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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Britain: The Hijab as the Entry Point for Islam

Britain: The Hijab as the Entry Point for Islam: Islamists seem to be influencing the British school system with ease: there is simply no solid opposition to them. The government even stays silent about the harassment and intimidation. Islamists in Britain seem to be intent on establishing regressive

Syria: Nuns Have Narrow Escape from Death – ZENIT – English

Syria: Nuns Have Narrow Escape from Death – ZENIT – English

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ‘The Olympics Are a Favorable Moment for Encountering God,’ Explains Msgr. Melchor Sánchez de Toca – ZENIT – English

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ‘The Olympics Are a Favorable Moment for Encountering God,’ Explains Msgr. Melchor Sánchez de Toca – ZENIT – English

A Story of Hope from Iraq | CRS Rice Bowl

A Story of Hope from Iraq | CRS Rice Bowl

Billy Graham, Evangelist to the World, Dead at Age 99 - DeMoss - Thinking | PR

Billy Graham, Evangelist to the World, Dead at Age 99 - DeMoss - Thinking | PR: Thinking & Public Relations for Faith-based Organizations and Causes.

Mueller Focuses on Molehills - WSJ

Mueller Focuses on Molehills - WSJ: The mountain is whether the FBI was an unwitting agent of Russian influence.

Trump's Budget Priorities: Crimes Against Humanity? - The Globalist

Trump's Budget Priorities: Crimes Against Humanity? - The Globalist: President Trump’s proposed budget highlights the increasing White House determination to find military solutions to the world’s ills.

The Narrowing Gap Between Nuclear and Conventional Weapons - The Globalist

The Narrowing Gap Between Nuclear and Conventional Weapons - The Globalist: Is Russia in breach of the 1986 INF Treaty on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, agreed by Reagan and Gorbachev? This would be dangerous.

The Case Against Google - The New York Times

The Case Against Google - The New York Times: Critics say the search giant is squelching competition before it begins. Should the government step in?

Tech companies should stop pretending AI won’t destroy jobs - MIT Technology Review

Tech companies should stop pretending AI won’t destroy jobs - MIT Technology Review: No matter what anyone tells you, we’re not ready for the massive societal upheavals on the way.

The “Black Mirror” scenarios that are leading some experts to call for more secrecy on AI - MIT Technology Review

The “Black Mirror” scenarios that are leading some experts to call for more secrecy on AI - MIT Technology Review: Artificial intelligence could sway elections, help Big Brother, and make hackers way more dangerous, suggests a new report.

Malicious AI Report

Malicious AI Report

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018 - MIT Technology Review

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018 - MIT Technology Review: Dueling neural networks. Artificial embryos. AI in the cloud. Welcome to our annual list of the 10 technology advances we think will shape the way we work and live now and for years to come.

Robots are already here, but there's a race underway to build better software for them | ZDNet

Robots are already here, but there's a race underway to build better software for them | ZDNet: The robot software market is booming thanks to astounding adoption across industries

America’s IR Schools Are Broken – Foreign Policy

America’s IR Schools Are Broken – Foreign Policy

Doubling Down on Nukes | Commonweal Magazine

Doubling Down on Nukes | Commonweal Magazine: Judging by the new Nuclear Posture Review, the Pentagon proposes to embark upon an arms race—largely with itself

Will feminizing the Marines win wars?

Will feminizing the Marines win wars?: The USMC has lowered requirements in its Infantry Officer Course, following drastic measures in the other services. More women will pass, but at what cost?

Insiders: Russia troll farm even zanier than indictment says | Boston Herald

Insiders: Russia troll farm even zanier than indictment says | Boston Herald: MOSCOW — A Clinton-Obama sex tape using body doubles. A Facebook page promoting Texas independence riddled with grammatical mistakes.

US science agency quietly recalls senior officials in Europe, Asia, citing staff shortfalls | Science|Business

US science agency quietly recalls senior officials in Europe, Asia, citing staff shortfalls | Science|Business

I Interned for Senator Rubio. Now I’m Begging Him to Act on Guns. - The New York Times

I Interned for Senator Rubio. Now I’m Begging Him to Act on Guns. - The New York Times: A graduate of Stoneman Douglas High School has been close to four mass shootings in Florida. She wants last week’s to be the last.

There will never be room for the middle class in Boston - The Boston Globe

There will never be room for the middle class in Boston - The Boston Globe: The middle class — especially middle-class families with children — is vanishing from Boston. Policymakers and politicians long for a fix.

Witnessing the Collapse of the Global Elite - The Atlantic

Witnessing the Collapse of the Global Elite - The Atlantic: Last weekend’s security conference in Munich was a stark reminder that this class has nothing of substance to offer a world in turmoil.

How the Washington Post Missed the Biggest Watergate Story of All – Consortiumnews

How the Washington Post Missed the Biggest Watergate Story of All – Consortiumnews

World War I and the Suppression of Dissent: Newsroom: The Independent Institute

World War I and the Suppression of Dissent: Newsroom: The Independent Institute

Sic Semper Tyrannis : Robert Mueller's America--A Farce Wrapped in Hypocrisy by Publius Tacitus

Sic Semper Tyrannis : Robert Mueller's America--A Farce Wrapped in Hypocrisy by Publius Tacitus: The indictment unveiled last Friday by Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein, charging 13 Russian nationals with posting "false" information on the internet would be great grist for a satirical send up of government incompetence except the underlying premise of the...

A Nuclear Angle to the 2014 PNS Zulfiquar Attack? | The Diplomat

A Nuclear Angle to the 2014 PNS Zulfiquar Attack? | The Diplomat: Was a nuclear weapon really on PNS Zulfiquar when Al Qaeda terrorists tried to seize control of the ship?

The Post-Islamic State Marshall Plan That Never Was – Foreign Policy

The Post-Islamic State Marshall Plan That Never Was – Foreign Policy

Foreign Powers Competing for a Slice of Syria - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Foreign Powers Competing for a Slice of Syria - SPIEGEL ONLINE: Islamic State has largely been defeated, but peace in Syria has not been achieved. On the contrary, without a common enemy, parties involved are now pursuing their own interests, with each wanting a slice of the country.

Technology Change Not the Culprit in Wages Falling Behind US Productivity Gains

 

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/02/technology-change-not-culprit-wages-falling-behind-us-productivity-gains.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NakedCapitalism+%28naked+capitalism%29

Exxon’s Conspiracy Charges Aim To Derail Climate Lawsuits | naked capitalism

Exxon’s Conspiracy Charges Aim To Derail Climate Lawsuits | naked capitalism: ExxonMobil is engaged in unprecedented efforts to sue and harass in court those are investigating and suing the company over global warming

A longtime Mattis adviser is resigning, leaving one fewer woman on his senior staff - The Washington Post

A longtime Mattis adviser is resigning, leaving one fewer woman on his senior staff - The Washington Post: Donnelly held a wide-ranging and sometimes unexplained set of duties.

45 Countries Still Don't Have A U.S. Ambassador [Infographic]

45 Countries Still Don't Have A U.S. Ambassador [Infographic]: In February 2018, Australia, Germany, South Korea, Turkey and Saudi Arabia all appear among the long list of nations without a U.S. ambassador.

Fr. Warren's Week Rflection for the First Sunday of Lent


Clouds
THIS WEEK'S REFLECTION from Fr. Bob Warren, SA
A young man by the name of Piri Thomas wrote a book called, "Down These Mean Streets." It describes his conversion from being a convict, a drug addict, and an attempted killer.
One night, Piri was lying on his cell bunk in prison. Suddenly it occurred to him what a mess he had made of his life. He wanted to change, he had to change. He did not know what to do or where to start. Then he remembered his mother telling her children, "When in doubt, pray." So he started to pray, but it did not feel right. He felt the need of a gesture, he needed to kneel. But he was sharing a cell, the other prisoner was called the "Thin Kid", so Piri waited.
After he thought the Thin Kid was asleep, he climbed out of his bunk, knelt down on the cold concrete, and prayed. He said, "I told God how I felt. I talked to Him plain, no big words. I talked to Him about my wants and my lacks. I told Him of my hopes and disappointments. Then I started to cry."
After Piri finished his prayer, a small voice said "Amen." It was the Thin Kid. "There we were," Piri said," he lying down, head on bended elbow, and me still on my knees. No one spoke for a long time. Then the Thin Kid said, "I have not prayed since I was small." The two young men talked a long time. Then Piri climbed back into his bunk. "Good night, Chico," he said.
I am thinking that God is always with us, it is just that we are not with Him. I thought of this story when I read Mark's gospel. Jesus tells the people, "Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel." (Mk-1, 12-15)
To reform means to recognize that there are areas of our lives that need reforming: to identify these areas, and turn our backs on them. It means to face up to sin in our lives, and turn away from it.
For example, are we aware of selfishness that puts our comfort ahead of other's needs? The self-absorption in yourself? Where you take yourself all too seriously. Where the days and nights rotate around you, your heartache and health. Your successes and failures, your problems and frustrations. Always looking inward. Always putting your comfort ahead of others' needs.
To reform means to face up to any kind of sin in our lives, and do something about it. This brings us to the second point of Jesus' instruction. Besides reforming our lives, Jesus tells us to believe in the Gospel.
This means to believe that Jesus is the son of God, and that He came to save us. That you care not only to know about God, but that you come to know God. That might be your Lenten question.... Do I actually know God? Not a concept, or an idea of God. God is one and three, God is all knowing and all loving. Rather, the kind of knowledge that is never an abstraction. The kind of knowledge where you become one with the one you know.
Because you see God as all powerful, He needs nothing. Except that He needs to be needed by you. But, like Piri, you have to be willing to open up to God and let Him in. I suspect that many of you have a relationship with God, but any relationship can be improved upon and deepened.
Piri was not as dumb as he thought he was. He went on to get his Masters degree in social work, and now runs a program for ex-cons. He often says, "I cannot believe what God has done for me." I always tell him, "Piri, you were the one who said yes to God. God never forces Himself: we have to invite Him in."
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A. Signature
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

We Need More Alternatives to Facebook


We Need More Alternatives to Facebook


https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604082/we-need-more-alternatives-to-facebook/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_content=2018-02-20&utm_campaign=Technology+Review

The One State Delusion - Quillette

The One State Delusion - Quillette

Macron and Islam: "Appeasement and Dialogue"

Macron and Islam: "Appeasement and Dialogue": When French President Emanuel Macron recently said that "We are working on the structuring of Islam in France," it was only one part of a message, to prepare Muslims and non-Muslims for the big project: transforming Islam in France into the Islam of

Palestinians: Hamas and Fatah - United against Trump

Palestinians: Hamas and Fatah - United against Trump: The two rival parties, Fatah and Hamas, are prepared to lay aside their differences and work together to foil US President Donald Trump's plan for peace in the Middle East, the details of which remain unknown. Thwarting Trump's peace plan has become a

Buttering Up the Pentagon – LobeLog

Buttering Up the Pentagon – LobeLog

Pope Francis Confirms that Paul VI will be a Saint This Year – ZENIT – English

Pope Francis Confirms that Paul VI will be a Saint This Year – ZENIT – English

Russiagate Suddenly Becomes Bigger, by Philip Giraldi - The Unz Review

Russiagate Suddenly Becomes Bigger, by Philip Giraldi - The Unz Review

Aborted Babies Deserve Respect Even If They Aren’t Considered Persons

Aborted Babies Deserve Respect Even If They Aren’t Considered Persons: Planned Parenthood claims a law requiring them not to throw aborted fetuses in the trash is bad because unborn children are not persons.

A Syrian family froze to death fleeing the war. So why hasn’t the world noticed?

A Syrian family froze to death fleeing the war. So why hasn’t the world noticed?: The family were only a couple of hours’ drive from the glitz and comfort of Beirut. Please note: this story contains a graphic image.

Parents lose legal fight to keep Liverpool toddler on life support | UK news | The Guardian

Parents lose legal fight to keep Liverpool toddler on life support | UK news | The Guardian: High court rules in favour of doctors who said continuing to treat Alfie Evans was ‘inhumane’

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Comments About #MeToo Are A Vital Wakeup Call

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Comments About #MeToo Are A Vital Wakeup Call: Ginsburg’s warning about due process is a common sense breath of fresh air in an increasingly polarized cultural climate.

Why This Missionary Is Warning Christians About Seeing 'Black Panther'

Why This Missionary Is Warning Christians About Seeing 'Black Panther': The movie does plenty right—but this issue should trouble believers.

Parents who give children up for adoption often are fragile, pope says

Parents who give children up for adoption often are fragile, pope says: When people are unable to love or accept a child with problems or illness, many times it's because they are too weak themselves to be able to bear someone else's vulnerabilities, Pope Francis told a group of children and young people who are wards of the state.

If Congress Wants Intelligence Oversight, Partisan Politics Must Take Back Seat | Opinion | OZY

If Congress Wants Intelligence Oversight, Partisan Politics Must Take Back Seat | Opinion | OZY: Congress is meant to be keeping an eye on matters, not taking sides.

Australia enacted strict gun control laws after a horrific mass shooting in 1996. It worked.

Australia enacted strict gun control laws after a horrific mass shooting in 1996. It worked.: As America grapples with the fallout of yet another mass shooting—a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday has left at least 17 people dead ...

From Disruption to Dystopia: Silicon Valley Envisions the City of the Future

From Disruption to Dystopia: Silicon Valley Envisions the City of the Future: The unaffordable Bay Area, Google’s new neighborhood ‘built from the internet up,’ and China’s police state each offer glimpses of what the tech giants plan to sell the rest of us.

Miami Yacht Show 2018 Grace E superyacht: Pictures, details - BI

Miami Yacht Show 2018 Grace E superyacht: Pictures, details - BI: The Fraser Grace E superyacht is one of the most luxurious yachts at the 2018 Miami Yacht Show, boasting features like a full gym and spa, sushi bar, & more.

Do Russiagate Skeptics Go Too Far? | naked capitalism

Do Russiagate Skeptics Go Too Far? | naked capitalism: The U.S. is building a $110 million drone base in Niger that threatens to undermine the country's economy and its fragile political system.

A Massive U.S. Drone Base Could Destabilize Niger — and May Even Be Illegal Under Its Constitution

A Massive U.S. Drone Base Could Destabilize Niger — and May Even Be Illegal Under Its Constitution: The U.S. is building a $110 million drone base in Niger that threatens to undermine the country's economy and its fragile political system.

Russia Warns U.S. Not to ‘Play With Fire’ in Syrian Conflict - Bloomberg

Russia Warns U.S. Not to ‘Play With Fire’ in Syrian Conflict - Bloomberg: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the Trump administration not to “play with fire” as he lashed out at the U.S. over what he described as its “provocative” support for autonomy-seeking Kurds in Syria.

Why Mental Health Is the Hidden Cost of the Housing Crisis | naked capitalism

Why Mental Health Is the Hidden Cost of the Housing Crisis | naked capitalism: Housing has too often become a source of insecurity rather than security.

Exclusive - International Community Must Unite to Save the Syrian Civilians | Asharq AL-awsat

Exclusive - International Community Must Unite to Save the Syrian Civilians | Asharq AL-awsat: Middle-East Arab News and Opinion - Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities

Syria Is the New Afghanistan | Asharq AL-awsat

Syria Is the New Afghanistan | Asharq AL-awsat: Middle-East Arab News and Opinion - Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities

Take State Department off chopping block | The Daily Gazette

Take State Department off chopping block | The Daily Gazette

Trump’s National Defense Strategy Something for Everyone (in the Military-Industrial Complex)

Trump’s National Defense Strategy
Something for Everyone (in the Military-Industrial Complex)
By Danny Sjursen
Think of it as the chicken-or-the-egg question for the ages: Do very real threats to the United States inadvertently benefit the military-industrial complex or does the national security state, by its very nature, conjure up inflated threats to feed that defense machine?
Back in 2008, some of us placed our faith, naively enough, in the hands of mainstream Democrats -- specifically, those of a young senator named Barack Obama.  He would reverse the war policies of George W. Bush, deescalate the unbridled Global War on Terror, and right the ship of state. How’d that turn out?
In retrospect, though couched in a far more sophisticated and peaceable rhetoric than Bush’s, his moves would prove largely cosmetic when it came to this country’s forever wars: a significant reduction in the use of conventional ground troops, but more drones, more commandos, and yet more acts of ill-advised regime change.  Don’t get me wrong: as a veteran of two of Washington’s wars, I was glad when “no-drama” Obama decreased the number of boots on the ground in the Middle East.  It’s now obvious, however, that he left the basic infrastructure of eternal war firmly in place.
Enter The Donald.
For all his half-baked tweets, insults, and boasts, as well as his refusal to read anything of substance on issues of war and peace, some of candidate Trump’s foreign policy ideas seemed far saner than those of just about any other politician around or the previous two presidents.  I mean, the Iraq War was dumb, and maybe it wasn’t the craziest idea for America’s allies to start thinking about defending themselves, and maybe Washington ought to put some time and diplomatic effort into avoiding a possibly catastrophic clash or set of clashes with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176388/tomgram%3A_danny_sjursen%2C_buttering_up_the_pentagon/#more

Did George Washington Predict Donald Trump?

Did George Washington Predict Donald Trump?

Is That Russia Troll Farm an Act of War? | Patrick J. Buchanan - Official Website

Is That Russia Troll Farm an Act of War? | Patrick J. Buchanan - Official Website

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Military’s ‘Readiness’ Scam Worked Again – Foreign Policy

The Military’s ‘Readiness’ Scam Worked Again – Foreign Policy

Russia’s Real Goal: Continue Democracy’s Decline - WSJ

Russia’s Real Goal: Continue Democracy’s Decline - WSJ: President Donald Trump’s angry Twitter reaction to the indictment of Russians for interfering in the 2016 election misses the broader and more frightening point: Democracy as we know it is under attack, and potentially in decline, Gerald F. Seib writes.

Head of Catholic physicians' group warns of threats to conscientious objection | National Catholic Reporter

Head of Catholic physicians' group warns of threats to conscientious objection | National Catholic Reporter: No physician should be forced to choose between violating his or her conscience and facing professional sanctions when defending human life, said the president of the World Federation of Catholic Medi...

WOF 115: Grounded in the Eucharist | The Word on Fire Show

WOF 115: Grounded in the Eucharist | The Word on Fire Show

The Social Media Threat to Society and Security by George Soros - Project Syndicate

The Social Media Threat to Society and Security by George Soros - Project Syndicate: It takes significant effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called the freedom of mind. And there is a real chance that, once lost, those who grow up in the digital age – in which the power to command and shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies – will have difficulty regaining it.

Ocean array alters view of Atlantic ‘conveyor belt’ | Science | AAAS

Ocean array alters view of Atlantic ‘conveyor belt’ | Science | AAAS: First data from subpolar moorings show surprising current strengths east of Greenland

Meehan Crist reviews ‘The Water Will Come’ by Jeff Goodell · LRB 22 February 2018

Meehan Crist reviews ‘The Water Will Come’ by Jeff Goodell · LRB 22 February 2018

How Japan is preparing for the great flood

How Japan is preparing for the great flood: Experts fear Tokyo’s flood defences are not enough to avoid calamity.

Retreat From a Rising Sea: A Book Review by Dr. Jeff Masters | Category 6 | Weather Underground

Retreat From a Rising Sea: A Book Review by Dr. Jeff Masters | Category 6 | Weather Underground: The only answer to rising seas is to retreat, argues an excellent 2016 book, Retreat From a Rising Sea; Hard Choices in an Age of Climate Change.

How an Alt-Right Bot Network Took Down Al Franken

How an Alt-Right Bot Network Took Down Al Franken: The Minnesota senator was partly done in by social media, a new study shows.

Jordan Threads the Needle Between Moscow and Washington – LobeLog

Jordan Threads the Needle Between Moscow and Washington – LobeLog

America withdraws as the Middle East burns | Fareed Zakaria | Columns | ArcaMax Publishing

America withdraws as the Middle East burns | Fareed Zakaria | Columns | ArcaMax Publishing: Politics

Saints for the Lenten Season


Saints for the Lenten Season

US Conference of Catholic Bishops Outlines Some Models for Holiness This Lent

https://zenit.org/articles/saints-for-the-lenten-season/

Fire victims accuse utility of removing potential evidence


Fire victims accuse utility of removing potential evidence


http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pennenergy/2018/02/utility-company-fire-victims-accuse-utility-of-removing-potential-evidence.html?cmpid=enl_pennenergy_pennenergy_research_2018-02-19&pwhid=1e90004a8e081f3272fb5f8e0e9a20316c85258cc50faf993491663afd10a38f41b62c13180d825ec81f1c72848099c33ec83965e1b8e8ff4a01aa5c32296aec&eid=288118515&bid=2007566

ComingSoon

ComingSoon

15 Things To Do In the Midst of Suffering

15 Things To Do In the Midst of Suffering



https://blog.ascensionpress.com/podcast/tjcs52/?utm_source=Ascension+Press&utm_campaign=1907e2895b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_10_12&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e09e12a778-1907e2895b-351387457&goal=0_e09e12a778-1907e2895b-351387457&mc_cid=1907e2895b&mc_eid=2bb902f84a

Ascension Looking for a Way to Do Almsgiving This Lent? Try Helping a Single Parent Family.

Ascension Looking for a Way to Do Almsgiving This Lent? Try Helping a Single Parent Family.

Nunes: FBI and DOJ Perps Could Be Put on Trial – Consortiumnews

Nunes: FBI and DOJ Perps Could Be Put on Trial – Consortiumnews

Groupthink, Not the Deep State, Is the Real Culprit | The National Interest

Groupthink, Not the Deep State, Is the Real Culprit | The National Interest: The idea of a deep state running the show in foreign policy is not solely a Trump-era phenomenon.

Technology and Inequality - MIT Technology Review

Technology and Inequality - MIT Technology Review: The disparity between the rich and everyone else is larger than ever in the United States and increasing in much of Europe. Why?

Labor 2030: The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality - Bain & Company

Labor 2030: The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality - Bain & Company: The business environment of the 2020s will be more volatile and economic swings more extreme.

For Tech Giants, Halting Russian Meddling in U.S. Politics Won’t Be Easy - WSJ

For Tech Giants, Halting Russian Meddling in U.S. Politics Won’t Be Easy - WSJ: The U.S. indictment handed up against three Russian companies and 13 individuals suggests it won’t be easy to stop any aggressive influence campaign in the run-up to the midterm election in less than nine months.

The Russians indicted for election meddling will never face consequences.

The Russians indicted for election meddling will never face consequences.: The Russians indicted for election meddling will never face consequences.

Making sense of Chinese outbound M&A | McKinsey & Company

Making sense of Chinese outbound M&A | McKinsey & Company: Misperceptions of Chinese deal making can undermine otherwise good deals. Here’s a closer look behind persistent myths.

What Donald Trump can learn from Napoleon III | IISS

What Donald Trump can learn from Napoleon III | IISS

Nations built on lies - The Boston Globe

Nations built on lies - The Boston Globe: Governments do no service to their people by protecting them from the reality of their past.

Internet Research Agency: Russian journalist who uncovered election interference left confounded by Mueller - The Washington Post

Internet Research Agency: Russian journalist who uncovered election interference left confounded by Mueller - The Washington Post: "It's very strange.”

Iran, Deeply Embedded in Syria, Expands ‘Axis of Resistance’ - The New York Times

Iran, Deeply Embedded in Syria, Expands ‘Axis of Resistance’ - The New York Times: Iran is training thousands of militiamen in Syria and deploying drones and precision weapons. Its goal, say analysts: a united front in any war with Israel.

What President Trump's Medicare Proposals May Mean

What President Trump's Medicare Proposals May Mean: The co-directors of Health Care for America Now believe President Trump's Medicare proposals in the budget could be harmful to older Americans.

The Wilderness Of Gun Violence – A Sermon On Mark 1:9-15 – Interrupting the Silence

The Wilderness Of Gun Violence – A Sermon On Mark 1:9-15 – Interrupting the Silence: The First Sunday in Lent - Mark 1:9-15 I don’t know how I can stand before you today with any sense of integrity and faithfulness and not say something about the Florida shooting. Something has to be said. I’m just not sure what to say or what can be said. I’m struggling with that. And…

After Parkland: Murder By Congress - The Globalist

After Parkland: Murder By Congress - The Globalist: Reflections on the latest high school shooting in the United States and what it says about the state of American "civilization."

Trump's Budget Priorities: Crimes Against Humanity? - The Globalist

Trump's Budget Priorities: Crimes Against Humanity? - The Globalist: President Trump’s proposed budget highlights the increasing White House determination to find military solutions to the world’s ills.

Origin of the gender wars

Origin of the gender wars: Summary: In 1987 Allen Bloom predicted the today's gender. People laughed at him then. Nobody is laughing now. Even today we can learn much from his insights. Most important -- technology has made this clash possible, but the roots of it run deep in western history and philosophy. We cannot fix a problem that we…

Sometimes a Prayer Will Do

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Angelus Address: On the Need for Conversion – ZENIT – English

Angelus Address: On the Need for Conversion – ZENIT – English

(15) Jeff Sessions on Immigration, Russia, and His Recusal. - YouTube

(15) Jeff Sessions on Immigration, Russia, and His Recusal. - YouTube

Russians accused of information warfare used tech to whip up controversy and cover their tracks - MIT Technology Review

Russians accused of information warfare used tech to whip up controversy and cover their tracks - MIT Technology Review: US Special Counsel Robert Mueller (pictured above) has charged 13 Russians and three organizations, including the Internet Research Agency, with alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

US' New Nuclear Doctrine Shows Country is 'No Longer a Superpower' - Analyst - Sputnik International

US' New Nuclear Doctrine Shows Country is 'No Longer a Superpower' - Analyst - Sputnik International: Pondering the implications of America's new nuclear doctrine, outlined in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review document released earlier this month, political observer Rostislav Ishchenko explained why a careful reading of the doctrine shows that America is losing its global geopolitical preponderance.

Empire of Chaos With President Trump, Is the American Experiment Over?

Empire of Chaos 
With President Trump, Is the American Experiment Over? 
By Tom Engelhardt
The one thing you could say about empires is that, at or near their height, they have always represented a principle of order as well as domination.  So here’s the confounding thing about the American version of empire in the years when this country was often referred to as “the sole superpower,” when it was putting more money into its military than the next 10 nations combined: it’s been an empire of chaos.
Back in September 2002, Amr Moussa, then head of the Arab League, offered a warning I’ve never forgotten.  The Bush administration’s intention to invade Iraq and topple its ruler, Saddam Hussein, was already obvious.  Were they to take such a step, Moussa insisted, it would “open the gates of hell.”  His prediction turned out to be anything but hyperbole -- and those gates have never again closed.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176387/best_of_tomdispatch%3A_tom_engelhardt%2C_through_the_gates_of_hell/#more

Banning assault rifles: It is a matter of public safety

Banning assault rifles: It is a matter of public safety: If the original intent of the Second Amendment had not been altered by a militant campaign funded by the gun industry and the NRA, Newtown, Las Vegas, Orlando and now Parkland, Florida might not have happened.

This Too Shall Pass Remarks to the Camden Conference on The New World Disorder and America’s Future by Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr.

This Too Shall Pass

http://chasfreeman.net/category/speeches/



This Too Shall Pass
Remarks to the Camden Conference on The New World Disorder and America’s Future

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.)
Senior Fellow, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
February 18, 2018, Camden, Maine

                                                           
The United States declared its independence two hundred and forty-two years ago.  We did so on a planet in which China was one-third of the world economy but geopolitics were dominated by Britain, the world’s greatest naval power, and France, which had the finest army and the most brilliant culture on the Eurasian landmass.  After a struggle, in which our war for independence played a role, Britain emerged as the global superpower.  As a well-known map shows, it is easier to depict the countries Britain did not invade[1] than to identify those it did. 
                       
After 1815, the rules of the world order were written in English.  The United States prospered in the British-led international system.  By about 1875, we had become the world’s largest economy. 
           
In the early 20th century, the United States began to displace Britain’s global dominion.  Initially reluctant to lead, Americans’ belated but successful engagement in World War II made us the dominant power in every corner of the globe other than those within the Soviet empire.  Our Establishment rose to the challenge.  Since 1945, the world has been regulated by norms, obligations, and conventions mostly made in the USA.  As the Cold War unfolded, American diplomacy became a form of imperial administration, designed to secure the frontiers of our sphere of influence and keep order within what we called “the free world.”

U.S. allies, partners, and client states relied on the United States to provide the bulk of their collective defense against Soviet predation.  We supplied security, regime support, and reconstruction and development aid.  In return, they tolerated the “exorbitant privilege” of dollar supremacy and let Americans exempt ourselves from the rules we insisted on applying to them and everyone else. 

In foreign lands, the United States preached that “all men are created equal.”  At home, we practiced racial segregation.  Abroad, we declined to ratify multilateral treaties we had proposed even as we held others to the standards in these treaties.  Americans demanded international courts but made ourselves immune from their jurisdiction.  We ignored and fell far short of the targets for development aid we ourselves had proclaimed.

Since 1991, when the Soviet Union imploded and the Cold War ended, the United States has continued to expect the same deference and exemptions from the standards we apply to other countries as before.  American military power remains uniquely formidable.  The U.S. military bestrides the globe.  But American power no longer serves to defend allies, partners, and friends against a common enemy on behalf of jointly defined interests. 

In the 21st century, the U.S. armed forces turned to unilateral American agendas.  Washington replaced its previous emphasis on supporting cooperative regimes – regardless of their character or ideology – with a fixation on regime change in the name of democratization and other ideologically or special interest-driven causes.  Americans greatly reduced our development assistance.  We turned our energies to the maintenance of our global military primacy, while cutting our investment in all other aspects of foreign affairs.

For more than two centuries, American exceptionalism had appealed to the angels of humanity’s better nature.  But, as the 21st century advanced, foreigners began to see American claims to political privilege and demands for legal immunity as instances of assertive irresponsibility.  The result is steadily reduced foreign support for the hegemonic privileges and double standards to which Americans had come to feel entitled.   Today, the American conviction that other countries should be grateful to us and supportive of our continuing global primacy clashes with the preference of every other great power for a multipolar world order in which there is no single world policeman.

We Americans can and should be proud of what we accomplished when we led the world.  Our leadership institutionalized international norms that helped expand human liberty, foster unity to deter aggression, deal with the causes and consequences of conflict, retard the spread of nuclear weapons, and share the burdens of doing all this among like-minded nations.  American initiatives created institutions that enabled the world to harmonize the rules governing international transactions, lower barriers to trade and investment, promote economic growth and efficiency, lift billions of people out of poverty, improve corporate governance, facilitate the peaceful resolution of commercial  disputes, and respond to systemic shocks that threatened global prosperity.  We will not be alone in missing these fruits of the Pax Americana. 

In February 2018, given the thirteen-month-long festival of unintended consequences that is the Trump administration, few still see the challenge to global order as managing the consequences of the steady expansion of other nations’ power in relation to the United States.  The world is now concerned to mitigate and offset the knock-on effects of the rapid contraction of American global influence.  The 20th century was rightly called “the American century.”  The United States has turned its back on it and is in a messy transition to something else. 

As the Canadian-American band, Buffalo Springfield, put it at another troubled moment of transition, in 1966:  

“There’s something happening here. 
“What it is ain’t exactly clear. 
“There’s a man with a gun over there,
“tellin’ me I got to beware.
“It's time we stop.  Hey, what's that sound?
“Everybody look what's going down.”

Now, as American global dominion recedes into history, we can begin to see some elements of what is to come.  If the 20th century was America’s, the 21st will be nobody’s.  We are witnessing a return to a world based on regional, not global, balances of power.  “America First” invites “China first,” “India first,” “Japan first,” “Pakistan first,” “Russia first.”  Maybe “Europe first,” if there is a Europe.  Great power rivalries are back, some of them between nations with nuclear weapons.  None wants to shoulder the burdens of global hegemony on the American model.  None seeks to impose its own model on the world.  But all are arming to preserve their sovereignty, often against the perceived threat of American attempts at regime change.

War is back as an accepted means of adjusting the policies, borders, and international alignments of nations.  Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have been thrust into anarchy by foreign intervention.  Israel is swallowing all of Palestine.  Serbia has lost Kosovo; Ukraine has lost the Crimea.  A Saudi-led Arab coalition is devastating Yemen.  International law has been reduced to an instrument of accusatory diatribe.  It no longer regulates national behavior.

The reversion to the lawlessness of the premodern era is now well advanced.  The armed forces of the United States are directly or indirectly engaged in combat with Muslim militants in seventy-six countries,[2] often without regard for their sovereignty.  Nations like China, India, Russia, and Turkey are joining Americans and the ex-imperial powers of Europe in establishing bases abroad from which they can project their military power to regions remote from them.  Once quiescent client states – like Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the U.A.E. – are on their own warpaths, without regard to the policies of their American patrons or once-respected principles of international law.  The new world disorder is one in which all fights are local, might commonly makes right, refugees are plentiful, and American charitable responses to human misery are newly wanting.

Meanwhile, the central institutions of transnational cooperation – like the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization – are atrophying under the impact of American disinterest, disengagement, and disinvestment.  As Washington’s abdication of its previous role in global governance has become ever more obvious, China and others have begun to create organizations to complement and parallel those Americans set up after World War II.  Thus were born the “BRICS bank,” the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and a host of special funds directed at supporting connectivity on the Eurasian landmass under China’s “Belt and Road Initiative.” 

The continuing U.S. retreat from forming, leading, or supporting multilateral structures and arrangements is taking a toll on American prestige and abetting stagnation in legacy institutions.  It invites their replacement or sidelining by groupings from which the United States is absent.  And, as we all know, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.

The so-called “liberal rule-bound international order” is not dying, as some claim.  It is evolving through a process that is not being managed or led by the United States or any other Western power.  Influence within the current international state system is proportional to the investment, effort, and input made by its members, not the past credentials or status of any single nation or grouping of nations.  Increasingly, the crucial investments, efforts, and inputs come from China, India, and other rising powers outside the North Atlantic region.

This is a break from the pattern of the last five centuries, in which various Western nations, including, latterly, the United States, ran things pretty much everywhere.  It raises the question of how much of the old order will be incorporated into the international state system of the future.  For, like all instances of entropy in human affairs, the current world disorder will, in due course, yield to organization.  Who organizes the new system and how great a role Americans have in doing so will depend in part on the quality of our vision, statecraft, and diplomatic engagement.  We can command our fate, if we put our minds, skills, money, and other resources to shaping it.

The United States has not lost our natural endowment, which remains unmatched.  We still have everything it takes to shape the world to our advantage.  We are remarkably diverse.  As Herman Melville observed, “if you kill an American, you shed the blood of the whole world.”  Our universities are widely considered the world’s best.  We have a heritage of freedom and a record of resilience and invention.  We are again the world’s greatest producer of energy.  Americans make up at most 1/24 of the world’s people but possess about 1/8 of its cropland and water supplies.  To our East and West, we are sheltered by two great oceans.  Until recently, we enjoyed untroubled relationships with our neighbors to the North and South, who saw no reason to consider turning against us.  We have been able to call on allies everywhere to add their strength to ours in pursuit of common objectives. 

But, on every level other than the promiscuous use of force, we are now underperforming.  One wag has suggested that, in some admittedly superficial ways, we have come to resemble Haiti in the 1920s.  We have a populist president surrounded by plutocrats and our country is run by the U.S. Marines.  We do not deserve the boorish epithet our president recently applied to Haiti any more than it does.  But, sadly, we are no longer a society that others seek to emulate.  We are in the midst of an American version of China's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution -- the Great Plutocratic Cultural Reaction.

The 21st century has subverted our republic and corroded our democracy.  The shock and awe of 9/11 panicked us into curtailing American liberties in the name of preserving them.  The Congress supinely surrendered to the president its constitutionally exclusive power to authorize wars of choice   Successive presidents have launched an unending series of military campaigns under the heading of the “global war on terrorism.”  They have financed – and continue to finance – these consistently unsuccessful interventions through what amount to credit rollovers.  This practice has eroded the general welfare.  The uncontrolled expansion of public debt threatens an ultimate systemic collapse of the American economy and the society it sustains. 

We look to everyone else to deal with the refugees our botched military interventions have displaced. Then we disparage those who respond for their foolish generosity.  Few Americans realize that, over the past quarter century, the United States has been responsible, directly or indirectly, for the premature deaths of some four million Muslims.  This is a major reason for the metastasis of anti-American terrorism with global reach.   Blowback from the havoc we are imposing abroad now disturbs our domestic tranquility.  This has led to the serious further impairment of due process and civil liberty in the United States and elsewhere.

We Americans now seem to be entering one of our periodic “Red Scares,” recalling the xenophobia and hysteria of the Palmer raids of 1919 - 1920 and the McCarthy era of 1947 - 1957.   As a nation, we are in a whiny, belligerent frame of mind.  We blame Russia for the way we vote.  We are working ourselves into a frenzy of machismo about China.  We blame everybody but ourselves for the mess in the Middle East, for our trade and balance of payments deficits, and for the de-industrialization of our job market. 

We are dismissive of expertise, especially that of economists, the majority of whom tell us that our problems derive from our pathetically inadequate national savings rate, our disinvestment in our human and physical infrastructure, a dysfunctional relationship between labor and management that favors outsourcing to countries with cheap labor as a reaction to competition, shortcomings in the way we retrain and find employment for workers displaced by automation, rising income inequality, irrational immigration policies, the rake-offs and misdirection of investment by a tax code designed to nurture and protect vested interests,  and gridlocked government.  It’s far easier to blame foreigners in China, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Korea, or Japan for our underachievement than to examine and change our own policies and practices.

But successful foreigners are not the ones with the savings, trade, and investment shortfalls.  We are.  Insisting that foreigners do things our way might infect them with our problems.  It will not fix those problems.  Nor will declaring China or others “adversaries,” and hence active candidates to become enemies in future wars make us safer.  “Taking names” is no substitute for cogent and persuasive argumentation on international issues on which we have become isolated.  The answer to Chinese mercantilism, protectionism, and techno-nationalism cannot be a petty-minded American obsession with bilateral trade balances, beggar-thy-neighbor economic nationalism, or xenophobic investment controls.  We Americans need to pull up our socks and show that we can compete on our own terms.  And what are those terms?

As part of preparing ourselves for the future, we must decide what elements of the so-called “liberal rule-bound international order” we consider it worth making a serious effort to restore or perpetuate.  What instruments of statecraft might enable us to make these principles and practices part of the future as well as the past?  How should we comport ourselves to accomplish this?  What must we be prepared to propose and oppose?

The most precious elements of the world we are exiting were its predictability, the sense of personal and collective safety this supported, and the openings for the realization of individual and societal potential that this afforded.   The international state system promoted comity -- respect by one country for the sovereignty, laws, judicial decisions, and institutions of others – as well as cooperation between states.  It was risk averse.   It applied a facsimile of the rule of law to its international participants.  Even those who, like the Chinese and Russians, came late to the rule-bound order American leadership had built, prospered in it and saw their opportunities for the pursuit of happiness expand.  

This was the result of an array of rules that set standards for acceptable international behavior.  In ancient times, it was said that “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”  The evolution of international law that we Americans led in the 20th century offered reassurance of protection to the weak as well as a warning to the strong.  It helped damp down arms races and limit the risk of aggression by larger states against their smaller neighbors.  As the post-Cold War era began, Iraq attempted to annex its smaller neighbor, Kuwait.  Under U.S. leadership, the international community rallied to Kuwait’s defense.  It did so as a matter of principle as well as strategic interest. 

The United States now routinely denounces others for not observing rules we ourselves no longer obey.  This is weakening constraints on the coercive behavior of states.  The precedents we have set through our use of assassination, drones, cyber warfare, overt encouragement of insurrection in other countries, and the imposition of unilateral controls on trade and investment are encouraging other states to pursue their interests without regard to the rules we once championed.  This is not in our interest, and not just because others, once they can, are likely to feel justified doing to us what we are doing to them.  We cannot be sure that we will always have the upper hand in all circumstances.  Properly understood, the golden rule is a security measure not to be lightly cast aside.

The rule of law is Euro-American civilization’s greatest contribution to world affairs.  Its value is widely appreciated outside the Atlantic region but, in a world in which other traditions and values are growing in influence, its survival is not assured.  Can societies that do not practice the rule of law at home really feel bound by it abroad?  

The notion of a rule-bound international order will surely not endure, still less prosper, if the United States and Europe are not united in supporting it.  But for Europeans and others, Guantánamo symbolizes contemporary American contempt for due process and international law.  The West will remain divided as long as  the United States persists in our unilateral suspensions of the rules governing prisoners of war, kidnapping, interrogation through torture, and detention without charge, not to mention disregard for the legality of wars of choice under both the United States constitution and international law.  American reaffirmation of the traditional values of Western civilization is both essential and urgent.  Absent appropriate engagement, other values may well displace ours.

Consider China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” in this context.  China has put forward a grand strategy to apply its economic-commercial, financial, and diplomatic power to transform all of the Eurasian landmass into a single geoeconomic zone.  This will involve trillions of dollars in investment in roads, railroads, pipelines, fiber-optic cables, ports, airports, and industrial estates from the Azores to the Bering Strait and from Archangelsk to Colombo.  It entails agreements on free trade, customs clearance, transport standards, and other harmonizations of law and regulations between sixty-five countries.  China is setting up specialized courts to apply the standards embodied in these agreements to the resolution of commercial disputes in the new, Eurasian geoeconomic zone. 

What law – what rules – will these courts apply?  We are talking about an area that embraces about two-thirds of the world’s population and already accounts for two-fifths of its GDP.  That’s enough to determine much of the future world order.  Will the United States be a participant or a bystander as this order is forged?  Will we or will we not work with Europe and others to ensure that the legacy of Atlantic civilization is consolidated in Eurasia as it reforms, opens up, and peacefully develops into a single great region?

This brings me to a delicate point:  an intelligence establishment that tells our leaders what they want to hear is worse than none at all.  It enables delusional reasoning that misdirects policy planning to deal with the very real challenges our country faces.  The American body politic has a bad habit of projecting our ambitions and fears onto others rather than seeing them as they are.  This can lead to premature and counterproductive uses of force.  Consider the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with its confident but bogus assertions about weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda, and the inadequacy of intrusive UN inspections, as well as its attribution to Iraq’s neighbors of a sense of threat from it they did not feel.  Consider the politicians who still ceaselessly rant about Iranian nuclear weapons programs while every professional intelligence agency says these do not yet exist.  “Fake news” now creates as well as repeats fake intelligence.  The world is suffering from hypocrisy fatigue.

Our bloated defense budget has ceased to be a response to any realistic challenge to the United States or its interests.  It is a jobs program in which more is always better and justifications for spending inflate to absorb the funds available.  Contrary to political rhetoric, our military is not undernourished.   But every civilian element of our government is experiencing politicization and deprofessionalization.  The deterioration in our foreign affairs capabilities stands out for its severity. 

We are in a period of transition to some sort of new world order.  We can influence what it is, or just accept what comes.  Bravado backed by whiz-bang weaponry and an empty wallet will not shape events to our advantage.  There are no military solutions to most of the challenges we face.  But we are creating conditions in which diplomatic incompetence makes it ever more likely that we will have to put our military in play.  We will have failed to explore, let alone exhaust, the diplomatic alternatives to doing so.

The “old days’ were not as wonderful as we would like to believe.  But, with the right leadership and effort on our part, the days to come need not be as bad as we now imagine.  It is up to us to provide that leadership and mount that effort. 

I believe that thinking Americans know what must be done.  Raise the national savings rate.  Boost investment in human and physical infrastructure.  Elevate educational standards and revamp vocational training.  Unclog and remarketize investment decisions by simplifying federal taxes and state and local regulations.  Reform labor-management relations to incentivize raising productivity and retraining redundant employees as an alternative to firing them and outsourcing their work to foreigners.  Study and adopt foreign best practices, including for medical insurance and services.  Sharpen our wits, ramp up our game, and strive for excellence in statecraft and diplomacy as an alternative to counterproductive efforts at military coercion of our rivals as well as our allies, partners, and friends.

Somewhere in the cold, dark of Maine in this season or elsewhere in our vast country, there is someone who sees what we need and can lead us to do it.  Americans await this leadership.  We know it is out there.  It is sorely needed.  It is what is required to make America great again.  And that is an objective we all share.

“It's time we stop.  Hey, what's that sound?
“Everybody look what's going down.”               


[1] Andorra, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Republic of, Guatemala,  Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mali, Marshall Islands. Monaco, Mongolia, Paraguay, Sao Tome and Principe, Sweden, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Vatican City.
[2]http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/papers