WTF?

After my Closing Thought I usually shut IST down for the evening but from time to time a story comes out and I just cannot let it go……this is one of those stories…..

We have heard all the “tough” talk that Trump has leveled at the North Korean leader…..the Fire & Fury”…that the US is “Locked & Loaded”…but he has hit a new level of stupid.

Just a short time ago Trump was meeting with the press at his gold club in New Jersey and while answering question he made a bold assertion….

Trump said, “We have many options for Venezuela, and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option. We have many options for Venezuela. This is our neighbor. You know, we’re all over the world. We have troops all over the world, in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering, and they’re dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”

If you don’t want to read it then listen to it…..

Now the reason I am posting this immediately is because I have NO idea what Venezuela has done to the US that would warrant an attack.

How many more counties is this mad man going to threaten?

Somebody needs to reel in this person before we are fighting every third world country he can think of…….

The title describes this the best….WTF?

Closing Thought–11Aug17

Can You Hear That?

Ever read a news story that made you stop and think?

The one that caught my attention was the story of hearing loss by some American diplomats and some of Canada as well…..a fascinating thing indeed….

A duty station in Cuba could be hazardous to your hearing…..

The Canadian government said Thursday that at least one Canadian diplomat in Cuba has been treated for hearing loss, following disclosures that a group of American diplomats in Havana suffered the same. US officials believe they were caused by an advanced sonic device, per the AP. Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Brianne Maxwell said Canadian officials “are aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and US diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana” and were working to figure out the cause. In the fall of 2016, US diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation. Several were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of President Obama’s reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Some of the US diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said. After months of investigation, US officials concluded that the diplomats had been attacked with an advanced sonic weapon that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences. It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack, or had some other purpose. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US retaliated by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington on May 23. The Cuban government said that “Cuba has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception.”

Investigations on-going but how will they determine what the cause is or who is behind this attack?

Time to start the weekend….hope all my readers have a wonderful couple of days….chuq

North Korea–That Was The Week That Was

There has been a wealth of news on and about North Korea this week…..let me catch everyone up that was smart enough to ignore most of it…..but if you did not get enough speculation and innuendo then I can help out….

President Trump escalated his war of words with North Korea on Thursday by declaring that his provocative threat to rain down “fire and fury” might not have been harsh enough, as nuclear tensions between the two nations continued to crackle. – New York Times

With the United States and North Korea locked in an escalating exchange of threats, South Korea told its people on Friday that the White House had agreed not to do anything on the Korean Peninsula that would catch the South off guard. – New York Times

China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first. – Washington Post

North Korea’s vow to ignite an “enveloping fire” of test missiles near the American island of Guam is the first time it has specified a target with so much detail, escalating a showdown between Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, and President Trump. – New York Times

Some have urged President Trump to open negotiations with him. But it is unclear whether Mr. Kim is interested in talking, or what if anything he might demand in exchange for freezing or abandoning his nuclear program. He has made building a nuclear arsenal a top priority, arguing that it is the only way the North can guarantee its security and develop its economy. – New York Times

North Korea’s rapid progress toward a nuclear weapon that could strike the United States, and the escalating war rhetoric in both capitals, has raised fears of atomic annihilation — a sense of dread not experienced since the coldest days of the Cold War. But the nuclear standoff also carries the risk that future, smaller disputes with Pyongyang, however manageable in the past, will become far more consequential. – Washington Post

The CIA and other key U.S. intelligence agencies agree with the assessment that North Korea has miniaturized a nuclear weapon to place atop a ballistic missile, U.S. officials told NBC News. – NBC News

The United States and its allies have military options for confronting North Korea — including an all-out invasion, more limited air and missile strikes, cyberattacks or a covert effort to oust the regime of Kim Jong Un. But those scenarios carry enormous risks, including the possibilities of loss of life, loose nukes falling into terrorists’ hands or the conflict spreading to a wider Asian war. – Politico

The Trump administration is asking U.S. allies to cut back on the number of North Korean workers they allow in the country, in a bid to starve North Korea of money it uses to fund its weapons program. – Washington Examiner

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Thursday that North Korea’s expanding nuclear weapons program marks a ‘failure’ on the part of the United States. – The Hill

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday said President Trump doesn’t need congressional approval for a military strike against North Korea, but he urged his colleagues to give it “as a last resort.” – The Hill

South Korea has sought to damp down escalating tensions between North Korea and the US over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme, telling its northern neighbour that the door to dialogue is still open. – Financial Times

The escalating threat arising from nuclear-armed North Korea’s recent series of missile tests is prompting South Korea to beef up its military muscle and experts warn it could spur an arms buildup elsewhere in Northeast Asia. – Reuters

Interview: The Cipher Brief’s Mackenzie Weinger reached out to former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin for his thoughts on the president’s comment and why he thinks resumed negotiations at some level are still worth a try. – The Cipher Brief

Michael Mazza writes: For too long, the regime has sown terror among its own people and wreaked havoc on the international stage. Bringing about its downfall and, potentially, peaceful unification with Seoul, is the best way to eliminate the North Korean threat once and for all while bringing freedom and prosperity to its long-suffering people. – Forbes

Patrick Cronin writes: The Korean Peninsula has been a dangerous flashpoint ever since the war resulted in an armistice just over sixty-four years ago. North Korea’s latest achievements in weapons of mass destruction make the situation even more dangerous and yet, as with the past, manageable. We have reached a culminating point, and we should brace ourselves for a new level of permanent crisis even if hot war never breaks out. – The National Interest

Kori Schake writes: Stock markets in the U.S., Asia, and Europe unsurprisingly registered their worry in retreat. What is surprising is how little alarm has been expressed so far by the governments of South Korea, Japan, and China. This suggests that governments are beginning to ignore the president’s statements. Disbelief of the president may be a stabilizing factor for foreign governments, but as Eliot Cohen points out, it will be a major liability if the president needs to persuade the American people to go to war against North Korea. – Defense One

Now if you still have your sanity then go out and enjoy your weekend…..if all this bummed you out…then welcome to the club.

Don’t Privatize the Afghan War—Just End It!

Well said!

I have been a proponent of the US getting out of Afghanistan for several years…..that war is going nowhere fast.

It seems that the president is not happy with the situation in Afghanistan either….now someone in the admin has floated the idea of privatizing the war and letting a horde of mercenaries handle the situation.

Trump’s mercenary supporter Erik Prince has a self-serving proposal for Afghanistan. It must be condemned and rejected.

Erik Prince, the notorious founder of the military contracting company formerly known as Blackwater, has been making the rounds of media outlets to promote his idea for privatizing the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Prince, whose company was renamed Academi, and who now chairs a Chinese-owned company named Frontier Services Group, is unabashedly vying for a lucrative Pentagon contract that would turn over military operations in Afghanistan to a private corporation. He has gone as far as calling for an “American viceroy” in Afghanistan to fix the United States’ failing war.

Source: Don’t Privatize the Afghan War—Just End It – Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists – Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists

The Navy Times notes that the proposal would likely run into legal trouble. Current defense law stipulates that “the use of combat power against enemy forces or hostile actors is inherently in the purview of the U.S. government.” Contractors can provide assistance, but Prince’s plan goes way beyond that. The former Navy SEAL says it would cost about $10 billion year, far less than the Pentagon’s current annual outlay of $40 billion.

I agree with the author….enough time and resources have been spent on the country…..declare a success and bring the troops home and let the country rise or fall on its own.

Sicilian Fasci Movement

This will be your final history lesson for the week…..enjoy.

About here some person will read the title and immediately set off schooling me about the Godwin Law because they will assume that I am aiming this at the their fearless leader in DC.

As usual they would be WRONG!

This post is not about Mussolini or even his patron Hitler…nope….it is about a movement in Sicily in the late 19th century.

During the 1860s and 1870s, workers in Sicily supported each other through mutual aid societies, which claimed the right to strike and to lobby for wage increases. This precedent of organized labor, along with a recent history of peasant uprisings against feudal aristocracy and the spread of socialist ideology, set the stage for the Fasci Siciliani movement. A trade war affecting the main components of Sicily’s economy (fruit, wine, and sulfur) led the Sicilian elite to institute higher rents and taxes, transferring the economic hardship to the working class. Fasci, meaning “bundle” in Italian, were associations of laborers that advocated for workers’ rights constituted Sicily’s first social movement.

Source: Sicilian Fasci movement, 1893-4

For those that like history and politics it is always a joy to find out about how the world looked at society back in the day.

I hope that you, my reader, enjoyed your small slice of history for the day…..

Class Dismissed!

GOP Abandons All Pretense

Many years now I have been saying that the GOP is full of hypocrites….and recently they have proved it in a big way.

For ages the GOP has pretended that the military and our veterans were something special and heroes for their service…..

Every election they salute our veterans and use them as political props….but since the election of Donald J. Trump there has been a bit of a push back against these false narratives.

Recently head of the NSC has been attacked by the GOP and some within the party because he threw some of the alt-Right people out of the Council…..Even military veterans inside Trump’s own White House are not immune. Retired Gen. H. R. McMaster, Trump’s National Security Adviser and a Silver Star recipient, has been attacked by the far right after he fired some extreme nationalists from the NSC.

Then there is John McCain after his cancer diagnosis….RNC member Diana Orrock retweeted a call for McCain, who is being treated for brain cancer, to “please just fucking die already.” Alt-right communities online openly celebrated his diagnosis, calling it “godly justice.”

And these are just a few examples of the crap they are spreading……

Source: GOP smears a Silver Star general, Purple Heart veteran, and former POW in week of shame – Shareblue

Looks like their heroes are only heroes when they are useful….like I said f*cking hypocrites!

The GOP is killing itself…..a party ideas in the past they have become a party of opposition only…..NO real agenda on anything….just words in a campaign ad.

All this division within the White House is not getting anything done to “Make America Great Again”!

You people that voted for this clusterfuck asked for and now you have.

Congrats!

State Run Media

Is it possible that we could be getting a state run news outlet?

Back during the campaign and shortly after he took office I wrote about the possibility of a Trump News Network…..there were several ways that he, Trump, could set up his own news network

Source: A Step Closer To Trump TV – In Saner Thought

We have a bit of a network dedicated to Trump and his views…it is a YouTube channel…..for now it is called “Trump Breaking News Network”……

Well news has come out that a company, a broadcast company, is in the move to push the Trump agenda disguised as news.

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, the Sinclair Broadcasting group cut a deal with Jared Kushner for “good” coverage of the Trump Administration, which seems to have paid off.

Politico reported last December:

Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary, Kushner said. Kushner highlighted that Sinclair, in states like Ohio, reaches a much wider audience — around 250,000 viewers[sic]— than networks like CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000.

With Fox News suffering several major setbacks in the past year, Sinclair Broadcasting is making moves to become the new giant of right-wing media. Many are now calling Sinclair ‘Trump TV.’

Source: ‘Classic Propaganda’: Sinclair Broadcasting Pushes Aside Fox News to Become ‘Trump TV’ | Common Dreams

Sinclair if successful will be able to push the Trump news to about 72% of the nation.  There will be mandatory stories on these local stations that carry the Trump view and of course will be pushing that the MSM is the enemy and a purveyor of fake news.

They have even hired the communications officer of the RNC as their chief political analyst…if this comes about then we are running close to having state controlled media….and I do not believe that is what the Founders had in mind…..do you?

Of course my more radical Right wing brethren will argue that the MSM is already pushing the “liberal” agenda….and I will say that I can see why they claim such….but I do not think that these main stream media outlets are always pushing fake news…I will admit that they do have a tendency to be used as a propaganda tool….but most are doing their jobs whether we like their reports or not…..

This still smells like some sort of authoritarian power grab to me.