This post was published at George Webb
2017 presented the world with a number of crises, among which were the continued wars in the Middle Ease and the spread of terrorism, the humanitarian crises in Africa and Asia, the rising military tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and the militarization of both the South China Sea and eastern Europe. Throughout the past year regional and global powers have repeatedly been on the verge of open military conflict, any of which may yet still lead to large regional wars.
In the Middle East the war on ISIS, the Iran nuclear deal, the crisis in Lebanon, and Israeli-Arab tensions took center stage.
By the end of the year, the self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS had fully collapsed in both Syria and Iraq. Thanks to the efforts of the alliance between Syria, Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, along with the Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition, this group was driven out from almost all of the areas it had held in the two countries. ISIS has lost control of such strategic locations as Mosul, al-Qaim, Raqqah, al-Tabqah, Deir Ezzor, al-Mayadin, al-Bukamal, as-Sukhna, Deir Hafer, Maskanah, and al-Resafa.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/30/2017.
An All Nippon Airways flight en route from Los Angeles to Tokyo was forced to turn around four hours into the eleven hour journey to remove an “unauthorized person” from the flight, angering passengers who were told by the airline that passenger had a ticket for another airline.
A twitter user claiming to have been on board flight ANA 175 said that four people were questioned and detained; “1 Muslim,2 white, and 1 asian lady.”
Police said the massive U-turn was due to a “mix up, and was straightened out,” according to ABC7, and that the flight has been rescheduled to depart Wednesday morning.
Model Christine Teigen was aboard and documented the incident over Twitter.
a flying first for me: 4 hours into an 11 hour flight and we are turning around because we have a passenger who isn’t supposed to be on this plane. Why…why do we all gotta go back, I do not know
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) December 27, 2017
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.
Ahhh, yes, the gatekeepers are being exposed, and it appears that this might just be in connection with President Donald Trump’s executive order and resignation of Eric Schmidt as executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Seattle employees of both Microsoft and Amazonwere busted after using their work accounts to engage women for sex who were trafficked in from Asia.
Silicon Valley’s Female Problem was well-known long before the #MeToo movement started toppling piggish men in media, politics and the arts. But emails obtained by Newsweek reveal another sordid corner of the tech sector’s treatment of women: a horny nest of prostitution ‘hobbyists’ at tech giants Microsoft, Amazon and other firms in Seattle’s high tech alley.
The emails from the men, some hoovered up in a sting operation against online prostitution review boards, are all similar, often disguised as replies to wrong addresses.
This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on DECEMBER 26, 2017.
Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,
At his trademark annual year-end press conference in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin once again let drop selected foreign-policy nuggets essential to understanding what lies ahead on the turbulent Eurasian geopolitical chessboard.
By now it’s well known that Putin will run again in the presidential elections scheduled for March 18 (‘it will be self-nomination’ and ‘I hope for the overall support from the public’). The Man in Charge might as well continue to be in charge. So it’s always enlightening to bring down the (spin) noise: sit back, relax, and just listen.
On President Trump: ‘I am on first-name terms with Trump; yes, we would probably use the familiar ‘you.’ I hope he’ll get the opportunity to improve relations with Russia. Look at the markets, how they have grown. This means that investors trust the US economy, this means they trust what he [Donald Trump] is doing in this field.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.
Authored by Tom Luongo,
Iran is joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). By early next year, February by this account, Iran will join the five founding members of the Union and open the door for Turkey to do so later in 2018.
Between this and the end of the war in Syria, it’s not hard to declare the Brzezinski Doctrine of U. S.-led Central Asian chaos as gasping its last breaths.
Iran finally joining the EAEU is a response to a number of factors, the most important of which is the continued belligerence by the U. S. Expanded economic sanctions on Iran and the EAEU’s leader Russia has created the need for greater coordination of economic and foreign policy objectives between them.
And it is creating the new realities in the region that will reshape the word for the next hundred years.
The Nuclear Gambit
In the dying days of the Obama administration it looked like the goal was to placate Iran to stop its pivot towards Russia and China. I believe that was the driving force behind Obama’s negotiating the controversial nuclear deal.
In effect, Obama tried to trade unfreezing Iran’s hundreds of billions in assets held in Western banks for Iran to ignore our atomization of Syria and the creation of a complete mess there.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.
Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,
Is the world’s center of gravity shifting to the heart of the Indo-Pacific – a new pivot to Asia?
In the context of the New Great Game in Eurasia, the New Silk Roads, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), integrates all of China’s instruments of national power – political, economic, diplomatic, financial, intellectual and cultural – to shape the 21st century geopolitical/geoeconomic order. BRI is the organizing concept of China’s foreign policy for the foreseeable future; the heart of what was conceptualized, even before President Xi Jinping, as China’s ‘peaceful rise.’
The Trump administration’s reaction to the breath and scope of BRI has been somewhat minimalistic. For the moment, it amounts to a terminological switch from what was previously known as Asia-Pacific to ‘Indo-Pacific.’ The Obama administration, up to the former president’s last visit to Asia in September 2016, always referred to Asia-Pacific.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 8, 2017.
The world’s third largest economy has an aging and shrinking population and will simply disappear. The low fertility is not unique to Japan. The same problem besets Taiwan, China and Korea as well as the United States and Europe. In the West the establishment has opted for population replacement.
Countries like the UK, France and Sweden see a population growth only thanks to mass migration from Africa and Central Asia. The US replenished its dwindling population stock with migrants from Mexico to such an extent that in some counties Spanish is now the language of the majority.
After the Second World War Japan experienced the post-war baby boom. In 1948 a law was passed, most probably serving American interests, enabling easy access to abortion. At that time the fertility rate (average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime) was more or less stable – about 2.1 – which is the level needed to maintain population. However, in 1973 it started to decline rapidly and in 2005 it reached the lowest value of 1.26; in the same year the number of deaths has been higher than the number of births. Nowadays it stands at about 1.46.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 5, 2017.
Jihadism has been radiating out of Pakistan for decades and causing problems for the country’s relationships with other governments. Lately, however, it’s been Pakistan itself that is suffering from its homegrown Islamism. The country was founded on a contradiction between secularism and Islamism, and though it has covered up its incoherence, it has never overcome it. The contradiction is finally catching up to the country, and things in Pakistan will get worse before they get better.
Evidence that things in Pakistan are reaching their boiling point came, paradoxically, from the outside. A Nov. 22 report by a Pakistani daily said that a Chinese delegation visiting Pakistan had expressed concerns that political instability could adversely affect the tens of billions of dollars that China was investing in the South Asian nation. The report said that on Nov. 21, a joint committee on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – part of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative – approved the broad parameters of a long-term plan for the CPEC but failed to agree on development projects and financing for special economic zones. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, a Pakistani minister who serves as the country’s point man on the CPEC acknowledged that political unrest since 2014 was undermining the mega-development project.
This post was published at Mauldin Economics on DECEMBER 4, 2017.
21st Century Wire
Speculation has been rife over the past couple of years that Pakistan was clandestinely involved in the War on Yemen, but it turns out that it’s actually India which is the South Asian state playing a shadow role in this conflict.
Every now and then people are exposed to the thoroughly debunked fake news story that’s been circulating for the past couple of years claiming that Pakistan agreed to deploy its military forces to Yemen in support of the Saudi-led war on the country. Nothing of the sort ever happened because Islamabad refused to get directly involved in the war due to its sectarian implications and the quagmire-like risk that it entails, instead settling for a ‘compromise’ agreement to dispatch some of its forces to protect the Two Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia in the event that they ever come under attack from Yemeni-based fighters.
Since the Houthi National Liberation Movement harbors no such sacrilegious intentions, the announcement was essentially a face-saving way for Pakistan to politely resist the joint Saudi-Emirati pressure to get tangled up in this conflict as a de-facto mercenary force while still symbolically showing that it doesn’t outright reject its historic partnership with these two Gulf States.
Nevertheless, it’s widely thought that this prudent decision dealt irreversible damage to Pakistani-Emirati relations, seeing as how the latter has been doing most of the ‘heavy lifting’ in that warzone, and as such, would prefer for Pakistanis to bear the brunt of the Houthis’ effective countermeasures than their own troops.
This post was published at 21st Century Wire on NOVEMBER 29, 2017.
The tense situation over North Korea’s nuclear program has one top Russian diplomat sounding the alarm. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said that the world can no longer turn a ‘blind eye’ to alarming speed with which North Korea is advancing their weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea’s nuclear program could evolve into an ‘apocalyptic’ scenario, Morgulov said. He was speaking at the opening of the eighth annual Asian Conference of the Valdai Discussion Club, which is being held in Seoul, South Korea, CNBC reports. ‘I hope that a common sense, pragmatism, and an instinct of self-preservation would prevail among our partners,’ Morgulov added.
The Russian diplomat’s remarks come amid global concerns over North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s refusal to abandon his nuclear ambitions despite mounting international pressure. North Korea has conducted a record number of long-range missile tests this year, and in early September it carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.
Tensions continue to heighten as Kim and President Donald Trump trade numerous threats and insults. Over the summer, Trump warned Pyongyang it would be met with ‘fire and fury’ if it didn’t stop threatening the U. S. In late September while addressing the United Nations for the first time, he threatened to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea if it forced the U. S. to defend itself or its allies. In a speech to South Korea’s National Assembly, president Trump denounced Kim’s regime but also offered the erratic leader a path to peace if he agreed to cease long-range missile tests and move toward denuclearization. North Korea rejected his offer and said the president had ‘begged’ for nuclear war during his Asia trip.
This post was published at shtfplan on November 28th, 2017.
Russian deputy foreign minister Igor Morgulov said on Monday that “an apocalyptic scenario of developments” on the Korean Peninsula is possible, but Russia hopes that a common sense would prevail among the involved parties.
“A scenario of the apocalyptic development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula exists and we cannot turn our blind eye to it,” Morgulov said speaking at the opening of the eighth annual Asian Conference of the Valdai discussion club in Seoul. “I hope that a common sense, pragmatism and an instinct of self-preservation would prevail among our partners to exclude such negative scenario,” the Russian diplomat said, quoted by Russia’s Tass.
Fire and brimstone aside, Morgulov noted that a phase of calm appeared to be returning as North Korea’s current pause in provocations – the longest since last winter – indicates a step toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. ‘I think North Korea’s restraint for the past two months is within the simultaneous freeze road map’ suggested by China and Russia, Morgulov told reporters in Seoul on Monday according to Bloomberg. North Korea’s last provocation was on Sept. 15, when it fired its second missile over Japan in as many months. The 73-day pause is the longest since a 116-day break between October 2016 and February.
Russian and Chinese foreign ministers proposed in July a ‘double freezing’ initiative, under which North Korea refrains from missile and nuclear tests, and the U. S. and South Korea halt large-scale military exercises, however the U. S. has rejected this proposal, arguing that its drills are defensive in nature. Earlier this month, it carried out its first exercise in a decade using three aircraft carriers in the region, and plans to conduct drills with South Korea’s air force in early December.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 27, 2017.
In October, we discussed Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s, decision to hand over $32bn to recapitalise India’s state banks. The motivation was India’s slowing growth rate and the need to add one million Indians to the workforce every month. Crippled by massive bad debts, the state-owned banks were struggling to extend more credit to the economy. The announcement caused a surge in India’s Sensex equity index, led by the banks. India has the second highest bad debt ratio of the world’s largest economies – possibly third since China’s official figure is patently incorrect.
Enter Uday Kotak, Asia’s richest banker (net worth over $10 billion) and managing director of India’s Kotak Mahindra Bank.
Kotak is a self-made man. Turning down a job offer from a multinational, he set up a financial services conglomerate, beginning with bills discounting before adding stockbroking, investment banking, mutual funds and car finance. Kotak thinks he’s spotted a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ in Indian finance…so it probably bears considering. Nor is he alone as sovereign wealth funds and pension funds are also taking a close look. The opportunity is in India’s bad loans, as Bloomberg explains.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 22, 2017.
A new Veteran’s Affairs study is showing that a parasite from Vietnam could be killing veterans who fought in the war a half a century later.
Hundreds of veterans have a new reason to believe they may be dying from a silent bullet. Test results show some men may have been infected by a slow-killing parasite while fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia. The Department of Veterans Affairs this spring commissioned a small pilot study to look into the link between liver flukes ingested through raw or undercooked fish and a rare bile duct cancer. It can take decades for symptoms to appear. By then, patients are often in tremendous pain, with just a few months to live.
According to Fox News, of the 50 blood samples submitted, more than 20 percent came back positive or bordering positive for liver fluke antibodies, said Sung-Tae Hong, the tropical medicine specialist who carried out the tests at Seoul National University in South Korea. ‘It was surprising,’ he said, stressing the preliminary results could include false positives and that the research is ongoing.
This post was published at shtfplan on November 22nd, 2017.
Late last night, Reuters published an “exclusive” report which was undoubtedly intended to be a “gotcha” hit piece on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, courtesy of some disgruntled Obama/Clinton holdovers at the State Department. The report from Reuters came after they got their hands on a confidential “dissent” memo, signed by ” a dozen U. S. State Department officials” accusing Tillerson of violating the “Child Soldiers Prevention Act.” Here’s a summary from Reuters:
A group of about a dozen U. S. State Department officials have taken the unusual step of formally accusing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of violating a federal law designed to stop foreign militaries from enlisting child soldiers, according to internal government documents reviewed by Reuters.
A confidential State Department ‘dissent’ memo not previously reported said Tillerson breached the Child Soldiers Prevention Act when he decided in June to exclude Iraq, Myanmar, and Afghanistan from a U. S. list of offenders in the use of child soldiers. This was despite the department publicly acknowledging that children were being conscripted in those countries.
Keeping the countries off the annual list makes it easier to provide them with U. S. military assistance. Iraq and Afghanistan are close allies in the fight against Islamist militants, while Myanmar is an emerging ally to offset China’s influence in Southeast Asia.
Documents reviewed by Reuters also show Tillerson’s decision was at odds with a unanimous recommendation by the heads of the State Department’s regional bureaus overseeing embassies in the Middle East and Asia, the U. S. envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the department’s human rights office and its own in-house lawyers.
‘Beyond contravening U. S. law, this decision risks marring the credibility of a broad range of State Department reports and analyses and has weakened one of the U. S. government’s primary diplomatic tools to deter governmental armed forces and government-supported armed groups from recruiting and using children in combat and support roles around the world,’ said the July 28 memo.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 21, 2017.
The Department of Justice is taking its first tentative steps toward dismantling the 40-year-old system of affirmative action that governs admissions at US colleges and universities by opening an investigation into the admissions practices of America’s oldest and most venerated institution of higher education: Harvard.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the DOJ’s investigation into the use of race in its admissions process was inspired by a federal civil lawsuit filed in 2014 that alleged the university discriminates against Asian-Americans. The Department of Education dismissed the group’s allegations back in 2015. The lawsuit was brought by Edward Blum, a conservative lawyer who has focused on eliminating affirmative action. Blum, who successfully sheparded a case alleging the University of Texas discriminated against a white student all the way to the Supreme Court last year, laid out his arguments in a Washington Post op-ed published back in August, where he pointed out that the DOJ was already investigating incidences of discrimination against Asian Americans.
It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court has allowed universities to grant preferences to applicants based on race and ethnicity. Last year in Fisher v. University of Texas – in which Students for Fair Admissions provided counsel to the plaintiff – the Supreme Court allowed the University of Texas at Austin to continue the practice. Nonetheless, in Fisher and earlier cases, the court has been clear about the how these racial preferences must be implemented: Purposeful quotas and racial balancing are strictly prohibited. And, of course, diversity can never be a justification for invidious discrimination.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 21, 2017.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door migration policies have set in motion a self-reinforcing cycle of violence in which more and more people are carrying knives in public – including for self-defense. A 40-year-old man stabbed to death his 31-year-old wife and mother of their three children. Police said the man was angry that his wife was using social media. A “dark-skinned” man (dunklem Teint) drew a knife on a 54-year-old female train conductor when she asked him for his ticket. A recent surge in stabbings and knife-related violence across Germany is drawing renewed attention to the deteriorating security situation there since Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to allow in more than a million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
In recent months, people armed with knives, axes and machetes have brought devastation to all of Germany’s 16 federal states. Knives have been used not only not only to carry out jihadist attacks, but also to commit homicides, robberies, home invasions, sexual assaults, honor killings and many other types of violent crime.
Knife-related crimes have occurred in amusement parks, bicycle trails, hotels, parks, public squares, public transportation, restaurants, schools, supermarkets and train stations. Many Germans have the sense that danger lurks everywhere; public safety, nowhere.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 20, 2017.
Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,
After the 19th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party in October, one may discern Premier Xi Jinping’s vision of the emerging New World Order.
By 2049, the centennial of the triumph of Communist Revolution, China shall have become the first power on earth.
Her occupation and humiliation by the West and Japan in the 19th and 20th centuries will have become hated but ancient history.
America will have been pushed out of Asia and the western Pacific back beyond the second chain of islands.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.
Will a future, formal Trump-Putin summit be a game changer?
Last week, I noted that any encounter between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin that would take place at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, would have to address two critical questions if there was to be any clarity in U. S.-Russia relations.
We’ve now gotten a first draft of answers.
I argued that, for the Russian side, the overarching issue is whether or not Donald Trump is calling the shots on U. S. policy. Seven days ago, the White House press operation was signaling that there would be a formal encounter between the two presidents, a scheduled meeting with a defined agenda. As the week progressed, the United States began to back away from those announcements. By the end of the week, the encounter was a far less structured event, essentially folded in around an informal stroll to a photo opportunity and brief chats in between APEC sessions – nothing at all like the meeting that took place at the G-20 summit in Hamburg in July. What happened? And does it suggest that Donald Trump has a George W. Bush problem – the apparent inability to take a personal rapport with Vladimir Putin and transform it into concrete policy directives?
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 16, 2017.