News 10.16.2017

News 10.16.2017

“That Russia is an antagonist is now widely accepted, and it is trivially true that Moscow’s nuclear arsenal (with or without the help of China) could lay waste to the U.S. But outgunning us? Russia spends a fraction of what the U.S. spends on its military establishment (some 14 percent of what we spend, in fact) and so must pick and choose what weapons it will develop. The result is that the Russian Federation continues technological advances in some weapons systems, but lacks significant technological depth elsewhere. During its 2015 May Day military parade, Russia showed off its new state-of-the-art T-14 main battle tank, complete with a new-fangled APS (active protection system) designed to defeat anti-armor weapons. Onlookers ogled the tank, oohing and ahhing at its shiny exterior, its impressive armament. But then, just as it was about to exit Red Square it broke down—and had to be towed. Is Russia a threat? Sure, it’s a threat. But Russia has many of the same problems now that it had at the end of the Cold War. It ranks 53rd in per capita GDP—just behind Panama.”

 

The Dark History of Fear, Inc.
By MARK PERRY • October 6, 2017

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News 10.12.2017

News 10.12.2017

OJ SNL Skit
link_https://youtu.be/V5PzDHbAtO4

link_https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/nyregion/bronx-heroin-fentanyl-opioid-overdoses.html

link_https://youtu.be/aFYsJYPye94

link_https://youtu.be/G-dErhKDXq8

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Thursday, Oct 12,  2017

Trump attacks press freedom, says it is ‘disgusting’ media can write freely President Trump attacked the free press Wednesday, telling reporters that “it is frankly disgusting that the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.” The comments followed Trump’s tweets Wednesday morning, which reacted to an NBC News story that claimed the president had called for the nuclear arsenal to be increased “tenfold.” “With all of the fake news coming out of NBC and the networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license?” Trump asked. When pressed in the afternoon about whether there should be limits on the media, Trump said “no,” but added that reporters should write “more honestly.” Citing no evidence, Trump said: “When they make up stories like that, it’s just made up … They make up sources.” Source: Bloomberg News

 Wednesday,  Oct 11, 2017

Three suicide bombers attack a police command center in Damascus, killing two people and injuring six others. (Reuters)

Last year a hacker stole non-classified information about Australia’s Joint Strike Fighter program and other military hardware after breaching the network of a defense contractor. (Reuters)

The Peruvian Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Administration through the Ministry of Justice appoints a new head to the Direction of Presidential Graces, which is believed to be a first step towards granting a pardon to 79-year-old former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), although the president Kuczynski has denied it. In April 2009, a three-judge panel had sentenced Fujimori for acts of corruption, Human Rights violations, and various others crimes. Fujimori, who has been in jail since 2007 and whose health has deteriorated, including alleged tongue cancer, has applied for a pardon unsuccessfully on two occasions. (RPP Noticias)(El Comercio)(Diario Correo)

Nature publishes research from The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia at the Glorieta de la Astronomía of Granada, Spain, describing the discovery that a ring system orbits the dwarf planet, trans-Neptunian object, Haumea. (The Verge)(Nature)

SpaceX launches a Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to supersynchronous orbit an Airbus-built communications satellite for Luxembourg-based SES and U.S.-headquartered EchoStar. (Space Flight Now)

 

Confusion lingers about Las Vegas shooter’s timeline MGM Resorts International, the parent company of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, released a statement Tuesday night disputing the latest police timeline of the Oct. 1 mass shooting targeting the Route 91 Harvest Festival. MGM Resorts spokeswoman Debra DeShong said her company “cannot be certain about the most recent timeline that has been communicated publicly, and we believe what is currently being expressed may not be accurate.” On Monday, Sheriff Joe Lombardo said a Mandalay Bay security guard was shot before Stephen Paddock fired down at the music festival, not after, and that Paddock checked in on Sept. 25, not Sept. 28. Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Boy Scouts to begin admitting girls in 2018  A program for older girls will roll out in 2019, allowing them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout for the first time in its 107-year history. “This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values,” said the BSA’s chief scout executive, Michael Surbaugh. “The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave, reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women.” Cub Scout units, or “dens,” will be single-gender. A similar organization, Girl Scouts, has so far resisted allowing boys to join due to the desire to nurture an environment specifically to promote female leaders. Source: NBC News, ABC News

Tuesday,   Oct 10, 2017

A South Korean lawmaker claims that in 2016, North Korean hackers stole classified military documents detailing joint operations between the South Korean and United States military forces in the event of war with North Korea. (The Financial Times)

Multinational U.S. conglomerate Honeywell announces plans to spinoff its Homes, ADI Global Distribution, and Transportation Systems businesses into two separate, publicly-traded companies by the end of 2018. (PR Newswire)

U.S. President Donald Trump declares the 17 Northern California wildfires a major disaster. The fires have destroyed 180 square miles in California’s wine country where mass evacuations are underway. The fires have killed at least 15 people with more than 150 others missing and at least 2,000 homes and businesses destroyed. (NBC)

A Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 crashes at the Khmeimim air base in Latakia province in northwestern Syria, killing the two crewmen. (i24 News) (RT)

According to The Guardian, the September disclosed hack attack at United Kingdom accounting firm Deloitte compromised a server with emails of some 350 clients, including U.S. government agencies and large corporations. Deloitte disputes the story, saying “very few” clients were affected. (Reuters)

U.S.-based credit reporting agency Equifax discloses that 15.2 million United Kingdom records were compromised in its May–July 2017 data breach. (Reuters)

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, on behalf of the Presidency of Donald Trump, announces that it will roll back clean energy regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, imposed under the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.  (The New York Times)

President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont gives a speech regarding independence from Spain where he proposes to suspend the effect of the independence declaration in order to hold talks with Madrid. (The Guardian)

The United States men’s national soccer team loses 2–1 to Trinidad and Tobago, thus being eliminated from making it to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This is the first time the U.S. will miss the tournament since the 1986 iteration. (ESPN)

Monday,  Oct 9, 2017

Japan’s third-biggest steelmaker, Kobe Steel, admits to falsification of product data. About four percent of the aluminum and copper products that it shipped from September 2016 to August 2017 were falsely labeled as meeting the specifications requested by 200 customers, including Toyota Motor Corp, Central Japan Railway Company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mazda Motor Corp, and Subaru Corp. (Reuters)

The presiding judge Šaban Maksumić of the Sarajevo, Bosnian war crimes court acquits former Bosnian military officer Naser Orić of the charge of killing three Bosnian Serb prisoners of war during the Bosnian War. In July 2008, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Netherlands acquitted Orić for failing to prevent the deaths of five Bosnian Serb detainees and the mistreatment of eleven other detainees from late 1992 to early 1993. (Reuters)

Iceland qualifies for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after defeating Kosovo 2–0 to win UEFA Group I, becoming the smallest nation by population to qualify for a FIFA World Cup. (The Guardian)

 

2017 Sunday,  Oct 8, 2017

 

The U.S. Mission in Turkey suspends all non-immigration visa services in the country citing security concerns. (Reuters)

In a reciprocal action of retaliation, the Turkish mission in the United States suspends all non-immigration visa services in the country, via a reversed-role copy of the U.S. statement. (Reuters)

The Turkish lira (TRY) falls 3.2% intraday on worries for tourism in Turkey. (Bloomberg)

At least 350,000 people attend a rally in Barcelona to oppose Catalan independence. (BBC)

Saturday,  Oct 7, 2017

A Saudi national opens fire at the Al-Salam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, killing two guards and injuring three others. Security guards shoot and kill the gunman. (Arab News)(BBC)

The Federal Communications Commission approves Google’s plan to restore some cell phone service in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico with Project Loon balloons. (The Telegraph)

Since August 1, another round of pneumonic, bubonic, and septicemic plague spreads in Madagascar, killing at least 45 people. (The Washington Post)(Relief Web)

Russian police arrest 290 protesters calling on President Vladimir Putin to resign. (Reuters)

Friday,  Oct 6, 2017

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Russian airstrikes kill at least 14 civilians, including three children, as they cross the Euphrates river near the ISIL-held city of Mayadin in eastern Syria while fleeing the village of Mahkan. (TRT World)

Jaysh al-Islam Islamist rebels launch a successful counter-attack in the East Ghouta region of rural Damascus, targeting the points they lost to the Syrian government over the course of seven days near the town of Hawsh Dawahra, and recovering all of the lost territories. (Al Masdar News)

U.S. film producer Harvey Weinstein (including Pulp FictionClerksThe Crying Game, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape) answers allegations made by the New York Times that he had settled eight sexual harassment claims made over three decades. Multiple Democratic recipients of Weinstein’s political donations give the funds to women’s charities. (Reuters)

Spain’s third largest bank, CaixaBank, announces it is moving its legal base out of Catalonia to Valencia. This follows a similar move yesterday by Catalan banking group Banco Sabadell who announced they are moving their headquarters to Alicante in response to growing political insecurity in Catalonia. (The Guardian)

Unnamed White House officials believe White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly’s personal cellphone was hacked, possibly since December 2016. Kelly was Secretary of Homeland Security from January 20 to July 31, 2017, when he moved to his current position. (Reuters)

Thursday, Oct 5,  2017

The Iraqi Army fully retakes the city of Hawija in the Kirkuk Governorate from ISIL. Fighting continues to the north and east of the city as Iraqi troops continue anti-ISIL operations in the Hawija District. (The Guardian)

Energy infrastructure firm TransCanada abandons two Canadian pipeline projects. (BBC)

King Salman of Saudi Arabia visits Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Moscow Kremlin. They discuss oil prices and the Syrian Civil War. (Reuters)

Alleged Russian government-backed hackers stole highly classified U.S. cyber secrets in 2015 from the National Security Agency after a contractor put information on his home computer. The entrance to the computer was speculated to have possibly been through an installed Kaspersky Lab antivirus. U.S. rules governing federal computers now ban installation of Kaspersky Lab software. (Reuters)

3 Green Berets killed in Niger Three U.S. Army special operations commandos were killed Wednesday after they were ambushed in southwest Niger, U.S. officials said. Two others were wounded, and are in stable condition. The officials told The Associated Press the commandos were Green Berets, and likely came under fire by militants from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. U.S. Africa Command said in a statement the commandos were near the Mali border, on a joint U.S. and Nigerien patrol, when they were attacked. The Green Berets are training Nigerien Armed Forces and offering security assistance as they fight extremists. Source: The Associated Press

Tillerson downplays reports he called Trump a ‘moron,’ wanted to quit Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to defuse rumors that he is unhappy in the Trump administration on Wednesday, after reports surfaced that he called President Trump a “moron” in a private Pentagon meeting over the summer. “My commitment to the success of our president and our country is as strong as it was on the day I accepted his offer,” he said, dismissing the “moron” rumor as “petty nonsense.” NBC News reported Tillerson threatened to quit over the summer after Trump gave a campaign-style speech to the Boy Scouts, and tensions flared again last weekend when Trump tweeted that Tillerson should stop trying to use diplomacy on North Korea. A State Department spokeswoman denied Tillerson ever called the president a “moron.” Source: Fox News, The Week

END

News 10.05.2017

Thursday, Oct. 5th,  2017

Tillerson downplays reports he called Trump a ‘moron,’ wanted to quit Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to defuse rumors that he is unhappy in the Trump administration on Wednesday, after reports surfaced that he called President Trump a “moron” in a private Pentagon meeting over the summer. “My commitment to the success of our president and our country is as strong as it was on the day I accepted his offer,” he said, dismissing the “moron” rumor as “petty nonsense.” NBC News reported Tillerson threatened to quit over the summer after Trump gave a campaign-style speech to the Boy Scouts, and tensions flared again last weekend when Trump tweeted that Tillerson should stop trying to use diplomacy on North Korea. A State Department spokeswoman denied Tillerson ever called the president a “moron.” Source: Fox News

Wednesday,  Oct. 4th, 2017

 The Iraqi Army and allied paramilitary fighters storm the ISIL-held city of Hawija in the Kirkuk Governorate. Hawija is one of the last remaining ISIL strongholds in Iraq. (BBC)

 

3 Green Berets killed in Niger Three U.S. Army special operations commandos were killed Wednesday after they were ambushed in southwest Niger, U.S. officials said. Two others were wounded, and are in stable condition. The officials told The Associated Press the commandos were Green Berets, and likely came under fire by militants from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. U.S. Africa Command said in a statement the commandos were near the Mali border, on a joint U.S. and Nigerien patrol, when they were attacked. The Green Berets are training Nigerien Armed Forces and offering security assistance as they fight extremists. Source: The Associated Press

An apparent ambush in Niger near the Malian border leaves three U.S. Special Forces soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers dead during a joint patrol.    (Reuters)

Suspected Russian military jets target makeshift rubber dinghies and boats carrying dozens of families fleeing the town of al-Ashara along the western banks of the Euphrates that lies south of Deir Ezzor city, killing at least 60 civilians. (Middle East Eye)

According to the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, ISIL has undertaken several attacks on Syrian positions “from U.S.-controlled areas, implying that the recent well-coordinated actions of the terrorists indicate that they somehow possess intelligence data that could only be obtained as a result of … [U.S.] … air reconnaissance.” (RT)

The human rights group, Physicians for Human Rights, accuses Russia and the Syrian government of mounting the “worst string of attacks” on hospitals in Syria since April despite an agreement on “de-escalation” zones, saying it believes either Russian or Syrian government jets were behind at least five air raids on three hospitals in September in rebel-held Idlib province. (Al Jazeera)

Brazilian police detain fugitive Italian former left-wing guerrilla and convicted murderer Cesare Battisti, as he was attempting to flee across the border into Boliviato avoid extradition back to Italy and facing his life sentence prison term for four murders in the 1970s. (Reuters)

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy deploys the 41st Logistic Support Group of the Spanish Armed Forces in Catalonia to support riot police in Barcelona. (The Sun)

The Nobel Committee awards Swiss Jacques Dubochet, German Joachim Frank, and British Richard Henderson the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structural determination of biomolecules in a solution. (The Guardian) (Nobelprize.org)

 

Tuesday,   Oct. 3rd, 2017

The Scottish Government Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse announces that he will seek an indefinite ban (an existing moratorium has been in place since 2015) on crude oil recovery in Scotland by means of the process of hydraulic fracturing. (BBC)

Yahoo! reports that all three billion of its accounts were hacked in the August 2013 data theft. (Reuters)

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Ellen S. Huvelle awards Amir Mirza Hekmati, a U.S. Marine who was imprisoned in Iran as a falsely accused CIA spy, a default judgment of $63 million for his ordeal. (The Washington Post)

Pro-independent trade unions, businesses, and schools in Catalonia hold a general strike to protest Spanish police brutality during the October 1 independence referendum. (CNBC)

The Nobel Prize committee awards Americans Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration that discovered gravitational waves. (Nobel Prize.org)(The Washington Post)

Two women charged with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam plead not guilty in a Malaysian court because they thought it was a TV prank. Kim Jong-nam was the eldest son of deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and the half-brother of current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (BBC)

 

END

News 10.03.2017

Tuesday,   Oct 3, 2017

“The question inevitably arises: where were these forces of good when Islamic State occupied a third of Iraq and most of Syria in mid-2015? The British minister boasts that the Royal Air Force carried out more than 1,500 airstrikes. In comparison, Russia has carried out over 99,000 confirmed precision strikes in Syria alone, which have guaranteed a breakthrough in the battle against ISIS,” continued Konashenkov.

Interesting. 99,000 in two years since 2015 comes out to…wait for it… 135 per day or 5.65 per hour average for the the entire two years.

Almost too good to believe.

‘Not invaluable, but worthless’: Moscow laughs off UK claims of ‘major’ contribution to ISIS defeat

2017 Monday,  Oct 2, 2017

 

At least 58 killed, 500 injured in Las Vegas mass shooting

 

A gunman opened fire on people at an outdoor concert near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas late Sunday, killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. The shooting happened as country singer Jason Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. The suspect, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was found dead on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay hotel, apparently of a self-inflicted wound; SWAT team members breached the room and found at least 10 rifles inside. The FBI said Paddock had “no connection” to any international terrorist group, after the Islamic State earlier in the day claimed responsibility for the attack.

Source: CBS News, ABC News

2.

Trump calls Las Vegas massacre an ‘act of pure evil’

 

President Trump offered his “condolences and sympathies” to the victims and families of victims of the Las Vegas shooting Monday morning on Twitter. “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!” In a later televised address, Trump called the attack an “act of pure evil” and said, “We pray for the day when evil is banished. May God provide the grieving families with strength to carry on.” He will visit the city Wednesday to meet with first responders, families, and victims.

Source: Donald J. Trump, Axios

3.

Catalonia votes in favor of independence

 

The Catalan regional government announced early Monday that 90 percent of voters in Sunday’s referendum on independence from Spain voted in favor of a split. A spokesman said that there are 5.3 million voters in the region, with 2.26 million casting ballots. The Spanish central government views the vote as being illegal, and hundreds of people were injured when police raided polling stations and fired rubber bullets at voters. Catalonia is an autonomous region bordering France, and many of its residents believe because it has its own culture and history and its revenue pays to subsidize other areas of Spain, it must become independent.

Source: The Guardian

4.

Supreme Court returns with weighty cases

 

The Supreme Court begins a new term Monday with a weighty list of cases on its docket. The high court is slated to review mandatory dues for public-sector unions; religious liberty and discrimination in the wedding cake business; gerrymandering; digital privacy rights; and the practice of purging inactive voters from voter rolls. “There’s only one prediction that’s entirely safe of the upcoming term, and that is it will be momentous,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With the seating of Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court has a full bench.

Source: The New York Times, Fox News

 

Sunday,  Oct 1, 2017

Houthiforces claim to have shot down a S. MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Yemeni capital Sana’a. Footage released by Saba News Agency appears to show crowds gathering around the wreckage of an aircraft. (Reuters)

Soldiers in Bueaand BamendaCameroon, shoot dead a total of at least eight people during various protests by Anglophone (Reuters)

The Islamic Stategroup seizes the Al-Qaryatain town in the central province of Homs in a surprise attack against Syrian government forces. (Firstpost)

A gunman opens fire in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casinofrom the upper floors down upon a Jason Aldean outdoor concert, with at least 2 people dead and 26 others injuried. Authorities believe the lone gunman is dead. (The New York Times)

The United Kingdom‘s Monarch Airlinesgoes into financial bankruptcy administration, suspending all flights, cancelling 300 thousand bookings, and leaving 10’s of thousands of passengers stranded. (Reuters)

Nevada prison authorities release former NFL player  J. Simpson on parole after serving nine years for a 2007 Las Vegas armed robbery. Previously, a jury had acquitted Simpson of the 1995 murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman(CNN)

Spanish riot police clash with some protesters in Gironaand Barcelona, with 844 people and 33 police reported injured. (Sky News) (NBC News) (BBC) (The Independent)

The Mayor of BarcelonaAda Colau calls on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to resign following the police crackdown on Catalan protestors which has left hundreds injured. (Euronews)

The government of Cataloniadeclares that the “yes”-to-independence-vote has won a landslide victory. (AP)

Some players throughout the National Football Leaguehold demonstrations before or during the U.S. national anthem. These demonstrations include kneeling, raising fists, or praying, as a show of unity or protest of social inequality. (CNN)

SkanskaUSA implodes the Old Kosciuszko Bridge in New York City after 78 years of connecting Brooklyn and Queens(NBC)

Saturday,  Sept. 30, 2017

A military transport plane crashes after take-off from N’djili Airportin KinshasaDemocratic Republic of the Congo, killing all 12 Russian crew members. (Deutsche Welle via MSN)

Tens of thousands of protesters march through Dublinto demand Ireland to change its abortion laws, and anti-abortion activists stage counter-demonstrations. A pro-choice rally is held outside the Irish embassy in London(BBC)

About 600 members of the Swedishneo-Nazi group Nordic Resistance Movement march through Gothenburg, and 10,000 people hold a counter-demonstration. More than 50 people are arrested and several people are injured during the protests. (The Washington Post)

 

Fri,  Sept 29, 2017

 

Mexico City borough president says previous officials ignored warnings that unauthorized construction work had damaged the structural integrity of several buildings in the city. The overall death toll from the magnitude 7.1 quake which hit Sept. 19 now stands at at least 358 people. (AP)

Iraq‘s federal government halts all international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan until Kurdish security forces hand over control of Erbil International Airport and Sulaimaniyah International Airport. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) calls the ban “illegal”. (BBC)

The U.S. State Department removes all families of employees and nonessential personnel from Cuba following apparent sonic attacks that injured 21 personnel on the island. Cuba denies any involvement and has authorized the FBI to travel to the island to help the ongoing investigation into the causes. (CNN)

Tom Price resigns as the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the midst of a scandal over his use of private planes. (CNN)

Sun Zhengcai is expelled from the Communist Party of China after the results into the internal disciplinary investigation are announced by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection(The Washington Post)

Reverberations from the Sun Zhengcai case are said to have ensnared a number of senior officials from Chongqing, including former Organization Department head Zeng Qinghong (female). 14 out of 43 delegates to the 19th Party Congress from Chongqing are said to have lost their eligibility. (SCMP)

 

 Thursday, Sep 28,  2017

Whole Foods Market, recently acquired by Amazon, announces hackingof payment card information from some of its stores. (Reuters)

The Presidentof Catalonia vows to continue on with the vote despite objections from Spain(USA Today)

Aquatic species from Japan hitched a ride on debris from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and were able to reach the West Coast of the United States (Phys.org)

 

END

 

Chechnya

The United States and Russia are not at war.

For 6 years now in Syria, it has been Syrians killing Syrians.

The exceptions have been:

  1. a few thousand foreign-fighters recruited by ISIS, the Kurds, and the various other rebel factions
  2. Russian and American (and its NATO partners) airstrikes
  3. a small number of Turkish and Israeli strikes
  4. a small number of Hezbollah and Iranian contingents brought in by Assad
  5. I am probably missing something

The Russians are there “legally” at the request of the legitimate Syrian government. The United States is not operating in any capacity (either in the air or in a small advisory and with, reportedly, artillery ground presence) “legally” in Syria. International law rarely acts as much of a roadblock to anything either of these two countries does. Legality is usually used as a tool or weapon  on the public relations front to hammer the other side. For the most part the United States and Russia have and continue to do what they want – only really kept in check or constricted by the reactions of the other.

Talk of terrorists (“good” or “bad”) is inappropriate and unhelpful. It is a civil war. The opening quote from Walid Al-Moualem only speaks for half the country. The other how aren’t “terrorists” any more than all Chechens are terrorists (but I get ahead of myself). How absurd.

The distinctions between the two (or more) sides in this conflict have never been clear and changes occur regularly in the relative importance of various alignments and in the alignments themselves. Whose side is Turkey on? They used to be for Assad’s removal and shot down a Russian fighter (supposedly “coordinated by US”) now they are semi-allied with Russia, which makes them for Assad? Who knows.

One could write 1000 words just on what those alignments look the most like today. I’m not going to do it. If you don’t have a picture then stop and think about this point for 15 minutes.

Again, the United States and Russia are not at war.

Russia has saved the United States from getting more involved against Assad at least twice over unproved chemical attacks. Eighteen months-or-so ago it actually looked like The US and Russia were cooperating.  Then came the anti-Trump backlash/”resistance” on top of the anti-Russian sentiment long-ingrained in a significant part of the collective American psyche. This has all been discussed at length on The UNZ Review.

What doesn’t get discussed much, if at all, is how one might feel about the Russians or Americans if one were say an average Syrian living is say Idlib province or in Kurd territory.

It would appear ISIS won’t be much of an issue a year from now. Who knows.

How many  non-combatants have been killed by American airstrikes? Russian airstrikes?

Much talk here of superior Russian technology and special forces capability. Long-range, “stand-off” cruise missiles. S400 SAM batteries. Not much about should-fired anti-aircraft units not sold to anybody by Americans. Not yet, at least.

The best example and starting point for learning about Russian military doctrine, experience, and competency using “stand-off” firepower is the Second Chechen War. Specifically the assault on Grozny 1999-2000.

This particular example is relevant for several reasons, not least of which is the leadership of Vladimir Putin – in fact, it was this “crisis” (some believe to be fake) of Chechen terrorism that launched and then solidified grip on power.

In 1999 and 2000, Putin and the Russian military “stood-off” and completely obliterated Grozny using basically every non-nuclear means available.

If you lived in non-government-controlled territory in Syria right now, would you be happy about Russian involvement in Syria right now or would you be kind of glad the United States had a small presence there as a check and counterbalance to any Russian tendencies to Chechen war-type excesses?

The Russian accusations of “US-coordinated” attacks on Russian troops and the mortar-killing of General Asapov are most likely part of a well-coordinated Russian propaganda disinformation campaign. Keeps Americans off-balance. Provocations. Both sides are probing each other in a healthy way while their leaders and general staffs communicate and meet. It is all theater.

Neither side has any intention or plans to attack the other because there is no reason to do so just as there is no reason to consider each other enemies. But their are hotheads and hysterics on both sides.

I have always been completely opposed to American involvement in Syria. The Neocon-heavy “Deep State” strategy or policy or whatever you want to call it is dumb, unnecessary and very, very expensive.

But as far as I can see from reading The UNZ Review and RT News is that the only thing going well for Russia and Putin in this world are a two-year spetnaz foray into Syria and 5,000-km range cruise missiles. Go Team Stalin!

 

***

The United States and Russia are not at war.

For 6 years now in Syria, it has been Syrians killing Syrians.

The exceptions have been:

1. a few thousand foreign-fighters recruited by ISIS, the Kurds, and the various other rebel factions

2.Russian and American (and its NATO partners) airstrikes

3. a small number of Turkish and Israeli strikes

4. a small number of Hezbollah and Iranian contingents brought in by Assad

5.I am probably missing something

The Russians are there “legally” at the request of the legitimate Syrian government. The United States is not operating in any capacity (either in the air or in a small advisory and with, reportedly, artillery ground presence) “legally” in Syria. International law rarely acts as much of a roadblock to anything either of these two countries does. Legality is usually used as a tool or weapon  on the public relations front to hammer the other side. For the most part the United States and Russia have and continue to do what they want – only really kept in check or constricted by the reactions of the other.

Talk of terrorists (“good” or “bad”) is inappropriate and unhelpful. It is a civil war. The opening quote from Walid Al-Moualem only speaks for half the country. The other how aren’t “terrorists” any more than all Chechens are terrorists (but I get ahead of myself). How absurd.

The distinctions between the two (or more) sides in this conflict have never been clear and changes occur regularly in the relative importance of various alignments and in the alignments themselves. Whose side is Turkey on? They used to be for Assad’s removal and shot down a Russian fighter (supposedly “coordinated by US”) now they are semi-allied with Russia, which makes them for Assad? Who knows.

One could write 1000 words just on what those alignments look the most like today. I’m not going to do it. If you don’t have a picture then stop and think about this point for 15 minutes.

Again, the United States and Russia are not at war.

Russia has saved the United States from getting more involved against Assad at least twice over unproved chemical attacks. Eighteen months-or-so ago it actually looked like The US and Russia were cooperating.  Then came the anti-Trump backlash/”resistance” on top of the anti-Russian sentiment long-ingrained in a significant part of the collective American psyche. This has all been discussed at length on The UNZ Review.

What doesn’t get discussed much, if at all, is how one might feel about the Russians or Americans if one were say an average Syrian living is say Idlib province or in Kurd territory.

It would appear ISIS won’t be much of an issue a year from now. Who knows.

How many  non-combatants have been killed by American airstrikes? Russian airstrikes?

Much talk here of superior Russian technology and special forces capability. Long-range, “stand-off” cruise missiles. S400 SAM batteries. Not much about should-fired anti-aircraft units not sold to anybody by Americans. Not yet, at least.

The best example and starting point for learning about Russian military doctrine, experience, and competency using “stand-off” firepower is the Second Chechen War. Specifically the assault on Grozny 1999-2000.

This particular example is relevant for several reasons, not least of which is the leadership of Vladimir Putin – in fact, it was this “crisis” (some believe to be fake) of Chechen terrorism that launched and then solidified grip on power.

In 1999 and 2000, Putin and the Russian military “stood-off” and completely obliterated Grozny using basically every non-nuclear means available.

If you lived in non-government-controlled territory in Syria right now, would you be happy about Russian involvement in Syria right now or would you be kind of glad the United States had a small presence there as a check and counterbalance to any Russian tendencies to Chechen war-type excesses?

The Russian accusations of “US-coordinated” attacks on Russian troops and the mortar-killing of General Asapov are most likely part of a well-coordinated Russian propaganda disinformation campaign. Keeps Americans off-balance. Provocations. Both sides are probing each other in a healthy way while their leaders and general staffs communicate and meet. It is all theater.

Neither side has any intention or plans to attack the other because there is no reason to do so just as there is no reason to consider each other enemies. But their are hotheads and hysterics on both sides.

I have always been completely opposed to American involvement in Syria. The Neocon-heavy “Deep State” strategy or policy or whatever you want to call it is dumb, unnecessary and very, very expensive.

But as far as I can see from reading The UNZ Review and RT News is that the only thing going well for Russia and Putin in this world are a two-year spetnaz foray into Syria and 5,000-km range cruise missiles. Go Team Stalin!

News 09.29.2017

Thursday, Sep 28,  2017

 

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/the-worst-financial-crash-you-have-ever-seen-is-coming-jim-rogers-survival-tips/ar-AAsxRbJ?li=BBnbfcL&ocid=mailsignout

Trump announces tax plan with cuts for businesses, wealthy

President Trump on Wednesday announced his intention to cut tax rates for businesses and the wealthy and raise the lowest individual tax rate in a speech in Indianapolis. The plan — which proposes shrinking the seven tax brackets down to three at 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent — is being promoted as a win for the middle class because it will also double the standard deduction for all taxpayers. Additionally, the tax reform plan cuts business taxes: “We need Washington to promote American jobs instead of obstructing them,” Trump said. Analysts, however, fret that if “economic growth projected by Republicans fails to materialize,” then the massive cuts could “balloon the federal deficit and debt,” Reuters writes. Source: Reuters

U.S. GDP growth rate revised up to 3.1 percent for Q2

The U.S. economy recorded its fastest expansion pace in two years this spring, growing at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the second quarter, The Associated Press reports. “We’re focused on growth,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business. “We think the 3 percent GDP is a very moderate aspiration and we can do higher than that.” The revised numbers for the economy’s output of goods and services between April and June slightly exceeds the 3 percent estimate made a month ago, and shows improvement since the 1.2 percent rate in the January-March period. “Economists believe growth has slowed again to around 2 percent in the current quarter,” AP writes, but the economy could get a boost in early 2018 due to rebuilding stemming from hurricane damage.

 

Wednesday,  Sep 27, 2017

Russia announces it has completed the destruction of all of its chemical weapons under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention. (New York Times)

The government of Iraqi Kurdistan announces that they won the referendum by over 92% of the vote. (The Independent)

Iraq’s prime minister has demanded the Kurdistan Regional Government “cancel” the outcome of the referendum on independence that it held on Monday. (BBC)

California moves its 2020 presidential primary to March 3, making it fifth in the nominating process after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. The 2016 primary was held on June 7. (Reuters)

 

Tuesday,   Sep 26, 2017

The king of Saudi Arabia issues a decree allowing women to be issued driving licenses by June 2018. Saudi Arabia is the world’s last sovereign state that does not allow women to drive. (The Guardian)

Turkey’s president has said Iraqi Kurds could go hungry as a result of the punitive measures it is considering after Monday’s independence referendum. (BBC)

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismisses Nizhny Novgorod Oblast governor Valery Shantsev from his post, the second governor to lose his job in a week after Putin dismissed Samara Oblast governor Nikolay Merkushkin the day before. The dismissals come amid speculation that governors of several federal subjects will resign in anticipation of presidential elections in 2018. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Africa’s Great Green Wall is successfully reversing desertification. (BBC)

Monday,  Sep 25, 2017

The first ever female United States Marine Corps Infantry officer graduates. (NPR)

Russian police arrest a couple from the southern Krasnodar region that has allegedly murdered as many as 30 people since 1999 and consumed parts of the human bodies. (International Business Times)

The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe calls a snap election with the election to be held on October 22. (Reuters)

 

Sunday,  Sep 24, 2017

Mortar fire from ISIL militants near the city of Deir ez-Zor, according to the Russian Defence Ministry. Asapov has been described as one of the senior Russian military advisers in Syria. (Al Arabiya)

Iranian forces launch a military exercise near the border of Iraqi Kurdistan, hours before a Kurdish vote on independence from Iraq. Turkey is also conducting a military exercise in the region. (CNBC)

The Iraqi government discourages foreign countries from importing crude oil directly from its Iraqi Kurdistan region. (Reuters)

Exit polls indicate Merkel has won a fourth term in power, and that Alternative for Germany will enter the Bundestag for the first time as the third largest party. (BBC)

Amid criticism of U.S. national anthem protests by U.S. President Donald Trump, some National Football League players and teams react to the controversy by kneeling, linking arms, or skipping game performances of the national anthem. (ESPN)

City officials in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, announce that residents will receive incentives for swapping their petrol engine vehicles for electric ones, including a free Salik tag, and an exemption from RTA registration and renewal vehicle fees. (Khaleej Times)

 

2017 Saturday,  Sep 23, 2017

Iran successfully tests the Khorramshahr missile. (AFP via Yahoo! News)

 

Friday,  Sep 22, 2017

Transport for London announces that it will not issue Uber a new private hire license. (BBC)

A new study shows that Neanderthal brains developed more slowly than those of modern humans, contradicting previous studies. (BBC)

Kim calls Trump a ‘mentally deranged’ dotard, Trump calls Kim a ‘madman’

Late Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded to President Trump’s threat on Tuesday to “totally destroy North Korea” with a very rare personal statement saying Trump’s “unprecedented rude nonsense” has “convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct.” The colorful statement ends with Kim threatening to “tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire,” and hours later, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that Pyongyang might test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific as a retaliatory action. On Friday morning, Trump responded, tweeting: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!” Source: BBC News

Facebook to give Congress political ads bought by Russians

 

Facebook will give Congress copies of the more than 3,000 ads purchased through Russian accounts during the 2016 election, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch announced Thursday in a blog post. “We believe the public deserves a full accounting of what happened in the 2016 election, and we’ve concluded that sharing the ads we’ve discovered … can help,” Stretch wrote. Though Facebook gave the ads to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the social networking site took back ads shown to congressional investigators before they could be thoroughly examined, citing privacy concerns. The move sparked complaints from government officials and the public. In a Facebook Live event after the announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to “make sure that Facebook is a force for good ahead in democracy.” Source: BuzzFeed News

A new study shows that Neanderthal brains developed more slowly than modern humans, contradicting previous studies. (BBC)

Thursday, Sep 21,  2017

Russian and Syrian warplanes carry out airstrikes in southern Idlib, killing three civilians and wounding others. (Iraqi News)

Google strikes a $1.1bn (£822m) deal with Taiwan’s HTC to expand its smartphone business. (BBC)

China’s credit rating has been downgraded by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) because of worries over the rapid build up of debt in the country. (BBC)

Rescuers are focusing on 10 collapsed buildings where people may still be alive. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera reports the death toll is now at least 273, with 50 people still missing. (Reuters)

Facebook agrees to disclose ads that ran in the U.S. in 2016 from accounts associated with a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency to United States Congressional investigators. Earlier, this information was provided to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (CBS News)

END

Russians in Syria 09.26.2017

…I genuinely don’t get it.

Good observations.  The Saker doesn’t get it either 🙂

 

It is not as if the Russians are keeping a low profile:

Russian military defies constant shelling to build bridge across Euphrates in Syria (VIDEO)
RT News – 26 Sep, 2017

And more information on Syrian clustereff:

US Winds Down Its Land Grab in Southern Syria, Launches Another One in the East
A pair of offensives kick up the US-Syrian race for eastern Syria into high gear
By Marko Marjanovic – September 19, 2017

The Saker has faith RT News and his other basically pro-Russian mainstream media sources are trustworthy and all other are not.

Is Foreign Propaganda Even Effective?
The Russians can dish it out, but don’t expect Americans to swallow everything.
By LEON HADAR • September 25, 2017

News 09.21.2017

 

Thursday, Sep 21,  2017

Report: Manafort offered Russian magnate ‘private briefings’ on campaign While he was still serving as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort sent an email to an employee of his consulting business in Kiev requesting he tell a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin that if he wanted “private briefings” on the presidential race, Manafort would set it up, several people familiar with the emails told The Washington Post. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has the emails. No exact name is ever used, but investigators believe the emails refer to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate and one of the richest men in Russia. The emails could suggest that Manafort was trying to use his access to Trump for his own benefit. Source: The Washington Post

 

Hurricane Maria leaves Puerto Rico completely without power  Puerto Rico is completely without power after Hurricane Maria made landfall early Wednesday as a dangerous Category 4 storm, the first to strike the island since 1932. Early Thursday, Maria was a Category 3 hurricane nearing the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Rico, the hurricane ripped trees from the ground and caused widespread flooding, and more than 10,000 people are in shelters. Puerto Rican officials said it could take six months for full power to be restored. After the Dominican Republic, Maria is forecast to move on to Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas by Thursday night. Source: CNN, ABC News

 

SEC says its data was hacked in 2016 The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday night that someone hacked its computer database on company filings last year, accessing private information that could have been used to trade stocks and make profits. The announcement from the SEC, the top U.S. securities regulator, came following the disclosure of a breach at Equifax, a major credit reporting firm, that exposed the personal information of 143 million people. Together, the breaches have intensified concerns about the computer vulnerabilities of key financial institutions. Source: The New York Times

Wednesday,  Sep 20, 2017

The U.S. Federal Reserve announces its benchmark interest rate will not change this month, though it expects an increase by the end of the year, along with three increases in 2018 and two in 2019. The Federal Reserve also says its balance sheet reduction program will begin in October. (CNBC)

Searches continue for possible survivors of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that hit central Mexico yesterday. By mid-afternoon, 52 people are rescued while at least 226 people have been killed and another 800 injured. (Los Angeles Times) (ABC News)

Hurricane Maria makes landfall on Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane. Effects are disastrous and the entire island loses power. Seven deaths are reported on Puerto Rico, along with two on Guadeloupe. Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló declares a 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew through Saturday.  (Reuters)

Spanish police raid Catalan government offices and arrest Catalan officials as part of the effort to halt a banned referendum on independence. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont says, “The Spanish state has by all rights intervened in Catalonia’s government and has established emergency rule.” (The New York Times)

Saudi Arabia lifts its 2013 ban on internet calls, effective midnight local time (21:00 UTC). (Reuters)

MIT physics professor Daniel Rothman’s mathematical formula, published in the peer-review journal Science Advances, predicts a sixth mass extinction may be set to occur within 10,000 years if by the year 2100 current carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced, and a critical amount of carbon (310 gigatons) is added to the oceans. (Phys.org) (Science Advances)

 

Tuesday,   Sep 19, 2017

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake strikes Mexico, killing at least 220 people and collapsing several buildings in Mexico City and widespread evacuations, hours after a yearly earthquake drill in commemoration of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. (KTLA)

Two African-American men are killed in separate incidents near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a third home is shot at in what local and federal officials call racially-motivated crimes. A local man is arrested on suspicion of the murders. (CBS News) (U.S. News & World Report)

Apple Inc. releases the iOS 11 update for most current models of the iPhone and iPad. (CNN)

Monday,  Sep 18, 2017

Toys “R” Us files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, and also files for bankruptcy in Canada, as it attempts to restructure its debts. (CNBC)

 

Sunday,  Sep 17, 2017

 

The Handmaid’s Tale wins eight awards including Outstanding Drama Series, while Veep wins for Outstanding Comedy Series. (ABC News Australia)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is expected to dissolve the House of Representatives on September 28, 2017 to make way for fresh elections. (The Japan Times)

Hamas, through Egyptian-mediated talks, agrees to dissolve its Gaza administration, hold talks with the Fatah West Bank government, and hold elections for a Palestinian unity government. (The Guardian)

Saturday,  Sep 16, 2017

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair cancels 82 Sunday flights as the first step in a six-week program that will eliminate 40 to 50 flights daily to wipe out its crew vacation backlog in order to meet Irish Aviation Authority requirements by the end of this year. (Bloomberg)

Turkey summons the ambassador of Germany after at least 10,000 people rally in Cologne in support of the referendum. (Deutsche Welle)

C alifornia passes a bill that will move the primaries to March near Super Tuesday.(Politico)

Bangladesh announces plans to build a giant refugee camp the size of a small city to house nearly 400,000 Rohingya refugees. (BBC)

 

Friday,  Sep 15, 2017

 

An explosion on a train at the Parsons Green tube station in London injures 29. Scotland Yard is treating the incident as a terrorist attack. (The Guardian)(BBC)

Jamaican Violet Mosse-Brown, the world’s oldest person, dies in Montego Bay at age 117. (UPI)

Key housing bills pass in California, the U.S. state with the highest number of people suffering from homelessness and poverty.  (Los Angeles Times)

The island of Barbuda is fully depopulated for the first time in 300 years. (CNN)

The World Health Organization says that hunger around the world has risen as a result of war and climate change. (The World Health Organization)

A North Korean missile flies over Hokkaido, Japan, triggering the J-Alert system, following a similar event on 29 August. (Bloomberg)

South Korea responds with its own missile firing just six minutes after the North’s test was detected. (Yonhap)

Hundreds of people protest the decision. After some protests become violent, 10 police officers are injured and 32 protesters are arrested. (ABC News)

The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament votes to go ahead with the planned independence referendum, scheduled to take place on 25 September, 2017. (BBC)

After 20 years “floating” the Solar System, the Cassini space probe to the Saturn system ends the mission with a controlled fall into the atmosphere of the planet. (BBC)

Thursday, Sep 14,  2017

The origin of the zero may have been in South Asia according to a Sanskrit script housed in the United Kingdom since 1902 and discovered in Bakhshali near Peshawar, Pakistan. (The Guardian)

Google is being sued over alleged inequality in the pay of male and female employees. (BBC)

Russia and Belarus begin a six-day joint strategic military exercise inside Belarus and Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast. The military exercise simulates war against the fictional state of Veyshnoria. According to the Defence Ministry of Belarus, fewer than 13,000 personnel will be taking part in the exercise; however, Western analysts believe the total number will range from 60,000 to 100,000. (Reuters)

Japan agrees to help with the construction of an Indian bullet train. (The Guardian)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature upgrades the conservation status of the snow leopard from endangered to vulnerable. (Sky News)

In baseball, the Cleveland Indians break the Major League Baseball record for longest winning streak with 22 wins in a row. The 1935 Chicago Cubs previously held the record with 21. (Washington Post)

 

Flynn used White House post to lobby for controversial nuclear plant project

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pushed a controversial nuclear plant project in the Middle East during his brief White House tenure, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The plan, which once involved Russian companies, proposed the construction and operation of “dozens of nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East.” Though Flynn’s security forms claim his involvement ceased in December 2016, he reportedly pushed National Security Council staff to meet with companies tied to the project and advocated for former senior U.S. military officers who were also involved. Earlier Wednesday, it was revealed that Flynn had omitted a trip to the Middle East to explore this project and his contacts with Israeli and Egyptian government officials from his security clearance forms. Source: The Wall Street Jorunal, Bloomberg

 

Wednesday,  Sep 13, 2017

The United States Senate blocks an amendment that would have repealed the war authorizations for the use of force in Iraq and Afghanistan. (CNBC)

United States Homeland Security bans Kaspersky Lab products from government computers due to fears from alleged Russian intervention. (Gizmodo)

The Supreme Court of Israel strikes down the exemption on the conscription of ultra-Orthodox Jews. (The Los Angeles Times)

Former businessman Martin Shkreli has his bail revoked for threatening former politician Hillary Clinton, after a Twitter post in which Shkreli said that he would offer $5,000 to anyone who could directly obtain a lock of Clinton’s hair. Shkreli was convicted of fraud in August and is awaiting sentencing. (CNN)

Scientists hope to revive the extinct Floreana island tortoise using a ‘genetically-informed’ captive breeding program with the tortoises closest ancestors. (Phys.org)

END

09.19.2017

Mrs. Dinh Nhu Ngo firing .38 pistol.

After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order (2003)
by Emmanuel Todd

 

“Todd attracted attention in 1976 when he, at 25 years old, predicted the fall of the Soviet Union, based on indicators such as increasing infant mortality rates: La chute finale: Essais sur la décomposition de la sphère Soviétique (The Final Fall: An Essay on the Decomposition of the Soviet Sphere).”

 

 The Huxleyan Warning

There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled. In the first—the Orwellian—culture becomes a prison. In the second—the Huxleyan—culture becomes a burlesque.

No one needs to be reminded that our world is now marred by many prison-cultures whose structure Orwell described accurately in his parables. If one were to read both 1984 and Animal Farm, and then for good measure, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, one would have a fairly precise blueprint of the machinery of thought-control as it currently operates in scores of countries and on millions of people. Of course, Orwell was not the first to teach us about the spiritual devastations of tyranny. What is irreplaceable about his work is his insistence that it makes little difference if our wardens are inspired by right- or left-wing ideologies. The gates of the prison are equally impenetrable, surveillance equally rigorous, icon-worship equally pervasive.

What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.

In America, Orwell’s prophecies are of small relevance, but Huxley’s are well under way toward being realized. For America is engaged in the world’s most ambitious experiment to accommodate itself to the technological distractions made possible by the electric plug. This is an experiment that began slowly and modestly in the mid-nineteenth century and has now, in the latter half of the twentieth, reached a perverse maturity in America’s consuming love-affair with television. As nowhere else in the world, Americans have moved far and fast in bringing to a close the age of the slow-moving printed word, and have granted to television sovereignty over all of their institutions. By ushering in the Age of Television, America has given the world the clearest available glimpse of the Huxleyan future.

Those who speak about this matter must often raise their voices to a near-hysterical pitch, inviting the charge that they are everything from wimps to public nuisances to Jeremiahs. But they do so because what they want others to see appears benign, when it is not invisible altogether. An Orwellian world is much easier to recognize, and to oppose, than a Huxleyan. Everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us. We are not likely, for example, to be indifferent to the voices of the Sakharovs and the Timmermans and the Walesas. We take arms against such a sea of troubles, buttressed by the spirit of Milton, Bacon, Voltaire, Goethe and Jefferson. But what if there are no cries of anguish to be heard? Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious discourse dissolves into giggles? What is the antidote to a culture’s being drained by laughter?

I fear that our philosophers have given us no guidance in this matter. Their warnings have customarily been directed against those consciously formulated ideologies that appeal to the worst tendencies in human nature. But what is happening in America is not the design of an articulated ideology. No Mein Kampf or Communist Manifesto announced its coming. It comes as the unintended consequence of a dramatic change in our modes of public conversation. But it is an ideology nonetheless, for it imposes a way of life, a set of relations among people and ideas, about which there has been no consensus, no discussion and no opposition. Only compliance. Public consciousness has not vet assimilated the point that technology is ideology. This, in spite of the fact that before our very eyes technology has altered every aspect of life in America during the past eighty years. For example, it would have been excusable in 1905 for us to be unprepared for the cultural changes the automobile would bring. Who could have suspected then that the automobile would tell us how we were to conduct our social and sexual lives? Would reorient our ideas about what to do with our forests and cities? Would create new ways of expressing our personal identity and social standing?

But it is much later in the game now, and ignorance of the score is inexcusable. To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple. Moreover, we have seen enough by now to know that technological changes in our modes of communication are even more ideology-laden than changes in our modes of transportation. Introduce the alphabet to a culture and you change its cognitive habits, its social relations, its notions of community, history and religion. Introduce the printing press with movable type, and you do the same. Introduce speed-of-light transmission of images and you make a cultural revolution. Without a vote. Without polemics. Without guerrilla resistance. Here is ideology, pure if not serene. Here is ideology without words, and all the more powerful for their absence. All that is required to make it stick is a population that devoutly believes in the inevitability of progress. And in this sense, all Americans are Marxists, for we believe nothing if not that history is moving us toward some preordained paradise and that technology is the force behind that movement…