Brief Reference: Iran v USA


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Mysteriously sabotaged Norwegian and Saudi tankers in the Persian Gulf; U.S. State Department order for all non-essential embassy personnel to leave Iraq post-haste; an American carrier group becomes a message — or makes a statement; sanctions — and induced hardships felt in Iran — make statements too; and Iran engages in nuclear blackmail to shore up its damaged economy: while the prospects for conventional war between the Iran and the United States appear “iffy” — not likely — to some experts, the broad spectrum of war x deceit x disinformation x proxy would seem undeniably dangerous and ongoing.

While states of affairs involving Ukraine, Russia, Syria, and Turkey appear same-old same old — at least as settled as yesterday and the day before as well as week, month, and year past — events involving the U.S. relationship with Iran appear “forward” or moving toward some change in what has festered for years with Tehran’s bankrolling and arming of Hezbollah, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and its bellicose and continuous threatening of Israel and the west. While “east-west” parties deny the wanting of war, conditions appear moved toward error (by way of accident, itch, or misperception) in that regard.

BackChannels compiled and read through the following this morning (retention: minimal; impression, however: pretty good) and most highly recommends for those seeking insight in background the two articles bolded), one by former FBI agent and terrorism expert Ali Soufan, the other by veteran journalist Ariana Tabatabai.

Also, at the bottom of his post is a video posted yesterday by Sky News featuring an interview with Iranian ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad. In it, the diplomat notes that while Washington has abandoned the “nuclear deal”, Iran has kept up its part in light of European adhesion and may expect from the same the benefits promised for its good behavior on that issue.

Arango, Tim. “Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over’. The New York Times, July 15, 2017.

Bergman, Ronen and Raz Zimmt. “Israel’s most dangerous enemy: Who are you, Hamm Qasem Soleimani?” YNet, April 7, 2018.

Frantzman, Seth. “Mystery Deepens in ‘Sabotage’ of Oil Tankers in Persian Gulf.” The Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2019.

Gambrell, Jon. “Analysis: Persian Gulf tensions, unclear threats raise risks.” AP, May 14, 2019.

Knights, Michael. “The Evolution of Iran’s Special Groups in Iraq.” CTC Sentinel, 3:11, November 2010.

McChrystal, Stanley. “Iran’s Deadly Puppet Master: Gen. Stanley McChrystal explains exactly why Qasem Soleimani is so dangerous.” Foreign Policy, Winter 2019.

Mikelionis, Lukas. “Iranian presidential aide says Trump will ‘get a war’ for listening to ‘the mustache’ John Bolton.” Fox News, May 14, 2019.

Nahmias, Omri. “War with Iran Forthcoming? Most Experts Say They Don’t Think So.” The Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2019.

Ryan, Missy, John Hudson, and Carol Morella. “Trump administration considers responses to potential Iranian attacks, including troop increase.” The Washington Post, May 14, 2019.

Schmitt, Eric and Julian E. Barnes. “White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq War.” The New York Times, May 13, 2019.

Soufan, Ali. “Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s Unique Regional Strategy.” CTC Sentinel, 11:10, November 2018:

Despite its ongoing economic woes, today’s Iran has fashioned itself into one of the premier military and diplomatic powers in the Middle East—and Saudi Arabia’s principal rival for hegemony over the entire region. It has achieved this with a mix of policies—among them, deft diplomatic maneuvering; a tactical alliance with Vladimir Putin’s Russia; and the provision of arms, advice, and cash to Shi`a militias across a variety of countries. In the latter case, Iran has pioneered a seemingly unique strategy that combines insurgent and state power in a potent admixture—a strategy that is evident today in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

Tabatabai, Ariane. “Iran and Its Iraqi Shi’a Allies.” Lawfare, November 6, 2016.

Wikipedia: “Iranian Intervention in Iraq”.

Listen for the blackmailing of the European Union in relation to the “Nuclear Deal” (JCPOA) and Iran’s need for economic amelioration in response to western sanctions about 1:32 into the interview).


In Retrospect: Jon Ronson’s “The Elephant In The Room”


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At a high school basketball game in Indiana in March, white students chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” at Latina students. Everyone knew what that meant: It was a new way to be racist.

But the alt-right’s appeal remains marginal because the huge majority of young Americans like multiculturalism. They aren’t paranoid or hateful about other races. Those ideas are ridiculous to them. The alt-right’s small gains in popularity will not be enough to win Trump the election. This is not Germany in the 1930s. All that’s changed is that one of Alex’s fans — one of those grumpy looking middle-aged men sitting in David Icke’s audience — is now the Republican nominee.

But if some disaster unfolds — if Hillary’s health declines further, or she grows ever more off-puttingly secretive — and Trump gets elected, he could bring Alex and the others with him. The idea of Donald Trump and Alex Jones and Roger Stone and Stephen Bannon having power over us — that is terrifying.

Darcy, Oliver. “Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and other ‘dangerous’ voices banned by Facebook and Instagram.” CNN Business, May 3, 2019.

For the record, BackChannels supports as broad a spectrum of political speech as possible bounded by criminal law associated with conspiracy and incitement.

While Facebook Civilization as Zuckerberg may shape it has no monopoly on speech conveyed via the web, it’s notable that Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan made the same grade.

In the gonzo escapade that produced dish for The Elephant In the Room, Ronson manages to get in some quality time with Alex Jones and Roger Stone in Jones’ production trailer. The “in” with the talk show host had been crashing Bohemian Grove years earlier with him.

Barrett, Devlin, Rosalind S. Helderman, Lori Rozsa, and Manuel Roig-Franzia. “Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone indicted by special counsel in Russia investigation.” The Washington Post, January 25, 2019.

CNN, same day —

CNN, posted to YouTube January 25, 2019.

DW, posted to YouTube April 13, 2019.

Agent provocateur as Roger Stone refers to himself? Moral crusader for the west as befits Steve Bannon’s “populism” in the surrounds of the books collected and gardens cultivated by Italian monks? Or clowns found out and moved off the Oval Office’s carpet?

Trump stole the election and the aforementioned demons were unable to remain attached to his glory: so why read Ronson’s book?

Take it in for background — $1.99 for the Kindle — for delight in language, and for the prescient glimpse of a campaign x personality yesteryear that really does seem just like yesterday.

Having quoted from the end of the book, here’s the sound of the beginning:

The TV’s at the EQUINOX were showing a Donald Trump rally. Hillary Clinton might have been holding her own rally somewhere but, if so, it wasn’t on any of these screens. In fact, a few weeks ago MSNBC, Fox News and CNN had ignored a Hillary Clinton speech entirely, choosing instead to broadcast a live feed of the empty podium from which Donald Trump would soon speak. His empty podium: that’s how insatiable our appetite was to hear Donald Trump say staggering things in the spring of 2016, back when it was new and strange.

I plugged in my headphones and heard someone in the crowd shout out to Trump: “Are you going back on the Alex Jones show?”

“Alex Jones? Trump said. “He was a nice guy! You like him?”

“It was a GREAT interview!” the man called back.

“Oh good,” Donald Trump said. “Alex Jones. Nice guy.”

I was so jolted by this exchange I almost fell off my elliptical. Donald Trump knows Alex Jones?

I AM BASICALLY ALEX JONES’S Simon Cowell. I star-spotted him in the late-1990s . . . .


A Note Re. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and the Search for True Palestinian Dignity and Freedom


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Skullduggery at about 27:48 (iTunes), Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman ask Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Dem., Michigan) for her views on the Middle East Conflict, which she then mixes with observations having to do with the Holocaust and her Palestinian ancestry.

There’s a kind of a calming feeling I always tell folks when I think of the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Holocaust and the fact that it was my ancestors, Palestinians, who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihoods, their human dignity, their existence in many ways had been wiped out and some people’s passport . . . I mean all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post the Holocaust, post the tragedy and horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time, and I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right?, in many ways, but they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right?, and it was forced on them, and so when I think about one state, I think about the fact that why couldn’t we do it in a better way?

Skullduggery. “From Rashida with Love.” iTunes podcast, May 10, 2019.

In 1948, an Arab war intent on the annihilation of the Jews of a most recently UN chartered Israel produced what would become the refugees of that year and the related Arab Apartheid camps of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. Moreover, some Arab populations that fell in with the Jews would become themselves the Christian and Arab complement of Israel among Israel’s citizens, comprising about 20 percent of modern Israel’s population.

What was to corrode Palestinian dignity and freedom were the combined effects of Stalin’s pick-up of what Hitler and the Nazis failed to hold in their defeat; the amplification of Arab anti-Semitic ideation, much appreciated by Hitler and subsequently encouraged by Stalin in the aftermath of WWII; and in the more modern decades of the 1960s and 1970s, KGB manipulation of the Palestinians en masse with direct relation to their leadership.

Representative Tlaib’s ancestors did not have to suffer the re-emergence of the Hebrews as a political power in the Land of the Hebrews.

Quite opposite and far predating WWII, Jewish agricultural capitalization and land purchases (based in the Ottoman Land Registries) produced a new regional economy and heightened the Arab populating of the space with both Arab and Jewish labor. The refusal of Arab states to accept a Jewish enclave established the initial Palestinian separation from both Arab state cultures and from amity with the Jews. The period since the Islamic Revolution in Iran (and the related sponsoring of Hezbollah and funding of Hamas) may add its impact as regards the deepening of Palestinian captivity by those who have most professed to represent them.

One of BackChannel’s conservative Israeli friends online had this to say this morning in relation to Rep. Tlaib’s comments:

Tlaib also said that Netanyahu would not be able to look her grandmother in the eye. Her grandmother lives in an Arab village called “Beit Ur al Fa’uqah,” one of two adjacent “Beit Ur” villages on adjacent hilltiops.

The irony is that the two villages are actually the Jewish town of Beit Choron. Though we have a modern Beit Choron nearby the two Arab villages are where Jews lived for roughly 3-millenia until the 17th Century CE. At that point Tlaib’s ancestors rode filthy camels across our homeland and stole the town along with the rest of HaEretz in a process that began in 634 CE. This “woman” is real big on talking about “ancestors.” Not all Jews in Israel are Ashkenazi Holocaust Survivors. Some are Baladi, Jews like myself whose families for the most part have always lived on the land. When the very first Arab INVADED in 634 CE the last pre-modern Jewish State had only fallen 20-months before.

How far forward may any go by going so far back?

Whatever the answer, there may be a greater point to be made on behalf of historic truth looked on in Arab and Jewish partnership, so that the past has its place more in history than in the future adjustment of separable but perhaps ultimately complementary separable ethnic and political cultures.

At this point in time, any modern person in possession of a computer, moderate English language skills, and Internet access — and who is not politically repressed as regards reading and speaking online — may search up historians Benny Morris and Efraim Karsh, for a start, on Palestinian real history.

Related on this blog: . Also recommended: | | | | |

It’s sad to note of political reality that more constituents in the world’s states may prefer partisan fairy tales and convenient sloganeering to the adventure that is about learning new things, but when the pain is great enough — or old enough — as it has been for Israelis and Palestinians (for more than 70 years), one may wish for scholars to rise with integrity against the lies and inventions of politically ill-informed (at best) or venal (at worst) personalities that perpetuate conflict through the many forms of fascist-totalitarian methods focused on the continuing political servitude of those defenseless, ignorant, and powerless against them.


FTAC: On the Tetanus Vaccine Mass Sterilization Rumor and Potential Interaction with East-West Conflict


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Inspiration for anger: (banner: “Health Impact News: News that Impacts Your Health that Other Media Sources May Censor!”).

One might wish that others posting in the world’s open and socially networked web environment would be responsible about it and take the additional 30-seconds it may take using Google search (or Bing, whatever) to check out claims. This particularly vicious sterilization-by-vaccine rumor has been in circulation for decades.

BC’s immediate response to the post follows.


The story may be a good example of Soviet Era “Active Measures” carried forward into the post-Cold War period. It appears this claim has been in circulation for decades, and not only in Kenya but several other developing nations. | | |

Take note of the nations involved — Mexico, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Philippines, Argentina, Bolivia — and their interaction with east-west (Moscow v Washington) conflict.

I cannot prove my thesis, such has been the nature of manipulation from “behind the curtains” down through the ages, but often enough, it would seem those who most claim to be interested in Justice turn out also to be the most obsessed with acquiring Absolute Power — and that “by any means necessary”.

In 2014, The Washington Post got involved in this surreal silliness, noting that, “The issue is far from settled: The government says it tested the same vaccine for the presence of the hormone and found none. The government and the Catholic leadership group even used one of the same labs to test the samples, apparently receiving different results” (Abby Ohlheiser, “The tense standoff between Catholic bishops and the Kenyan government over tetanus vaccines”, November 14, 2014).

The possibility of chicanery should not be overlooked in relation to deeply partisan interests.

While the history of the Catholic Church and Communist Movements has been complex, both systems counsel power as absolute, whether the Power of Almighty God or the Power of Communal Man. At least one source-at-a-glance notes the blending of the two in the 1960s through infiltration.

Whatever the fine points of history may be — and the devils are always in the details — “framing” a medical miracle, whether vaccination for polio or vaccination for tetanus as an evil thing, would seem itself a deed most evil and intended to sow discord and fear. Why? Those who promote malicious perception may then portray themselves as the bearers of hope and order.

Related online and associated with similar partisan religious motivations:

Shalzad, Asif and Jibran Ahmad. “Monstrous rumors stoke hostility to Pakistan’s anti-polio drive.” Reuters, May 2, 2019.


FTAC: The Big Lie About Israel and the Whipping of the Mob – Palestinian Subjugation by Hamas


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From the Awesome Conversation:

A narrative through which the Palestinians have been lied too for more than 70 years is not something either Israelis or Palestinians need to or should respect. The soul of the conflict sustained by PLO / PA has to do with (genocidal) Palestinian intentions for Israel far more than the history of the place, but the accompanying demonizations of Jews and of Israel is not something that Israel, the west, or modern Palestinians need to accept or tolerate. Those old lies, that propaganda from another age, needs to drift into the past and, at some point, be sealed in it.

Screen capture, May 4, 2019 at 5:50 p.m. EST. Message: “Al Quds will extend the range of rockets. Dimona. Ashdod Port. Ben-Gurion airport and Haifa refinery will be on fire.”

What was the lie?

It has gone something like this: “The Jews stole your land and God wants you to seize it back!”

As lies may, sounds true to the disinformed, ill-educated, impressionable, and simple minded, but it is not a true statement — and for that not the kind of thought intended to improve the lives of Palestinians in any meaningful dimension, financial, physical, psychological, or spiritual.

What that lie has done is simply deflect attention from marauding, mediocre, and murderous “leaders” and their sponsors who have used the same to promote worldviews — there have been two or more broad inventions (Pan-Arab Nationalism; Islamic Extremism) — certain to serve their own egos, social standing (in politically disciplined circles), and wallets.

Russia has made an art of amplifying the resentments of their marks — those who will serve them — and enraging them.

Soviet cartoons distributed in the Middle East to leverage “the masses” into the Soviet camp.

The Palestinians have been corralled into apartheid Arab camps like Yarmouk (neither love nor mercy were shown them in the course of the Syrian Civil War), politically repressed in Gaza and the West Bank, and treated as human shields fit for martyrdom with a little push — or abandonment — by their governments.

For the Palestinian main base there has been no end to subjugation by the PLO/PA and Hamas and related abuse, corruption, and neglect. For Palestinians in the Diaspora — and for the hipsters on the Far Left that endorse counterproductive and misery-sustaining efforts like the “Boycott Divestiture and Sanctions (BDS) Movement” — there hasn’t been a better time to have an independent look into any of the following:

Hamas Human Rights Abuses and Political Repression

Israeli Expansion Via Defensive Arab Wars of Annihilation

Ottoman Administration of the Land Registry of the Region

Palestinian Economic Development and Marketing and Shipping To and Through Israel

Palestinian-Serving Qualified Enterprise Zone Programs

Zionist Land Purchasing Programs

The Palestinian relationship with the Soviet KGB and the phantoms of it have not been fruitful for most Palestinians – but how would Palestinians subjugated by Fatah and Hamas know that? How would those driven mad with resentment and bad information undo their training?

Global News, Canada, May 4, 2019. Related:
Akram, Fares. “3 dead after Israeli airstrikes target Gaza in response to 200 rockets fired by militants.” Global News, May 4, 2019.

Sky News, August 6, 2018. Backgrounder.

Related on BackChannels: “Hamas Urges Palestinians Toward Injury and Death.” May 14, 2018.


Ukraine’s Portent: A Dying West or Continuous Resurgent and Robust Democratic Revolution?


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Once inured to suffering associated with Russian arms and will, the liberal democracies of the west risk watching the heat rise — or the surroundings change — while being lazed into unconscious acceptance.

Screen capture LiveUA Map May 4, 2019.

Ukraine’s five-year-old “frozen conflict” has not been forgotten by EU / NATO, which methodically if slowly has focused on containing the irritating Bear now pummeling Mariupol and targets north by northwest along a line of embattled territory on the western edge of Donetsk Oblast. In addition to a vigorous round of military exercises conducted by NATO in 2018, typified perhaps by the 31+ nation Trident Juncture 18, the United States has continued training-related deployments to Ukraine in a “train-the-trainers ” effort to improve Ukraine’s defense against greater incursion by Russian forces.

Not to flack the rah-rah: Ukraine has been made to pay a near daily — or daily — price in injury and death for having become a Russian test bed (no different than Syria) for Moscow’s defense technologies and “hybrid warfare”.

Russia’s cynical “Passportization” program appears also under way with the only resistance to it to be found in Ukrainian disinterest.

The Russian propaganda mill plies a familiar routine with web videos: the most recent shelling appears to come from Ukrainian forces without cause (I’ll leave the look-up on such as “Donetsk, fighting” to the reader). However, as displayed on any given LiveUAmap, Russia’s military-integrated activity should seem clear enough.

Primary source for this section:

Chang, Felix K. “Are the Russians Coming?: Russia’s Military Buildup Near Ukraine.” Foreign Policy Research Institute, February 25, 2019.

Drawing from the above source, this is what BackChannels tallies for undeniable Russian military presence in proximity to Ukraine’s border:

12 Battalions
340 Helicopters
500 Tactical Aircraft

Derived from the same source but focusing on what has been observed in relation to Russia’s military presence on the Crimean Peninsula:

A-50 AWAC (1)
BMD-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles
IL-76 Military Transport Aircraft
S-300 Air Defense Batteries (2)
S-400 Air Defense Batteries (5)

Analyst Felix K. Chang’s winter 2019 observation for the Foreign Policy Research Institute:

“Together with two other S-300 air defense batteries nearby, Russian land-based air defenses in the region could simultaneously launch as many as 192 surface-to-air missiles. Interestingly, their crews have been training to counter not only hostile aircraft, but also sea-launched cruise missiles, seemingly in preparation for a NATO intervention. Whatever the case, the airspace above Crimea and Donbas has quickly become among the most well-defended in the world.

For cruising through related offerings on YouTube and elsewhere on the web, the open source seems short of up-to-the-minute Ukrainian war reportage but for the Live UA Map, a conflict pin board, and reporting by Michael MacKay via Twitter and through his column in Radio Lemberg.

BackChannels has been seeing the numbers, finding Russian-side videos (in which the fire always comes from Ukraine, not the Russian-backed separatists that provoke it), and finding videos from when the conflict was all bloody new, shocking, and hot. Now it’s still bloody and plenty hot, but it has become a part of the daily fare in the world’s conflict-related horror show.

Perhaps a warning should be issued: once inured to suffering associated with Russian arms and will, the liberal democracies of the west risk watching the heat rise — or the surroundings change — while being lazed into unconscious acceptance.

MacKay’s tweet, much in line with thinking by America’s Democrats and possibly some Republican moderates, begs a few questions about Ukraine’s “frozen conflict” among others: how much “patience” has the west? How much destruction and how many lives lost is acceptable before jawing about Russian barbarism and kleptocracy and posturing about western defense support and strength lose their charm?

Russia has recently claimed victory in Syria. This is what that looks like:

Ruptly, January 20, 2016

With the winter-is-coming cloud of nuclear warfare hanging over east-west confrontation — and with the incredible billions of dollars laundered out of transnational criminal enterprise spiked into the bloodstreams of states — the way forward for the democratic attenuation of political power and the promotion of faith in rule of law may be difficult to see. While one may hope for hope in that regard, locking related conflicts into one place without limit seems itself dispiriting and on the side of evil.

For how long may Ukraine be expected to endure a Moscow-engineered “status quo”?

And for how long may EU / NATO — already somewhat compromised by Moscow’s use of Islamic Terrorism and Syrian mass migration to induce / “inspire” the western “New Nationalism” — abide Moscow’s favor for Feudal Political Absolutism (worldwide) and its concomitant eroding of the ideals, principles, and values associated with democracy and the still open societies of the west?

PBS NewsHour, May 2, 2019. For more information online:
Wilmont, Simon Lereng. The Distant Barking of Dogs.
VOA, April 9, 2019, prior to elections.
UATV English, April 30, 2019

Related on BackChannels:


Venezuela: Background for the Liberal Perspective


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Dickey, Christopher. “How Cuba Helped Make Venezuela a Mafia State.” Daily Beast, June 2, 2019.

InSight Crime. “Venezuela: A Mafia State?” Seven-part series, May 16, 2018 to May 25, 2018. Full report: InSight Crime. “Venezuela: A Mafia State?” Report (PDF): 1) “7 Reasons for Describing Venezuela as a ‘Mafia State’”, Mary 16, 2018; 2) “Drug Trafficking Within the Venezuelan Regime: The ‘Cartel of the Suns’”, May 17, 2018; 3) “The Devolution of State Power: The ‘Colectivos’”, May 18, 2018; 4) “The Devolution of State Power: ‘The Pranes’,” May 20, 2018; 5) “Colombia and Venezuela: Criminal Siamese Twins,” May 21, 2018; 6) “Honduras and Venezuela: Coup and Cocaine Air Bridge,” May 23, 2018; 7) “Dominican Republic and Venezuela: Cocaine Across the Caribbean,” May 24, 2018; 8) “Venezuela and El Salvador: Exporting Aid and Corruption,” May 25, 2018.

Instead of abetting or encouraging the survival of President Nicolas Maduro’s now brutal regime in Venezuela, Representative Ilhan Omar may do better to review how starvation came to visit the South American state — wondrously rich with resources — in the first place.

Johnson, Keith. “How Venezuela Struck it Poor.” Foreign Policy, July 16, 2018.

Venezuela as petrostate had a fine run on high and rising oil prices, but as crude pricing fell, the state discovered discovered itself as yet . . . undeveloped — and foremost in its oil sector. From the above cited Foreign Policy piece:

The problem for Chávez was that many of the PDVSA’s then-managers wanted to increaseproduction, by continuing the development of Venezuela’s technically challenging heavy oil fields. To do so, they needed to reinvest more of the company’s earnings rather than hand them all over to the government. So the managers had to go.

It was only the beginning of the mismanagement of Venezuela’s oil reserves.

What about other sectors of the economy?

On agriculture, here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post (Mariana Zunig and Nick Miroff, “Venezuela’s paradox: People are hungry, but farmers can’t feed them”, May 22, 2017):

“Last year I had 200,000 hens,” said Saulo Escobar, who runs a poultry and hog farm here in the state of Aragua, an hour outside Caracas. “Now I have 70,000.”

Several of his cavernous hen houses sit empty because, Escobar said, he can’t afford to buy more chicks or feed. Government price controls have made his business unprofitable, and armed gangs have been squeezing him for extortion payments and stealing his eggs.

As well known to other communist and socialist bureaucracies, the government owns all, but to play the role of an enlightened hub for all that the state needs and needs to share equally, it has to have something to distribute. As the oil economy collapsed, much around it appears to have caved as well.

Add desperation to insolvency: what the government hasn’t discouraged, ordinary thieves — not to blame them too much for their response to starvation — have apparently stepped in to pick up the slack.

Alas, also, Venezuela’s program had some items it distributes all too well for cash:

The network used a string of heavily guarded nightclubs to generate profits from the forced prostitution, which where then laundered through at least eight companies the group owned.

Thirteen victims were rescued and more than 2 million euros (almost $2.4 million) worth of properties, cash, jewelry and vehicles, as well as weapons, were seized as part of the operation.

Albaladejo, Angelika. “Transnational Sex Trafficking Rings Cash In on Venezuela Crisis.” InSight Crime, June 28, 2018.

Basically, Maduro’s dictatorship and its military (and the state’s mafia) have had between narcotics — noted at the top of this blog — and sundry other criminal undertakings — some nefarious ways of raising cash for themselves.

In the global politics, the regime has also the support of other feudal and absolute powers: Beijing and Moscow have both made arrangements with the hard-struck “socialist” state, and Turkey, famously, has been buying up Venezuelan gold now scraped off the earth by others scrambling for useful cash.

The state of war has become a constant between Beijing, Moscow, and Washington, but the issues are worked either “by other means”i.e., “diplomacy” or through punitive measures that would be violent swipes — and they are that — without the gun play. What works and how far it goes may be indicated by Venezuela’s continuing decline into chaos, darkness, and despair.

The western-supported alternative President Juan Guaido has been able to inspire defections — and that is saying something about the state of the Venezuelan state — but not yet raise the army to compete with Maduro’s heavily leveraged forces.

Related on the Web

O’Connor, Tom. “Russia, China and Iran Defend Support for Venezuela, warn U.S. Cannot Tell Them or Latin America What to Do.” Newsweek, April 15, 2019.


American Anomie: Two Excerpts Courtesy of Big Pharma


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Dangerous opioid drugs are killing people across Massachusetts. Prescription medicines, which are supposed to protect our health, are instead ruining people’s lives. Every community in our Commonwealth suffers from the epidemic of addiction and death.

Purdue Pharma created the epidemic and profited from it through a web of illegal deceit. First, Purdue deceived doctors and patients to get more and more people on its dangerous drugs. Second, Purdue misled them to take higher and more dangerous doses. Third, Purdue deceived them to stay on its drugs for longer and more harmful periods of time. All the while, Purdue peddled falsehoods to keep patients away from safer alternatives. Even when Purdue knew people were addicted and dying, Purdue treated patients and their doctors as “targets” to sell more drugs. At the top of Purdue, a small group of executives led the deception and pocketed millions of dollars.


How is it in this extraordinary country in which vested interests also enjoy the greatest access to liberal education that the same affluent-to-wealthy people think nothing of addicting and gouging their fellow Americans to death?

The effort, the whistleblowers said in a lawsuit against the company, was part of an intentional “multi-tiered strategy” by Questcor Pharmaceuticals, now Mallinckrodt, to boost sales of H.P. Acthar Gel, cheating the government out of millions of dollars.

The price of the drug, best known for treating a rare infant seizure disorder, has increased almost 97,000%, from $40 a vial in 2000 to nearly $39,000 today.

The Justice Department has now intervened in the case after conducting its own extensive investigation — a sign that the government believes the allegations levied by the whistleblowers are credible. In a statement to CNN, Mallinckrodt did not deny the accusations but said the fault lies primarily with Questcor.