Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Dealfaker

Brought to you by…

The League of Dishonorable Killers: Let’s be honest, there’s no honor in killing, but we still need to be organized about it.

A Deliricum of Wisdom

Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian-Jordanian assassin
of Senator Robert Kennedy was Christian
In the 1960s-80s, terrorist attacks by individuals from Muslim background acting in their personal capacity or as part of a group were carried out without shouts of Allahu Akbar, because the ideology involved in these cases was often socialist in nature. The failure of socialist governments in many Muslim-majority countries, however, left a big void that in time came to be filled with a variety of Islamist ideologies. With this development, the fight against modernity and the fight against the West became part of one struggle, an ongoing struggle. The failure to modernize is the thing that lies at the heart of the matter, not Islam. Terrorist attacks by antimodernist forces elsewhere are proof that the phenomenon is global. In traditional societies, and while certain cultural and religious traditions have clearly proven to be serious obstacles on the path of modernization, the factors involved in the failure of modernization efforts are often more structural and socioeconomic in nature than ideological. Moreover, the resurgence of fascism in Western societies and the rise of hate crimes and anti-immigration sentiments underscore the vulnerability of even the most developed societies in the world to the appeal of antimodernist ideas. Socioeconomics grease the wheel, atavism seals the deal. The focus on Allahu Akbar is misplaced and misguided.

The Delirynth

Apocalypse Watch: Syria –Tabqah Dam

According to ISIS, this is what the Tabqah Dam Control room looks like after a coalition airstrike

Islamic State warns Syrian dam at risk of collapse. Islamic State has warned that the Tabqa dam, which a U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab militia is trying to capture from the militant group, is at imminent risk of collapse because of airstrikes and increased water levels. It also said in messages carried on its social media channels that the dam's operations had been put out of service and that all flood gates were closed. The dam, on the Euphrates about 40 km (25 miles) upstream from Islamic State's stronghold of Raqqa, is the largest in Syria. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces has been battling to capture the dam from Islamic State since Friday.

I have long discussed the serious implications of IS control of the Tabqa Dam warning of a possible doomsday scenario should Coalition forces attempt to retake it. On social media, IS acolytes are already blaming US strikes for failure of the Dam’s pumping stations and are already gearing to put the blame for any catastrophic collapse on the U.S. Considering that Trumps seems to have ordered a relaxation in the rules of engagement leading to a substantial increase in civilian casualties in anti-IS operations in Mosul, Aleppo and Raqqah, this media strategy could easily work. At this stage, the U.S. needs to ensure the fall of the Dam to its allies on the ground within the next 24-48 hours, then, it will have 2-3 weeks at best to implement the necessary repairs and ensure that the floodgates are open before the whole thing crumbles. Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.

The Merkeling II (This is actually a prequel)

The second installment of The Merkeling is actually more of a prequel as it focuses on something that happened during the famed Merkel-Trump summit. We are now told that Trump presented the German Chancellor with a $376 billion bill for services rendered and must have been Merkeled for it by having his provocative gesture calmly ignored, as the Chancellor proceeded to explain that Germany does indeed plan to increase its defense budget in the years to come and that spending on international development has long been considered by the Germans as part of its defense philosophy. Trump’s boyishly petulant reaction during that equally famed encounter with press after the meeting makes more sense now.

The Probe

Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as “bots,” to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said.

The bots’ end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the bot attacks are part of an FBI-led investigation into a multifaceted Russian operation to influence last year’s elections.

Investigators examining the bot attacks are exploring whether the far-right news operations took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives. Their participation, however, wasn’t necessary for the bots to amplify their news through Twitter and Facebook.

Since this is primarily a propaganda war at this stage, far-right and even far-left news should be investigated. The ideas is to sow confusion, undermine trust in mainstream media, and facts, create fake moral equivalencies that could eventually undermine America’s and Europe’s ability and willingness to act.  

The Dealfaker

Trump the Dealmaker Projects Bravado, but Behind the Scenes, Faces Rare Self-Doubt. “He said ruefully this week that he should have done tax reform first when it became clear that the quick-hit health care victory he had hoped for was not going to materialize on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the act’s passage, when the legislation was scheduled for a vote.”

This is not self-doubt in any real sense of the word, but another attempt at shifting blame for a new failure. Mr. Trump seems to lack the emotional awareness needed for engaging in self-doubt. Failure is always someone else’s fault.  

But one thing that this dealfaker seems to have accomplished is to expose certain traits that have long plagued the GOP:

Has the Trump Budget Blown Republicans’ Cover? “Why do Republicans seem intent on hurting the most vulnerable among us?”

Indeed, the ability of the Republican establishment to ignore the impact of so many of their policies on the most vulnerable communities in the country, even as they provide more and more tax break to the rich, necessitates raising this question. The theoretical framework behind their thinking on certain policy issues, including their preference for smaller government and state rights and their belief that tax breaks to the wealthy can have a positive trickle-down effect on the poor, have consistently fallen short in practice. Yet, and rather than revise the framework, the Republican establishment keeps doubling down on it. The Trump budget seems to encapsulate this trend. 

Meanwhile, the Trump family dynamics will continue to insert themselves into the national conversation and the policy-making process, something that’s quite reminiscent of how things usually work in third-world countries: Trump unhappy Jared Kushner took a powder on the ski slopes as health care bill floundered.

Racism in America

Racist Maryland man who fatally stabbed black New Yorker admits his intent to kill African-American men. “White supremacist James Jackson, 28, wanted maximum exposure for his crime, telling investigators he rode 200 miles on a bus from Baltimore because New York is the “media capital of the world.” “He wanted to make a statement,” said Assistant Chief William Aubry, head of the Manhattan detectives squad. Jackson — an Army veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan for just under a year — took the bus on Friday and got a room in The Hotel Times Square on W. 46th St., sources said.

And yes, there’s actually a Trump connection here:

Jackson had traveled to New York with plans to kill black men in relationships with white women, but wound up targeting a homeless man in an act of terrorism. Jackson says he carried out the attack to “send a message” and claims he’s written a racist manifesto.

On what appears to be Jackson’s personal YouTube account, he subscribed to a variety of fascist YouTube channels, many of which support President Donald Trump and other far-right leaders and circulate anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. His subscription list is a who’s who of alt-right figures, including Alex Jones, Stefan Molyneux, Paul Ray Ramsey and many more.

Unfortunately, this dangerous trend, this rise in hate crimes aimed at Muslims, African-Americans, Jews and Hispanics seems to be in its early phase. The situation is bound to get worse.

And when it comes to racism, the subject has a long history and too many manifestations as far as the African –American community is concerned:  

In July of 2014, it was reported that more than 64,000 black women were missing in the United States. Although all of the women missing can’t be attributed to foul play, the lack of media exposure when discussing disappearances of black and brown people is shameful. It was the late great journalist Gwen Ifill who first coined the phrase “missing white women syndrome.”

Simply put, it is a term “coined by social scientists to describe the extensive media coverage, especially in television, of missing person cases that involve young, white, upper-middle class women or girls. Sociologists define the phenomenon as an undue focus on young, white women who disappear, with the disproportionate degree of media coverage they receive being compared to cases concerning missing women of other ethnicities, socioeconomic classes, or with missing males.” 

Gang rape was a 'hoax' by bloody teen who ran into church half-naked, Denison police say. “An 18-year-old Texas woman's claim that she was abducted and assaulted two weeks ago were a hoax, Denison police said Wednesday. The incident caused a whirlwind of speculation in the town near the Oklahoma border after the bloody woman ran into a church wearing only a shirt, bra and underwear and lied about two black men raping her while a third held her down, Denison Police Chief Jay Burch said…Police still aren't completely clear on the teen's motive, Denison police Lt. Mike Eppler later said.”

Ban on Electronics

Putin Watch

Putin meets French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen at Kremlin. Paul Smith, professor of French studies at the University of Nottingham, said the candidate used funding from Russian banks to support her campaign. "The Russians very much like her, and Russian banks have certainly helped her and her father before in financing their political activities," says Smith, adding that she's not the only French politician. "She's not the only candidate to be in favor of better relations with Russia -- (François) Fillon is, too. And she is skeptical about France's future in NATO."

Russian officials may say that Russia has no intentions of "interfering in anyone's internal business or electoral processes," but Russia is doing exactly that, and not only in France of course.

Belarus vows to crush any unrest ahead of major protest. “Rights groups decry crackdown on protesters as anti-government rallies grow.”

Naturally, Mr. Lukashenko is blaming outsiders for this, rather than his own incompetence and authoritarianism:

Mr Lukashenko (62) – who has ruled Belarus since 1994 – said this week that the KGB had arrested militants who trained in Ukraine and received funding from neighbouring EU members Poland and Lithuania. Kiev dismissed the claim and critics accused the authoritarian leader of trying to discredit the protest movement.

But the state is probably intervening in this situation, at least in an advisory capacity at this stage, is Russia. As Leon Aron argued not too long: In the Belarus crisis, watch for Moscow! Indeed, it’s hardly likely that Putin will just sit and watch as an ally of his so close to home is toppled. There will be blood. And perhaps, if necessary, a more direct Russian intervention.

For the whole point here is to prevent in Russia what’s happening in Belarus, though it could be too late. Putin seems bound to spend what might be his last term in office dancing to the tunes of mass protests and chants of Put Out Putin. Russia protests: Opposition leader Navalny and hundreds others arrested.

Un-Safe and Un-American Zones

Tillerson’s Push for Safe Zones in Iraq and Syria Faces Questions, Obstacles. “Allies and activists oppose sending refugees back into a war zone”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced a plan to establish safe zones in war-torn countries to allow refugees to return home, setting the stage for a dramatic shift in refugee policy and a greater U.S. and Western military footprint in Iraq and Syria.

Speaking at summit of the 68-member coalition against the Islamic State, Tillerson said the U.S. would set up  “interim zones of stability” without elaborating on the specifics, such as where they would be located or how they would be secured.

Indeed, the proposed safe zones feel more like internment camps.

The human toll of America’s failure in Syria, an Obama legacy that is now being owned by Trump, whole, stock and barrel, continues to increase, as the U.S. has now joined the list of actors hurting civilians on a consistent basis, at a time when the rules of engagement appears to have been perceptibly relaxed. The fact that the U.S. is not doing all this as intentionally as the Assad regime, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and other sectarian militias does little when it comes to mitigating the consequences and the pain.

Meanwhile, the people at PAX and the Syria Institute have just issued the fifth report on ongoing siege activities in Syria. These are some of their key findings:

1.       An estimated 913,575 people are trapped in at least 37 besieged communities across the country.
2.       More than 1.3 million additional Syrians live in 16 “Watchlist” areas, under threat of complete siege.
3.       The Syrian government and its allies remain responsible for the majority of the sieges, as well as all “Watchlist” areas.

The Exotic Observations & Propositions of Delirian Mundi

* This might seem counterintuitive to some, but dictators are actually less hurt by the truth than by their inability to have their lies believed. 

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