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Amateurs vs. Experts

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Last year I put up a post about some undergraduate geek who, while noodling around looking at Earth Observation Satellite pictures, discovered the Chinese building a new field of ballistic missile silos (The Undergradate NRO).

There’s also this story the other day about a “citizen-scientist” – physicist and engineer Levi Boggs of the Georgia Tech Research Institute, who delved into an area unrelated to his work, upside-down lightning, and found incredible data in places nobody had been looking.

Okay, so he’s not exactly the amateur of the first story, but in a world of increasing Internet information storage and individual computer power, we’re going to see more of this sort of thing. Unfortunately it’s likely be confined to technical or semi-technical fields – and it should not be, as RealClearScience noted in Political Experts Aren’t Really Experts:

Between the 1980s and early 2000s, Philip E. Tetlock, a Professor of Psychology at Penn focused on politics and decision-making, conducted a long-term study in which he recruited 284 people whose professions included “commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends” to predict the outcome of various political events. At the same time, he had laypersons do the same, collecting 82,361 forecasts over two decades. When the study concluded, the experts barely outperformed the non-experts, if at all.

Think about how many “experts” we’ve seen making fools of themselves over the years with their predictions, forecasts and advice.

Then there’s this, The Extraordinary Diplomacy of Ordinary Citizens, which tells the obscure story of one Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, who was the main driver behind the Abraham Peace Accords:

Greenblatt was surrounded by seasoned officials who arrogantly believed that their professional acumen gave them a certain divine right to manage U.S.-Middle Eastern affairs. But for Greenblatt, since they were the ones who had advised the many previous administrations that had failed countless times to achieve peace in the Middle East, they were not exactly able to lecture him now about how to do it.

As soon as he started, he found the old guard fetishized the peace process and had little imagination about the peace parameters. Their textbook assumption was that everything hinges on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict first and foremost.

Naturally they were also the ones who “warned” Trump against the great dangers involved in moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, just as they had warned off Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.

Greenblatt would have none of it, arguing that the world, especially the Arab world, had changed in the last forty years:

As a result of these new realities, Greenblatt argued for an “outside-in” approach to the Middle East, which turns the old framework on its head. It is not the Palestinian problem that has to be solved first before everything else, but the other way around.

One could argue that this has not worked either since the Israel-Palestine issue remains unresolved, but the fact is that it increasingly looks like a smart move in the face of Iran and other Middle Eastern problems to have Israel and Arab nations working together openly.

Perhaps the most important lesson of In the Path of Abraham is that being a wise, industrious, pious, and civic-minded American is all it takes for public service. As our founders knew, government does not need to be the exclusive province of specialists and policy wonks. In fact, ordinary citizens may even achieve superior results.

No shit! But read the whole review.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 11, 2022 at 2:15 pm

Crush Depth

with 2 comments

Some genius architects and urban planners have come up with a brilliant idea for future cities on Earth.

“The Line” is a proposed three-dimensional city that is 200m wide, 500m high, 170km long, and built in the Saudi Arabian desert, 500m above sea level, according to the NEOM Project’s official website. Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and Chairman of the NEOM Board of Directors, Mohammed bin Salman, made the announcement on The Line’s official site.

No roads, cars or emissions, it will run on 100% renewable energy and 95% of land will be preserved for nature. People’s health and wellbeing will be prioritized over transportation and infrastructure, unlike traditional cities…[It] will eventually accommodate 9 million people and will be built on a footprint of just 34 square kilometers.

Here’s their two minute video.

So, what do readers think?

I think it blows! Big time. Just one of the objections I have is that line about “preserving nature” – as if humans are not also part of nature.

It’s something out of a dystopian Science Fiction story, starting out like those bright, clean spaceships in 2001: A Space Odyssey and other SF movies of the 1950’s-60’s, but likely to degrade to a BladeRunner type locale. It should be noted that critics praised the move in SF movies away from “bright and shiny” to “gritty” as being likely a touch more realistic.

Also, humans don’t react well to being “re-engineered”. We’re organic beings and often the things we create, like cities, are organic too, even if we use machines to build and run them they develop in quirky ways. Planned cities like Brasila (“...the Hotel Sector, the Banking Sector, and the Embassy Sector…“) are not regarded with any great love:

Nothing dates faster than people’s fantasies about the future. This is what you get when perfectly decent, intelligent, and talented men start thinking in terms of space rather than place; and single rather than multiple meanings. It’s what you get when you design for political aspirations rather than real human needs. You get miles of jerry-built platonic nowhere infested with Volkswagens. This, one may fervently hope, is the last experiment of its kind. The utopian buck stops here.

— Robert HughesThe Shock of the New, Episode 4: “Trouble in Utopia”, (1980)

Fervant hope dashed. I can’t recall a time in my life when Central Planners have ever given up on any of their utopian goals. At best they’ve destroyed themselves, in the sense that their plans have produced undeniably dreadful results, but mostly they’ve encountered pushback in the form of people refusing to cooperate with their grand plans and escaping to places where the plans are not being effected.

But like rust, the bastards never sleep. They never give up on their utopian schemes, witness the constant hopes in Lefty bastions like The Daily Blog and The Standard, that the government would once again own the entire power industry here.

There’s also another unspoken aspect to this, summarised well by the secondary headline in this article, The Dehumanizing Tyranny of Densification:

The prevailing vision of environmentalism today caters to a global oligarchy.

Or perhaps Kip’s Law:

“Every advocate of central planning always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.”

In other words I very much doubt that Mohammed bin Salman or any of the other Saudi Princes will be giving up their palaces to live in this utopia. It’s probably intended for the army of Pakistani immigrant workers that their economy needs in order to operate.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 29, 2022 at 2:19 pm

All his policies end this way

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“[Trump]” has fundamentally weakened the Alliances. Biden will get them working again.

Whether it’s domestic policy or foreign policy, crime or economics, anything that Joe Biden has pushed eventually turns to shit.

The latest is his visit to Saudi Arabia to beg them for more oil. A couple of weeks ago audio captured French President Macron telling Biden that the Saudi’s were close to their capacity production limits, something you would not think a US President needed to be informed of.

After resting at home in Delaware following that European trip Biden finally got to the Middle East, having originally planned to go there straight after Europe. However, his age and weariness meant a change of plan.

Starting with Israel things did not go well, with everything from appearing lost and confused on stage twice to having multiple gaffes that insulted US allies. But perhaps that’s the intention:

In other words, the Biden administration is using its trip to the region not to draw closer to Israel, or to enhance the Israeli relationship with the Saudis, but to disrupt the budding alliance between Israel and the Gulf States, while causing their hosts as much heartburn as possible.

Next up was Saudi Arabia, the nation he’d called a “pariah”, along with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) because of the Saudi’s brutal murder of Washington “journalist” Jamal Khashoggi. It should be noted that Khashoggi was a full-blooded supporter of the Jihadist group, Muslim Brotherhood, who have made clear their desire to destroy the Saudis, and that his poor written and spoken English meant it’s certain that others were writing his WaPo columns for him: the WaPo were idiots for getting so close to a terrorist.

In any case, the Saudi’s were quick to humiliate Biden.

Whoever told Biden to use that strategy doesn’t seem to get that fist bumping the guy you deemed a pariah and a murderer doesn’t look any better than a handshake, particularly when you’re all smiling together. Certainly Khashoggi’s widow thought so.

As expected, Biden lied about how he’d confronted MBS about Khashoggi’s murder. What Biden claims he’s said is not only denied by the Saudi’s but others who were present. It fits perfectly with Biden’s pathetic history of telling stories where he’s the Tough Guy. Even Peter Baker of the New York Times didn’t believe him:

Mr. Biden is by nature a storyteller with a penchant for embellishment.

So even though the leftwing corporate press is pretty sure the Saudis executed a fake “journalist” – when it come to a contest of credibility… they side with the Saudis.

Suffice to say Biden came away with nothing solid – least of all the increased oil production he so desperately needs to reduce US gas pump prices – and again, the Saudi’s made sure to broadcast their walk-backs and “corrections” of Biden’s post-visit claims.

So having talked of them as “pariahs”, then talked of repairing the US-Saudi relationship, Biden is now reduced to calling them liars.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 19, 2022 at 12:25 pm

The Iran-Israel Cold War

with 5 comments

There are a lot of people in the West who feel that since Israel is a nuclear power it’s not really under much of a threat. That’s true only in the sense that none of the other nuclear powers have ever expressed any desire to destroy Israel and that people also believe that Israel would not use nuclear weapons even if she was losing a conventional war. I’m not so sure about that, given NATO’s stance during the Cold War and the recent sabre-rattling by Putin over the Ukraine War.

In military intelligence a threat is assessed not on the basis of what an enemy might do – since motivations and the desire to act on them is very difficult to predict – but what they could do, of which analysis is based on the more solid ground of counting weapon systems and assessing their lethality.

Mind you, it pays not to forget the motivations, right Adeel?

He was a CNN contributor from Pakistan, with some 50 CNN articles to his name over the years, even as he unloaded other Jew-hating stuff on Twitter. In this respect he was not much different to the Hamas Covenant of 1988:

Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realised.

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. 

It almost goes without saying that Iran backs Hamas.

Raja is hardly alone in the MSM, although most of the anti-Israeli stuff steers carefully away from such obviously self-discrediting statements. The starting point for recent MSM coverage of Israel was undoubtedly the death of Muhammad al Durah at Netzarim Junction on Sept. 30, 2000, which small video/photo propaganda effort turned into something much larger and horrific:

It became an instant global sensation, enraging the Muslim world and provoking angry protests where Western progressives and militant Muslims joined to equate Israel to the Nazis. Ironically, for the first time since the Holocaust, “Death to Jews” was heard in the capitals of Europe. From that point on, for many, Israel was to blame for all violence, a pariah state.

Even had the child died in a crossfire, blaming his death on deliberate Israeli action made it a classic blood libel: A gentile boy dies; the Jews are accused of plotting the murder; violent mobs, invoking the dead martyr, attack the Jews. In Europe, the attacks the al Durah libel incited were mostly on Jewish property. In the Middle East, a new round of suicide bombers, “revenging the blood of Muhammad al Durah” targeted Israeli children to the approval of 80% of the Palestinian public. It was, in fact, the first postmodern blood libel. The first blood libel announced by a Jew ([France 2’s reporter,] Enderlin), spread by the modern mainstream news media (MSNM), and carried in cyberspace to a global audience. It was the first wildly successful piece of “fake news” of the 21st century, and, as an icon of hatred, it did untold damage.

At the link you can read how, over three years, the lie was dismantled – but all too late, and in any case these lies apparently served “a higher truth”, an excuse used not just by Palestinian journalists but increasingly Western ones, which brought forth this article in The Atlantic, What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel:

The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene.

So the motivations to hurt, damage or even destroy Israel are present in great breadth and depth (and the MSM is a vital accomplice to that), although the means to do so are limited.

But there is one nation that could change the equation and are bent upon doing so – Iran. They desire to build a nuclear weapon, and have got closer to doing so every single day now for twenty years.

As a result there has increasingly existed a Cold War in miniature between the two Middle Eastern nations, and the actions taken are very similar in their “unattributed” nature, although far more shockingly direct than anything the USA and USSR pulled on each other in the original series. While Israel has had espionage triumphs, like the lifting of tons of documents Irans nuclear weapon programme from a warehouse in the capital city Tehran – which proved Iran had told many lies about the programme – there have been increasing numbers of direct actions.

ASSASSINATIONS

Multiple Iranian officials have been assassinated over the years, including a number of scientists in their nuclear programme, and while the Iranians have not been slow to blame Israel the latter have never directly acknowledged responsibility, responding only with “leaks” to reporters some time after the hit. The standard attack method is with guys on motorbikes, as was the case with the killing of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, Al Qaeda’s second-highest leader, in Iran in August of 2020. More recently the killing of Hassan Sayad Khodayari, a senior member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard outside his home in Tehran.

Iranian Billboard celebrating Fakhrizadeh’s “martyrdom”

Probably the most significant was the death in 2020 of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, long considered to be the top man in Iran’s nuclear program. Israel had tried killing him before but failed, which was why he had a lot of security. But even being surrounded by body guards is no guarantee. Initial reports were the usual fog-of-war stuff, with tales of an IED car explosion to stop his convoy and then 12 gunmen on motorbikes and a car surrounding him, with the kill shot delivered to the head by somebody hauling him out of the car to do it.

The truth was more prosaic and yet more incredible: he was killed by a remote-controlled robot machine gun:

[The weapon] was a Belgian-made FN MAG machine gun attached to an advanced robotic apparatus, according to an intelligence official familiar with the plot. The official said the system was not unlike the off-the-rack Sentinel 20 manufactured by the Spanish defense contractor Escribano.

The Israelis … wanted to control the weapon from, as the Times puts it, an “undisclosed location more than 1,000 miles away.” Read: from Israel.

A weapon like that is going to be able to penetrate normal car windscreens and even armoured glass without the bullets bouncing off. Only 15 machine gun bullets were needed to kill Fakhrizadeh, in a moving vehicle, without harming those around him, including his wife sitting in the passenger seat.

The weapon was mounted on the deck of a ute parked on the side of the road, which in true Mission Impossible fashion promptly blew itself up to destroy all the key evidence.

MILITARY ATTACKS

These are somewhat more serious, like “casus belli” serious. Given the control of such weapons it’s not surprising that Israel has launched drone attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities:

A military strike that utilized quadcopter drones launched from inside Iran hit the top-secret Iranian military base at Parchin. It’s believed the strike targeted Iran’s drone research and development complex and not its missile or nuclear research facilities.

Last June, another quadcopter drone hit the centrifuge manufacturing facility that was making advanced centrifuges to spin up nuclear fuel.

Plus drone-on-drone action:

Israel has been busy trying to disrupt Iranian development of sophisticated drone technology. In February, drones attacked a drone facility in the city of Kermanshah. It was Iran’s main manufacturing and storage plant for military drones, according to U.S. intelligence.

The drone attack on Wednesday was launched from inside Iran, not far from the Parchin military base, according to the Iranian sources with knowledge of the attack. Quadcopter drones have a short flight range, and Parchin is a long way from Iran’s borders.

This would not be the first time that Israel had used operatives inside Iran to carry out attacks.

That last is what must be really screwing with the minds of the Mullahs and all their henchmen in the military and security forces. That Israel, time and time again, launches these operations deep inside Iran, a clear indication of just how far they have penetrated into Iranian systems, riddling them with double agents, spies and so forth. As a result there have been attacks that were launched by humans:

On Easter Sunday [2021], a massive explosion ripped through the top-secret Iranian nuclear weapons research facility at Natanz. There were some interesting aspects to the explosion. In a way, this was deja vu because, in July 2020, the same facility was hit by a cyberattack that damaged the centrifuge production plant inside the Natanz facility.

The Iranian official stressed that such an operation takes years, saying “the design of the enemy was very beautiful.”

Well that’s certainly a very Iranian way of describing it. Israel repeated the dose with another drone attack on June 23, 2021 and satellite images certainly showed a lot of damage:

Today’s incident follows a string of unexplained fires and explosions striking Tehran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program since the Biden administration intensified efforts to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal.

No! Really? As this 2021 article points out, all these mysterious explosions show that Mossad Neither Slumbers Nor Sleeps:

A large fire was reported at the Kangan Petro Refining Co. (KPRC) in southern Iran along the coast of the Persian Gulf on Monday, just a day after an explosion reportedly impacted a drone factory in the center of the country.

And on May 26, Iranian state media reported on still a third explosion, this one at an oxygen pipeline in a petrochemical plant in Assaluyeh on Iran’s Gulf coast. There was no mention of its cause.

This Twitter thread by one Matthew Brodsky (from some Washington D.C. “think tank) gives an excellent background going back to the days of Obama negotiating the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action) to try and restrict Iran’s nuclear weapons development – and getting pissed off with the Israelis, who clearly did not have any faith in the process and decided to keep taking action.

And now that guy is president, and he’s trying to re-create the JCPOA. But times have changed:

It’s quite likely Israel is already incorporating the idea that Team Biden will leak & acting accordingly. 2021 isn’t 2012-15. Israel may now be broadcasting messages along with its actions that it used to keep secret.

Not only that:

  • The Iranians have been far more intransigent in their demands, to the point where it’s becoming clear even to saps like Secretary of State Blinken.
  • Biden is not Obama, so his policies can be directly challenged without being labeled a racist.
  • President Trump has reordered the Middle East’s strategic landscape, creating an Arab-Israel security partnership to confront Iran, which mean Israel has Arab allies.

The time that Obama, Biden and others thought they were buying in 2015 with the JCPOA was always an illusion. Iran always wanted an atomic bomb; just one of the tells was their ongoing ballistic missile program, which in the age of cruise missiles, JDAM warheads and drones is obsolete for delivering conventional explosives accurately – but still fine for a nuclear warhead. This 2021 article makes a comparison about the strategic implications of always trying to buy time:

The sad truth is that had Chamberlain been willing to fight Hitler right then, World War II could have been avoided since the German High Command was ready to overthrow Hitler. The time supposedly “bought” by Chamberlain’s weakness at Munich came at the cost of 60 million lives, the devastation of Europe and Asia, and the Holocaust.

The two cases are not quite similar, except for this one central lesson. Once the wish to gain time drives a willingness to accept the demands of a ruthless, totalitarian regime hell-bent on subversion and destruction, the tragic consequences are inevitable. It is this insight that should be imparted to friends in American politics and diplomacy.

The Israeli military and spies have also bought them much time. However, just the other day, as Iran demolished dozens of International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) cameras at their nuclear sites, rendering the IAEA “blind”, came this analysis:

“Due to the growth of Iran’s 60% enriched uranium stocks, Iran has crossed a dangerous new threshold: its breakout timeline is now at zero,” the scientists say. 

Time is up on this Cold War.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 12, 2022 at 8:00 am

Beyond Satire

with 21 comments

Okay, I have to admit – once again – that I supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

I don’t suppose there’s much purpose in digging up the layers of reasoning now, but all I can say in my defence is that, while I thought it was a waste of time to try and build Afghanistan into a liberal democracy, I figured Iraq was worth a shot and might steer the rest of the ME in that direction.

Besides that I’d hated Saddam Hussein since the early 1980’s (“It’s a pity both sides can’t lose”) and wanted him and his shit police state gone asap. I was angry that the Gulf War did not wipe him out, even as I agreed with Dick Cheney as to why that would have been stupid to try and do.

I always very much enjoyed all the Lefties condemnation of Cheney’s reasons in 1994, as being nothing more than apologetics for not getting rid of a “US ally”, suddenly turning into great reasons for not invading Iraq in 2003.

But the video that follows is one of the greatest Freudian slips that I have ever seen. Bush 43 was always the go-to political leader for verbally fucking up the points that needed to be made to justify whatever the hell they were trying to push people to believe.

As such, I present to you GW Bush making the argument against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as only he can….

Brilliant. Thank you to the Bush section of the Republican Party.

Assholes.

(H/T Commentator, Lucia Maria)

Written by Tom Hunter

May 20, 2022 at 8:26 am

Posted in Middle East, Military, US Politics, USA

Tagged with

Israel: fifth wave, fifth jab?

with 15 comments

Israel famously led the world in getting its population vaccinated, largely due to some solid connections between the Israeli government and Pfizer executives enabling Israel to be first in the queue for millions of doses of that particular C-19 vaccine.

The same goes for their race to “double-vax” status, then the booster shot, and now the second booster shot for four jabs in all.

And the winner is…

… Covid-19 (Omicron).

Ok, so the vaccine isn’t helping with numbers of Omicron cases and hospitalisations, but let’s at least give credit to the Pfizer drug for saving the lives of most of the vulnerable (the elderly and obese) who caught the Delta variant: it may not be much of a vaccine but it seems it is a fairly effective therapeutic drug for those people in the case of Delta.

Of course what those graphs don’t tell us is what proportion of of lives were saved from the Omicron variant (which has been the dominant one for months now) due to the Pfizer drug and how much is due to Omicron just not being very lethal. There may not be enough of an unvaxxed control group in Israel to be able to tell, unlike South Africa with only some 30% of the population fully vaccinated and already on the other side of the Omicron wave. These numbers simply reinforce what’s been known for some months; that the vaccines just don’t protect against Omicron transmission.

Personally I’d go for monoclonal antibody treatments if I caught the virus, assuming I showed any symptoms at all, which most people don’t.

The only question now is whether Israel keeps on boosting, especially in light of this:

“European Union regulators warned that frequent Covid-19 booster shots could adversely affect the immune response and may not be feasible.  Repeat booster doses every four months could eventually weaken the immune response and tire out people, according to the European Medicines Agency.”

Meh! The Euros probably aren’t very good scientists anyway.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 4, 2022 at 11:42 am

Other collapses

with 2 comments

While the world’s attention is focused on the growing disaster of Afghanistan since the Taliban took it over in the wake of America’s mis-handled retreat, there are other nation-state catastrophes happening.

Like Lebanon.

Admittedly this nation has been on a knife edge for decades. Civil war raged from the mid-1970’s to the 1980’s and has continued at much lower levels of sniping ever since.

Multiple groups are involved and it often seems as much tribal as between Christian and Muslim or sub-sets of each. As tribal as Afghanistan perhaps, but with a more Westernised approach towards civil society. It’s amazing the country has held together at all.

That may finally be coming to an end, Lebanese Economy Collapsing Amid Hyperinflation, Power Outages:

The economy of Lebanon is witnessing a once-in-a-century collapse.

Amid hyperinflation and inconsistent power supplies following a massive explosion in Beirut last year, Lebanon may be witnessing one of the worst three economic depressions since the nineteenth century, according to the World Bank.

Specifically the World Bank says:

Lebanon’s GDP plummeted from close to US$ 55 billion in 2018 to an estimated US$ 33 billion in 2020, with US$ GDP/ capita falling by around 40 percent. Such a brutal and rapid contraction is usually associated with conflicts or wars.

That’s what so awful about this. There has been no real war for years (random killings and reprisal attacks instead).

The WSJ adds the following:

Power outages have become so frequent that restaurants time their hours to the schedule of electricity from private generators. Brawls have erupted in supermarkets as shoppers rush to buy bread, sugar, and cooking oil before they run out or hyperinflation topping 400% for food puts the prices out of reach. Medical professionals have fled just as the pandemic hammers the country with a new wave of infections. Thefts are up 62% and murder rates are rising fast.

Add in Covid-19 and the Beirut explosion in which at least a hundred citizens died and 4,000 were injured, plus leaving over 300,000 homeless. But the really incredible thing is what the Prime Minister said as he quit:

“I set out to combat corruption, but I discovered that corruption is bigger than the state… I declare today the resignation of this government. God bless Lebanon.”

Nations seem to muddle along – Lebanon certainly has for decades – and there is Adam Smith’s old saying that “there’s a lot of ruin in a nation”. But an endpoint for Lebanon as a nation-state – as opposed to a set of locally controlled enclaves – is certainly in sight now.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 25, 2021 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Islam, Middle East

When the MSM works

with 3 comments

To say that I’ve been hard on the MSM, both in the USA and here in NZ, would be an understatement given that one of my taglines for the posts has been Die MSM, Die.

So it’s nice to be able to give credit, for once, to MSM sources doing their job.

First up is a rather amazing press conference conducted the other day with a Biden Administration spokesman for the US State Department, Ned Price. This is a daily press conference and the topic of the day was the current US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is not going well. Price’s spin was that they were simply doing what the Trump administration had negotiated with the Taliban and that there was nothing they could change about that. That spin also did not go well for Ned Price when – of all people – an Associated Press reporter, Matt Lee, got stuck into him about that claim:

LEE: “This administration inherited plenty from the previous administration that it absolutely reversed,”

How about the Geneva protocol on the anti-abortion stuff?

PRICE: This was the point that we have made on any number of steps about the importance of the durability of American foreign policies – American foreign policy across administrations.

LEE: How about the agreements with the Northern Triangle, with Mexico and the Northern Triangle? Those are international agreements that you guys jettisoned.

PRICE: These are … Matt, I think

LEE: I mean, you just challenged me to come up with an international agreement that the previous administration signed that you guys have walked away from, and I just gave you, I think, three.

Wow. A non-right-wing reporter actually challenging some of the Biden Administration’s bullshit. Miracles do happen. I was also mightily impressed by something that came just before that exchange:

LEE:  And then lastly, the thing I don’t understand – well, maybe not understand, but you don’t want to talk about the historic analogy that Said made to Vietnam. Let’s go next door to Cambodia. Are you familiar at all with the letter that Sirik Matak wrote to John Gunther Dean, who was the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia in April of 1975?

RICE: It’s

LEE: If you’re not familiar with it

PRICE: It’s been a while.

LEE:  I suggest you familiarize yourself with it because it may end up being sadly prescient.

So this is not just some lightweight “journalist” like those of the Whitehouse press corp, who aim for fluff and “gotcha” questions of the “When-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife” type – when faced with a Republican. Matt Lee really knows his shit on foreign policy.

===========

Next up is coverage of local news that appeared overseas in The National Pulse, New Zealand Professors Claim CCP Is Planting Spies At Their Colleges:

Dr. Stephen Noakes, of Auckland University, said that non-enrollees showed up to his lectures and “appeared to be gathering intelligence.” On one occasion, an individual whom Noakes had never seen before was in the lecture theater, taking pictures.

“It made me incredibly uncomfortable and I followed it up afterwards. I’ve not seen that person again,” Noakes stated.

Catherine Churchman, a professor at Victoria University in Wellington teaching ancient Chinese history, said that, in 2017, a man came to her class and “upbraided her about her lecture content.” When asked why he was in the class, the man claimed to be a “visiting scholar.”

So we’re not just talking about Ann Marie Brady any longer.

It would be nice to think that such events will no longer be dismissed as they have been in the past

I have read Brady’s work, and spoken to her. She is an China alarmist. I don’t agree with her perspective.

… and it seems they’re not since this US article references their information as coming from a Radio New Zealand podcast. They supplied no link but here it is:

Redline: Can we walk the thin line between what some see as an evil empire and others as our greatest economic opportunity? A four-part series investigating China’s growing influence in New Zealand

So kudos to RNZ also.

===========

Finally there’s this, courtesy of MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), who do a great job in covering various Middle Eastern news sites and translating them for the rest of the world.

It’s quite extraordinary how open some of the Palestinian news sites are about their society.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 13, 2021 at 6:00 am

An important election in New York

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In this case the selection of the Democrat candidate for Mayor of New York City from the recent primary campaign.

Whoever wins the Democrat primary will go on to win the general election, given how corrupted and useless the NYC GOP is.

As of today the winner of the race appears to be one Eric Adams and although his lead is slim in the complex ranked voting system used, it looks like it will hold.

Now while you would think that the US Left would be overjoyed at yet another Black man rising to a prominent political position in the USA you would be wrong:

According to Lisa Lerer’s latest “Political Memo” for the NYT, candidate Eric Adams, a retired police captain, has “rejected calls to defund the Police Department and pledged to expand its reach in the city.”

Wait! What? I thought Defunding The Police was all the rage among Democrats? Well it was in 2020. But then crime rates started to climb fast in those Democrat-controlled cities that had made such proclamations – and acted on them in many cases as well as making it clear that their Police were the problem rather than criminals.

But more than that, it has become apparent that the Right’s claims that this was virtue-signalling bullshit from rich, “liberal” Whites and that it would be poor POC (People of Colour) communities who would suffer the most, turned out to be right on the money.

That’s a problem because Adams’ law-and-order appeal “adds evidence to an emerging trend in Democratic politics: a disconnect between progressive activists and the rank-and-file Black and Latino voters.”

Lerer quotes Hakeem Jefferson, an assistant professor of political science at Stanford University, explaining that “The median Black voter is not A.O.C. and is actually closer to Eric Adams.”

I won’t supply the link to the disgusting New York Times original but the title of their article says it all:

Progressives’ Urgent Question: How to Win Over Voters of Color.

Awwww. All the experts have told me that the Democrats have POC in their back pocket. You can see why it is so vital for the Democrats to crank up the screams about GOP racism to eleven on the scale. You can also see why there have been recent attempts to backpedal from all this with: “No, No, We never meant to defund the police”.

They’re even trying to pin it on the GOP, but even with their MSM stenographers to help I think they went in too deep on this one to escape.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 30, 2021 at 6:00 am

An important election in Iran

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In this case the recent election of a new President of Iran, where whoever is chosen by the Council of Guardians and who has the approval of the Ayatollah Kahmenei – the person actually running Iran – goes on to win the general election.

There have been “surprises” in these elections over the years, but that’s usually been when the Ayatollah has not expressed any favouritism for any one of the permitted candidates. This time he did.

The product of this joke of an election system turns out to be probably the biggest piece of shit that has ever crawled into that position., and that’s saying something considering his predecessors.

Ebrahim Raisi

Both of the following articles should be read.

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First, a concise piece by historian Dominic Green, who has a biting wit, Iran’s president, a schreibtischtäter:

Raisi is what Hannah Arendt would have called a schreibtischtäter, a ‘desk murderer’: a functionary who orders dirty work while keeping his own hands clean.

In the 1980s, Raisi was a young regional prosecutor. He was part of a four-man ‘death committee’ which ordered the disappearance and killing of thousands of the Islamic revolution’s enemies. You may be shocked to hear human rights’ groups claiming that due process was frequently ignored during this judicial massacre.

He also has not changed over the decades:

… when protests against the clerical dictatorship broke out in 2019, Raisi, as head of the Iranian judiciary, granted blanket impunity to government officials and security forces responsible for unlawfully killing hundreds of men, women and children, and subjecting thousands of protesters to mass arrests and at least a hundred to enforced disappearance, and torture and other ill-treatment’.

Is it any wonder that Raisi won the presidency with the lowest turnout in Iran’s post-1979 history: 48 percent nationally, down from over 70 percent in 2017, with only 28 percent bothering to vote in Tehran. 

Green argues that with this election the JCPOA nuclear deal is more dead than when Trump withdrew the USA from it. Not that that will stop the Biden Administration from trying to re-enter it:

Raisi has already said he won’t meet Biden. He has issued a ‘non-negotiable’ rejection of the American goal of adding Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorism to follow-on negotiations. The Iranian negotiators will use the prospect of Raisi taking office in August to lever more concessions from the desperate Americans. But the election of Raisi in the first place has already confirmed the futility of returning to the Iran Deal.

It is the Supreme Leader, 82-year-old Ayatollah Khameini, who heads the Iranian regime, and the military-industrial complex controlled by the IRGC that is its arms and legs. Raisi is a product of their interdependence and corruption. He may yet inherit Khameini’s throne. This is one reason why the pro-Democratic ‘echo chamber’ is spinning his merits in sequence with the centrifuges.

That last crack is referring to Obama’s point man on the JCPOA, Ben Rhodes, who boasted in an interview with the New York Times Magazine in 2016 about how he had created a media “echo chamber” to help get the deal passed. An article in the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine, A stunning profile of Ben Rhodes, the asshole who is the president’s foreign policy guru, noted the famous description by Rhodes of the MSM he manipulated:

Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

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The second article, Ebrahim Raisi, the clerics ruthless enforcer, is longer and goes into more historic detail about his ugly past, including the political games that were going on behind the scenes of the 1988 executions:

The 1988 executions sparked a debate within the regime, just as Khomeini had intended. The supreme leader wanted to separate the true believers from the skeptics. His heir-apparent, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, objected to the killings, and in a secret recording released in 2016, he can be heard chastising Raisi and his fellow executioners.

Shades of Mao and his Cultural Revolution designed to purge the CCP of reactionary elements and purify it. All this history leads to this moment:

By 2016, there were unmistakable public signs that Khamenei was grooming Raisi to succeed him. When it comes to personnel, Khamenei has always displayed a keen eye for talent and loyalty. And Raisi’s promotions all required the personal approval of the supreme leader.

Which helps explain why, this year, the Guardian Council disqualified a high number of presidential candidates — not only did “moderates” get axed, but even the hard-line former speaker of the parliament, Ali Larijani, was removed from the ballot. As a result, Raisi ran nearly uncontested, with no real competitors. 

So he’s the next Ayatollah. He’s even been given “management” positions that enabled him to build a legacy beyond that of executioner, being placed in charge of huge sums of money via the Astan-e Qods Foundation in Mashhad, which runs the Imam Reza Shrine, visited by millions of pilgrims a year and with $15 billion in assets. 

The article draws the appropriate conclusions that the US will have to confront:

Raisi’s win in a fully rigged election strips the system of its off-ramps. The once-popular reformist notion that the theocracy could liberalize itself through its own constitutional provisions has died — except perhaps abroad among Western leftists. The Republic of Virtue is drowning in corruption and class divisions that are as pronounced as those in the last days of the shah.

The regime has no answers to the myriad problems the nation faces. Even hooking up with China will not save them in the long run as they continue to disconnect further from the Iranian people, whose protests are answered only by brutality because the Ayatollah’s know it also:

A nation that saw massive protests once a decade now sees them more frequently. In the latest nationwide revolts of 2019 and 2020, sparked by a drop in fuel subsidies, even the working classes joined the protests. Iran’s ethnic minorities, who probably make up 50 percent of the country’s population, have also become increasingly vocal in expressing their grievances.

They have the same conclusion on the nuclear deal as well:

These two clerics, who will likely reinforce each other’s hardest impulses, both understand what Washington appears to have missed: The era of arms-control diplomacy has ended. The Islamic republic’s nuclear trajectory will not be impacted by further negotiated restraints.

The US may succeed in getting JCPOA back, but it will make no difference and ultimately what happens to the Iranian nuclear weapons programme is down to the Israelis.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 29, 2021 at 4:00 pm