Bits and Pieces – 20180430, Monday

Commentary

While I continue to tinker with the topic structure of these posts, I realize that the overall framework or statement of purpose is to track the major issues that will impact us individually and collectively as a society, today and in the future.

This sounds ambitious. The work, however, is more of collecting and organizing current news and writings of various authors in a coherent manner. Each post might be viewed as a two-dimension slice through daily life structured in threads (topics) that across time, introduce a third dimension. This latter view of a thread is what constitutes an essay or a book.

Much of what I include involves little or no commentary on my part. Sometimes, an issue or an item bubbles to the surface resulting in a more extensive treatment on my part. I have several issues that I simply don’t have time to explore

This issue of Bits and Pieces reflects the growing attention I am paying to the propaganda aimed at controlling us.

Propaganda and Fake News

Here’s a piece that discusses the concerted effort of the MSM to maintain political memes that in effect are government propaganda: MSM Is Frantically Attacking Dissenting Syria Narratives, And It Looks Really Bad. I hadn’t considered a memetic description of propaganda before but it is a beautiful fit. Another such meme is the disastrous anthropogenic global warming meme which the MSM struggles to preserve in a climate of thousands of snowfall and cold records being broken this winter/spring. Local news pick them up but they never make national news.

Apparently there is informal reporting out of the OPCW that there was no evidence of chemical weapons residue at the three sites attacked by Trump: OPCW Investigators Reportedly Found “No Evidence” Of Chemical Weapons At Syrian Facilities Bombed By US. Finally, let’s put this to bed: “No Attacks, No Victims”: Syria Chemical Attack Video Participants Speak At OPCW Briefing. There was no chemical weapon attack. There was a mock simulation staged and videotaped by the White Helmets for propaganda purposes to enrage the West to come to the aid of the losing rebel side. This is the same scenario used in the previous alleged attack.

May and Macron, not being impetuous like Trump, probably used the “attack” knowing it was false or at least not caring to find out. Trump apparently reacted emotionally (see character analysis below) and attacked a sovereign nation as an act of war. Now everyone knows what buttons of his to push.

Here is a discussion of the recent use of false flag events in current warfare: How False Flag Operations Are Carried Out Today.

By now we know that if Russia/Putin tried to influence the 2016 election it was in ways so subtle that nothing has been discovered. But there have been allegations for some time that social media platforms were used by their corporate owners in the election to influence election results. Finally, a study reveals Google’s role: Research Shows Google’s Search Manipulations Tried To Rig Election For Hillary. The question remains then as to why Google executives aren’t being prosecuted.

In the next article, the author explores the continued defense of the Syrian gas attack hypothesis with manufactured “evidence”. The story makes some interesting points but misses some that are perhaps more telling. The images  show a metal cylinder that purportedly was dropped from an aircraft, punched a hole in what appears to be an 8″ or 10″ concrete slab and then lies across the hole.

The cylinder contains no stabilizing fins. Bombs dropped from an aircraft are always in a horizontal orientation at start – witness the innumerable pictures of bombs dropped from B-52’s over Vietnam. Without fins they would have no preferred orientation in falling and would likely tumble. The point being the chance of landing in a vertical orientation with the valve down is small. Further, a contact in such a position against concrete shout have severely crumpled the front end of the cylinder. In the pictures, the cylinder’s front end shows no damage. The small dent is to the side.

There are, however, two distinct photographs. Rather than looking at the cylinder itself, look at the long metal bar that lies roughly parallel to the cylinder. In one photograph, the first set, the axis of the cylinder converges towards this bar at the front. The bar also has a rust-coloured mass that is on top of it, just behind the cylinder.

In the second photo, the axis of the cylinder converges towards the metal bar at the back. This photo was taken at a different time because the cylinder is partly in sun whereas the first photo has it completely in shade. Importantly, if you look at the bar in the second photo, it has another bar bolted to it near the back of the cylinder, that connects the main bar to two other bars which join it at this point.

There is another aspect that I at first couldn’t resolve –  the colouring of the cylinder. In the first photo, the cylinder has a distinctive rust-colouration on the front third that runs diagonally on the cylinder. In the second photo, most of that colouration is missing, lying on the underside. And finally, in the first the front of the cylinder is closer to the left-hand edge of the hole than in the second.

These observations can be reconciled by rolling the cylinder roughly 180 degrees while pulling it backward and swinging the back toward the observer, changing the orientation of the cylinder’s axis. The metal bar may have been removed and replaced while the operation was carried out while failing to replace it with attention to detail.

Conclusion: the scene is staged for propaganda purposes.

Political Subversion and Regime Change

In my last post, Bits and Pieces – 20180423, Monday, I had referenced protests in Armenia under the topic “Regional War”. Geopolitical Futures published a nice analysis today, of the situation in Armenia: Armenia: Not Another Color Revolution. The author states that the protests do not represent a color revolution, or in other words, an attempt by Western interests to destabilize the country and move Armenia into the Western sphere of influence. This is not to say that the West wouldn’t use it to distract Russian attention from present areas of conflict, nor be used by neighbouring states to enhance their local interests.

Here, however,is an article by Tom Luongo who sees events in Armenia as a new color revolution to destabilize the government: Armenia Heats Up as the Proxy War Continues. Echoes of the Ukraine?

Kinetic Warfare

Regional War

Syria is the current hub of conflict globally. Syria’s neighbours meet there in a kinetic war over regional hegemonic interests as Turkey and Iran seek to extend their influence. Internal conflicts such as those between the Kurdish sub-populations within Syria and the states adjoining Syria such as Turkey, are playing out there. The holy war between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam is in the mix. Finally, global players such as the American Empire, European interests with their colonial echoes and Russia are contesting the space and control over the production and transportation of energy. The following article discusses the informal alliance between three of the major contestants: The Great Game Comes to Syria.

From the perspective of the regional conflict between Iran and Israel currently smouldering in Syria, we have an indication of a potential escalation of the war: US CENTCOM Chief Makes “Secret And Unprecedented” Visit To Israel As Russia Mulls Arming Syria. I thought the Russians already had S-300 missile systems in Syria but that may not be the case. Israel wants to maintain air superiority over Syria and may not tolerate the move: Russia To Send Advanced Anti-Aircraft Missiles To Syria, Warns Israel Of “Catastrophic Consequences”.

The American Empire (AE)

The AE is admitting that it has lost dominance in the South China Sea. Top US Admiral Warns China Now Controls The South China Sea. At stake are your favourite policy  principles:

  • the bedrock of stability in the Indo-Pacific region;
  • American exceptionalism; and
  • to preserve international orders and norms.

World War III

Comments on NATO’s aggressive move on Russia: A Furtive Glance at the US’s Ongoing War Preparations Against Russia.

National Politics

The changes in the German political scene as it moves towards nationalism has much broader implications that hinge on energy: Merkel Caught In Energy Conundrum Over Germany’s Future. Relations between Germany and Russia after the end of Cold War I were thawing, a move that was mutually beneficial. Germany needs Russian gas and the export market. Russia needs the German market.

The AE of course did not like this and subverted the Russian-leaning government in the Ukraine, effectively terminated the improving relations. The changes in the German political scene, however, may be moving back to a rapprochement with Russia: Merkel Caught In Energy Conundrum Over Germany’s Future. The failure of Germany to join Britain and France in attacking Syria in the recent false flag incident may be an indicator of the shift.

Islamism

This is the end point of a trend that many have raised alarm about: Belgium: First Islamic State In Europe?. The interview with Martin Rudner, referenced under the Canada topic, refers to the grand plan of the Islamic State. Sections about al-Qaeda’s 20-year plan to establish a global caliphate are quoted below with added emphasis:

DM: In a piece you wrote in 2013 on al-Qaeda’s 20-year plan, you noted that it culminates in 2020 with a renewed Islamic caliphate. We’re getting close. How much of this plan has been implemented so far?
MR: So far, each stage [described] in the article has been fulfilled on time. Right now, the current stage is that of mobilizing the modern world in preparation for ‘the great confrontation.’ We see that happening. That’s why you see al-Qaeda and ISIS very active across a range of Muslim countries from Mindanao in the Philippines to Morocco. The great confrontation is supposed to [start] next year against the infidels — the West and the Russians and China. They see a two-year struggle, culminating in their victory. That’s [al-Qaeda’s] strategic plan.

What shape will that [their intentions] take?
MR: It certainly will take the form of terrorist attacks, but also, as they seize territory, they’ll build on that territorial [success] to conquer neighbouring territory. This is Islamic history. It’s what they teach themselves. It began with a fairly modest presence in what is today Saudi Arabia and within a very short time, expanded from the Atlantic Ocean to India, through Spain into central France, and through Turkey to Europe, literally through the gates of Vienna by the 16th Century. They would say that if they get their territory, they could expand by persuading people to become Muslims or by defeating them as infidels. Their targets are China, Russia, Europe, the U.S. and Canada. They see us as the far enemy.

Apart from other threats, I take this one most seriously. We’ll be fighting in the streets. In case you don’t understand it yet, you are an infidel, nice person or not.

Trump

I have been thinking a lot about who and what Trump is. I have made a number of wrong projections based on his rhetoric and need to understand him better. I am also reading articles as of late that touch on his character, and have decide that it deserves its own topic.

The following article by Seymour M. Hersh gives a good picture of how he operates: Trump‘s Red Line. In short, he made a decision to attack Assad based on pictures in the media of un-established provenance. He refused to listen to his advisors, determined to exact some form of retribution from the Syrians. Fortunately he had smart men around him who gave him an acceptable option that would minimize the geopolitical damage. This paragraph sums it up:

The national security advisers understood their dilemma: Trump wanted to respond to the affront to humanity committed by Syria and he did not want to be dissuaded. They were dealing with a man they considered to be not unkind and not stupid, but his limitations when it came to national security decisions were severe. “Everyone close to him knows his proclivity for acting precipitously when he does not know the facts,” the adviser said. “He doesn’t read anything and has no real historical knowledge. He wants verbal briefings and photographs. He’s a risk-taker. He can accept the consequences of a bad decision in the business world; he will just lose money. But in our world, lives will be lost and there will be long-term damage to our national security if he guesses wrong. He was told we did not have evidence of Syrian involvement and yet Trump says: ‘Do it.”’

I have emphasized the key personality traits Hersh identified. Whether you like Trump or not is irrelevant when studying what he does and how he does it.

In the next article, Pat Buchanan argues that Trump has been successfully co-opted by the neoconservative establishment: Trump: Prisoner of the War Party? The idea that Trump can be manipulated is one that appears from time to time. I would accept that interests who understand his character correctly, can and have used this understanding to influence him to achieve their desired outcomes.

The better we understand Trump and the interests at large working against him, the better we will be able to anticipate his future actions.

Canada

When will we get our share: New Zealand Braces For “Super Gonorrhea”: It’s A Matter Of “When, Not If”?

The end approacheth: mortgage rates are rising: “Canada Is In Serious Trouble” Again, And This Time It’s For Real.

Here’s trouble: “We Know It’s Going To Be Painful”: Half Of Existing Canadian Mortgages Are Up For Renewal In 2018.The bad news is that a certain percentage may default. Also, the increased monthly payments will remove spending from the rest of the economy as the debt serving costs per household rise. The good news is that rates should continue to rise and those who survive the reset this year will be protected  – for the next five years – until the day of reckoning arrives again. I have never understood why the government implemented this 5-year renewal scheme. We don’t have it for any other class of debt.

Gas prices in Ontario are bouncing around $1.25 – $1.30 /litre. Historically, recall these prices (in USD):

More precisely, from Statistics Canada data Table 326-0009 Average retail prices for gasoline and fuel oil, by urban centre monthly (cents per litre), gasoline prices peaked at $1.405 cents /litre in Toronto in June 2014 when oil peaked at $108.0 USD/bbl (source: EIA. Cushing OK WTI Spot Price). In March 2018, Toronto gas was at $1.261 /litre while oil was at $65.8 USD/bbl. If oil were to rise 64% to the 2014 level, gas would be just under $2.00 /litre. That’s $0.60 /litre more than in 2014 thanks to your provincial government.

The Middle East is a tinderbox and a regional war between Israel and Iran appears more and more likely. Saudi Arabia would come in with other Gulf States against Iran so the oil fields are at risk. Oil over $200 /bbl would be not unlikely. That’s $4.00 /litre gas. Combined with higher debt servicing costs, can you spell severe recession for Canada? Keep your eyes on the Iranian situation.

A friend sent me the link to the next article: On the possibility of an al-Qaeda attack in Canada: ‘I think we’re very vulnerable’. The political structure of Canada and the relationship of governments with the aboriginal community and environmental groups makes the defense of Canadian infrastructure highly problematic. The expert interviewed understates the risk, IMO.

Economic Issues

Pension Funds

Lance Roberts writes about the scope of the oncoming pension crisis: The Pension Crisis Is Worse Than You Think. Pension plans have been run as P onzi schemes. Contributions from new young workers are necessary to pay benefits to retirees since most funds today are not structured in a sustainable manner. The current estimated shortfall in retirement savings for the major economies is : World’s Major Economies to Come up $400 Trillion Short on Retirement Savings. So that you understand that this problem is here now for many retirees, read: California Pension Crisis An Increasing Drag On Cities, Counties. California is the canary in Ontario’s coalmine.

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