Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Away Message

I'll be off for a week or so as a storm rages. Looking forward to returning when the sea is calm. Mark 4: 35-41

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Monday, September 26, 2016

War - Nations in Distress

Three bombings in Baghdad kill eight people - UPI.com
UPI reports: "At least eight people died and 25 were injured in Baghdad on Sunday after three bombing attacks, including one claimed by the Islamic State. The deadliest attack, in which six people died in western Baghdad's Iskan district when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt, was carried out by the Islamic State."

Islamic State feels the heat as showdown over Mosul nears - UPI.com
UPI reports: "As the showdown approaches with the Iraqi Army, backed by the Shia-dominated militias and Kurdish Peshmerga with aerial support by the U.S.-led coalition forces, Islamic State militants are preparing for a protracted war over Mosul. Residents said trenches were dug around the city and neighborhoods on the corners were cleared of residents. All areas on the city border were said to have been booby-trapped. "

Comment: The war against the Islamic State is moving along on multiple fronts, but the bloodiest battle is going to be the battle for Mosul.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

Unrest in Kashmir after clashes between protesters and armed forces - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Indian armed forces and protesters continued to clash after soldiers shot and killed 19-year-old Waseem Ahmad on Friday amid unrest in Kashmir. Ahmad was shot by soldiers who were firing back against protesters who reportedly threw stones at an army convoy, police said. Witnesses to the incident disputed official's response saying Ahmad was not demonstrating when government forces opened fire. [...] Eighty-seven people have died in the region since the conflict began on July 9."

Pakistan military prepares for a possible Indian attack - The Washington Post:
The Washington Post reports: "Military officials are calling it a routine exercise, but the thunderous spectacle of Pakistani fighter jets touching down on a major highway Wednesday and Thursday, with commercial flights suspended and traffic blocked for hours, has fueled public speculation that something much more ominous is afoot. The display of military readiness, which included a late-night jet flyover Thursday above this capital city, has come amid an unusually tense showdown with India, Pakistan’s nuclear-armed rival, following a militant attack Sunday that killed 18 Indian soldiers in the disputed border region of Kashmir. [...] Indian officials have accused Pakistan of sending the armed attackers across the de facto border into the Indian portion of Kashmir."

Comment: One of the word's major-war tripwires is not settling down. 

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Earthquakes

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes 80 miles from Japan's east coast - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck about 80 miles off the east coast of Japan at a depth of about 6 miles on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The Japanese city nearest to the quake is Katsuura with a population of about 22,300. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning related to the earthquake."

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Famine

AFP - Five million Somalis now going hungry
AFP reports: "Five million Somalis, or more than two out of five people in the country, do not have enough to eat, the United Nations said Tuesday, calling for extra funds for food aid. The latest figures represent an increase of 300,000 food insecure people since February, said the UN's humanitarian affairs office, OCHA. [...] Harvests have been hit this year by a severe drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon which occurs every five to seven years. Worst hit by hunger are the estimated 1.1 million people displaced from their homes by conflict, some of them forced to move several times during the past two decades."

Comment: People don't really talk much about famine anymore. That's doesn't mean it's not happening. 

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pestilence

More must be done to fight 'superbugs': U.S. gov't report - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" remain a major public health threat, and only a multipronged attack can address the problem, a new U.S. government report warns. [...] Scientists have long known that bacteria have ways of thwarting the drugs designed to kill them. But in recent decades, overuse and misuse of antibiotics have fueled a global spread of drug-resistant bugs, which include Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA."

Comment: It's pretty scary to think that our antibiotics might fail. I'm glad they are working on the problem.  Let's hope they have both the time and the funding they need.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

India scrutinizes Pakistan after 18 soldiers killed in Kashmir - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Demands are growing in India for a response to Pakistan for the killing of 18 Indian soldiers in the disputed province of Kashmir. Initial reports said four gunmen believe to be members of Jaish-e-Muhammad, a Pakistan-based militant group, stormed an army base Sunday in Uri, near the Pakistan-India border in Indian-administered Kashmir, killing 17 soldiers. An eighteenth died of his injuries after he was transferred to Delhi. Senior government leaders in New Delhi blame Pakistan's military for helping launch the attack, the BBC reported Monday, and are urging retaliation. A response will likely escalate tension between the countries."

Comment: Kashmir does not make the news as often as other tripwires like North Korea, the South China Sea, or the Persian Gulf, but it remains just as volatile. It's a place where a small spark could lead to war between the two nuclear powered neighbors and the results could be catastrophic.

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War

Minnesota mall attacker identified as American born in Kenya - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The man who stabbed nine people at a Minnesota mall before being fatally shot has been identified as an American born in Kenya. CNN identified the suspect as Dahir A. Adan, 22, according to federal law enforcement sources and two Somali community leaders in contact with Adan's family. [...] The Amaq News Agency posted a statement online Sunday, saying, 'The executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to the citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition.'"

Suspect is shot and captured in New York-area bombings - AP
AP reports: "A New Jersey police officer responding to a call about a hoodied vagrant curled up asleep in a bar doorway roused him and quickly recognized the bearded face of perhaps the most wanted man in America. Ahmad Khan Rahami — identified in an FBI bulletin just hours earlier as a man wanted in the weekend bombings in New York City and New Jersey — pulled a gun, shot the officer and triggered a running gun battle in the street that ended with Rahami wounded and in custody Monday, authorities said. "

Comment: As difficult as it is to deal with lone wolf attacks, the authorities did an admirable job in apprehending the suspects with little loss of life.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pestilence

Zika virus: Miami Beach transmission zone expands - CNN.com
CNN reports: "The Zika virus transmission zone in Miami Beach has tripled in size, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday night. [...] The new zone was set after the Department of Health identified five people, two males and three females, in the area who all experienced Zika symptoms within one month of one another. The virus poses a particular threat to pregnant woman due to its link with neurological disorders in unborn children."

Comment: Did you notice how they release this information on a Friday night? It's picked up by news media and reported on Saturday but really, how many people are paying close attention on a busy almost-Fall weekend?  Announcing bad news on a Friday is a tried-and-true tactic recommended by PR people but you would think that news relating to public health and safety would be treated a bit better than your average scandal or damage-control spin.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

War

U.S. forces face unexpected backlash from allied rebels - UPI.com
UPI reports: "American special operations troops have arrived in Syria to help Turkish forces fight the Islamic State, but it appears that some of the U.S.-backed rebel fighters there aren't too happy about that support. Several videos appeared on social media channels by Friday, showing allied members of the Free Syrian Army -- fighters the Pentagon has propped up with financing and logistical support -- expressing a multitude of contempt for American troops who came to help. American commandos, in fact, were reportedly forced to flee in some areas when they encountered severe abuse and insults from FSA members."

Comment: I know the "fog of war" can be bad, but how is it that the fog would stretch all the way to Washington and the decision-makers at the Pentagon who thought backing the FSA was a good idea to begin with? Right, that's not fog, it was the cool aid. Perhaps now the Pentagon will understand that giving such groups arms and financing didn't turn them into "moderate" jihadists.  I'm almost glad the American people are too busy to pay attention to this, it's a real mess.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wickedness Increases

New Mexico mother sought out men to rape her daughter - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A New Mexico mother admitted she sought out men to rape her daughter in the weeks leading up to the girl's eventual killing, police said."

Comment: I think we sometimes get so desensitized by the media that "evil" as a concept no longer registers. The average person now personally witnesses more evil acts  than people ever did in past ages. Does it matter that the murder you witnessed tonight was on a police procedural on TV? You watched another human being getting killed. But, that's ok, it was fake, all in good fun. Fun? When did watching someone being killed get equated with fun? How is it that we can call that entertainment? But for all of that, true evil still exists and from time to time we hear of actions so evil they shock us despite our jaded sensibilities. The above news story is one such event. You'll note that I'm only quoting one sentence of the news report with this word of caution: it's really shocking. Read it if you dare but remember your mind will go there and you will be forced to think about what that mother did to her child.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ten Kings - Final Kingdom

EU permanent military headquarters proposed by Jean-Claude Juncker - UPI.com
UPI reports: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed on Wednesday the EU establish a military headquarters to build toward a permanent common defense force. Juncker made the comments in Strasbourg, France, during the annual state of the union address, which was partly devoted to the United Kingdom's decision to leave the EU following the 'Brexit' vote. He said the U.K.'s departure should increase the necessity for greater European cooperation in defense."

Comment: We all know that NATO is the most successful military alliance in history. Why then does the EU leader think his organization needs a military wing? Wouldn't an EU military wing undermine the Western alliance by diverting funds away from NATO and dividing the loyalties of member countries? Who benefits from such an arrangement? More importantly, what does it mean for the grater Euro-Med region?

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Global Government

U.S. tech firms urge Congress to allow internet domain changeover | Reuters:
Reuters reports: "Major technology companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter are urging Congress to support a plan for the U.S. government to cede control of the internet's technical management to the global community, they said in a joint letter dated on Tuesday. The U.S. Commerce Department has primary oversight of the internet's management, largely because it was invented in the United States. Some Republican lawmakers are trying to block the handover to global stakeholders, which include businesses, tech experts and public interest advocates, saying it could stifle online freedom by giving voting rights to authoritarian governments."

Comment: Letting the UN take over administrative control of the internet is a very bad idea. The U.S. hosts the admin side of internet governance and this has meant that techies run it. It's not political. If they turn it over to the UN it will become political and most likely a tool for repressive regimes to exert greater control over internet traffic. It will be a sad day for freedom and for the original promise of the internet if that happens. In my opinion this is all part of the anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Western spirit at work in the world.

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Pestilence

Engineers battle superbugs with star-shaped 'peptide polymers' - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Engineers in Australia have discovered a new way to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The new antibacterial weaponry is called peptide polymers. According to a new study published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the short, star-shaped chains of proteins hold promise as a substitute for antibiotics."

Comment: How about some good news for a change! Scientists are making progress in the race against superbugs. 

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Rumors of War - Kings of the East

North Korea warns United States after air force bomber exercise - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea issued a warning after the United States flew two B-1 bombers over South Korea on Tuesday. The B-1B Lancers, part of a U.S. plan of 'extended deterrence' against North Korea provocations, flew with U.S. F-16 and South Korean F-15 fighters over Osan Air Base, CNN reported. But the supersonic bombers may be rattling the North Korean leadership. [....] The Air Force has previously deployed strategic bombers to South Korea in response to North Korea provocations, and the deployment is taking place after North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on Friday."

Analyst: North Korea has enough material to make 20 nuclear bombs - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea may be adding seven nuclear bombs to its arsenal annually and could have about 20 bombs by the end of 2016, according to a U.S. analyst."

Comment: Another day, another rumor of war from North Korea. 

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

AP - China, Russia launch South China Sea naval war games
AP reports: "The Chinese and Russian navies launched eight days of war games in the South China Sea on Monday, in a sign of growing cooperation between their armed forces against the backdrop of regional territorial disputes. The 'Joint Sea-2016' maneuvers include ships, submarines, ship-borne helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, along with marines and amphibious armored vehicles who will conduct live-firing exercises, according to a Defense Ministry statement Sunday. Tasks will include defensive and rescue drills, anti-submarine exercises and the simulated seizure of an enemy island by marines from both sides."

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Friday, September 09, 2016

War

U.S. sends 500 more troops to help fight Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The United States has increased its deployed forces by more than 500 troops to assist Iraqi security forces in the operation to claim Mosul from Islamic State control. Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for the United States' Operation Inherent Resolve mission against the Islamic State, on Thursday said the increase in deployed troops is to help Iraq seize the Islamic State's Iraqi stronghold, Mosul -- where he estimates there are up to 4,500 IS militants remaining. U.S. President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi both hope to seize Mosul before the year's end [...] The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, captured Mosul as part of a land grab in 2014 that saw to the militant group's peak in terms of land acquisition."

Comment: How's the war in Iraq going? Well, they hope to retake Mosul by the end of the year. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the past, didn't the harsh winter months slow down operations considerably?  Of course, that may have just been a reflection of using so many tribal fighters, they tend to be seasonal workers at best. Now that we have a "professional" Iraqi army, that may no longer be the case.

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Thursday, September 08, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

North Korea conducts fifth and largest nuclear test | Reuters
Reuters reports: "North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on Friday, setting off a blast that was more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and said it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile. Its most powerful explosion to date follows a test in January that prompted the U.N. Security Council to impose tightened sanctions that increased North Korea's isolation but failed to prevent it from accelerating weapons development."

Comment: It's time for the Security Council to once again open the box of Strong Words of Condemnation and hurl them at North Korea.  It's clear that once they find the right mix of words the North will be stopped in their tracks and all will be well.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Pestilence

Zika virus may linger in the eyes, researchers find - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Genetic material from the Zika virus is present in the tears of infected mice, which suggests the virus may linger in the eyes, researchers say. The discovery from tests on mouse fetuses, newborns and adults may help explain why some people infected with Zika develop eye disease that puts them at risk for permanent vision loss."

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War

France sending artillery, aircraft carrier to fight Islamic State in Mosul - UPI.com
UPI reports: "France's Ministry of Defense announced it would deploy artillery forces and an aircraft carrier to support Iraqi security forces in their fight for the city of Mosul against the Islamic State. [...] The Islamic State launched an attack in Paris in November in which 130 people were killed."

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Rumors of War - Persia

Iran vessel 'harasses,' sails close to U.S. Navy ship in Gulf: U.S. officials | Reuters
Reuters reports: "A U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship changed course after a fast-attack craft from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps came within 100 yards (91 meters) of it in the central Gulf on Sunday, U.S. Defense Department officials said on Tuesday. It was at least the fourth such incident in less than a month. U.S. officials are concerned that these actions by Iran could lead to mistakes. Years of mutual animosity eased when Washington lifted sanctions on Tehran in January after a deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. But serious differences still remain over Iran's ballistic missile program, and over conflicts in Syria and Iraq."

Comment: Did anyone think that the Iran nuclear deal would stabilize relations between the U.S. and Iran? Not you, of course, my readers are far too smart, but I really do think many people did, like Iran was a checked-off agenda item, it was done, and time to move on to other things. I don't think Iran has moved on.  This is what happens when you have an entire generation of Iranians raised on a steady diet of anti-American propaganda.  Will the U.S. Navy leave the Persian Gulf? No. Will Iran continue to make an issue of the U.S. presence off their shores? Yes. It's only a matter of time before a deadly incident occurs, one that could spark a larger conflict.

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Saturday, September 03, 2016

Global Government - Ten Kings

World leaders gather in China for G20 summit - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Leaders from various countries throughout the world have gathered in China to discuss global issues at the G20 summit. The Group of 20 assembly held in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, on Sunday and Monday, will feature leaders from the world's leading industrialized and emerging economies."

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Earthquakes

5.6-magnitude earthquake reported in Oklahoma, felt across 6 states - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A 5.6-magnitude earthquake shook Oklahoma Saturday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, tying the record for biggest quake in state history. The USGS said the earthquake was felt across Oklahoma and into parts of Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Nebraska, and Iowa."

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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Earthquakes

7.1 earthquake hits northern New Zealand - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A 7.1 earthquake rocked the East Coast of New Zealand's North Island Friday, knocking out power to thousands, closing schools and rail lines and triggering a tsunami warning, authorities said. The quake struck just before dawn and was felt over much the country."

Comment: A 7.1 magnitude quake is a big one, no loss of life is a miracle.  Looks like the "ring of fire" is getting active.

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Pestilence

Three Miami Beach mosquitoes test positive for Zika virus - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Three mosquitoes tested positive in the South Beach neighborhood, where a 1.5-square mile active transmission zone was designated. It is the first time in the United States that a mosquito has tested positive for the Zika virus."

Comment: Good thing we are headed into Fall and Winter, that should help curb the spread of Zika and give scientists more time to work on a cure.

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