyatta, said:

"The aim is to create conflict between the Muslims and the non-Muslims in this country. The aim is to create a religious war, religious strife, in Kenya.

We have had a lot of the Muslim leaders come out today [Saturday] and strongly condemn this and call on Kenyans of all faiths and creeds to stand together against these heinous crimes and criminals."

The perpetrators are al-Shabaab, a Somalian offshoot of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Shabaab have been terrorizing Somalia, the country next door to Kenya, for years. Starting in 2011, Kenya's troops and African Union troops have been fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia, and have significantly reduced al-Shabaab's influence. However, since then, al-Shabaab has launched about 135 terrorist attacks inside Kenya. The Westgate Mall attack was the worst so far, but Saturday's attack has been a new major shock to Kenya. Standard Media (Kenya) and BBC and AP

China creating an island with an airstrip in South China Sea

China has been using a "salami-slicing" technique of using military force to annex one portion after another of regions of the South China Sea historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Now China is using an even more aggressive military tactic. China is building its own island on a reef in the Spratly Islands large enough to accommodate an airstrip. The island on Fiery Cross Reef, which was previously underwater, is at least 3,000 m long and 200-300 m wide, and is being occupied by China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). China has previously built new islands at Johnson South Reef, Cuateron Reef, and Gaven Reefs, but none are large enough to house an airstrip in their current form.

China has a massive military advantage over the other countries in the region, and appears determined to annex every other country's territory in the South China Sea. Building an airstrip in the Spratly Islands has no other apparent purpose but to further this military takeover at a more rapid pace. Jane's Defence Weekly and Reuters

Obama expands the U.S. mission in Afghanistan for 2015

President Barack Obama has quietly approved guidelines to expand the mission of U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan in 2015, although the number of troops remains the same at 9,800. According to previous guidelines, U.S. forces could only attack the Taliban or al-Qaeda in self-defense, if they were being attacked. The new guidelines permit attacks on the Taliban if they are preparing to attack American troops. However, U.S. troops can't conduct offensive operations on any Taliban forces they locate. Those forces have to be threatening U.S. troops. The new guidelines also permit additional airstrikes in support of Afghan forces -- but only when they're in serious trouble.

President Obama has suffered a number of recent setbacks in his announced plans for fighting the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), forcing him to escalate American troop involvement from 300 to 800 to 1500 to 3000.

Now a similar escalation process might be occurring in Afghanistan. In the last few weeks, the Taliban have been launching a lot more aggressive attacks, and a lot more successful attacks. As in Iraq, it may be necessary for Obama either to admit defeat in Afghanistan or to return thousands of additional troops. Obama has had one foreign policy disaster after another, and this has to count as an additional one. CBS and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Nov-14 World View -- Somalia's Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for religion-based Kenya attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Nov-14 World View -- Britain in nationalistic surge as anti-EU UKIP party gains ground

Arab workers in Israel being fired in backlash from synagogue attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arab workers in Israel being fired in backlash from synagogue attack


Israeli border policeman shown during clashes with Palestinian protesters in Rmallah on Friday (Reuters)
Israeli border policeman shown during clashes with Palestinian protesters in Rmallah on Friday (Reuters)

Following Tuesday's terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, Arab workers across Israel are being fired from their jobs. This came to light after the announcement that the mayor of Ashkelon, one of Israel’s leading cities, fired Arabs who were building bomb shelters in municipal kindergartens. Many Arabs in Israel are construction workers, and it's believed that one of the perpetrators of the synagogue attack was a construction worker.

The decision to fire Arab workers is causing outrage and charges of racism across the Israeli political spectrum. Israel's Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities said that "a not insignificant number of requests regarding employers firing or wishing to terminate the employment of Arab male and female employees, solely on racial grounds."

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

"The vast majority of Israel's Arab citizens are law abiding and whoever breaks the law — we will take determined and vigorous action against him."

National Post and AP

Britain in nationalistic surge as anti-EU UKIP party gains ground

The anti-EU anti-immigrant UK Independence Party (UKIP) had a startling by-election victory on Thursday when former Conservative (Tory) party MP Mark Reckless won re-election after defecting to the UKIP. Prime minister David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, had promised to "throw everything" at the campaign in order to defeat Reckless, but in the end Reckless got 42%, defeating the Tory candidate at 35%. This was the second by-election in a month where

Nigel Farage has been gloating about the victory and is warning other Tory MPs that they should also defect to the UKIP, or risk losing their seats in next year's general election.

However, it's not just Tory seats that are at risk. Comparing Thursday's vote to the 2010 election, Reckless stole away 14% of the Tory votes, but also took 12% of the Labour vote and 16% of the Lib Dem vote. This is only one district, but the vote could be signaling a rapid surge in nationalism.

According to the UKIP web site,

"UKIP is a patriotic party that promotes independence: from the EU, and from government interference. We believe in free trade, lower taxes, personal freedom and responsibility.

UKIP believes in Britain becoming a democratic, self-governing country once again. This can only be achieved by getting our nation out of the European Union and reasserting the sovereignty of Parliament.

As a party we are unashamedly patriotic: we believe there is so much to be proud about Britain and the contribution it has made to the world. We believe that Britain is good enough to be an independent nation, trading and building harmonious relations with the rest of the world.

We believe Britain must get back control over its borders, so that it can welcome people with a positive contribution to make while limiting the overall numbers of migrants and keeping out those without the skills or aptitudes to be of benefit to the nation.

UKIP believes in promoting self-reliance and personal freedom from state interference. We believe the state in Britain has become too large, too expensive and too dominant over civil society."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the increased British nationalism is no surprise, as countries around the world, including China and the United States, including the Israelis and the Palestinians, are becoming increasingly nationalistic. The survivors of the horrors of World War II were well aware of the dangers of extreme nationalism, and how it can cause the most brutal kinds of wars. That's why those survivors have done everything possible to promote globalism and racial tolerance. But those survivors have all but disappeared, and the generations that grew up after WW II are now in charge and have no fears of nationalism. Mirror (London) and Irish Times and UKIP Web Site

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Nov-14 World View -- Britain in nationalistic surge as anti-EU UKIP party gains ground thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Nov-14 World View -- Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December

Egypt may be considering release of al-Jazeera reporters

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December


GCC Summit meeting in 2009
GCC Summit meeting in 2009

Saudi Arabia has managed to mediate a reconciliation among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that very publicly and vitriolicly split in March of this year, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar after a stormy GCC meeting. This year's GCC annual summit was originally scheduled for November 10, but was postponed to December 9-10. Now, the three countries had agreed to put their differences aside, at least until the end of the summit meeting, and return their ambassadors to Qatar.

Since the GCC was formed in 1981, there have always been differences between the individual countries, but until the explosion earlier this year, they were carefully hidden from the public. The trigger that raised tensions among the countries was the army coup, in July 2013, that ousted Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood, or at least is neutral towards it, and supported Morsi with billions of dollars in aid, and Qatar opposes the presidency of former army general Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi. Saudi Arabia and UAE support al-Sisi with billions of dollars of aid, and consider the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization.

Relations between Qatar and Egypt have been further complicated because Qatar is the home of al-Jazeera, which reported on the bloody army crackdown on protesters following the coup. Egypt got revenge by jailing three al-Jazeera reporters, who remain in jail to this day, and have given sentences of 7-10 years.

As I've written several times, there has been a major Mideast realignment following the Gaza war, bringing Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia in alliance versus Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey. This was, and continues to be, a sharp and bitter division.

So now, in the last few weeks, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia says that these differences have all been resolved. That's not particularly credible. The GCC Summit on December 9-10 may be extremely stormy, and another bitter split may go beyond shouting to violence. Asharq Al Awsat (Riyadh) and Reuters

United Arab Emirates identifies 86 terrorist groups

One sign that sharp differences remain is that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced a list, controversial in the Arab world, naming 86 organizations that it considers to be terrorist. Some are uncontroversial, such as the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), Jabhat al-Nusra, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Also named were Iran-supported groups, including the Houthis in Yemen, and Hezbollah's affiliates in the Gulf states -- though not Hezbollah's main branch in Lebanon, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the West.

But two Qatari-supported groups, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Union of Muslim Scholars in Qatar are named.

Hamas was not named.

Within the United States, the most controversial selection will be the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Also included are the Muslim Association of Britain and the Islamic Relief Organisation in London.

Some Muslim analysts complain that the inclusion of these organizations fosters Islamophobia in the U.S. and Britain. According to Anas al-Tikriti, the former president of the Muslim Association of Britain, the terrorist list is "beyond ludicrous":

"The fact that it piles together terrorist groups like Boko Haram and IS with think tanks and research centers who aren’t involved in political work and who espouse democratic principles belies any kind of rationality or logic.

Some of these organizations represent tens of thousands of people. Does the UAE mean to suggest there are tens of thousands of terrorists throughout the world from America, to Europe, to Africa?"

The National (UAE) and Middle East Eye and Gulf News - complete list and Al-Jazeera

Egypt may be considering release of al-Jazeera reporters

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been encouraging Egypt to fix its strained relations with Qatar, and one consequence is that Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi may be considering releasing the three al-Jazeera journalists. In an interview with France24, al-Sisi said:

[At the time of the journalists’ arrests, I] did not have the power to take decisions about their situation. If I were president at that time, I would have decided, for the good and the security of Egypt, that the journalists would have to be expelled, so [it would] put an end to this issue once and for all."

Al-Sisi has said things like this before, but this time, when asked whether he intends to issue a presidential pardon, he said:

"Let me just say, this issue is currently under discussion so that we may find a solution."

This indicates, for the first time, that some kind of negotiation is going on that might result in the release of the reporters. The reporters' fates may be in the hands of the GCC negotiations, and particularly any possible reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar. France 24 and Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Nov-14 World View -- Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Nov-14 World View -- Jerusalem becomes a city of fear, in a torrent of mutual hostility

Israel approves construction of 78 new homes in Jerusalem

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Global warming and climate change strike Buffalo NY


Buffalo man digs out his car on Wednesday
Buffalo man digs out his car on Wednesday

Israel demolishes apartment of terrorist

On Wednesday, Israeli forces demolished the home of Abdelrahman Shaludi, who had purposely plowed his car into pedestrians on October 22, killing two people. This was done following a policy revived by Benjamin Netanyahu of demolishing the homes of terrorists as a method of deterrence. Netanyahu has promised to do the same to the homes of the two perpetrators of Tuesday's synagogue attack. However, Palestinians claim that the policy is a violation of international law because it uses "collective punishment" of many people for the crimes of one person.

The Israelis point out that they didn't demolish the entire apartment building in which Shaludi lived, but only demolished Shaludi's individual apartment.

A reporter on al-Jazeera on Wednesday described the history of using home demolishing as deterrence. According to the reporter, the policy was used during British rule of Palestine prior to World War II in order to inhibit Jewish insurgents. Israel began using the home demolition policy starting in 1967, and it was continued until 2005, when it was ended because it was considered ineffective. However, Netanyahu reinstated the policy earlier this year after the three teenagers were abducted and killed in the West Bank. Israel National News

Jerusalem becomes a city of fear, in a torrent of mutual hostility

Following Tuesday's terrorist attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem, both Israelis and Palestinians are afraid to walk the streets. Israelis are afraid that any passing car driven by a Palestinian might change direction and kill pedestrians. Palestinians are afraid of revenge attacks from Israeli settlers.

Several analysts have pointed out that the conflict between Arabs and Israelis has shifted. It used to be a political conflict over land, but now it's become a conflict over religion, and a religious war is much more dangerous than a political war.

Former Senator George Mitchell, who was President Obama's "Special Envoy for the Mideast," said the following on the BBC on Wednesday (my transcription):

"I think one thing that the parties should consider is the potential that this could spread and branch out in ways that were unlikely in the past. There have been two Palestinian uprisings. at that time, there was a relatively stable and quiet region around the Israeli Palestinian conflict. That no longer exists. Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya -- you go down the list of turmoil and conflict, intersecting, overlapping different routes, different branches, so many competing organizations that the average person has trouble keeping track of them, and an outbreak of violence this time could spread in ways that was not possible in the past, and we may not fully comprehend yet."

This is exactly the kind of point that Generational Dynamics makes. As I've been saying since 2003, Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be a new war between Arabs and Israelis, refighting the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that following the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The mechanism that all these crisis wars follow is that a crisis war is so horrible that the traumatized survivors -- both "winners" and "losers" -- vow to make sure that the same thing never happens again, to their children or grandchildren. And they succeed, until they all disappear (retire or die), all at once, leaving behind generations of children and grandchildren who have no personal memory of those horrors, and willing to cross any line, even if it risks another crisis war, which happens sooner or later. Pretty much the only important survivor of the 1948 war still left is Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, who is undoubtedly well aware of what's coming, but can't do anything to stop it.

Mitchell continued:

"And there is a further fact. Of all the difficult issues between Palestinians and Israelis, none is more difficult or important than Jerusalem. In part because Jerusalem is not just a Palestinian issue. Jerusalem is Muslim issue. Today of the 7 1/2 billion people in the world, 1 in 5 is Muslim, about a billion and a half. In the middle of this century, when the world's population gets past 9 1/2 billion, 1 in 3 will be Muslim. They all have an interest in Jerusalem, and it's in everyone's interest not to let this get out of control and dominate the issue. So the dangers are greater. The potential losses on all sides are greater. And to me the incentives of doing something about it should be greater. Will that be persuasive to the participants, I can't say that with certainty, but I believe that's the case we should be making to them."

Mitchell is making a fundamental error here. He was born in 1933, so he remembers well the horrors of World War II, and would do anything to keep them from happening again. But he assumes that because he doesn't want war, then nobody wants war. However, that's patently untrue, as history is replete with leaders who wanted war, thinking that they would win easily, and living to regret it. In fact, there are plenty of people in the Mideast, including both Palestinians and Israelis, who are itching for a war.

I've been writing for years that Sunni jihadists are doing everything possible to trigger a war. These groups, affiliated with al-Qaeda and lately the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), see one shining event that's guiding their lives -- the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution that turned Iran from a secular state into a Shia Islamic state. Al-Qaeda and ISIS would like to repeat that "success," and they've tried to trigger a war in numerous countries, and are still trying in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

There are plenty of young radical Israelis and Palestinians who would like to trigger a war because they hate each other and because each side thinks they would win. That day is coming, and there will be no winners. Reuters

Israel approves construction of 78 new homes in Jerusalem

Jerusalem’s municipal planning committee approved the construction of 78 settlements on Wednesday, provoking further fury among the Palestinians. Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Nov-14 World View -- Jerusalem becomes a city of fear, in a torrent of mutual hostility thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Nov-14 World View -- Jerusalem synagogue attack raises Arab-Israeli violence to new levels

Obama could order combat troops into Iraq and Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Jerusalem synagogue attack raises Arab-Israeli violence to new levels


Israeli security forces run in front of the synagogue that was attacked on Tuesday
Israeli security forces run in front of the synagogue that was attacked on Tuesday

The spiral of violence that began last Spring with the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers who were later found dead took a new leap upward on Tuesday when two Palestinians wielding a gun and butcher knives attacked a Jerusalem synagogue during morning prayers, killing four rabbis and a policeman. Three of the rabbis were American, and the fourth was British.

The extremely brutal attacks have drawn comments from both sides that are likely to enrage the other side further.

Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, condemned the attack, but blamed Israel for inciting it:

"It is time to end this occupation, to end all causes of violence and tension; we are committed to the two-state solution, and implementing all related international legitimacy resolutions."

Recently, Abbas called for an end to the "contamination" of the Jerusalem holy sites by Jews.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Abbas and he blamed the international community as well:

"This is a direct result of incitement led by Hamas and Abu Mazen, incitement that the international community has been irresponsibly ignoring.

We will respond with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by lowly murderers."

Netanyahu said that the homes of the perpetrators would be demolished, an act that Palestinians say punishes innocent people living in the same homes.

The attack follows a death by hanging earlier this week in east Jerusalem of Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, a Palestinian bus driver. The death was apparently a suicide, but Palestinians are claiming, without confirmation, that he was killed by Israeli settlers. However, an autopsy performed jointly by Israeli and Palestinian coroners found no evidence of foul play.

A Hamas spokesman call for more attacks on Israelis:

"Jerusalem attack is a reaction to the execution of the martyr al-Ramouni and the ongoing Israeli crimes at al-Aqsa. Hamas calls for the continuation of acts of revenge."

There are increasing fears of a so-called "third intifida," a general violent uprising of Palestinians against Israelis. International Middle East Media Center (Gaza) and International Business Times and Latin American Herald Tribune

Spain's parliament calls for recognition of State of Palestine

On the same day as the synagogue attack in Jerusalem, Spain's parliament passed a resolution calling on the government to recognize the State of Palestine:

"The Spanish parliament urges the government to encourage the recognition of Palestine as a state... This recognition should be the consequence of a process negotiated between the parties that guarantees peace and security for both."

This was actually a version that was watered down at the last moment, possibly because of the Jerusalem attack.

European Union leaders have been expressing frustration about Israel's continuing settlement-building program in the West Bank. Palestinians claim that the settlements are being built on Palestinian land, making the two-state solution impossible. Israelis claim that the new settlements are being built only on land that would be part of Israel in a two-state solution. Reuters

Obama could order combat troops into Iraq and Syria

President Obama has repeatedly said that he would not permit American combat troops into Iraq or Syria to fight the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), but on Sunday he said:

"If we discovered that [ISIS] had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes. I would order it."

This is reminiscent of Obama's "red line" promise to attack the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad if it used chemical weapons. Obama immediately backed down when al-Assad attacked his own people with Sarin gas. Al-Assad is still using chemical weapons -- barrel bombs packed with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas, which he's using against innocent civilians with impunity. So it seems unlikely that anyone will take this new red line very seriously.

On Tuesday, the al-Assad regime dropped multiple barrel bombs on a civilian neighborhood in Aleppo, killing at least 14 people, including mothers and children. ABC News and AP

NATO and OSCE see Russian military buildup on both sides of Ukraine's border

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says that information from NATO and OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and other sources indicates that Russia is in the midst of "serious military buildup" on both sides of the Ukraine border. According to Stoltenberg:

"[We see] a military buildup...inside Ukraine, but we also see a military buildup on the Russian side of the border.

And we speak about troops, we speak about equipment, and we speak also about artillery and very modern air-defense systems so this is a serious military build-up. ...

We see that Russia is still destabilizing Ukraine, we see the movement of troops, of equipment, of tanks, of artillery and also advanced air defense systems and this is in violation of the cease-fire agreement. And we call on Russia to pull back its forces from eastern Ukraine and to respect the Minsk agreement."

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is practicing "shuttle diplomacy," traveling between Kiev and Moscow to prevent a Russia-Ukraine war. RFERL

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Nov-14 World View -- Jerusalem synagogue attack raises Arab-Israeli violence to new levels thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Nov-14 World View -- More Pakistan jihadist groups swear allegiance to ISIS

Japan in shock as economy plunges into recession

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Germany's friendly relations with Russia turn hostile


Putin wags his finger at Merkel at the 70th anniversary of D-Day commemoration in June (Reuters)
Putin wags his finger at Merkel at the 70th anniversary of D-Day commemoration in June (Reuters)

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has long had a soft spot for Germany, even developing a love for the German language when he was stationed in the East German city of Dresden as an office of the KGB in the late 1980s.

For her part, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has always promoted good relations with Russia, and for solving problems with dialogue. The business lobby in Germany is both more powerful and more sympathetic toward Russia than any major European state, and the German electorate has generally favored a neutral stance on foreign policy.

But that's changed dramatically in the last few months. Thanks to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, and the Russians' shooting down of airline flight MH17, Putin's reputation among the German public has been plummeting. In a nationwide survey conducted in August, a German pollster reportedly found that 82% of Germans do not believe that Russia can be trusted, while 70% called for tougher sanctions against the Russian economy.

Over the weekend, Merkel said, "Truly, the Ukraine crisis is in no way a regional issue. It affects all of us." She said that she was particularly concerned that Russia would not stop with the invasion of Ukraine, but would go to the Balkans.

She warned that the EU will not yield to Moscow like East Germany once did:

"Otherwise, one would have to say: We are too weak, be careful, we can't accept any others, we have to first ask Moscow if it is possible. That's how things were for 40 years; I never really wanted to return to that situation.

And that doesn't just apply to Ukraine. It applies to Moldova, it applies to Georgia. If the situation continues ... we'd have to ask about Serbia, we'd have to ask about the western Balkan countries. ...

After the horrors of two world wars and the end of the Cold War, [the Ukraine crisis] has challenged the peaceful order in Europe."

With the loss of Merkel as an ally, Russia is now almost completely estranged from Europe and the West, and further confrontations are sure to follow. Der Spiegel and Time and Europe Online

More Pakistan jihadist groups swear allegiance to ISIS

The black ISIS flag is beginning to appear all across Pakistan, from the south of Punjab province north to Islamabad, and in Balochistan and in the Afghan-Pakistan tribal region. At least 330 Pakistani terrorists are already known to be fighting alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

ISIS has been recruiting heavily in Pakistan and Afghanistan, anticipating a gain of territory as American military forces withdraw. After meeting a three-man delegation from ISIS, the Jundullah terrorist group pledged allegiance to ISIS last week. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is also considering allegiance. What these two groups have in common is that they're committed to exterminating Shia Muslims wherever possible, and have committed numerous bombings of mosques and marketplaces in Balochistan and Iran to accomplish this. Analysts say that so far IS has mainly attracted sectarian (anti-Shia) groups rather than anti-state militants like the Taliban.

In response, al-Qaeda has announced a new umbrella organization, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) that has made deep inroads into Pakistan. On September 3, 2014, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a 55-minute video posted on the Internet, announced the launch of AQIS to spread Islamic rule and "raise the flag of jihad" across the Indian subcontinent, including Pakistan. South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Reuters

Japan in shock as economy plunges into recession

Economists were expecting Japan's economy to grow by 2% in the third (most current) quarter, after having plunged a historic 7.6% in the second quarter. Instead, the GDP fell an additional 1.6% in the third quarter. And since the GDP has now fallen for two months in a row, Japan's economy is officially in a recession. The fall into recession is being blamed on a sales tax increase from 5% to 8% in April, which caused consumers to stop spending.

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe will put any further planned tax increases on hold, and will dissolve the Lower House and hold a "snap election" in December.

Japan's economy has been in a deflationary spiral since the early 1990s, following a huge real estate and stock market bubble in the 1980s, and a huge crash that began in January, 1990. In the spring of 2013, Shinzo Abe launched something called "Abenomics," involving a huge quantitative easing program. Japan's central bank "printed" hundreds of billions of dollars and used it to buy bonds. This is similar to America's recent quantitative easing program which, at its peak, put $85 billion per month into the banking system.

The objective of Abenomics was to end deflation once and for all. But instead of stimulating spending, all the money just poured into the stock market, benefiting only a minority of rich people. The vast majority of Japanese people have incomes that are stagnant or falling.

This has also been a criticism of America's quantitative easing program. In the U.S., the median income has been falling, but the stock market has been pushed up into bubble levels, with the S&P Price/Earnings ratio (stock valuations) close to 19, an astronomically high level, much higher than the historical average of 14. Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Nov-14 World View -- More Pakistan jihadist groups swear allegiance to ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Nov-14 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan says Muslims, not Christopher Columbus, discovered America

Merger of ISIS and al-Nusra seen unlikely, despite reports

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Blunt language from Canada's Stephen Harper to Vladimir Putin


Stephen Harper and Vladimir Putin at G20 meeting on Saturday
Stephen Harper and Vladimir Putin at G20 meeting on Saturday

As we reported yesterday, Russia's president had to eat lunch alone on Saturday at the G20 meeting being held in Brisbane, Australia, because none of the other countries' national leaders wanted to be seen with the man who invaded Ukraine.

It's now been revealed that the conversation between Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper and Putin was particularly blunt:

HARPER: "I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine."

PUTIN: "I’m not in Ukraine."

HARPER: "That’s why I don’t want to have a meeting with you, you’ll just lie to me."

AFP

Merger of ISIS and al-Nusra seen unlikely, despite reports

There have been several recent news reports about a possible merger between the Syrian jihadist groups Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front). However, examination of these reports make it evident that they all come from the same unreliable sources.

Although al-Nusra and ISIS fighters have cooperated in one or two specific local instances, ISIS would demand full subjugation of al-Nusra to itself, and that's not going to happen. In fact, statements from al-Nusra have expressed contempt for ISIS' claim to be either a "state" ("Islamic State") or a Caliphate, as ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi has claimed.

In the larger picture, al-Baghdadi has asked jihadist groups around the world to subjugate themselves to his self-declared ISIS caliphate, and a scattering of smaller jihadist groups from Indonesia to Algeria have done so. However, neither of the major al-Qaeda umbrella groups, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) headquartered in Yemen, nor Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), headquartered in northern Africa, is going to give up its identity and subjugate itself to ISIS. Joshua Landis

Turkey's Erdogan says Muslims, not Christopher Columbus, discovered America

At a meeting of the 1st Latin American Muslim Religious Leaders Summit in Istanbul on Saturday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Muslims discovered America long before Christopher Columbus did:

"Latin America's contact with Islam dates back to the 12th century. Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus. Muslim sailors arrived in America in 1178. Christopher Columbus mentions the existence of a mosque on a hill along the Cuban coast. I will talk to my brothers in Cuba and a mosque would suit the top of that hill today as well. We would build it if they [the Cuban government] say so. Islam had expanded in the American continent before Columbus arrived."

Various groups, from Malians to Vikings, have claimed to be the first to "discover America," but there's no archaeological evidence of any permanent settlements prior the expedition of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492.

There is a small Muslim minority in Cuba, many of whom claim that they're discriminated against. A delegation from Turkey traveled to Cuba earlier this year to seek permission to build a mosque in Havana, but the Cuban authorities rejected the request. Today's Zaman (Istanbul) and Independent (Ireland)

UN committee in Jordan investigates Israeli war crimes

The investigation committee of the UN Human Rights Council is meeting in Amman Jordan to hear the testimonies of Palestinians claiming to be victims of Israeli violence, to gather evidence of Israeli war crimes in the Gaza war of several months ago. They're meeting in Jordan because Israel has denied its members entry into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Likewise, Egypt has denied them entry into Gaza via the Rafah border crossing.

Israel's Foreign Ministry officially announced last week that it would not cooperate with the Council's investigation, saying that the Council has already predetermined that Israel is guilty, and is not investigating crimes by Hamas. The probe is headed by Canadian legal expert William Schabas, who previously stated that he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be brought before the International Criminal Court on war crime charges. Ma'an (Bethlehem) and Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Nov-14 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan says Muslims, not Christopher Columbus, discovered America thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Nov-14 World View -- Obamacare and the 'stupidity of the American voter'

Vladimir Putin eats lunch alone at G20 meeting

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vladimir Putin eats lunch alone at G20 meeting


An isolated Vladimir Putin eats lunch alone at G20 meeting on Saturday(Reuters)
An isolated Vladimir Putin eats lunch alone at G20 meeting on Saturday(Reuters)

Nobody wanted to eat lunch with Russia's president Vladimir Putin on Saturday at the G20 Leaders' Summit being held in Brisbane, Australia. It was supposed to be an economic summit, but most other leaders used the opportunity to blast Putin for Russia's repeated military intervention in Ukraine, for annexing Crimea, and for supplying the weapons and training to the Russians who shot down the MH17 airliner over Ukraine, killing hundreds of innocent passengers. Several leaders told Putin bluntly to "get out of Ukraine."

By lunch time, Putin was so isolated that no one wanted to be seen having lunch with him, so he sat at a lunch table alone. Later, his delegation announced that he would be leaving the G20 meeting early, calling the meeting "nonsense." Australian Broadcasting

Jonathan Gruber on Obamacare and the stupidity of the American voter

Obamacare supporters have been fleeing in droves from MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who was the principal architect of Obamacare. But there's no getting away from him. A glowing article in the NY Times on March 28, 2012, made it clear that Gruber was the number one health care expert in the country, not only because he had been developing models for decades, but also because he was a prime architect for Romneycare in Massachusetts, on which Obamacare was based.

Gruber's lectures at MIT are available on videotape, and they've revealed everything from the contemptuous attitude of Obamacare officials, and also deception and fraud in the selling of Obamacare.

According to Gruber:

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed.... Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass... Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not."

I'd like to point out that it's not people like me that Gruber is calling "stupid." The stupid people, in Gruber's view, are the supporters of Obamacare, who are presumably too stupid to see through the deception and fraud of Obamacare, as I was and many others were able to do. Gruber's remarks are an indictment of the Obamacare supporters, mostly Democrats who, in Gruber's view, were too stupid to see what was going on.

When I first wrote about the "Obama's health plan, a proposal of economic insanity" in 2009, I said that this plan would never be implemented because it would destroy markets and be economically disastrous. I compared it to President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls which were not as disastrous for the markets as Obama's health plan, but still wrecked the economy for close to a decade. I've repeated that many times since, and I'll discuss if further below.

However, let's turn to another Gruber quote, this one revealing financial fraud on the part of the Obamacare officials.

Obamacare advocates have repeatedly made statements to the effect, "Romneycare worked in Massachusetts, which proves that Obamacare can work across the country." However, another Gruber videotape says that's not true, because Romneycare was essentially bailed out by the federal government:

"We had a pretty powerful senator you may have heard of named Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy had managed to figure out a way to rip off the federal Medicaid program to the tune of about $500 million a year through a series of strange manipulations.

Here was Mitt Romney’s dirty little secret that we don’t like to talk about in Massachusetts, which is the way we passed our law is the federal government paid for it.

George Bush said why am I sending this Democrat $500 million a year, I’m taking it back. Mitt Romney to his credit went to George Bush and said, look, can we keep the money if we use it for universal coverage. And Bush to his credit said yes.

We realized that we can’t do this at the state level anymore. The feds are going to have to get involved. ...

[Kennedy was] delivering about $400 million a year in slush funds to our SafeNet hospitals, basically ripping off the federal Medicaid program."

So Romneycare was never self-sustaining, as Obamacare supporters have said, but was actually "ripping off the federal Medicaid program" to survive, according to Gruber. We now know that Obamacare was based on deception and fraud on many levels:

Daily Caller and Washington Examiner and New York Times (29-March-2012)

Massachusetts health care site finally up -- for $254 million

It's almost impossible to even imagine the astronomical sums that have been spent on the greatest IT disaster in world history, the HealthCare.gov web sites. As I wrote a year ago, this would have been a $10 million project if implemented in the private sector. (See "1-Dec-13 World View -- Obamacare: 500M lines of code, $500M, only 60% completed" from last year.)

But let's say that it should have cost $20 million. Then triple that amount because everything the government does is inefficient, and wastes enormous amounts of money, due to corruption, public sector labor unions, and cronyism. So that would be $60 million paid to the government for something that the private sector could do for $10 million.

According to some estimates, Healthcare.gov implementation costs are now in the billions of dollars.

On Saturday, open enrollment began, and the Massachusetts Obamacare web site, known as the Health Connector, came up. The cost for this one state web site? $254 million. And that was $80 million over budget.

This is almost unbelievable. Where is all this money going? There's no way that this is simply IT development expenses. There must be hundreds of millions of dollars being skimmed off by the contractors implementing Obamacare, and those contractors are going to be big Obama supporters and Democratic party contributors. My guess is that Obamacare contractors skimming off hundreds of millions of dollars and kicking it back to Obama administration cronies, to pay for the 2016 elections. That's the most credible explanation, until someone tells me where billions of development costs have been going. Boston Business Journal

The implementation of Obamacare

As soon as Obamacare was proposed, I called it a "proposal of economic insanity," and compared it to Nixon's wage-price controls, which is the same kind of proposal as Obamacare, at its core. I said that Obamacare would never be implemented, and I've repeated that many times.

Has Obamacare been implemented? It was supposed to be universal health coverage, and it certainly is not.

Nixon's wage-price controls were supposed to reduce inflation from 4% to 2%. That didn't happen. Instead, the economy was so screwed up with shortages and misallocations that the inflation rate rose to 12%. In other words, Nixon's wage-price controls destroyed the economy, and not only accomplished nothing, but were much worse than nothing.

Nixon's wage-price controls were popular because they promised something for nothing. They promised price controls that would keep prices of everything low. But then the shortages started occurring -- gasoline, heating oil, red meat, soybeans, and numerous other products. Nixon did everything he could to save the controls, granting special exemptions and perks to favored people, announcing frequent rule changes to resolve each new problem as it arose, and so forth.

Obamacare has followed the same path. People loved the promise of low-cost health care. But then shortages started showing up in the form of restricted networks. Skyrocketing insurance premiums are being ameliorated by federal subsidies that are a clearly in violation of the Obamacare law, and are being reviewed by Supreme Court, with a decision to be announced in June. (At least Nixon didn't try to reduce high prices with federal subsidies. That's an Obama invention.) And Obama has issued a wealth of rule changes and modifications to Obamacare to keep it from collapsing.

Obamacare supporters like to brag that there are 8 million more insured people now. That's a distortion of the situation. There are millions of "insured" people with deductibles of $5,000-$15,000. These millions of people are effectively uninsured, because they have to pay all of their medical expenses, in addition to the Obamacare insurance premiums. As a separate issue, millions of the newly insured are on Medicaid, and are unable to find doctors or hospitals that will accept Medicaid insurance. These people are also effectively uninsured. It's quite possible that there are fewer "effectively insured" people today than there were before Obamacare. (Paragraph modified. 16-Nov)

The heart of Nixon's wage-price controls were the mandates -- it was illegal to increase prices or wages by more than a certain amount.

The heart of Obamacare are the mandates -- the employer mandate that forces employers to provide insurance, and the individual mandate that forces people to purchase insurance.

Both of these have been eviscerated, for the time being. Because they were so unpopular, Obama was forced to effectively postpone them until 2015, under the assumption that Obamacare would be so wildly popular by 2015 that the mandates could be implemented then. Even so, millions of people with full-time 40 hour/week jobs have been forced into part-time 29.5 hour/week jobs by employers who can't afford to pay for health insurance for their employees. These mandates are at the core of Obamacare, just as wage/price mandates were at the heart of Nixon's controls, and without the mandates, both Nixon's controls and Obamacare become meaningless.

Nixon desperately did everything he could to save his wage-price controls, but in the end they were so unpopular and so disastrous that Congress forced them to be ended. They did enormous damage to the economy and accomplished nothing.

Similarly, Republicans are going to control both houses of Congress next year. My expectation is that some "compromise" will be found to weaken the mandates so much as to make them meaningless. In that case, both Obama and Republicans will be able to declare victory, and the only casualty will be the health care system which has been enormously damaged by Obama's "Obamacare" ego trip. But no matter. Obama will have his meaningless Obamacare legacy, and his cronies will have their hundreds of millions of dollars.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Nov-14 World View -- Obamacare and the 'stupidity of the American voter' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Nov-14 World View -- Ebola cluster growing in Mali, hundreds possibly exposed

U.S. scaling back troop presence in Liberia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Liberia announces end of Ebola state of emergency


A woman crawls toward the body of her sister as a burial team takes her away for cremation on October 10 in Monrovia, Liberia. The sister had died from Ebola earlier in the morning while trying to walk to a treatment center.  (Getty / CNN)
A woman crawls toward the body of her sister as a burial team takes her away for cremation on October 10 in Monrovia, Liberia. The sister had died from Ebola earlier in the morning while trying to walk to a treatment center. (Getty / CNN)

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced that Liberia's Ebola state of emergency, imposed in August, would not be extended. There is some evidence that the rate of growth of new Ebola cases in Liberia has begun to level off, justifying the end of the state of emergency, which was supposed to control the Ebola outbreak by curbing movement of people in worst-hit areas of the country.

In one particular region of Liberia, Lofa County, Ebola cases have plummeted. That's because Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) developed a strategy where health-care workers developed trusting relations with people in all the villages in the county, and were able to change behaviors.

However, it's hard for me, at least, to see any reason for less concern. According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Ebola situation report, the number of cases in Liberia increased from 4665 to 6878, or an almost 50% increase, in the 17 days from October 25 to November 11. That's still pretty much the same rate of doubling every month, so I don't see what the difference is. And even if the number of cases in Liberia is leveling off a little, WHO reports that the number of new Ebola cases is still surging in Sierra Leona. BBC and Washington Post and WHO Ebola Situation Report, 14-Nov-2014

Ebola cluster growing in Mali, hundreds possibly exposed

It now appears that an Ebola cluster is growing in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. So far, there have been only four cases and four deaths. However, hundreds of other people may have been exposed.

The chain of transmission was started by a 70-year-old man living in a town along Guinea’s border with Mali. He was sick, but no one tested him for Ebola. He traveled by car to Bamako, where he was treated in a local hospital and died. Because of his religious status as a Grand Imam, his body was treated with a ritual washing ceremony, and then sent back to his home in Guinea for a traditional funeral. Hundreds of people were in contact with the body, and Ebola wasn't recognized until the nurse who treated him was diagnosed with Ebola.

Health workers in Mali are now doing contact tracing in a panicked state, hoping to stop the spread of Ebola in Mali, and keep it from joining Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea as entire countries in chaos, devastated by Ebola. We won't know until at least the end of the year whether they're successful. NPR and Reuters and NBC

U.S. scaling back troop presence in Liberia

The Pentagon doesn't plan to deploy the full 4,000 U.S. troops to Liberia as had been previously announced. Instead, the current 2,200 troops will grow to nearly 3,000 by mid-December.

The troops have been tasked with building 17 100-bed treatment centers for Ebola, and have already built a 25-bed facility for medical personnel who contract the disease. NBC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Nov-14 World View -- Ebola cluster growing in Mali, hundreds possibly exposed thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Nov-14 World View -- Russia and Ukraine prepare for war in east Ukraine

Russia provides advanced weapons to Russians in east Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian troops in East Ukraine bring along new advanced weapons systems


1RL232 'Leopard' battlefield surveillance radar system
1RL232 'Leopard' battlefield surveillance radar system

As we reported yesterday Russian combat troops, tanks and artillery have been pouring into East Ukraine for the last few days.

Photos taken by two different journalists indicate that these include new and advanced weapons systems -- the 1RL232 "Leopard" battlefield surveillance radar system and the 1RL239 "Lynx" radar system. These armored and weaponized radar systems are meant to operate just behind front lines to track the movement of enemy convoys, troops, incoming artillery fire, and even low-flying aircraft (helicopters or drones). They also act as a precision targeting system; in fact, the 1RL232 is capable of detecting targets in the air, land, and sea, which are up to 40 kilometers away.

A former Pentagon advisor estimates that there are currently around 7,000 Russian troops inside Ukraine, backed by "as many as 100 tanks are inside Ukraine now, more than 400 armored vehicles, and more than 150 self-propelled artillery and multiple rocket launchers." Another 40,000-50,000 Russian soldiers, the same source claims, are positioned at the border with even more tanks, armored vehicles and self-propelled artillery. Foreign Policy and Daily Beast

Ukraine and Russia prepare for full-scale war

The conflict in Ukraine between the Ukrainian army and Russian forces has been intensifying in the last few weeks, and with the infusion of hundreds of new Russian troops, along with advanced weapons systems, it appears likely that Russia is planning full-scale war in Ukraine. The objective would be to annex additional territory in east Ukraine, and probably to capture the port city of Mariupol, and continue to create a land bridge from Russia to the Crimean peninsula. Russia invaded Ukraine's Crimea earlier this year, and annexed the region to Russia.

Russia and Ukraine have both been threatening war with each other, and analysts are now concerned that the threat is going to become the reality, with the existing conflict spiraling into a full-scale invasion by the Russians, something that's quite possible, with both Russia and Ukraine in a generational Crisis era. LA Times and VOA and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Nov-14 World View -- Russia and Ukraine prepare for war in east Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Nov-14 World View -- Russian combat troops, tanks and artillery pour into Ukraine

Turkey's warships near Cyprus threaten Egypt and Israel

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian combat troops, tanks and artillery pour into Ukraine


Armed personnel and unmarked military trunks arrive in Russian-controlled areas of east Ukraine (Reuters)
Armed personnel and unmarked military trunks arrive in Russian-controlled areas of east Ukraine (Reuters)

NATO says that fresh columns of Russian tanks, artillery and combat troops have been entering eastern Ukraine for the past few days. According to U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe:

"We have seen columns of Russian equipment – primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems – and Russian combat troops entering into Ukraine.

There is no question any more about Russia's direct military involvement in Ukraine."

Nato is confirming several days of reports by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) that there were unmarked convoys in the region.

As I wrote last week in "5-Nov-14 World View -- Russian troops approach Ukraine's border, threaten port city Mariupol", Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the Russian anti-government militias in east Ukraine, has vowed the intention to capture the Black Sea port city of Mariupol, with the plan for Russia to take control of all of southeastern Ukraine, putting a huge part of Ukraine from Russia to Crimea under Russian control. From there, the Russian army can continue on to Odessa.

Russia's defense ministry responded, "[We have] repeatedly stressed that there was and is no evidence supporting Brussels’ regular trumpeting over the alleged presence of Russian forces in Ukraine."

This is a comic statement in view of the events of the last few months. Russia claimed they weren't invading Crimea, just as Russian troops were invading Crimea. Russia claimed that they wouldn't annex Crimea, just before they annexed Crimea, a clear violation of international law. Russia claimed that there were no Russian troops in east Ukraine at a time when Russian troops were entering east Ukraine. On September 5, Russia signed an international peace agreement (the "Minsk protocols") in which they committed to a political compromise in east Ukraine, and then supported east Ukraine elections earlier this week in complete violation of their own agreement. Basically, anything that comes from Russian state media or Russia's government should be considered to be a lie. VOA and BBC and Russia Today

Turkey's warships near Cyprus threaten Egypt and Israel

Turkey's Navy has been authorized by the government to implement an aggressive set of rules of engagement for Turkish warships confronting Israeli or Egyptian warships in Cyprus's "exclusive economic zones" (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean, where Cyprus, Egypt and Israel have been conducting joint oil and gas explorations.

Cyprus has been divided into Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus since a 1974 war between Greece and Turkey on Cyprus. Greek Cyprus is a member of the European Union, and is recognized as the legitimate government of all of Cyprus. Turkey provides administrative services to the Turkish portion of Cyprus. Turkey objects to oil and gas drilling by Greek Cyprus, and has sent warships to monitor these activities

I've written several articles on the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war, in particular the alliance between Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia versus Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey. That realignment is also spreading into Europe. Because of Turkey's worsening relations with Israel and Egypt, the latter met with Greece and Greek Cyprus leaders to discuss security relations, and accused Turkey of "provocative actions" that were threatening security in the eastern Mediterranean.

However, Turkey is conducting its own seismic survey in retaliation for the Israeli, Greek Cypriot and Egyptian exploration, and Turkish Navy officials are saying that the warships aren't meant to be provocative, but are provided in support of Turkey's own research vessels. Furthermore, the naval activities were planned long ago. "The objective of the exercise is to improve cooperation with our allies and particularly to perform anti-submarine defense operations," according to the Turkish Navy's commander. Turkish Weekly and Defense News and Greek Reporter

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Nov-14 World View -- Russian combat troops, tanks and artillery pour into Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Nov-14 World View -- European high court clamps down on 'benefit tourism'

African football (soccer) federation expels Morocco over Ebola fears

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vladimir Putin causes scandal with shawl for Xi Jinping's wife


Vladimir Putin puts blanket on Peng Liyuan, Xi Jinping's wife (Reuters)
Vladimir Putin puts blanket on Peng Liyuan, Xi Jinping's wife (Reuters)

Russia's president Vladimir Putin grabbed the spotlight on Tuesday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, when he put a shawl around the shoulders of the apparently chilly Peng Linyuan, the glamorous wife of China's president Xi Jinping. Peng accepted the shawl gracefully, but then took it off and accepted a coat provided by her assistant.

The gesture appears to have triggered a scandal, because it appears to show that Xi was being inattentive to his wife, and it also appears that Putin was hitting on Xi's wife. News of the gesture flooded Chinese web sites, as well as many international web sites. However, Chinese censors immediately clamped down, and within hours there was barely a trace of the story remaining in China. Russia Today and The Atlantic

European high court clamps down on 'benefit tourism'

As Britain's prime minister David Cameron campaigns to limit freedom of movement of EU citizens between different countries, the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has made a ruling that's viewed as undercutting Cameron's campaign. The court ruled that Germany could refuse to provide unemployment benefits to a migrant from another country under certain conditions. The case was brought by a Romanian woman who moved to Germany solely to receive welfare benefits, and then refused to take any of the jobs that were offered to her. Furthermore, since the woman didn't have "sufficient means of support" for herself and her 10-year-old son, she could be deported back to Romania.

Freedom of movement between nations is a core principle of the European Union. Cameron has proposed that Britain be permitted to put a cap on the number of EU citizens from other countries that could move to Britain each year. As we reported last week, Germany is threatening Britain with EU expulsion of Cameron implements the migrant cap. Cameron's opposition is now saying that Cameron's proposal is no longer needed, because "benefit tourism" has been curbed.

Cameron says that the ruling is a step in the right direction, and that he'll unveil his proposals by the end of the year. The Local (Germany) and Daily Mail (London)

African football (soccer) federation expels Morocco over Ebola fears

Morocco had been scheduled to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations football (soccer) tournament from January 17 to February 8, but has repeatedly asked that the competition be postponed 6-12 months because of a fear that large crowds of visitors would bring Ebola to Morocco. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has just as repeatedly said that the dates of the tournament cannot be changed. So on Tuesday, Morocco confirmed that it will withdraw from hosting the tournament. At the same time, the CAF expelled Morocco from its membership.

There's been a scramble the last few weeks to find an alternate venue for the tournament, which is now only two months away. Possible replacements being discussed are Algeria, Angola, Egypt and Nigeria. Sun News (Lagos) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Nov-14 World View -- European high court clamps down on 'benefit tourism' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Nov-14 World View -- Palestinian violence increases around Jerusalem

'Kiss of Love' demonstrations challenge Hindu nationalism in India

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's Xi Jinping snubs Japan's Shinzo Abe at Beijing meeting


Ice cold handshake Monday between Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe
Ice cold handshake Monday between Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe

Pollyannas have been hoping that finally Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would resolve their countries' differences over the islands in the East China Sea when then met on Monday. Abe had reportedly been looking forward to the meeting, but any hopes of détente were quickly dashed.

The encounter took place at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, being held in Beijing, attended by numerous world leaders. Xi violated protocol by keeping Abe waiting for Xi to greet him at Beijing's Great Hall of the People. Abe greeted Xi when they finally met and stiffly shook hands, but Xi didn't say a word, and ostentatiously frowned.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said wishfully: "Leaders (from the two nations) met and exchanged views frankly. I think there was big progress in freshly improving the economic and various relationships between Japan and China."

There have been private talks between Xi and Abe, but the outcome has not been reported. Reuters

Palestinian violence increases around Jerusalem

Fears are mounting that Israel may be facing a new Palestinian uprising on multiple fronts. Violence has been increasing since last June's abduction and murder of three Israeli teens, launching a spiral of violence that triggered the Gaza war, essentially in defeat for Hamas, and further violence after the war ended.

On Monday, a West Bank Palestinian stabbed and critically wounded a soldier in Tel Aviv. Hours later, a Palestinian tried to run over pedestrians, and then got out of his car and stabbed three of them. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. There have been several similar attacks -- stabbings and attempts to run over pedestrians -- in the last few weeks, and Hamas has been calling for more acts like that.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again took a hard line:

"The terrorists want to drive us out from here. I promise they will not succeed. We will fight the incitement of the Palestinian Authority and we will act with determination against the rioters calling for Israel’s destruction. ...

To all those [Israeli Arabs] who are shouting against Israel and demonstrating against it — you are welcome to move to the Palestinian Authority or to Gaza, Israel won’t stand in the way.

But whoever stays here must know — we will stand in the way of terrorists and attackers. I have given instructions to use all of the means at our disposal, including passing new laws, including destroying terrorists’ homes, and other measures."

Palestinian Authority (PA/PLO) spokesman Hanan Ashrawi said:

"People are beginning to be provoked beyond endurance. We’ve been against violence from the beginning but Israel seems to think it’s a one-way street, that they can do it against Palestinians with impunity and if any Palestinian responds in the same way it’s called terrorism."

There's very much the feeling that the situation is spiraling out of control. Times of Israel and Foreign Policy and Independent (London)

Israeli lawyers file war crimes complaint in ICC against Mahmoud Abbas

The Israel Law Center (ILC) has filed a war crimes complaint in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Palestinian Authority (PA/PLO/Fatah) chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The complaint states that the Fatah faction was responsible for numerous rocket attacks on Israeli cities during this past summer's Gaza war, making Abbas personally liable for the terrorist groups' criminal acts.

Neither the State of Palestine nor the Palestinian Authority is a member of the ICC. Nonetheless, the ILC says that the ICC has jurisdiction over Abbas because Abbas is a Jordanian citizen, and Jordan became a member of the ICC in 2002.

Abbas has been widely encouraged to have the State of Palestine become a member of the ICC, and then to bring war crimes charges against Israel. However, as we reported in July, Palestinian lawyers are saying that they are on solid grounds in some areas, but that Palestine would face much more severe war crimes charges for launching missiles at Israeli citizens. Jerusalem Post and Israel National News

'Kiss of Love' demonstrations challenge Hindu nationalism in India

A Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) organization is making threats against sponsors of "Kiss of Love" events, where couples embrace and kiss in public, which is considered to be indecent behavior by strict Hindu nationalists. According to the national president of a Hindutva youth outfit:

"We are not against love – I am a young man too. But we oppose any expression of love that goes against our traditions, against Hindu society. The country also has a law against indecent behavior in public. These are a few misguided youth who are affiliated with NGOs and want to attract media attention."

There have been some threats of violence against "Kiss of Love" participants. DNA India

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Nov-14 World View -- Palestinian violence increases around Jerusalem thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Nov-14 World View -- Israel raises alert level as protests surge

Jerusalem becomes epicenter of new protests

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Video of Israeli police shooting sparks outrage and protests


Israeli-Arab protesters clash with police in northern Israel on Sunday (AP)
Israeli-Arab protesters clash with police in northern Israel on Sunday (AP)

On Friday evening, an Israeli policeman shot and killed Kheir Hamdan, 22, an Arab-Israeli citizen living in the northern Israeli town of Kfar Kana. Police said that they shot Hamdan after he brandished a knife and slammed his fist on the windows of a police van, after a relative was arrested for using a stun grenade. Police said they feared they were in danger.

Palestinian witnesses to the event say that the police unit shot Hamdan dead, for no reason whatsoever, and that Hamdan neither held any knife, nor tried to attack the policemen.

Subsequent to the shooting, a surveillance video emerged that appeared to contradict the police story. Hamdan is seen banging with an object on the window of the police van containing Arab detainees. When a police officer tries to open the back door of the van to confront him, Hamdan lunges at him with the object, forcing the officer back inside. Hamdan begins to walk away, officers emerge from the van and one shoots him as he retreats.

At least 20 Arab-Israelis were arrested during riots in Kfar Kana on Saturday, during protests against the killing. Riots were also taking place in other Arab-Israeli cities.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a hard line:

"We will take determined action against those who throw stones, firebombs and fireworks, and block roads, and against demonstrations that call for our destruction. We are not prepared to tolerate more demonstrations in the heart of our cities in which Hamas or ISIS flags are waved and calls are made to redeem Palestine with blood and fire, calling in effect for the destruction of the State of Israel.

“I have instructed the interior minister to use all means, including evaluating the possibility of revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel."

Rioting continued on Sunday in Kafr Kana in northern Israel. Hundreds of extra police officers have been deployed to the district.

Israeli-Arab officials declared a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest the killing. Hundreds of students at Tel Aviv University and Haifa University staged demonstrations, with some changing "Israel is a terrorist state." Jewish Telegraphic Agency and International Middle East Media Center (Gaza) and Jerusalem Post

Israel raises national alert level, as protests continue in Jerusalem

As one studies world history, one remarkable fact becomes apparent: Almost every major "world war" affecting the West since Old Testament times has centered on or been heavily involved with Jerusalem as an epicenter. Jerusalem is a holy city to the four major religions of the West and Mideast: Judaism, Islam, Catholic/Protestant Christianity, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

As I've been reporting, there has been a clear trend line of increasing violence in and around Jerusalem, ever since the bodies of three Israeli teenage settlers were found weeks after they were abducted on June 10 by terrorists that Israelis believe were commissioned by Hamas. This was followed by a spiral of violence, as well as the Gaza war. Tensions and violence continue to increase almost every day, and violence between Jews and Arabs is the worst it's been in over a decade.

Tensions escalated sharply in Jerusalem last week, with increased violence between Palestinians and Israeli security police around the Temple Mount, the holiest site in the Jewish religion, which is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam (after Mecca and Medina). When Israel temporarily shut down access to the Al Aqsa mosque compound for two days last week, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas called it "tantamount to a declaration of war."

Israeli police raised alert levels nationwide on Sunday, as angry clashes and demonstrations took place across Israel.

Jordan's Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur said the ongoing tension over Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount compound was inflicting a "stab wound" on the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel. Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel last week.

There's a growing trend illustrated by the fact that almost every day there are new stories about international condemnation of Israel for the "occupation" of the West Bank and the Gaza war. Some of these condemnations are a revival of popular World War II anti-Semitism of the kind that led to the Holocaust. Others are genuine expressions of concern for the Palestinians. But either way, it seems that hostility to Israel grows every day, and Jerusalem may again be the epicenter of the next world war. Daily Star (Beirut) and Al Bawaba / Ma'an

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Nov-14 World View -- Israel raises alert level as protests surge thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Nov-14 World View -- Gorbachev warns of new cold war as Germany commemorates fall of Berlin Wall

The reunification of Germany

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Germany commemorates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall


7000 illuminated balloons retrace the path of the Berlin Wall (DW)
7000 illuminated balloons retrace the path of the Berlin Wall (DW)

Some 7,000 illuminated balloons are lighting the streets of Berlin this weekend, retracing the path of a 15 km (9 mile) stretch of the Berlin Wall, whose 3.6 meter concrete slabs split Berlin into two for thirty years. Some 2 million people are filling the streets of Berlin this weekend, commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

When the German Nazis were defeated in 1945, the survivors wanted to make sure that the Nazis could never rise again to fight another war. So the four victorious allies divided Germany into four sectors, or zones of occupation: the American, British, French and Soviet zones. The city of Berlin, the Nazi capital city, which lay inside the Soviet zone, was also split into four zones. In the years that followed, the three western zones were reunited into the country of West Germany, leaving the Soviet zone to become East Germany.

It quickly became obvious that the two countries were as different as night and day. People in West Germany had freedom and a high standard of living under capitalism. People in Communist East Germany were in poverty and repressed, living under the Stalinist model of a command economy, found today only in Cuba and North Korea. During the years 1949-1961, some 2.5 million out of East Germany's 17 million people fled to West Germany, both humiliating the Communists and draining East Germany's best and brightest.

On August 12-13, 1961, the Communists ran a barbed wire fence down through Berlin, splitting it into two. When East and West Berliners work up on Sunday morning, August 13, 1961, they suddenly discovered that they could no longer cross over to the other side. Families were split. Neighborhoods were split. The barbed wire was soon replaced with cinder blocks, and the Berlin Wall was complete. Anyone trying to cross would be shot on sight. Deutsche-Welle and VOA

The reunification of Germany

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was Technology Editor of InformationWeek magazine, and I happened to visit the Hannover Fair CeBIT, the largest computer show in the world. This was the first time that East Germans were able to go to this show, and their minds were blown. Like every other Communist country, Communist East Germany had been stuck in the 1950s. (This is because all transactions are controlled by government regulations, and you can easily prove mathematically that that as a country's population grows exponentially, the number of regulators required to manage the economy grows exponentially faster. And so communist countries have no choice but to freeze the economy, allowing no changes. China got around this problem essentially by setting up a fascist economy -- capitalism and pricing freedom, but repression and no political freedom.)

One Finanzgruppe manager at the show told me of the pain he felt when he spoke to visitors from East Germany:

"They have no understanding for business, and we have to help them. They visit here and within an hour they have a blackout -- it's too much for them. Their savings banks have no electronic devices to do the work. They do all their work with only mechanical devices."

Finanzgruppe was doing its duty willingly, like every bank in West Germany. It worked by finding a similar bank in the East and forming a partnership. They give the partner bank an IBM PC compatible computer, basic software including spreadsheet, data base, word processing, accounting software, and financial service programs. Finanzgruppe also provided training and consulting services. "They don't have to begin making payments for a year, and then only if they can," I was told.

It was inevitable that the two Germanys were going to reunite, and many people were frightened, including the French and the Poles and others that had been massacred by the Nazis. The German national anthem still began with the words, "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Über alles in der Welt," meaning "Germany over everything. Germany over the world." I recall a TV interview of Henry Kissinger, born in 1923 as a German Jew, who said, "I will be able to die happy if I never live to see Germany reunited."

In fact, reunification happened rather quickly, like the fall of the Berlin Wall itself. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this was an Awakening era climax, like the resignation of Richard Nixon. A lot of people keep hoping that the same thing will happen today in Korea, reuniting the North and South. But this is a generational Crisis era, and Korea will not be reunited without a major war.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warns of a new cold war

Former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev is in Berlin this weekend, taking part in the commemoration ceremonies. Gorbachev is well respect and even loved in Germany because of something he DIDN'T do -- when the Berlin Wall started falling, he didn't send in troops to shoot everyone in sight. He let it happen bloodlessly.

So the Germans are likely to listen carefully to Gorbachev's warning to the West about causing another Cold War.

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. According to Gorbachev in a speech on Saturday, the leaders of the western world were intoxicated with euphoria of triumph, and they adopted anti-Russian policies that eventually led to the current crisis:

"Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads of Western leaders. Taking advantage of Russia's weakening and the lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination of the world, refusing to heed words of caution from many of those present here. The events of the past months are consequences of short-sighted policies of seeking to impose one’s will and fait accompli while ignoring the interests of one’s partners."

Gorbachev said the West had made mistakes that upset Russia with the enlargement of NATO, with its actions in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Kosovo and Syria and with plans for a missile defense system. Referring to Ukraine, he said:

"To put it metaphorically, a blister has now turned into a bloody, festering wound. And who is suffering the most from what's happening? I think the answer is more than clear: It is Europe.

Instead of becoming a leader of change in a global world Europe has turned into an arena of political upheaval, of competition for the spheres of influence, and finally of military conflict. The consequence inevitably is Europe’s weakening at a time when other centers of power and influence are gaining momentum. If this continues, Europe will lose a strong voice in world affairs and gradually become irrelevant."

Gorbachev advised the West to tone down its anti-Russian rhetoric, but then he simply excused the rhetoric of Russia's president Vladimir Putin:

"Despite the harshness of his criticism of the West and the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions, and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership."

Gorbachev's double-standard -- criticizing the West's rhetoric while excusing Putin's rhetoric -- illustrates the confusion in Gorbachev's message. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, he makes the same mistake that many others make in this generational Crisis era, by assuming that if everyone makes an effort to be nice and sweet, then everyone will compromise, just the way they did in the 80s and 90s, and that isn't going to happen. People in Russia and the West have become far more nationalistic than they were in the 80s and 90s, and not willing to compromise.

However, recall that before World War II, Russia was our bitter enemy; during WW II, Russia was our close ally; after WW II, Russia was our bitter enemy. As I've been saying for years, in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, Russia, India and Iran will be our allies, versus our enemies, China, Pakistan and the Sunni countries. Generational Dynamics predicts that these alliances are already determined, whether anyone follows Gorbachev's advice or not. Russia Today and VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Nov-14 World View -- Gorbachev warns of new cold war as Germany commemorates fall of Berlin Wall thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Nov-14 World View -- Obama sharply escalates U.S. involvement in Iraq war

Chechnya refugees now fighting the Russians in Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. is doubling number of troops in Iraq, but it's not 'mission creep'


Iraqis fighting ISIS militants on October 25 (Reuters)
Iraqis fighting ISIS militants on October 25 (Reuters)

President Barack Obama announced late Friday afternoon, three days after the election, that he is authorizing 1500 new troops into Iraq, effectively doubling the number of authorized troops to 3,100.

What is more significant, however, is that while the previous troops were kept close to Baghdad for such tasks as protecting the embassy, the new troops will be out in the field in Anbar province, where they will be vulnerable to combat attacks and kidnapping. However, according to the White House, this new announcement is not "mission creep."

For reference, here's a selection of past statements by Obama:

"Jun 19: We're prepared to send a small number of additional American advisors, up to 300, to assess how we can best train, advise and support Iraqis security force forces going forward I think we always have to guard against mission creep, so let me repeat what I've said in the past -- American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again.

Sep 7: The notion that the U.S. should be putting boots on the ground is a profound mistake.

Sep 10: These American forces will not have a combat mission. We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.

Sep 12: My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

Sep 12: But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.

Sep 18: The the American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.

Sep 20: I won't commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq or in Syria."

In Friday's announcement, the President insisted that this wasn't mission creep, and that they would be advising and assisting, but not fighting.

But these 1,500 new troops will be out in Anbar province, in the middle of the fighting. Are they really just going to sit there and watch as the fighting goes one?

It's worth pointing out that Obama has been consistently wrong about Iraq. In 2007, he opposed President George Bush's "surge," which turned out to be successful. In December 2011, he said Iraq was stable, and had no need for American troops at all. In June of this year, when he sent in 300 troops as advisors, he suggested that ISIS could be defeated with Iraqi troops and American air strikes.

At every step of the way, one analyst after another explained why Obama was wrong. And it now turns out that those analysts were right and Obama was wrong.

The comeuppance election

Today I heard one analyst say that at least 10,000 or so more troops would be needed for the operation in Anbar province to be effective, and he predicted that Obama would end up increasing the deployment to at least the level within a few months -- and that they would be combat troops.

I've told the following story many times, but it's worth repeating now. When I heard Obama campaigning in 2008, saying that with his election the earth would heal and the tides would recede, and making other ridiculous promises, I didn't think much of it, since politicians always say ridiculous things when they're campaigning, and then they pull them back after the election.

After the election, when I heard Obama continue saying the same things, I knew we were in trouble. And when I heard him say something to the effect that on January 21 the world will be a different place, I thought that if he really believed that, then he delusional.

Now, six years later, it's clear that he's delusional. His supporters make excuses for him, but the excuses don't explain the arrogance, the doubling down on every bad decision, the fact that every foreign policy decision has been a disaster, the attitude that he's the smartest guy in the room, in every room -- even though he's admitted he can't do his daughter's 7th grade math homework. It's gotten to the point where I almost dread it whenever he opens his mouth.

Everybody gets his comeuppance sooner or later, and on Tuesday Obama got his. It's a compliment to the American political system that we tolerate this kind of delusional arrogance only for so long, and then elections take over. This is in contrast to any number of countries where delusional leaders stay in office forever. Tuesday's election was a "comeuppance election" for Obama. He still hasn't learned anything, and he's still arrogantly doubling down on every bad decision, but at least the American political system has limited how much more damage he can do. We're really seeing the strength and brilliance of our Constitutional form of government.

In the meantime, there's little that we can do but watch as he stumbles, one step at a time, into a new American war in Iraq in the worst possible way. Reuters

U.S. cannot confirm claim that Russian tanks are entering Ukraine

According to Ukraine's military, Russia on Thursday sent a column of 32 tanks and truckloads of troops across Russia's border into Ukraine, to support the anti-government Russians in east Ukraine. This follows reports on Wednesday that Russian troops were approaching Ukraine's border.

However, the State Department said on Friday that it could not confirm the reports that the troops had crossed the border. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said Russian battle tanks, armored vehicles and cargo trucks had been seen on Thursday at a rail yard about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the border. Reuters and AFP

Chechnya refugees now fighting the Russians in Ukraine

In a surprise development, two battalions of Chechen veterans of late 1990s war between Russia and Chechnya are now fighting the Russians in Ukraine, under the Ukrainian flag. These are people who fought at the beginning of the second Russian-Chechen war and ended up in European countries as refugees.

Some of these Chechens had been going to Syria to join the jihadists fighting the Syrian regime because that was the only outlet available. But the Ukraine conflict has given them a new outlet, with the advantage that they can strike the Russian army and Russian interests directly. Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Nov-14 World View -- Obama sharply escalates U.S. involvement in Iraq war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Nov-14 World View -- Russia's troubles rise as the ruble and oil prices fall

France adopts new law to stop young people from going to Syria to be jihadists

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's troubles rise as the ruble and oil prices fall


Underground gas storage facility in Ukraine (Bloomberg)
Underground gas storage facility in Ukraine (Bloomberg)

Oil markets fell sharply again on Thursday, with U.S. crude falling to $78 per barrel, and North Sea Brent Crude falling to $83 per barrel. Oil prices have been falling because of a combination of increased supply and decreased demand. Oil demand is falling because of a potential European recession and slowing Chinese growth. World oil production has been growing, particularly in the United States where oil from fracking has been surging. Saudi Arabia has been cutting prices and increasing production, apparently with the intention of trying to make U.S. oil production unprofitable, but in doing so they're pushing oil prices down further. Some analysts are predicting that it will reach $70 per barrel.

This is good news for people will cars, but it's bad news for Russia's government, which depends on oil income. Russia has budgeted for oil to be priced at $114 per barrel or more, an assumption that seemed fairly reasonably only a few months ago.

The value of the Russian ruble has also been plummeting, and fell 3.6% on Thursday, the biggest drop in six years. The fall in the ruble is mostly due to the fall in oil prices, but also due to the sanctions imposed by the West for Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Reuters and Bloomberg and Citibank

Russia loses influence in East Ukraine as economy weakens

The election last week by the East Ukraine Russians of leaders of the self-designated Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic, is just one sign that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is losing influence in East Ukraine. Because of its own economic problems, Russia is unable to provide much financial aid to Donetsk and Lugansk, where the economic situation is critical.

Schoolteachers and other government officials have not been paid since July, when Ukraine's government in Kiev cut off funding. State-owned companies in Donetsk and Lugansk have no idea how they're going to survive. In many villages there's no power, little water, and few medications. The real test will come in winter.

Even worse, disputes between leaders in Donetsk and Lugansk are growing, the citizen militias are disintegrating. Today, there's no real leader with whom anyone -- Moscow, Kiev, Nato -- can negotiate. Der Spiegel

France adopts new law to stop young people from going to Syria to be jihadists

More than 1,000 young people from France have joined jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, more than from any other country. Entire families have joined jihadist movements, including about 100 young French women. Even upper class families are shocked when their children suddenly disappear and are later discovered in Syria, the boys to be used as cannon fodder and the girls to marry the jihadists.

France on Tuesday adopted an anti-terrorism law that will impose a travel ban on anyone suspected of planning to wage jihad. It also brings in punishment for “lone wolves” who plan terrorist attacks on their own, and allows authorities to block entry to any EU citizen or their relatives if their presence in France constitutes a threat. Al Arabiya and Der Spiegel

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Nov-14 World View -- Russia's troubles rise as the ruble and oil prices fall thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Nov-14 World View -- Pakistan mob lynches Christian couple over alleged blasphemy charge

Jordan recalls Israeli envoy as violence increases in Jerusalem

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan mob lynches Christian couple over alleged blasphemy charge


Site of the brick kiln where the Christian couple was burned to death (Express)
Site of the brick kiln where the Christian couple was burned to death (Express)

A poor Christian couple who worked in a brick kiln were accused on Monday by a co-worker of having burned pages of the Koran. No evidence was presented. On Tuesday, a local cleric used loudspeakers of his mosque to demand that his community to punish the couple. A mob gathered outside the couple's house, dragged them out, and beat them. They locked up the couple for two days, attacked the woman with shovels, then tortured the husband, and threw both of them into the brick kiln where they had worked, letting them burn to death.

The police had two days to stop all this, but did nothing until after the couple had been killed.

I've reported on several similar cases over the years. A completely unsupported charge of blasphemy is made, and the accused is murdered or lynched.

In January 2011, Salman Taseer, a high ranking Pakistani official, was assassinated by one of his own bodyguards. Taseer had publicly opposed Pakistan's blasphemy law, and so Taseer himself was committing blasphemy. Taseer was shot in broad daylight on an Islamabad street by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the "Elite Force" that were supposed to protect him. ( "5-Jan-11 News -- Pakistan's crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated")

The next day, when Qadri was brought to court to face charges of having assassinated Taseer, the other lawyers 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 requires the killing of anyone committing an act of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.

In September 2012, a mentally retarded 14 year old Christian girl in a suburb of Islamabad was arrested for blasphemy, accused by a Muslim cleric of burning papers containing verses from the Koran. She was later released when it turned out that the cleric had manufactured evidence, but she and her family had to be relocated because of threats against them.

The application of blasphemy laws in Pakistan is extremely irrational.

The cases that make international news are when blasphemy laws are used to target Christians, but in fact that's a small percentage of such cases. Blasphemy laws are used by Muslims to target other Muslims in well over 90% of the cases, usually by Sunni Muslims targeting Shia Muslims or Sufis or Ahmadis. Thousands of Pakistanis have been jailed, tortured or killed by means of the blasphemy laws. But what's really remarkable is ordinary Pakistanis accept this, and they refuse to speak out against it.

This is exactly the kind of behavior that I've frequently described in Generation-Xers in America, where thousands of Gen-X financial engineers created the financial crisis with the purpose of defrauding hated Boomers, without being investigated or sent to jail, because Gen-Xers refuse to blame other Gen-Xers for anything, even serious crimes. It's this refusal to blame other Gen-Xers for crimes that characterizes this generation today versus the Boomers, and it's exactly the same kind of behavior we're seeing in the Pakistani population today.

As I explained in "The Legacy of World War I and the Holocaust", this is also the same behavior that led to the 1930s Holocaust. Germany's Lost Generation (the generational predecessor of today's Generation-X) hated the previous Missionary Generation just as much as today's Gen-Xers hate the previous Boomer Generation.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these situations occur in all times and places throughout history, and result in history's greatest catastrophes. In each case, the generational conflict morphs into a political conflict, as people in every generation are forced to choose sides in the generational debate. In 1930s Germany, it was the Christians blaming the Jews for German humiliation in World War I. In America in the mid-2000s, it was the Democrats blaming the Republicans for the Nasdaq crash in 2000. In Pakistan, it's the Sunnis blaming the Shias. The result is always the same: catastrophe. Daily Times (Pakistan) and BBC

Jordan recalls Israeli envoy as violence increases in Jerusalem

Tensions escalated sharply in Jerusalem on Wednesday, as Jordan recalled its Israeli envoy, citing increased violence between Palestinians and Israeli security police around the Temple Mount, the holiest site in the Jewish religion, which is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam (after Mecca and Medina). When Israel temporarily shut down access to the Al Aqsa mosque compound for two days last week, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas called it "tantamount to a declaration of war."

Jordan's announcement was followed by further clashes, and a terrorist act, when a Palestinian drove his van into a crowd of bystanders, and then got out of his vehicle and began attack people with a crowbar. He was shot and killed by police. Hamas has claimed credit for the terrorist attack. A similar incident occurred two weeks ago, raising concern that this will be a new pattern of repeating terrorist attacks.

There is a clear trend line of increasing violence in and around Jerusalem, ever since the bodies of three Israeli teenage settlers were found weeks after they were abducted on June 10 by terrorists that Israelis believe were commissioned by Hamas. This was followed by a spiral of violence, as well as the Gaza war. Tensions and violence continue to increase almost every day, and violence between Jews and Arabs is the worst it's been in over a decade. This has led some Israeli officials to believe that a "third intifada" is here, and that Palestinians will increasingly attack Jews in the months to come. Irish Times and Jewish Press

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Nov-14 World View -- Pakistan mob lynches Christian couple over alleged blasphemy charge thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Nov-14 World View -- Russian troops approach Ukraine's border, threaten port city Mariupol

Hezbollah leader brags about Syria war despite spillover into Lebanon

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian troops approach Ukraine's border, threaten port city Mariupol


Russian troops may be planning an attack on the port city of Mariupol, linking Crimea with Russia, and remaining poised to continue to Odessa
Russian troops may be planning an attack on the port city of Mariupol, linking Crimea with Russia, and remaining poised to continue to Odessa

Nato says that regular Russian troops in Russia are approaching the Ukraine border, after Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the Russian anti-government militias in east Ukraine, has vowed the intention to capture the Black Sea port city of Mariupol.

Russia's state-sponsored media is saying:

"Russia has repeatedly stated that it is not a party to the Ukrainian internal conflict and said that all of the country's actions are in accordance with the international law."

It's true that Russia has repeatedly claimed those things, but in each case those claims turned out to be lies. Russia claimed they weren't invading Crimea, just as Russian troops were invading Crimea. Russia claimed that they wouldn't annex Crimea, just before they annexed Crimea, a clear violation of international law. Russia claimed that there were no Russian troops in east Ukraine at a time when Russian troops were entering east Ukraine. On September 5, Russia signed an international peace agreement (the "Minsk protocols") in which they committed to a political compromise in east Ukraine, and then supported east Ukraine elections earlier this week in complete violation of their own agreement.

The winner of those east Ukraine elections was Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said "Ukraine has to understand that the (Donetsk People’s Republic) is already another state," essentially declaring war on Ukraine's government. On the same day, Soviet army veteran Igor Plotnitsky became leader of the neighboring self-proclaimed People's Republic of Luhansk, and he appealed to east Ukraine regions to secede and create a new state of Novorossiya.

As the Russian military buildup proceeds, Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko has ordered army Ukrainian reinforcements to key eastern and southeastern Ukraine cities. However, no one seriously believes that Ukraine's army can withstand an invasion by Russia. BBC and LA Times and Ria Novosti (Moscow) and AFP/Reuters

Russia uses Hungary to put ethnic Rusins in play against Ukraine

Although Hungary has been a member of the European Union, the relationship has been extremely contentious because of discrimination against Jews and Roma citizens, and because of laws favored by Hungary's premier Viktor Orbán to limit free speech and limit the freedom of Hungary's central bank. Hungary's government has been growing increasingly pro-Russian, and Orbán's relationship with Russia's president Vladimir Putin has been getting closer.

Putin has been taking advantage of the closer relationship with Hungary as a cover to promote a secessionist movement in western Ukraine of the Rusin (or Carpatho-Rusin) ethnic group. Orbán's government promotes itself as a defender of the Rusins against Ukrainians, and a strong secessionist movement would destabilize Ukraine in the west, giving Russian troops a freer hand in the east, with the continuing threat of continuing to dismember Ukraine completely. Jamestown and Orthodox Holiness

Hezbollah leader brags about Syria war despite spillover into Lebanon

Shia Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, appearing on nationwide television in Lebanon on Tuesday, bragged about entering Syria's war on the side of the Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad, and tried to downplay the increasing Shia versus Sunni sectarian violence that's been spilling over into Lebanon, particularly along the northern border with Syria.

Tuesday is Ashura, the most important date in the Shia calendar. It commemorates the battle of Karbala in 680, which led to the historic split between Sunni and Shia Islam. Nasrallah tried to cool sectarian tensions in Lebanon by playing them down:

"There is an error in diagnosing the nature of the conflict in the region, which is not a Sunni-Shiite conflict.... We, the Shiites, should not be dealing with this conflict as being sectarian, our battle is not with the Sunnis, but with American hegemony, Israeli schemes, and Takfiris [Muslims accused of apostasy]."

Hezbollah used to be popular with both Sunnis and Shias, many of whom view the militia as the principal force in the "resistance" against Israel. But Hezbollah's invasion of Syria to bolster al-Assad's forces has reduced the popular view of Hezbollah as a sectarian Shia militia, backed by Iran, joining with a regime that's massacring innocent Sunni women and children in Syria.

During his speech, Nasrallah tried to regain popular support by speculating on a Hezbollah attack on Israel:

"Israelis are saying in the media that they would have to close down Ben-Gurion Airport and the Haifa port and yes, that’s true.

You should close all of your airports and your ports because there is no place in the land of occupied Palestine that the resistance’s rockets cannot reach. ...

They know that going to war with the resistance will be very costly because we are more determined, stronger, more experienced ... and we are capable of achieving such accomplishments."

Daily Star (Beirut) and Naharnet (Beirut) and CS Monitor

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Nov-14 World View -- Russian troops approach Ukraine's border, threaten port city Mariupol thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Nov-14 World View -- Germany threatens Britain with EU expulsion over the migrant issue

Mystery drones fly over France's nuclear sites

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Germany threatens Britain with EU expulsion over the migrant issue


Polish jobseekers boarding buses to the UK (Getty)
Polish jobseekers boarding buses to the UK (Getty)

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is warning Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron that Britain might have to leave the European Union if Cameron insists on adopting quotas that would limit the number of migrant workers coming to Britain.

German sources are saying that if Cameron proceeded with his plan, then:

"There will be no going back. Should Cameron persist [in this plan], Chancellor Angela Merkel would abandon her efforts to keep Britain in the EU. With that a point of no return would be reached. That would be it then."

It should be noted that this isn't about migrants from Syria or northern Africa, which is an entirely different issue. This is about migrants who are EU citizens living in eastern Europe, mainly in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. These and other east European states joined the EU in 2004-2007, but restrictions on migrant labor did not fully disappear until January 2014.

A big driver of east-to-west migration is the big gap in average wages. In 2012, an average working in Bulgaria or Romania got a little over $4,000 a year, while the figure was $33,000 for UK and Denmark and $27,000 for Germany.

Cameron is also concerned about "benefit tourism," where jobless migrants shop around from country to country to find the best social welfare and unemployment benefits.

Cameron is fighting a political battle in Britain, over the rise of UKIP, the UK Independence Party, which favors Britain leaving the EU and has been gaining popularity.

But for Merkel, there is no possible compromise on this issue. British quotas on EU migration would call into question the European Union's "four freedoms" -- the free movement of people, goods, services and capital -- that form a significant part of the foundation for European unity. Der Spiegel and BBC and Independent (Ireland)

Mystery drones fly over France's nuclear sites

Officials in France, which gets more than two-thirds of its electricity from nuclear power, the highest proportion in the world, are concerned about a flurry of mystery drones that in the last month have flown over 15 of the country's 19 nuclear power plant sites. On Friday of last week, there were drone flights at five separate nuclear sites.

There is the fear of a security risk. The drones are small, of the kind that anyone can purchase for a few hundred dollars, but a terrorist might be tempted to launch a drone with an explosive payload. However, officials say that the drones present no danger to the public, since France's nuclear sites have been prepared for possible earthquakes or plane crashes, which presumably would be worse than an exploding drone.

However, a Greenpeace spokesman, while denying that Greenpeace had anything to do with the drones, warned that a medium-sized bomb on a drone could hit cooling pools that hold radioactive material.

French authorities are searching for the perpetrators who, if found, will face fines of up to 75,000 euros and year in prison. AP and Digital Journal

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Nov-14 World View -- Germany threatens Britain with EU expulsion over the migrant issue thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Nov-14 World View -- Multiple Taliban groups claim credit for suicide bombing in Pakistan

Journalist finds young Iranians very friendly to America

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Multiple Taliban groups claim credit for suicide bombing in Pakistan


Flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah border crossing between India and Pakistan
Flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah border crossing between India and Pakistan

At least 45 people were killed and over 120 injured on Sunday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Wagah Pakistan border crossing to India, near Lahore. The suicide bomber walked past four check posts. When he was finally stopped at a check post, he blew himself up. Some reports indicate that a gas cylinder exploded.

Wagah is the only border crossing between India and Pakistan. The crossing closes every day at sundown, at which time there's a very colorful flag-lowering ceremony in which both Indian and Pakistani rangers participate. Hundreds of people, including families with women and children gather on both sides of the border to see the display of military pageantry. The suicide bomb was timed to explode when crowds of people on the Pakistan side were leaving the ceremony, heading for the parking lot. No Indians were injured.

The Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) has been an umbrella organization for numerous terror groups in Pakistan. As we've reported many times, the TTP has been disintegrating, as a number of groups have declared independence, and some have even deserted al-Qaeda, and have declared allegiance to the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). ( "6-Oct-14 World View -- ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support")

The disintegration was on display on Sunday, as three different groups claimed responsibility for the Wagah bombing. One TTP faction said they carried it out to avenge the killing of a Taliban leader in a U.S. drone strike last year.

The Jamat-ul-Ahrar faction, which broke away from the main TTP leadership in September, said THEY were responsible, to avenge the ongoing Pakistan army military action against the Taliban on the border with Afghanistan at the opposite end of Pakistan from Lahore. A third militant faction, Jundullah, has also claimed credit.

There is certain to be a major political backlash because of Sunday's bombing. According to reports, intelligence sources had intercepted intelligence about a possible attack at the Wagah border crossing, and they had issued an alert on Saturday to Wagah border authorities. Security at the Wagah border had been increased, but that was not enough to avert the attack. The News (Pakistan) and Samaa TV (Pakistan)

Abu Nimr tribes blames Iraq government for massacre by ISIS

As we reported yesterday, the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) has been specially targeting the Abu Nimr tribe, one of the few Sunni tribes that have been actively fighting against the ISIS as it approaches Baghdad. Mass killings have killed 322 members of Abu Nimr. More than 50 bodies were found in a water well, while 65 members have been kidnapped, and are being held as hostages. The latest attack occurred on Sunday morning, when at least 50 were killed.

Now Abu Nimr leaders are claiming that the Shia government in Baghdad encouraged them to fight ISIS, promised them weapons that never came, and then left them to be massacred. They are claiming that they provided coordinates for U.S. air strikes, but they were ignored.

This experience may affect the American strategy. The planned strategy of the Obama administration is to repeat the success of the Bush administration "surge," when the army got cooperation from Sunni tribes, including Abu Nimr, to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq. ISIS will use the Abu Nimr massacre to convince other Sunni tribes not to attempt to cooperate with either Baghdad or the U.S. BBC

Journalist finds young Iranians very friendly to America

CNN correspondent Anthony Bourdain recently returned from a trip to Iran, and described his experiences on the Fareed Zakaria show on CNN:

"Yeah, and an incredible experience. What we saw inside Iran was extraordinary, heartbreaking, confusing, inspiring, and very, very different than the Iran I expected from always - you know, from looking at it from afar, from a geopolitical sense, what we read on the news, what we know from that long and very contentious relationship we've had as nations.

[The most surprising thing was to] walk down the street as an American and have total strangers constantly saying where are you from? America? You know, have you tried our food? Thank you for coming. I'm so -- just outgoing, friendly, welcoming to strangers to a degree that we really experience very, very few places and I'm talking Western Europe and allied nations. We were really - we'd been told to expect that, but you're thrown by it when you face it everywhere. Our producer was -- it was his birthday and we all went out with our local crew to a very crowded restaurant, traditional Persian music and Iranian families eating and someone found out that my producer -- it was his birthday, the entire restaurant sang "Happy Birthday" to him and they presented him with a cake. It was a very different Iran than I had been led to expect or could have imagined.

[You] see how careful people are, of course, and they are very cognizant that the -- what's OK right now might not be OK in five minutes as far as behavior. But it feels a lot like Barcelona for a few minutes at a time, and we went at one point -- hung out in a parking lot in Tehran late at night with all these young Iranian kids who collect American muscle cars and basically hang out and order up pizza and rev their engines and collect, you know, mustangs and challengers, and for a minute you can be forgiven for thinking it's southern California. The kids like any other - It's a very young country, of course. So the disconnect between the hard- liners and the people who run and control the country and the Iran you see and feel on the street is very jarring and I think people are - it's just going to blow people's minds when they see it."

Reading this, you can see the reason why I've been saying for ten years that Iran was going to become our ally. It actually began to be obvious in the early 2000s, when college students began having pro-American demonstrations.

Iran is in a generational Awakening era, just one generation past the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and the Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988. The generation of children that grew up after the war are rebelling against their parents, just as American children rebelled against their parents in the 1960s. Iran is having a "generation gap," just as America had a generation gap splitting the survivors of World War II from their children, the Boomers who grew up after the war.

Iran's hardliners are the survivors of the Great Islamic Revolution. As each year passes, there are fewer of them, and more of the younger generation, which likes the west, and has nothing in particular against Israel.

As I've reported many times ( "10-Jun-14 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader complains young people are not revolutionary enough"), the attitudes of young people are causing panic among the old geezer hardliners. They know that the hardline Islamic revolution will not survive in anything like its present form when they're gone. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Nov-14 World View -- Multiple Taliban groups claim credit for suicide bombing in Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Nov-14 World View -- Boko Haram ridicules Nigeria's government, says abducted girls are married

Wall Street posts hyperbolic five day surge

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS slaughters hundreds from the Abu Nimr tribe in Iraq


Iraqi security forces guard a checkpoint in Ramadi, Anbar province. (Reuters)
Iraqi security forces guard a checkpoint in Ramadi, Anbar province. (Reuters)

As the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) continues to close in on Baghdad Iraq, in recent weeks they've been specially targeting the Abu Nimr tribe. Reports during the last week indicate that hundreds of tribe members have been abducted and killed in a mass slaughter. It's not known how many more of the 10,000 Abu Nimr people have also been killed.

Abu Nimr is a Sunni tribe that developed a reputation for having stood up to Saddam Hussein. In the years after the 2003 Iraq war, Abu Nimr was one of the few Sunni tribes to fight against Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Later, during the "Anbar Awakening" and the American troop "surge," Abu Nimr worked with the Americans to expel the Sunni terrorists.

Recently, Abu Nimr has been one of the few Sunni tribes fighting ISIS, but they've been running out of ammunition, and Baghdad has refused to resupply them, because the Shia government fears that the Sunni tribes will turn against them later.

ISIS has been changing its tactics since the American-led bombing raids have begun. ISIS took control of much of Iraq by means of large sweeping operations. But because of the bombings, ISIS fighters now travel in small convoys, and try to stay out of side by hiding in villages. ISIS depends for its success on the cooperation of Sunni tribes in Anbar province, but Abu Nimr was one of the holdouts. Guardian (London) and CNN and Musings on Iraq

Wall Street posts hyperbolic five day surge

Wall Street stocks surged hyperbolically again last week, with the Dow increasing by almost 600 points, and the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) once again approaching the astronomically high value of 19, putting the stock market into an enormous bubble. The historical average for the P/E ratio is 14, and every 30 years or so it falls to the range 5-6, which is where it was last in 1982. A fall in the P/E ratio to 5-6 again will push the Dow down below 3000.

Friday's surge particularly was apparently caused by a shock announcement by the Bank of Japan that they would start a new massive "money-printing" program in the form of quantitative easing, similar to the program that the American Federal Reserve has been pursuing. It's widely believed that the Fed's QE program, which ran as high as $85 billion per month, just pumped money into the stock market, benefiting the rich people and the Washington elites, without improving the income of ordinary people.

It's now assumed that the BOJ's new QE program will have the same effect.

However, the surprise BOJ announcement was a shock to individual investors who been expecting a further dive, and had a portfolio of short sales (essentially betting that the stock share prices would continue to fall). According to stock market guru Art Cashin:

"And anybody who was bearish, is now scrambling to cover. ... What we're seeing is a massive global short-covering. That's why stocks are rallying."

Cashin added that short-covering rallies seldom last long. However, other analysts point out that the European Central Bank may make a similar announcement soon, pushing the stock market bubble even more enormous.

Generational Dynamics predicts that, like all bubbles, this bubble will burst, in the context of a global stock market panic and financial crisis, pushing the Dow back down to the 3000 level. CNBC and Reuters

Boko Haram ridicules Nigeria's government, says abducted girls are married

Few really believed the Nigerian government claim on October 17 that they had struck a deal with Boko Haram to release the 219 schoolgirls abducted on April 16 from the town of Chibok. ( "18-Oct-14 World View -- Nigerians skeptical of deal with Boko Haram to release abducted schoolgirls").

But now Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has appeared in a video that mocks and ridicules the government, saying that that the girls have been converted to Islam and have all been married off. The video is a double humiliation for Nigeria's government because it had claimed the Shekau had been killed by the army.

Excerpts from the transcript translation of Shekau are as follows:

"Without wasting time, we hereby send a message to the tyrants of Nigeria and other infidels as well as their world tyrants as a whole in Hausa language.

You people should understand that we only obey Allah, we tread the path of the Prophet. We hope to die on this path and get eternal rest in our graves, rise up in bliss before our Lord and enter Paradise (quotes from the Koran). Our goal is the Garden of Eternal Bliss. May Allah protect us. ...

Therefore I tell you (that) we have not made ceasefire with anyone. Only battle, hitting, striking and killing with gun which we long for like tasty meal. This what we believe in and fight for. ...

When did we release Chibok schoolgirls that we seized, those that Shekau who is now talking, seized, brought them and kept them in the place he chose for more than six months now. ...

Surprisingly, if the women of Chibok, I mean the mothers of the Chibok schoolgirls and their fathers, if you know the condition your daughters are in today it could lead some to convert to Islam and some to die from grief.

Don’t you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam? They have now memorised two chapters of the Koran. They have seen themselves in the Books of Luke and John that Christians have corrupted the Bible. Girls from Chibok confessing Islam is the true religion! A six-grader, liars.

We married them off. They are in their marital homes. (Laughter) ...

What is negotiation? We did not negotiate with anyone. It is a lie. It is a lie. We will not negotiate. What is our business with negotiation? Allah said we should not."

Premium Times (Nigeria) and Independent (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Nov-14 World View -- Boko Haram ridicules Nigeria's government, says abducted girls are married thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Nov-14 World View -- Burkina Faso, critical U.S. ally, in government meltdown

U.N. report says that jihadists are flooding into Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Burkina Faso, critical U.S. ally, in government meltdown


Burkina Faso is a strategically located U.S. ally
Burkina Faso is a strategically located U.S. ally

After several days of violent anti-government protests, including burning down the parliament and several government buildings in the capital city Ouagadougou, protesters are cheering euphorically following the announcement that president Blaise Compaoré finally agreed to step down after 27 years in power. Compaoré issued a statement:

"In order to preserve the democratic gains, as well as social peace, I declare a power vacuum to allow the establishment of a transition leading to free and fair elections within a maximum of 90 days. For my part, I think I have fulfilled my duty."

Compaoré's whereabouts are unknown. Since there's no clear-cut constitutional successor, army chief Gen. Honoré Nabéré Traoré announced that he would take power. There are suspicions that the army may have engineered the resignation so that the army could take power.

Burkina Faso is an important U.S. ally, hosting a U.S. base in Ouagadougou, operating since 2007, which serves as a hub for a U.S spying network in the region, with spy planes departing from the base to fly over Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara, tracking fighters from the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

What triggered the riots was the plan by Compaoré to amend Burkina Faso's constitution so that he could continue in power past the current term limit date of 2015. It's thought that Compaoré's ouster will serve as a warning to Africa's other military leaders who have stayed in power for decades, and who are also considering revising the constitution. These include Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, José Eduardo dos Santos, president of Angola, Paul Biya, president of Cameroon, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, all of whom have been power since the 1980s.

Note: If any reader is familiar with the history of Burkina Faso and can help me identify the major tribal wars (generational crisis wars) of the last century or two, I would appreciate the help.

ABC News and Washington Post and Nigerian Guardian News

U.N. report says that jihadists are flooding into Syria

According to a new United Nations report, foreign jihadists are flooding into Syria and Iraq to join jihadist terror groups at the rate of over 1,000 per month, which about 15,000 there already. They're arriving from over 80 countries around the world, and they're joining the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), as well as other al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago ( "19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk"), my view is that the Syria/Iraq conflicts have passed the point of no return, and that they will not be settled before they spiral into a larger regional war between Sunni and Shia Muslims. This is in contrast to other brief Mideast wars of the past few years, such as the recent Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza.

As I've been writing for two years, the reason that Sunni jihadists are flooding into Syria is that Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad has flattened entire Sunni villages with Russia's heavy weapons, he's killed children by sending missiles into exam rooms and bedrooms, he's killed dozens with sarin gas, and he's killed countless more with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas. In addition, he's used electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on tens of thousands of prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale, and does with complete impunity, and in fact with encouragement and support from Russia and Iran.

Also to blame is Russia's president Vladimir Putin, who has been supplying al-Assad with the heavy weapons he needs to continue his genocide of the Sunni civilians. This makes Putin a war criminal.

However, many analysts are blaming U.S. president Barack Obama for the rise of ISIS. According to these analysts, the Obama administration made three fundamental mistakes:

Guardian (London) and Reuters and The National (UAE)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Nov-14 World View -- Burkina Faso, critical U.S. ally, in government meltdown thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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31-Oct-14 World View -- Palestinians accuse Israel of 'declaration of war' as tensions mount in Jerusalem

U.S. foreign policy in further chaos as Israel's Netanyahu is slammed

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Palestinians accuse Israel of 'declaration of war' as tensions mount in Jerusalem


Dome of the Rock in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem (AFP)
Dome of the Rock in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem (AFP)

Tensions are rising sharply in Jerusalem after the Israeli government shut down all access, for the first time since 2000, to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam, following Mecca and Medina. The Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas said that the move was "tantamount to a declaration of war."

Events have been moving quickly this week, following the announcement earlier this week on Tuesday by Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel would plan for 1000 new settlements in East Jerusalem. There have been clashes between Palestinian activists and Israeli security forces.

The same site is also known as Temple Mount, and is the holiest site in the Jewish religion, because it's believed that buried underneath the Mosque are the remains of the Temple at Jerusalem. In 66 AD, the Jews in Judea began a rebellion against their Roman colonizers. The Romans massacred tens of thousands of Jews and destroyed the city of Jerusalem including, in 70 AD, the Temple at Jerusalem.

In 2000, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon went to Temple Mount and prayed there, infuriating the Palestinians, and triggering the "second intifada," the Palestinian uprising against the Israelis that lasted until 2005. A compromise was devised that would permit Jews to visit Temple Mount as tourists, but not to pray there.

So on Wednesday morning, a Palestinian activist shot and wounded Rabbi Yehuda Glick, an American citizen, who was leading a group of advocates to permit Jews to pray at Temple Mount again.

On Thursday morning, Israeli police stormed the home of Mutaz Hijazi, 33, the Palestinian activist accused of the attempted assassination of Glick. A gunfight ensued, during which Hijazi was shot and killed.

The shooting triggered fresh clashes in East Jerusalem, and prompted Gaza militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad to call on Palestinians to begin a "third intifada."

The increasing violence prompted Israeli officials to close Temple Mount and the Al Aqsa mosque compound to everyone, Jews and Muslims alike. That act has triggered more violence, and triggered Abbas's claim that it was a "declaration of war."

Mustafa Barghouti, a senior Palestinian Authority official, issued a press release announcing that a third intifada was underway, and, in anticipation of the Muslim prayers on Friday, calling on the "Palestinian people as a whole to defend the Al Aqsa Mosque, the dignity of the Palestinian people, and their freedom."

Hoping to quell further violence on Friday, Israel has announced that Muslims will be permitted to return to the Al Aqsa Mosque on Friday prayers. However, only men over age 50 will be permitted to enter. Whether this will reduce the level of violence remains to be seen.

East Jerusalem has been the epicenter of increasing clashes between Palestinians and Israelis ever since the bodies of three Israeli teenage settlers were found weeks after they were abducted on June 10 by terrorists that Israelis believe were commissioned by Hamas. They were the subject of an extensive manhunt throughout the West Bank, during which hundreds of Palestinians, mostly members of Hamas, were arrested. Israel was shocked three weeks later, when the teens were found dead in a pit in the West Bank. There followed a spiral of violence that led to the Gaza war in July and August, and continuing clashes since then around Jerusalem. The National (UAE) and CS Monitor and Jerusalem Post and Jewish Telegraphic Agency

U.S. foreign policy in further chaos as Israel's Netanyahu is slammed

President Barack Obama and Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu viscerally hate each other -- this is well known. Also well-known is that the entire U.S. administration is bitterly hostile to Netanyahu, blaming him for all the ills in the Mideast.

Obama and John Kerry have had a foreign policy characterized by one humiliating failure after another. One of the recent disasters occurred in late July when Kerry submitted a 'peace proposal' for the Gaza War that met all the demands and talking points of Hamas (ending the "siege"), but did not address any of the security concerns of Israel (disarming Hamas). The proposal was so ridiculous that it made Obama and Kerry even more irrelevant in the Mideast than they already were.

And now anonymous administration officials are being credibly quoted as calling Netanyahu both "a chickenshit" and "a coward." The US administration have made themselves completely irrelevant in the Mideast. Since they're completely irrelevant anyway, why can't they just shut up? The Atlantic and LA Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Oct-14 World View -- Palestinians accuse Israel of 'declaration of war' as tensions mount in Jerusalem thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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30-Oct-14 World View -- World Health Organization says Ebola outbreak is 'in decline'

Unanswered questions about the spread of Ebola

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

World Health Organization says Ebola outbreak is 'in decline'

World Health Organization (WHO) assistant director Bruce Aylward said that "We're seeing a reversal of that rapid rate of increase to the point that there seems to be a decline right now."

He added, "Getting a slight decrease in the number of cases on a day-to-day basis, versus getting this thing closed out, is a completely different ball game." This is a highly ambiguous statement. It could mean that the total number of cases is declining, meaning the number of new cases is now smaller than the number of people who are recovering or dying. Or it could mean that the number of NEW cases has declined, which would mean that the number of new cases is no longer growing exponentially, but has leveled off.

Or it could mean that the number of new cases is still growing exponentially, but at a smaller exponential rate.

The figures that I derived from the WHO situation reports (see the next item, below) seems to indicate this latter interpretation. A couple of months ago I was hearing that the number of Ebola cases doubled every 3 weeks. The figures I derived indicate that the number doubles every 4.7 weeks which is exponential growth at a slower rate.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote "19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk". I identified several continuing risks about Ebola -- that there could easily be new outbreaks anywhere in the world in megacities, slums and war zones. None of that is changed by Aylward's statement, and I'm pretty sure that he wouldn't disagree with me. Reuters

Unanswered questions about the spread of Ebola

There has been very little Ebola spread out of the three countries in West Africa. This has led me to wonder if perhaps I was missing something.

The World Health Organization publishes Ebola Situation Reports every few days.

I went to the most recent situation report (PDF), dated October 25, 2014. The following table depicts the total numbers of infections and deaths:

+---------------+--------------+--------- +
| Country       | # infections | # deaths |
+---------------+--------------+--------- +
| Guinea        | 1553         | 926	  |
| Liberia       | 4665         | 2705	  |
| Sierra Leone  | 3896         | 1281	  |
| Mali          | 1            | 1	  |
| Nigeria       | 20           | 8	  |
| Senegal       | 1            | 0 	  |
| Spain         | 1            | 0	  |
| U.S.          | 4            | 1	  |
+---------------+--------------+--------- +
| Total         | 10141        | 4922	  |
+---------------+--------------+--------- +

IT seems strange that the only large numbers of cases are in the original countries (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone), and that the only cases outside of Africa were in Spain and U.S. It doesn't make sense to me that Ebola hasn't spread to other countries in Africa, and that there haven't been individual cases in other countries in Europe or Asia or Latin America.

Comparing the Ebola location maps

So, in order to do further analysis, I went back to WHO's original situation report (PDF), dated August 29, 2014, and I compared some of the numbers in the two reports, in order to get an estimate of the growth rate in the number of cases.

If you take the total number of infections -- 3052 on August 29, and 10141 on October 25 -- and do a computation, then you get that the number of infections doubles every 4.7 weeks, which is a little more than a month (4.25 weeks per month).

If you apply this rate to the number of infections, you get 40K by Jan 1, 80K by Feb 1, 160K by Mar 1, and so forth. But can that doubling rate be sustained? The WHO announcement that the outbreak is "in decline" would seem to indicate that it can't be sustained.

So next, I extracted the Ebola location maps from the two reports.

Here's the August 29, 2014, map:


Ebola location map, 29-Aug-2014 (WHO)
Ebola location map, 29-Aug-2014 (WHO)

Here's the October 25, 2014, map:


Ebola location map, 25-Oct-2014 (WHO)
Ebola location map, 25-Oct-2014 (WHO)

Comparing these two maps, you can see that most infections were in the west, but they've apparently been moving eastward, apparently stopping at the borders of Mali and Côte d'Ivoire. This is not credible. These country borders are porous, and tribal boundaries do not correspond to national boundaries. It's not credible that the spread of Ebola has stopped dead at these country borders.

We recently had the news story of the two year old infected baby who was carried on a bus all the way from Liberia to the western border of Mali almost to the eastern border, with multiple stops, including a two-hour stop in Bamako. Other than the death of the 2 yo, we haven't heard anything more about Ebola in Mali. ( "25-Oct-14 World View -- Two-year-old baby in Mali dies after spreading Ebola")

At least a few cases of Ebola must surely have spread into these Mali and Côte d'Ivoire, on the border with Liberia, without our being aware of it. If this is true -- and I don't see how it could not be true -- then there must be unreported cases in these countries.

If there are individual cases in the U.S. and Spain, then there must be unreported individual cases in other countries. Consider the following:

If there have been Ebola cases in the U.S. and Spain, it's hard to believe that Cuba and China would be immune to Ebola cases. What's different about Cuba and China is that if either has an outbreak of Ebola in either country, it would be covered up and we'd never know, until the outbreak became extremely serious. (This is what happened in China with the SARS outbreak ten years ago.)

There are plenty of people, including migrant workers, who go back and forth between Africa and their home countries, including Asia and Latin America. Some countries are so undeveloped that officials might not even know there's an Ebola outbreak until it had spread for several days.

So there are a lot of unanswered questions about what's going on. There must be or will be many unreported cases of Ebola, in West Africa and elsewhere; it's not credible to believe otherwise.

Finally, returning to the question of whether the Ebola outbreak is "in decline," one possibility is that it's really in decline, and another possibility is that the only thing that's declining is the number of reported cases, with sharp increases in the number of unreported cases. We should have definite answers by the end of the year. WHO Ebola Situation Reports

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Oct-14 World View -- World Health Organization says Ebola outbreak is 'in decline' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt begins evacuating Sinai residents on Gaza border

Turkey explains why they won't send troops into Kobani

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt begins evacuating Sinai residents on Gaza border


Tunnel underneath wall separating Gaza and Egypt (AP)
Tunnel underneath wall separating Gaza and Egypt (AP)

Following on the car bomb that killed 33 Egyptian troops in Sinai last Friday, which Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi said in a nationally televised speech was an existential threat to Egypt, Egypt is now beginning to evacuate residents of Sinai along the border with Gaza near the Rafah crossing, in order to create a buffer zone.

Several readers wrote to me regarding the article I wrote on Friday's attack. ( "26-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt in state of emergency after terrorist attack in Sinai") They said that although the article was accurate, the headline was misleading in that the state of emergency did not apply to all of Egypt, but only to parts of the Sinai peninsula.

Al-Sisi has blamed Hamas for supporting the attack, and has ordered the creation of a 500 meter buffer zone along the border with Gaza, to prevent the smuggling of weapons. The buffer zone will eventually stretch along the full 8 mile length of the border. Residents living in homes along the border are being forced to evacuate so that their homes can be demolished. Over 800 houses and 10,000 residents may be affected.

For years, Egypt has been destroying tunnels that are used to smuggle weapons and terrorists underneath the walls separating Gaza from Egypt. This has been a somewhat futile effort, since Hamas quickly rebuilds tunnels after they're destroyed.

In an effort to end the building of tunnels once and for all, Egypt's army intends to dig a deep trench along the Gaza border, and fill it with water. The trench will be 500 meters deep along the entire Gaza border, but will be as much as three km deep in the final stage.

Update:The Jerusalem Post article has been updated to indicate that the trench will be 500 meters wide, as much as three km wide in the final stage. (Paragraph added. 29-Oct) Al-Ahram (Cairo) and BBC and Jerusalem Post

Iraqi Kurdish fighters to enter Kobani, Syria, from Turkey

Apparently final agreement has been reached for Turkey to permit 161 Iraqi Kurdish fighters (Peshmerga) to enter Turkish soil from Iraq and then cross the border into Kobani, Syria, later this week.

Kobani has become one of the major symbols of the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), in that the United States coalition has been using air strikes to prevent ISIS from overrunning Kobani, and this has energized ISIS to pour more troops into the battle in order to humiliate the United States. CNN

Turkey explains why they won't send troops into Kobani

Turkey has been under a great deal of international pressure to send troops into Kobani, across the border in Syria, to save the Kurdish population from extermination by the the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL).

Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu gave a very interesting interview on the BBC on Tuesday on Kobani and on Turkey's position on numerous issues. Davutoglu speaks English, and the following excerpts are my own transcription, with a little bit of editing for clarity:

"Saving Kobani has been the main slogan the main message of the international community for last 2 months, but we have to define what means saving Kobani.

If saving Kobani means saving civilians living in Kobani, you're well aware that people of Kobani already came to Turkey [as refugees], and they're under safe conditions.

But if saving Kobani is retaking Kobani and some area around Kobani, from ISIS, then there's a need of a military operation. Who will be doing this military operation? This is the question that I was really surprised and shocked when some international media accusing Turkey or expecting Turkey to do something, should define what Turkey should do. If Turkish military intervenes Kobani, I am sure many of these media or international parties will criticize Turkey for intervening in another country.

The only way to help Kobani, since other countries don't want to use ground troops is sending some peace oriented or moderate forces to Kobani. What are they? Peshmerga [Kurdish militia in Iraq]. The Peshmerga is part of the Iraqi army, constitutionally they are part of the Iraqi army, and the Free Syrian Army. So when the Free Syrian Army and Peshmerga said that they're ready to go, we said yes. But if other countries, Americans, Europeans, want to send their troops, Turkey never said no."

Davutoglu was reminded that the Americans and the Europeans have repeatedly said that they would not send in ground troops to Kobani.

"Well, if they don't want to send their ground troops, how can they expect Turkey to send Turkish ground troops with the same risks on our border? So the question is here: is it easy to accuse, to say something against another country.

But they have to make empathy, and they should ask, what can we do, and what can we expect from Turkey to do? Nobody can accuse Turkey or blame Turkey for the situation in Kobani."

Two weeks ago, American vice president Joe Biden was forced to apologize to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates after accusing them of having funded ISIS and contributing to its rise. The interviewer reminded Davutoglu of that, and said that even Jordanian and Egyptian intelligence officials have accused Turkey of the same thing. Davutoglu firmly denied this:

"You mentioned some intelligence services - they cannot claim this - there is no evidence that Turkey has any link, any cooperation, any support to these type of groups.

It is up to Turkey - it is on our border - and Turkey declared ISIS as a terrorist organization last year in Oct 2013 - when these countries didn't do so for many months, and they are also not fighting against them. Turkey is fighting.

Only Turkey has bombarded ISIS troops in December 2013. And several hundreds of them were killed when they approached the Turkish border."

Next, Davutoglu was reminded that Turkey is accused of allowing foreign fighters and jihadis to come to Turkey and then cross the border into Syria to join ISIS. Even Turkish fighters have done this.

"Turkish fighters on the ground who went there illegally are [far fewer] than British fighters. Much less.

I spoke with my colleagues two years ago, on how to prevent these foreign fighters [from going] in, and I asked them to stop these people [from leaving] their countries like Britain to come to Turkey. They said we're a democratic country, so how can we stop them? I told them, then, then please give us the names, so that we can prevent them from coming into Turkey.

They said we cannot give the names unless they've committed a crime. Then I said, how can you expect Turkey to stop them, when Turkey receives 35 million tourists every year. We cannot make such a check.

So fighting against this type of flow is the combined effort of all the concerned parties. Nobody can expect from us to stop tourism or coming foreign people inside Turkey, and check them whether their name are Muslim names, and so forth."

Finally, Davutoglu was given an opportunity to talk about the refugee situation. Lebanon has announced that they will no longer accept refugees, and Davutoglu was asked whether Turkey will adopt the same policy:

"Thank you very much for this question. Nobody is looking at refugee crisis, this humanitarian crisis. We have now around 1.6 million [refugees in Turkey, but this is approaching almost 2 million after the Kobani cases.

Yesterday I was in a town, not a border town, and there are 56,000 Syrians living there, not only in camps, but also in the cities. In some other cities, the Syrians outnumber the Turkish citizens who are living there. We have been taking a huge responsibility, and huge risk receiving Syrian refugees, and we spent 4.5 billion until now, and it is increasing every day, and nobody is helping us. I have to make very clear- UNHCR and others are doing their efforts, but altogether around 200 million. Very minimal.

And I understand very well the Lebanese situation, because it is affecting the Lebanese social political demography altogether. [But we would not do the same] in Turkey because of our historic relations.

We've always said, not only in Syrian case. When Kurds were massacred by Saddam, we opened our border. When Bosniaks were massacred by [Slobodan] Milosevic we opened our border. ...

So this is the historic tradition that our border has been open for people, for victims, and it is against our tradition to close our door.

But we will insist to have safe havens on the other side of the border, so that Syrian people will stay in Syria, rather than to come into Turkey. Therefore , we have a long-term vision, and we can see the consequence of any policy if Aleppo is being taken, or is being bombarded by Syrian regime like today, millions of Syrians may come. at that time of course, we have to take certain measures - how to keep them on Syrian side."

The final remarks refer to Turkey's proposal to create a protected border strip within Syria where Syrian refugees can go rather than Turkey. BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt begins evacuating Sinai residents on Gaza border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Oct-14 World View -- Poland to move thousands of troops east in reaction to Russian threat

Israel announces plans for 1000 new settlements in East Jerusalem

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel announces plans for 1000 new settlements in East Jerusalem


A view of Jerusalem (Reuters)
A view of Jerusalem (Reuters)

In an announcement that's generating strong emotions on all sides, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved planning for 1,000 new settlement home units in East Jerusalem. According to Israeli media, the decision was forced on Netanyahu leaders in the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, which is part of his governing coalition, who are demanding an end to the "Obama building freeze." However, it was only a planning announcement, with no pledge to actually erect the units.

Palestinian Authority executive Dr. Hanan Ashrawi condemned the Netanyahu's announcement, saying that it "exposes the true nature of this blatantly racist and extremist Israeli coalition."

East Jerusalem has been the epicenter of increasing clashes between Palestinians and Israelis ever since the bodies of three Israeli teenage settlers were found weeks after they were abducted on June 10 by terrorists that Israelis believe were commissioned by Hamas. They were the subject of an extensive manhunt throughout the West Bank, during which hundreds of Palestinians, mostly members of Hamas, were arrested. Israel was shocked three weeks later, when the teens were found dead in a pit in the West Bank. There followed a spiral of violence that led to the Gaza war in July and August. There have been continuing clashes in the region around Jerusalem, and it's feared that this new announcement will trigger even more. Israel National News and International Middle East Media Center (Gaza) and Reuters

Poland to move thousands of troops east in reaction to Russian threat

Because of the threats to Poland posed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, Poland is moving thousands of troops to military bases along its eastern borders, in what is being called a historic realignment of the army.

According to Polands defense minister Tomasz Siemoniak:

"The geopolitical situation has changed. We have the biggest crisis of security since the Cold War and we must draw conclusions from that."

After World War II, Poland was a member of the Soviet bloc, and it's army was based along the country's western border, to defend a possible invasion from Europe. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Poland joined Nato in 1999, but today most most of Poland’s 120,000-member army is still based in the west. The move to the east is the first major realignment since the end of WW II. Washington Post and Russia Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Oct-14 World View -- Poland to move thousands of troops east in reaction to Russian threat thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Oct-14 World View -- Sunni vs Shia sectarian clashes grow in northern Lebanon

One banker jumps to his death, another hangs himself this week

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sunni vs Shia sectarian clashes grow in northern Lebanon


Lebanon's army tanks arrive in neighborhoods of Tripoli in northern Lebanon (AP)
Lebanon's army tanks arrive in neighborhoods of Tripoli in northern Lebanon (AP)

Clashes between the largely Shia Lebanon army versus Sunni jihadists in the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli, on the border with Syria, are entering their fourth day. The clashes are a spillover of the war in Syria, and are the worst violence in Lebanon since the war began.

There are two competing Sunni jihadist groups in Tripoli. One is the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), which broke from al-Qaeda several months ago, when its leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi declared ISIS to be a new worldwide Muslim caliphate. The other is Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), which has remained loyal to al-Qaeda.

Over the past several weeks, militants from both al-Nusra and ISIS have launched several attacks on the army in the Tripoli area. Lebanon's army launched a counteroffensive on Friday, and began going from house to house in Tripoli, searching the houses for "ISIS suspects." This has caused a worsening humanitarian crisis, and led to many Tripoli civilians fleeing from their homes.

In a statement Saturday, the Lebanese military vowed that its troops would "not be pulled back until after the terrorists are eliminated." Daily Star (Beirut) and Al Jazeera and Washington Post

Lebanon won't accept any more Syrian refugees

Lebanon's cabinet passed a resolution closing the borders to any more Syrian refugees. No Syrian national will receive the "refugee" classification in the future, except in "an exceptional humanitarian case." Lebanon will also encourage "refugees to return home or to go to any other country by all possible means." If the resolution is fully implemented, then tens of thousands of Syrians with homes under attack by either the regime of president Bashar al-Assad or the opposition will not be able to flee to Lebanon.

There are over 3 million Syrian refugees from the war, mostly in neighboring countries. Another 6 million have been displaced within Syria, making it one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. Lebanon has 1.1 million officially registered Syrian refugees, although the number is believed to be far higher. They make up almost a quarter of the country's population of 5 million.

Lebanon has followed a different policy in handling refugees than Turkey or Jordan, which built special camps to house the refugees.

Lebanon rejected that idea because of their experiences with Palestinian refugee camps, which were supposed to be temporary but have continued to exist for decades, and currently house fundamentalist groups and armed militias, as well as Palestinian civilians.

Also, the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila were the site of a massacre of Palestinian refugees in camps 1982, an event that still weighs heavily on Lebanese psyches.

Instead, Syrian refugees in Lebanon can live in existing communities, rent apartments, and try to find a job. The result is that Lebanon's economy is strained to the limit.

The new proposal will require municipalities to comb areas where refugees are residing, and document their numbers. Daily Star (Beirut) and Al Arabiya/AP

One banker jumps to his death, another hangs himself this week

Thierry Leyne, 48, a top business associate of former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn committed suicide in Tel Aviv on Thursday, by jumping to his death from his 23rd floor luxury apartment in central Tel Aviv.

On Monday, the wife of Deutsche Bank banker Calogero Gambino found him hanging by the neck from a stairway banister in their Manhattan home. Gambino was cooperating with US regulators probing Deutsche Bank's involvement in illegal Libor rigging.

In January, former Deutsche Bank Senior Managing Director William Broeksmit was found by his wife hanged in his South Kensington, London home. Later in the year, a Senate hearing on bank fraud linked Broeksmit's name to an allegedly illegal $12 billion scheme to allow hedge funds to avoid paying short-term capital gains taxes.

These two are the latest of 20-30 banker suicides in 2014, with JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank strongly represented among the suicides bankers.

During the 1930s Great Depression, bankers jumping to their deaths was frequently a subject of black humor. ("Did you hear about the two bankers who booked a double hotel room so that they could commit suicide together?")

Today, it appears that there are just as many banker suicides. At times like this, it's worthwhile reviewing the history of how we got to this point.

Generation-X grew up in the 1980s often without fathers. They lived in mother-only homes, thanks to policies advocated by feminists telling mothers to dump the father and then lie in court about domestic violence in order to get large child support payments. 30% of whites and 72% of blacks grew up in homes with no fathers except for a string of men in their mothers' beds. These kids grew up hating their fathers and their mothers' boyfriends and the entire Boomer generation. Inner city blacks in Chicago and elsewhere who kill each other for sport are often from these fatherless families, which is not surprising.

The elite white kids expressed their hatred differently. Many got master's degrees in financial engineering in the 1990s, and then used their skills to knowingly sell trillions of dollars' worth of fraudulent subprime mortgage backed securities to the hated Boomer investors, creating the real estate and credit bubbles that resulted in the financial crisis, which today is far from over. Since the Obama administration has refused to punish these Gen-X criminals, they've remained in the same jobs, defrauding people in other ways, as I've described many times. Many of the bankers who have committed suicide are guilty of or suspected of being guilty of other kinds of fraud.

So given the recent history of banking, it's perhaps not too surprising that many bankers are committing suicide. These are criminals whose past is finally catching up with them. New York Post and Jerusalem Post and MMNews (Germany) (Trans)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Oct-14 World View -- Sunni vs Shia sectarian clashes grow in northern Lebanon thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt in state of emergency after terrorist attack in Sinai

Sinai attack signals the end of Gaza peace agreement terms

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt in state of emergency after terrorist attack in Sinai


Al-Sisi during his televised address to the nation on Saturday (VOA/MENA)
Al-Sisi during his televised address to the nation on Saturday (VOA/MENA)

Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi has declared a state of emergency in the Sinai peninsula to last three months, with a curfew in force from 5 pm to 7 am. Egypt will also close the Rafah crossing that connects Gaza to Egypt, effectively canceling one of the major terms of the peace agreement that ended the Gaza war that took place in July and August of this year.

On Friday, 26 Egyptian troops were killed when a car bomb rammed a checkpoint in the northern Sinai, near the border with Israel. This followed a gunfire attack on Wednesday from Sinai on an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) unit on the other side of the border in Israel.

The perpetrators are assumed to be the Sinai terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdas (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem). Terror attacks have been on the increase since the army coup that ousted president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government on July 3 of last year, and ABM has claimed credit for many of them. ( "17-Feb-14 World View -- Egypt's terrorism escalates with attack on tourist bus")

However, the perpetrators may instead have been Jund al-Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate), a splinter group from a similarly named Algerian terrorist group that has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). This group announced itself last month, and has promised to strike American interests and the "worshippers of the Cross" in Egypt.

There had been a few months of relative peace in the Sinai due to an economic outreach to the Bedouin tribes living there and to the stationing of Egyptian troops, now numbering 7,000. Friday's attack are thus considered a major setback for the government.

Al-Sisi gave a speech on Saturday saying that the "foreign-funded operation" was an existential attack on Egypt:

"A plot is being woven against all of us. All that is happening has been expected. Egypt is battling a huge war – a battle of existence. We should remain united; one hand, one heart. ...

We must know that this terrorist attack was supported by foreign hands to defeat the military that has been protecting the Egyptian people and their will. ...

I have noted before that the war in Sinai will last for a long time, as there are a lot of terrorists hiding in the peninsula, but this new level of attacks has put us in a new level of planning too in order to combat the terrorism there.

There are attempts to drive a wedge between the people and the army. No-one will be able to divide the Egyptian people and its army."

Al-Sisi did not name any specific groups in his statement, but he doesn't distinguish between the Muslim Brotherhood, and external jihadist groups. Al-Sisi is promising to take "many measures" suppress terror attacks. One proposed measures would allow military courts used to try civilians accused of offences such as blocking roads or attacking public property. Middle East Eye and VOA and Al Ahram (Cairo) and Newsweek

Sinai attack signals the end of Gaza peace agreement terms

When the Gaza war ended with a cease-fire agreement ( "27-Aug-14 World View -- Israel and Hamas agree to 'long-term' truce in Gaza war"), the following were the terms:

Senior Hamas officials have been accusing Israel of purposely delaying the implementation of this agreement. Much of Gaza's infrastructure and housing was destroyed by airstrikes during the Gaza war, and Israel is particularly accused of delaying the shipment of construction materials into Gaza for use in rebuilding.

Egypt is accusing Hamas of being behind Friday's terrorist attack, which Hamas denies. Egypt has now closed the Rafah crossing, which connects Gaza to Egypt, and opening this crossing had been a major demand of Hamas in the ceasefire negotiations. But now, unnamed Egyptian officials are promising to go much farther.

Egypt is said to be planning to set up a buffer zone of between 1.5 and 3 kilometers along the Gaza border. Forces are expected to start evicting people and clearing structures in the proposed buffer zone, which will then be heavily guarded by Egyptian army patrols.

The objective of the buffer zone would be to make infiltration from Gaza into Sinai more difficult. In particular, it would be more difficult to rebuild the smuggling tunnels that have been built under the wall that separates Gaza from Sinai. The Egyptian army has been destroying these tunnels when it finds them, and the buffer zone would mean that any new tunnel would have to be much longer, and require a longer time to build. Times of Israel

Hamas reports that it's resumed work on restoring tunnels used in Gaza war


Hamas tunnel (Memri)
Hamas tunnel (Memri)

Hamas media is reporting that its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, is actively working on restoring the attack tunnels used in the Gaza war, after many of them were destroyed during the war. The Hamas media report indicates that there are two kinds of tunnels:

According to the report:

"The Al-Qassam Brigades use the tunnels for several military missions, such as: firing rockets on Israeli cities; firing massive barrages of hundreds of mortars on the settlements around the Gaza Strip, and carrying out quality operations behind enemy lines that have resulted in the killing and capture of soldiers and terrorized millions of Israelis."

The report adds that Gaza is ready for a new war with Israel. Memri

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Oct-14 World View -- Egypt in state of emergency after terrorist attack in Sinai thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Oct-14 World View -- Two-year-old baby in Mali dies after spreading Ebola

World Health Organization declares a global polio outbreak

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Two-year-old baby in Mali dies after spreading Ebola


The Ebola virus (Science Insider)
The Ebola virus (Science Insider)

The news Craig Spencer, a physician with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) who was treating Ebola patients in Guinea, has himself contracted Ebola since returning to NY city, is triggering high anxiety and near-panic in some people in NY city, especially on the news that Spencer took the subway and went to a bowling alley. And yet, Spencer's situation appears to have been a template for how the public can be kept safe from Ebola. New Yorkers are many, many times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than by Ebola.

By contrast, there may be a worst-case scenario unfolding in Mali.

A 2-year-old girl was carried by her grandmother hundreds of miles on a bus that traveled from Guinea to Mali, stopping in several towns, including two hours in the capital city Bamako. The girl had a bleeding nose, and was first treated for typhoid on Monday in a clinic in Mali. When she did not improve, she was tested for Ebola, which was confirmed on Thursday.

Officials doing contact tracing identified 43 people, including 10 health workers, who came into close contact with the girl. But there may have been dozens of additional people who came into contact with the sick girl during the bus trip, and there is no way to trace these people.

The NY city case and the Mali case are sharp contrasts, showing what is and isn't possible in controlling the spread of Ebola.

As I wrote last week ( "19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk"), any large city and any war zone are places which are vulnerable to the spread of Ebola, either unintentionally or through a terrorist act. But as the Mali case shows, any crowded train or bus could be the vehicle that spreads Ebola from city to city or country to country.

Since Ebola has already been spreading in Guinea for several months, we may never know whether the 2-year-old girl is responsible infecting other people in that country. The girl died on Friday. Forbes and BBC and CNN

WHO: 'Millions of doses Ebola vaccine by end of 2015'

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that "millions of doses" of an Ebola vaccine will be available by the end of 2015. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Public Health Agency of Canada already have experimental vaccines in safety trials.

Normally it would take almost ten years to bring a new vaccine to market. The "millions of doses" prediction is a best case scenario that assumes that everything will go well in the breakneck development being planned. Enormous shortcuts will be taken in safety and efficacy trials, and there are insufficient manufacturing plants that meet the "biosafety level 2" regulatory requirements, meaning that safety standards may have to be reduced. And even if all that goes OK, it's still possible that the vaccine won't work, or won't work well, or will have dangerous or unpleasant side effects.

There are plenty of legal problems. Pharmaceutical companies will not go ahead with the vaccine program unless governments absolve them of legal liability if something goes wrong.

And then there's the problem of administering the vaccine to the public. There are dozens of megacities in the world, each with over 20 million people. Once Ebola starts spreading in such a city, it will be too late to start administering a vaccine. Even if the vaccinations start early, there may be gang wars or drug cartels making an effective vaccination program impossible. Vaccine may first be given to the upper classes, possibly stirring unrest in the slums.

Similar problems exist in a war zone. If Ebola starts spreading in the war zones in Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, Iraq, or any other war zone, then a vaccination program will be impossible. An Ebola vaccine will first be administered to whichever army has control of the supply, but administering the vaccine to civilians may be impossible.

The Ebola cases that arose this past week in NY city and Mali are going to be repeated many, many times. As I wrote last week in ( Forecasting the Ebola endgame, I expect the world to look very different a year from now. BBC and Science Insider and AP

World Health Organization declares a global polio outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) is declaring a resurgence of polio globally, with outbreaks in at least 10 countries: Pakistan, Syria, Cameroon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. According to a WHO official:

"It’s really attributed to two things. One is the spread out of Pakistan through the intense transmission. And then combined with an increase in vulnerability of some highly unstable areas like Syria where it’s been able to get another foothold."

Karachi Pakistan is rapidly becoming a polio hub. Polio cases in Pakistan have been surging to record-breaking levels, thanks to the Taliban's opposition to polio vaccine, claiming that it's a Western plot to sterilize Pakistani children. The Taliban have been murdering health care workers in Pakistan involved in polio providing vaccines, ever since the U.S. administration bragged in 2011 that a hepatitis vaccination program in Pakistan was used as a cover to locate and capture Osama bin Laden.

Polio has also re-emerged in Syria since polio vaccinations have become extremely limited since the war began in 2011.

There has been a polio vaccine available for decades, and yet polio has still not been eradicated. In fact, cases of polio have been surging in war zones and large cities where there is civil strife.

If an effective Ebola vaccine is developed, it's far from clear that even having millions of doses available will be effective in stopping the spread of Ebola. AP and Deutsche Welle and AP (May 2014)

Steve Bannon interviews John Xenakis about Ebola crisis

On Sunday, October 19, Breitbart editor-in-chief interviewed me about the Ebola crisis on his SiriusXM Patriot radio show. You can hear the 15-minute interview by clicking on: John Xenakis interviewed by Steve Bannon (MP3)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Oct-14 World View -- Two-year-old baby in Mali dies after spreading Ebola thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Oct-14 World View -- Plane crash killing France's Total SA president jeopardizes Russia's oil contracts

Indonesia's president calls for a 'global maritime axis'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria's deal with Boko Haram collapses as more girls are abducted


Boko Haram abducts 40 more girls (Sun News)
Boko Haram abducts 40 more girls (Sun News)

When Nigeria's government last week announced a ceasefire deal with the terrorist group Boko Haram that would return to their homes 230 schoolgirls that had been abducted in April, many people noted that announcement was being made from one side only, and was not being confirmed by Boko Haram leaders. ( "18-Oct-14 World View -- Nigerians skeptical of deal with Boko Haram to release abducted schoolgirls")

It now turns out that the people who assumed that the government leaders were lying or mistaken were right. In a fresh attack on Tuesday on a different village, Boko Haram has abducted 40 more girls. Sun News Online (Nigeria)

Plane crash killing France's Total SA president jeopardizes Russia's oil contracts

Christophe de Margerie, 63, head of France's oil and gas giant Total (pronounced toe-TAL) SA was killed in a plane crash in Moscow on Monday evening. The corporate jet carrying Margerie collided with a snowplow on the runway as it was taking off in thick fog. Both French and Russians are investigating the crash to determine whether the cause was pilot error or negligence at the control tower.

De Margerie's death is considered a blow to Russia's economic interests because he was a very vocal supporter of Russia, and opposed European sanctions on Russia because of the latter's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Just hours before his death, he said the following in a speech:

"In general I’m against sanctions. I’ve repeated this many times. You heard that. And I’ve become not very popular in my country as I was often blamed for promoting our own interests. I don’t like sanctions as such because I think they are both unfair and counterproductive."

Total is currently participating in five large oil/gas projects in Russia, and theoretically they're now all in jeopardy, thanks to U.S. pressure, although analysts believe that Total will not completely abandon them.

For Russia's rulers, de Margerie seemed the embodiment of an ideal European partner and more: A French aristocrat and major oil CEO, anti-American in inclination, whose cooperation would force the European sanctions to collapse, and turn Russia's invasion of Ukraine into a total victory. His sudden tragic death is seen as a severe, devastating blow.

As a result, paranoid ultranationalists in Russia are seeing the death of de Margerie as a deliberate plot by opponents of Russia's president Vladimir Putin, presumably the United States. Russia Today and Russia/India Report and Jamestown

Indonesia's president calls for a 'global maritime axis'

Saying that Indonesia has been "neglecting our seas, oceans and bays," newly elected president Joko Widodo used his inaugural address to call for turning Indonesia into a "global maritime axis."

In view of Indonesia's naval buildup plans, in reaction to China's apparent plans to annex Indonesia's Natuna Islands by military force ( "21-Oct-14 World View -- Tensions grow with China over Indonesia's Natuna Islands"), Joko's call may well be viewed as a challenge to China.

According to Joko, in his inaugural address earlier this week:

"The seas, the oceans and the bays are our future, and we have been neglected our seas, oceans and bays.

This is the time to return to Jalesveva Jayamahe [Sanskrit for 'In the sea we will triumph']. ...

To build Indonesia into a great, prosperous and peaceful country we must possess the soul of Cakrawati Samudra [Sanskrit for a maritime nation with a strong merchant navy].

As the captain of the ship, I invite all Indonesians on board to move toward a prosperous nation. To all fishermen, laborers, farmers, meatball sellers, drivers, all the professionals -- I call on you to work hand in hand because this is the historical moment for us to work, work and work."

Meatball sellers?

Although Joko did not mention China, he's expected to announce a new cabinet post for coordinating maritime, natural resources and environmental affairs. Jakarta Globe

Wild Wall Street swings signal period of increased danger to investors

Wall Street pundits were thrilled on Thursday when the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 216 points, over 200 points for the third time in a week, after falling a similar amount in the preceding 6 days. These wild swings are also occurring for bond prices, oil prices and VIX (volatility index) prices. As I've been explaining, these wild swings signal a very dangerous time when a crash might be approaching. This would be the case if the amplitude of the swings continues to increase in the next few days, though not necessarily if the swings settle down. The S&P 500 price/earnings ratio (stock valuations) is at historic highs, indicating that the stock market is in a large bubble, and Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and selloff. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Oct-14 World View -- Plane crash killing France's Total SA president jeopardizes Russia's oil contracts thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Oct-14 World View -- Canada in shock over Ottawa shootings

Turkey's military options in Syria are restricted by limited capability

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Canada in shock over Ottawa shootings


A Twitter user took this photo moments before the shooting.  He tweeted: 'Ok so we were on a tour at that war monument in Ottawa a few minutes ago, a few seconds later there was a shooting.' Is one of these guards the soldier who was killed? (@Evanem/Toronto Star)
A Twitter user took this photo moments before the shooting. He tweeted: 'Ok so we were on a tour at that war monument in Ottawa a few minutes ago, a few seconds later there was a shooting.' Is one of these guards the soldier who was killed? (@Evanem/Toronto Star)

A gunman shot and killed a soldier at a war memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday, then ran into the parliament building where he exchanged gunfire with police. At this writing on Wednesday evening ET, police are hunting for additional suspects. It's suspected, not confirmed, that it was a "lone wolf" attack inspired by the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL).

Canadians are known to have the feeling that this sort of thing happens elsewhere, not in Canada, so Canadians are in shock over these terrorist attacks. Much of Ottawa is still locked down, as are parliament buildings, military installations, and other potential targets all across the country. American military installations are also on high alert.

It was just a few hours earlier, on Tuesday, that Canada had raised its terror level in response to intelligence reports of "general chatter" from groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.

And it was just two days earlier, on Monday, that a self-radicalized "lone wolf" Canadian man ran down two soldiers, killing one. It's believed that both the Monday and Wednesday perpetrators were Muslim converts. Both perpetrators had previously been identified by Canadian authorities as potential terrorists.

Last month, in mid-September, ISIS issued statements encouraging exactly this kind of lone wolf attack. One statement called for attacks against Egyptian security forces, who are "the guards of the Jews, the soldiers of [Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi], the new Pharaoh of Egypt":

"Rig the roads with explosives for them. Attack their bases. Raid their homes. Cut off their heads. Do not let them feel secure."

A similar statement called for lone wolf attacks on other countries, including Australia, France, Canada, the United States, and others:

"If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State ... kill him in any manner or way however it may be."

Wednesday's attack is expected cause some level of panic among ordinary Canadians. According to one commentator, "Canada will be a different country on Thursday than it was on Wednesday." BBC and Globe and Mail (Toronto) and Willmiot (22-Sep) and Toronto Star

Egypt supports the anti-ISIS coalition in principle only

Egypt has politically expressed its complete commitment to the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), saying that "the symbolism of a united coalition is very important," but has declared that it will not dispatch military forces to participate in its operations, nor participate in air strikes.

There are several reasons:

Egypt is taking a neutral stance against the al-Assad regime, while Saudi Arabia says that the al-Assad regime is illegitimate and must be removed. Memri

Turkey and Qatar officials meet to discuss Syria strategy

In an article last month ( "3-Sep-14 World View -- Mideast realignment continues following the Gaza war"), I used a Generational Dynamics analysis to outline how the Mideast is realigning itself around a growing fault line separating Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia plus the United Arab Emirates (UAE) plus Bahrain versus the Palestinians plus Qatar plus Turkey, with vitriolicly anti-American Iran increasingly aligning itself with America and the West.

Although Turkey and the Arab countries on both sides are all nominally part of the anti-ISIS coalition, Turkey and Qatar have not been participating actively because they have completely different objectives from the other countries:

Qatar and Turkey are currently engaging in intense talks on "Issues of security cooperation between the two countries and enhancing coordination between ministries." It's not known whether major changes in policy are being discussed. Hurriyet (Ankara)

Turkey's military options in Syria are restricted by limited capability

Even if it wanted to, it's doubtful that Turkey could mount an effective cross-border operation against ISIS forces around Kobani or anywhere else for that matter. The first problem is that the army is very top heavy, and has not carried out any significant restructuring or reforms for over 50 years.

Also, Turkey's army is tied down on other fronts:

So, it's highly likely that Turkey's support for the US-led coalition will remain rhetorical, especially if there is no agreement regarding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's removal from power. Today's Zaman (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Oct-14 World View -- Canada in shock over Ottawa shootings thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Oct-14 World View -- Hong Kong leader suggests that the poor shouldn't be allowed to vote

Violent rioting breaks out in Sierra Leone town over Ebola case

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong leader suggests that the poor shouldn't be allowed to vote


Hong Kong students watch televised debate on Tuesday evening (Finance Asia)
Hong Kong students watch televised debate on Tuesday evening (Finance Asia)

Hong Kong residents were promised fully free and fair elections when Britain returned the British colony over to China in 1997. China has consistently stalled on the promise, triggering the protests of the last few weeks. These protests have been mostly peaceful, but there have been some clashes with police in the last few days.

Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed leader Leung Chun-ying (CY Leung) made a gaffe on Monday evening during remarks to reports. In attempting to explaining why free and fair elections would be a mistake, he said the following:

"If it’s entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you’d be talking to the half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month."

The implication, according to press reports, is that if poor people were allowed to vote, then Hong Kong would turn into a welfare state where poor people would gain more influence in politics.

This remark is certain to infuriate protesters, as one of their issues is that many Hong Kong families are poor because of deteriorating economic opportunities, and one of the developed world's largest wealth gaps. According to a protest leader, "It reflects the distrust the authorities have of the people, and it also reflects how the current political system is biased for the rich and against the poor." AFP and Diplomat and Finance Asia (Hong Kong)

Violent rioting breaks out in Sierra Leone town over Ebola case

Sierra Leone officials have imposed a curfew on an eastern town after two people were killed in clashes between rioting youth and the police. The clashes were triggered when a health authorities tried to take away a 90 year old grandmother suspected of having Ebola. A dispute erupted, resulting in gunfire and rioting.

As we wrote several days ago ( "19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk"), the Ebola crisis is interacting with other geopolitical issues, particularly causing instability wherever it appears. Things are probably going to get increasingly ugly in the next few months. Reuters and BBC

Health officials promote new ideas to curb Ebola deaths

If you live in Liberia or Sierra Leone and you go to a hospital because you think you might be coming down with Ebola, then there's a good chance that you'll be turned away because there are no more beds available. You'll have to return home, where your family will try to care for you, and may become infected themselves.

Health officials are hoping that Ebola survivors can play a crucial role in helping newly infected patients survive, thus bringing down the 50-70% death rate.

The blood of an Ebola survivor will have antibodies that can fight Ebola. Doctors can then take a sample of their blood and turn it into a treatment called serum - by removing the red blood cells but keeping the important antibodies - for other patients. Officials are saying that serum may be available in Liberia within weeks.

Survivors can become caregivers for newly infected patients, thus sparing the patients' family members from risking infection. It's believed that Ebola survivors are henceforth immune to the Ebola virus. However, some doctors say that this immunity is not 100% certain, since the Ebola virus may mutate into a different form that defeats the immunity.

One reason for the high death rate for Ebola is that patients become dehydrated from sweating, diarrhea and vomiting. It turns out that just drinking water is not an effective way for a dehydrated patient to rehydrate, and it just increases the volume of diarrhea.

For this reason, low-cost packets of electrolyte rehydration salts are being made available throughout Liberia and Sierra Leone. When mixed with water, these become an effective oral rehydration solution (ORS).

The problem with an ORS is that the patient has to drink about 5 liters (quarts) of the ORS per day, and the ORS tastes awful. For that reason, most ORS solutions are treated with glucose, to create a sweeter taste.

If a patient comes down with Ebola symptoms at home, taking an ORS right away, before the body becomes too dehydrated, is an effective way to increase the probability of survival. BBC and Pharmacy Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Oct-14 World View -- Hong Kong leader suggests that the poor shouldn't be allowed to vote thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Oct-14 World View -- Tensions grow with China over Indonesia's Natuna Islands

Reversing policies, Turkey and U.S. escalate involvement in Kobani

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tensions grow with China over Indonesia's Natuna Islands


Senoa Island, in the Natuna island chain
Senoa Island, in the Natuna island chain

Indonesia has tried to stay out of the fight that China was having with Vietnam and the Philippines over the former's annexation of the latter's territories. Indonesia could do that because, even though China was claiming Indonesia's Natuna Islands in its annexation of the entire South China Sea, China's navy was too far away from Indonesia to be of concern.

There's little doubt that China would like to annex Indonesia's Natuna Islands, whose waters are rich with fish and which is adjacent to the East Natuna gas field, one of the world's largest untapped reserves.

China's increased belligerence, and the substantial growth of its naval and air power in the South China Sea, have caused Indonesia to speed its naval buildup, although so far it's still far more modest than the buildup in Vietnam and the Philippines, and it has improved its relations with Japan and the United States.

In fact, the last few years have seen an "amphibious forces creep," a growth in naval capabilities of several south Asian countries, including Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia. One major trigger for this buildup was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which exposed these countries as woefully unequipped to engage in disaster relief operations. Although much of the naval buildup has been labeled as being for humanitarian reasons, the last few years have seen a buildup of offensive naval forces to counter China's belligerence. The Diplomat and Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) and Reuters (25-Aug)

Reversing policies, Turkey and U.S. escalate involvement in Kobani

Turkey's government on Monday may a surprise announcement that it will allow Kurdish peshmerga fighters from Iraq travel through Turkey to Kobani, Syria, to fight against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL).

Note: Peshmerga = Kurdish militias in Iraq. PYD = Kurdish militias in Syria. PKK = Kurdish anti-government insurgents in Turkey.

On Sunday evening, the White House announced that it was air-dropping weapons to the Kurdish militias fighting in Kobani:

"So as you know, this evening, our time, overnight in Syria, the United States military delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to the forces fighting against ISIL on the ground in Kobani. These supplies were provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq, and they were focused on enabling forces -- including, of course, Kurdish forces in Syria -- to continue their fight against ISIL."

The U.S. announcement appears to be an escalation, though the White House that it's within the scope of previous announcements.

However, Turkey's announcement is a clear reversal of policy, as the government has recently said that it would provide no help whatsoever to the PYD, equating them to the terrorist PKK.

The two announcements appear to be a face-saving way for both sides to provide aid to the Kurdish militants in Kobani. The U.S. isn't shipping American weapons to Kobani; it's shipping weapons obtained from the Iraqi peshmerga. Turkey isn't allowing Turkish Kurds into Kobani; it's allowing Iraqi Kurds into Kobani. Hurriyet (Ankara) and White House

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Oct-14 World View -- Tensions grow with China over Indonesia's Natuna Islands thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Oct-14 World View -- Vladimir Putin: Global economy will collapse with oil at $80 per barrel

China blames Hong Kong protests on 'external forces'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China blames Hong Kong protests on 'external forces'


Hong Kong protesters raise their hands in a symbolic show of peace and non-violence on Sunday (EPA)
Hong Kong protesters raise their hands in a symbolic show of peace and non-violence on Sunday (EPA)

China's hand-picked Hong Kong leader, Leung Chun-ying, is saying that the pro-democracy protests are "out of control," and that they're being supported by "external forces," echoing Chinese state media that "anti-China forces" such as the United States are manipulating the protesters.

A week ago, the protesters and the government were going to have talks to determine a political solution, and the demonstrators, who had previously numbered in the tens of thousands, had dwindled down to only a few hundred. It looked like the demonstrations would fizzle out completely.

However, then the talks broke down, and Leung announced that there was zero probability that China would back down and allow free, open elections in 2017. This brought thousands of protesters back out -- not as many as before, but still a sizeable number. Although the three weeks of protests have been mostly peaceful, there have been clashes with police for the last four nights, Protesters accused the police of using "deadly" force, with some demonstrators suffering head wounds, fractures and bruising, and others carried away on stretchers.

On Sunday night, Leung blamed infiltration of the protest movement by forces outside of Hong Kong:

"I shan’t go into details, but this is not entirely a domestic movement.

The Hong Kong government and the police force have exercised extreme tolerance and patience. That’s what we have done and what we will continue to do."

But he also vowed to "restore law and order in Hong Kong as soon as possible."

However, protesters claim that the protests are "purely by citizens, purely by those who live in Hong Kong." According to a protest leader:

"To make a statement that there are foreign powers infiltrating this movement right before the discussions, is evidence that [Leung] is hoping to crack down on the entire movement.

As the chief executive of Hong Kong, he should probably have solid evidence before making such a statement. He can't just say there is foreign infiltration and this is really irresponsible."

Despite the protests, talks between the government and protesters are set to resume on Tuesday.

More broadly, China's government is increasingly cracking down on dissent throughout China, what it calls "subversive ideas." In a memo, the Communist Party warned of "seven perils" that were taking root in the country, including the following five:

Australian/AFP and BBC and Nation Multimedia

Vladimir Putin: Global economy will collapse with oil at $80 per barrel

In recent months, the price of a barrel of oil has fallen from about $110 down to $80-85. Global economies have been softening, reducing the demand for oil. And the supply of oil has been surging, with U.S. shale oil production ("fracking") and supplies from other countries growing.

Oil revenues have been a major source of foreign reserves for Russia, and the falling oil prices have affected Russia's economy. According to Russia's president Vladimir Putin:

"If oil prices remain at $80 per barrel, it will lead to production collapse. Budgets of all major oil-producing countries are based on the price of more than $80, close to $90 per barrel."

Russia is not the only economy suffering because of low oil prices. Many Mideast countries have hugely increased public spending after growing instability from the Arab spring. Venezuela and Iran similarly depend on high oil prices.

The U.S. economy is also affected. It's true that low oil prices translate into lower gas/petrol prices, but it's also true that much U.S. oil production becomes unprofitable as oil prices fall to $80.

This reality is affecting politics in 12 member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Smaller producers want Saudi Arabia to cut oil production, in order to force prices back up. But the Saudis are actually increasing oil production, because they want to try to put America's oil fracking production out of business. Ria Novosti (Moscow) and Guardian (London) and Forbes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Oct-14 World View -- Vladimir Putin: Global economy will collapse with oil at $80 per barrel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk

Ebola and the Clash of Civilizations world war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Ebola endgame

Today, the biggest threat to US security by far is China, which is preparing as rapidly as possible for a preemptive massive missile attack on American cities, aircraft carriers, and military installations. There are also terrorist threats to the U.S., but what we now call terrorism will simply dissolve and be subsumed into World War III. For example, the ISIS "terrorist" group will join with the Sunni component of the coming sectarian Sunni vs Shia war in the Mideast, while the Hezbollah "terrorist" group will join the Shia component. The Shia component will be allied with Iran, Russia and India, while the Sunni component will be allied with Pakistan and China. In that sense, what we now call terrorism is really just a side show to what will be a number of regional and global existential wars over the next 10-15 years. There's no guarantee that the United States will survive.

The above Generational Dynamics assessment, or something like it, might have been written at any time in the last few years.

But now there's major new factor that has to be considered: The Ebola pandemic. It's now clear that Ebola will play an important role in the world in the next few years, and will change the course of history. Ebola will spread in Africa beyond West Africa. It will spread first into war zones, such as Syria, and it will spread into densely packed slums in megacities. For that reason, it will a big part of the coming world war. I fully expect Ebola to have spread around the world by 2030, killing hundreds of millions of people.

Updating the Global Conflict Risk Assessment for Ebola

In 2004, I identified the "The six most dangerous regions in world" based on a Generational Dynamics analysis. My conclusion at the time was that a new world war would be started by a regional war in one of those six regions, or by a global financial crisis or by a global bird flu pandemic.

I incorporated those six region/items in a "Global Conflict Risk Assessment" graphic that I began posting on the Home Page of my web site. Its purpose was to encapsulate the current state of the world, and the likelihood of world conflict. The intention was that the graphic would be updated only rarely, as world events require. The original graphic, posted on October 1, 2004 was:


Global Conflict Risk Graphic - October 1, 2004
Global Conflict Risk Graphic - October 1, 2004

Note that in 2004, I considered the most dangerous of all to be the Russian Caucasus, because of the recent Beslan massacre and because ... wait for it! ... Russia's president Vladimir Putin was showing extreme belligerence toward Ukraine. That was ten years ago. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

There have been seven changes in the ten years since then, the last one on January 1, 2013:


Global Conflict Risk Graphic - January 1, 2013
Global Conflict Risk Graphic - January 1, 2013

If you'd like to review all the Conflict Risk Graphics in chronological order, along with brief explanations of why each risk level was assigned, see Global Conflict Risk Graphics

Today I'm updating the graphic for the first time since the beginning of 2013. The updated graphic is as follows:


Global Conflict Risk Graphic - October 19, 2014
Global Conflict Risk Graphic - October 19, 2014

The two most significant changes is that two items have crossed over from "High Risk" to "Active":

The World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been under a great deal of criticism from politicians trying to deflect the blame from their own failings. One common criticism is that WHO did not react quickly enough after the first Ebola outbreak in Guinea, and didn't even realize the severity of the problem. In fact, WHO has conducted its own internal investigation, and found that "it botched attempts to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, blaming factors including incompetent staff and a lack of information," and that they should have realized that "traditional infectious disease containment methods wouldn't work in a region with porous borders and broken health systems," according to the AP

In fact, the Ebola crisis is the moment that the World Health Organization was created for. It was created by the survivors of World War II -- and it was also created by the survivors of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic that killed tens of millions of people. The WHO should have reacted immediately on the Ebola breakout, and done everything possible to make sure that the mistakes of 1918 would not be repeated.

But anyone who understands generational theory knows that that's not how the world works. The survivors of a crisis, any crisis, spend their lives implementing institutions and measures to guarantee that the same crisis will not happen again, but once those survivors are gone, the generations of survivors that come after will simply believe that no such thing, in this case something like the 1918 epidemic, could ever happen again, because we're all smarter now and so those old-fashioned crises are no longer possible.

The critical generational event occurred in 1976, 58 years after the 1918 epidemic, when the "swine flu" panic occurred. The public became hysterical over the possibility of a new flu pandemic. Responding to public demands, the government prepared millions of doses of swine flu vaccine. The pandemic amounted to nothing, and the whole thing was a political fiasco.

So the 1976 swine flu fiasco served the purpose of discrediting anyone who worried about a new epidemic. This generational change in attitude continues today, and explains why WHO "botched" the Ebola investigation. (For further discussion of the 58-year hypothesis, see "The Iraq war may be related to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." from 2008.)

Ebola in West Africa

In fact, it's not clear to me that WHO could have stopped the Ebola pandemic even if they had been sufficiently alarmed when it started. In the previous section, we quoted WHO as blaming itself for not realizing that "traditional infectious disease containment methods wouldn't work in a region with porous borders and broken health systems." Those porous borders and broken health systems would have been the same whether WHO was alarmed or not.

There have been several outbreaks of Ebola, mostly in Zaire (now renamed to Congo). In those cases, the outbreaks were confined to a few small, remote villages, and the outbreaks were controlled by blocking travel into or out of the affected villages, and then letting the pandemic "burn itself out," in the words of one analyst I heard. This means that everyone in the village became infected. Most people died, but the ones who survived could rebuild their villages and be immune to Ebola for the rest of their lives.

Well, whether that kind of containment could have been accomplished when it first broke out in Guinea is not known to me, but it's certainly true that containment will not work now.

The mathematics of the published figures is irresistible. There are 10,000 infections now in West Africa, and the number of infections doubles every 3-4 weeks. That means that there will be millions of infections by Summer or Fall 2015. And there's nothing that can stop it from spreading beyond West Africa - Côte d'Ivoire is particularly vulnerable.

Furthermore, 50-70% of those infected die. This means that within a couple of years or so, more than half the population of West Africa will die of Ebola. The same will be true of other countries that the spread of Ebola reaches.

What about a vaccine? I have not heard anyone say that a vaccine will be available in less than a year or two in large quantities. Even if a vaccine were available today, could it be administered to, say, the population of Côte d'Ivoire in time to save it from the spread of Ebola? I would think not.

Ebola in megacities and dense slums


Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos has a fairly sophisticated health system. When an Ebola patient arrived by plane in Lagos in July, there was a swift reaction. Through contact tracing, officials located some 900 people who were potentially exposed to the disease. There were finally 19 confirmed cases of Ebola and eight deaths, but the infection was stopped in Nigeria.

But now imagine someone with Ebola arriving on the train pictured above in Lagos, Nigeria, and visiting friends and family. Suppose he infected a couple of other people, and before anyone realized what was going on, people with whom he'd been in contact left town on the same train. This is not an unlikely scenario. How would that Ebola outbreak be contained?

Passengers aren't identified on a train the way they are on a plane. So contact tracing would be impossible. If there were 900 people potentially exposed, there would be no way to identify and find them, and they would go on infecting other people.

Once again, this is not an unlikely scenario. It's fairly certain to happen, and it's fairly certain to continue happening.

Megacities are particularly vulnerable, because there is public transportation and anonymity. The 20 largest megacities in the world, according to Demographia (PDF) are:

POPULATIONS OF WORLD'S 20 LARGEST MEGACITIES
----------------------------------------------------------------
|   1 | Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan                     | 37,555,000 |
|   2 | Jakarta (Jabotabek), Indonesia            | 29,959,000 |
|   3 | Delhi, DL-HR-UP, India                    | 24,134,000 |
|   4 | Seoul-Incheon, South Korea                | 22,992,000 |
|   5 | Manila, Philippines                       | 22,710,000 |
|   6 | Shanghai, SHG-ZJ-JS, China                | 22,650,000 |
|   7 | Karachi, Pakistan                         | 21,585,000 |
|   8 | New York, NY-NJ-CT, United States         | 20,661,000 |
|   9 | Mexico City, Mexico                       | 20,300,000 |
|  10 | Sao Paulo, Brazil                         | 20,273,000 |
|  11 | Beijing, BJ, China                        | 19,277,000 |
|  12 | Guangzhou-Foshan, GD, China               | 18,316,000 |
|  13 | Mumbai, MAH, India                        | 17,672,000 |
|  14 | Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto, Japan                   | 17,234,000 |
|  15 | Moscow, Russia                            | 15,885,000 |
|  16 | Los Angeles, CA, United States            | 15,250,000 |
|  17 | Cairo, Egypt                              | 15,206,000 |
|  18 | Bangkok, Thailand                         | 14,910,000 |
|  19 | Kolkota, WB, India                        | 14,896,000 |
|  20 | Dhaka, Bangladesh                         | 14,816,000 |
----------------------------------------------------------------

However, what may be more important than total population is population density. The following table lists the most densely populated cities in the world, with a few United States cities added to the end of the table:

#PEOPLE/SQ MILE IN WORLD'S MOST DENSELY POPULATED CITIES
------------------------------------------------------------
|   1 | Dhaka, Bangladesh                         | 44,000 |
|   2 | Hyderabad, Pakistan                       | 40,700 |
|   3 | Mumbai, MAH, India                        | 32,300 |
|   4 | Kalyan, MAH, India                        | 30,300 |
|   5 | Chittagong, Bangladesh                    | 28,400 |
|   6 | Vijayawada. AP, India                     | 27,900 |
|   7 | Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong SAR           | 25,700 |
|   8 | Malegaon, HAM, India                      | 24,700 |
|   9 | Macau, China: Macau SAR                   | 23,700 |
|  10 | Aligarh, UP, India                        | 23,500 |
|  11 | Karachi, Pakistan                         | 22,800 |
|  12 | Ranchi, JHA, India                        | 21,200 |
|  13 | Surat, GUJ, India                         | 21,000 |
|  14 | Madurai, TN, India                        | 20,700 |
|  15 | Gwalior, MP, India                        | 20,700 |
|  16 | Asansol, WB, India                        | 20,500 |
|  17 | Salem, TN, India                          | 20,000 |
|  18 | Ahmedabad, GUJ, India                     | 19,800 |
|  18 | Rajkot, GUJ, India                        | 19,800 |
|  20 | Kathmandu, Nepal                          | 19,400 |
|  37 | Kinshasa, Congo (Dem. Rep.)               | 16,700 |
|  39 | Bogota, Colombia                          | 16,600 |
|  40 | Gaza, Palestine                           | 16,500 |
|  43 | Alexandria, Egypt                         | 15,600 |
|  55 | Kano, Nigeria                             | 15,000 |
|  81 | Lagos, Nigeria                            | 13,800 |
| 209 | Mexico City, Mexico                       |  9,800 |
| 564 | Leicester, United Kingdom                 |  4,700 |
| 794 | Los Angeles, CA, United States            |  2,400 |
| 808 | San Francisco-San Jose, CA, United States |  2,100 |
| 823 | Honolulu, HI, United States               |  1,900 |
| 823 | Las Vegas, NV, United States              |  1,900 |
| 829 | Miami, FL, United States                  |  1,800 |
| 830 | New York, NY-NJ-CT, United States         |  1,800 |
------------------------------------------------------------

Of course, a city doesn't have to be on either of these lists to be vulnerable. Even a small, densely populated neighborhood in an otherwise sparsely populated city could be vulnerable.

Either way, the point is that megacities and densely populated cities are going to be vulnerable to Ebola outbreaks, and many of these outbreaks will occur before it's all over.

Ebola in war zones

There have been a small number of Ebola cases in the United States so far, and what I've learned by watching them unfold is that controlling them requires the following:

None of these things will be possible in a war zone, where health services will have broken down, and where health workers will be vulnerable to gunfire and bombs. That means that once even a small Ebola outbreak occurs in war zone, there will generally be no way to keep it from spreading.

I've been writing for years about the coming Clash of Civilization world war where India, Russia and Iran will be our allies versus China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslims. Now we have to add the "Ebola factor," which will interact with everything else going on in the world. Ebola outbreaks will destabilize more regions of the world, leading to more wars, and war zones will be the perfect places where Ebola outbreaks can spread.

During the time of the Black Death plague of the 1340s, attacking armies would use catapults to hurl dead soldiers over the walls of walled cities, so that the citizens of those cities would also die of the plague. Maybe in the next few years, we'll be seeing some of those catapults again.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Oct-14 World View -- Nigerians skeptical of deal with Boko Haram to release abducted schoolgirls

Investors cheer as Wall Street gains 263 points on Friday

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigerians skeptical of deal with Boko Haram to release abducted schoolgirls


Nigerians carrying 'Bring back our girls' banner (Reuters)
Nigerians carrying 'Bring back our girls' banner (Reuters)

Nigeria's government announced on Friday that they're reached a truce with the Boko Haram terrorist group, which has been terrorizing the entire northeast, as well as major cities up and down the country, for years. It's now the six month anniversary of the abduction of 219 schoolgirls on April 16.

In announcing the truce, Nigeria's Chief of Defense Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh gave almost no details and took no questions. Another government official said that the deal would free the 219 abducted schoolgirls. He said that more talks would take place to work out exactly how the girls would be released.

However, multiple analysts in Nigeria are casting doubt on the credibility of the deal. For one thing, there's been no announcement from anyone in Boko Haram. Some analysts have even claimed that the Boko Haram militant who brokered the deal was an imposter, with no connection to the Boko Haram leadership.

According to one Nigerian columnist:

"I guess Nigerians are tired and, as such, any news that offers respite on this protracted war between Nigeria & #BokoHaram is always welcome. Sadly anybody that demised(sic) such good news becomes Nigeria’s enemy. But the leadership of #BH are said to be miffed that a nation of the profile and magnitude of Nigeria, with high level of intelligent people, is being easily encased in deceit and nobody seems to be asking tough questions.

What is most worrying here is, government at the highest level and the intelligence formations in #Nigeria has embraced this 'good news.' This shows lack of understanding of the reality that this is an ideology that can only be neutralized after long hard work that is yet to start.

It also appears that government is more interested in shadows and bubbles, than in substance and clear headed engagement with the #BokoHaram ideology."

The News (Nigeria) and BBC and AFP

Barrage of airstrikes stops ISIS advance on Kobani, Syria

An onslaught of dozens of airstrikes by U.S. warplanes in the last few days has halted the advance of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) on the Syrian town of Kobani, and permitted the Kurdish defenders of Kobani to drive back the ISIS in some, but not all, of Kobani. According to Kurdish officials, the Kurdish defenders were giving the coordinates of the ISIS militants to the U.S. to identify bombing targets.

As of last week, it seemed that ISIS was on the verge of overrunning the Kurds defending Kobani, which is on the border with Turkey, while Turkey's armed forces simply watched the slaughter from tanks in the hills overlooking Kobani. Turkey has been under heavy international criticism for doing nothing to stop the slaughter, but has demanded that the U.S. agree to attack targets assets of the Bashar al-Assad regime before Turkey will commit troops to Kobani.

Analysts, including U.S. administration analysts, are not claiming that this is the end of the battle of Kobani. ISIS has been sending in reinforcements, and they seem determined to overrun Kobani in order to humiliate the U.S. administration and its airstrike strategy. Reuters and World Bulletin (Turkey)

Investors cheer as Wall Street gains 263 points on Friday

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 263.17 points on Friday, continuing a pattern of wild ups and downs during the last couple of weeks. Some analysts were euphoric, while others were just relieved. As I explained two days ago, these wild swings signal a very dangerous time when a crash might be approaching. This would be the case if the amplitude of the swings continues to increase in the next few days, though not necessarily if the swings settle down. Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and selloff. Forbes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Oct-14 World View -- Nigerians skeptical of deal with Boko Haram to release abducted schoolgirls thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Oct-14 World View -- In humiliation, Turkey loses Security Council seat over Syria policy

Venezuela scores anti-U.S. coup by winning Security Council seat

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In humiliation, Turkey loses Security Council seat over Syria policy


Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

In a major humiliation to Turkey, the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday selected Spain instead of Turkey to hold a non-permanent Security Council seat in 2015. Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been lobbying hard for several months to win approval for the seat. Last month, Erdogan sucked up to several emerging market countries by promising to open up the five permanent member seats to other countries:

"The world is bigger than five. The fate of a country should not be in the hands of the US, France, Russia, China or the UK.

"A rotating system which would allow 193 member countries to be represented at the Council should be formed. There should be no notion of permanent membership; every country should have the chance to be represented."

There was even a posh party on Wednesday, the night before the vote.

But apparently all the sucking up did no good. The non-permanent seats are divided by groups or regions, and Turkey is in the "Western European and Others Group," and within that group, Turkey was competing with Spain and New Zealand for two seats. New Zealand won approval for one of the seats, and it was widely expected that Turkey would get the other seat. So it was a surprise to everyone when Turkey got only 60 votes in the General Assembly, and Spain won the seat with 132 votes in the secret ballot.

Turkey was apparently caught by surprise because of an intense lobbying effort by some of his former allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Egypt and Saudi Arabia led the anti-Turkey effort because of Erdogan's support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt and Saudi Arabia consider to be a terrorist organization.

But the main force behind the anti-Turkey vote was Turkey's Syria policy. Leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are fuming at Turkey's unwillingness to fully back the military coalition against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). One European diplomat was quoted as saying,

"I thought they [Turkey] would lose votes, but the scale of their loss is surprising to me, very much so. It seems that Turkey was killed by the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]."

Turkey's Syria policy -- and its frequent calls to unseat Syria's president Bashar al-Assad -- pulled additional votes away from Turkey, including those of Syria and Iran. And Greece, Turkey's traditional enemy since ancient times, is also said to have lobbied against Turkey.

Since the voting was conducted by a secret ballot, it's not known whether the United States voted for or against Turkey. Business Insider and Newsweek and Middle East Eye

Venezuela scores anti-U.S. coup by winning Security Council seat

Venezuela was unopposed in its regional group, and received 181 votes in the 193-member General Assembly, more than enough to get a non-permanent Security Council seat in 2015, despite ten abstentions. Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro said:

"This is the victory of Hugo Chávez Frias. Chavez keeps winning battles in the world ... It's a day in which the world has supported our fatherland."

Venezuela is expected to back allies Iran, Syria and Russia, and to take other anti-American positions. Since Venezuela, Syria, Iran and Russia are all such paragons of human rights, I'm sure we can expect a much more moral U.N. Security Council next year. Foreign Policy and World Bulletin (Turkey)

Pakistan's Taliban leaders declare allegiance to ISIS

As we reported two weeks ago, the leaders of the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) have decided to switch sides and support the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) instead the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) in Syria. ( "6-Oct-14 World View -- ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support")

On Monday, the TTP leaders went beyond support for ISIS by declaring full allegiance to ISIS, repudiating their previous pledges of allegiance to al-Qaeda. According to Shahidullah Shahid, now a former TTP leader:

"I declare allegiance to the Caliph of Muslims, Amirul Momineen Abu Bakar al Baghdadi al Qarshi al Hussaini. I will listen and follow his every instruction whatever the situation may have been. This allegiance is neither from the TTP or its chief, Mullah Fazlullah. This is only from me and five leaders."

This statement hastens the disintegration of both the TTP and al-Qaeda, and signals the increasing strength of ISIS. Dawn (Pakistan) and Tribune (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Oct-14 World View -- In humiliation, Turkey loses Security Council seat over Syria policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Oct-14 World View -- Stocks plunge in Greece as its financial crisis is renewed

Wild stock market swings could signal coming Wall St plunge

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Wild stock market swings could signal coming Wall St plunge


 A trader watches the screen at his terminal on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange on Wednesday (Reuters)
A trader watches the screen at his terminal on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange on Wednesday (Reuters)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly fell over 450 points on Wednesday, before cutting losses and ending the day "only" 173 points down. Traders were influenced by a welter of bad data -- a retail sales index and a manufacturing index falling significantly more than economists had predicted.

European stocks fell to a ten month low, with index values falling 2-3% across the board. For the past few months, Europe has been increasingly in a deflationary spiral, with the inflation rate now below 0.1%.

Traders are also concerned that the Ebola crisis will harm the global economy.

Possibly more significant are the wild swings that have characterized the stock market during the last couple of weeks. Economist Robert Shiller, appearing on CNBC last week on Friday, said that he was concerned about the wild swings, and that they happened in 2008, 2007, and 1929, just prior to the crash. So if, for example, stocks gain 500 points tomorrow, then it would be cheered as good news, but in fact it would just be a large swing upwards. The next one might be a downward swing of 1000 points.

At the very least, the wild swings signal a time of danger. Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and selloff. The S&P 500 Price/Earnings index is around 19, much higher than the historical average of 14, indicating a huge stock market bubble. A crash has to happen sooner or later, and it's possible that these wild swings are signaling that this is the time. Reuters and Bloomberg and Telegraph (London)

Stocks plunge in Greece as its financial crisis is renewed

Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras sought to restore public calm on Wednesday, as stocks on the Athens Stock Exchange plunged 6.25%. Socks have fallen 23.24% since January.

Even more significant, the yields (interest rates) on Greece's ten-year bonds spiked sharply upward to 7.73%. This means that if Greece wants to borrow money on the open market, Greece will have to pay 7.73% interest, which is not affordable.

Long-time readers will recall the drama of the various European bailout events of Greece in the 2010-2012 time frame. See, for example, "28-Nov-12 World View -- Europe's new charade in Greece's bailout announcement", in which Greece was given a new 44 billion euro bailout loan, and Samaras said:

"A very grey, a very dark period for Greece officially ended yesterday and it has ended for good. We Greeks were made for tough times, and when the going gets tough, it brings out the best in us."

Promises like this were never going to be kept, as I said repeatedly, and as pretty much everyone basically knew. Underneath the "tough times" rhetoric was a Pollyannaish assumption that Europe and the world would return to the "growth" of the mid-2000s decade credit and real estate bubbles, when anyone could borrow money to do anything. That was never going to happen again, but it was this fantastical assumption that led to the rosy predictions that Greece's dark days were over.

It was always just a matter of time before Greece's bailout would fail, and it appears that the time is now. Greece is facing both an economic crisis and a political crisis. The radical left-wing political party Syriza is becoming increasingly popular in the polls, with the result that the government may collapse in the next few months, forcing new elections, bringing far left communist politics back to the European political stage.

Syriza wants to renege on the bailout money that Greece owes to Europe. This would push Greece's government into bankruptcy, and push bond yields up well into double or even triple digits, making it almost impossible for Greece to borrow money. Kathimerini (Athens) and AP and Business Insider

The price of oil plummets along with stocks

The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil fell 5% on Wednesday to $81.84, well below the $100-120 range of the past few years. Two reasons are being given for the startling collapse in oil prices.

First, the supply of oil is surging. In the U.S., shale oil production ("fracking") has been growing rapidly. Non-OPEC countries have been exporting more oil. Canada has replaced Saudi Arabia as the largest source of imported oil to the U.S.

Second, the demand for oil is falling. Sluggish economies around the world mean less oil is needed, and even China's demand is softening.

Generational Dynamics predicts a global deflationary spiral, and the falling price of oil is part of that. Countries like Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, which depend on income from oil sales, will be suffering economic woes that will translate into a general global slowdown. CNBC and Fortune and Forbes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Oct-14 World View -- Stocks plunge in Greece as its financial crisis is renewed thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Oct-14 World View -- NY Times reveals Saddam Hussein had large quantities of WMDs

Turkey-France meeting signals new confusion in Turkey's Syria policy

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

NY Times reveals Saddam Hussein had large quantities of WMDs


Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein

In a seemingly bizarre twist to the history of America's 2003 ground invasion of Iraq, which was widely supported at the time, but widely despised later when weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) were not found, an extensive report by the New York Times reveals that Saddam Hussein did, in fact, have large quantities of WMDs, many left over from the past.

The irony, of course, is that the NY Times led the loony left to oppose the Iraq war, and was openly aiding and abetting the enemy, in a manner that I considered to be treasonous. (See, for example, "NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman shows ignorance and evasiveness about al-Qaeda in Iraq" from 2007.)

The NY Times constantly printed misinformation designed to harm the United States and the Bush Administration. They predicted that President Bush's "surge" would fail, and events proved that they were historically wrong.

As I wrote several months ago ( "18-Jun-14 World View -- Generational Dynamics historical analysis of the violence in Iraq"), if the Bush administration had not ordered the ground invasion, then Iran would have continued to believe that Saddam had WMDs, and would have aggressively begun its own WMD program.

Now the NY Times tells us that Saddam had WMDs after all, which means that the Iraq ground invasion was apparently fully justified.

The new concern is that the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) may also find, or have already found, other caches of WMDs for their own use. NY Times

Turkey-France meeting signals new confusion in Turkey's Syria policy

On Sunday, the U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said that Turkey had "made a commitment that they will in the first instance allow the US and its partners to use Turkish bases and territory," meaning that U.S. warplanes on bombing runs into Syria could take off from and return to Turkey's Incirlik. On Monday, Turkish officials said that Rice was mistaken, and that no such agreement had been reached.

This is just the next in the unending series of blunders and missteps by the foreign policy team of Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Susan Rice, who might ironically be called "the gang that can't shoot straight."

But in this case it also highlights the chaos in Turkey's own policy towards Syria, as Kobani appears to be close to falling to the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), despite American-led airstrikes.

Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to meet with France's president François Hollande, as soon as the parties can arrange a suitable date, Hollande has expressed support for Erdogan's plan to establish a no-fly zone in Syria, directed at the air force of the Bashar al-Assad regime. Erdogan and Turkey have been internationally isolated over it Syria stance. America and Western countries have refused to support the no-fly zone because it would put the coalition in conflict with al-Assad's forces, and the U.S. has said that defeating ISIS is more important than defeating al-Assad. This is a clear disagreement between Turkey and the U.S., and it may now be the case that France is going to be on the side of Turkey.

Turkey may be opposed to the entire U.S. policy in Syria. Erdogan doesn't like ISIS, but if they're willing to fight al-Assad, he'd like to let them. Erdogan doesn't like the people who live in Kobani, because they're Kurds, and Turkish Kurds, in the form of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fought a 30-year insurgency in Turkey, though the insurgency is currently supposedly in the midst of a "peace process." In fact, Erdogan refers to both ISIS and the Kurds as being terrorists. So, really, Erdogan doesn't really care if ISIS overruns Kobani and massacres the Kurds or not.

Erdogan's statement of equivalence between ISIS and the PKK is being criticized by his political opponents within Turkey. A pro-Kuridish political opponent, Selahattin DemirtaS, is pointing out some chaotic contradictions in Erdogan's policies:

"If you think it [the PKK] is same as ISIS, why are you seeking a settlement [peace process]? Why is the state holding talks with the PKK? ISIS is no party to have negotiations with. If PKK is like that, you should not have held talks with it. How will you bring back people from the mountains with such an attitude? ...

You [Erdogan] said that Syria was Turkey's issue, as well as Gaza, Bosnia and Somali, and defended military action there; however, with [Kurdish] Kobani, you said otherwise. If Kobani is not Turkey's issue, then we [Kurds] are not living in Turkey. If this is your stance when my brothers are threatened by a group of rapists and barbarians [ISIS], then you are not our government."

In fact, the "peace process" with the PKK may be over anyway. There is growing fury among Kurds that Turkey is willing to permit a massacre of Kurds in Kobani. Turkey's Kurdish population rioted last week in cities across the country, and 35 people died in clashes with police. And on Tuesday, Turkey's warplanes bombed PKK bases in southeastern Turkey, on the Iraq border. These are Turkey's first bombing raids since the "peace process" began two years ago, and probably signal its demise.

It's possible that the fall of Kobani to ISIS will trigger widespread Kurdish riots in Turkey, forcing Erdogan to fight either ISIS in Syria or Kurds in Turkey. Cihan (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Istanbul) and Today's Zaman (Ankara) and VOA

WHO: Within two months, there may be 10,000 new Ebola cases per week

The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to issue warnings to alert the world of the impending Ebola disaster. On Tuesday, a WHO official warned that by mid-December, there could be up to 10,000 new Ebola cases per week, up from 1,000 new cases per week currently.

This is consistent with previous projections that the number of cases has been growing exponentially, doubling every 2-3 weeks. The WHO official didn't bother to project that 10,000 figure forward, by pointing out that it will be 100,000 per week within a couple more months, and continue to grow.

Who also estimated that the death rate was 70%, up from previous estimates of 50% -- meaning that 70% of those who get infected are dying. This could mean that 60-70% of Liberia's population will be dead within a year or so, with the resulting global economic crises and probable wars, as we described yesterday. CBS News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Oct-14 World View -- NY Times reveals Saddam Hussein had large quantities of WMDs thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Oct-14 World View -- Australia's PM Tony Abbott promises to 'shirt-front' Vladimir Putin when they meet

WHO: Ebola threatens the 'very survival' of countries

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia's PM Tony Abbott promises to 'shirt-front' Vladimir Putin when they meet


Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott
Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott

Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott has been one of the world's most vocal critics for Russia's president Vladimir Putin over the downing of an airliner by Russians in East Ukraine using a missile system supplied by Russia. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in July, killing all 298 passengers and crew, 28 of whom were Australians. Abbott and Putin are expected to meet at the upcoming G20 meeting next month.

Abbott said the following on Monday:

"Look, I'm going to shirt-front Mr Putin - you bet I am. I'm going to be saying to Mr Putin, Australians were murdered and they were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian supplied equipment."

In Australian rules football, a "shirt-front" is a front-on charge designed to knock an opponent to the ground. Reuters and Sydney Morning Herald

WHO: Ebola threatens the 'very survival' of countries

Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), referred to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea and said:

"I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries. I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure."

As I've written several times in the past ( "18-Sep-14 World View -- Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic?"), Ebola is apparently going to continue to spread exponentially and run its course in Liberia. Within 6-9 months, probably 90% of the population will have been infected, and 50-70% of those people will not survive. So if those figures are true, and I believe they are, then Liberia will lose more than half its population by next summer. This will be a geopolitical crisis, and may trigger a war.

Will the same thing happen in the United States? No. Right now, every hospital and health care facility in the country is preparing for the say that someone walks in with symptoms of Ebola. There will certainly be cases -- perhaps dozens or even hundreds of cases. But America, like much of the rest of the world, is rapidly preparing and will be prepared.

However, as we've said repeatedly, Ebola will spread out of control to war zones, including Central African Republic, Darfur, South Sudan, Syria and Iraq. Adjacent countries will also be at risk, and that could mean that larger regions of Africa and the Mideast may be under attack from Ebola. Large megacities around the world are also at risk. However, note that the Hajj has ended, without any known cases of Ebola, as many people feared.

It appears that world will be a very different place a year from now. We can hope that, by then, some drug treatments will have started to become available, so that the spread can level off. VOA and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Oct-14 World View -- Australia's PM Tony Abbott promises to 'shirt-front' Vladimir Putin when they meet thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Oct-14 World View -- Al-Qaeda and ISIS struggle for global jihadi terrorist leadership

Large Mideast stock market bubbles appear to be crashing

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Al-Qaeda and ISIS struggle for global jihadi terrorist leadership


ISIS appears to be outshining the ancient leadership at al-Qaeda (Al-Arabiya)
ISIS appears to be outshining the ancient leadership at al-Qaeda (Al-Arabiya)

With the dramatic rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) in the past year, a generational competition is growing between ISIS, led by the youthful Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and headquartered in Syria, versus al-Qaeda, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri and other old geezers on the Afghanistan - Pakistan border:

The trend appears to be that ISIS is overtaking al-Qaeda, but whether that will continue is not certain. ISIS currently has a base of power only in Syria and Iraq, and not elsewhere. Just to take one possible scenario, the death of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi could change everything, and cause ISIS and al-Qaeda to merge. Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) and Al Arabiya (June 2014)

Car bomb explodes in Mogadishu Somalia as China's embassy reopens

China's embassy in Somalia officially reopened Sunday in Somalia's capital city Mogadishu, on the same day that a car bomb exploded outside a popular Mogadishu cafe, killing 11 people. The bomb was believed to have been detonated by remote control, and the terrorist group al-Shabaab are believed to be the perpetrators.

On Saturday, Somalia's president Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud said that al-Shabaab terrorism was coming to an end, and that his government will defeat the group "as a military force" before the end of the year. He said that its fighters are on the run from government forces and African Union forces.

Mohamoud is encouraging China to invest further in Somalia:

"China and Somalia had a very long relationship and a very historical and ancient one. And in modern times Somalia and China are friendly countries.

Today Somalia is a place that can be invested. There is a lot of opportunities. This is a very rich country in terms of maritime resources, in terms of agricultural resources, in terms of livestock, and in terms of very vibrant people who are entrepreneurs and business-minded.

We will give priority to those who pioneer to invest now in Somalia than those who come after five years from now. Those first comers are the real partners for us."

Xinhua/Daily Times (Pakistan) and RBC Raxanreeb (Somalia) and CTV (Canada)

Large Mideast stock market bubbles appear to be crashing

Shares in the Dubai (United Arab Emirates or UAE) stock market plunged 6.5% on Sunday, while Saudi Arabia's shares also fell by 6.5%. Qatar's stock index fell 3%. Some Mideast stock markets have been in enormous bubbles this year, with Dubai up 47% year-to-date and Egypt up 41%, so it was only a matter of time before these bubbles burst. The only question was the timing and the triggering event. U.S. stocks had a "brutal" selloff on Friday of 1.2%. As of this writing at early morning Asian time, stocks in Japan, Australia and South Korea have fallen 0.5-0.8% in early morning trading.

Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and selloff. It has to happen sooner or later.

Americans today are very prone to panic, as shown by the widespread near-panic over the two cases of Ebola in Texas. This kind of panic is typical of moods during a generational Crisis era, and it's this mood that leads to new generational financial crises and generational crisis wars. This may or may not be the time that the stock market continues to fall. Bloomberg and Reuters and Zero Hedge

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Oct-14 World View -- Al-Qaeda and ISIS struggle for global jihadi terrorist leadership thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Oct-14 World View -- Disappearance of North Korea's Kim Jong-un looks more and more serious

Concerns grow that terrorists might use Ebola as biological weapon

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Disappearance of North Korea's Kim Jong-un looks more and more serious


Kim Jong-un limping on July 8
Kim Jong-un limping on July 8

North Korea's child dictator, Kim Jong-un, has not been seen in public since September 3. On July 8 he was shown walking with a limp, and he's missed several major events since September 3. He's gained a great deal of weight since becoming dictator after his father's death in December 2011 and that may contribute to pain in his leg. North Korean officials have been excusing his absences by saying that he was relaxing and recovering from his "discomfort."

However, Kim's disappearance has begun to look a lot more serious, since he made no appearance on Friday at the 69th anniversary of the founding of the governing Worker's Party. This is one of the major political events of the year and he did not even make a symbolic appearance. When his father, Kim Jong-il, failed to attend the same event in 2008, it was following a stroke.

Rumors abound. One rumor is that he's so visibly ill, that it couldn't be hidden even in a symbolic appearance. Another rumor is that there's a coup in progress, and he's being held prisoner. Another rumor is that he's dead, and that his 27 year old sister is taking over (though one commentator said that it's unlikely that a 70 year old army general would be willing to take orders from a 27 year old girl).

However, other government sources say that "Kim Jong-un is in total control," although he hurt his leg taking part in a military drill, and is convalescing. Korea Herald (Seoul) and Japan Times

Israel's government concerned about legal threats after Gaza war

For the last 60 years, Israel has defeated its enemies on the battlefields, but over the last two decades, Israel has consistently lost the public opinion battle. Today, almost no European political leader openly supports Israel, and calls for anti-Israeli boycotts and sanctions are increasingly heard. Even more dangerous to Israel is the increasing willingness of international courts to consider launching legal proceedings for alleged war crimes. Israel has done well in these legal proceedings so far, but one major legal loss could have a "domino effect," the eventual scope of which cannot even be guessed.

Israel's military and legal authorities are keenly aware that when a war ends, there will be international investigations of alleged wrongdoings. For these reasons, military lawyers work with military commanders during operations. In the recent Gaza war, Hamas not violated every international law it could, it also did everything possible to try to force Israel to violate international laws -- by storing weapons under and launching attacks from civilian homes, mosques, schools and hospitals. Hamas even publicly threatened its own population not to vacate areas of impending attacks, in order to force Israel to choose between conducting military operations in a civilian-rich environment (thus probably increasing civilian casualties) and foregoing the attacks entirely. Israel Defense News

Concerns grow that terrorists might use Ebola as biological weapon

Experts are warning that the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) or another terror group might decide to use Ebola as a biological weapon. It would be fairly easy. A terrorist could visit West Africa and become infected, or just leave with some infected bodily fluids. Then, before symptoms start to show, the terrorist could travel back to a target country, and then interact with as many people as possible to infect them.

However, a number of experts are skeptical that this approach will be used. An infected terrorist might accidentally infect others in his group or his family, for example. According to one expert: "For a suicide attack, strapping sticks of dynamite to your chest is far more effective." Daily Mail and Forbes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Oct-14 World View -- Disappearance of North Korea's Kim Jong-un looks more and more serious thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Oct-14 World View -- Renewed violence in Central African Republic despite peacekeepers

The daily needs of a single Ebola patient

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The daily needs of a single Ebola patient


Health care workers in Liberia carry the body of an Ebola victim (EPA)
Health care workers in Liberia carry the body of an Ebola victim (EPA)

According to televised report appearing on al-Jazeera, caring for an Ebola patient uses up the following resources every day:

That doesn't include any medications.

It's estimated that there are currently at least 8,000 people sick with Ebola in West Africa. That number is expected to be well into the tens of thousands by the end of the year, and then to double every three weeks after that. Washington Post

U.N. envoy makes highly emotional appeal to Turkey to save Kobani

Steffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy to Syria, made a highly emotional appeal to Turkey on Friday to aid the Kurds in the Syrian border city of Kobani, under attack by the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). Turkey is demanding that the U.S. change its strategy in Syria to attack the Bashar al-Assad regime, as well as ISIS fighters. ( "10-Oct-14 World View -- Turkey and America play a game of 'chicken' over ISIS and Kobani")

De Mistura invoked the memory of the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, which is the subject of trials in the Hague to convict Serb leaders of war crimes. According to de Mistura:

"You remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot. And probably we never forgave ourselves for that.

If Kobani falls, there will be close to 400 kilometers of the Turkish border basically under control of ISIL out of 900. And what would be next? Other villages? Even Aleppo?

There are the images that we don’t want to see, we cannot see and I hope you will not be seeing of people beheaded, of the defenders and civilians."

De Mistura did not ask Turkey to send its own troops to defend Kobani. Instead, de Mistura asked Turkey to permit Kurdish fighters in Turkey to cross the border into Syria so that they can join the fight against ISIS. However, Turkey has previously indicated that no such request will be granted, because Turkey's Kurdish fighters would be members of the separatist terror group Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), with whom Turkey fought a decades long civil war. McClatchy

Renewed violence in Central African Republic despite peacekeepers

The United Nations Security Council is threatening the government of Central African Republic (CAR) with sanctions, because a Pakistani peacekeeper was killed on Thursday after an attack by "unknown perpetrators" in Bangui, CAR's capital city. According to a statement by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "The secretary-general condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing and wounding of UN peacekeepers. Such acts against those who are working towards peace and security in the Central African Republic are entirely unacceptable. The perpetrators of the violence, which has also resulted in a number of civilians killed since the clashes in the capital began on 7 October, must also be brought to justice."

Several hours after Ban's denunciation on Friday, an armed group fired on U.N. peacekeepers, wounding six.

These attacks come amid a sudden increase in mob violence in Bangui, breaking a July 23 ceasefire agreement. The ceasefire was partially observed in Bangui, but CAR is a country the size of France, and fighting has continued in villages to the north and west.

This week, Bangui has seen its most significant violence in months, resulting in "many casualties." A Muslim man was lynched, decapitated and his body torched by anti-Balaka Christian fighters on Tuesday, and a Muslim Seleka fighters killed a taxi driver in revenge, sparking the latest violence. Gunfire and explosions rang out in Bangui on Thursday. In all, 25 people, excluding peacekeepers, have been wounded since the new round of fighting began.

CAR is in a generational crisis war, which will not end until it runs its course and reaches a climax.

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. The early stages of the new generational crisis war began last year when Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities. French Foreign Legion troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias, but then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities this year, for revenge.

Recent reports indicate that both sides are regrouping for new fighting. The U.N. peacekeepers may be able to partially delay some of the fighting, but there won't be peace in CAR until the war has run its course. Daily Times (Pakistan) and Al Jazeera and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Oct-14 World View -- Renewed violence in Central African Republic despite peacekeepers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Oct-14 World View -- Turkey and America play a game of 'chicken' over ISIS and Kobani

Iran blames Pakistan for terrorist attacks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey and America play a game of 'chicken' over ISIS and Kobani


Aftermath of US air strike on Kobani on Wednesday (Reuters)
Aftermath of US air strike on Kobani on Wednesday (Reuters)

A real geopolitical drama is in progress, as the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) attack on the Syrian city of Kobani, on the border with Turkey, may be close to victory. An ISIS victory would have potentially severe consequences for both America and Turkey. The battle of Kobani is being watched very closely around the Mideast, and an ISIS victory would expose the American airstrike strategy as a failure that exposed hundreds of thousands of civilian Kurds to slaughter. An ISIS victory would also create hundreds of thousands of new refugees adding to the hundreds of thousands who crossed the border into Turkey in the last three weeks. An ISIS victory might also trigger a renewal of Turkey's civil war versus the the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

So Turkey and America are playing a grand game of "chicken." In the classic American 1950s game, two teenagers get into cars at opposite ends of a long street, and drive towards each other. The first teenager to turn aside to avoid a collision is a "chicken," and the other teenager wins. If neither teenager turns aside, then there's a collision, resulting in deaths and/or injuries, but both sides have "won" because neither of them is a chicken.

In the current game of chicken over ISIS and Kobani, both America and Turkey are making demands of the other side to save Kobani from ISIS. If either side gives in and does something to save Kobani, then that side will be "chicken," and the other side will have won. If neither side does anything, and Kobani falls, possibly leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and refugees, then both America and Turkey will have "won."

It would be funny if the consequences weren't so serious. America tells Turkey to send ground troops to save Kobani. Turkey says that they won't, unless America also sends in ground troops.

As I understand Turkey's statements in the last few days, Turkey might be willing to send in ground troops alone, provided that America agrees to set up a no-fly zone in Syria, restricting Syria's air force.

Akin Unver, assistant professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, says that there are fundamental differences between Turkey's and America's strategies. In an interview on Al-Jazeera (my transcription):

"I think there's a fundamental difference in Washington's and Ankara's view on what ISIS is, and how best to counter ISIS. ...

For Washington, basically ISIS may be an unfortunate result of an Iraq war, but it has to be combatted.

For Ankara, ISIS is a product of Assad and Maliki's policies for a very long time, that Ankara was actually warning the world about. Ankara was basically asking for a Western coalition, a Western military coalition against Assad, as well as some diplomatic push for Maliki, so that radicalization in the form of ISIS wouldn't happen.

But when you think from the perspective of Ankara, all of these warnings are unheeded, so basically right now Ankara doesn't think that Washington sees the picture very clearly. So that's the bsic divergence. ...

But the logic, rationale and narrative is that we told Washington that ISIS or a similar organization would happen, because basically if you want to deal with ISIS, you first have to get rid of the fundamental causes that produce that kind of radicalization, and the number one culprit that Ankara can find is Assad. Maybe not remove Assad, but basically create a secure zone, or cordon sanitaire in northern Syria, so that Assad's forces will never be able to move in there. That's the only way that Ankara thinks they can resolve this issue."

I actually agree with this. I've been saying for almost two years that the actions of Syria's genocidal monster Bashar al-Assad and his slaughter and displacement of millions of innocent Sunni women and children would draw jihadists from all over the world, and that's exactly what's happened, resulting in the creation of ISIS. Turkey warned exactly the same thing, but it was ignored.

I've also pointed out for two years that the fault also lies with Russia, which has been supply al-Assad with unlimited amounts of heavy weapons to use in his campaign of extermination against Sunnis, making Russia's president Vladimir Putin a war criminal.

Syria is in a generational Awakening era (like America in the 1960s), an era in which civil wars are impossible, or fizzle quickly if they start. The Syrian civil war began in 2011, and fizzled within a year, turning into a proxy war between Russia and jihadist forces that became ISIS.

In an article by Akin Unver (quoted above), Unver says that Turkey is alarmed by Russia's support of al-Assad for another reason:

"In today's terms, Russia's annexation of Crimea is sufficiently alarming for Ankara, with the added dimension of Russian naval supremacy in the Black Sea. Turkey is now virtually defenseless there and has lost its deterrence or negotiation leverages against Moscow in a number of issues. The most immediate is the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) designations in the Black Sea, critical due to Shell, Exxon, and Chevron exploration operations on Turkey's northern coast.

If the US wants to recruit Turkey's support against ISIL, not only should it address the full spectrum of the causes that created ISIL in the first place, but also make longer-term commitments against a Russian backlash against Turkey in the Black Sea. Only by approaching Ukraine and ISIL as complementing grand strategy issues can Washington find the ally it seeks in Ankara, without any need to counterproductively move any bases out of Turkey or clumsily write-off Ankara's cooperation."

Turkey's issue with Russia in the Black Sea is totally ignored in almost all media discussions of Turkey's strategy in Syria. World War I and the Crimean War were the last two generational crisis wars of both Russia and Turkey, and they were on opposite sides in both wars. Washington Post and Today's Zaman (Istanbul) and Al-Jazeera (Doha) and The National (UAE)

Russia makes farcical demand for Security Council resolution on Kobani

Turkey is saying that the anti-ISIS coalition will get Turkey's military support only if the coalition will target the Bashar al-Assad regime as well. Specifically, Turkey is demanding:

Russia's Foreign Ministry is making a farcical demand to submit the discussion on buffer zones in Syria to a vote in the United Nations Security Council (so that they can veto it). According to spokesman Alexander Lukashevich: "It is up to the UN Security Council to make decisions on these (buffer) zones. You remember the way it was in Iraq, Libya, and what it resulted in."

Russia has been using the UN Security County to humiliate the United States since 2010, by lying repeatedly and then vetoing any attempt to stop the genocide in Syria. Lukashevich mentioned Iraq and Libya, but didn't bother to mention Ukraine, where Russian soldiers invaded Crimea and annexed it to Russia, and then Russian soldiers invaded east Ukraine, leaving it an unstable mess, after shooting down an airliner. And Russia did all this without getting approval from the UN Security Council.

I don't know what decision the Obama administration will make in Syria, but I hope that it will just take the decision, without a farcical vote in the UN Security Council. BBC and Itar-Tass (Moscow)

Iran blames Pakistan for terrorist attacks

A car bomb attack on a police station in an Iran city on the border with Pakistan on Thursday morning killed a police officer, injuring others. The day before, three other police officers were killed in a separate terrorist attack. The Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-ul-Adl (Army of Justice) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks.

Iran is blaming Pakistan's government for the attacks. In an official statement by former IRGC commander MP Mohammad Esmail Kowsari:

"We wish that these acts of terror in the country, especially in border towns would end for good, but the main issue is that the Pakistani government does not secure its borders.

The Pakistani government has practically no control over the border areas and if they really cannot control it they better tell us so that we ourselves could take action."

This may be a veiled threat to send Iranian forces into Pakistan to pursue Jaish-ul-Adl, just as American forces entered Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden. Pakistan Today and Tasnim News (Iran) and AEI Iran Tracker

The continuing realignment of the Mideast

During the last six weeks, I've written several articles on the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war. Iran is in a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, and has a similar "generation gap," separating the survivors the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and Iran/Iraq war from the younger generations that have grown up afterwards. This has resulted in schizophrenic Iranian policies, balancing the hardline attitudes of the Supreme Leader and other geezers who survived the Islamic Revolution versus the people in the younger generations, who like the West and don't hate Israel.

What decision will the American administration make with regard to Kobani? In particular, with America challenge al-Assad militarily?

It's impossible to predict individual political decisions, but it is possible to describe the long-term trends. And as I've been saying for almost ten years, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, India, Russia and Iran will be our allies in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, versus China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslims. Several long-time readers have written to me recently to say that they didn't believe these predictions ten years ago, but are now astonished to see them coming true.

So let's focus now on Kobani and Syria. The long-term trends indicate that America will hold its nose and side with Russia, Iran and al-Assad. In the immediate context, this probably means that America will NOT support Turkey's demands for a buffer area or no-fly zone in Syria.

However, I can find no long-term trend that provides a way to forecast what will happen to the people of Kobani. What America or Turkey will do is a purely political chaotic (in the sense of Chaos theory) decision, which can't be predicted. The Kurds in Kobani claim that they're holding off the ISIS fighters, and hope to win. Or maybe either Turkey or America will find a way to provide ground troops. Or maybe Kobani will fall, with all the repercussions outlined above. Right now, there is no way to predict.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Oct-14 World View -- Turkey and America play a game of 'chicken' over ISIS and Kobani thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Oct-14 World View -- Kurdish riots continue as Turkey deals with the Kobani conundrum

Why do so many Chinese expect war?

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kurdish riots continue as Turkey deals with the Kobani conundrum


Turkish army tanks have been lined up on the Syrian border across from Kobani for a week (Hurriyet)
Turkish army tanks have been lined up on the Syrian border across from Kobani for a week (Hurriyet)

Kurds in cities across Turkey continue to express fury that Turkey is not intervening to save the Kurds living in Kobani, Syria, on the border with Turkey, from the approaching forces of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). It's possible that hundreds of thousands of Kurds are about to be slaughtered by ISIS, but Turkey's military has a row of tanks along the border, watching the increasingly intense battles and explosions as if they were in a movie theatre. Turkey won't even permit Kurds on the Turkish side of the border to cross over into Kobani to join the fight against ISIS.

Turkey is playing a very hard line. The U.S. and Nato really want Turkey to save Kobani, and are pouring on the pressure. But Turkey will not do so unless an objective of the war is that America's warplanes also start striking targets belonging to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. and Nato do not want to get into a war with al-Assad, and say that ISIS is the most important threat.

With regard to ISIS versus the Kurds, Turkey's conundrum is that it wants both sides to lose. There a millions of innocent Kurds in Kobani, but it's also the home of fighters from the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with whom the Turks fought a 30 year civil war. A few days ago, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "What ISIS is to us, the PKK is the same," a remark that infuriated the Kurds still further. In fact, many Kurds say that Turkey is on the side of ISIS and is funding and supporting it, because Turkey wants the Kurds exterminated.

The fall of Kobani appears to be close. American air strikes are slowing ISIS down, but they will not prevent an ISIS victory. An ISIS victory would mean many things to the Kurds -- hundreds of thousands more deaths, hundreds of thousands more refugees pouring into Turkey, and the loss of a city that many Kurds consider to be their capital. It will seen as a major American failure of the airstrike strategy. And it may trigger a revival of the civil war between the Turks and Kurds in Turkey. Today's Zaman (Istanbul) and AP and Guardian (London)

Why do so many Chinese expect war?

I like to read and sometimes refer to the articles by the Lowy Institute for International Policy because it's in Australia, where they have a much more focused understanding of the issues in southeast Asia. They've done several articles on the threat from China, and the question of Australia's role in a possible war between the U.S. and China.

According to one article, referring to a Beijing professor of classical music:

"His students don't seem like fenqing ('angry youth'). They are in a musical conservatory, after all, not a military academy. Many have overseas connections. But they are also ambitious, emotional, fiercely nationalist and for them war – any war – would be a gratifying affirmation of their country's ascendance. Like the 2008 Olympic Games but with real explosions, not fireworks. These kids lap up PLA propaganda films like Silent Contest even as they dream of Juilliard. My professor friend worries they just haven't thought things through, that their various aspirations are totally misaligned."

This emotional, fierce nationalism in China is something I've been writing about for years. Fierce nationalism is most common in countries in generational Crisis eras, and so we see increased nationalism in America and in European countries. The survivors of World War II were all too aware of the dangers of fierce nationalism, and the many roles it played, including the rise of the Nazis, in bringing about the worst of the war. So now those survivors are gone, and fierce nationalism is the cool thing today, especially in China.

According to Lowy, they want wealth, power and respect for their country. It's relevant to Thucydides' explanation of the epochal Peloponnesian War: "It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this inspired in Sparta that made war inevitable." Historical analysis indicates that there's a 75% chance of war as China replaces America in the global pecking order.

Lowy finds the "strange revival of nationalism" to be a paradox of our age. War worship should totally contradict materialist aspirations, yet the two often go together. Perhaps some new citizens want the goodies of Western life without the full package of liberal rights and responsibilities.

As I've been saying for ten years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Clash of Civilizations war is coming with 100% certainty, with the two sides led by China and America. Lowy says, with understatement, "Such a conflict would be protracted. All agree it would be a long, costly war of exhaustion for all concerned." Actually, it would be a full-scale generational crisis war. Every nuclear weapon and missile will be used before it's over. Once the missiles run out, there will be huge armies fighting all over the world, fighting not only each other, but also famine, Ebola, Swine Flu, and Bird Flu. As much as half the world's population could be wiped out, leaving the other half to rebuild the world again. Lowy Institute and Lowy Institute (Feb 2014)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Oct-14 World View -- Kurdish riots continue as Turkey deals with the Kobani conundrum thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Oct-14 World View -- Kurds protest violently in cities across Turkey over ISIS attack on Kobani

Biden makes a third apology, this time to Saudi Arabia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's Erdogan sets conditions for saving Kobani from ISIS


Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Kobani have been pouring into Turkey (Getty)
Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Kobani have been pouring into Turkey (Getty)

As we've been reporting the last few days, the Syrian city of Kobani appears to be close to being overrun by the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). The city is populated by Syrian Kurds, and a successful attack by ISIS would result in a massacre and tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees. Now, on Tuesday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a statement that I consider to be pretty remarkable:

"I am telling the West – dropping bombs from the air will not provide a solution. The terror will not be over ... unless there is cooperation for a ground operation.

Months have passed but no results have been achieved. Kobani is about to fall. We asked for three things: one, for a no-fly zone to be created; two, for a secure zone parallel to the region to be declared; and for the moderate opposition in Syria and Iraq to be trained and equipped."

I keep reading this statement over and over, and it appears to me to be almost a kind of extortion: "Meet my demands, and I'll save Kobani."

It's well known that Erdogan is very dissatisfied that the US-led air strikes in Syria have been attacking only ISIS targets, and that he would like the air strike to attack targets of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. So he's making the following demands:

Erdogan has said that ground troops will be required to save Kobani, and that Turkey would be willing to join in a coalition ground troop force with Western governments.

However, whether Erdogan likes it or not, Turkey is under tremendous international pressure to save Kobani. On Tuesday, prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed his government's willingness to join with a Western coalition to use ground troops in Syria to fight ISIS and the al-Assad regime.

According to a Turkish analyst, Turkey might be dragged into a quagmire:

"If Turkey engages in a ground assault against the Assad regime in Syria, then it might be dragged into a quagmire. I want to draw attention to the fault lines based on ethnic and sectarian divisions. We have divisions similar to those Middle Eastern countries which have been recently dragged into civil wars. The most appropriate option is for Turkey to join the air campaign against ISIS."

Hurriyet (Istanbul) and AP and Today's Zaman (Ankara)

Kurds protest violently in cities across Turkey over ISIS attack on Kobani

Twelve people were killed in clashes with police, as Kurdish protesters in cities across Turkey took to the streets in violent riots to demand that Turkey protect the Kurds in Kobani who are under attack by ISIS. Curfews have been declared in five provinces. The protests were called for by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the biggest Kurdish party in Turkey. PKK is considered to be a terrorist organization by Turkey and by Western countries. In a 30-year civil war between the PKK and Turkey, some 30,000 people were killed. Now the PKK is accusing Turkey of siding with ISIS, in order to exterminate the Kurds in Kobani.

For its part, Turkey sees helping the Kurds in Kobani as being the same as helping the PKK. Turkey sees ISIS as less of a threat than the al-Assad regime and the Kurds, and fears that the Kobani crisis will revive the civil war. BBC and Today's Zaman (Istanbul)

Biden makes a third apology, this time to Saudi Arabia

As we've reported, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had to apologize on Saturday to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for saying in a speech on Thursday that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had funded and armed the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and contributed to its rise. Biden was trying to pin the blame on Mideast states in order to defuse the scathing criticism from the Obama administration's former defense secretary, Leon Panetta, whose new book blames administration policy for the rise of the ISIS. On Sunday, Biden apologized to the Foreign Affairs minister for United Arab Emirates (UAE). Now, on Tuesday, Biden call the Foreign Affairs minister of Saudi Arabia to apologize for the same remarks. CBS News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Oct-14 World View -- Kurds protest violently in cities across Turkey over ISIS attack on Kobani thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Oct-14 World View -- U.S. military expands war in Iraq with Apache Helicopters

Ebola expected to reach France and Britain within three weeks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. military expands war in Iraq with Apache Helicopters


An Apache helicopter flying over Iraq in 2008 (Army)
An Apache helicopter flying over Iraq in 2008 (Army)

The U.S. military has begun using Apache AH-64 attack helicopters to strike targets of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq. In addition, the number 1,200 of US military personal on the ground in Iraq is expected to increase to 1,600 within the coming weeks, although the U.S. administration does not refer to these as "ground forces."

Up until now, U.S. bombing strikes were all performed by high-flying warplanes, out of reach of small arms fire and missiles from ISIS fighters. Military analysts have generally pointed out that warplane bombing and missile strikes have very limited effectiveness. Apache helicopters have the advantage that they can be much more effective in providing close air support for "ground troops," but unlike warplanes they're vulnerable to enemy small arms and missile fire. During the previous Iraq war, several Apaches were shot down by enemy fire. Defense News and ABC News

Thousands of villagers in Kashmir flee India-Pakistan clashes

Tens of thousands of villagers were fleeing their homes in Kashmir on Monday as Indian and Pakistani troops bombarded each other with gunfire and mortar shells over the international border known as the "Line of Control" (LoC), separating the Pakistani-government and Indian-government regions of Kashmir. Kashmir was a major battleground for the 1947 Partition war that following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, one of the bloodiest wars of the last century, and there have been two more wars fought across the LoC since then. Monday's fighting was the worst since a 2003 cease-fire agreement, and took place at a number of points along the LoC.

According to Pakistan's government, the fighting started when Indian forces resorted to "unprovoked firing" along the boundary.

An Indian statement blamed Pakistani forces for violating the ceasefire, and promised "effective retaliation." In a departure from past practice, India said they would neither speak to Pakistan, nor seek a flag meeting to lower tensions. AP and Dawn (Pakistan) and Indian Express

Ebola expected to reach France and Britain within three weeks

In Spain, a nurse's assistant contracted Ebola, after treating a Spanish missionary and Spanish priest who had returned from West Africa with Ebola. Scientists have used Ebola disease spread patterns and airline traffic data to predict a 75% chance the virus could be imported to France by October 24, and a 50% chance it could hit Britain by that date. Belgium has a 40% chance. The cases are expected to be the result of air travel from West Africa.

However, these are expected to be isolated cases that will be controlled by using techniques like "contact tracing," as I described a few days ago. ( "3-Oct-14 World View -- Five new Ebola patients become infected every hour in Sierra Leone")

However, West Africa is being overwhelmed by Ebola, and contact tracing is not possible. Some reports indicate that eastern Guinea and eastern Liberia, which had remained free of Ebola, are now seeing it spread to those regions. This means that it will probably next spread into Cote d'Ivoire.

Countries around the world are ramping up their preparations for Ebola coming to their countries. As I've said before, Ebola is most likely to spread out of control in large megacities and in war zones, such as Syria and Iraq. CNN and Reuters

Liberia and Sierra Leone introduce School by Radio

Schools in Liberia and Sierra Leone remain closed with no announced date for reopening. The purpose of closing the schools is to inhibit the spread of Ebola among schoolchildren, but closing the schools doesn't remove the danger, according to one community leader:

"Children are always playing outside. They're touching each other, they're hugging each other. Even if you say to them: don't touch, they're playing football. You see them every day doing such things, so it is about telling them and educating them."

The solution in both countries is to provide educational courses by radio. It's hoped that this will keep the kids indoors, and that they'll be able to continue their education. All Africa and SBS World News (Australia)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Oct-14 World View -- U.S. military expands war in Iraq with Apache Helicopters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Oct-14 World View -- ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support

Biden continues apologizing, this time to UAE

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong protests may be losing strength


Hong Kong protests - live shot at 10 am Monday Hong Kong time (BBC)
Hong Kong protests - live shot at 10 am Monday Hong Kong time (BBC)

Only a few hundred exhausted pro-democracy protesters were in the streets on Monday morning, the deadline for the Hong Kong government's ultimatum to clear the streets. The protesters have withdrawn from protest sites that formerly were blocking access to government buildings, schools and businesses, and the government has so far not ordered the police to clear the remaining protest sites.

The government strategy is to stand back and hope that the protests fizzle, and to avoid clashes and violence which might motivate thousands of protesters to return. Quartz

ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support

The leaders of the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP), an umbrella group comprising some 100 jihadi groups in Pakistan, has decided to switch sides and support the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) instead the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) in Syria. According to TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah:

"We consider the fighters in Iraq and Syria as our brothers and are proud of their victories. We are their part and parcel in times of joy and sadness.

The Muslim nation has great expectations from the fighters in Iraq and Syria. We are with you in the hour of trial and will support you in all possible ways."

However, TTP itself has splintered, and a number of its member groups have split away, so it seems unlikely that TTP will be able to provide any help to ISIS. Conversely, ISIS has little organizational influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan or India, where the Taliban operate.

The more profound effect is that it continues the increasing generational change among the world's jihadists. Today's young jihadists, from the Caucasus to North Africa to Pakistan to Indonesia, are more drawn to ISIS because it appears to be winning, led by the youthful Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. This is in contrast to al-Qaeda’s ageing leaders, most of whom are holed up in the Pakistan - Afghan tribal belt to save themselves from drones, and who are more and more seen as tired, ineffective and uninspiring.

According to Fawaz Gerges, of the London School of Economics:

"The Islamic State's appeal extends beyond the Middle East. Their strategy is anchored on the simple premise that it is a winning horse. It has promised the entire ummah — the Muslim community — that it could deliver victory and salvation."

Thus, there have been reports of jihadi support for ISIS from Australia, India and Pakistan. China is also concerned about the influence of ISIS in its disaffected Muslim Uighur community, according to an article in the Beijing mouthpiece Global Times:

"They not only want to get training in terrorist techniques, but also to expand their connections in international terrorist organizations through actual combat to gain support for more terrorist activities in China."

Even if the TTP cannot provide any real support for ISIS, the TTP announcement is a worrisome development for Pakistan. The subject of sending Pakistani fighters to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS is a touchy subject for Pakistan's government in Islamabad, because Pakistani authorities have repeatedly denied that any such movements have ever taken place. However, Pakistan jihadi groups themselves have claimed that they've sent thousands of fighters to Syria and Iraq. India Times and The News (Pakistan) and The Diplomat and USA Today

Biden continues apologizing, this time to UAE

As we reported yesterday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had to apologize on Saturday to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for saying in a speech on Thursday that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had funded and armed the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and contributed to its rise. Biden was trying to pin the blame on Mideast states in order to defuse the scathing criticism from the Obama administration's former defense secretary, Leon Panetta, whose new book blames administration policy for the rise of the ISIS.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for United Arab Emirates (UAE) hit back at Biden on Saturday:

"[These statements] are far from the truth, especially with relation to the UAE’s role in confronting extremism and terrorism and its clear and advanced position in recognizing the dangers, including the danger of financing terrorism and terrorist groups. ...

[Biden had] ignored the steps and effective measures [taken by the UAE], which comes as part of a more comprehensive political stand against this plague."

So on Sunday Biden call General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and apologized to the UAE for any implications in his recent statements that were understood to mean that UAE has backed the growth of some of the terrorist organizations in the region. Biden added that the United States appreciates the UAE’s historic role in combating extremism and terrorism as well as its advanced position in this respect.

And so, right now, Leon Panetta's statements blaming the U.S. administration for the rise of ISIS still stand. Khaleej Times (Dubai) and The National (Abu Dhabi)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Oct-14 World View -- ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Oct-14 World View -- Hong Kong protesters fear more violence by China's 'Triad' gangs

Joe Biden apologizes to Turkey's president Erdogan for ISIS remarks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong protesters fear more violence by China's 'Triad' gangs


Bloodied student protester on Friday (AP)
Bloodied student protester on Friday (AP)

Hong Kong's protesting students were bloodied on Friday by attacks by thugs thought to be from criminal gangs known as "triads." Protesters have accused the HK police of ignoring or even supporting the triad attacks on protesters, charges that the police vehemently deny. Some protesters are suggesting that the Beijing government is paying triad gangs to attack the protesters.

Triads are sometimes referred to as "the Chinese Mafia." They're families of organized crime gangs involved in armed robbery, racketeering, smuggling, narcotics trafficking, prostitution, gambling and even contract murder. Their roots go back 1000 years to Buddhist (White Lotus) secret societies that originally were political. But over the centuries they morphed into organized crime families. They were given the name "Triad" by the British because of a triangular symbol that they use. They are mainly centered in China, Hong Kong and Macao, but they've spread to other countries as well, including the United States. There are Triad members featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto.

Protesters are responding to threats by the Hong Kong government by promising to allow government buildings, schools and businesses to open on Monday, while allowing peaceful protests to continue. AFP and Reuters and Triads And Organized Crime In China

Joe Biden apologizes to Turkey's president Erdogan for ISIS remarks

The Obama administration continues to scramble to fend off scathing criticism by Obama's former defense secretary, Leon Panetta, who blames administration policy for the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). In his book, Panetta says:

"My fear, as I voiced to the President and others, was that if the country split apart or slid back into the violence that we'd seen in the years immediately following the U.S. invasion, it could become a new haven for terrorists to plot attacks against the U.S. Iraq's stability was not only in Iraq's interest but also in ours. I privately and publicly advocated for a residual force that could provide training and security for Iraq's military."

In a speech on Thursday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden attempted to deflect blame from the Obama administration by pointing to every country in the Mideast as culpable:

"What happened was, and the history will record this, what my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies, our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends and I have a great relationship with Erdogan, which I spent a lot of time with, the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad ... what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. ...

So what do we have for the first time? Now, Saudi Arabia has stopped the funding going on ... The Qataris have cut off their support for the most extreme elements of the terrorist organizations. And the Turks, President Erdogan told me, he is an old friend, said you were right. We let too many people through. Now they are trying to seal their border."

This statement infuriated Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said:

"[Biden] will be history for me if he has indeed used such expressions. ...

There might have been people traveling on tourist visa but no one with arms has ever crossed the Turkish border."

So Biden spoke by phone with Erdogan on Saturday, and apologized. According to a White House statement:

"The vice president apologized for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria."

So does that amount to an admission that Panetta was right after all? Today's Zaman (Ankara) and CBS News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Oct-14 World View -- Hong Kong protesters fear more violence by China's 'Triad' gangs thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Oct-14 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader condemns 'American Islam'

Sweden to be first EU country to recognize State of Palestine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syrian regime accuses Turkey of 'Act of Aggression' in military vote


An explosion in Kobani, Syria, on Friday (Cihan)
An explosion in Kobani, Syria, on Friday (Cihan)

The recent vote by Turkey's parliament to allow the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria to fight terrorist groups has drawn strong criticism from the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. The intent, at the urging of the United States, was to allow Turkish troops to fight the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party). The vote was triggered by the ISIS attack on the Syrian border town of Kobani, a town with a Kurdish population hundreds of thousands of whom have been fleeing across the border into Turkey.

However, Turkey has not hid the fact that its main objective is not to fight ISIS but to fight the al-Assad regime. As a result, the al-Assad regime is criticizing the vote as an "act of aggression" that will threaten "international and regional peace and security." According to a Syrian Foreign Ministry statement:

"The public approach of the Turkish government represents an act of aggression on a country that is a member state of the United Nations. ...

The international community should take a serious, firm and responsible stance to put an end to Ankara's destructive approach, force it to abide by Security Council resolutions, stop its unlimited funding to armed, terrorist organizations, and stop interfering in Syrian affairs."

Meanwhile, Turkey's government is dealing with the dilemma of what to do about the city of Kobani, as ISIS forces close in and threaten to overrun it. The mixed emotions of Turkey's government are illustrated by the self-contradictory statement of Turkey's new prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu:

"We wouldn't want Kobani to fall. We'll do whatever we can to prevent this from happening. ...

Some are saying, 'Why aren't you protecting Kurds in Kobani?' If the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] enter Kobani and the Syrian Turkmens ask, 'Why aren't you saving us?' we would have to go there as well.

When the Arab citizens across from Reyhanli say, 'Why don't you save us as well?' we'd have to go there too."

In other words, if Turkey saved one group, then they'd have to save everyone else as well.

So will Turkish troops enter Kobani and stop ISIS from overrunning it? You sure can't tell from those statements. Today's Zaman (Ankara) and International Business Times

Iran's Supreme Leader condemns 'American Islam'

Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, has issued a statement to Muslim pilgrims attending the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, to condemn not only American Islam, but also al-Qaeda linked jihadists in Western Asia (Pakistan and Afghanistan):

"The deceitful enemy is fanning the flames of fire between Muslims to sideline the motivations behind resistance and fighting so it can place the Zionist regime and the minions of Arrogance [West], which are the true enemies, in a safe environment. Supporting takfiri terrorist groups and their lies in the countries of Western Asia is a result of this pernicious policy. This is a warning to all of us so that we must consider the matter of Muslim unity as our highest national and international priority.

The Palestinian nation must be hopeful more than ever before, fighters of jihad must perpetuate their jihad and efforts and pursue the perennially honorable path of the West Bank with strength. Muslim nations must demand their governments’ serious and real support of Palestine, and Muslim government must take step in this path honestly.

American Islam ... is an Islam that fans the flames of division between Muslims ... fights the Muslim brother instead of fighting Zionism and Arrogance ... It is not Islam."

This is really a fascinating statement on multiple levels.

There's a Sunni versus Shia divide growing the Mideast, largely driven by Iran's and Russia's support of Syria's genocidal president Bashar al-Assad, who has killed and displaced millions of innocent Muslims in Syria. Khamenei does not acknowledge his own apostasy as a Muslim supporting the slaughter of millions of other Muslims.

Instead of acknowledging his own guilt is causing Muslims to fight one another, he absurdly blames it on the Zionist regime (Israel) and the "minions of Arrogance" (America). Arabs and Persians have been fighting one another for millennia. I wonder if he also blames that fighting on the Zionists and on the Americans? Somebody should ask him.

I assume that the condemnation of American Islam is to excuse jihadist attacks on America itself. He must be frustrated that American Muslims are loyal to America, and not to his threats of violence (just as German-Americans in WW II were loyal to America, not to the Nazis). He has his own problems in Iran, which is in a generational Awakening era (like America in the 1960s) and is going through a "generation gap," where the generations of young Iranians growing up after the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution generally like the West. ( "10-Jun-14 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader complains young people are not revolutionary enough")

He also condemns the "takfiri terrorist groups" in Western Asia. The word "takfiri" refers to someone guilty of apostasy which, as I described above, he's more guilty of than anyone. Here he's condemning the terrorist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan that have been attacking Shia Muslims in those countries, as well as targets within southeastern Iran itself. Khamenei allows himself to arrange for the slaughter of as many innocent Muslims as possible, while condemning only those who slaughter people that he likes.

So this man, who is doing all he can to promote hatred among Muslims for each other, says that "all of us so that we must consider the matter of Muslim unity as our highest national and international priority." What a senile hypocrite! AEI Iran Tracker

Sweden to be first EU country to recognize State of Palestine

Sweden, whose government took a sharp left turn after the September 15 elections, may become the first European Union country to formally recognize the State of Palestine. Incoming prime minister Stefan Löfven announced on Friday that he would submit the motion to his new cabinet. There are three EU countries -- Hungary, Poland and Slovakia -- that already recognize the State of Palestine, but they have been doing so since before they joined the EU. Predictably, Swedish Palestinian groups cheered the move, while Jewish groups condemned it. The Local (Sweden) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Oct-14 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader condemns 'American Islam' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Oct-14 World View -- Five new Ebola patients become infected every hour in Sierra Leone

Turkey's parliament approves military operations in Syria and Iraq

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Beach sands become an unlikely business opportunity


Palm Island project in Dubai. These islands were created with some 385 million tons of sand. (Spiegel)
Palm Island project in Dubai. These islands were created with some 385 million tons of sand. (Spiegel)

The beaches of Cape Verde, Kenya, New Zealand, Jamaica, Morocco and other countries are changing from sandy resorts to masses of black dirt and stones. The reason is that sand miners are harvesting all the sand on these beaches, and selling it. It is used in the production of computer chips, plates and mobile phones. However, the biggest use is by far the construction industry. Global consumption of sand mining is estimated at 40 billion tons per year, with 30 billion tons of that used in concrete for the construction industry. Spiegel

Turkey's parliament approves military operations in Syria and Iraq

As we've been reporting, the attack by Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) on the border city of Kobani, Syria, has resulting in hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing into Turkey in just a few days, and this has caused Turkey to completely reverse its Syria policy that it's followed since 2011.

On Thursday, Turkey's parliament approved a motion allowing, first, the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria to fight terrorist groups, and second, to allow Nato troops and warplanes to base out of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. The motion passed by 298 votes in favor, 98 against.

Despite the overwhelming vote, there was still vocal opposition. Turkish officials would prefer to be attacking Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey doesn't trust the Kurds, whom they would be supporting against ISIS. Besides ISIS, the authorization extends to another terrorist group, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), which whom Turkey fought a civil war in the recent past.

Turkey's defense minister Ismet Yilmaz hastened to say that "immediate steps should not be expected." However, I would point out that events are moving quickly in the Mideast, with major changes almost every day, and now that the authorization motion has passed, the political pressure will be on to use the military. Today's Zaman (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Five new Ebola patients become infected every hour in Sierra Leone

Ebola is spreading at a "terrifying rate" in Sierra Leone, with five new infections every hour. In Liberia, the disease has reached every county in the country.

As I wrote last month ( "18-Sep-14 World View -- Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic?"), it's now likely that the pandemic will run its course in Liberia, and Sierra Leone as well, meaning that all people there will sooner or later become sick with the disease, and either survive or not.

There seems to be a fair amount of anxiety in America, sometimes approaching panic, now that there's an Ebola patient in Texas.

But there is plenty of evidence that countries with good medical infrastructures will be able to control any outbreaks of Ebola. In Nigeria, for example, the country in Africa with the largest population, someone with an Ebola infection arrived by plane in Lagos in July, eventually resulting in 19 confirmed cases of Ebola and eight deaths. Some 900 people who were potentially exposed to the original case and secondary cases were monitored for 21 days. The infection was stopped in Nigeria, and a similar process stopped the infection in Senegal.

The relevant methodology for controlling the spread of Ebola is "contact tracing," which means that potential contacts are located, and their contacts are located, and so forth, with the resulting people monitored for 21 days.

According to CDC Director Tom Frieden:

"Contact tracing is a core public health function. We always err on the side of identifying and tracking more contacts rather than less. Our approach in this type of case is to cast the net widely."

The real danger, not mentioned by Frieden, is that Ebola will spread into a war zone somewhere, where it's impossible to do contact tracing. For example, Ebola infections in Syria and Iraq would be very difficult or impossible to control. Guardian (London) and Bloomberg

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Oct-14 World View -- Five new Ebola patients become infected every hour in Sierra Leone thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Oct-14 World View -- Turkey will vote Thursday on military action in Syria

Hong Kong protesters raise their demands

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey will vote Thursday on military action in Syria


Turkey's Parliament will vote on military action in Syria and Iraq
Turkey's Parliament will vote on military action in Syria and Iraq

Turkey's parliament expects to debate and vote on Thursday on the following motion:

"The Cabinet of Ministers has decided to ask permission from Parliament to send Turkish troops to foreign countries when necessary for cross-border interventions and to allow foreign troops in Turkey for the same purposes. ...

[The intent is to] defeat attacks directed at our country from all terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria."

There are two "terrorist groups" that are intended targets: the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), the terrorists who have fought a civil war with Turkey

As I discussed in detail several days ago ( "30-Sep-14 World View -- Kobani crisis causes Turkey to reverse policy on Syria"), this represents a major reversal of policies that have been in effect since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

The motion quoted above has two parts, both of which represent major policy changes:

The motion is very controversial, but is expected to be approved. Today's Zaman (Ankara) and Hurriyet Daily News (Ankara)

Turkey's Suleiman Shah Tomb in Syria endangered by ISIS

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday insisted that the Suleiman Shah Tomb is not in danger of being attacked by ISIS forces.

The Suleiman Shah Tomb is a Turkish enclave situated in the Syria, in the town of Aleppo, guarded by Turkish soldiers. It's the burial place of the grandfather of the Osman 1, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. The tomb in Syria is the only Turkish territory outside of Turkey's borders. There is a concern that ISIS militants will attack the Turkish soldiers guarding the tomb and take them as hostages. Erdogan insisted that the tomb is not endangered by ISIS militants. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and Today's Zaman (Ankara)

Hong Kong protesters raise their demands

Hong Kong officials are signaling that they'll allow the protesters to continue the "Occupy Central" protests to continue for days or even weeks, as long as they remain peaceful.

However, protesters are indicating that they're going to escalate the protests by occupying government buildings, something that will certainly trigger police action. The protesters are now making two demands:

Wednesday is the 45th anniversary of China's of Mao Zedong's Communist revolution, and Wednesday and Thursday are public holidays. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Oct-14 World View -- Turkey will vote Thursday on military action in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Oct-14 World View -- Russia's ruble currency drops to record low against the dollar

Taiwan officials split on reaction to Hong Kong protests

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's ruble currency drops to record low against the dollar


Russian 500 ruble note
Russian 500 ruble note

Apparently the European and American sanctions on Russia for the latters invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea are having some effect after all. The value of the ruble currency has fallen over 20% against the dollar this year. The ruble is now at the lowest point since it was restructured during Moscow's traumatic 1998 debt default.

This comes at a time when Russia's economy is suffering for other reasons, particularly the falling price of oil. Libya has massively increased production, and OPEC is producing more than forecast. Iraq, Nigeria, and Angola and Saudi Arabia have each boosted output. These increased supplies of oil have pushed the price of oil down to $97 per barrel on Tuesday, which reduces the price of all forms of energy, which is Russia's main export.

The fall in the ruble is causing Russia to consider adopting capital controls in order to stop the fall of the ruble. Possible capital controls could include taxes, tariffs, and legislation banning or regulating certain activities, such as owning foreign assets. Russia's Central Bank spent over $72 billion in the first three months of this year to prop up the ruble, as Russia's seizure of Crimea caused a huge currency selloff. Moscow Times and MarketWatch and Reuters

Taiwan officials split on reaction to Hong Kong protests

The size of the Hong Kong protests grew on Tuesday, although there was no violence by either the police or the protesters. Hong Kong's chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, "The central government will not rescind its decision." Both he and Beijing officials demanded that the protesters go home immediately, suggesting that their patience was ebbing. The biggest protests are expected on Wednesday and Thursday, since those are public holidays celebrating the 45th anniversary of Mao Zedong's Communist revolution.

Taiwanese officials are watching the events in Hong Kong closely for hints about how the Beijing government would treat Taiwan if its government came under direct control of China.

Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jou, of the Kuomingtang (KMT) political party, asked the mainland authorities and the demonstrators to show tolerance and self-restraint in handling the matter. Ma noted that as the mainland authorities have promised Hong Kong self-administration and a high degree of autonomy, the KMT believes that both Hong Kong and China stand to benefit if these promises are fulfilled.

The Kuomingtang (KMT) is the modern day incarnation of Chiang Kai-shek's original nationalist party that fought against Mao Zedong and lost, and fled to Hong Kong, then a British colony, and from there to Formosa (Taiwan) in 1949, at the conclusion of the civil war. The KMT position has always been that Taiwan is part of China, and that one day they'll be fully reunited.

Joseph Wu, the head of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said that the Hong Kong and China governments should be more open and receptive to the voices of the people and the wisdom of its citizens, and that the government should reassess its position.

The people of Taiwan watched the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing with horror, and it led to the Wild Lily student rebellion in 1990. By 2000, the student rebellion had morphed into the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which, in contrast to the KMT, was committed to Taiwan's complete independence from China. DPP has moderated that opinion in the face of military threats from Beijing.

With regard to the Hong Kong demonstrations, both political parties said that the outcome of the demonstrations would affect Taiwan's relations with China. Depending on the response by Chinese authorities, the DPP did not rule out a "drastic" change in policy. USA Today / AP and China Post (Taipei)

Polio cases surging in Pakistan to record-breaking levels

Pakistan's health officials have confirmed another 10 polio cases on Monday. Pakistan is now only 15 cases short of breaking its own 14-year-old record of 199 polio cases in the year 2000. This is a major setback for a country that as recently as 2005 saw just 28 cases, and seemed on track for polio eradication.

Most of the polio cases are in Pakistan's tribal area and northwest provinces, where the Taliban has the greatest strength. Pakistan has been a particular problem because the Taliban have been murdering health care workers in Pakistan involved in polio providing vaccines, ever since the administration bragged in 2011 that a vaccination program in Pakistan was used as a cover to locate and capture Osama bin Laden. In a recent day-long national campaign, over 16,000 children could not be vaccinated due to their parents' resistance. Many parents refuse vaccinations due to fear of Taliban who say that the polio medicine is a conspiracy by the West to sterile Muslims. The Taliban have attacked and killed health workers who provide the vaccines, as well has parents who permit their children to be vaccinated.

Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the three remaining countries where polio is endemic. The News (Islamabad) and IRIN (United Nations) and Business Standard (India)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Oct-14 World View -- Russia's ruble currency drops to record low against the dollar thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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30-Sep-14 World View -- Kobani crisis causes Turkey to reverse policy on Syria

Hong Kong police back off as demonstrations continue

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong police back off as demonstrations continue


Riot police use pepper spray in Hong Kong on Sunday (Slate)
Riot police use pepper spray in Hong Kong on Sunday (Slate)

The massive protests in Hong Kong have caught the world's attention, and the world is waiting breathlessly to see how long China's government in Beijing is going to put up with being humiliated by the protests.

Hong Kong has already been forced to cancel a big, glorious fireworks celebration on Wednesday, October 1, China's National Day, and the 65th anniversary of China's communist revolution. Instead, the protests will be bigger than ever on Wednesday and Thursday, since those are two public holidays.

For Beijing, the hopeful outcome is that the protests will just die off of their own accord. That's probably why the HK police, who fired teargas and rubber bullets at protesters on Sunday evening, have backed off on Monday and allowed the protests to continue. The hopeful scenario is that the protesters will tire of protesting, and just go home.

Beijing's nightmare scenario is that the protests will grow, will continue to paralyze Hong Kong, and will continue to humiliate Beijing.

But the humiliation could be a lot worse if the rumors are true that China is considering use of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to break up the protests. The 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre shocked the world, and China has spent the last 25 years doing everything it can to try to get everyone to forget it ever happened, going so far as to make it a criminal offense for a Chinese citizen on the mainland to even talk about it. A new 2015 "Hong Kong massacre," in the world of Twitter and Facebook, would make both massacres world wide news again, completely reversing Xi Jinping's strategy of presenting a more positive Chinese face.

Nonetheless, nobody serious believes that Beijing is going to grant to Hong Kong the democratic freedoms that were promised in 1997, when Britain turned HK over to China. China has no pleasant choices in this situations, and most of the world really do not expect the demonstrations to end, except in new violence. Bloomberg and Global Times (Beijing)

Kobani crisis causes Turkey to reverse policy on Syria

Ever since the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011, Syrian refugees poured across the border into Turkey. Despite international pressure, Turkey refused to consider any military action in Syria, such as providing a refugee buffer zone within Syria, and more recently refused to participate in the American-led war against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS).

But now the crisis in Kobani, Syria, on the border with Turkey, is presenting an existential threat to Turkey, and Turkish officials are now talking about both a buffer zone and joining the anti-ISIS coalition.

There have been two major reasons why Turkey has eschewed any military intervention in Syria since 2011:

But the crisis in Kobani, in Syria on the border with Turkey, has been so bad that Turkey is now forced to reassess its decisions.

Kobani has been a Kurdish stronghold in Syria. ISIS fighters have been advancing on Kobani in recent weeks, despite the fact that coalition bombers tried to stop them. But the coalition bombings have been a failure, and it's now expected that Kobani will fall to ISIS within the next couple of days.

The effect on Turkey has been nothing short of explosive. During the last two weeks, more than 160,000 Kurdish refugees from Syria have poured across the border into Turkey.

Back in 2011, when refugees started crossing into Turkey, Turkish officials estimated that they would be able to handle about 100,000 refugees, and after that there would be major problems. Well, as of last month over 1.2 million Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey, and now 160,000 more refugees have joined them in the last few days.

In 2011, when there were only tens of thousands of refugees, then were kept in refugee camps near the border. But now these 1.5 million refugees have spread across Turkey, and are populating many cities and villages.

The effects have been mixed. Most of the refugees speak only Arabic, so there's a language problem with locals who speak only Turkish. In some villages they're helped and supported, but in other villages they're threatened, or even forced into slavery or human trafficking.

The Kobani crisis has been be a major shock to Turkish officials, who now realize that they have to take some military steps whether they like it or not. Turkey has already announced that it's reevaluating its decision to join the anti-ISIS coalition, and Turkey's foreign minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on Monday that "A safe zone inside Syria is essential to make life easier for the Syrian refugees." Turkish tanks have already taken up positions facing Syria. Spiegel and Journal of Turkish Weekly and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Sep-14 World View -- Kobani crisis causes Turkey to reverse policy on Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Sep-14 World View -- India's rock star PM Narendra Modi draws mobs at Madison Square Garden

Pro-democracy protests bring Hong Kong to a standstill

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India's rock star PM Narendra Modi draws mobs at Madison Square Garden


Narendra Modi in Madison Square Garden on Sunday (Reuters)
Narendra Modi in Madison Square Garden on Sunday (Reuters)

India's prime minister Narendra Modi received rock stars cheers from the 18,000 people, mostly Indian-Americans, in Madison Square Garden on Sunday, as well as the thousands more outside who had been unable to gain entrance.

Modi's one-hour speech drew cheers of "Modi! Modi! Modi!" and rock-star ovations. According to Modi:

"I got here selling tea... I am a very small man, a common man. I am small, so my heart lies in working for the common man. But I want to do big things for the little people."

At the heart of his speech, he was asking the wealthy and skilled persons of Indian origin to give back their talent and experience to India.

Promising that "I will make the India of your dreams... together we will serve Mother India," he highlighted his avowed (Hindutva) Hindu nationalism. Narendra Modi won a stunning and historic overwhelming victory in May of this year that surprised the world, but his Hindu nationalism has made him a controversial figure. Much of the controversy comes from his association with an incident of Hindutva violence of February 27, 2002, at a time when he was governor of Gujarat province. An attempt to molest a Muslim girl triggered several days of sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims, killing hundreds and displacing more than 150,000 people, of which the majority were Muslims, who have since been living in refugee camps in dire humanitarian conditions. Modi himself was cleared by a court of culpability, but he's blamed by Muslims and political opponents for not taking a more active role in ending the violence.

Because of the Gujarat incident, Modi was denied entry into the United States by President Bush's administration in 2005. That ban is still in effect, but he was granted a diplomatic visa for this week's visit to the United Nations. Times of India and Time

Saudi Arabia warns that Yemen coup could threaten global security

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Saud al-Faisal says that Yemen is facing "unprecedented challenges" threatening global security, after last weekend's government coup by the Houthi rebels from northern Yemen. The Houthis are members of the Zaydi branch of Shia Islam, and it's believed that Iran has funded the Houthis and provided weapons for their takeover. Southern Yemen is the headquarters of Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and it's feared that the AQAP branch Ansar al-Sharia of Sunni jihadists are regrouping for a counterattack against the Houthis.

According to Prince Saud:

"Yemen faces accelerating and extremely dangerous conditions that require us all to look and propose the necessary solutions to confront these unprecedented challenges.

[Yemen’s violence] will no doubt extend to threaten stability and security on the regional and international arena that could prove difficult to put down regardless of the resources and efforts that may be exerted."

The broad news coverage of the war against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) has made the news from Yemen almost invisible. However, Prince Saud said that all forms of terrorism must be addressed:

"We face a very dangerous situation today. Terrorism has evolved from cells to armies and from threatening specific spots to nations. The war on terror requires serious and continuous work that may go on for years, and must not stop at partial victories against limited organizations. We must continue until all terrorist organizations are destroyed, wherever they may be."

Yemen Online and Arab Times Online

Pro-democracy protests bring Hong Kong to a standstill

China's Communist Party government in Beijing is facing a government crisis as tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens staged pro-democracy protests on Sunday, the fourth day of protests. These were the worst protests in Hong Kong in decades, bringing central Hong Kong to a standstill. Beijing is now faced with the choice of allowing the demonstrations to go on, which would encourage protests in mainland cities, versus a bloody crackdown on the protesters.

Tensions have already escalated sharply, as Hong Kong police in riot gear unleashed volleys of tear gas on protesters early Monday morning, and first rubber bullets into the air. This is the worst police violence since Britain gave up its Hong Kong colony in 1997, returning it to Chinese sovereignty.

There are "credible reports" that China has activated the Hong Kong garrison of its People's Liberation Army (PLA), putting 6,000 soldiers on alert. This would revive harsh memories of Beijing's Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989. It's forbidden for anyone in mainland China to even talk about the 1989 massacre, but on June 4 of this year, over 100,000 people gathered in Hong Kong to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the massacre. A new Tiananmen-style massacre in Hong Kong in the next few days could have unintended consequences for Beijing. LA Times and BBC (4-Jun-2014)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Sep-14 World View -- India's rock star PM Narendra Modi draws mobs at Madison Square Garden thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Sep-14 World View -- Central African Republican government asks UN to lift arms embargo

Saudis prepare for MERS and Ebola at Hajj

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudis prepare for MERS and Ebola at Hajj


Hajj in Mecca, 1920 (Getty)
Hajj in Mecca, 1920 (Getty)

Saudis are preparing for a double-dose of danger at this year's Hajj on October 2-7, when millions of Muslims from around the world arrive for their once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Hajj pilgrims will be asked to wear face masks this year to reduce the risks of spreading MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) or Ebola.

Both diseases have an incubation period of about 2-20 days, meaning that someone could be sick, spreading the disease, for several days without showing symptoms. Both diseases are spread by physical contact, with airborne contamination rare though not impossible. Health care workers are often the most vulnerable, since they become contaminated while treating infected patients.

The Saudi Ministry of Health last month banned Hajj visas for Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia — the three nations most affected by Ebola this year with at least 5,800 cases. Nigeria, a country with one of the highest concentration of Hajj pilgrims in the world, was left out of the ban, because the 20 Ebola cases have all been isolated. Pilgrims arriving at the airport near Mecca are being screened by the health ministry. Vox and The Health Site and BBC

Central African Republican government asks UN to lift arms embargo

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, Central African Republic president Catherine Samba-Panza asked the United Nations to modify its imposed arms embargo to permit the CAR army to have weapons, so that the army will be able help the U.N. peacekeepers.

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. The early stages of the new generational crisis war began last year when Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities. French Foreign Legion troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias, but then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities this year, for revenge.

In December, the Security Council imposed an arms embargo on the Central African Republic and the African Union sent a peacekeeping mission, now at 6,000 troops, to attempt to quell the spreading violence. The United Nations took over the AU peacekeeping mission last week, and plans to double the force to 12,000 troops.

The violence originally began in the capital city Bangui, but has been spreading to towns and villages across the country. Thousands of people have been killed, and rapes and mutilations have been reported frequently. The conflict has uprooted or affected millions of people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized CAR's health crisis as "Grade 3" - its highest level. The country's health infrastructure has broken down, with 50-75% of the health facilities no longer able to offer basic services.

However, a generational crisis war is a force of nature, and cannot be stopped by a few peacekeeping forces than a tsunami can be stopped by a bucket brigade. Many of the villages across the vast country are far out of reach of a few thousand peacekeepers, and the people in these villages have little motivation to stop fighting, when they can get revenge killings by the other side in other villages.

My guess is that it's unlikely that the United Nations will vote to end the arms embargo, since it's pretty clear that any weapons entering CAR for any reason will, sooner or later, be used by either the Seleka or anti-balaka militias to further the slaughter. Reuters and World Health Organization (WHO)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Sep-14 World View -- Central African Republican government asks UN to lift arms embargo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Sep-14 World View -- WHO must respond to 'unprecedented scale of humanitarian emergencies'

Britain votes joins countries at war against ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

WHO must respond to 'unprecedented scale of humanitarian emergencies'

The World Health Organization (WHO) plans on having to deal with only one Grade 3 humanitarian emergency every 2-4 years. Grade 3 is the highest level emergency, with "substantial public health consequences that requires a ... substantial international WHO response."

However, WHO now finds itself dealing with five Grade 3 emergencies at the same time:

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the world is also experiencing several major, high level geopolitical crises:

Unfortunately, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is not surprising. Once World War II ended, the survivors made sure that nothing so horrible would ever happen to their children and grandchildren, and they succeeded. But they're disappearing fast, and the generations that grew up after the war are like teenagers driving drunk. And also unfortunately, this trend will continue until the world, once again, is in total war. World Health Organization (WHO)

Britain votes joins countries at war against ISIS

After a seven-hour debate in the House of Commons, the MPs voted overwhelmingly in favor of military action in Iraq by 524-43. All three parties supported the vote. Prime minister David Cameron did not request a vote on air strikes in Syria, because he believed that the vote would be defeated.

Here's a summary of all the countries participating in the war against ISIS:

Russia and Turkey are still talking it over. Daily Mail (London) and BBC and NBC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Sep-14 World View -- WHO must respond to 'unprecedented scale of humanitarian emergencies' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Sep-14 World View -- Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria

Russia's desperate relationship with China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria


Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu (Ria Novosti)
Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu (Ria Novosti)

On Thursday, Russia's military completed a week of drills and exercises in the Far East, involving 100,000 servicemen, 1,500 tanks, 120 aircraft, 5,000 pieces of weaponry, and up to 70 ships, involving almost the entire Russian Pacific fleet.

Nominally, the purpose of Vostok 2014 is to prepare for war with the United States. And indeed, the Russia media has been doing everything possible to stir nationalistic anti-US hysteria, especially since the Ukraine war started:

In the midst of all this anti-US hysteria, it's not surprising that Vostok 2014 is being described as preparations for war with America. 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. Ria Novosti and BBC and Jamestown

Russia's desperate relationship with China

Russia has become increasingly isolated in world, thanks to its support for Syria's Bashar al-Assad and because of its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. The West has imposed sanctions on Russia which, whatever their economic importance, have had huge symbolic importance. However, Russia has been able to count on China, which is also invading and annexing other countries' territories, for support in the United Nations Security Council, and for trade deals for energy and agricultural products.

However, beneath the smiles and handshakes, China and Russia have a very troubled relationship. The two countries almost went to war in the 1960s, but the biggest of their current problems is the danger of a Chinese "invasion" of Russia's Far East.

Russia's population in the Far East has fallen dramatically in the last 20 years, and could fall significantly lower. The population of Russia east of Lake Baikal dropped from 8 million to 6 million from 1998-2002, and has continued falling since then. But the three Chinese provinces just across the river are packed with people, with a total population of 110 million people. Furthermore, the Russian region has substantial deposits of gold, oil, natural gas, coal, timber, silver, platinum, lead and zinc, as well as rich fishing grounds and vast expanses of unpopulated land.

With its desperate political dependency on China, Russia has said little recently about the Chinese threat to the Far East. But they did in the past. In 2008, Russia's then-President Dmitry Medvedev warned that, "if we don’t step up the level of activity of our work [in the Russian Far East], then in the final analysis we can lose everything."

The Chinese agree. According to one Chinese analyst, "It’s a law of physics; a vacuum has to be filled. If there are no Russian people here, there will be Chinese people."

As a result, while paying lip service to closer relations with China, Russia is also developing close relations with China's enemies, especially India and Vietnam. ( "17-Sep-14 World View -- Russia, India to sell supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam")

Thus, although the Vostok 2014 military drills in the Far East are signal to the West that it's willing to take military action when necessary, Russia fears the long-term risks of war with China in the Far East. Consequently, Moscow wants to send a strong signal that it is willing to take far-reaching steps to defend Russian territory. Jamestown and The Diplomat (2010)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Sep-14 World View -- Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Sep-14 World View -- Nigeria's army sees a turning point as Boko Haram fighters surrender

Nato reports a 'significant' Russian troop pullback from Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria's army sees a turning point as Boko Haram fighters surrender


Schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April
Schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April

Nigeria's military says that the the leader of Boko Haram has been killed, and that some 270 militants have surrendered to the army and are being questioned. It is hoped that this will be a turning point that will lead to the safe recovery of the almost 300 schoolgirls that were abducted in April.

When the girls were first abducted, weeks went by with no visible actions by the government or the military to recover the girls. Some reports claimed various government and military officials supported Boko Haram.

However, in the last two or three months, the military has become much more aggressive in pursuing and fighting the Boko Haram militants. Recently, the military reported that Nigerian troops conducted coordinated air and land operations in furtherance of efforts at containing the terrorists in the North East part of the country. The fighters who surrendered have promised to cooperate with security officials by providing information on the whereabouts of the abducted girls. Guardian News (Nigeria) and Tribune (Nigeria) and Daily Post (Nigeria)

Nato reports a 'significant' Russian troop pullback from Ukraine

According to Nato's Lt Col Jay Janzen on Wednesday:

"There has been a significant pullback of Russian conventional forces from inside Ukraine, but many thousands are still deployed in the vicinity of the border.

Some Russian troops remain inside Ukraine. It is difficult to determine the number, as pro-Russian separatists control several border crossings and troops are routinely moving back and forth across the border. Further, Russian special forces are operating in Ukraine, and they are difficult to detect."

It's been estimated that 20,000-40,000 Russian troops are near the border with Ukraine, and they could be sent in for a re-invasion at any time.

It used to be that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry would respond to obvious lies by Russia's president Vladimir Putin and defense minister Sergei Lavrov by thanking them for being so helpful and cooperative. It made me want to vomit. However, that strategy has been abandoned. Obama was harshly critical of Russia in his speech on Wednesday to the United Nations General Assembly:

"Recently, Russia’s actions in Ukraine challenge this post-war order. Here are the facts. After the people of Ukraine mobilized popular protests and calls for reform, their corrupt president fled. Against the will of the government in Kyiv, Crimea was annexed. Russia poured arms into eastern Ukraine, fueling violent separatists and a conflict that has killed thousands. When a civilian airliner was shot down from areas that these proxies controlled, they refused to allow access to the crash for days. When Ukraine started to reassert control over its territory, Russia gave up the pretense of merely supporting the separatists, and moved troops across the border.

This is a vision of the world in which might makes right -- a world in which one nation’s borders can be redrawn by another, and civilized people are not allowed to recover the remains of their loved ones because of the truth that might be revealed. America stands for something different. We believe that right makes might -- that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones, and that people should be able to choose their own future. And these are simple truths, but they must be defended."

Russia has always claimed that any Russian soldiers in Ukraine were purely "voluntary." This has always been a laughable claim, as if thousands of Russian citizens would leave their wives and families, travel to Ukraine at their own expense, and risk getting killed. It's also contradicted by reports that Russian soldiers were ordered into Ukraine.

However, I may have found a way that the Russian claim might contain a grain of truth. Here's a paragraph from an article from earlier this month:

"About 190,000 members of the 760,000-strong Russian army are "volunteers," serving upon their own volition. They earn 18,000 rubles ($500) per month, a huge sum by Russian standards. They can be ordered into combat in Ukraine or anywhere else at any time, and there isn't even a contractual requirement that relatives be notified if volunteers are killed in the line of duty."

In other words, Russia's army has 570,000 conscripts and 190,000 volunteers, for a total of 760,000 soldiers. So perhaps the Russian soldiers that were ordered into Ukraine were from the volunteer force.

The United States has an all-volunteer army, so according to the Russian reasoning, there are no American soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. Why? Because they're all "volunteers."

By the way, I don't know if my readers can wrap their head around this concept, but I thought Obama's speech was pretty good. He sounded an awful lot like President George W Bush. (See "12-Sep-14 World View -- President George W. Obama pledges to 'degrade, destroy' ISIS"). The speech would have been better if he'd mentioned the threat from China. BBC and White House and Moscow Times (9/1)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Sep-14 World View -- Nigeria's army sees a turning point as Boko Haram fighters surrender thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Sep-14 World View -- Iran brags that Sanaa Yemen is the fourth Arab capital they control

CDC warns of possibly 1.4 million Ebola infections in West Africa

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran brags that Sanaa Yemen is the fourth Arab capital they control


The four Arab capitals claimed by Iran -- Beirut (Top L), Sanaa (Top R), Baghdad (Bottom L), Damascus (Bottom R) (AlWeeam)
The four Arab capitals claimed by Iran -- Beirut (Top L), Sanaa (Top R), Baghdad (Bottom L), Damascus (Bottom R) (AlWeeam)

Iran-backed Shia Houthis celebrated with fireworks on Monday after signing a UN-brokered "peace agreement" that required the government to resign, replacing it with one that gives power to the Houthis. It's believed that they will follow the same path as Hezbollah in Lebanon -- using a power-sharing agreement combined with military power with weapons and money supplied by Iran to take majority control of Yemen's government.

Member of Iran parliament Ali Reza Zakani, who is close to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, bragged that Sanaa is fourth Arab capital in Iran's grasp, joining "the three Arab capitals who are already a subsidiary of the Iranian Islamic revolution," and part of "the greater jihad." He predicted that 14 out of 20 counties in Yemen would soon be under Houthi control. The other Arab capitals referenced by Zakani are Beirut Lebanon, Baghdad Iraq, and Damascus Syria.

Hezbollah gives Iran a presence in the Mediterranean, Iran itself has control of the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, and control of Yemen gives Iran a stranglehold on the entrance to the Red Sea.

Analysts do not believe that the Houthi control of Sanaa is permanent. Sunni ethnic groups are expected to regroup and oppose the Houthis militarily. BBC and Al Arabiya and AlWeeam (Trans) and Daily Star (Beirut)

Qatar remains reluctant partner in coalition against ISIS in Syria

The barrage of airstrikes announced by President Barack Obama are directed primarily against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) in Syria, without the permission of the Syrian regime, and with opposition by Russia. Previous airstrikes were directed at ISIS in Iraq, with permission of Iraq's government.

American warplanes bombing ISIS in Syria were joined by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates (UAE). State news agencies of these four countries mentioned their participation, though usually only briefly and reluctantly.

Qatar was named by the US administration as the fifth participating Arab country, but apparently Qatar did not actually participate in the bombing. Qatar's official state news agency did not mention the strikes at all, while Qatar-based al-Jazeera prominently mentioned the airstrikes, and the other Arab countries' participation, but failed to mention Qatar's role. It's also being widely noted that Turkey is not participating, and is not even permitting its air bases to be used.

As readers are aware, I've been writing frequently about of the continuing realignment of the entire Mideast following the Gaza war and the rise of ISIS. In this realignment, Turkey is aligned with Qatar and Hamas, versus Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority. Turkey also has maintained cordial relations with ISIS, because ISIS held 49 Turkish diplomats as hostages until recently, and because ISIS is fighting Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Turkey's bitter enemy.

Radical Salafist groups in the Mideast are also supporters of ISIS, and Qatar is suspected of having a connection.

I have not heard any analyst say that ISIS can be defeated or even "managed" without "boots on the ground." Events in the Mideast are moving very quickly, and it's clear that many realignments have yet to occur, as the Mideast heads for a full-scale regional war, as predicted by Generational Dynamics. Daily Star (Beirut) and CNN

CDC warns of possibly 1.4 million Ebola infections in West Africa

The Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday warned of a worst-case scenario that the number of people in Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa infected with the Ebola virus could exceed 1.4 million by mid-January. However, the CDC also wishfully added that the number of cases could peak below that, if efforts to control the outbreak are ramped up.

These figures are consistent with the ones that I posted recently in "18-Sep-14 World View -- Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic?" One thing that the CDC did not mention is that if there are 1.4 million infections by mid-January, then the number of infections will continue to grow exponentially beyond that point, until almost all of the 10 million people in these two countries have become infected. AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Sep-14 World View -- Iran brags that Sanaa Yemen is the fourth Arab capital they control thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Sep-14 World View -- Turkey braces for expected flood of hundreds of thousands more refugees

Yazidis, Mosul Christians hold Obama responsible for ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive Hong Kong student demonstrations challenge Beijing


Student demonstrations at Chinese University of Hong Kong on Monday (AP)
Student demonstrations at Chinese University of Hong Kong on Monday (AP)

Thousands of college students in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, joined by hundreds of faculty members, boycotted classes Monday to protest Beijing's reneging on the 1997 agreement under which Hong Kong as a British colony reverted to Chinese control. The deal was known as "one country, two systems," meaning that Beijing would pursue Communism and Socialism, while Hong Kong would retain its democracy, its capitalist system, and its way of life. Hong Kong was promised free elections, but Beijing is pre-determining the 2017 election by allowing only three Beijing-approved candidates to run for office.

Separately, Beijing has also been clamping down on the use of the Cantonese version of the Chinese language, the native dialect of 50 million Chinese people. In Guangdong province in southern China, Beijing authorities are forbidding Cantonese in any television shows, requiring the Mandarin (Putonghua) version favored by Beijing. Hong Kong also speaks Cantonese, and it's feared that Beijing will impose similar requirements there. Cantonese and Mandarin are written using the same characters, but are spoken differently.

A recent poll of Cantonese speaker in Hong Kong found that 20% of them would like to leave Hong Kong and emigrate to other countries. Huge waves of emigration previously occurred after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, and again when Hong Kong sovereignty transferred from Britain to China in 1997.

Activists in Macau, a former Portuguese colony with similar administrative status to Hong Kong, are planning to hold their own pro-democracy referendum, and are watching the Hong Kong demonstrations closely.

Taiwan is also closely watching the demonstrations in Hong Kong, especially the members of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Taiwan universities are scheduling lectures and other forms of support for the pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. Hong Kong and Taiwan were closely linked after World War II, when Nationalists fighting Mao Zedong's Communist Revolution used Hong Kong as a transit point to escape to Formosa (Taiwan). AP and AFP and Deutsche-Welle and AFP

Turkey braces for expected flood of hundreds of thousands more refugees

Turkey has been home to over 1.3 million Syrian refugees since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, with 130,000 new refugees flooding in since Friday. The tsunami of refugees in the last few days has been from border towns and cities where militias from the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) are going house to house, killing people, abducting girls, and enslaving others. Turkish officials say that they are prepared for a flood of additional refugees in the next few days. The fear is that ISIS will send suicide bombers across the border, along with the refugees. Sabah (Ankara) and Zaman (Istanbul)

Yazidis, Mosul Christians hold Obama responsible for ISIS

According to MEMRI, many Arab writers blame president Barack Obama for the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). Here is one column MEMRI quotes:

"The terrified Yazidi woman on Mount Sinjar counted her family members. The tally broke her heart. Those who did not arrive with her never would. She fled quickly and convinced herself that they had too. They never arrived. Her two sons and her daughter. Left to the mercy of ISIS. And this 'merciful' organization beheads the infidels, crucifies them, or buries them alive. Left to the mercy of the caliph. He likes his state clean and pure and will not tolerate toxic weeds in his garden.

"Who will the terrified Yazidi woman turn to? She won't call on [Arab League Secretary-General] Nabil Al-'Arabi, because his company [the Arab League] is known to be bankrupt. She won't call on [UN Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon, because he has nothing [to offer her] but his own tears. She won't call on the Iraqi army, since it has already fallen to ISIS and given it the best of its weapons as a gift. She won't call on the Peshmerga, since their weapons are too meager for this campaign. There is but one element [she can turn to]. She spread her arms and said: 'Where is America? Where is Obama?' ...

The Yazidi woman is entitled to treat Barack Obama as a criminal. He quickly fled with his soldiers, leaving Iraq in the hands of the spiteful lovers of anonymous corpses and assassinations. He pretended to forget that his own country invaded Iraq, and that one of its witless administrators ordered to dismantle the Iraqi army. He ignored his moral responsibility. He spared American blood, leaving us [to drown] in lakes of blood."

Memri

Horse manure and climate change

Yesterday, I wrote that there's a historical precedent for the climate change debate, that predicts we'll all be underwater in a few decades. That historical precedent was the horse manure debate of over a century ago, that predicted that we'd all be under horse manure within a few decades.

A couple of web site readers have requested further information. Here's a summary:

During my lifetime, I've seen any number of hysterical environment disaster predictions. My favorite was the prediction in 1970 by far left-wing Ramparts Magazine that predicted that the oceans were becoming so polluted that by 1980 the world's oceans would be covered by a layer of algae. It didn't happen.

Like the horse manure crisis, the climate change crisis will be solved by new technologies that today are barely foreseen. These will include things like intelligent computers that will perform cleanup tasks that humans can't perform and microbiology technologies that will convert excess carbon dioxide back to harmless materials. Thousands of research labs around the world are motivated to identify such technologies, because any company finding one will patent it and make billions of dollars. No further motivation is needed. From Horse Power to Horsepower and The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894 and Great Moments in Failed Predictions

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Sep-14 World View -- Turkey braces for expected flood of hundreds of thousands more refugees thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Sep-14 World View -- Israeli-Hamas peace talks to resume in Cairo on Tuesday

New climate change circus in progress

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels occupy Sanaa, then sign peace agreement


Houthi fighters in back of pickup truck on Sunday in Sanaa (AFP)
Houthi fighters in back of pickup truck on Sunday in Sanaa (AFP)

Yemen's Houthi (Ansarullah) anti-government militias took control of many government buildings in Sanaa, Yemen's capital city, on Sunday, and then agreed to a United Nations sponsored peace agreement to end the fighting. However, some reports indicate that the fighting is continuing as before.

The Houthi militias are believed to be receiving weapons and training from Iran. Yemen is also the base of the Sunni jihadist al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and southern Yemen is attempting to secede from Yemen.

The concern is that sectarian (Shia versus Sunni) violence will accelerate in Yemen, affecting the entire region. Gulf News and The National (UAE)

Israeli-Hamas peace talks to resume in Cairo on Tuesday

It's been a month since the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas ended with a ceasefire agreement, and part of the agreement was that peace talks would start in a month on the core issues. So indirect talks between Israel and Hamas are going to begin in Cairo on Tuesday. The talks are called "indirect" because Israel and Hamas don't actually talk to each other. They sit in separate rooms, and Egyptian mediators run back and forth between the rooms carrying messages.

Israel's demands are:

Hamas's demands are:

It seems unlikely that any of these demands will be granted. On the other hand, it should take about six months for Hamas to reconstruct its tunnels and restock its rockets, so we might expect a new Gaza war in six months. Gulf News and Jerusalem Post

New climate change circus in progress

Every couple of years, a new farcical climate change takes place, with pompous politicians saying that climate change is the biggest danger threatening mankind for now and forever.

On Sunday, the "People's Climate March" took place in New York City. Organizers claimed that it also took place in 2,000 locations worldwide, and that 310,000 people joined the march in New York.

I've written about these circuses many times. Let's summarize the climate change situation:

On Tuesday, the UN will host a climate summit in New York with 125 heads of state and government - the first such gathering since the unsuccessful climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, that ended in total farce. ( "Climate change conference winds down with search for villains" The new conference will end the same way, with all the politicians running to cover their butts and blame other people. BBC and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Sep-14 World View -- Israeli-Hamas peace talks to resume in Cairo on Tuesday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Sep-14 World View -- Turkey admits 66,000 refugee Kurds from Syria as Mideast realignment continues

India launches 'Project Mausam' to counter China's 'Maritime Silk Road'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey admits 66,000 refugee Kurds from Syria as Mideast realignment continues


Long queues of Kurdish refugees wait to cross border into Turkey on Saturday (Reuters)
Long queues of Kurdish refugees wait to cross border into Turkey on Saturday (Reuters)

In a new sign of the continuing realignment of the entire Mideast following the Gaza war and the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), Turkey opened the border on Saturday to 66,000 Kurdish refugees fleeing from ISIS. Thousands more are expected to enter Turkey on Sunday.

On the same day, a military operation by Turkey recovered and freed 49 hostages from Turkey's diplomatic corp. The hostages had been captured by ISIS when the latter overran the city of Mosul in June.

Turkey has announced that it will not join the US-led "coalition" to be fighting ISIS, and gave as one of the reasons that it didn't want to risk the lives of its hostages. Now that the hostages have been freed, it's still not expected that Turkey will join the "coalition," since Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a bitter enemy of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Turkey will not even permit American warplanes fighting ISIS to take off from its Incirlik air base, although Turkey will allow humanitarian and logistical operations from there.

Opening the border to 66,000 Kurdish refugees reflects the realignments that are going on in the Mideast. Until recently, Turks and Kurds fought a civil war that killed 40,000 people. The fact that Turkey is now accepting tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees is a sign of how allegiances are shifting in this region. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and Zaman (Ankara) and BBC

India launches 'Project Mausam' to counter China's 'Maritime Silk Road'

When China's president Xi Jinping took office last year, he gave a number of speeches about "China's Dream," in which he called for China to shed its past as a secondary player, and become the world's top military and economic power. He visited Chinese military bases and told the troops to be ready for war at any time. He vowed that China will take every step necessary to gain control of the East China Sea and South China Sea regions, including areas that have been owned by other countries for centuries.

The "Silk Road" was a collection of trade routes that connected Europe and China in the Middle Ages, allowing China's silk to be traded for European goods. As part of that plan to implement "China's Dream," Xi proposed a new "Maritime Silk Road" (MSR) across Southeast Asia, shortly after he took office. The Chinese describe it in economic terms, as an initiative to further deepen China's reciprocal cooperation with neighboring countries, and promote their common development and prosperity, but it's also a military initiative to gain bases and influence from China, across the Indian Ocean, all the way to Africa.

Not to be outdone, India is proposing a competitive vision to the MSR, called "Project Mausam," described as "a transnational program is aimed at restoring India's ancient maritime routes and cultural links with republics in the region." I admit I'm having a bit of difficulty understanding this, so I'll just quote someone else's narrative:

"The project is considered [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi's government’s most significant foreign policy initiative designed to counter China. It is inspired by India’s historical role as the focal point for trade in the Indian Ocean. In pre-modern times, sailors used seasonal monsoons (mausam, means weather or season in many South Asian languages) to swiftly journey across the Indian Ocean. This trip usually involved starting from one of the edges of the ocean, around today’s Indonesia or east Africa, sailing to India, stopping, and allowing another crew to wait for another monsoon to sail to the other edge of the Indian Ocean, as different monsoon winds blew in different directions at different times of the year. Crews would frequently winter for months in India or at one of the edges of the ocean waiting for another season of monsoons. This allowed for significant cultural exchanges as diverse people from different places would often spend months at a time living in foreign countries (Islam is said to have entered Indonesia in this manner).

Project Mausam would allow India to reestablish its ties with its ancient trade partners and re-establish an “Indian Ocean world” along the littoral of the Indian Ocean. This world would stretch from east Africa, along the Arabian Peninsula, past southern Iran to the major countries of South Asia and thence to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia."

One India and The Diplomat

Russia sends massive new convoy across border into Ukraine

Russia has once again sent a massive convoy of hundreds of large, covered trucks across the border into Ukraine's sovereign territory, without permission and without any inspection. This time, the Russians didn't even announce the convoy in advance, but simply sent the trucks through the border. As in the previous convoys, there's no way to tell whether the trucks contain "humanitarian aid," as the Russians claim, or whether they contain weapons to support the Russian soldiers stationed in Ukraine. Deutsche-Welle and Ria Novosti

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Sep-14 World View -- Turkey admits 66,000 refugee Kurds from Syria as Mideast realignment continues thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Sep-14 World View -- Yemen violence may be proxy between Iran and Muslim Brotherhood

China's Alibaba IPO causes lightheaded investors to pop champagne corks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sierra Leone starts 3-day lockdown to battle Ebola


Empty street in Freetown during lockdown on Friday (Reuters)
Empty street in Freetown during lockdown on Friday (Reuters)

Streets in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, were deserted on Friday, the first day of a 3-day lockdown of the entire country. People were told in advance to stock up on food, so that they wouldn't have to leave their homes for 3 days. Muslims were told to pray on Friday, and Christians were told to pray on Sunday.

The plans are that nearly 30,000 health workers, volunteers and teachers aim to visit every household in the country to educate people about the disease and isolate the sick. There are 6 million people in the country, so that's 200 people per volunteer. Each volunteer is given a kit containing soap, stickers and flyers before leaving.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the economy gets worse every day because of the Ebola crisis. Many families could not stock up on three days of food, and some people will starve. Investors are concerned that the lockdown will affect Sierra Leone's iron ore production.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors without Borders) is condemning the plan, saying that it will no effect on the spread of Ebola.

Earlier this week, one 8-person team educating people on Ebola risks in a remote part of southeastern Guinea were killed and their bodies dumped in a village latrine. CNN and Reuters

Yemen violence may be proxy between Iran and Muslim Brotherhood

Violence agreed on Friday in Sanaa, the capital city of Yemen, between Houthi militias from north of Sanaa versus Yemen's army backed by pro-government ethnic groups. Houthis have been camped out in Sanaa since mid-August, paralyzing government offices and businesses. The Houthis have been demanding a restoration of fuel subsidies that were cut in July, increasing gasoline prices by 60% or more. Violence has been increasing, and by Friday the airport was shut down, phone lines and internet services were down, and residents were forced to stay indoors.

Although the Yemen conflict is largely fought between ethnic groups, each side has powerful political supporters.

The Houthis are in the Zaidi branch of the Shia Muslim religion, and are in control of large swathes of territory in northern Yemen, along the border with Saudi Arabia. It's widely believed that Iran has been training and supplying arms to the Houthis, with a view to destabilizing both Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The most important militias opposed to the Houthis are those who are in the Sunni political group al-Islah, which is Yemen's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Much of the fighting in and around Sanaa involves al-Islah-allied militias, rather than Yemen's military.

However, more intriguing are the reports that the Houthis are being supported by the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted by his vice president, and now the current president, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi. Saleh is also a member of the Zaidi sect, while Hadi is a Sunni Muslim. Saleh was in power from 1992 until his ouster in 2012, and he and Hadi had a good relationship. But Saleh is extremely bitter about being overthrown and it's suspected that he wants to destabilize Hadi's government, and have him replaced by his son, Ahmed Ali Saleh. VOA and Middle East Eye and Daily Star (Beirut)

China's Alibaba IPO causes lightheaded investors to pop champagne corks

Here's how one news story began:

"Alibaba debuted as a publicly traded company Friday and swiftly climbed more than 40 percent in a mammoth IPO that offered eager investors seemingly unlimited potential for growth and a way to tap into the burgeoning Chinese middle class.

The sharp demand for shares sent the market value of the e-commerce giant soaring well beyond that of Amazon, eBay and even Facebook. The initial public offering was on track to be the world's largest, with the possibility of raising as much as $25 billion.

Jubilant CEO Jack Ma stood on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as eight Alibaba customers, including an American cherry farmer and a Chinese Olympian, rang the opening bell."

We've now completely returned to the euphoric hysteria that preceded the 2007-2008 financial crisis. At that time, investors were going nuts over one IPO after another, one leveraged buyout after another. Each one was a sure thing, just like Alibaba, and I'm told that there are a lot more IPOs coming in the next few months.

There aren't any "real people" investing in Alibaba. The investors are almost all hedge funds and financial institutions. A hedge fund can borrow $10 million and use it to buy Alibaba stock, since it's "sure" to go up. That's how a combination debt bubble and stock market bubble are created. Different hedge funds borrow money and use it to buy stocks, pushing up the prices of the stocks, and in essence creating money backed by a chain of debt. The problem arises when one hedge fund loses money and can't repay its debts, causing a chain reaction that results in a financial crisis.

Stock market valuations are going farther and farther into the ozone bubble layers. The last time I mentioned the S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio, just a couple of weeks ago, it was at 18.97, which is already astronomically high by historical standards. But now, according to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) on Friday (September 19) has shot up to 19.36.

Do I have to remind you, Dear Reader, that it wasn't very long ago, in 1982, when the S&P 500 P/E ratio was below 6. It falls to that level every 30 years or so, and it's overdue to do so again. This would push the Dow Jones Industrial Average down to the 3000 level.

By the way, those hedge funds didn't really invest in the Alibaba company on Friday. Alibaba is described as "China's e-commerce powerhouse," bigger than eBay and Facebook combined. But the Chinese do not permit foreigners to own Chinese internet stocks. So they set up some kind of holding company in the Cayman Islands, with some kind of relationship to Alibaba. Investors who bought stock on Friday actually bought shares in that holding company. Even large investors have absolutely no say in how Alibaba is run, and China's regulators can pull the plug at any time. But apparently today's investors are so imbued with sheer stupidity that they bought the stock anyway, and pushed its opening price of $60 per share all the way up to $93 per share, within just a few hours. AP and Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Sep-14 World View -- Yemen violence may be proxy between Iran and Muslim Brotherhood thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Sep-14 World View -- BBC reporters attacked by Russian thugs after finding evidence of new Ukraine invasion

Thailand's PM suggests that only ugly people are safe in bikinis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thailand's PM suggests that only ugly people are safe in bikinis


Murdered British tourists David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23
Murdered British tourists David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the military junta that overthrew Thailand's elected government in a coup in May, is apologizing for suggesting that only ugly people should wear bikinis.

The bodies of two British tourists, a young, good-looking male and female, were found bludgeoned on one of Thailand's scenic beaches. Prayuth said, "Can they be safe in bikinis, unless they are not beautiful?"

In response to the subsequent uproar, Prayuth said, I apologize that I have spoken too harshly ... I didn’t mean to criticize or look down on anyone. Today I can guarantee that Thailand is still safe ... I wanted to warn [the tourists] to be careful. I’m sorry that it hurt people." AP

BBC reporters attacked by Russian thugs after finding evidence of new Ukraine invasion

BBC reporters in southern Russia were attacked by Russian security thugs after interviewing a woman whose brother, a professional Russian soldier, had been killed in action in Ukraine. The Russian thugs seriously wounded the cameraman and smashed his camera. The others were locked up while their equipment was damaged and all their reports erased. However, the reporters had already uploaded much of the material, including the interview with the dead soldier's sister before the Russian thugs attacked, so the BBC was able to air the interview after all.

In the interview, as aired on the BBC, the woman said her brother was a professional soldier who had been ordered into Ukraine, and was probably killed there. In her last phone contact with her brother, he said that he'd been ordered to go to southwest Ukraine, which presumably means that Russia is in the midst of a military buildup to attack Odessa and then annex southern Ukraine, as well as Moldova's Transnistria province.

Nato and several news organizations have shown the presence of large numbers of Russian troops in Ukraine. Russia simply claims that everyone else is lying, uses violence by thugs to intimidate reporters who collect such evidence, and uses an army of paid trolls to attack anyone on the internet who reports Russian activities.

Russia invaded Crimea, Ukraine's southern peninsula, earlier this year, and annexed it. They lied about the presence of Russian troops until the invasion and the annexation were over, and then acknowledged that they had been lying, even awarding medals to the Russian soldiers who conducted the invasion.

On Thursday, Ukraine's government reported that Russia's troops in Crimea have been massing on the Crimean border. If this story is true, and if the Russian woman's story is true that her dead brother had been ordered to southwest Ukraine, it would indicate that a new Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent, with plans to annex southern Ukraine. BBC and AFP and BBC and Pravda (Moscow)

Dozens of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine from Chechnya

Dozens of Russian soldiers from Chechnya are fighting the Ukrainian army in Ukraine. These Chechens have produced a large number of videos that appear on the internet showing the fighting and dying in Ukraine. Other videos show Russian officers threatening Chechens who resist being sent to Ukraine. The influx of Chechens includes entire military units normally based in Chechnya, including two Motorized Rifle Brigades. The brigades are manned exclusively by contract soldiers, 10–20 percent of which are Chechens. Jamestown and Bloomberg

China's and India's leaders smile despite military confrontation

China's president Xi Jinping and India's prime minister Narendra Modi acted like friendly old pals in their meeting in New Delhi, and promised that the two countries would help each other with new economic initiatives. China pledged to invest $20 billion in a five year plan to reduce the trade imbalance that currently favors China by a large amount.

Xi promised to combine the "world's factory" with the "world's back office" in a Wednesday editorial that he wrote for The Hindu:

"As emerging markets, each with its own strengths, we need to become closer development partners who draw upon each other’s strengths and work together for common development. With rich experience in infrastructure building and manufacturing, China is ready to contribute to India’s development in these areas. India is advanced in IT and pharmaceutical industries, and Indian companies are welcome to seek business opportunities in the Chinese market. The combination of the “world’s factory” and the “world’s back office” will produce the most competitive production base and the most attractive consumer market."

Xi also appreciatively quoted Modi's characterization that China and India are "two bodies, one spirit."

However, Modi also said that the boundary issues between China and India need to be resolved quickly:

"We need to resolve our boundary issue soon. A clarification on the LAC (Line of Actual Control) is very important. It has been pending for years, it is time to start it again.

Indeed, despite all the friendly talk between the two leaders, Chinese and Indian forces were confronting each other in the bitterly contested Kashmir/Jammu region. 600 soldiers crossed China's border into India in the early hours of Thursday morning, supported by helicopters. They were building a road that would be five km deep into Indian territory. There was no live fire between the two sides. IBNLive (India) and Times of India and The Hindu

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Sep-14 World View -- BBC reporters attacked by Russian thugs after finding evidence of new Ukraine invasion thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Sep-14 World View -- Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic?

John Kerry's testimony before the Senate: 1971 and Today

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic?


A section of the Congo River, made to look like the Ebola virus
A section of the Congo River, made to look like the Ebola virus

Here's a question I received from a web site reader, commenting on yesterday's World View article, in which I concluded on the subject of Ebola with, "It seems likely that the pandemic will have to run its course, meaning that almost all people in Liberia will sooner or later become sick with the disease, and either survive or not":

"I find it difficult to square your comments about a generalized and all-encompassing infection rate with the news comments about the number of people who are reported infected. Your suggestion that "all" will get sick and survive or die is an Apocalypse unknown in modern times. If any western nation were to lose 25% of its population there would be a complete collapse of the nation (in my opinion). Now you suggest that the death rate would approach 50%. Should the infection spread beyond the sub-sahara region into North Africa with the Hajj approaching the infection would go worldwide. This would be a game changer and the perfect excuse for global war (in all of its forms) as countries would be "forced" to close their borders. Smoot-Hawley did not tickle the economies of the world as this would.

As the press is reporting the illness is striking people by the thousands and while it could strike thousands more this does not approach the millions to be infected by your reasoning. I am not sure how you develop the thought of everyone contracting the disease. Please write about how your develop your reasoning."

In the past few weeks and months, I've listened and read probably close to 1000 news reports and analyses on what's happening in Liberia, and I take note of what's said, and what's not said.

What's said over and over is:

What's not said is: "This will be brought under control soon."

So I reached the conclusion that I reached.

Say there are currently 1000 cases in Liberia. Ebola is expanding exponentially, with the number of cases in Liberia doubling every two weeks or so. Since 2**10=1024, then the number of cases after ten iterations (20 weeks) will be 1024*1000 which is over a million.

You suggest that I'm saying that it will be a worldwide epidemic, spread by the Hajj. I didn't say anything like that, and the Saudis are taking every possible precaution, and have the expertise and infrastructure to do so.

Factors that are specific to Liberia are lack of health care infrastructure, superstitions, illiteracy and lack of education, anti-Western hostility, and funeral rites. These are the main factors that caused the initial spread, and now there's an extremely fast exponential rate of growth caused by three more factors: Lack of enough Ebola clinics, deaths of many health workers, and isolation of Liberia from the rest of the world -- meaning that new Ebola patients are literally receiving no care whatsoever.

Things may change, but right now I don't see any of these factors in play in the U.S. or Europe or any developed nation. However, those factors may still apply in many underdeveloped places in the world, particularly megacities and slums, and so a global Ebola epidemic in specific isolated places may yet occur. Also, a war in any location can destroy the health care infrastructure, and allow a pandemic to spread.

Another web site reader referred me to the following very interesting article on the history of pandemics: How plagues really work

John Kerry's testimony before the Senate: 1971 and Today

Here's what John Kerry said, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1971:

"I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command....

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."

Now, here's what he said on Wednesday, testifying before the same committee:

"Because ISIL is killing and raping and mutilating women. And they believe women shouldn't have an education. They sell off girls to be sex slaves to jihadists. There is no negotiation with ISIL. There is nothing to negotiate. And they’re not offering anyone healthcare of any kind. They're not offering education of any kind.

For a whole philosophy or idea or cult, or whatever you want to call it, that frankly comes out of the stone age. They’re cold-blooded killers marauding across the Middle East making a mockery of a peaceful religion."

When you compare the two statements, the US Army comes out a lot worse than ISIL in John Kerry's view.

John Kerry has expressed nothing but contempt for the US Army his entire life. He reaffirmed his 1971 testimony when he appeared on the Imus show in 2006, and in that time frame he said that US soldiers are stupid.

For John Kerry to be U.S. Secretary of State is a travesty and an insult to all Americans. The only thing that qualifies him for this or any government job is that his boss shares his attitudes. Richmond.edu

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Sep-14 World View -- Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Sep-14 World View -- Russia, India to sell supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam

U.S. to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to fight Ebola

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia, India to sell supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam


Picture from BrahMos press release
Picture from BrahMos press release

Talks for sale of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, jointly developed by India and Russia, to Vietnam are at an "advanced stage." Vietnam has already been deemed a "friendly country" by Russia and India, and acquisition of the BrahMos would be a significant strategic coup for Vietnam, to bolster its credible defense against China. Vietnam is ill-equipped to prevent China from annexing territories belonging to Vietnam and other countries bordering the South China Sea, and the supersonic missiles would allow Vietnam to threaten any naval assets that China may choose to use in the future against Vietnamese interests.

The BrahMos, developed jointly in a strategic partnership between Indian DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) and Russian NPO Mashinostroyeniya, is a stealth cruise missile with a range of 290 km and travels at a speed of Mach 2.8 to 3. Its developer claims that the missile cannot be intercepted for the next 20 years.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these alliances further support the ten-year-old prediction, based on generational analysis of the countries involved, that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war would pit China plus Pakistan plus the Sunni Muslim countries versus the U.S. plus India plus Russia plus Iran. In Asia, the alliance between India, Russia and Vietnam is growing, while in the Mideast, we see a realignment in progress that's allying the U.S. with Iran and Russia, versus the Sunni-jihadist Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). These realignments are continuing. Diplomat and BrahMos press release

Over 500 migrants drown in Mediterranean after boat was rammed

About 500 migrants, 400 adults and 100 children, traveling from Egypt to Malta drowned, after the boat carrying them collided with another boat. The migrants' boat may have been rammed and deliberately sunk by human traffickers, who were demanding that they give up their boat in exchange for a smaller boat. According to survivors, the traffickers were laughing after ramming and sinking the boat.

The number of migrants traveling from Africa to Europe has been surging exponentially this year, and this would be the biggest drowning incident so far. Last October there were two tragic shipwrecks last October in which more than 400 Eritrean, Somali and Syrian migrants drowned. ( "16-Oct-13 World View -- Sicily declares state of emergency as African migrants flood in")

The deaths of 400 migrants caused a scandal throughout Europe, and Italy began spending $13 million dollars per month on a program called "Mare Nostrum" (Our Sea) to rescue drowning migrants trying to reach Sicily. Many people believe that the exponential surge in migrants is an unintended consequence of the Mare Nostrum program, since a migrant can feel confident that he'll reach Europe one way or another.

Italy has been complaining bitterly that Europe should be paying a lot more of the $13 million monthly tab. The Europeans have agreed to a small expansion of its Frontex border agency into a "Frontex Plus" program, but for the most part, the Europeans are happy to sit back and just let Italy bear the entire cost. CNN and Guardian (London)

U.S. to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to fight Ebola

Most people are aware of the close relationship that the United States has had with the country of Liberia, resulting from the fact that it was founded by freed American slaves in the early 1800s. Since that time, America has provided aid and support to the country when necessary, and Liberia provided valuable resources, particularly rubber, in support of America's war effort in World War II.

With the Ebola virus spreading exponentially throughout Liberia, Liberia is facing an existential crisis, and so it's not surprising that the U.S. is going to help. Under the U.S. plan, 3,000 U.S. troops will be sent to a new command center in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, to help with the transportation of supplies and other personnel. U.S. forces will construct 17 health care facilities of 100 beds each to isolate and treat victims. The U.S. mission will also set up a facility to train 500 health care workers per week.

The Ebola crisis threatens to wipe out ten years of rebuilding Liberia following the bloody civil war that ended in 2003. Liberia's society is split between indigenous tribes -- the people who lived there before the freed slaves arrived -- and the freed slaves who settled there. Although making up only about 5% of the population, the freed slaves and their descendants, known as "Americo-Liberians," were a dominant minority and ruled Liberia following independence, until the civil war began in the 1960s. The society that sent freed slaves to Liberia in the 1800s selected the ones with the strongest Protestant Christian beliefs, and the ruling Americo-Liberian minority considered themselves and their religion to be superior to the religions of the indigenous tribes, whether animist or Muslim. Ironically, the freed slaves themselves became slavemasters to the indigenous people, continuing into the 1900s. The war ended, but tensions between the settlers and the tribes continue. The civil war that ended in 2003 left the country destitute, and now it's facing destitution again from Ebola.

Some people are criticizing the American action to be too little, too late. Based on the reports that have been coming out of Liberia in the last few months, it's quite possible that even 3,000 American troops cannot stop the rapid spread of the disease. It seems likely that the pandemic will have to run its course, meaning that almost all people in Liberia will sooner or later become sick for the disease, and either survive or not. The survivors should then be immune from further illness from Ebola. VOA and White House and Liberian National History Project

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Sep-14 World View -- Russia, India to sell supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Sep-14 World View -- Saudis push to avoid MERS outbreak as Hajj approaches

The center of international piracy moves from Somalia to Singapore

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudis push to avoid MERS outbreak as Hajj approaches


Camel traders can become infected with MERS by contact with camels (BBC)
Camel traders can become infected with MERS by contact with camels (BBC)

With millions of Muslims from around the world about to arrive in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for their once in a lifetime Hajj pilgrimage on October 2-7, Saudi officials are pushing hard to prevent an outbreak of MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus). There is particular sensitivity this year, as the Ebola virus spreads out of control in Western Africa. Crowded Hajj events are the perfect venues for one infected person to spread MERS to several other people, causing a chain reaction.

Since the first cases of MERS were identified in 2012, there have been 855 cases and 333 deaths, with a 40% death rate. However, MERS apparently is more difficult to spread than Ebola, as most of the MERS deaths have been health care workers, or others who caught it in hospitals.

The "reservoir" for the MERS virus appears to be camels. Camels carry the virus but are not sickened by it, and can pass the virus to humans, who DO become sickened by it.

Saudi officials have for several months been on a massive education campaign, particularly targeting thousands of health care workers. Saudi health officials say they have beefed up their response to the outbreak, with better infection control in hospitals and improved surveillance systems such as a new Command and Control Centre in Jeddah, which can coordinate swift isolation and treatment of new cases to prevent spread. Arab News and BBC

Pakistan's umbrella Taliban group appears to be disintegrating

On Monday, the Baitullah Mehsud faction of the Pakistan Taliban umbrella group Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) became the fourth faction recently to announce its separation from TTP. The apparent disintegration of TTP isn't necessarily good news, as it means that the individual ethnic terrorist groups within TTP are going to continue individually. Factional fighting within the TTP began in November 2011, when an American drone strike killed TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud. In an attempt to reunite the factions, the TTP pulled off a spectacular attack on Karachi airport in June of this year, claiming that was revenge for the drone strike that killed Mehsud. However, that attack backfired since, for the first time, Pakistan's army finally launched an operation, known as Zarb-e-Azb, on North Waziristan in Pakistan's tribal area to "clean out" the Taliban's hideouts and weapons stores.

The new faction has declared extortion, abduction for ransom, and bombing public places as Haram (any act that is forbidden by Allah). "One of the reason we have given up on the larger group is that conspirators have infiltrated it," according to a spokesman.

It was just three weeks ago that another group of factions broke off from TTP, and called itself Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom). The leader, Maulana Qasim Omar Khorasani, had been strongly opposed by the "peace talks," earlier this year, between TTP and Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif. In a statement last February leading up to the split, a spokesman said:

"Some of our leaders have become prey to compromises and have agreed to conduct dialogue only to get the tribal areas liberated. It is very clear that Shariah can never be attained through talks. Even if the Government makes a concession, it will only be limited to the tribal areas. In the past, we used to participate in jihad [Holy war] from the platform of Tehrik-e-Taliban. But from now onwards, we will carry out attacks independently. The Mujahideen associated with the TTP are our brothers, but if they opt for a ceasefire with the Government, we shall not be bound by their agreement, nor are we willing to accept such a ceasefire."

Following the split, a spokesman claimed, "It was lack of leadership quality that TTP had been involved in bloody clashes that have taken lives of known Mujahideen. The leadership had no policy to deal with this situation." Samaa TV (Pakistan) and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India)

The center of international piracy moves from Somalia to Singapore

The changing nature of piracy has changed it from a multi-million dollar industry pursued by Somali warlords off the horn of Africa to a billion dollar industry pursued by commercial pirates in the seas of the Singapore Strait and Strait of Malacca.

Five years ago, pirate attacks off the horn of Africa had become fairly common. Pirates would board ships and hold the crews for multi-million dollar ransoms. But thanks to a multinational military effort and merchant crew training, the number of such attacks was reduced to 13 last year from 197 in 2009.

But the sheer number of merchant ships at sea, roughly 55,000, makes a similar approach impossible with the pirates of southern Asia. These pirates almost never seize hostages. Instead, they board the ship, tie up the crew, smash the communications and navigation equipment, and then get down to work -- stealing the cargo, which is usually gas or oil. The pirates bring their own tankers and siphon the oil or gas to their own ship. A typical haul for a few hours work is half a million dollars. CNBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Sep-14 World View -- Saudis push to avoid MERS outbreak as Hajj approaches thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Sep-14 World View -- US surveillance aircraft may have access to Malaysian air bases

ISIS recruiting women from America and Britain

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US surveillance aircraft may have access to Malaysian air bases


Photo taken by surveillance plane of Chinese J-11 fighter jet dangerously harassing the surveillance plane last month(DOD)
Photo taken by surveillance plane of Chinese J-11 fighter jet dangerously harassing the surveillance plane last month(DOD)

The US and Malaysia are in discussions to permit US surveillance flights in the South China Sea to fly out of East Malaysian air bases, on the southern rim of the South China Sea. This is certain to further infuriate the Chinese, who blame the US for being "troublemakers," as China annexes other countries' territories in the same way that the Nazis annexed territories in Europe.

China has been pursuing a military "salami slicing strategy" to annex South China Sea territories belonging to other countries. China has annexed several islands and shoals in the South China Sea belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines, and is threatening to annex other territories belonging to Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan.

Because of China's annexations, China's relations with Vietnam and the Philippines have become increasingly hostile. China's relations with Malaysia have remained friendly, mainly because the Malaysians don't want to get the Chinese angry, even as China is preparing to annex Malaysian territory. (See "29-Jan-14 World View -- China's military moves to seize Malaysia's James Shoal")

Speaking on September 8, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) ADM Jonathan W. Greenert said:

"[R]ecently, the Malaysians have offered us to fly detachments of P-8s out of East Malaysia. You can see the closeness to the South China Sea. So we have opportunities and we ought to continue to nurture them."

According to Greenert, the offer is made in appreciation for American help during the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) that disappeared on March 8, and has never been found. A staging site in East Malaysia would enable the Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft easier access for operating over the South China Sea and shipping lanes such as the Strait of Malacca and the Sunda Strait, through which much of the world’s commerce passes.

Malaysia's defense minister denies that any such permission has been granted, but apparently the discussions have been going on for some time.

This comes at a time when China is increasingly harassing US surveillance planes flying over international waters in the South China Sea. Recently, a Chinese jet fighter made several passes as close as 30 feet to a U.S. surveillance plane in international waters. The incident is reminiscent of an April 2001 encounter, when a Chinese F-8 interceptor crashed into a U.S. surveillance aircraft off the southern China coast. The Chinese aircraft crashed into the sea, and its crew was killed. The U.S. plane made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, and its 24 crew members were imprisoned for 10 days. Sea Power Magazine and Malaysia Chronicle

African jihadist group pledges loyalty to ISIS

A new African jihadist group has broken off from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and pledged loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS).

The splinter group is called 'Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria', and AQIM central region commander Khaled Abu Suleimane, whose real name is Gouri Abdelmalek, claimed leadership of the new group, and said in a statement:

"You have in the Islamic Maghreb men if you order them they will obey you. The Maghreb has deviated from the true path."

This is the latest blow to al-Qaeda in the rise of ISIS at the expense of al-Qaeda, thanks to a generational split between the two organizations, pitting the drawing power of old geezers like Ayman al-Zawahiri running al-Qaeda versus the youthful al-Baghdadi running ISIS. Even worse for al-Qaeda, the organization hasn't been able to pull off anything anywhere near as spectacular as the 9/11/2001 attacks. But ISIS has been spectacular in a different way, taking over large areas in Syria and Iraq and decapitating Western journalists, the things that create erotic fantasies in would-be jihadists and their jihadist-girlfriends. Reuters and Al Jazeera

ISIS recruiting women from America and Britain

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area, with its large community of immigrants from Somalia, has been a source of several dozen recruits for the al-Qaeda linked Somalia terrorist group al-Shabaab. In particular, Minneapolis jihadists were involved in the horrific three-day attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi Kenya, in September of last year.

Now US law enforcement is investigating what may be a new trend -- teenage girls from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area who are flying to Syria to join the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). They may join ISIS with dreams of marrying a big, strong jihadist, but monitoring of extremists' social media accounts and other writings shows that male jihadis regard women counterparts as little more than mating partners. According to one analyst, "ISIS is recruiting these women in order to be baby factories. They are seeing the establishment of an Islamic state and now they need to populate the state."

ISIS is also recruiting Muslim girls and women in Europe, particularly from Britain and France. Researchers are discovering that many of them are being used to run "brothels" to hold Iraqi girls captured by the ISIS militias, to be used by the ISIS militia terrorists as they please. Reuters and Huffington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Sep-14 World View -- US surveillance aircraft may have access to Malaysian air bases thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS execution of Britain's David Haines may change US/UK military dynamics

Russian Orthodox fanatic considers Vladimir Putin to be united with God

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia sends massive new 'humanitarian convoy' into Ukraine


Massive Russian truck convoy with unknown contents arrives in Russian-held territory in east Ukraine, with no permission and no inspections (Ria Novosti)
Massive Russian truck convoy with unknown contents arrives in Russian-held territory in east Ukraine, with no permission and no inspections (Ria Novosti)

Without asking for permission or permitting inspections, Russia on Saturday sent a huge convoy of 220 trucks across the border of Ukraine, into the region of east Ukraine controlled by Russian army and pro-Russian anti-government forces. Ukraine officials are calling it "a direct invasion." Russia is calling it "humanitarian aid," but it could just as well be heavy weapons or even hundreds of Russian soldiers, reminiscent of the story of the Trojan Horse. Ria Novosti and Deutsche Welle

Russian Orthodox fanatic considers Vladimir Putin to be united with God

Every religion has its religious fanatics, and one of the leading fanatics in the Russian Orthodox religion is Dmitry Tsorionov, who uses "Enteo" as a pseudonym. According to Tsorionov in a recent lecture in Moscow:

"A divine light at the moment when [Putin] left his baptism transfixed his essence, restoring the destroyed depths of his being, and giving him an anthological ability to acquire celestial energy. ...

Without a doubt he does good deeds, and for this God gives him grace. He strengthens his presence in Vladimir Putin, and Vladimir Putin becomes a living temple. God has been placed inside this little Vladimir Putin. This is a fact."

Supposedly, Tsorionov statements are drawn from the theology of the Byzantine Empire and the "godliness" of the emperor. But his bizarre statements may be more political than religious. He's anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, and opposes teaching evolution in schools, saying that the universe was created 7,521 years ago, on the first of March, a Sunday. He's part of a growing group of ultra-conservatives who oppose any Western influence, even Apple Corp.'s logo, complaining that the half-bitten apple promotes original sin. These groups are occasionally violent against homosexuals and other politically incorrect groups.


Alina Kabaeva, Putin's alleged long-time mistress (pravda.ru)
Alina Kabaeva, Putin's alleged long-time mistress (pravda.ru)

According to Tsorionov:

"We kill tens of millions of our children. We betray our wives. We don’t go to Church. We smoke hashish. Meanwhile, Vladimir Vladimirovich, the boss, is praying seriously for us all. Of course we are not worthy."

Perhaps Tsorionov is ignoring the years of reports about his mistress, 2004 Olympics award-winning rhythmical gymnast Alina Kabaeva. RFERL and Ria Novosti (8/2013)

ISIS execution of Britain's David Haines may change US/UK military dynamics

A new internet video from the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) begins with a clip from Britain's prime minister David Cameron saying:

"We have to stick to the very clear foreign policy and the very clear strategy we have, which is to work with the new Iraqi government to help make sure the Kurds get the arms they need to fight off these brutal, extremist militants, to work with our allies, and as I've said to use everything we have — our aid, our diplomacy, and our military prowess — to make sure that with our allies we do everything we can to put pressure on Islamic State, the supporting organization..."

Next, the video shows the ISIS executioner, saying the following:

"This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State. Ironically, he has spent a decade of his life serving under the brutal air force that is responsible for delivering those arms.

Your evil alliance with America, which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the Haditha Dam, will only accelerate your destruction, and playing the role of the obedient lapdog, Cameron, will only drag you and your people into another bloody and unwinnable war."

Cameron called an emergency meeting of his government early Sunday morning to discuss how to deal with the crisis.

Britain recently raised its national terror threat level to "severe," meaning that a terrorist attack is "highly likely," though not necessarily imminent. The announcement of this change referred to the approximately 500 British citizens that have traveled to fight in Syria, with 200 already having returned home.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, most of the world is deep into a generational Crisis era, with 69 years having passed since the end of World War II. During this era, the population reacts in a somewhat panicky manner to what are called "regeneracy events." These events appear to pose an existential threat to a country or its way of life, and they regenerate civic unity behind the leader and his call for military action.

We've seen this fairly dramatically in the last few weeks, when polls have shown a big swing among Americans from not favoring military action against ISIS to almost 2/3rds of Americans saying that military action against ISIS is in the nation's interest. This is an example of how quickly a regeneracy event can change public opinion during a generational Crisis era.

In the last few days, since President Obama's televised speech on Wednesday, Britain has been among those countries showing reluctance to join America's "coalition of the willing" to fight ISIS. So it will be interesting to watch closely in the next few days to see if public opinion in Britain shifts the way it did in America, and whether Cameron will announce that Britain will join America's conflict with Syria.

On Saturday evening, Cameron said the murder was "despicable and appalling," and added:

"It is an act of pure evil. My heart goes out to the family of David Haines who have shown extraordinary courage and fortitude throughout this ordeal. We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes."

That's already a pretty strong threat, and suggests that some kind of military response from Britain is coming.

A related question is this: Why did ISIS do this? What do they have to gain? It almost looks like they WANT Britain to join the U.S. in fighting ISIS.

I certainly am no mind reader, particularly of ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, but this action is quite consistent with two decades of jihadist terrorist attacks. As I've written many times, al-Qaeda has been using Iran's 1979 Great Islamic Revolution as a model. The goal of al-Qaeda has been to trigger an uprising that would repeat that revolution in another country, putting al-Qaeda in control. In my view, ISIS is following the same strategy: by bringing airstrikes from America and Britain into Syria and Iraq, al-Baghdadi hopes to trigger an anti-Western uprising that will defeat Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and put al-Baghdadi and his "Islamic State" in power. NY News and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS execution of Britain's David Haines may change US/UK military dynamics thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Sep-14 World View -- Palestinians divided over taking Israel to International Criminal Court

Little visible support for American coalition to fight ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel to investigate its own possible war crimes in Gaza war


Silhouettes of Israeli soldiers in Gaza, July 12, 2014 (DPA)
Silhouettes of Israeli soldiers in Gaza, July 12, 2014 (DPA)

Israel's Defense Force (IDF) has launched criminal problems over several incidents involving it soldiers during the Gaza war. In a July 16 incident, Israeli forces fired on a beach in Gaza City, killing four children who were playing there. Just over a week later, a UN school in the northern city of Beit Hanun was shelled by the Israelis, killing at least 15 people.

This will be part of an overall review by IDF. There will be 12 main review teams, each headed by a high-level IDF officer. Among the issues being reviewed are: the use of firepower during the operation; the maneuvering of ground forces; the IDF's readiness to deal with the tunnel threat; the decision to amass forces at a staging ground despite it being within range of mortar fire; the use of obsolete armored personnel carriers in fighting; intelligence; air defense; and coordination between the air, ground and naval forces.

Pro-Hamas activists are condemning the investigations as a "masquerade" that will lead to a "whitewash."

Another motive attributed to Israel is to head off an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Generally speaking, the ICC can gain jurisdiction over war crimes cases only if the country involved is unwilling or unable to investigate itself. Deutsche Welle and Israel Hayom

Palestinians divided over taking Israel to International Criminal Court

Senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh is pressuring Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA/Fatah), to sign a document that would give the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction to investigate alleged war crimes by Israel in the recent Gaza war. In a press statement, Haniyeh said:

"The Palestinian factions and Palestinian community all agree on the need for Abbas to go to the ICC and sign the Rome Statute in order to prosecute the leaders of the Zionist enemy for their crimes committed against the Palestinian people. ...

Hamas signed the document urging Abbas to sign the Rome Statute, and the signing of this is the right of all the victims. Stalling the signing of the Statute is considered a concession of their rights and offensive to the Palestinian people and their struggle."

Haniyeh's remarks come as pro-Hamas officials and activists express puzzlement and outrage that Abbas in August explicity refused to sign the document that would give ICC jurisdiction over Israel's alleged war crimes. Abbas is the head of the Hamas-Fatah unity government, and so his approval is required before the ICC can act on any document provided by the Palestinians.

Various reports give several possible reasons for Abbas's refusal:

Another reason is related to the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war that we've written about in several articles. There is a growing fault line separating Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia plus PA/Fatah versus Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey. To put it bluntly, Abbas considers Hamas to be his enemy, and does not want to empower Hamas in a way that would happen if Abbas enabled an ICC war crime investigation of Israel. Ma'aN News (Bethlehem) and Middle East Eye and Middle East Monitor and Israel National News

Little visible support for American coalition to fight ISIS

The plans announced in President Obama's Wednesday speech to form a "coalition of the willing" to fight the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) have been running into some roadblocks.

Turkey made a surprise announcement on Thursday that it would not be participating, and would not allow American warplanes to use its air bases. Turkey has internal political considerations, and ISIS is holding 49 Turkish diplomats as hostages.

Arab states, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are reluctant to participate because they would face retaliation by jihadist terrorist groups. Nato allies Britain and Germany are also reluctant, and France is completely ruling out participation. Politicians in many countries note that President Obama has reneged on commitments before, and so many of these countries are reluctant to commit their own resources when it's not clear that Obama is fully committed.

It's possible that some of these countries will provide "quiet cooperation," but right now it looks like America will be the only country performing air strikes, and no country except Iraq will provide combat troops. I have not heard any analyst indicate that the project will be successful without substantially more cooperation, and right now there are few signs that that cooperation is coming. It's possible that officials in some countries will change their minds once the operation begins. CNN and Debka

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Sep-14 World View -- Palestinians divided over taking Israel to International Criminal Court thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Sep-14 World View -- President George W. Obama pledges to 'degrade, destroy' ISIS

CIA increases estimate: ISIS has 20,000 to 31,500 fighters

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

President George W. Obama presents his ISIS strategy


What's the name of this President? I forget.  (WashingtonsBlog.com)
What's the name of this President? I forget. (WashingtonsBlog.com)

It was very hard to escape the impression, listening to President Obama's speech on Wednesday evening, that he would rather have all his teeth pulled out than have to give that speech, which could have been given by President George W. Bush, if he had had two more terms. President Obama's entire foreign policy has always been to ask what President Bush would do and then do the opposite, but the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) has forced him in the past few weeks to sound more and more like his predecessor.

His attempts to be the non-Bush were comical. Here's how he struggled to distinguish what he's doing from what Bush did:

"But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order."

So this is not a war -- that's a Bush thing. This is counterterrorism -- that's an Obama thing, and it's different.

Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized this when he was asked in an interview whether we were at war:

"We're engaged in a major counterterrorism operation, and it's going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation. I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity.

I don't think people need to get into war fever on this. I think they have to view it as a heightened level of counter terrorist activity...but it's not dissimilar to what we've been doing the last few years with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in Yemen and elsewhere."

I try to write about President Obama on as few days as I can get away with, because I criticize him, and then people criticize me for criticizing him. But I just never have the feeling that Obama lives on this planet, or has any idea what's going on on this planet. It's just one bizarre thing after another. I'll come back to the comparisons with Yemen and Somalia below. But we're not at war? Are you kidding me? Wasn't it just last week that Vice President Joe Biden said we'd follow ISIS to "the gates of hell"?

It's a basic principle of Generational Dynamics that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians. Thus, Hitler was not the cause of WW II. What politicians say or do is irrelevant, except insofar as their actions reflect the attitudes of the people that they represent, and so politicians can neither cause nor prevent the great events of history. The corollary to this principle, which I've discussed many times since President Obama took office in 2009, is that going beyond pure rhetoric and politics, there will be little effective difference between Obama's presidency and President George W. Bush's hypothetical third and fourth terms, if such had taken place.

Indeed, Obama frequently said that the world would change on January 20, 2009, as soon as he was inaugurated as President. His goal was to heal the world with his mere presence -- cure global warming, provide universal health care, close Guantanamo, leave Iraq in peace, bring a two-state solution to Palestinians and Israelis, beat the Taliban in Afghanistan, restore the stock market bubble, and dismantle President Bush's war against terror. Nothing would be beyond his reach. And yet, it would be hard to find any real effective difference with how any of these policies would have unfolded in additional Bush administrations.

President Obama and John Kerry have had one foreign policy debacle after another. Now they're starting on something new, the conflict with ISIS, and they're playing with words. We can hope that this won't be yet another debacle, but this is a very bad omen. White House and CBS News

Obama pledges 'to degrade and ultimately destroy' ISIS

President Obama began his Wednesday night speech with:

"My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL."

What can he possibly mean by "destroy"? I can't think of a single example of a terrorist group being "destroyed," and he certainly provided no such examples. Let's make a list of the comparisons that he and Kerry did make in the excerpts quoted above:

One of Obama's big problems is that he keeps making ridiculous promises that he would know can't be kept if he understood what was going on in the world. The worst one was the chemical weapons "red line" in Syria that would trigger an American military response. Syria's genocidal president Bashar al-Assad continues to use chemical weapons to this day, targeting innocent women and children with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas.

So now Obama has committed to "destroying" ISIS. How the hell is he going to do that?

And here's one more thing from his speech:

"Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."

What's he talking about? Is he really going to take action against ISIS in Syria, when he refused to take action after Bashar al-Assad killed hundreds of people with Sarin gas?

When Obama was campaigning in 2008, he promised that as soon as took office then the earth would heal and the tides would recede. Obama is still making ridiculous promises. He just can't stop himself. Let's hope this doesn't end up as another debacle. White House

CIA increases estimate: ISIS has 20,000 to 31,500 fighters

The CIA now estimates that the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is made up of anywhere between 20,000 to 31,500 fighters. The CIA previously put the number at 10,000, and is now revising it upward by a factor of 2-3. The Hill

Iran faces a double threat from ISIS

Iran is a Shia Muslim state, but Iran's southeast province, on the border with Pakistan, is Balochistan, which has a Sunni majority population. The rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is presenting a serious internal threat to Iran. Just as would-be jihadists from around the world are heading for Syria to train with ISIS, the same is true of would-be jihadists from Balochistan, fueled by a combination of extreme poverty and decades-long resentment by the local Sunni population against the policies of the Shia-dominated central government in Tehran. I've reported several times about Jundullah, a terrorist group that has perpetrated major attacks on Shia mosques and Revolutionary Guard stations in southeastern Iran. Jundullah's successor in Balochistan is Jaysh al-Adl (Army of Justice), and it's feared that ISIS and Jaysh al-Adl will link up with disaffected citizens of Balochistan, and threaten the Tehran government.

That's ISIS's internal threat to Iran. The external threat is to Iran's two closest allies in the region, the governments of Syria and Iraq. In particular, it's feared that the conflict in Iraq will spill over onto Iran's soil, and some unconfirmed reports indicate that's already happened. Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Sep-14 World View -- President George W. Obama pledges to 'degrade, destroy' ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Sep-14 World View -- Scotland's independence referendum is encouraging Catalonia's separatists

China's Uighur migrants attempt to reach Turkey

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's Uighur migrants attempt to reach Turkey


Uighur protests in China (AFP)
Uighur protests in China (AFP)

The mostly Sunni Muslim ethnic Uighurs in China's northwest Xinjiang province have, for over 20 years, been using various migration routes to escape violence from Chinese officials. The original migration was triggered by the April 1990 "Baren uprising," a confrontation with China's army that led to the deaths of more than 1,000 Uighurs and Chinese troops in a five-day conflict. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, many Uighurs fled to the newly independent Central Asian countries -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The Uighur language is "Turkic," mutually intelligible with Uzbek and similar to Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Turkmen.

After the late 1990s, China succeeded in closing the door to migrant Uighurs in Central Asian countries, and instead the migrants began traveling to Southeast Asia. Some joined the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and ended up being captured by American forces and shipped to Guantanamo.

After the extremely violent confrontations between Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang in July, 2009 ( "China's Xinjiang province is scene of violent anti-government protests"), a new flood of Uighurs migrated to Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma and Malaysia. However, China has also been successful in closing these escape routes, and it's believed that "China's 9-11" in Kunming was perpetrated in retaliation. ( "2-Mar-14 World View -- Knife-wielding mob of probable Xinjiang terrorists kill 28 in southern China")

Dissaffected Uighur dissidents are now attempting to reach Turkey, which would not only provide refuge, but also offer Uighurs employment opportunities and support networks, where they may engage in anti-Chinese advocacy activities. Jamestown

Britain in chaos as Scotland will vote on independence

Talk of an independent Scotland began some ten years ago, but now with the independence referendum vote scheduled for September 18 next week, Britain's politics are becoming chaotic. Until last week, it was believed by most people that the referendum would fail, and so not too many people seem to have worried about it. But a poll over the weekend showed a sizeable shift into the "yes" column, causing London to go into a panic and start making numerous promises to the Scots to convince them to vote "no."

If Scotland votes "yes," then there are many unknowns. What currency will Scotland use? Will Scotland be part of the European Union? Will the United Kingdom lose its veto in the U.N. Security Council? How will military and other assets be split between the two countries? BBC

Next in line: Catalonia may want independence from Spain

Scotland's vote for independence is already energizing separatist movements all over the world, and that's particularly true in Spain, where activists in the Catalonia region are seeking independence, with a referendum scheduled for a month from now, on November 9. The Spanish government considers the referendum to be illegal, but it's going ahead anyway.

Catalonia had special rights throughout the Middle Ages, and only lost those rights with the War of the Spanish Succession that ended with the surrender of the people of Barcelona to the French on September 11, 1714. Thursday is "Catalan National Day," commemorating the defeat exactly 300 years ago.

During the rule of longtime dictator Francisco Franco, Catalonia's independence movement was illegal and even the Catalan language was banned. But in 1978, just three years after Franco's death, the Kingdom of Spain passed a democratic constitution granting the country's 17 regions autonomy. Catalonia and the other regions then got their own constitutions which guaranteed self-government. Since 1980, Catalans have been electing their own parliament, have had their own police force and have taught their children in the Catalan language.

In the early 2000s, Spain had one of the worst real estate bubbles of any country in the world. When the bubble crashed, the economy plummeted, and unemployment today is above 25%. When Catalan public protests began, Madrid placed restrictions on Catalonia in 2010, even on the Catalan language, giving further impetus to the independence movement.

The Scottish and Catalan independence movements may turn out to be linked. If Scotland joins the European Union, then Catalonia will probably do the same. But the reverse is also true. A lot of European governments are opposed to both separatist movements, and these governments will oppose both countries' attempts to join the EU. Spiegel and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Sep-14 World View -- Scotland's independence referendum is encouraging Catalonia's separatists thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Sep-14 World View -- Yemen faces both Shia Houthi protesters and Sunni AQAP jihadists

Protests in Sanaa are tied to gasoline subsidies

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Yemen fighting Houthi rebels in capital city Sanaa


Yemen soldiers (Yemen Times)
Yemen soldiers (Yemen Times)

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, is also one of the most troubled. Yemen is fighting multiple wars at once.

The latest crisis is that four ethnic Houthis were shot and killed in the capital city Sanaa. They were part of a large group of Houthis who who have been camped out since mid-August. There have been several conflicts with the police. On Tuesday, the Houthis tried to force their way into the prime minister's office. The security forces who responded claim that they were not responsible for the protesters' deaths because they didn't shoot at the protesters, but shot in the air.

The protests were triggered by deep cuts in fuel subsidies in July imposed by Yemen's president Abdrabu Mansour Hadi, raising the price of gasoline by 60% and diesel by 95%. The cuts in fuel subsidies were demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in return for extending a $552.9 million credit line to Yemen.

Because of widespread public unrest, particularly anti-government rallies by Houthi rebels, Hadi last week ordered a 12% rollback in the subsidies. However, the Houthis are refusing to accept the partial rollback, and are demanding that the subsidies be fully restored.

The Houthis are in the Zaidi branch of the Shia Muslim religion, and are in control of large swathes of territory in northern Yemen, along the border with Saudi Arabia. They're considered a threat to both the Yemen government in Sanaa and the Saudi Arabia government in Riyadh. It's believed that Iran is funding them and supplying them with weapons, in an attempt to destabilize both Yemen and Saudi Arabia. SABA (Yemen) and Platts and Al Jazeera

Three Yemen soldiers killed by AQAP suicide bombers

While Yemen is fighting Shia Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, they're facing Sunni jihadists in southern Yemen, in the form of Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP has taken control of a large region and set up terrorist training camps. Before the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), AQAP was considered the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda to the United States. AQAP was responsible for several attempted terrorist attacks on the United States, including the underwear bomb that was used in the failed Christmas day bombing in 2009. One component of AQAP, Ansar al-Sharia, operates in both Yemen and Libya, and is believed responsible for the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber reached an army checkpoint in Yemen, leading to a gunfight. A second suicide bomber sped towards the same checkpoint and detonated his explosives, killing the soldiers. It's estimated that in 2014 so far, AQAP attacks have killed 387 soldiers and injured hundreds more. Atrocities by militants reached a pinnacle in August this year as 14 off-duty soldiers travelling on a civilian bus were kidnapped and executed by AQAP militants, four of whom were beheaded. Yemen Times and Al-Ahram (Cairo)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Sep-14 World View -- Yemen faces both Shia Houthi protesters and Sunni AQAP jihadists thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Sep-14 World View -- Ukraine conflict and rise of ISIS put Russia's Caucasus at risk

France's scapegoat 'Rogue trader' Jerome Kerviel is freed from prison

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France's scapegoat 'Rogue trader' Jerome Kerviel is freed from prison


Jerome Kerviel (AFP)
Jerome Kerviel (AFP)

The "rogue trader" Jérôme Kerviel was released from French prison on Monday, after serving part of a three-year sentence from his 2010 conviction on charges of breach of trust, forgery and entering false data. He'll serve out the rest of his sentence under partial house arrest. Kerviel worked at Sociéte Générale's as a trader. He placed fraudulent trades for months and made huge sums of money for the bank. Then his luck ran out, and his fraudulent trades failed, and he cost the bank $7.2 billion. Kerviel acted only on behalf of SocGen, and never tried to make any money himself.

What's so outrageous about this situation is that Kerviel is pretty much the only person who's ever been prosecuted for causing the financial crisis. As I've been writing for years, the evidence is unambiguous that individual "financial engineers" at Citibank, JP Morgan and other banks purposely created tens of trillions of dollars of synthetic subprime mortgage backed securities and sold them, knowing that they were fraudulent. Millions of people have lost their homes, or gone bankrupt, or had their cars repossessed because of the financial crisis, and no one is prosecuted except Kerviel.

An example of the fraud that was committed was exposed in 2010 by the Senate's Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, as I described in "Financial Crisis Inquiry hearings provide 'smoking gun' evidence of widespread criminal fraud". According to the testimony at the hearing, what Citibank did was as follows in simple terms: The financial engineers took a collection of subprime-backed B rated securities, applied a "slicing and dicing" process, and converted them into an equivalent value of AAA-rated securities. This is mathematically impossible, and as the Senate hearing showed, this was "smoking gun" proof of fraud.

These financial engineers were so-called because they were Gen-Xers who had gotten Masters degrees in financial engineering in the 1990s. They knew exactly what they were doing when they created and sold these fraudulent securities. Their Boomer CEO bosses could not possibly have understood the math that was used to create these fraudulent securities, but they must have known that the process of transforming B-rated securities to AAA-rated securities was impossible, and had to be illegal.

The model for handling this situation occurred in the late 1980s, when the Savings and Loan scandal occurred. The Bush 41 administration prosecuted thousands of people, sending many to jail.

But Attorney General Eric Holder has not prosecuted a single individual. Holder is always whining that no one respects him, and he whines because he was treated unfairly when he was held in Contempt of Congress for failing to produce documents. And yet, this jerk has not prosecuted a single individual for the financial crisis since he took office in 2008. Why? Either it's because he's totally incompetent, or it's because these bankers have contributed millions of dollars to Obama administration campaigns or organizations endorsed by the Obama administration, and not prosecuting is payoff.

But at least the French sent Kerviel, who never made a penny for himself, to jail. As I always like to say whenever I write about Kerviel, it's good to know that we're all safe today, because the person who caused the financial crisis has been identified, and is no longer at large.

Or perhaps we're not so safe. According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) on Friday (September 5) morning was 18.97 -- almost 19 -- which is astronomically high by historical standards. This means that the stock market is still in an enormous bubble, and the financial crisis is going to get much worse. Deutsche Welle and AFP

Ukraine conflict and rise of ISIS put Russia's Caucasus at risk

In recent days we've been discussing the realignment of the Mideast following the Gaza war and the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). These crises, along with the conflict in Ukraine, intersect in Russia's southern provinces in the North Caucasus. The population of Chechnya, Dagestan, North Ossetia and the other Caucasus provinces are largely Muslim, and have strong jihadist presences that are kept under title control by Russia's army.

The ISIS crisis and the Ukraine crisis intersect in the North Caucasus, because ISIS is posing a greater threat to the region, while Russia is drawing soldiers out of the region to fight in east Ukraine. For years, the best combat-ready Russian forces were concentrated in the North Caucasus to fight first Chechnya's pro-independence movement and later the insurgency that spread across the entire region. As Russia is increasingly drawn into the conflict with Ukraine, Moscow is forced to relocate its best prepared military units from the North Caucasus to Ukraine. Some observers regard this as a potential "window of opportunity" for the North Caucasian militants.

At the same time, ISIS is posing a direct threat the Caucasus. Thousands of young Muslim men have gone to Syria to join ISIS and become jihadists, including many from the Caucasus. Citizens of Russia do not require visas to visit Turkey, and there are daily flights from North Caucasus locations to Istanbul. From there, would-be jihadists have no trouble traveling to the porous border with Syria and crossing over.

A video recently posted by ISIS on the internet threatens Russia, and Russia's president Vladimir Putin in particular:

"Vladimir Putin, these are the Russian planes that you sent to Bashar. Allah willing, we will take them back to your own turf, and liberate Chechnya and the Caucasus, Allah willing. The Islamic State is here to stay. It is spreading and has become a caliphate. Your throne is being threatened by us. Allah will grant us success. You can see the evidence for that in the Levant. There are consecutive conquests here. We are coming, Allah willing. Allah Akbar."

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Putin-appointed governor of the province of Chechnya, immediately released a statement with a counter-threat on Instagram:

"Taking all responsibility, I declare that those who have voiced a threat against Russia or who have mentioned the name of our president Vladimir Putin will be destroyed right where they made their statement. We will not wait for them to get behind the steering wheel of a plane. They will go where his fellow terrorists are rotting."

In the immediate future, the primary danger for Russian rule in the North Caucasus comes from widespread discontent for economic reasons. In the approach to the Sochi Olympics games earlier this year, Russia had been pouring billions of extra dollars into the North Caucasus to build infrastructure, and to reduce public discontent. But now that source of funds has dried up, and the people in the North Caucasus are bearing the brunt of the European sanctions that have been imposed because of Russia's actions in Ukraine. Jamestown and Ria Novosti and Memri and Jamestown

WHO: Ebola virus is spreading 'exponentially' in Liberia

Whenever an Ebola treatment center opens in Liberia, all the beds are taken immediately. Patients fill taxis going from place to place, hoping to find medical care. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that more than 3,600 people have been infected with Ebola, and 2,000 have died, but as many as 20,000 will be infected. Health care workers have been hit especially hard -- 79 of them have died. "Transmission of the Ebola virus in Liberia is already intense and the number of new cases is increasing exponentially," according to WHO.

Well, if that's really true then a lot more than 20,000 will be infected. Liberia has a population of 4.4 million people, and at the current rate of exponential transmission, 20,000 infections will be reached in just a few more weeks, with a lot more to come. NBC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Sep-14 World View -- Ukraine conflict and rise of ISIS put Russia's Caucasus at risk thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Sep-14 World View -- Mahmoud Abbas threatens to end the 'Palestinian unity' government

Russia threatens Nato with a new nuclear military doctrine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia consolidates gains in Ukraine with ceasefire plan


U.S. 173 airborne brigade soldiers leave a C-17 aircraft during the 'Steadfast Javelin II' military exercise in the former Soviet state of Latvia on Saturday (Reuters/MoscowTimes)
U.S. 173 airborne brigade soldiers leave a C-17 aircraft during the 'Steadfast Javelin II' military exercise in the former Soviet state of Latvia on Saturday (Reuters/MoscowTimes)

Weeks after Russia sent thousands of troops, hundreds of tanks, and other heavy weapons to join the anti-government militias in Ukraine, Russia appears to be consolidating its gains from the invasion by arranging for a ceasefire on Friday between Ukraine's government and the anti-government militias.

The ceasefire may or may not be holding, depending on what reports you read. Apparently the strategic port of Mariupol is still under at least sporadic attack by the Russians. If the Russian troops are successful in capturing Mariupol, then then can push through and link up with Russia troops already in the peninsula of Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed in March.

There are no analysts that I heard who believe that the conflict is finally over. By means of "stealth invasion tactics," the Russian troops have leveraged local anti-government militias first to annex Crimea, and then to freeze Russian control of much of eastern and southern Ukraine, referred to by the Russians as "Novorossiya" (New Russia). Even if the current ceasefire holds for a few days, there seems little doubt that Russian troops will eventually push on to Crimea, and then on to the port of Odessa, to link up with the secessionist Transnistria province of Moldova. France 24 and Bloomberg

Russia threatens Nato with a new nuclear military doctrine

According to Mark Galeotti, an expert in Russian military and security affairs at New York University, Russia's success in invading Ukraine comes from a military doctrine called "non-linear hybrid war" -- using highly trained and well equipped troops working in unison with local militant groups to destabilize territories. He expects Russia's next military doctrine revision to "place greater emphasis on intervention forces: the thought that 1,000 to 3,000 troops in the right place and in the right political environment, as we see in Ukraine, can make a big difference."

Although Nato has indicated that it will not use military force to oppose Russian forces in Ukraine, the invasion has energized Nato enough so that Russia is also revise its military doctrine to envision nuclear war with Nato, according to Russian sources. The doctrine may list Nato not only as the primary threat to Russia, but detail the scenarios in which preemptive nuclear strikes against the alliance would be on the table. Moscow Times

Mahmoud Abbas threatens to end the 'Palestinian unity' government

A bitterly angry Palestinian Authority (PA/Fatah) president Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to terminate the "Palestinian unity agreement" that Fatah signed with Hamas on April 23. Abbas is quoted as saying:

"I don't trust Hamas much because they change their words all the time. There must be a unified Palestinian Authority. ...

You [Hamas] are smuggling weapons, explosives and money to the (West) Bank - and not to fight Israel, but to hold a coup against the (Palestinian) Authority.

Hamas has been trying to cause the Palestinian Authority to fail since the day it was formed."

During the last week we've been highlighting the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war around a growing fault line separating Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia plus PA/Fatah versus the Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey, with vitriolicly anti-American Iran increasingly aligning itself with America and the West. So it's not surprising at all that the Hamas - Fatah unity government is collapsing.

Part of the "peace agreement" that ended the Gaza war was to give the unity government control of Gaza. However, Abbas is accusing Hamas of running a "shadow government" that shuts out the unity government:

"We will not accept the situation with Hamas continuing as it is at the moment.

We won't accept a partnership with them if the situation continues like this in Gaza where there is a shadow government ... running the territory.

The national consensus [unity] government cannot do anything on the ground."

Abbas was also bitterly angry at the way Fatah members were treated during the war: "Hamas conducted atrocities during the war in Gaza, also at its end when it executed 120 people without trial because they breached the curfew placed on them."

Mahmoud Abbas, born 1935, is the last of the major Mideast leaders who lived through and survived the genocidal 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Like all survivors of generational crisis wars, he has devoted much of his life to try to make sure that nothing so horrible would happen to his children and grandchildren. As the leader of the Palestinian Authority, he is trying to find a way to prevent the new war that he senses is coming. If he fails, and he will, it will be the biggest personal failure of his lifetime. al-Jazeera and Deutsche Welle and Israel National News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Sep-14 World View -- Mahmoud Abbas threatens to end the 'Palestinian unity' government thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Sep-14 World View -- Israel preparing for 'very violent' war with Hezbollah

Ebola pandemic may mean the end of the 'Africa Rising' dream

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel preparing for 'very violent' war with Hezbollah


Screen grab from TV show showing potential Hezbollah rocket fire on Israel
Screen grab from TV show showing potential Hezbollah rocket fire on Israel

In a series of articles in the last week, we've been highlighting the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war and the effect of the rise of ISIS on Saudi Arabia as well as rise of ISIS on India. I used a Generational Dynamics analysis to outline how the Mideast is realigning itself around a growing fault line separating Israel plus Egypt plus Saudia Arabia versus the Palestinians plus Qatar plus Turkey, with vitriolicly anti-American Iran increasingly aligning itself with America and the West.

The terror group Hezbollah, which is funded and controlled by Iran, is not facing the same kind of schizophrenia that its puppetmaster Iran is experiencing. Iran's attitudes towards Israel are greatly split along generational lines, where the older generations talk about destroying Israel, and the younger generations like the West and don't have anything particular against Israel.

The same cannot be said for Lebanon's Hezbollah. I've seen no signs that there's any split at all in Hezbollah's attitude towards Israel, which is a desire for its destruction.

The new story that, just a few days after the end of the Gaza war, Israel's Defense Forces (IDF) are preparing for a "very violent" war with Hezbollah highlights the situation.

In Israel's 2006 war, Hezbollah's rockets did not reach far into Israel, and they were poorly aimed. The same was true of Hamas's rockets in the Gaza war. But today Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 rockets and missiles, many with precision guidance systems and large warheads, able to target all of Israel.

In the 2006 war, Israel targeted Lebanon's infrastructure, in order to inhibit the transportation of weapons. In a new war, Israel would target homes in villages across Lebanon from which Hezbollah is launching rockets into Israel. Israel received a great deal of international condemnation for those actions in the Gaza war, and they would be stepped up in a new war with Hezbollah. In addition, it's believed that Hezbollah has build tunnels that travel from homes in Lebanon deep into Israel, and these tunnels would be targeted.

There's a real question whether Hezbollah's puppetmaster, Iran, would hold Hezbollah back from this war. Despite anti-Zionist rhetoric, Iran has little to gain from a Hezbollah attack on Israel, and Israel could retaliate by carrying out its long-time threat to bomb Iran's nuclear installations. Times of Israel

Sierra Leone announces three-day Ebola lockdown across entire country

For the three days of September 19-21, people will be forbidden from leaving their home, in an attempt to stop the spread of Ebola. During this period 21,000 volunteers, including police and military personnel, will fan out across the nation to talk with people about how to protect themselves from the disease, as well as identify Ebola cases.

The idea is that people who are infected with Ebola will have three days to develop symptoms, and so will not then go out and accidentally infect others. Funerals have been a particularly important source of transmission, and in fact the current outbreak has been traced to a dozen individuals who attended the same funeral of an Ebola patient in Guinea in March. A dead Ebola patient is particularly infectious, and relatives touch victims during traditional funeral rites in west Africa, resulting in a rapid spread. Now, with the number of Ebola deaths surging, the number of funerals is also surging, and it's hoped that the three day lockdown, combined with education by the 21,000 volunteers, will prevent accidental transmission at funerals and by other means.

However, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors without Borders) is saying that the idea is folly. According an MSF statement:

"Large scale coercive measures like forced quarantines and lockdowns are driving people underground and jeopardizing the trust between people and health providers. This is leading to the concealment of cases and is pushing the sick away from health systems."

Objections are also being raised to the use of 21,000 volunteers, most of whom would lack the high levels of expertise required to diagnose and deal with Ebola cases. According to MSF, "It will be extremely difficult for health workers to accurately identify cases through door-to-door screenings as this requires a certain level of expertise. And when cases are identified, there will not be enough Ebola management centers to care for them." Guardian (London) and CNN

Ebola pandemic may mean the end of the 'Africa Rising' dream

After decades of war that were so brutal that Liberia's president Charles Taylor was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, West Africa finally seemed to be booming. Investment in had been booming, and the middle-class burgeoning. Democracy seemed to have taken root. The "Africa Rising" narrative seemed to be coming true.

But the Ebola pandemic has changed all that. There have been nearly 4,000 Ebola cases so far, cases are increasing exponentially and there is a potentially vulnerable population in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea in excess of 20 million. There have been over 2,000 deaths.

Health services throughout the region are completely overwhelmed. And the various lockdowns and quarantines are making matters worse. Airlines have canceled flights to and from the region, making it impossible to fly in health workers. Even simple things like rubber gloves are in short supply because transporting supplies to different regions is becoming impossible. The shortage of these supplies means that health workers are more vulnerable, and the shortage of health workers means that little can be done for Ebola patients except to just let them die.

That's true for more than just Ebola cases. This is malaria season in West Africa. A person infected with malaria will be afraid to go to a hospital filled with Ebola victims, and health workers will be afraid to treat the malaria victim, who might have Ebola instead. So malaria victims will just be permitted to die, like Ebola victims. Even women just giving birth may die for lack of medical care.

The economic consequences are severe. The epidemic is causing labor shortages that are endangering harvests and pushing up food prices.

Ebola was first encountered in 1976, named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), where the first known outbreak occurred. That outbreak, and outbreaks since then, have all occurred in small villages and rural areas, where health workers were able to contain them quickly. The world has had no experience dealing with an Ebola outbreak in large, crowded cities.

The fear is growing that this Ebola outbreak will never be contained, and that it will just have to run its course, until every person in West Africa is exposed, and either dies or doesn't die as a result. The fear is also growing that the epidemic will spread to other countries, in some cases with the same result. Independent (South Africa) and BBC and Economist

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Sep-14 World View -- Israel preparing for 'very violent' war with Hezbollah thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Sep-14 World View -- Debka: ISIS is targeting the Euphrates and Tigris river basins in Iraq

India to release 250,000 prisoners awaiting trial

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

BBC's great event 'problems of the world' ignores China


A man with a sign saying THE END IS AT HAND talks to the crowd at Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London on 11 June 1972 (BBC)
A man with a sign saying THE END IS AT HAND talks to the crowd at Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London on 11 June 1972 (BBC)

With the world as fragile as it is, some people are suggesting that 2014 could be a pivotal year when some "great event" might occur that would determine whether the 21st century would bring peace and prosperity or war and poverty.

The BBC has posted a summary of the major crises of the world. In brief, here's their list:

No mention of China, its continuing annexation of territories belonging to other countries, and its massive preparation of missiles systems with no other purpose than a pre-emptive attack on the United States. BBC

India to release 250,000 prisoners awaiting trial

India's Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of about 250,000 prisoners who have been in jail sometimes for years, but who haven't had trials because the courts are overcrowded. These "undertrial" prisoners make up some two-thirds of the country's four million prisoners. The court order will apply to prisoners who have been awaiting trials, and who have already served at least half of the maximum sentence that they would receive if they ever reached trial. Calcutta Telegraph and AFP

Debka: ISIS is targeting the Euphrates and Tigris river basins in Iraq


Map of ISIS advances in Iraq (Debka)
Map of ISIS advances in Iraq (Debka)

According to a detailed analysis in Debka's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is highly contemptuous of the U.S. bombing raids on ISIS, because they pose no real military threat. Instead of targeting main ISIS centers and bases, they target scattered armored vehicles and isolated positions. In fact, U.S. air activity in Iraq is diminishing by stages, while ISIS strengthens its grip on captured locations in Iraq.

According to this analysis, while the U.S. is bombing unimportant targets, the ISIS advance will travel along two paths simultaneously, along the Euphrates and Tigris river basins respectively, and link up in Mahmudiya, where the two rivers run in closest proximity. Ths would give ISIS a dominant military position over the Shiite provinces south of Baghdad and in relation to Saudi Arabia to the south and Jordan and Israel to the west. If successful, this would connect ISIS's northern Syria and western Iraqi strongholds -- the cradle of civilization -- without having run into a single Iraqi or Kurdish soldier to impede their progress – or being bombed by U.S. warplanes. Debka

Full text of Ayman al-Zawahiri message

In yesterday's World View column, ISIS and al-Qaeda in a generational struggle for India, I posted a couple of paragraphs from the statement by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The full statement can be found here (PDF)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Sep-14 World View -- Debka: ISIS is targeting the Euphrates and Tigris river basins in Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS and al-Qaeda in a generational struggle for India

China to increase harassment of U.S. surveillance planes

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS and Mideast realignment energize Islamic terrorism in India


Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during Mumbai's 26/11 terrorist attack in 2008
Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during Mumbai's 26/11 terrorist attack in 2008

In the past few days, we're discussed the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war and the effect of ISIS on the Mideast realignment. However, the meteoric rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is firing the excitement and imagination of young Muslim men around that world, giving ISIS an effect that goes well beyond the Mideast.

Islam has grown organically within India, unlike other countries, and has over centuries evolved elaborate cultures of accommodation with Hinduism and other faiths. India's last generational crisis wars -- the 1947 Partition war between Western India and Pakistan, and the 1971 crisis war between Eastern India and Bangladesh (East Pakistan) -- were both particularly bloody, and pitted Hindus against Muslims, leaving even the Muslim survivors living in India with little desire for more violence through terrorist attacks. What Islamic terrorism has occurred has mostly come from external sources, namely terrorist militias in Pakistan, often funded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Agency.

But now two important developments, both attributable to the rise of ISIS, indicate that internal forms of Islamic terrorism are likely to increase in India.

First, ISIS is directly energizing Islamic terrorism in India. Estimates vary from several dozen to several hundred of the number of Indians that have gone to the Mideast and are suspected of having joined ISIS. A breakaway faction of the Indian Mujahiddeen has declared its intention to fly the ISIS flag over South Asia. And the formerly moderate India militia Jamaat-e-Islami recently issued a statement:

"It is very necessary to welcome the announcement of the establishment of Islamic Caliphate by the ISIS because Islamic caliphate is the aspiration of every Muslim and there has never been a disagreement on the issue among the Muslims in any period of history."

An unknown is what effect ISIS is having on the Pakistan, and ISI's funding of anti-India militias, particularly in Kashmir and Jammu. ISIS may energize ISI as well to increase funding to homegrown Indian jihadist groups like Indian Mujhideen, or to encourage these jihadist groups to enter the ISIS fold. South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and One India

ISIS and al-Qaeda have generational struggle, and the prize is India

The second new development attributable to ISIS is that al-Qaeda has apparently been energized to take a new look at establishing a branch in India.

The rise of ISIS has led to a generational split within the global jihadist community. When ISIS's young leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself a new "caliph," and demanded that the entire Muslim world bow down to him, the response has been sporadic. While young Muslims may be drawn to the thrill of decapitating Western journalists, older jihadists are tied by loyalty oaths to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and are even more repulsed by the ISIS's recent massacre of hundreds of Sunni tribesmen in Syria. Others simply question the religious legitimacy of al-Baghdadi's self-anointed caliphate.

So, some people see al-Zawahiri's new message as opportunistic, and others see it as desperate. His statement emerged in a video late on Wednesday:

"A new branch of al-Qaeda was established and is Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian subcontinent, seeking to raise the flag of jihad, return the Islamic rule, and empowering the Shariah of Allah across the Indian subcontinent. [It will defend the] vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent, in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, and Kashmir [and] your brothers in Qaedat al-Jihad did not forget you and that they are doing what they can to rescue you from injustice, oppression, persecution, and suffering.

This entity was not established today, but it is the fruit of a blessed effort for more than two years to gather the mujahideen in the Indian subcontinent into a single entity to be with the main group, Qaedat al-Jihad, from the soldiers of the Islamic Emirate and its triumphant emir, Allah permitting, Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid.

It is an entity that was formed to promulgate the call of the reviving Imam Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may Allah have mercy on him, to call the Ummah to unite round the word of Tawhid (monotheism), to wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, to restore its sovereignty, and to revive its Caliphate."

The leader of the new group, Umar, said in an audio recording released with the video, that Jews and Hindus, whom he referred to as "apostates of India", "will watch your destruction by your own eyes." Fighters will "storm your barricades with cars packed with gunpowder," Umar said, decrying what he called the region's "injustice toward Muslims."

Whether the old geezers at al-Qaeda can attract young Muslims in India is far from clear. The realignment of the Mideast goes far beyond the Mideast, and it seems likely that ISIS will be more successful in India than al-Qaeda will. Pune Mirror (India) and Foreign Policy

China to increase harassment of U.S. surveillance planes

As we recently reported, a Chinese jet fighter made several passes as close as 30 feet to a U.S. surveillance plane in international waters. The incident is reminiscent of an April 2001 encounter, when a Chinese F-8 interceptor crashed into a U.S. surveillance aircraft off the southern China coast. The Chinese aircraft crashed into the sea, and its crew was killed. The U.S. plane made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, and its 24 crew members were imprisoned for 10 days.

It's been assumed that these were the acts of rogue Chinese pilots, but now it appears that they were ordered from above, and that the harassment is likely to become even more aggressive and dangerous. According to China's Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong:

"We didn't give them enough pressure (before). A knife at the throat is the only deterrence. From now on, we must fly even closer to U.S. surveillance aircraft."

It's believed that China is trying to prevent the U.S. from learning anything about their submarine fleet. China is continuing to build submarines capable of launching nuclear missiles with a range of over 4,000 nautical miles, and already has 70 such submarines. China has been for years on an aggressive program to develop as much military capability as possible, including a variety of missiles with no other purpose than to target American cities, aircraft carriers, and military bases. The submarine fleet would permit China to launch simultaneous nuclear attacks on hundreds of cities across the United States. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS and al-Qaeda in a generational struggle for India thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS and Saudi Arabia in the Mideast realignment

ISIS and the resurgence of Saudi Wahhabism

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi Arabia cracks down on terrorists linked to ISIS


ISIS terrorists marching, carrying the ISIS black flag (AP)
ISIS terrorists marching, carrying the ISIS black flag (AP)

In yesterday's posting ( "3-Sep-14 World View -- Mideast realignment continues following the Gaza war"), I used a Generational Dynamics analysis to outline how the Mideast is realigning itself around a growing fault line separating Israel plus Egypt plus Saudia Arabia versus the Palestinians plus Qatar plus Turkey, with vitriolicly anti-American Iran increasingly aligning itself with America and the West. More needs to be said about the rise Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), and its place in the Mideast realignment.

It probably wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say that leaders in Saudi Arabia are becoming panicky about the rise of ISIS. It's estimated that 2,500 Saudis have joined ISIS, a number surpassed among Arab nations only by Tunisia, with 3,000. Saudi media are reporting almost daily on the discovery of signs of support for Isis – most recently in slogans scrawled on the walls of schools in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital city. It's believed that ISIS has received funding from Saudi sponsors in the past, fighting Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and Saudi Arabia itself is split between supporters and non-supporters of ISIS.

However, the Saudi government has been very publicly and very firmly cracking down on ISIS recently. Last week, the Saudis announced the arrest of 88 people, days after an imam was jailed for glorifying al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Saudi Arabia's King, Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is becoming increasingly exuberant in warning the West about ISIS. In a statement at a recent gathering, he warned about the "evil" of terrorism:

"If we ignore them [terrorists], I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month. Terrorist knows no borders and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East."

In the continuing realignment of the Middle East, it seems increasingly likely that ISIS will play an important part. The conundrum is that ISIS is a bitter enemy of Iran, but it's also an enemy of the Saudi Arabian government. Whether the solution to the conundrum will be a war within Saudi Arabia itself remains to be seen. Asharq Al-Awsat (Riyadh) and Guardian (London) and Canadian Broadcasting

ISIS and the resurgence of Saudi Wahhabism

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Saudi Arabia is part of an interesting group of countries -- countries that, like Mexico, Morocco, Turkey and Russia, had a generational crisis war in the 1920s, but none since.

Saudi Arabia's last generational crisis war occurred in the 1920s between the Al Sauds tribes and the Wahhabi tribes. The two groups had (have) different interpretations of Islam, and Wahhabism may be thought of as a separate branch of Sunni Islam, following an austere interpretation (many Muslim scholars would say "misinterpretation") of the Koran. The more moderate Al Sauds defeated Wahhabi tribesmen in the 1920s and transformed Wahhabism into a socially conservative pillar of support for what soon became the country of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

However, the fault line between the Al Sauds and the Wahhabis never disappeared, and it's not surprising that violence along this fault line began to increase three generations later in the late 1970s, particularly with the Wahhabi seizure of the Grand Mosque at Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.

There's little doubt that either this revolt or some subsequent revolt would have led to a full-fledged renewal of the war between the Al Sauds and the Wahhabis by now, if it weren't for Saudi Arabia's oil wealth, which permits it to spend large amounts of money to head off discontent.

ISIS's leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, has deliberately and intentionally adopted the Wahhabi doctrine as his own, according to Saudi scholar Fouad Ibrahim:

"Through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion -- one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively."

In the past, when violence was threatened against Saudi Arabia's leadership, it was almost always completely internal violence. ISIS is a much more serious threat to Saudi Arabia, because it's an EXTERNAL threat. And since ISIS already has plenty of wealth, Saudi Arabia cannot buy off ISIS with oil money. S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and Guardian (London) and Huffington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS and Saudi Arabia in the Mideast realignment thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Sep-14 World View -- Mideast realignment continues following the Gaza war

Doctors Without Borders: We're losing the battle against Ebola

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

1950s FBI trained Alaskans to prepare for a Soviet invasion


Nome, Alaska (Reuters)
Nome, Alaska (Reuters)

Declassified documents reveal that in the 1950s the FBI trained Alaskan residents to become agents behind enemy lines if the Soviets invaded. The US government feared that the Soviet Union was planning an intervention and occupation of Alaska. The US military believed that the Soviet invasion would be airborne, with bombing preceding dropping of paratroopers to Alaska's major inhabited localities, namely Anchorage, Fairbanks, Nome and Seward. Russia Today and Proposed Plan for Intelligence Coverage in Alaska in the Event of an Invasion (FBI, 1954) (PDF)

Egypt, Saudis, Palestinian Authority develop a new 'peace initiative'

In the wake of the Gaza war, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, and officials from other Arab nations are developing an initiative to bring peace to the Mideast by "ending the occupation" within a "definite timetable."

The initiative comprises three phases:

According to an Egyptian government editorial:

"This is a unique juncture, and with the steady [worsening] of the situation in Gaza and Israel's war crimes against the Palestinian people, we can no longer content ourselves with trying to find [temporary] arrangements while being certain that the conflict will erupt again. Like President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi stressed, there is a real chance to end the Gaza crisis and solve the Palestinian problem... The international community should not pass up this chance, which was born of the ruin, destruction, killing, and violent battles. The parties to the conflict must sympathize with the suffering of their peoples and make brave choices for peace... If this chance, as well as Egypt's support for the efforts [to attain] a permanent solution to the Palestinian problem, are not utilized, then all signs indicate that the future will be worse. If there is no just and real peace, the alternative is extremism and terrorism at the hands of ISIS and its ilk. Israel is not distant from the rest of the world, and therefore terrorism will not only target it, but the rest of the world as well, starting with Europe and America."

Memri

Poll shows that Hamas's popularity surged after Gaza war

A new poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) shows that the Gaza war was an enormous political victory for Hamas, with a great increase in its popularity and support for its approach to armed resistance. At the same time, there was a major decline in the popularity of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas. Similar changes occurred in previous wars between Hamas and Israel, but this time the changes in popularity were unprecedented in size.

According to the poll findings:

The logic of this poll is that it clearly contradicts the intention of the new "peace initiative" by Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and the Saudis, as described above. According to the PCPSR, Hamas's renewed popularity "might be temporary and things might revert in the next several months to where they were before the war."

The clear implication of this is that there will be another war in the "next several months," because Hamas is going to want to maintain its popularity and remain in power. Hamas has absolutely no motivation whatsoever to accede to a "peace agreement," and all Hamas has to do to start a new war with Israel is to launch a few rockets. Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research

The continuing realignment of the Mideast

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal was quoted as saying that "only peace will ensure Israel's endurance as a state."

He's right about that, but the problem is that there isn't going to be peace. As I wrote in May, 2003, and repeated dozens of time since then, there will be a major new war between Jews and Arabs, re-fighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

Writing about this new peace initiative by Egypt, the PA and Saudi Arabia almost gives me a headache because we've gone down this road so many times before. It's suggestive of that old joke defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes.

One thing that's becoming increasingly clear, however, is that it's not going to be a war between Jews and ALL Arabs. The fault line between Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia versus the Palestinians plus Qatar plus (non-Arab) Turkey is becoming wider every day. This indicates that the Israelis will have allies among the Arabs, and that Arabs will be fighting each other, as well as the Israelis.

The rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) could not have been predicted, but what was predicted was the war outlined above, and that the Syria civil war would end. This has happened in a remarkable way, as the Syria civil war has long since morphed into a proxy war involving Syria, various al-Qaeda militias, ISIS, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and soon the U.S. It's my personal opinion that the "Nation of IS" will not last as long as many people fear or expect, but at the very least we can expect to see ISIS subsumed into the larger regional war, almost certainly on the side of the Palestinians and Qatar.

I've left Iran mostly out of the above discussion because it continues its schizophrenic path. Several long-time readers have written to me recently saying that they never believed that Iran would become our ally, as I've predicted many times in the last ten years, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, and now they're totally astonished to see this prediction come true right before our eyes.

In fact, even the editors of the New York Times appear to be completely astonished by this development, as indicated in this article:

"The fight in northern Iraq appeared to be the first time U.S. warplanes and militias backed by Iran had worked with a common purpose on a battlefield against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, even though the Obama administration said there was no direct coordination with the militias.

Should such military actions continue, they could mark a dramatic shift for the United States and Iran, which have long vied for control in Iraq. They could also align the interests of the Americans with their longtime sworn enemies in the Shiite militias, whose fighters killed many U.S. soldiers during the long occupation of Iraq. ...

[In] a worst case scenario, more Sunnis could align with ISIS fighters."

This realignment, which was predicted by Generational Dynamics, is how the Mideast is going.

Iran, which is in a generational Awakening era, with one generation having passed since the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and the Iran/Iraq war, is pursuing a schizophrenic policy characterized by a major generational split between the Revolution survivors, who can't shake off their old policies and are still fighting the last war, versus the younger generations who grew up afterwards, who like the West, and don't particularly dislike Israel. Right now the old geezers are still setting national policy, but when forced to choose, the younger generations will win out, and they will be aligned with the West. New York Times

Obama orders 350 more troops into Iraq

President Obama has ordered 350 additional troops into Iraq, "to provide the necessary security for U.S. personnel and facilities." The administration has authorized 775 troops since mid-June, so this new order brings the total up to 1,125. The order came a few hours after ISIS published another video on Tuesday showing the group had beheaded another American journalist, freelancer Steven Joel Sotloff. The Hill

Doctors Without Borders: We're losing the battle against Ebola

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors without Borders) has treated more than 1,000 Ebola patients in West Africa since March, and is completely overwhelmed. According to MSF president Joanne Liu:

"Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it. Ebola treatment centers are reduced to places where people go to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered."

She says that infectious bodies are rotting in the street, and that Liberia had to build a new crematorium instead of new Ebola care centers. AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Sep-14 World View -- Mideast realignment continues following the Gaza war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Sep-14 World View -- India, Japan leaders meet to counter rise of China

Russian lawyers: 'Stealth invasion' of Ukraine is legal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's David Cameron announces new anti-terrorism measures


David Cameron in House of Commons (Reuters)
David Cameron in House of Commons (Reuters)

Having raised UK's terror threat level last week to "severe," meaning that a terrorist attack is "highly likely," but not necessarily imminent, Britain's prime minister David Cameron on Monday announced a new set of anti-terrorism measures.

The new measures are targeting a specific issue: Would-be jihadists going to Syria to join the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) for training, and them coming back to the UK to use those skills in terrorist attacks. According to published statistics, approximately 500 British citizens have traveled to fight in Syria, and 200 of them have already returned home.

The first measure pertains to suspected citizens traveling abroad. It will give police the power to temporarily confiscate a passport, in order to prevent the suspect from leaving the country.

The second measure applies when a suspected citizen returns. Police will have the power to exclude British citizen suspects from reentering the country. If the citizen is allowed into the country, the legislation will give police new powers to track suspected jihadists and to take advantage of "enhanced relocation powers." Suspected terrorists will required to undergo "de-radicalization programs."

Consideration was given to the power to revoke a suspect's UK citizenship, but unless the suspect had a dual citizenship, such a power would leave the subject stateless, in violation of international law.

In addition, airlines will be forced to hand over more information about passengers travelling to and from conflict zones. BBC and CNN

Russian lawyers: 'Stealth invasion' of Ukraine is legal

Russia's government is hearing complaints from the liberal media to explain why a group of Russian paratroopers, captured by the Ukrainian army, were deployed to Ukraine by Russia's president Vladimir Putin without authorization of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia's parliament.

Soldiers' mothers are complaining loudly that their sons are coming home from Ukraine as "cargo 200" -- as dead servicemen shipped home are referred to in Russia, based on the standard weight of a coffin -- without telling their families that they were deployed to Ukraine in the first place.

However, apparently Putin can do pretty much anything he wants under Russian law, thanks to a "universal mandate" that the Federation Council issued to the president in 2009, allowing him to invade any other country without further approval.

About 190,000 members of the 760,000-strong Russian army are "volunteers," serving upon their own volition. They earn 18,000 rubles ($500) per month, a huge sum by Russian standards. They can be ordered into combat in Ukraine or anywhere else at any time, and there isn't even a contractual requirement that relatives be notified if volunteers are killed in the line of duty.

The Russian government is disavowing soldiers who are being killed in Ukraine, according to Russian activists. Numerous reporters, both Western and Russian, have investigated what appear to be freshly dug, unmarked graves of soldiers. All online accounts of the men who were buried there have been removed from the Internet, as have photos of the soldiers that their families placed on their graves. When Russian journalists traveled there, the BBC reported that men told them they would "never be found" unless they left.

But for Putin, it's all perfectly legal. Moscow Times and Washington Post and Telegraph (London)

India, Japan leaders meet to counter rise of China

India's prime minister Narendra Modi met with Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Monday, supposedly to improve economic ties, but it was clear that the threats posed by China were high on the agenda. Their joint statement said, "The two prime ministers reaffirmed the importance of defense relations between Japan and India in their strategic partnership and decided to upgrade and strengthen them."

Abe and Modi agreed to hold regular joint naval exercises with the United States, and to increase Japanese military exports to India. This agreement was particularly significant in view of Abe's recent reinterpretation of Japan's pacifist constitution, which permits military action only for Japan's self-defense. Abe has reinterpreted this to mean "collective self-defense." I discussed this issue in detail recently in "5-May-14 World View -- Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan".

This reinterpretation of the constitution will permit the armed forces to use the military to defend allies, such as the United States or India, even if the ally is being attack but Japan is not. It will also permit the Japan to rescue Japanese civilians in remote locations.

According to a Defense Ministry statement on Monday:

"The recent approval of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense means that it could become possible, depending on the situation, for the MSDF [Maritime Self-Defense Force] and the Indian Navy to jointly patrol the sea lanes."

In a press conference, Modi took a swipe at China:

"The 18th century situation of expansionism is now visible. Such expansionism would never benefit humanity in the 21st century. ...

The world knows the 21st century is Asia's century. But its shape and quality are not yet clear. This will be decided by how Japan and India work together. I think our relationship is moving to a new level."

Australian and Reuters and Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Sep-14 World View -- India, Japan leaders meet to counter rise of China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Sep-14 World View -- Israel infuriates Palestinians by claiming West Bank land for settlements

Pakistan's army issues a veiled threat to politicians

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukrainian naval vessel attack from shore by anti-government militias


Gloating Vladimir Putin calls for 'statehood' for eastern Ukraine (AP)
Gloating Vladimir Putin calls for 'statehood' for eastern Ukraine (AP)

Anti-government militias in eastern Ukraine, supported by thousands of Russian soldiers (supposedly "on vacation"), along with Russian weapons and armor, fired from the shore on a Ukrainian ship off the coast of Mariupol, in the Sea of Azov, damaging it. The Russian militia leader Igor Strelkov bragged, "The militia have dealt the enemy their first naval defeat." Strelkov is the same Russian leader who bragged about shooting down the Malaysian Airlines passenger plane with a Russian-supplied Buk missile system, before he realized it wasn't a warplane.

Ukrainian forces in the port city of Mariupol continue to brace themselves for an expected full-scale attack by Russian forces on the city. It's feared that Russian troops will join with troops already in Crimea, continue all the way to Odessa, and connect with separatist Moldovans in Transnistria in eastern Moldova.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin continued his pattern of threatening statements by demanding on Sunday that "Novorossia" be granted statehood. Novorossia is the anti-Ukraine word for eastern and southern Ukraine. On Friday, Putin said, "[I]t's best not to mess with us. ... I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers."

The Russian invasion and threats come as European leaders are in Brussels commemorating the 75th anniversary of Hitler's invasion of Poland. According to Britain's prime minister David Cameron, ""We know from European history the danger of the territorial integrity of a nation state being threatened and undermined in this way." VOA and Moscow Times and Reuters

Pakistan's army issues a veiled threat to politicians

Pakistan's opposition party politician Imran Khan, the former cricket superstar turned anti-American politician, called for continued riots and demonstrations, as did Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, another opposition party politician. But after a violent Saturday evening, when hundreds were injured, Sunday's protests were relatively quiet and non-violent, although many Islooites (residents of Islamabad) stayed indoor for fear of their safety. The objective of the riots is to force the resignation of prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who won a landslide election last year in May.

There is increasing fear that the army is planning to take control of the government through a coup. There was an emergency meeting of army commanders on Sunday afternoon. The army issued a statement after the meeting affirming their support for democracy, but indicating that they wouldn't tolerate anything that risks the security of the state:

"While reaffirming support to democracy, the conference reviewed with serious concern, the existing political crisis and the violent turn it has taken, resulting in large scale injuries and loss of lives. Further use of force will only aggravate the problem.

It was once again reiterated that the situation should be resolved politically without wasting any time and without recourse to violent means.

Army remains committed to playing its part in ensuring security of the state and will never fall short of meeting national aspirations."

Imran Khan and Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri are widely believed to have overreached themselves, but many feel that the government and the army have also acted poorly. The News (Pakistan) and Guardian (London) and BBC and Pakistan Inter-Services Public Relations

Israel infuriates Palestinians by claiming West Bank land for settlements

Israel is changing the status of 400 hectares of West Bank land so that it will be eligible for building Jewish settler homes. The land had previously been listed as survey land, a designation that prevented settlement building. The action infuriated officials in the Palestinian Authority. Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said:

"The Israeli government is committing various crimes against the Palestinian people and their occupied land. The international community should hold Israel accountable as soon as possible for its crimes and raids against our people in Gaza and the ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem."

Jerusalem Post and Deutsche Welle

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Sep-14 World View -- Israel infuriates Palestinians by claiming West Bank land for settlements thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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