Closing Thought–13Nov17

Over the weekend I read a news story that took me aback.  It made me ask why this is not a news story lead instead of he said, she said…..

It appears that the Black Death is making a comeback…..you know that disease the wiped out about half of Europe in the 1300’s.

It is making a comeback in Africa….it seems to have started in Madagascar….and moved inland…..

Malawi has become the tenth country in Africa to be put on high alert over fears the pneumonic plague could spread there from Madagascar, where at least 140 people have been killed by the devastating disease.

South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania, La Reunion and Mayotte, Mauritius and Comoros are the other nine nations preparing for the spread of the disease from the east African island.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ten-african-nations-now-high-alert-over-spread-black-death-plague-1646963

I think that this outbreak is a little too important to be on page 6 of the newspaper….

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Death In Mali

I recently wrote a post about eh death of a Green Beret at the hands of 2 SEALs in Mali.  Sadly to say there was not much outrage by my readers over this death….that worries me and shows just how little these wars mean to the average American….to them none of this means anything at all.  and that is truly sad….

I have been watching this development of the investigation into the death of an American at the hands of two other Americans….how sad…..

Logan Melgar hadn’t had a drink on June 4.

The Green Beret sergeant’s dry day became a key to unraveling the narrative spun by the elite Navy commandos whom military investigators now suspect killed him, officials familiar with the case said.

Melgar, a staff sergeant in the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group, was specifically selected for an intelligence operation in the West African nation of Mali. He was well respected by the American Embassy staff and the partner forces there, a former U.S. Africa Command official said. But shortly before he died, Melgar told his wife that he had a bad feeling about two of his partners in that effort, both of whom were members of SEAL Team Six.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/green-beret-discovered-seals-illicit-cash-then-he-was-killed

Americans killing Americans……not cool at all.

America’s (Dis) Regard for its Soldiers and Veterans

We have just celebrated Veterans Day…..a day when we hold our veterans in high regard……think about that statement for a moment……

We thank them for their service…..but do Americans really care?  Do we as a society really give a sh*t?  My thought is that we do or say these things because it is expected of us….not because we really care…..

I believe that if we had a shared experience our concern would be more real…..how real can the concern be when about 1% of the country actually experiences military service and the horrors of war?

I recently read an article on this subject in the American Conservative (yes, the old professor finds some worth in a conservative publication)…….

The American people and their leaders have been swooning for years over the boys and girls in uniform. Our national crush on the armed forces reflects in part symptoms of lingering collective post-9/11 traumatic stress syndrome. The al Qaeda attacks represented the deadliest terrorist strike in American history, and that incongruous bolt of death and destruction from the blue skies of an otherwise lovely fall day compounded our terror. Our armed forces rushed to protect us after the attack and then quickly visited righteous retribution on the perpetrators and their Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

In addition to our gratitude for the military’s protection after 9/11, the public’s affection for our military is reinforced by the fact that we now regard it as one of the few truly functional sectors of our society. In a recent Gallup poll, 73 percent of respondents demonstrated confidence in the armed forces, compared with only 41 percent for organized religion, 18 percent for big business, and 9 percent for Congress. Another polling organization finds that 78 percent of the public holds our soldiers’ contributions in high regard, above the share that feels the same of teachers (72 percent), doctors (66 percent), and even scientists (65 percent). Not surprisingly, Pew detects a general, if diffuse, sense of gratitude among the 91 percent of respondents who declare they are “proud” of the military.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/americas-dis-regard-for-its-veterans-soldiers/

Ask yourself if you regard for the soldiers and veterans is genuine or is just something that is expected of you…..

More On GOP Tax Bills

The GOP health care plans has been a bust…..and the GOP needs something that that they can point to and say that they have a win this session of the Congress……taxes is the basket they are putting all their apples in…..

So far no matter how they try to sale their plan it still equates to rich get breaks and poor get the shaft….

Yet another analysis shows how bad the middle class will be screwed…..again……

Critics of the Republican tax plan say it offers a crystal-clear view of which Americans matter to the Trump administration and the Party in control of Congress—and which don’t. Despite an aggressive push to portray the proposal as a tax cut for middle-class Americans, according to a New York Times analysis, millions of middle-income families would pay more in taxes immediately—and many more would see their tax bills rise over time.

“The GOP tax plan is a simple political statement about who matters more in American democracy: the heirs to hedge fund fortunes or everyone else in the country,” wrote Zach Carter in the Huffington Post on Monday. “Trump and the Republicans have chosen the dynasts.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/11/07/yet-another-analysis-shows-how-trump-gop-tax-scam-will-bury-middle-class

But now the House and the Senate each have dueling plans……

Senate Republicans revealed the details of their sweeping tax legislation Thursday, including a one-year delay in plans for a major corporate tax cut despite strident opposition from the White House and others in their own party. Their bill would leave the prized mortgage interest deduction untouched for homeowners in a concession to the powerful real estate lobby but would ignore a House compromise on the hot-button issue of state and local tax deductions. On the other side of the Capitol, the House Ways and Means Committee approved its own version of the legislation on a party-line 24-16 vote. Changing the tax code is President Trump’s top priority and a goal many Republicans believe has grown even more urgent in the wake of election losses on Tuesday that displayed an energized Democratic electorate, the AP reports.

Yet as the Senate Finance Committee unveiled its bill, a few stark differences emerged with the version approved by the House tax-writing committee, underscoring the challenges ahead in getting both chambers to agree on the complex and far-reaching legislation that would affect nearly every American. The Senate bill would fully repeal the state and local deduction claimed by many taxpayers, an idea that has drawn vigorous opposition from House Republicans in New York and New Jersey and resulted in a compromise in the House version of the bill that would allow property taxes to be deducted up to $10,000. On the other hand, the House bill would cap the mortgage interest deduction, an idea that caused intense blowback from the real estate lobby, but the Senate tax measure would leave it unchanged. Click for more on the similarities and differences between the House and Senate bills.

Please some one tell us what would a real tax reform look like…….

No matter our politics, most Americans have a beef with taxes. And it’s no wonder.

Working class Americans pay a much greater share of their income than the wealthiest Americans, who get away with exploiting tax loopholes and paying less than their fair share to support public projects and government programs.

Our system is rigged to favor the richest, so tax reform is key to un-rigging the economy. But the latest GOP tax plan is a slimy wet kiss for the wealthiest Americans.

It doesn’t even try to propose reforms — it’s literally just a giant giveaway to millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that 80 percent of the benefits in the new plan will go to the richest 1 percent, while nearly one in three working families would end up paying more.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/11/01/what-real-tax-reform-could-look

Real tax reform is possible but the GOP feels they have to treat the rich and corporations as if they make up the bulk of the taxpayers……when we start treating all taxpayers the same then we can have real tax reform that will make the country strong again.

Making The Case For More War

This mash-up between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon all began when the Houthi tribesmen of Yemen were accused of a fired a missile into Saudi Arabia.

First the White House condemned the attack……

The White House on Wednesday condemned missile attacks by Yemen’s Houthi militias on Saudi Arabia, saying they threatened the region’s security and undermined efforts to halt the conflict.

‘Houthi missile attacks against Saudi Arabia, enabled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, threaten regional security and undermine UN efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict,’ it said in a statement as US President Donald Trump began a visit to the Chinese capital.

Then the condemnation moved to the UN…….

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations news release said the missile the Houthi rebels launched toward Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport on Nov. 4 may “also be of Iranian origin.”

“Saudi Arabia’s announcement confirms once again the Iranian regime’s complete disregard for its international obligations. By providing these types of weapons to the Houthi militias in Yemen, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp‎s is violating two UN resolutions simultaneously,” Haley said in a statement.

Let’s stop right here for a moment……

Let me see if I have the right……Iran may have given a missile to the Houthi and they fired it into Saudi Arabia and the region went batcrap crazy and yet the US is given billions worth of military hardware to the Saudis which they have used on their neighbor Yemen and all is fine with the world.  Is that not he very definition of hypocrisy?

The United States has asked the world to “hold Iran accountable” on Tuesday, after Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of “direct military aggression” after a Yemeni rebel missile attack near Riyadh.

Washington’s Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley claimed Iran had supplied a missile to the Houthis that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July, and referred to Riyadh’s claim that the weapon used on the Saturday strike “may also be of Iranian origin”.

“By providing these types of weapons to the Houthi militias in Yemen, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is violating two UN resolutions simultaneously,” Haley said.

How many missiles have been fired into the Kingdom from Yemen in the last couple of years?  And yet this most recent one has war written all over it……why?

Over the weekend Yemen’s Houthis claimed responsibility for a ballistic missile strike against Riyadh. Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for being behind the attack, as well as the Lebanese movement Hezbollah in the same statement.

This was not the first Houthi Scud attack on Riyadh. In March 2017 the Houthis launched a Scud missile at King Salman air base. Then the kingdom did not make an issue of Iran being behind the attack or invoking Hezbollah. Why this time?

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/yemens-ballistic-missile-launch-and-saudi-arabias-ballistic-response-1343573120

If so then should the US also be held accountable for the carnage in Yemen?

Who is driving this scenario?  Israel has wanted someone to attack Iran for decades are they about to get their wish?

Will this new war in the Middle East begin with the Saudis attacking Lebanon?

Clueless In DC

I try to stay away from hard news on weekends….I try to set those few days side for me and my better half to do whatever she wants….

Sad to say that news got through my filter and sent me into a laughing spree that lasted about 15 minutes….hard core laughing…tears in eyes and hard to catch me breath….side hurting laughter.

It appears that Fearless Leader has his panties in a twist because Li’l Kim called him “old”…….

President Trump was on Twitter Sunday morning from Hanoi, taunting Kim Jong Un. After North Korea on Saturday referred to Trump’s speech last week in South Korea as “reckless remarks by an old lunatic,” Trump responded with his tweet, the AP reports: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!” Trump partially echoed those comments when asked at a news conference with Vietnam’s president Sunday if he might ever really become friends with Kim. “I think anything’s a possibility,” he said. “Strange things happen in life.” He added that it would be “very, very nice” if a friendship evolved.

This this person joking?  After all he has said in his Twitter account about Li’l Kim and he thinks that one day they could be friends….please tell me this man is joking and not delusional!

Is he so ignorant that he does not think that anything he has said would be taken as an insult…..I am beginning to think that Fearless Leader is suffering from some sort of mental illness.

What Are The Saudis Doing?

A couple of years ago The Saudis with US assistance started their bombing campaign of Yemen that has resulted in many thousands of civilian deaths and the worse Cholera epidemic in a century……with no end in sight.

And now the Saudis are beating the war drums with Lebanon…..why?

Over the past 24 hours, the drumbeat of war in the Middle East has risen to a fever-pitch. Saudi Arabia has provoked both an internal domestic, and a foreign crisis to permit Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to realise his grandiose vision of the Saudi state.

Internally, Salman suddenly created an anti-corruption commission and within four hours it had ordered the arrest of some of the highest level royal princes in the kingdom, including at least four sitting ministers and the son of a former king.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/saudi-arabia-enlists-israel-drumbeat-war-768675850

Is this just chests thumping?  Looks to be a serious threat to the region……Saudi has told its people to get out of Lebanon…..

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on Thursday urged its citizens to leave Lebanon “as soon as possible”, days after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation while visiting the kingdom.

The announcement was followed on Thursday by a Bahraini order that its citizens leave Lebanon.

“Due to the situation in the Republic of Lebanon, the kingdom asks its nationals visiting or living in Lebanon to leave as soon as possible, and advises its citizens not to travel there,” said a Saudi foreign ministry source, quoted by state news agency SPA.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-arabia-calls-its-citizens-leave-lebanon-1035681856

This all began when the PM of Lebanon on a visit of the Kingdom submitted his resignation and has not returned home…..

Lebanon believes Saad al-Hariri is being held in Saudi Arabia, from where he resigned as Lebanese prime minister, two top government officials in Beirut said, amid a deepening crisis pushing Lebanon onto the frontlines of a power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-politics/exclusive-lebanon-believes-saudi-holds-hariri-demands-his-return-idUSKBN1D914F

The question now is the PM being held prisoner in SA?

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who attempted to resign last weekend, reportedly met with a French diplomat at an undisclosed location within Saudi Arabia, where both he and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince claimed he is “not a prisoner.” But is he?

France is clearly far from convinced, as the most recent statements out of the French Foreign Ministry said they “wish Hariri had all his freedom of movement,” and added that he should be able to “make his own choices” regarding his future in Lebanon.

The claim of Hariri facing an “assassination plot,” his excuse for resigning, itself appears to have originated in Saudi media. Lebanese officials have refused to accept the resignation until he returns to Lebanon, and have demanded Saudi Arabia allow him to do so.

(antiwar.com)

Is Saudi Arabia setting up Lebanon for yet another of its wars of attrition?  How deep will the US be in its support for this action?  How will the rest of the world react to Saudi’s aggression?

This all began when a missile was fired by the Houthis (Shia) into Saudi Arabia……

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile fired by north Yemeni forces at their capital city. The missile was identified as a Burqan 2H, a Yemeni design, and Yemen’s Defense Ministry confirmed firing it.

Rather than just the latest retaliation in Saudi Arabia’s two and a half year war in Yemen, however, Saudi officials seem to be looking to turn the incident into the start of a region-wide war, saying it amounted to a declaration of war against them by both Lebanon and Iran.

This claim centers on Saudi claims, which appear to have started Monday but weren’t mentioned over the weekend when the interception happened, that the missile was an “Iranian” missile, fired at the Saudi capital by Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, which is part of the Lebanese government.

This narrative aligns neatly with Saudi foreign policy goals, as they’ve long tried to present Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi movement as an Iranian proxy, and have been keen to pick fights with Hezbollah over the group’s support for the Syrian government.

Factually, however, the claim has major problems. Saudi and Yemeni officials were both identifying the missile as a Burqan 2H immediately after the interception. This is a known Yemeni model, meaning it’s not an Iranian missile smuggled into Yemen. There has likewise never been evidence of Hezbollah have any presence in Yemen, and no conceivable reason why Yemen would need a Lebanese militia to fire a Yemeni-made missile from inside Yemeni territory.

Analysts say the Saudi Crown Prince is keen to confront Iran militarily, and that this may provide a pretext to do so. Exactly what his plans with Lebanon are remain unclear, but the Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, was visiting Saudi Arabia at the time, and has subsequently resigned amid claims of an “assassination plot,” and blamed Iran and Hezbollah as well.

(antiwar.com)

Looking for a fight and willing to do Israel’s fighting for them?

Could Saudi’s warmonger backfire?

Reuters reports that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is not being allowed to leave Saudi Arabia following his “resignation” in Riyadh:

Lebanon believes Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as prime minister on Saturday while in Saudi Arabia, is being held by Riyadh, and Beirut plans to work with foreign states to secure his return, a top Lebanese government official said on Thursday.

A second source, a senior politician close to Saudi-allied Hariri, said Saudi Arabia had ordered him to resign and put him under house arrest. A third source familiar with the situation said Saudi Arabia was controlling and limiting his movement.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/saudi-interference-in-lebanon-is-backfiring/

(More on this situation to come)