World

Opinion/Analysis: In Syria, Trump needs a strategy to keep Russia, Assad and Iran off-balance – and US involvement to a minimum

President Trump has sent a message that his “red line” will not be crossed. It was important to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capability and that’s what we did. In addition, President Trump’s actions were not lost on Kim Jong Un and I believe this also weighed into the president’s calculus. The North Korea nuclear threat is the greatest threat facing the United States today. American strength and leadership has brought Kim Jong Un to the table to discuss denuclearization. Kim Jong Un was watching how we would respond to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s latest chemical attack on his own people, and he saw that with this president, “red lines” will not be crossed. Another complicating factor was Iran. Iran has been a “great enabler” of the North Korean nuclear threat, but they are also in Syria. This also had to weigh in on the president’s decision making process. The big question now is “What is the next step?” It is important that the United States execute a “3 Pronged Strategy” simultaneously designed to drive a wedge between Russia, Assad, and Iran. Let’s keep them busy and off balance, focusing on their own problems, so they have less time for mischief and we can focus on our greatest national security challenge—North Korea. Here’s a framework of how it could look: Assad—Support an international campaign to go after him as a war criminal. Yes, I understand the problem of having the UN Security Council (because of a Russian veto) referring this to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. However, look at what’s going on in Sweden and Germany. Swedish and German prosecutors have been in the forefront of prosecuting Syria war crimes. And the Swiss have begun legal proceedings against Rifaat al-Assad, former Syrian Vice President and Bashar al-Assad’s uncle. Further, Carla del Ponte, a former member of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, has said the evidence is there to convict Bashar al-Assad of war crimes. Let’s build on all of this. Russia—Here, let’s focus on the 2013 UN Security Council Agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons program. Why has Russia been AWOL for the past five years and what happened to the inspections and required monthly reports? And why did Russia veto the continuation of the Joint Investigative Mechanism which was investigating chemical weapons use in Syria? Iran—Tension has been growing with a number of Arab states who have had it with Iran. In the fall of 2016, some 11 Arab nations complained to the United Nations that Iran was a state sponsor of terrorism. This was followed up in late 2017 with several Arab nations saying they would bring specifics to the UN Security Council. Let’s encourage these Arab nations to have a sustained plan to keep Iran busy having to deal with its own problems. Anyone who looks at the history of Syria realizes that the phrase “constant turmoil” best describes it. It is a quagmire and the U.S. needs to take steps now so that our involvement there doesn’t escalate and the situation doesn’t get out of control. President Trump’s action in degrading Syria’s chemical weapons capability was the right one and it showed both Assad and Kim Jong Un that with him, “red lines” won’t be crossed. Implementing a “3 Pronged Strategy” designed to drive a wedge between Russia, Assad and Iran and force them each to focus on their own problems will help ensure that American involvement in Syria doesn’t escalate and we can focus on the greatest national security threat to America today—North Korea.

An interesting op/ed by former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army, Van Hipp.  If only it were that simple…

Mozart’s childhood violin heads to China

The violin that Mozart used as a child left Friday for a state visit by Austrian government members to China, where a seven-year-old girl will play it for President Xi Jinping. The girl, Anna Caecilia Pfoess, “will accompany us… as a musical ambassador and represent Austria as a land of culture,” President Alexander Van der Bellen said. “She will do it quite brilliantly, I am sure,” Van der Bellen told reporters before the 200-strong delegation of politicians, business people and others departed. “#Music is a common language understood and appreciated the world over,” he added on Twitter alongside a photo of the grinning seven-year-old clutching the instrument and wearing traditional Austrian garb. The violin is believed to have been made in the 1740s and until 1820 belonged to Mozart’s sister Maria Anna, nicknamed Nannerl, also a child prodigy. Since 1896 it has been in the collection of the Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, and is normally on display at the museum in the house where the composer was born. Pfoess will perform at Sunday’s state banquet attended by Xi and Van der Bellen, playing pieces by, unsurprisingly, Mozart but also other Austrian and Chinese composers.

🙂

Switzerland has a stunningly high rate of gun ownership — here’s why it doesn’t have mass shootings

Switzerland hasn’t had a mass shooting since 2001, when a man stormed the local parliament in Zug, killing 14 people and then himself. The country has about 2 million privately owned guns in a nation of 8.3 million people. In 2016, the country had 47 homicides with firearms. The country’s overall murder rate is near zero. The National Rifle Association often points to Switzerland to argue that more rules on gun ownership aren’t necessary. In 2016, the NRA said on its blog that the European country had one of the lowest murder rates in the world while still having millions of privately owned guns and a few hunting weapons that don’t even require a permit.

Exactly!  For more on this article, click on the text above.

Racist South African Political Leader Julius Malema: “Go After the White Man… We Are Cutting the Throat of Whiteness”

In 2011 South Africa youth leader Julius Malema told his supporters that the white farmer’s land must be shared by all black Africans. He was arrested for playing “Kill the Boer (white man)” song at his rallies. Julius Malema later founded the Economic Freedom Fighters, a South African political party. Malema recently called for new law to confiscate land from white farmers. The South African Parliament voted to confiscate land from white farmers without payment last week. On Sunday night Julius Malema called on his followers to go after the white man and cut the throat of whiteness. Julius Malema: Go after a white man… We are cutting the throat of whiteness.”

You really can’t make this stuff up, folks..  Click on the text above to see this racist maggot saying all this crap.

Norway to spend $12.7M in upgrades to ‘doomsday’ seed vault

Does Norway know something we don’t? The Scandinavian country announced Monday that it is going to spend about $12.7 million to upgrade its “doomsday” seed vault that is the world’s largest repository built to safeguard against wars or natural disasters wiping out global food crops. The Verge reported that the upgrades will focus on a new concrete tunnel and “emergency power and refrigerated units and other electrical equipment that emeits heat through the tunnel.” The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a gene bank built underground on an isolated island in a permafrost zone some 620 miles from the North Pole, was opened in 2008 as a master backup to the world’s other seed banks, in case their deposits are lost. The latest specimens sent to the bank, located on the Svalbard archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole, included more than 15,000 reconstituted samples from an international research center that focuses on improving agriculture in dry zones. They were the first to retrieve seeds from the vault in 2015 before returning new ones after multiplying and reconstituting them. The specimens consisted of seed samples for some of the world’s most vital food sources like potato, sorghum, rice, barley, chickpea, lentil and wheat. The agency borrowed the seeds three years ago because it could not access its gene bank of 141,000 specimens in the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo, and so was unable to regenerate and distribute them to breeders and researchers. Fifty thousand samples were deposited last year from seed collections in Benin, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Morocco, Netherlands, the U.S., Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus and Britain. It brought the total deposits in the snow-covered vault — with a capacity of 4.5 million — to 940,000.

Norway’s Olympic team meant to order 1,500 eggs. Because of a translation error, they got 15,000

Anyone know how to say “we ordered too many eggs” in Norwegian? Norway’s Olympic team may need to read up on that after ordering 15,000 eggs when they meant to order 1,500. The chefs needed the eggs to feed Norwegian athletes at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. So the chefs put in an order for them with a local supermarket, using Google Translate. But they clearly made an error somewhere. “When the truck showed up, they started to carry in the eggs. After a while, they [the chefs] thought it lasted so long, it never stopped,” Halvor Lea, spokesman for the Norwegian Olympic Committee, told CNN. So they asked the driver how many eggs were there. The driver replied 15,000. “They said themselves that it was a Google translate slip,” Lea said. “I don’t know.” Fortunately for the chefs, the supermarket took back 13,500 eggs.

Fortunately, indeed…     🙂

Report: China Moves 300,000 Troops Closer to North Korean Border

China is reportedly moving missile defense batteries and troops closer to its border with North Korea, a potential sign that Beijing anticipates either a large refugee wave north or a military disturbance triggered by the belligerence of communist dictator Kim Jong-un. The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a report Monday, stating that RFA had compiled evidence that China had “late last year deployed another missile defense battery at an armored division in Helong, west of Longjing in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture.” The “North Korean source in China” speaking to RFA also noted that Pyongyang had observed the movement of 300,000 troops closer to the North Korean border and “missile defense batteries near North Korean reservoirs by the Apnok and Duman rivers.” The batteries would prevent the violent outpouring of those reservoirs into China in the event of an airstrike. On Friday, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported that Beijing was also investing in establishing nuclear monitoring stations throughout the world, but especially near North Korea, to more rapidly gather information about a potential airstrike. While carefully noting that “detection is not targeted at any particular country,” the newspaper noted that the planned 11 nuclear monitoring stations “are responsible for detecting nuclear activities in neighboring countries, including North Korea.” The People’s Daily claims the monitor plan “shows China’s commitment to global nonproliferation.” Taken in tandem with reports of military movements near North Korea, however, this development indicates concern that a major military or political event in North Korea will impact China significantly. Another state newspaper, the Global Times, remarked on U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last week that “risks of US military action are growing.” Trump singled North Korea out as the world’s most egregious human rights abuser, celebrating the plight of North Korean refugees who risked their lives to escape. In December, Chosun Ilbo reported that China is not only using its military assets to prepare for a potential catastrophe in North Korea; the newspaper cited Japanese media that had revealed evidence of China’s building massive refugee camps near the North Korean border, some that could welcome up to half-a-million refugees. Officials reportedly ordered the construction of such camps in Jilin, the same city where state media published a citizens’ guide to surviving a nuclear war triggered by North Korea. The state-run Jilin Daily published an article in December suggesting citizens “close their windows and doors during an emergency and immediately take a shower and wash out their mouths and ears after being exposed to radiation.” It mentioned potential regional tensions without blaming North Korea directly. While state media remained subtle about government fears regarding North Korea, communist academics made clear in December that they believed Kim Jong-un’s regime could not be trusted to keep China out of a major regional war. “North Korea is a time bomb,” remarked Professor Shi Yinhong. “We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator.” China, North Korea’s largest trade partner, almost single-handedly keeps Kim’s economy afloat. Through a tense year for Kim and President Trump, who has not shied away from challenging the autocrat, China stuck by North Korea, increasing trade to the fellow communist country. Beijing has abided by some United Nations sanctions, however, and forced businesses on North Korea’s border to limit their contact with the regime. According to Radio Free Asia, businesses along the border “are now being severely hurt as wider customs controls are established along the border, sources working in the area say.” Many of these businesses traffic in goods that are not obvious candidates for sanctions, such as cosmetics and paper. RFA suggests that those impacted on the ground have soured on North Korea’s government, as its belligerence has triggered the sanctions. Dictator Kim Jong-un has rejected all attempts by the global community to convince the country to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons program and has continued testing ballistic missiles and suggesting that their ultimate destination will be the United States. On the other side of the border, RFA reported that Pyongyang is “stirring up anti-China sentiment among ordinary citizens through conferences and lecture sessions as the closed, authoritarian country’s economy bears the brunt of tough new economic sanctions supported by its longtime ally.” North Korea rarely confronts China on international platforms, but even this line was crossed in 2017, when the Korean Central News Agency accused China, without naming the country, of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” by agreeing to abide by U.N. sanctions.

Definitely something to keep an eye on…