I’ve no idea how many megabytes of e-junkmail I handle each morning, but in the sludge — and a separate folder for circulars associated with defense, diplomacy, and security — there are often gems. Some I share to the BackChannels “Reader” on Facebook, but this morning I thought to share a few here as well.
The trial is controversial. Kagame, who won a third term in power with 98% of the vote at elections in 2017, is credited with the development and stability Rwanda has experienced since the genocide in 1994, but is also accused of intolerance of any opposition, whether domestic or international. Critics of his rule are frequently detained and several high-profile political dissidents have been murdered abroad.
— On Thursday, Gov Abbott said in a news release: “Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen.”
“That is why I am modifying my executive orders to ensure confinement is not a punishment for violating an order. This order is retroactive to April 2nd, supersedes local orders and if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther.” —
In a letter to state District Judge Eric Moyé, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called Shelley Luther’s sentencing outrageous.
“The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther,” Paxton wrote. “His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately.”
“As a current Member of the Bar, you certainly should be aware of the impropriety of this contact, as prohibited by Canon 3(b)(8) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct,” the letter to Paxton stated. “In this context, for you to “Urge” a Judge towards a particular substantive outcome in this matter is most inappropriate and equally unwelcome. Please do not communicate with the Court in this manner further.”
The cover of a national medical emergency — and so the emergence of COVID-19 was that for a brief period — made way for the absolute power of governors (whose states have rightly had jurisdiction over emergencies within their boundaries) who then got their constituents to shutter their businesses and leave their jobs, willingly or not, in the name of containing the (uncontainable) contagion. Now has come the time to reverse tracks, assess and address the damage done, and get America fully back to work — and then some.
Some rote —
More than 7,700 Americans die every day from all causes, for America’s annual rate of morbidity has been about 2.813 million souls annually (may all rest in peace).
COVID-19 continues to associate with preexisting conditions in the vast majority of deaths (may we please all stop ageing and remain healthy forever!).
From the Awesome Conversation
And the unfortunate story of money: exchange –> tax base –> public spending –> private earnings via contracts and investments; interagency exchange; $$$ in support of basically every system of defense and survival we collectively depend on for what we have called “The American Way of Life”.
Given our spending on defense and security, we really should have been ready to roll out treatment and morbidity facilities and services much, much more quickly than we have. Generally speaking, how we choose to assess and meet risk — whatever the source may be — has been up to us privately rather than collectively.
From global pandemic to the barber shop, there’s the whole story unless we “Earthlings” choose to do away with money altogether.
. . . .
I’m not seeing it.
Rx. Avoid exhaustion and stress; find love; stay healthy and well; and for how it ends, inevitably, try to develop a good and noble philosophy with which both to fight a fair battle and, sigh, return to God, nature, and the universe in the way that all living must (with partial exception made for the elders among cedars and redwoods).
Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky, once dubbed “a hero of almost legendary proportion among the Soviet dissident movement” by the New York Times, died of cardiac arrest in Addenbrookes Hospital, in Cambridge, England at 9:46 PM Greenwich Time on 27 October, 2019. He was 76. His health had been poor in recent years.
A gifted writer, Bukovsky was revered for his ability to document both the daily insults and grand oppression of Soviet prison life, and to convey with detail the soul-crushing effects of torture on both prisoner and jailer.
In 1971, between prison sentences, Bukovsky helped smuggle to the West the psychiatric hospital records of six well-known dissidents – exposing a Soviet practice of declaring dissidents mentally ill in order to detain and discredit them, rather than have them labelled as political prisoners.
Then in 1976 Bukovsky was expelled to the West, in exchange for the imprisoned Chilean Communist Party leader Luis Corvalán. He settled in Cambridge in the UK.
Many of them have fled from town to town to town under bombing. They have seen the most terrible things in war. And yet they are true believers. It’s going to take a lot to get them to change their minds.
US-supported forces besieging Islamic State holdouts in the Syrian village of Baghouz cannot cope with the more than 43,000 men, women and children who fled the battlefield and are currently being held in an internment camp and prisons in the north. Among those who fled are 500 foreign jihadi wives and children. The women, who are held in a separate compound from other escapees, say their husbands are fighting, are fugitives, are dead or are in prison.
The Pentagon rerouted millions of dollars’ worth of weapons and vehicles from Iraq to Syria in the second half of 2018, Al-Monitor has learned, as US-backed forces cornered the last remnants of the Islamic State (IS). In a series of notifications to Congress reviewed by Al-Monitor, the Defense Department said it had determined that a bevy of supplies purchased by the Pentagon for the Iraqi military would instead go to the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The Pentagon sent lawmakers its last reprogramming notification for 2018 on Dec. 31, 12 days after President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria.
While much of the U.S. presence in Syria has been diminished, the transfer of war equipment and materiel to SDF forces tells Damascus (Moscow and Tehran) that nothing’s over as regards their intents to sustain medieval absolutism (and its characteristic sadism, power in that mode being the power to inflict suffering on others with impunity).
While some idiots view east-west conflict in the region as being all about oil, the cynicism conveniently overlooks the more compelling of ethical and moral arguments for the defense of some goodness still in the world.
BEIRUT — As Syria’s government consolidates control after years of civil war, President Bashar al-Assad’s army is doubling down on executions of political prisoners, with military judges accelerating the pace they issue death sentences, according to survivors of the country’s most notorious prison. In interviews, more than two dozen Syrians recently released from the Sednaya military prison in Damascus described a government campaign to clear the decks of political detainees. The former inmates said prisoners are being transferred from jails across Syria to join death-row detainees in Sednaya’s basement and then be executed in pre-dawn hangings.
God must be in the mind and a malign narcissism in the heart that produces so painful a mission as that of doing God’s will on earth by striking terror into the souls of others. Add: beheading, burning, enslavement, mass murder, rape, and torture.
God has helped the Islamic State jihadists in Baghouz lose everything but their madness.
Start with the cassus beli on this long journey backward to barbaric feudalism and wars founded in religious animosity and contempt.
(SRINAGAR, India) — The death toll from a car bombing on a paramilitary convoy in Indian-controlled Kashmir has climbed to 41, becoming the single deadliest attack in the divided region’s volatile history, security officials said Friday. A local Kashmiri militant rammed an explosive-laden van into the convoy along a key highway Thursday. In addition to the dead, the attack wounded nearly two dozen other soldiers, India’s paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force spokesman Sanjay Sharma said.
One, two, three — Ukraine, Venezuela, Sudan — each dictatorship associated with Soviet / post-Soviet political methods. Yesterday, it was the great talk of communism and socialism that yielded so much power to so despicable a kind of peacock thug among leaders — Yanukovych, Chavez and Maduro, al-Bashir, leading their states not to greatness but into dependence on themselves, at best, and state practices that may be regarded as rule of the strong by way of brutality.
Two days earlier the 29-year-old was running through his neighbourhood with a wide grin, draped in a Venezuelan flag. “Maduro get out, you son of a bitch,” he cried in the empty road outside his home in a defiant a video uploaded to social media. Then the feared Special Action Forces (FAES) police unit came knocking. “The people who killed him were wearing uniforms and had ski masks,” a family member who didn’t want to be identified out of fear of more violence told The Telegraph.
If the world is able to look back on this period . . . it will be sick with its memories. Bashar al-Assad with the support of Vladimir Putin and Ali Khamenei managed to physically destroy half of his state while running about half of its population as well. Now that the he has regained some areas, the past has come knocking for the release of prisoners.
Scanning for news, rejiggering it, “scraping” as bloggers may call it — all takes time. Of late, BackChannels has been wondering what one has gotten back — or just created — from each days sail out into the sea of web-borne news. In the spirit of philosophy, one might enjoy the consolation of having seen and relayed a very small shard of time in the world.
This post has featured web artifacts dated February 20 and 21, 2019 having to do with four conflict-hot states: Ukraine, Venezuela, Sudan, and Syria. Central to the historical narratives of each: autocratic and still medieval Russia, Imperial, Soviet, Post-Soviet. The bereft and hungry of the North established tribes in Kiev around the 9th Century and lived and ruled in the feudal manner by way of the standards of the age. Contracts, expansions, hardships exceeding in excessive suffering practically every possibility short of the Holocaust — I have in mind the Mongol Invasion — and here . . . at the end of two modern revolutions and three distinct experiments with government unable to escape a paternal (and these days criminal) paternalism, . . . well here comes perhaps a different end to empire: Moscow has invaded Ukraine and Kiev is fighting back, making the sacrifices every day it must for freedom through democracy.
Venezuela’s “mafia state” will never be able to return Moscow’s “investment” in post-Soviet support — another more responsible government is needed for that.
Sudan has only this day to lose an ageing despot whose control of his state has come down to “shadow brigades” and the muzzling of truth-telling journalists. He doesn’t like the way he looks in Sudan’s newspapers. I wonder how he’ll feel when he sees himself in history.
— For the past five months, Swedish television SVT has had access to a large quantity of classified documents detailing Danske Bank’s dealings with Swedbank. There were a large number of transactions between the banks’ clients between 2007 and 2015.
The analysis reveals that 50 of Swedbank’s customers that show several risk indicators of suspected money laundering have funneled a total of USD 5.8 billion through the bank.
Crimea, Ukraine has become the front line of a deeply sabotaged NATO although it’s Ukraine that’s seeking accession.
Have a brief look at the political shape NATO’s in: France — rolling with the “Yellow Vest” Active Measures (most likely — time to man up, Macron); Germany — leveraged by energy dependence on Russia; Hungary — Putin bromancer Orban’s new feudal estate; Turkey — more sultanate than NATO state.
Ukraine’s SBU Security Service has reported on the arrest of three sabotage groups deployed by Russia’s military intelligence in eastern Ukraine. The SBU press service says the agency will provide details of the operation at a special briefing to be scheduled for the coming days. It is noted that the raid was carried out by Ukraine’s counterintelligence forces.
Editor’s tired . . . knows others read the news too . . . may turn to fiction . . . may also note that the loud and narcissistic Trump now appears the mirror opposite of “Jimmuh”: he’s been playing the tough guy — know the mob and the kind of company he has kept, admires dictators, takes no shit, etc. — but he’s pulling America’s troop presence out of Syria, leaving that space to America’s sworn enemies, while in Ukraine — no popular data (have a Google yourself) while Russia pushes “a big amount of military equipment to the North Crimea — and Ukrainian counterintelligence hunts down and arrests Russia Spetsnaz or similar from the sound of it.