Russia Taking Over Syria? Nah.

Oh Brother – here we go again.

The media has gone ballistic on Russia because Russia is involved in Syria… as though a) this is new, and b) this is news.

It always takes digging, but if one looks hard enough one can find that Russia in fact was asked to help battle ISIS in Syria. Russia has stood it’s ground with respect to honoring Assad as the President and has stated that position since the beginning of the war. Russia’s Lavrov and Putin both spoke with Kerry in November 2014 and discussed Russia’s role in providing military assistance to Syria in order to fight off ISIS, al Nusra and al Qaeda. Nearly a year has passed and now the media would have us believe that OHMYGOSH Russia is in Syria…

Russia is in Syria, but so is the US, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, UK, France, and a host of bad guys including; al Nusra, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Division 30, Hezbollah, and infinitely more. One would be hard pressed to find a major country that has NOT been involved in the Syrian war. The reason is and always has been that the situation changed radically from a toppling of Assad regime change, to the ill-advised western aid to rebels that suddenly grinned back their ISIS white teeth.

So, the US asked Russia to help fight ISIS. Russia has all along attempted to return the country to its President, Assad, so that non-interference in the sovereignty of another country can be upheld. While the news from Ukraine has faded as Russia has remained loyal to its agreement, the media needed to find another source for vilification. How trite.

The purpose? Diversion.

There is so much more going on in Syria and the Middle East in general that the media is trying to divert the attention and pretend it isn’t happening:

  1. ISIS is raiding or destroying all the artifacts held in Syria. The buyers include Americans, Europeans, Asians, whoever has the cash.
  2. Syria’s oil is continually confiscated and sold by ISIS, flooding the market and creating a glut which is impacting price levels.
  3. Syrian people have become a country of immigrants, Christian and Muslim, with nowhere to go – but Europe, in particular Germany.
  4. No one wants the immigrants but Germany, and their plight is exasperated by human traffickers whose sole investment is in money.
  5. The number of Syrians dead from ISIS, from western bombing, from human traffickers – far, far exceeds anything Assad ever did. We really have no legitimate count but numbers range between 300,000 to half a million.
  6. The number of wounded, maimed, and the effects on children – is far more astronomical than we can even fathom.

Is there a purpose here? Are we ‘saving’ the Syrians from Assad? McCain? Really…

What really happened? What was the culminating factor that led to the demonizing of Assad? In February 2005, a Lebanese-Saudi businessman, and the Prime Minister of Lebanon was assassinated. His name – Rafic Harari. His murder was blamed on Assad.

The case is still under investigation by the UN prosecutor, Daniel Bellemare. While the UN is making claims that Hezbollah was to blame, there are a multitude of other possibilities including:

  1. Syria occupied Lebanon and it wasn’t until 2005 that this occupation was removed per the Taif Accord. Some believe that a tit-for-tat as a result of the loss of Lebanon was vengeance against Harari.
  2. Israel was named a possible source given Harari openly hated Israel.
  3. The US was a possible culprit given Harari had refused to hand over Hezbollah terrorists per demands.

The Saudis wanted revenge. Big time. Harari was a great friend of the Saudi Royal Family. It was in Saudi Arabia that he made his fortune which gave him the edge when returning to Lebanon and pursuing politics. As Harari was brokering Lebanon’s independence from Syria, Assad (the father) had a brief but tumultuous meeting with Harari. After the meeting, Harari resigned as Prime Minister. It is fair to speculate that the meeting was the impetus. There was rampant corruption in Harari’s term and perhaps Assad had evidence. However, upon a bit of research it is worth noting that Prime Ministers in Lebanon typically only last a year or two.

After Harari’s assassination, the Saudis demanded Assad resign they knew bad blood existed between Harari and Assad and the Muslims are big believers in the tit-for-tat rationale. Assad refused. They attempted coups, impeachment, media manipulation, vilifying, demonizing, they wanted – blood. And when these tactics failed, they went after his people and his country. And here we are – today.

So, what the media is doing today in their assault on Putin is attempting to create a false ‘order’ from which they can derive meaning and substance, when there is nothing. When the focus is regenerated, when it is redefined, the world view simply moves, shifts, peers over the imaginary line and creates a new reality. The new reality is that ‘suddenly Russia is hugely involved in Syria’ when in fact, they always have been.

Why are we focusing on it now? Because it appears the Ukraine mess is no longer news, and vilifying can help prop up new and improved sanctions.

Migrants – Eritrea aligned with Qatar or Shabaab?

If the immigrants want to go to Germany, if Germany says they are more than happy to accept upwards of 500,000 per year, why doesn’t the EU simply step in and fast track them from Hungary, Greece and Italy to Germany? Seems to me it would solve the problem completely.

The UK which is not technically a part of the EU and does not have to comply with the immigrant acceptance rules, has taken in refugees from Eritrea, Pakistan and Syria. Eritrea? Not in the news much… A small country in the horn of Africa, Eritrea has quite an interesting history.

It is said to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, and the home of the Queen of Sheba. It has been ruled within Christianity, conquered and ruled under the Ottoman Empire and seized by Italy as the Italian Eritrea. It was ruled by the British and then became a federated conscript of Ethiopia. The UN granted Eritrea independence in 1993 and it was taken over by the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front. They held to Marxist ideologies which became unpopular and the group evolved into what is the ruling party today – the Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice. Nice sounding – but still communist in its ideology.

The president under this rather oblique sounding organization is Isaias Afeworki who has been in office since 1993. So much for the Democracy part. The country continues to fight all its neighbors, most specifically, Ethiopia for which it harbors distinct animosity.

Then something very strange happened.

Situated across the Red Sea from Yemen and Saudi Arabia, Eritrea has been home to the al Qaeda affiliate Shabaab. The country has been likened to North Korea with its dictator rule and government controlled authoritarian power grid. Most of the refugees claim that the requirement for military service which can be 10 to 40 years is the primary reason they flee the country. Others talk of torture and human rights. But hugely compounding the immigration problem is that often human traffickers get ahold of the immigrants, capture them and hold them for ransom. Many that flee are Christian. Some have been captured by ISIS and executed.

In 2006, the Qatari royal family government who had befriended Afeworki, gained permission to build a $115 million resort on the Eritrean island of Dahlak Kebir. The first phase included 48 bungalows, a desalinization plant, pools and electrical grids is completed. But the relations between Afeworki and Qatar have somewhat soured and the project is on hold.

So what is the connection? Why would the Qatari’s want to build a $115 million resort in a country that has been called the North Korea of Africa?

The Qatari government has for years been accused of supporting Al Shabaab in their fight against the Somali’s. The US accused Qatar of funding the insurgents through a sort of money laundering scheme that funneled cash through Eritrea to Shabaab in Somalia. I imagine this ‘private resort’ in Eritrea houses a number of Shabaab militants as a safe house.

And now, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are collaborating to install appropriate governments in Yemen, Syria, and Libya. I imagine the fear is that their loyalties could extend to ousting the current president of Eritrea so as to gain the domination of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Why?

Qatar is nowhere near the Red Sea situated on the other side of Saudi Arabia. Taking control of Eritrea could help put Eritrea on the map and give Qatar a boost in power – a win-win situation for Qatar, but what about Isaias? The building of what was to be an international playground resort may have been pretty good incentive for Isaias – given the amount of revenue that would undoubtably be generated. Qatar’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has been friend and foe changing on a dime. Gaining power means gaining allies.

So, as the Middle East is redefined, and countries are gobbled up and spit back out anew, the US may be unwittingly creating a Frankenstein only to learn too late...be careful what you wish for ’cause you just might get it

Refugees – Migrants? What Did You Expect?

I read the headlines nearly every day, …The Saudi Led Coalition in Yemen... We read, and we accept the words, but then –

What is a ‘coalition’? I looked it up: Merriam Webster – ‘The action or process of joining together with others for a common purpose”. It is used in politics to suggest the union of two or more political parties in a joint belief. It is used in economics to define the coming together of potentially two competing companies in a shared voice. It is a coming together in a good way – it comes from the Latin word meaning ‘to grow together’.

In other words, until recently, it’s usage has had a much higher integrity than it’s current one, ie, joining forces to annihilate a country and its people.

As in Syria. As in Yemen.

Migrants and refugees flocking to Europe in the millions, mostly from Syria, or countries that temporarily housed the Syrians and don’t want them any longer. And where do you suppose the Yemeni’s will go when our ‘coalition’ is done bombing their country? A lesson never learned, is an idiot without a soul. Enter David Cameron.

Cameron made the absurd statement that ‘the refugee crisis in Syria is the fault of Assad and ISIS’. The epitome of refusal to accept ownership, the arrogance of blame. If you destroy a country, where do you think the people will go? The Syrian ‘war’ was created when a coalition of countries decided they wanted to oust the current regime, and their efforts backfired. As a result, they armed the enemy and allowed the country to fall into the hands of ISIS.

As in the most basic of relationships, marriage, if you refuse to accept responsibility for your action(s), then they will continue unabated and the fixing will never occur. Pointing a blame finger Mr. Cameron only serves to escalate further implosion within every country the ‘coalition’ decides would be better under their tutorial.

I believe the vast majority of citizens know this, embrace this and accept this, it is only the bombastion of governments that would like to pretend that we the people are too stupid to get it! I am tired of the government acting as though we are all children under their thumbs, too ignorant to understand basic humanity and basic compassion and basic life principles.

The Saudi’s started a war with Yemen for one reason, to control the country. End of story. We started a war with Syria for one reason, to control the country. That’s really – it, the entire story. Europe bemoans the fact that the migrant/refugee crisis is out of control and yet doesn’t realize it is just beginning. Yemeni’s are only trickling, but they have no more food, no water, they will begin mass exodus – it is just a matter of time.

The UK steps up to the plate after refusing refugees, and announces it will begrudgingly accept 4,000. That’s 4,000 out of hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions soon. To date, the UK has taken in a grand total of 216. Hand picked. Yeehaw Mr. Cameron!  By comparison, Germany has taken in close to a million. Of course if McCain had had his way, there would be far less because we would have simply annihilated them with bombs. Population control according to the intellectuals, as in Mr. Gates.

We can sit around and break down the blame, argue the blame and get all arrogant about the blame. Or we can take ownership and realize that we have created a crisis of astronomical proportions that has a trickle down potential of allowing ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists to freely enter our countries. We did this. The consequences are ours. But in not even attempting to learn from this lesson, we ‘coalesce’ with the Saudi’s in bombing another country to complete rubble. If I were a citizen of the Middle East right now, I’d be watching my borders, my skies, my back, because there are no allies, no friends, no covenant at all.

Prison Isolation – NASA, the test has been done

A recent headline stated that NASA was going to have six men and women live in isolation for one year in a dome to simulate what they might experience on a test flight to Mars. They will not have ‘fresh’ food and if they venture outside the dome they must wear full spacesuits. The test includes how they will deal with inter-personal conflicts, poor conditions, and boredom.

Then another headline talked about two brothers who were wrongly imprisoned for thirty years before being exonerated on DNA evidence. They are both traumatized, one to the point of being hospitalized for mental hallucinations and severe depression. Both have ptsd. They endured boredom, poor conditions, rape, and no ‘fresh’ food.

I thought, NASA look no further, prisons are filled with people who are subjected to the most inhumane of humanity. There are so many stories to use for NASA’s test…the man who spent 40 years in complete isolation only to be found not guilty by DNA evidence – only to die of liver cancer three days after his release.  NASA, I have solved your psyche test for free!

Many endure, many succumb, I can’t imagine the trauma. And while guilt is conclusive for most, our prison system is a complete failure economically and emotionally. It is not about rehabilitation, it is about punishment. It breeds more crime, greater animosity, greater evil. The adage, ‘if you do the crime, you do the time’, is empty any longer, replaced by pure condemnation.

Go to any prison and ask any inmate what it’s like? How it makes them feel. How it makes them react. How it effects their brain. I don’t think it would cost a dime and NASA would have a plethora of statements to analyze.

We hear of the crime inside prison and try not to listen. We hear of the recidivism rate, and turn the other cheek. For young criminals the recidivism rate is 84%, for the entire population it is 75%. Between 1973 and 2009, the prison and jail population grew by over 700%. Most often newly released prisoners are simply dropped off at a street corner near a city, given a bus pass, the clothes they entered prison with, and a very small stipend. It isn’t like Hollywood where the babe in the convertible is waiting outside and they drive off into the sunset.

And no one wants to hear about it because we think they got what they deserved. These are not the murderers and serial killers who get life, these are the souls who committed theft and or drug offenses. And yes sexual offenders. They return to the streets without any mental treatment, and commit their crime again and again. So we throw them back in to repeat the same story. They have not gotten psychological help, educational or vocational help, and will, of course, do the only thing prison taught them…

Why? Why are prisons not different? Because it is about money. Prisons are a for-profit business and the less you spend, the more money is pocketed. The food is so putrid you wouldn’t feed it to your own dog. There are no windows, a spattering of books for a third grade level of reading, one inch pencils, no rehab, no spiritual leadership, there is nothing to do, the weight rooms don’t exist, carts dispense a comb and hot sauce once a week – for a price, a towel that is about 2’x3′ is never washed, soap is lye, and insanity prevails.

Our system decides that 13 year olds will be tried as adults. That 15 years olds will live with hardened murderers. Drugs are brought inside to quell the absolute nothingness that exists. A life is wasted. How long before the effects take hold? I guess NASA will have that answer.

NASA wants to test the psychological impact of six people living in isolation for a year? These people have something that those in jail don’t, the knowledge that its one year, the knowledge that they can decide earlier to quit, the knowledge that they can leave any time they want. And that knowledge changes the impact completely. Because it gives them hope.

Amnesty International – Successes?

Where is Amnesty International? Are their success stories, too little, too late? Have their accomplishments dwindled as their banknotes rise?  With so much horror in the world why are they silent from the media?

With operating revenue of $38 million as of 2014, accomplishments seem slim, talk big, and an ongoing desire for ‘volunteers’ growing. When viewing the 15 biggest accomplishments of 2013, it just didn’t seem to add up to $38 million. Some pats on the back were more than a bit over reaching;

  1. Using Google earth to show human rights violations in Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Eritrea. Surely that was a few hours of computer research at best?
  2. Taking credit for the repealing of the death penalty in Maryland? In fact, when I researched Maryland’s death penalty law there was absolutely nothing mentioned of Amnesty International being instrumental, there was Kirk Bloodsworth, a convicted rapist and murderer whose death sentence was repealed after DNA evidence proved his innocence. And it was his steadfast work, his documentary film, his active efforts to reform the law that convinced then Governor, O’Malley, to change the law.
  3. They published a report on drone strikes in Pakistan. But drone strikes continue, not just in Pakistan, but Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Afghanistan. The number dead is an estimate. The number wounded is unknown.
  4. They talk of Beatriz, an El Salvadoran woman denied medical treatment that Amnesty ‘saved’? The treatment was an abortion that was denied based on the very strict law in the country. The treatment that she was ultimately allowed was a c-section to remove the infant when it was discovered he had no brain. But the active protests in El Salvador were not by Amnesty, they were by another human rights group. The group holding protests in the UK was central America Women’s Network. Where was Amnesty?
  5. A number of other accomplishments list petitions that were circulated…

All in all, while their efforts are not without good hearts, I truly fail to see that they account for $38 million in revenue to accomplish these feats. There are literally thousands upon thousands of churches across the globe that accomplish far more for far less. I imagine they would be ecstatic to have an annual budget of $38 million to defeat inhumanity.

And while their balance sheet as of December 31, 2014 shows investments totaling nearly $15 million, or roughly half it’s annual income, I’d say they are not putting their money to human right use so much as holding on to it with a death grip. In addition they have nearly $5 million in cash and over $3 million in Prepaid Expenses (an expense that you have not yet incurred but paid for – obviously a company needs a solid cash flow in order to prepay to such an extent – 9% of total annual revenue).

And while Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s current Secretary General, pockets over $300,000 in an annual salary it is the ‘other form of compensation’ that is left unanswered given the information is not transparent in it’s Financial reporting. While on the surface it barely matches Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood who routinely takes massive raises and is purported to make into $600,000 range, the ‘salary’ does not include ‘other compensation’ which is listed on US Form 990 and can be as much as the base salary. In addition, apparently charities recognize a 35 hour work week which seems a bit odd – although preferable if you are on the receiving end.

It is also worth noting that revenue nearly tripled between 2011 and 2012. Salaries nearly quadrupled and the Executive Director, Suzanne Nossel had total compensation of $473,500. Whether their executives earn the value of their compensation is subjective and debatable. But this is a charity, an organization exempt from paying taxes as a direct result of their charitable efforts, their performance. And I do not see any radical achievements in the last decade that would make this charity notable or worthy. I believe it was created with the intention and the character of worthiness, but it would seem to have slid into the decay of greed, misinformation and false accolade that has embroiled itself in scandal, misuse of funds, and an agenda that has muddied its focus.