Open Thread – 31 August 2017



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35 Responses to Open Thread – 31 August 2017

  1. Allen Thomson says:
    Iran building missile factories in Syria and Lebanon – Netanyahu
    Can someone please explain why Iran would want to do this? Particularly in Lebanon. Why not produce the missiles in Iran?
    FWIW, the Syrian place is at 35.1770 N, 36.0802 E and does have new construction as shown in the news stories.

  2. gaikokumaniakku says:

    Note: I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the following. It was reported from a source that I do not trust. However, even if it is false, it may be analyzed to produce useful insights regarding the current propaganda environment.
    A mosque preacher of the ISIS terrorist groups who has been arrested in Libya confessed to have been a high-rank member of Mossad.
    Libyan authorities announced that interrogation of a preacher and member of ISIS group reached significant results. According to the reports, Abu Hafs who worked as a preacher for ISIS was in fact an Israeli spy.
    The man’s real name is Benjamin Efraim and is a member of Mossad’s especial units. The Units conduct espionage operations in Arab and Islamic countries. Efraim was one of the liaising circles between Israel and ISIS.

  3. steve says:

    Just some more questions since it looks like the end is near for IS. Once IS no can no longer hold territory and fight a conventional war, what do they do? Do they go into hiding and conduct terror attacks to make it harder for the government to rule? Or is their ideology so tied up with the caliphate that they just fall apart? What do the other jihadi factions do? Leave, continue terror attacks, go foment trouble elsewhere, like maybe Afghanistan? Assuming they don’t fight to the death, it seems like there may be a fair number of experienced fighters left over to cause trouble somewhere?
    IS doesn’t look so great in Iraq either. What does the US do assuming IS loses all territory there also? Do we stay in Iraq “forever” this time, and under what terms? What has changed with the Iraqis that will make them govern themselves better this time?

  4. Fred says:

    I’ve seen some news of the “Cajun Navy” doing some rescues in Houston. Where’s the Antifa navy? How about “By Any Means Necessary”?BLM? Perhaps that trio could lend a helping hand. It sure wouldn’t hurt their public image any.

  5. mike says:

    There was a press briefing Thursday AM by LtGen Townsend, CJTF-OIR Commander, on the situation in Iraq and Syria. If you missed the live broadcast you can find the video on Facebook or YouTube. Most questions asked by the press were about the bus convoy. One idiot journalist even asked him why they did not cut the road both in front AND behind the convoy and starve them out. Lots of other information covered though. Key points mentioned:
    1] On the Iraqi victory in Tal Afar he said the Iraqi Security forces attacked forcefully on all five major axis. That was the reason it fell so fast, plus major infighting within Tal Afar between foreign fighters and local Daeshis. When pressed on BDA he estimated 500 to 700 Daeshis killed in the city and another 300 to 500 killed while fleeing north. Most of those heading north were killed when they tried to attack and move through Peshmerga lines.
    2] For Syria ops there are two hotline deconfliction systems set up with the Russians, one for air and one for ground. Up through February it was an Air Force system only. They started work on a ground hotline in February after al Bab and completed setting it up right after the SAA/SDF incidents in June near the Resafa crossroads south of Tabqah.
    3] No more clashes in Manbij with Turk proxies for the last ten days.
    4] He believes Baghdadi is still alive but gave no insight on where he is hiding other than possibly in the Euphrates River Valley.
    5] Claims there have been approximately five and a half million Syrians and Iraqis freed, but there are still approximately one and a half million Syrians and Iraqis under Daesh bondage.
    6] He was asked about if the coalition will stay when Daesh is defeated. He the reporter to the diplomats, but did say that the coalition has been asked to stay in Iraq by PM Abadi.

  6. TonyL says:

    About the DNC Hack or Leak controversy:
    “Rod Wheeler, the detective cited in Fox News’ controversial story about the fatal shooting of DNC staffer Seth Rich, has filed suit against the company for allegedly fabricating his quotes and pressuring him to push a false narrative.”
    “Mr Wheeler was Fox News’ prime source for a story claiming Mr Rich may have been murdered for releasing unflattering DNC emails to Wikileaks. According to the suit, however, Mr Wheeler never found evidence to support this.”

  7. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Just found this interesting article (albeit in a Brit tabloid).”
    APPARENTLY, you can now print any moronic thing and the people will believe it anyway, if you add “RUSSIA” and “NORTH KOREA” in the mix. What’s so interesting in it, Richardstevenhack?
    Let’s not waste this opportunity, and instead use this article as an object in discussion, on what makes the people believe in sensational things. You, Richardstevenhack, will be our “Patient Zero”. So, I ask you – why did you decided to trust(and found it “interesting”) an article, that doe not provide an outgoing link to confirm its bizarre claim?
    You know, I actually went to and began searching for the news about Russian Far East. You what has happened there in the first week of August? Heavy rains, resulting in the flooding of several districts of Primorye ( Of course, it’s a standard practice when the people are evacuated from the way of the incoming water, or from the affected areas with the damaged infrastructure. And, btw, there is no article on this newssite, that would claim that 1500 Russian citizens were evacuated or something. How can one turn and twist this into something sinister? Only if one is a sensationalist tabloid. But what is beyond me – how one can believe it?
    *This* is Fake News, in its “purest” form. Do better next time, Richardstevenhack.

  8. Fred says:

    The link you posted is a month old. Seth Rich is actually dead, having been shot in the back multiple times. The case is still unsolved.

  9. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I wonder how far we are from remote mind control; if signals can be recorded, they could be played back…
    Wireless recording of neural activity with ultrasound Implanted devices that record neural activity in model organisms such as rats ideally should be as small as possible, remotely powered and able to transduce information wirelessly.
    Seo et al. aim for all of these features by using neural dust to record from peripheral neurons in the mouse. Neural dust is a tiny recording system that consists mainly of electrodes and a piezoelectric crystal. The crystal reflects ultrasonic energy (sent from an external transducer) after neural activity picked up with the electrodes modulates the ultrasonic signal. Electrical activity can thus be inferred from the difference in emitted and received ultrasound signal. The researchers applied their technology in vivo to obtain electroneurographic and electromyographic recordings from rat sciatic nerve and skeletal muscles, respectively.
    Next, we have the news of an artificial womb that successfully grew baby sheep — and humans (and-sub-humans) could be next:
    With the developments in gene editing of human embryos, –
    see please:
    And then there was that little case of 3-parent baby:
    and, more broadly, the creation of human chimeras – see please
    we are only a few decades away, in my estimation, from the creation of sub-human species; as envisioned in such stories as The Island of Doctor Moreau, Chung-Kuo and assorted others. Many a science-fiction story envisions the creation of superior human beings through genetic manipulations, few have contemplated a world in which sub-humans are endemic; for dangerous jobs such as mining, as well for such things as supplying Flesh Pots all over the world.
    Aldous Huxley was an optimist.

  10. r whitman says:

    The Houston situation on a local level has not been politicized no matter how hard the national RWI try. This is dispatched from a location 11 miles southwest of downtown Houston.

  11. Fred says:

    r whitman,
    Good. It points out just how little traction in society both wings of the alt-l/r have.

  12. iowa steve says:

    Did most notice how the media attacked Trump after his speech in Corpus Christi for not taking the appropriate “empathetic” tone regarding the victims of Harvey?
    I was in a far more minor flooding emergency here in Iowa 9 years ago. Some disabled tenants of mine got flooded out and my car was damaged. I spent the better part of a day trying to arrange temporary housing for the tenants through the local emergency management folks, trying to arrange transportation to dialysis for them, and getting them (and me) bottled water. The government agencies came through.
    Neither the tenants nor myself gave a hoot whether any government official said said “I feel your pain”. We were solely concerned about concrete results from those agencies. And the agencies came through.
    I think Trump is a pompous buffoon and he is open to real criticism, but the media belaboring nonsense like his choice of wording in a speech is worthless and beyond trite and, imho, crowds out useful critiques. Much the same could be said of the Russiagate nonsense, but I digress.

  13. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    I do not know how many pilgrims like flying small planes, but here is the Antonov An-2 for those who do. As the link below describes it:
    If your idea of heaven is being able to fly backward in a 30-knot headwind while carrying an entire baseball team plus the manager for the price of a mid-range BMW, have we got an airplane for you.” Seems like a useful machine. Unfortunately crop dusting is now forbidden in Turkey.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  14. confusedponderer says:

    A cousin of mine and her family in the moment live in Houston, Texas. Her husband works for a US corporate consultant corporation and was offered a job in the US, accepted it happily and became a partner. He and my cousin both are Ph.D. chemists.
    Anyway, they have just learned, in the wet way, the devastation the hurricane caused down there.
    My cousin and her family just had to evacuate their house because the garden was running full of water and the water eventually reached the house itself. My cousin and her family had to be evacuated by boat.
    Good luck to them. And, of course, good luck to all the folks down there in general.

  15. TonyL says:

    Yes. I know it is old news. I posted it since nobody has brought up this here, but it was deemed an important data point about the DNC leak/hack investigation.

  16. Fellow Traveler says:

    President Trump was in an especially ornery mood after staff members gently suggested he refrain from injecting politics into day-to-day issues of governing after last month’s raucous rally in Arizona, and he responded by lashing out at the most senior aide in his presence.
    It happened to be his new chief of staff, John F. Kelly.
    Mr. Kelly, the former Marine general brought in five weeks ago as the successor to Reince Priebus, reacted calmly, but he later told other White House staff members that he had never been spoken to like that during 35 years of serving his country. In the future, he said, he would not abide such treatment, according to three people familiar with the exchange.

    One of Trump or Kelly will be gone by New Years.

  17. Lyttenburgh says:

    “I found it interesting because it included the slideshow of North Korean troops, as well as the possibility that IF TRUE it indicated that Russia might be concerned about the effects of a war with North Korea.”
    Once again, Richardstevenhack – why you didn’t attempt to verify what was claimed in the article? Why you even entertained this “maybe”, when you could have checked it? What is interesting in the speculation? Why would you post anything from a tabloid in the first place?
    I’m asking, because I genuinely want to know, how the Fake News succeed in worming their way into the minds of the otherwise intelligent people. Just pictures were enough to “interest” you? What if they posted GoF White Walkers instead – would you find this also “interesting” and entertain the possibility of their invasion of Russia?

  18. confusedponderer says:

    It IMO, or rather, my hunch is that, it will be Kelly who goes, not Trump.
    Trump will stay as long as he can, if only in order to golden the Whitehouse or funny stuff like that.
    It is my impresssion that Trump has a hard time to accept disagreement and has a hard time to accept grown-ups trying to talk him into sense when he tweeters around or follows his other impulses.
    I just read that secretary of defence Mattis is analysing the decision Trumps made on gays in the military and check whether it will have negative consequentions, and negative financial consequentions, before he follows Tumps ‘royal order’.
    I have done my enlistment here in Germany and so I see that gays may have a negative impact on morale in units, so I do see a basic idea behind the order.
    Anyway, that Mattis is ‘still studying hard’ the sense of the order to me doesn’t suggest that Trump spoke with the secretary of defence or Mattis over this matter, which effect it will have on actual operations or how to pay for it, before formulating his order.
    Defense Secretary Jim Mattis left the door open Monday to some transgender service members continuing to serve in the U.S. military, three weeks after President Trump said that they would not be allowed to do so “in any capacity.”
    Mattis, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, said that he and his staff are still studying the issue, including how having transgender service members affects other members of their units.
    The Pentagon chief, asked whether transgender people now in the military will be forced out of their service, pointed to a statement that Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a day after Trump’s announcement last month. Dunford said that openly transgender people will be allowed to continue to serve until there is guidance from the president on how to proceed.
    “The chairman immediately went out and said immediately, ‘Everyone stand fast until we get the direction,’ ” Mattis said. “I understand that this is probably more about your suspicion about what could be coming, but the fact is, we have received no direction that would indicate any harm to anybody right now.”
    It speaks languages about the depth of thinking happening in the whitehouse when ‘doing policy’, and Trump was apparently neither asking or interested in the views, experience or knowledge of defense secretary or Pentagon generals about anything when he gave them his gay order.
    In a sense such behavior reminds me of Erdogan’s recent screaming fit about that turks in germany (who, if they can vote on federal elections, must have GERMAN citizenship and how they may vote is not Erdogan’s business. Alas …) should iirc to not vote for CDU, SPD, FDP and the Greens. Him labelling parties the turks in his view ought not to vote for was annoying, and then there was the general impertinent tone of the yelling.
    Sultan Erdogan’s screaming fit was then adressed by Germany’s foreign secretary Sigmar Gabriel with a comment and Erdogan then raged aloud about who Gabriel thought he was … to dare to talk with Sultan Erdogan at all.
    Well, in light of that, who does the Sultan think he is I ask myself? Sultan Erdogan chooses to emesh himself in foreign elections, and burst out into when being responded to by a foreign seretary? Well, I’m old fashioned, and think that having to talk even with with outrageous and hideous clowns or heads of state is the effing job of a foreign secretary.
    If I look at Erdogan’s mental instability, his odd habits and nutty screaming fits I wonder what stuff the Russians told the turks to get them to settle down.
    My impression is that Russians are folks who you only sucker once and who remember things. IMO what the Russiand told Ankara was likely something along the line that if things happen once they may be an accident, if things happen twice it suggests great carelessness and that if things happen a third time it will be seen as full intent and that then there will be a hard kick in the balls in response. It seems the sort of language Erdogan understands.
    It is also speaking for itself that NATO was unwilling to sell Erdogan relatively modern air defence systems like Patriot, Meads or Aster. The interesting question here is why NATO didn’t sell and didn’t want to sell to Erdogan. Likely, it is because they don’t trust him and because he is unreliable and/or isn’t be expected to pay. Not a recommendation for an ally. In any way, so Erdogan had to go to Russia, of all places, to buy quite modern and effective S-400 SAMs.
    IMO that’s Erdogan in real – if Erdogan wants something and does whatever he likes to do to get it while law, legality, diplomacy or politeness are irrelevant.

  19. TonyL says:

    Richardstevenhack @22,
    Another quote from the same article:
    “But Mr Butowksy, after meeting with journalist Seymour Hersh, told Mr Wheeler he had a source within the FBI who could confirm that Mr Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks. (Mr Hersh has since dismissed these claims as “gossip”.)”

  20. turcopolier says:

    You don’t seem to understand that all the people you mention are Trump’s subordinates and he can fire them any time he wants to do so. pl

  21. YT says:

    Of related interest…
    If you look at mammalian brains, or even reptilian ones, you see enough neurons to believe that they can manage the animal.
    People have about 1350 cc of brain, some whales 5400.
    But consider the above ant.
    There is hardly any ant there.
    Most of what there is of the little beast consists of legs, exoskeleton, thorax and abdomen and so on.
    It has virtually no nervous tissue, distributed or otherwise.
    Yet it effortlessly manages six legs over broken terrain (ask a robotics engineer how easy this is) operates digestive organs and such, knows how to forage for food, dig nests, care for queen and young, manage sensory organs and interact with other ants.
    All of this is flat weird.
    Question: How can so very, very little “brain” control such complex behavior?
    What, as we would say in today’s digital world,is the storage mechanism?
    The programming language?
    When I have asked this question, the response has been “Oh, Fred, ants use a different system.”
    That is the question, not the answer.
    What is the explanation, if one exists?”

  22. Castellio says:

    Thank you for that link. Truly a lost opportunity, not once, but twice. It’s hard to see how Wolfowitz had America’s interest at heart. Even then he preferred the option of unwinnable wars to an attempt to negotiate. Simply hubris? He left a tragic legacy.

  23. turcopolier says:

    I had the misfortune to know PW well when he was DepSecdef for policy. That was so because I was responsible as the DIO for the intelligence support provided to him and his by DIA with respect to my parts of the world. (ME and SA) He was a strange man, affable but always seeming somewhat opaque and underhanded. He had a shrine to Lincoln in his office, filled with artifacts borrowed from the Smithsonian. He revered Lincoln as a unifying nationalist who was not deterred by anything in achieving his goals and he carried around a deck of 3X5″ cards with sayings from “Chairman” Lincoln that had been selected as exhortations to ruthlessness and persistence. In the midst of a discussion he would select a card to give you as a supposed “closer” on the argument. I argued with him a lot. His grand obsession in the ME (other than the welfare of Israel)was Syria and the absolute need to destroy the government of Syria, then headed by Hafiz al-Assad. He seemed to have developed this mania for Syria through visits to Turkey and of course Turkey and Israel were then allies. He would talk endlessly about Syrian plotting with the Kurds against Turkey and Syrian support for the PKK. It was clear after a while that he did not care about Turkey. It was Syria that he wanted to screw. In that period the Syrian government tried repeatedly to improve relations with the US and various people, most prominently and effectively, PW, managed to torpedo that every time. The method was simple. It was to tie this up in debate in the interagency so that action was not taken. Eventually, the attention of the interagency went elsewhere and the effort to improve relations had failed yet again. IMO the same method was later followed under GW Bush with Cheney as VP leading the effort. When PW was at DoD he was much more anti-Syrian than the pre-likud Israeli governments of the day. pl

  24. Babak Makkinejad says:

    How did such a man get to such a position?

  25. turcopolier says:

    He was a darling of the neocon cabal. pl

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I had considered your question earlier myself but have no answer. Only more question; e.g. what was the IQ of ancient Athens – as a collective – to that of yhe city of Ames in Iowa?

  27. DH says:

    “He was a darling of the neocon cabal. pl”
    So it would seem:

  28. Adrestia says:

    An interesting article by Alistair Crooke (with a quote and a link to SST)
    How the Deep State Ties Down Trump
    President Trump has had his foreign policy hands and feet tied by the Russia (and Iran) Sanctions Act. He now has been rendered “helpless”: in respect to détente with Russia — gulliverized, spitefully, by his own party, working with the Democrats, to empty Trump’s constitutional prerogatives in foreign policy – and to seize them for Congress.
    President Donald Trump announces the selection of Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new National Security Adviser on Feb. 20, 2017. (Screen shot from
    And in a further humiliation, Trump has been “rolled” by his military minders
    A Frenzied Deep State
    It seems that the American deep state is so frenzied in this way that its inhabitants can no longer see straight: they are ready to risk despoiling not just the “recalcitrant” abroad, but America herself. And the way they are going about trying to “have her,” may well ruin the deep state too, as collateral damage.
    The alliance of these three states and their “partner forces” no longer believe that America is capable of serious diplomacy, or that it enjoys any real capacity to “seize” the world. On the contrary, they see Europe drifting away from the U.S., the Gulf Cooperation Council in disarray, and even Israel is despairing of its Washington ally. They do remain concerned about North Korea, but the fear of U.S. pre-emptive military action against North Korea is tempered by the knowledge that North Korea effectively holds 30,000 U.S. servicemen hostage in the de-militarized zone.
    When Steve Bannon was ejected from the White House, last week,” the New Yorker quotes Bannon as citing “his frustrations with the coming tax bill, as one of the reasons he believed that the Trump nationalist agenda had been hijacked by the so-called globalists, such as Cohn and the other members of the Big Six.”
    Yes, Trump has been “rolled” in the economic sphere, too: The “big six” consist of four members of Congress (including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan), plus economic adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin – both of Goldman Sachs.
    “They’re not populists, they’re not nationalists, they had no interest in his [i.e. Trump’s] program – Zero”, Bannon told the Weekly Standard, “On what element of Trump’s program, besides tax cuts — which is going to be the standard marginal tax cut — where have they rallied to Trump’s cause? They haven’t.”
    Stockman is warning that markets already are trading at historic highs, and that no one is paying attention to these extreme valuations or the economic or political fundamentals – simply because the latter has become utterly irrelevant, if every small market dip, is immediately followed by the unbroken elevation of all asset classes (thanks to Central Bank interventions).
    “That is, the gamblers and robo-machines have become so hard-wired to the expectation that the central banking and fiscal branches of the state will do ‘whatever it takes’ to keep the stock averages rising, that it has become irrational to waste time and resources on parsing ‘whatever is going on,’” Instead, writes Stockman, “it’s all about the chart points, money flows, next in rotation sectors, ETF buying power, momentum trades and technical arbitrages, such as embodied in the currently massive risk parity trades.”
    In short, all sensibility to risk (political or credit or any other) has been expunged by the determination of the Central Banks to keep asset prices inflating higher. The financial system precisely is looking the other way — intent on making money “when the going is easy” – and consequently, any crisis now will create a disproportionate impact on those levered asset values, magnified by the trades today being all one-way.
    Russia and China are right to be thinking “worst case” and how to minimize their exposure to any American cataclysmic descent into political turmoil – and possible violence.

    Imo the economy and the financial system (bonds, stocks etc) may be the trigger for a new crisis (bigger than 2007/8).
    One of the things I look at is the ownership of US long term securities. -> B 2 global
    China has hardly any exposure to the US stock market, but they own a lot of Treasury bonds. The trend (started in august 2016 as a moving average to smoothen short term fluctuations ) is that they are selling these bonds. In other words they are not willing to finance the US deficits. When a new financial crisis hits China will be hit (in GDP because of exports), but much less in the overleveraged financial markets and asset bubbles that are still being inflated.
    Europe is much more exposed and in combination with the austerity policies engraved in stone may cause a shift to the (extreme) left or the (extreme/populist) right (most likely imho)
    Russia will have no serious problems.

  29. turcopolier says:

    Crooke is too smart to really think that the leadership cadres of the whole US professional government are a web of conspiracy that acts to restrain and frustrate DJT. The military leaders have little respect or allegiance to anyone in the civilian parts of the government. The State Department thinks itself the intellectual superior of the rest of the government. I have always thought this amusing since most military officers at or above the grade of lieutenant colonel are more schooled in a civilian sense that the majority of FSOs who were selected by interview and paper exam by people seeking mirror images of themselves. The CIA? They are much reduced in importance since the IC reforms post 9/11. In the end the CIA supports no one and nothing but itself. pl

  30. Castellio says:

    Thank you for this information. I appreciate it.
    It seemed in the mid-2000s that Assad was serious about leading Syria into a much closer relationship with both the US and Israel. He was looking to get the Golan back, in exchange for Syria’s political reorientation and acceptance of Israel, proving that negotiations could work with Israel, and that Israel could “normalize” as a country in the region. That was the task he seemed to set himself.
    We know what happened then, and your post helps us to understand it better. Ten years later we are in a very different place, and there is no going back.
    I am sure Wolfowitz will get his biographies: hopefully at least one of them will understand the “affable” failure of his world view.
    As for ending conversations with historical quotes from “indisputable authorities” completely unaware of the situation being discussed… it is childish.

  31. Adrestia says:

    Thank you for your insights. SST
    I think the “gamblers and robo-machines” was spot on. The borg and their almost identical twins the Euroborg have created a situation where the financial economy is out of control.
    A lot of it is faith-based and when panic hits the machines and the herd all move in the same direction. And especially the automatic high frequency trading algorithms and the leveraged derivatives will act as force multipliers.
    But because it is very technical and not transparent nobody really knows or understands what will happen. The problems of 2007 haven’t been solved. No brakes, no controls. Pretty scary since the (Euro)borg seem to think Mammon is the right God to worship.
    I’ve been in a number of worlds, but the financial was the nastiest (and the most disgusting) I’m becoming pretty convinced that it will break the EU.

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yehud Barak got cold feet.
    I also agree that holding off for a better deal often gets one a worse deal or no deal at all.
    Arabs could have accepted the UN plan in 1948, US could have fulfilled her obligations under the Agreed Framework, EU3 could have accepted the Iranian offer in 2003, and many other such examples.

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Between 1999 to 2010, US corporations eliminated 2.8 million positions in US and created 2.45 million jobs in India, Malaysia, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and in China; greatest wealth transfer in history, I should think.

  34. Castellio says:

    I’m surprised you think the Arabs could have accepted the UN plan in 1948. I mean, yes, they could have, but I doubt if the evolution of events would have been substantially different.
    There has never been any Israeli intention (then or since) to divide what they claim as their own. This was clear enough in the 1920s, and crystal clear by the mid 1930s.

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