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Monday, August 29, 2016

The Washington Post Continues to Ignore the Escalating Conflict in Turkey



The top story in today's online Washington Post? An article enlightening WaPo's readers concerning Turkey's armored ground incursion into Syria and the battles currently being waged between the Turkish army and Syria's Kurds, with whom, by the way, the US has been working to fight ISIS? An article mentioning Kurdish civilian casualties at the hands of the Turks? Not a chance. Rather, in a lead article entitled "A ramshackle village at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," William Booth writes:

"SUSIYA, West Bank — For a quick reality check on the current stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there’s no better place to visit than this little village of miserable huts and sheep pens in the middle of nowhere.

The hamlet in the hills south of Hebron has become an improbable proxy in a cold war waged among Jewish settlers, the Israeli government, Western diplomats, peace activists and the 340 or so Arab herders who once inhabited caves on the site and now live in squalid tents.

. . . .

A final order to bulldoze the hamlet was delayed in mid-August when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office asked the courts to stay a ruling on the dispute for two months — until after the U.S. presidential election — according to lawyers involved in the case on both sides.

The Obama administration this month warned Israel that it finds the proposed eviction 'very troubling.'"

Fascinating. The Washington Post is more concerned with a legal battle involving Susiya than a deadly escalation of the conflict in Syria involving many civilian deaths.

Why am I not surprised?

Friday, August 26, 2016

The University of Chicago Says No to Safe Spaces



Finally, a ray of sunshine from academia. As reported by the The Chicago Maroon:

"Incoming first-years received a letter from the College today making clear that the University of Chicago does not condone safe spaces or trigger warnings.

'Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own,' reads the letter from Dean of Students Jay Ellison."

Bravo, Mr. Ellison. Gutsy. Sets the University of Chicago apart from other American campuses that have surrendered to fanaticism.

I haven't been back to the University of Chicago since receiving my B.A. from that school in 1974. Perhaps it's time to visit. Famous for its "common core" undergraduate requirement, the University of Chicago has again demonstrated that its commitment to education remains undefiled.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Washington Post Refuses to Publish My Opinion Piece: Middle East Meltdown



Today I received the following message from The Washington Post: "Thank you very much for sending us this piece, but the Oped page won't be able to use it." Of course, WaPo wouldn't dream of publishing this opinion piece (below), which calls into question the probity of its overseas reporting. Judge for yourself:

What is happening to The Washington Post's coverage of Middle East news? More to the point, why has America's news media failed to address events affecting the safekeeping of America's global stockpile of nuclear weapons?

In July, following the failed military coup against Turkish president Erdogan, Turkish troops loyal to Erdogan encircled Incirlik Air Base, where 1,500 American Air Force troops are posted. The critical importance of Incirlik? US tactical nuclear weapons are stored there, and US air strikes against ISIS in Syria are launched from this base.
The Erdogan regime temporarily cut off commercial power to Incirlik following the coup attempt, and generators had to be used by the American air force to provide the base with electricity.

It was widely believed that the actions taken by Erdogan against the base related to Turkish demands that the American government extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. Gulen has been deemed a terrorist by the Erdogan regime, and his Hizmet movement has been accused by the Turkish government of standing behind the recent coup attempt; however, the American government has refused to send him back to Turkey.
Furious with President Obama, who had listed Erdogan as one of his five best overseas friends in 2012, the Turkish president met with Vladmir Putin in St. Petersburg on August 8 and declared “the Moscow-Ankara friendship axis will be restored.” Even more worrisome following the St. Petersburg summit, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim suggested this past Saturday that Incirlik could be used by the Russian Air Force for strikes against ISIS.

In response to the crisis, there have been foreign news articles stating that America is secretly removing its B61 tactical gravity nuclear bombs from underground bunkers at Incirlik. It has also been reported that these weapons are being sent to Romania, although the Romanian government is denying these rumors.

On top of all of this, Russia’s air force recently began flying missions against ISIS from Iran’s Hamadan Air Base, and the State Department is considering whether this violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231. Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made a surprise stopover in Iran this past Thursday after Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers met in Ankara last week to seek an end to the fighting in Syria. Turkey has been supporting rebel forces in Syria, whereas Iran has been propping up the Assad regime using Hezbollah fighters and its own Quds force.
If all of this was not worrisome enough, on Friday American and Syrian fighter jets nearly engaged in a dogfight over Kurdish Hassaka in northern Syria. Needless to say, the Erdogan regime is implacably opposed to Kurdish independence in Syria, which could have repercussions involving Turkey’s restive Kurdish minority. On the other hand, the Middle East's 30 million Kurds have been historically friendly to the US.

So why has America’s news media remained silent in the face of these events? Is it because the Olympics and Ryan Lochte took center stage? Is it because the latest revelations involving Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are more interesting than a threat to America’s overseas nuclear arsenal? Is it because the outbreak of the Zika virus in southern Florida is more worrisome? It’s all possible, however, I would have thought that the breakdown of America’s relationship with Turkey, the crisis surrounding America’s nuclear arsenal at Incerlik, and the threat of Russian hegemony over the Middle East would have deserved more than a passing mention by the press.

I would only add that permission for Russian missions against Syrian rebels out of Iranian air bases has now been withdrawn by Khamenei.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

American Jet Fighters Amost in a Dogfight Over Syria: No US News Coverage



American and Syrian (Russian?) fighter jets nearly engaged in a dogfight on Friday. As reported by DEBKAfile in an article entitled "US, Russia trade blows in Syria on Kurds’ backs":

"The near-clash between US and Syrian warplanes over Kurdish Hassaka in northern Syrian Friday Aug. 19 sprung out of the Obama administration’s decision the day before to try and draw the line on the growing Russian-Iranian-Turkish-Syrian collaboration in the conjoined Syrian-Iraqi arenas, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.

It occurred when US jets flew in protective formation over the Kurdish positions, the day after they were attacked by Syrian (some Middle East sources say, Russian) jets.

The US jets came within a mile of the two Syrian Su-24 fighter jets approaching the Kurdish enclave of Hassaka, and warned them off. Without responding the Syrian planes turned tail."

Putin is testing Obama.

Coverage of this incident by America's news media? Not a chance. But why should The New York Times and The Washington Post dwell on such a "minor" flap, given their refusal to write about the secret removal by the US army of nuclear weapons from the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Obama's Nuclear Crisis With Turkey Goes Unreported in US



How rotten is American journalism? In fact it has reached rock bottom.

Go to the home page of The New York Times and The Washington Post and do a word search using "Turkey." I came up with ... nothing.

Now consider the following August 18, 2016 DEBKAfile news story entitled "Rushed evacuation of US nukes from Incirlik," concerning the secret shipment of nuclear weapons from Turkey's Incirlik air base to US facilities in Romania:

"DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that Washington decided to remove the nuclear arsenal to safety after talks between American and Turkish talks on release 1,500 US airmen serving at the base from the siege clamped down a month ago broke down. The airmen were running the US air campaign against ISIS in in Syria just 112km away.

The talks ground to a halt over Turkish insistence on assuming control of the nuclear arsenal and America’s rejection of this demand.

The 50-70 B61 tactical gravity nuclear bombs were stored in underground bunkers close to the US bombers’ air strips. Although this was not fully admitted by Washington, the US air and ground crews were held intermittently in lockdown since the President Tayyip Erdogan suppressed a military coup against him a month ago.

The deteriorations of relations between Ankara and Washington contrasted strongly with the Turkish-Russian rapprochement, which Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin sealed in St. Petersburg on Aug.8. Since then, there have been calls for the Russian Air Force to be allowed to displace the US warplanes at Incirlik. This process has now begun."

Yes, that's right, "Holy atomic pile, Batman!"

Back in 2012 Obama declared Erdogan to be one of his five best overseas friends in 2012. Care to reconsider your bullshit selection of buddies, Barry?


Friday, August 19, 2016

Paul Krugman, "Obamacare Hits a Bump": How About Falls Into a Sinkhole?



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Obamacare Hits a Bump," Paul Krugman begins:

"More than two and a half years have gone by since the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, went fully into effect. Most of the news about health reform since then has been good, defying the dire predictions of right-wing doomsayers. But this week has brought some genuine bad news: The giant insurer Aetna announced that it would be pulling out of many of the 'exchanges,' the special insurance markets the law established."

Whoa, Aetna is the only bad news? As reported by Javier E. David in an August 6, 2016 CNBC article entitled "Obamacare users in New York brace for double-digit 2017 premium hikes":

"Come 2017, thousands of New York's Obamacare users will wake up to double-digit premium hikes, the latest group of consumers affected by Affordable Care Act cost increases as insurers hemorrhage money from healthcare exchanges.

In a statement on Friday announcing 2017 premiums, NY's Department of Financial Services (DFS) said after weighing insurer requests, the state settled on an average hike of 16.6 percent for individual exchange users in the state, while small group users will see a lower average increase of over 8 percent."

This comes on the heels of a July 19, 2016 Los Angeles Times article entitled "California Obamacare rates to rise 13% in 2017, more than three times the increase of last two years" by Melody Petersen and Noam N. Levey.

Problems only in New York and California? I don't think so. As we are told by Sally C. Pipes and Thomas W. Smith in an August 17, 2016 CNBC piece entitled "Aetna's Obamacare pullout means the 'insurance death spiral' has arrived":

"Insurers that haven't pulled out of Obamacare are requesting premium hikes averaging 24 percent next year. And some states have it far worse. Many Georgians could see a hike of 65 percent. The 600,000 Texans enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield may face a 59 percent premium increase."

Krugman goes on to say in his opinion piece:

"This doesn’t mean that the reform is about to collapse. But some real problems are cropping up. They’re problems that would be relatively easy to fix in a normal political system, one in which parties can compromise to make government work. But they won’t get resolved if we elect a clueless president (although he’d turn to terrific people, the best people, for advice, believe me. Not.). And they’ll be difficult to resolve even with a knowledgeable, competent president if she faces scorched-earth opposition from a hostile Congress."

Ah yes, a "knowledgeable" and "competent" Hillary, who has suddenly decided that the Clinton Foundation will no longer accept foreign and corporate donations if she is elected president.

Got it: It was okay for the Clinton Foundation to receive foreign and corporate donations while she was secretary of state, and it is okay for the Clinton Foundation to receive donations while she is a candidate for president, but these donations will no longer be accepted after January 20, 2017.

Or stated otherwise, if foreign governments and corporations wish to influence the executive branch of America's government after Hillary's election, they had best make their donations NOW.

Disgusting.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Paul Krugman, "Wisdom, Courage and the Economy": Honesty Is the Best Policy



In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Wisdom, Courage and the Economy," Paul Krugman concludes (my emphasis in red):

"When conservatives promise fantastic growth if we give them another chance at Bushonomics, one main reason is that they don’t want to admit how much they would have to cut popular programs to pay for their tax cuts. When centrists urge us to look away from questions of distribution and fairness and focus on growth instead, all too often they’re basically running away from the real issues that divide us politically.

So it’s actually quite brave to say: 'Here are the things I want to do, and here is how I’ll pay for them. Sorry, some of you will have to pay higher taxes.' Wouldn’t it be great if that kind of policy honesty became the norm?"

Heck, wouldn't it be great if any semblance of honesty became the norm?

This in a Washington Post editorial today entitled "A porous ethical wall between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department" (again, my emphasis in red):

"Should Ms. Clinton win in November, she will bring to the Oval Office a web of connections and potential conflicts of interest, developed over decades in private, public and, in the case of her family’s philanthropic work, quasi-public activities. As secretary, she pledged to keep her official world and her family’s foundation separate, and she failed to keep them separate enough. Such sloppiness would not be acceptable in the White House."

"Sloppiness"? Heck, Hillary's "extreme carelessness" involving her home server, which placed US national security at risk, should have been enough to preclude her candidacy.

Mention of the Clinton Foundation or Hillary's home server in Krugman's op-ed of today's date? Fat chance of that coming from a partisan extremist omniscient progressive who wrote in an October 6, 2011 New York Times op-ed entitled "Confronting the Malefactors":

"Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.

. . . .

It’s clear what kinds of things the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators want, and it’s really the job of policy intellectuals and politicians to fill in the details."

And then there was Krugman's trillion dollar platinum coin proposal, which even Jon Stewart labeled a "stupid f#cking idea."

Shakespeare wrote in "All's Well that Ends Well," "No legacy is so rich as honesty." Ah, but that was so long ago.