Miami Herald journalist Julie Brown noted the presence of countless unanswered questions in association with her research into Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita industry. The full accounting of who, what, where, and why would today seem largely absent and sealed by Epstein’s own hanging, but perhaps there’s one aspect that bears further attention in this most distracted age: Epstein’s Russian interests. The powerful personal brands associated with the Epstein vortex range from Alan Dershowitz to Prince Andrew — so how deep and how wide the damage done?
Whether by way of fear of being found out or found guilty of one crime or another, when have the business and political leaders of a nation been compromised enough to accept bridling by the state’s foremost enemy?
Should you pick up American Kleptocracy by Casey Michel, you will learn (here cribbing direct from the book’s title) “How the U.S. CREATED the WORLD’S GREATEST MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME in HISTORY”. Forget expensive cars and real estate, at least until one has established sufficient anonymous businesses- as-persons courtesy of Delaware, South Dakota, Wyoming, for a start.
Before Maria Butina, the “illegal”, got caught, American Administrations, including Trump’s, had given the boot to Moscow’s spies-under-diplomatic-cover. The question to which only the state, actually the CIA and FBI, might respond would be “How many more Maria’s might there be?” Doing what? How? And where?
With respect to East-West Rivalry and Moscow-Washington Relations, just how bad might compromise, corruption, and infiltration serving Russia’s defense and promotion of political absolutism and kleptocracy be here in the United States?
Whatever Washington’s true state of affairs might be with Russia — and a kleptocratic Russia unrelenting in its will to confuse and degrade EU/NATO cohesion and coherence — one may hope the open democracies of the west and their allies will renew their vows (for Americans, see “Basic Training” on this blog) and rediscover and reaffirm their commitments to American and modern civility, ethics, principles, rights, and values without compromise and, always, with compassion, humanism, and reason.
Around the world, Putin’s Russia engages in a spectrum of unpleasant activities designed to destabilize its targets, foremost EU/NATO (for its businesses, democracy, humanism, and rule of law), and control and produce power in its own interests. Also, Russia has been long a state about appearances — military and political theater — and the longest looks backward will fine the Viking, Varangians, Slavs, and Rus, and all perhaps have come together in Putin’s mind and the related diplomacy, leadership, strategies, and tactics devised to perpetuate what he may be believe to be Russia’s essential soul.
Regarding our own rightfully proud nationalism, that too may be traced to 9/11 and the strongly intimated sojourn of mastermind Ayman al-Zwahari in Russia during the winter of 1996 to 1997 (https://www.businessinsider.com/exploring-al-qaedas-murky-connection-to-russian-intelligence-2014-6). He would leave for the Afghanistan-Pakistan tribal region to produce the compact with Osama Bin Laden that would then culminate with the attack by hijacked jets on the symbols of American and western power.
It’s All Good — Or Is It? About Information and Popular Public Perception
The American Public, imho, gets the news toward which it gravitates, Fringe Left, Far Left, Left, Center, Right, Far Right, Fringe Right. As we are now familiar with terms like “social media algorithms” and “echo chambers”, we — and others in other nations — may have also an obligation to ask more questions and test and corroborate what we find, so that we ourselves are not digging our own cultural, political, or social holes but rather finding the essential histories and narratives that prove inerrently reliable however criticized or scrutinized.
My own quest as regards perspective: Next Century Post-Modern.
Of course, I hope there is a “Next Century” (not that I’ll be around to care) and that the generations arrive at it with tidily packed away medieval baggage and altogether more appropriate intellectual and language tools as well as integrity (most of all) for addressing the challenges of that day to come as found.
1) three-way “superpower” hypersonic missile race between China (Totalitarian), Russia (Autocratic Mafia State), and the United States (Democracy in Disarray);
2) serious East-West Rivalry for global influence and control of other states, whether criminal, elitist, and thuggish or rooted in democratically distributed power and reliably humanist, lawful, open, and secular;
3) Ukraine invaded and now threatened again by blunt Russian force and related brutish and corrupt business and political practices;
4) A test of the strength of the the West’s civilizational commitment to democratic, egalitarian, secular ethics, principles, and values against corruption and dictatorship, whether communist, fascist, nationalist, or socialist.
The post-WWII order has been weakened by decades of nefarious effort on Moscow’s part to destabilize EU/NATO with every disingenuous and, frankly, evil method at its disposal, Active Measures (agitprop; cyberwarfare; disinformation; infiltrations of spies online and off; etc.) and broadest spectrum Hybrid Warfare (starting with False Flag Operations and Little Green Men) but moving also to dominance in Energy and political leverage through it, control of a North Pole air base and related potential threat projection. Moscow’s presence in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and its innumerable “Frozen Conflicts” plus its relations with Iran and Syria and terrorist enterprises (see “Mikhail Bogdanov, Hamas” or “Russian arms, Taliban”) tell of the kind of world Moscow runs already and would love to sustain with Western complicity.
Well, score one for the British breakthrough and deployment in the Hypersonic Missile arena — and for Great Britain’s possession of a still strong spine.
“The U.K. is very clear: any military incursion by Russia into Ukraine would be a strategic mistake,” she said. “The Russian government should expect significant strategic consequences. The cost of an invasion would be catastrophically high.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night held a video call with U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi as Western fears grow.
The videoconference sought to present a “united front” among NATO leaders before Biden holds a call with Putin later Tuesday in which he will warn him against starting another war in Eastern Europe.
Anne Applebaum on Democracy and those who mean to destroy it –>
All of us have in our minds a cartoon image of what an autocratic state looks like: There is a bad man at the top. He controls the police. The police threaten the people with violence. There are evil collaborators, and maybe some brave dissidents.
But in the 21st century, that cartoon bears little resemblance to reality. Nowadays, autocracies are run not by one bad guy but by networks composed of kleptocratic financial structures, security services, and professional propagandists. The members of these networks are connected not only within a given country but among many countries. The corrupt, state-controlled companies in one dictatorship do business with their counterparts in another. The police forces in one country can arm, equip, and train the police forces in another. The propagandists share resources—the troll farms that promote one dictator’s propaganda can also be used to promote the propaganda of another—and themes, pounding home the same messages about the weakness of democracy and the evil of America.
Sudanese dictatorship takes a big bite out of Ethiopia –>
Since the Sudanese military was willing to lose millions in aid and support from the United States by knocking out prospects for a transitional civilian government, they are unlikely to be phased by the White House’s call for peace and stability. If anything, Sudan’s military may be more emboldened to deepen its foothold over al-Fashaga as they no longer have U.S. monetary support on the line. If the conflict worsens, Egypt, Eritrea, and other African nations are likely to pick sides, squandering the chances for stability in the Horn of Africa.
Having won Afghanistan by force of arms, the Taliban now find themselves embattled and lost –>
If the widespread impression was that the Taliban was a radical Islamic group, (which it is) it is being challenged by an even more extreme group, the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISK). Sporadic attacks, claimed by the ISK, has claimed lives and kept the ruling dispensation on the tenterhooks.
Within the Taliban itself, there appears to be a tussle between hardliners (aligned to Pakistan) like Sirajuddin Haqqani and moderates like Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who don’t have a problem having a relationship with India and Russia. The differences within the ruling government have prevented the Taliban from coming out with a clear vision on its way ahead other than reiterating that its interpretation of the Islamic Sharia will be the basis for the rule of law, social behaviour, and governance in the country.
Coalition appeals for aid in the interest of saving Afghan lives from Taliban targeting –>
WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of organizations working to evacuate people who could be targeted by the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan appealed Monday for more assistance from the U.S. government and other nations as conditions deteriorate in the country. / Members of the AfghanEvac Coalition met in a video call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken to press the case for additional resources to help tens of thousands of people get out of Afghanistan, now faced with a deepening economic and humanitarian crisis in addition to a precarious security situation following the U.S. withdrawal.
Well, there above is a bit of morning curiosity over coffee. Anne Applebaum fighting for democracy against autocratic and feudal power worldwide; Nigeria riven with bandits and “land pirates” as it fails to rise tot he defense of its people as horrors take place; a Taliban leadership struggling to “win the peace” having bulled its way into power with violence . . . — good morning!
I awoke one day not too long ago in a medieval version of the United States of America with a Medieval Internet Commons, passionate mobs Far Out Left and Far White or Strident Right, and loaded with the zealots of Olde Institutions, generally religious or, well, Far Out, man.
And I awoke one day to . . . Kidults, preening and self-indulgent, bent on profit or glorious decadence and dissolution, and then I got to read about Medieval Absolute Power (the Russian Way) and Modern Democracy (see “Rumor Control,” CISA,Gov) and realized the would-be “MODERN” — culturally inclusive, modern, middle-of-the-aisle but also the avant garde “politicos” of a 21st Century — or a 22nd Century “Newest World” — compassionate, loving, and prudent and responsible had a fight for the future on their hands. Well, there’s no need to erase the past or start over if I / you / we choose to stand on the shoulders of giants for a good look ahead.
When, therefore, government proves incapable or unwilling to protect everyone equally, communities must exercise a duty of collective self-defence. The alternative is to suffer voluntary liquidation. In the first six months of 2021, over 6,000 people were reported killed in atrocity violence across Nigeria.
Nigeria’s bandits and gangs, Fulani Land Raiders, and assorted whatnot bear arms (also explosive and petrol) for their barbaric and tawdry businesses. Nigeria’s Christian communities and others lay bare before them while President Buhari’s government works on rising to the challenge of defending Nigerian communities in their totality, and while it seems corruption must arm the evil — how does so much firepower get through to the worst of the worst? — one may wonder about the complicity — the “voluntary liquidation” — of the victims and their communities and relations.
Possibilities for the Good
Alarms and Barriers: advanced separate-system security communications; spotters; tripwires.
Arms, Bombs, and Edges: warn; repulse; surprise.
Community and State Security Co-Location: On-site partnership between state security and community leaders with zero-time response to assault; secondary government-controlled ready-secret community volunteer units.
Internal Intelligence & State Issues
When it comes to arms and most everything else that has to be smuggled to get where it needs to be, someone knows who’s sellin’ — and someone also knows who’s buy’n.
The escapades of bandits, kidnappers, and raiders have not been subtle in the least, nor has their provisioning gone unnoticed.
$$$ & Nigeria’s National Coherence and Cohesion
Although partisan presses emphasize religious aspects of Nigerian conflict, especially involving the Muslim Fulani and Christian villages, one might suggest a more modern world, deeply corrupt and not very religious at all, has come to Nigeria and for bad good reasons ferries (and launders) The Money out to and through “rule-of-law” locations amenable to, well, doing business with not too much of conscience (or law) getting in the way. Whatever the motives may be for moving money offshore and through “shells” developed to hide owner identity, Nigerians would seem shorted as regards both domestic re-capitalization and spending, not that receiving foreign banks, businesses, and states would object to their own good fortune.
One might ask why Nigerians, among others, insist on either fighting archaic medieval wars in 2021 or on experiencing and framing conflicts as such when, in fact, the common denominator from field raids to high office would seem that so-called “root of all evil”, ne, money.
Who is fighting over such an immense thing as the character or nature of God?
While medieval belief sustain absolute power, modern leaders have seen an abyss before them created by demystification and the promotion of reason and by disappointment and the raising of questions that power has never been able to answer or resolve. Before reason and science and now 21st Century technology breakthrough, history’s medieval and primitive inertia would seem to decay and leadership lose its luster especially where it preys on the populations looking to it for improved Qualities and Living, financial and personal security foremost and equally distributed and distributed by merit.
Absence of governance, impoverishment, the presence of interests gaming for the control and plundering of resources in the name of self, clan, family, and tribe may better account for violence welling up from the base between ambition and desperation.
Nigerian National Identity
My own nation, the United States of America, has been riven by agitprop, foreign (e.g., Russian “Active Measures”) and domestic (Partisan drum beaters Far Out Left and Far Strident Right), the unworkable politics of ethnic, gender, and racial identity as cause, and breathtaking disparities in national lifestyle–the gutter (say, Kensington Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) looks awfully low while the priciest of mansions and penthouses sail off in the clouds fully immune, so it seems, to more earthy surrounds. However, should one ask a moderately educated American adult, “What is an American?” most, so one might hope, would define an American as dedicated to upholding the principles and values laid out in the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the full body of compiled – and compiling – national law. Cognizance of and devotion, and respect for essential American ethics, law, principles, and values remain in the heart. Most often, America’s domestic fighting revolves around injustices perceived in light of the country’s essential humanist and secular legal and social ideals and practical political and social ends.
Americans will not fight en masse over religion (which and whose? For all are here) at this time.
Americans will fight — and prove so every day — for their interests, private and public, in light of founding principles and rights.
Who is Nigerian?
What is a Nigerian?
Who aspiring to power or in power is building a just and modern Nigeria far above parochial business, clan, and tribal interests?
Is there an ideal Nigeria waiting for Nigerians to achieve and secure it?
Last year at about this time (October 20, 2020), Nigerian forces turned their guns on protesters at Lekki Toll Gate. For whom did they kill a dozen Nigerian youth? And for what? Feudal honor? Their jobs? Money?
I believe Nigerians decent but it appears some in business and in power at high levels abuse ideals, their own privileges, and, ultimately, trust of a nation.
While it is not a crime for private individuals to set up offshore companies, Nigeria’s law forbids public officials from doing so. According to Transparency International, the failure of the President, Major General Buhari (retd.), to act over past disclosures like the Panama Papers has deepened the culture of impunity. Auwal Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Nigeria’s TI chapter, says the regime needs to investigate the Pandora Papers revelations irrespective of the political affiliation of the individuals. He adds that the government should equip the Code of Conduct Bureau with staff and resources to adequately scrutinise officials’ asset declarations.
TI’s observation of Buhari’s inaction is not surprising as his avowed anti-corruption war is gradually becoming a charade. \
It is not against the law to secretly buy British properties using anonymous offshore companies. Finance Uncovered has seen no evidence in the Pandora Papers that money used to buy houses or apartments in the UK represents the proceeds of corruption or other criminality.
Indeed, many specialist advisers have routinely recommended clients invest in this manner to legally avoid tax.
The gap between any nation’s stability and the onset of substantial instability might be, oh, three seconds: “You are under arrest”; “We are detaining you”; “Please come with us.”
Add the boots, troops, and guns.
What is power in a weak state?
Evidently, power is the power to cut communications, detain officials, including the head of state, and kill protesters with impunity.
In Khartoum’s twin city Omdurman, security forces stormed the state radio and television headquarters and detained a number of employees, following which the state TV had been reportedly playing patriotic songs and showing images of the Nile. Internet connectivity has been suspended.