Why Is Western Media Not Questioning The Mysterious Death Of Australian Youth Activist Wilson Gavin?

Why Is Western Media Not Questioning The Mysterious Death Of Australian Youth Activist Wilson Gavin?

Authored by Robert Bridge via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Following a protest against a ‘drag queen story time’ at a library in Australia, Wilson Gavin, 21, the president of the University of Queensland Liberal National Club, was found dead the next morning at a train station.

Local media, while going out its way to portray Gavin and his fellow protesters as hell-raisers, has yet to ask any serious questions with regards to the young man’s alleged suicide – at a time when he was reportedly house-sitting for a Liberal National Party Senator.

If ever there was a story that epitomizes exactly how low Western media has sunk, the story involving the events leading up to the tragic death of Wilson Gavin would have to rank very high.

On Sunday, Gavin and about fifteen members of the University of Queensland’s Liberal National Club (UQLNC) walked into the Brisbane Square Library where a ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ event for children was in full swing. Gavin went face-to-face with the star of the show, drag queen Johnny Valkyrie, aka Queenie, as the group began to chant “drag queens are not for kids.” No violence, no broken chairs, just a group of university students expressing their displeasure with a controversial event that is sponsored by the local government, i.e. the taxpayers.

What happened next was as predictable as winter in Russia. Social media lit up with thousands of people providing their personal commentary on the incident. An extra big log was tossed on the fire as the popular Australian band, The Veronicas, shared footage of the incident on Instagram, with the smug remark, ‘bigotry is alive in Brisbane today.’

The New Zealand Herald described the social media backlash that ensued against Wilson Gavin by quoting a friend, who wished to remain anonymous (“out of fear of becoming a target” too, the paper explained): “Gavin was relentlessly trolled with vile insults and taunts, and … received some messages with an encouragement that he die.”

“Some members of his family, classmates and friends were tracked down and contacted, while his school, The University of Queensland, was publicly encouraged to kick him out.”

The between-the-line message here seems to be, ‘see what happens to people who protest too much?’

As the media went to great lengths to demonstrate the public wrath Gavin had incurred for daring to speak his mind at a library event (The Herald exhausted the bulk of its article discussing the “dangers of mob rule” on social media and “public shaming”), it failed to show the tremendous outpouring of support that he and his fellow students had received. The comments on social media were divided into two camps, which is normally the case involving any controversial subject. After all, millions of people are vigorously opposed to the idea of drag queens reading stories to children at public libraries, or at any other venue for that matter. Yet the media seriously downplayed that side of the debate, pushing the idea that “public shaming” led to Gavin’s decision to end his life. More on that later.

Another particularly inexplicable aspect about the media coverage is that every single publication sympathized with the drag queens and their ‘storytelling’ to very young children, as if nothing could be more natural. What books were the queens reading from? We are never told, but somehow I doubt it was Jack and Jill, unless one or both of them had undergone a sex-change operation along the way. But I digress.

The main message the media strove to deliver was that the young protesters were mean brutes, intimidating the performers and frightening staff and children, as if the sight of well-dressed college students chanting a slogan was the worst possible thing that could happen to them. Meanwhile, there was zero discussion about the possible psychological effects a child may experience when confronted with drag queens, as well as their personal choice of fine literature. No discussion as to why there needs to be a Drag Queen Story Time for children – paid for out of the public purse – in the first place. No comments provided by respectable psychologists about the possible mental side effects these children could face down the road. Instead, the media pushed the ridiculous narrative that the families suffered the very worst ordeal.

ABC Australia, for example, interviewed Jenny Griffin, a mother of two children, ages 6 and 8, who commented, “I was worried, I was concerned for my kids’ safety,” she said. “This was their first introduction to this more violent homophobia.”

Valkyrie, aka Queenie, said, “There were children crying, families distressed and of course, [fellow drag queen] Diamond (whose full stage name is ‘Diamond Good-rim,’ a clear allusion to a sexual act that should be considered inappropriate for children) and I were victim to vilification, harassment and nuisance.”

After several minutes of publicly expressing their criticism, the Queensland students peacefully exited the building, escorted by a single security guard.

End of story? Unfortunately not.

Early the next morning, Wilson Gavin was found dead at a train station as the result of “critical injuries.” Within a matter of hours the media was calling his death a suicide. Before continuing, a few necessary words about Mr. Gavin.

Wilson Gavin, as president of the LNC at his university, courted controversy on numerous occasions in the course of his short life. At the age of 19, Gavin, and despite being homosexual, voiced his opposition to gay marriages by organizing a ‘You Can Say No’ rally and making several appearances on national television.

On another occasion, Gavin brilliantly defended the British monarchy on an episode of “Outsiders,” a political talk show.

“I’m a lover of all things traditional. I’m a lover of all things beautiful,” he said on the show.

“And there’s nothing more traditional in this country than the monarchy.”

Judging by Gavin’s extremely confident demeanor in those past interviews, and at the library protest, he did not come across as a person who could be easily upset by hurtful remarks over social media. Indeed, just the opposite. He seemed to relish the opportunity to prove his detractors wrong. In short, he was a young intelligent man with a successful future ahead of him, and that fact may have unsettled his enemies. Although it is impossible to know what is going on inside of any person’s head, the fact that Gavin’s alleged suicide has shocked so many people is telling.

According to the Star Observer (“Setting Australia’s LGBTI agenda since 1979,” it declares in its masthead), “Gavin was found dead at Chelmer Railway Station this morning at 7:07am. Ambulance officers who attended say he died from critical injuries, but have provided no further details.”

On Thursday, The Guardian provided one short sentence regarding police accounts of the death: “Police did not treat his death as suspicious.”

In place of hard-hitting questions, the article provided the number for a suicide hotline as if the case was already closed. While a nice gesture that is not the sort of information the public needs from the media. Journalists need to be asking how a young man met his early demise at a train station in the wee hours of the morning following a protest that triggered a lot of controversy on social media. The public deserves to know more about the circumstances of the alleged suicide considering the context of events prior to that tragic moment Why is the possibility of foul play not mentioned – not even within the context to deny it, as if this were some sort of impossibility – as a matter of protocol in such a case?

One more note. As mentioned earlier, on the weekend of his death, Gavin had been minding the home of a politician, who has been identified as federal Liberal National Party Senator Paul Scarr, the Daily Mail Australia reported. Yet Liberal National politicians have said they have been disaffiliated from the UQLNC that Gavin headed since last month. Now, considering how media rarely shies away from sensational stories, the fact that it is not following up on this bit of information is, at the very least, strange.

Since the death of Wilson Gavin and the protest he organized, two petitions have been started on Brisbane City Council’s website to ban the Drag Queen Story Time events.


Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/18/2020 – 23:30

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False Flag? Fmr CIA Officer Suggests US Hacked Ukrainian Plane Transponder To Provoke Iran Shootdown

False Flag? Fmr CIA Officer Suggests US Hacked Ukrainian Plane Transponder To Provoke Iran Shootdown

Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the CIA, penned a piece in the American Herald Tribune speculating that the U.S. launched several cyber-attacks, one on an Iranian missile defense system, and another on the transponder of the doomed Ukrainian plane.

Giraldi explains the Iranian missile operator experienced extreme “jamming” and Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752’s transponder was switched off several minutes before the two Russian made Tor missiles were launched. 

“The shutdown of the transponder, which would have automatically signaled to the operator and Tor electronics that the plane was civilian, instead automatically indicated that it was hostile. The operator, having been particularly briefed on the possibility of incoming American cruise missiles, then fired,” he said.

Giraldi said the Tor missile system used by Iran is vulnerable to being hacked or “spoofed,” and at the same moment, Flight 752’s transponder was taken offline “to create an aviation accident that would be attributed to the Iranian government.”

The Pentagon has reportedly developed technologies that can trick enemy radars with false and deceptively moving targets, he said. 

“The same technology can, of course, be used to alter or even mask the transponder on a civilian airliner in such a fashion as to send false information about identity and location. The United States has the cyber and electronic warfare capability to both jam and alter signals relating to both airliner transponders and to the Iranian air defenses. Israel presumably has the same ability,” Giraldi said.

Iran made the claim Wednesday that “enemy sabotage” cannot be ruled out in the downing of the plane. 

Iranian Brigadier General Ali Abdollahi suggested the U.S. hacked missile defense systems to make it appear Flight 752 was an incoming missile. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also accused the U.S. of being responsible for the downing of the plane, saying that:

“The root of all sorrows goes back to America… this cannot be a reason for us not to look into all the root causes.”

He added that:

“One cannot believe that a passenger plane is struck near an international airport while flying in a [commercial] flight channel,” after previously saying that IRGC commanders were not the only ones involved in the plane downing, noting that “There were others, too.”

The Iranian parliament also stated that “we are in powerful confrontation with the criminal U.S. and do not allow a mistake… to pave the ground for misusing the issue by the enemies.”

Giraldi concludes by saying electronic warfare by the U.S. to bring down a civilian jet and blame it on Iran “suggests a premeditated and carefully planned event” to create a false flag for the next world war. 


Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/18/2020 – 23:00

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How The US Wages War To Prop Up The Dollar

How The US Wages War To Prop Up The Dollar

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

At Counterpunch, Michael Hudson has penned an important article that outlines the important connections between US foreign policy, oil, and the US dollar.

In short, US foreign policy is geared very much toward controlling oil resources as part of a larger strategy to prop up the US dollar. Hudson writes:

The assassination was intended to escalate America’s presence in Iraq to keep control of the region’s oil reserves, and to back Saudi Arabia’s Wahabi troops (Isis, Al Quaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America’s foreign legion) to support U.S. control of Near Eastern oil as a buttress of the U.S. dollar. That remains the key to understanding this policy, and why it is in the process of escalating, not dying down.

The actual context for the neocon’s action was the balance of payments, and the role of oil and energy as a long-term lever of American diplomacy.

Basically, the US’s propensity for driving up massive budget deficits has created a need for immense amounts of deficit spending. This can be handled through selling lots of government debt, or through monetizing the debt. But what if there isn’t enough global demand for US debt? That would mean the US would have to pay more interest on its debt. Or, the US could monetize the debt through the central bank. But that might cause the value of the dollar to crash. So, the US regime realized that it must find ways to prevent the glut of dollars and debt from actually destroying the value of the dollar. Fortunately for the regime, this can be partly managed, it turns out, through foreign policy. Hudson continues:

The solution [to the problem of maintaining the demand for dollars] turned out to be to replace gold with U.S. Treasury securities (IOUs) as the basis of foreign central bank reserves. After 1971, foreign central banks had little option for what to do with their continuing dollar inflows except to recycle them to the U.S. economy by buying U.S. Treasury securities. The effect of U.S. foreign military spending thus did not undercut the dollar’s exchange rate, and did not even force the Treasury and Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to attract foreign exchange to offset the dollar outflows on military account. In fact, U.S. foreign military spending helped finance the domestic U.S. federal budget deficit.

An important piece of this strategy has been a continued alliance with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia maintains the world’s largest capacity for oil production, and it was the largest single producer of crude for most of the period from the mid-1970s to 2018, when the US surpassed both Saudi Arabia and Russia.

But Saudi Arabia remains under the US thumb:

what Saudi Arabia does not save in dollarized assets with its oil-export earnings is spent on buying hundreds of billion of dollars of U.S. arms exports. This locks them into dependence on U.S. supply [of] replacement parts and repairs, and enables the United States to turn off Saudi military hardware at any point of time, in the event that the Saudis may try to act independently of U.S. foreign policy.

So maintaining the dollar as the world’s reserve currency became a mainstay of U.S. military spending. Foreign countries do not have to pay the Pentagon directly for this spending. They simply finance the U.S. Treasury and U.S. banking system.

However, any move away from this status quo tends to be met with paranoia and intervention from the US:

Fear of this development was a major reason why the United States moved against Libya, whose foreign reserves were held in gold, not dollars, and which was urging other African countries to follow suit in order to free themselves from “Dollar Diplomacy.” Hillary and Obama invaded, grabbed their gold supplies (we still have no idea who ended up with these billions of dollars’ worth of gold) and destroyed Libya’s government, its public education system, its public infrastructure …

But the role of oil-producing states goes beyond merely churning dollars and US debt to keep the dollar afloat. These countries also provide the foot soldiers for many US interventions in terms of terrorists and guerrilla fighters who can be used against US enemies. Hudson declares:

The Vietnam War showed that modern democracies cannot field armies for any major military conflict, because this would require a draft of its citizens. That would lead any government attempting such a draft to be voted out of power. And without troops, it is not possible to invade a country to take it over.

The corollary of this perception is that democracies have only two choices when it comes to military strategy: They can only wage airpower, bombing opponents; or they can create a foreign legion, that is, hire mercenaries or back foreign governments that provide this military service.

That is, the US regime can certainly get away with lots of bombing operations and other low-manpower operations. But anything that might require conscription is a political nonstarter. Hudson notes that Saudi Arabia, with its particularly rabid and extreme strain of Islam is quite useful:

Here once again Saudi Arabia plays a critical role, through its control of Wahabi Sunnis turned into terrorist jihadis willing to sabotage, bomb, assassinate, blow up and otherwise fight any target designated as an enemy of “Islam,” the euphemism for Saudi Arabia acting as U.S. client state. (Religion really is not the key; I know of no ISIS or similar Wahabi attack on Israeli targets.) The United States needs the Saudis to supply or finance Wahabi crazies. So in addition to playing a key role in the U.S. balance of payments by recycling its oil-export earnings into U.S. stocks, bonds and other investments, Saudi Arabia provides manpower by supporting the Wahabi members of America’s foreign legion, ISIS and Al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda. Terrorism has become the “democratic” mode of today’s U.S. military policy.

Hudson also notes that the term “democracy,” when used in the context of foreign policy, has very little to do with what a normal person would regard as democracy. Rather,

From the U.S. vantage point, what is a “democracy”? In today’s Orwellian vocabulary, it means any country supporting U.S. foreign policy. … The antonym to “democracy” is “terrorist.” That simply means a nation willing to fight to become independent from U.S. neoliberal democracy.

And this leads us to Iran. Hudson explains:

America’s hatred of Iran starts with its attempt to control its own oil production, exports and earnings. It goes back to 1953, when Mossadegh was overthrown because he wanted domestic sovereignty over Anglo-Persian oil. The CIA-MI6 coup replaced him with the pliant Shah, who imposed a police state to prevent Iranian independence from U.S. policy. The only physical places free from the police were the mosques. That made the Islamic Republic the path of least resistance to overthrowing the Shah and re-asserting Iranian sovereignty.

Thus, we got the Islamic revolution of 1979 which has led to forty years of Iran refusing to play ball in the US dollar maintenance regime that is demanded of other oil-producing nations in the Middle East.

The US is unlikely to let up on this effort so long as Iran continues to refuse to take orders from DC on these matters. It’s true that the US can’t do much about China and Russia. But Iran — unlike North Korea, which wisely secured nuclear arms for itself — remains an easy target because of its lack of nuclear capability.

Being a leftist, Hudson includes some unfortunate stuff about “neoliberalism,” as if low taxes and freedom to trade were somehow driving global war. Hudson also concocts a theory about how this oil-dollar policy is driving global warming. That’s a bit of a stretch, but the connection between foreign policy and the US dollar that he identifies is a key factor that tends to be almost universally ignored by the mainstream media. As China and Russia work ever harder to undermine the dollar and its geopolitical position, small countries like Iran will become even more important in the US’s drive to maintain the dollar’s status quo. But it remains to be seen how long the US can keep it going.


Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/18/2020 – 22:30

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F-18 Fighters To Drop Live Bombs On Florida Swamp This Weekend

F-18 Fighters To Drop Live Bombs On Florida Swamp This Weekend

According to a statement published by the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, the US Navy is preparing to conduct live bombing raids with fighter jets at a training facility in the middle of Florida this weekend. 

The Navy will fly McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Saturday through Sunday, dropping live and inert bombs at Pinecastle Range Complex in the Ocala National Forest.

Residents in surrounding communities will hear explosions and loud noises, especially fighter jets traveling at subsonic speeds. 

Here’s a 2012 video of an F-18 jet “5 miles” from the Pinecastle Range completing a tactical turn. 

A 2011 video records the moment when bombs were dropped on the range. 

Local news station provides more information about Pinecatle Range. 

Residents from Volusia, Lake and Marion counties will hear fighter jets and bombs throughout the weekend. Residents as far as Seminole and northern Orange County could also hear explosions. 

“During bombing periods, wildlife may be temporarily displaced. Use extra caution when driving through the Ocala National Forest and surrounding areas,” the Navy said. “Secure any items around your residence that could attract wildlife. Always be mindful of larger animals, including black bears, and practice bearwise measures.”

With the threat of war elevated in 2020 – the Navy is actively preparing its pilots for combat by bombing the hell out swamps in the middle of Florida. 


Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/18/2020 – 22:05

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Over-Hyped Russian Hypersonics?

Over-Hyped Russian Hypersonics?

Authored by Michael Brenner via ConsortiumNews.com,

Deployment of Russia’s hyper-sonic missiles is causing heartburn in the West. Media headline the news as a dramatic breakthrough on a par with the first Sputnik. “Experts” are rushed into play like those self-styled pundits pronouncing when the initial exit polls appear on Election Day. Pentagon officials assure us that the United States is at the top of the nuclear game and able to respond to (if not exactly match) anything that the Russians can put out there.

Ninety eight percent of all this instant reaction is “fog-horning.” It simply signals that something big and important is out there even though we don’t have a clear picture of its actual shape or dimensions — or its significance. That’s normal. What counts is moving swiftly to the “searchlight” stage of close observation and hard thinking.

Whether analysts, official or otherwise, get there is problematic. We’re out of practice when it comes to serious strategic appraisal. After all, we’ve been flailing about in Afghanistan for almost two decades with no realistic aim or evaluation of the chances of achieving it by whatever means at whatever cost. The disorientation on Syria is even greater. There, we haven’t as much as figured out who are the “bad guys” and who are the “good guys” — except for ISIS.

If you can’t differentiate friend from foe for want of rigorous strategic analysis, your actions are predictably erratic — little more than the expression of mental fibrillations. The same can be said for the rest of the Missile East.

The Washington consensus is sure about one thing: Russia is a mortal enemy. We sanction the Russians, we denounce the Russia, we coerce our European partners into ostracizing them, we conjure frightful images of Vladimir Putin while ignoring just about everything he says (as if they were Hitlerian rants). Still, no one seems able to provide a crisp formulation of what the Russian threat is — other than getting in our way in places where we demand to have full sway: Syria, Libya, Iran, Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia.

Of course, we also accuse them of working relentlessly to undermine American democracy. Yet, that remains debatable as does everything that bears the dubious label of “Washington consensus.” Anyway, whatever minuscule role the Kremlin might have in the accelerated unravelling of the American Republic, it barely registers amidst the hammer blows struck by the craziness of President Donald Trump, his enablers and a largely compromised, abject resistance.

Cold War Dread

Understandably, it is not that easy to overlook nuclear weapons. It wasn’t that long ago that many of us were tormented by the dread of a prospective Armageddon, when the Cold War carried manifest dangers, when the air was thick with hostility and menace.

In October 1962, Americans were terrified over Soviet missiles in Cuba, as this newspaper map showing distances between Cuba and major North American cities demonstrates.

Those acute fears gradually faded over the 40 years of the nuclearized Cold War. We came to live with the Bomb — if not to love it. Subsequently, concerns shifted to the risks associated with nuclear weapons proliferation among less stable states in more fraught places.

The reasons for this sedating were three-fold.

  • Above all was the “balance of terror.’’ Leaders among the major nuclear powers absorbed the fundamental truth that not only was the notion of “winning” a nuclear war an oxymoron — but also that any use of nuclear weapons inexorably would escalate into acts of collective suicide. The survivors would envy the dead — as Nikita Khrushchev one said. That conviction became formalized in the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction.

  • Second, it was reified by a number of treaties and understandings: START I,II (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), the Anti-BallisticMissile Treaty (ABMT), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, introduction of the Hot Line between the White House and the Kremlin, and the several arms reduction accords signed when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Moscow. Their collective purpose was to ensure that no conceivable advantage might be gained that would jeopardize — however slightly — the balance of nuclear power, i.e. the assurance that any resort to nuclear weapons was tantamount to the death of civilization.

  • Finally, a number of technological developments reinforced Mutual  Assured Destruction: the deployment of submarine launched ballistic missiles — SLBM (immune to location and possible destruction in a “first strike” — thereby, guaranteeing a retaliatory capability); improved controls that reduced the chances of an “accidental” or miscalculated launch; and the moratorium in placing ballistic missile defenses around major population centers that could have the effect of removing their “hostage” status.

The last has turned out to be a largely redundant measure since the strenuous efforts of the Pentagon/NASA as well as their Soviet/Russian counterparts to devise a workable BMD all have come up well short of producing anything meaningful.

U.S. President Gerald Ford and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev sign joint communiqué to limit strategic offensive arms, 1974. (Wikimedia)

Unfortunately, two policy developments have awakened the nuclear issue from its somnambulant state. One is Washington’s abandonment of arms control treaties that were important parts of the nuclear stability package. George Bush removed us from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty(while observing its provisions), and effectively voided restrictions on ballistic missile defense in the vain hope of countering remote threats from prospective nuclear powers (Iran), bolstering the sense of security of some East Europeans (a non-solution to a non-problem)and – frankly – to get under the Russians’ skin. Barack Obama had neither the conviction nor political courage to reverse those retrograde moves.

Under Donald Trump, there has been a comprehensive plan to break free of all manner of restrictive commitments — military, diplomatic or economic. Deployment of regional BMD systems directed at Russian, Chinese and North Korean forces has been expanded despite their demonstrated efficiencies (one version could not even protect Saudi oil complexes or U.S. air bases in Iraq from primitive Iranian missiles).

Modernization of Nuclear Arsenals

The other troubling development concerns the modernization of nuclear arsenals by both the United States and Russia. President Barack Obama committed us to a trillion-dollar program to refine and upgrade American warheads and delivery systems over the next 20 years. The strategic rationale is obscure.

The Russian hypersonic missile development is a parallel development. In a purely technical sense, they obviously are “ahead” of us. And that irritates the hell out of the American security establishment.

Does being “ahead” have any practical meaning, however? Is there a genuine contest for advantage that translates into their gaining an upper hand in some sense or other? The clear answer is “NO!” It is strategically meaningless. Why? Because it in no way alters the logic of Mutual Assured Destruction.

Theoretically, there are only two imaginable ways to do that. The most significant would be development/deployment of a massive, truly effective BMD system that shields population centers and other critical, high value sites from retaliatory attack. That has shown itself to be impossible – even if the initiator of an attack succeeded in reducing the other side’s retaliatory forces by some significant fraction.

A totally disarming first strike in principle could be the second method logically to qualify MAD. It cannot be done, though.Fortunately. The combination of SLBMs, cruise missiles, and increased warhead lethality makes the idea of a disarming first strike a pipe dream of military strategists disengaged from reality.  Hypersonic weapons do not change that calculus.

Accuracies of MIRVed warheads were lowered to 100 feet many years ago.(CEP, or Circular Error Probability = 50 percent chance of landing within radius.) Reducing that to 20 feet, therefore, is pointless – the silo is destroyed either way unless its missile has been “launched on warning” (tripwire automaticity as ultimate assurance of retaliatory strike). Similarly for missile defense.

Then, there is the question of an incoming missile’s speed. Current ICBMs that may give 18 minutes warning do not permit any defensive measures to be taken. If they arrive on target within six minutes, there is no additional benefit to the attacker. Today’s missiles that follow a straight trajectory cannot be intercepted — with or without their distracting decoys.

The fact that “swerve” capable hypersonic missiles can mambo their way to the target adds nothing to their effectiveness. Anyone who tells you that the Russians gain a strategic advantage thereby is lying — either in order to extract larger sums for R & D from the Treasury or to accentuate irrational fears of Russia.

President Vladimir Put visiting an exhibit of advanced weapons before meeting with Russia’s Defence Ministry Board, December 2019. (The Kremlin)

Finally, no reasonably sane leader would risk national suicide for a 1 percent chance of getting away with a first strike and surviving retaliation. There is no stake worth even contemplating it. Indeed, that logic holds even were there an impossible 50 percent chance of pulling it off.

Today, the United States and Russia are not engaged in a life-or-death struggle for world domination or for ideological vindication. Ascribing anything like that notion to Vladimir Putin is simply a sign of mental derangement – ours, not his. The same holds for the super-power competition between the United States and China.

So, if this line of reasoning is compelling, why did Russia’s leaders bother with investment of great sums to produce hyper-sonic missiles? The answer is a matter of speculation. Doubtless, technological and bureaucratic momentum has much to do with it. These sorts of long-term programs take on a life of their own — just as they do in Washington. The is no more reason for the United States to squander a trillion dollars in refining our nuclear arsenal as two successive administrations have committed us to doing.

In Russia’s case, there likely is another factor at work. Historically, Moscow leaders have exaggerated American technical capabilities; they have something of an inferiority complex on this score despite their own remarkable accomplishments. It is particularly acute in the nuclear realm — most especially in regard to ballistic missile defense.

This goes back to Nixon’s proposed Safeguard system, followed two decades later by Reagan’s Star War’s plans. Neither of which in actuality had the potential to alter the strategic balance. This free-floating strategic anxiety should be placed in historical perspective. There is a touch of paranoia in the Russian strategic mind — engraved by the events of the 20th century.

Some of this sentiment is conveyed by Putin’s remarks in announcing the deployment of hypersonic missiles: “We’re used to being in the position of catching up. That no longer is the case. Russia is the   only country that has hypersonic weapons.”

To some unknowable degree these neuralgic points in the Russian psyche have been stimulated by the aggressive American program to surround Russia with BMD systems. “Might it just be conceivable that the United States could perfect them, make it work, and somehow jeopardize the credibility of our nuclear deterrent? Why are they expending so much money and effort? Why do those BMD sites make Poland and the Baltics feel more secure when they are in fact militarily useless and it makes no sense for us to attack them?”

Informed analysis suggests that the answer is negative to all these questions. The alternative explanation: U.S. leaders are inclined to do feckless things; they are strategically obtuse.

The broader lesson is that there is truth to the old adage: “Russia never is as strong as it seems; Russia is never as weak as it seems.” We wrote it off as a world power in the 1990s and never since made the proper adjustment. That perception may have contributed to the glaring failure of the United States’ intelligence community in missing Russia’s remarkable break-throughs in weaponry. 

It’s intelligence that counts more than Intelligence.


Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/18/2020 – 21:40

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The Quiet Crisis: Deaths Caused By Alcoholism Have More Than Doubled

The Quiet Crisis: Deaths Caused By Alcoholism Have More Than Doubled

Opioid overdoses may have leveled off last year after soaring over the last ten, but Americans are still dying in droves from another, far more popular substance: alcohol.

According to a series of studies cited by MarketWatch, the number of Americans drinking themselves to death has more than doubled over the last two decades, according to a sobering new report. That far outpaces the rate of population growth during the same period.

Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism studied the cause of death for Americans aged 16 and up between 1999 and 2017. They determined that while 35,914 deaths were tied to alcohol in 1999, it doubled to 72,558 in 2017. The rate of deaths per 100,000 soared by 50.9% from 16.9 to 25.5.

Over that 20-year period, the study determined that alcohol was involved in more than 1 million deaths. Half of these deaths resulted from liver disease, or a person drinking themselves to death, or a drug overdose that involved alcohol.

For more context: In 2017 alone, 2.6% of roughly 2.8 million deaths in the US were alcohol-related.

One doesn’t need to be a chronic alcoholic to suffer from alcohol: Nine states – Maine, Indiana, Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia –  saw a “significant” increase in adults who binge drink, a dangerous activity that can lead to deadly car crashes and other fatal accidents, according to a report released Thursday by the CDC.

And across the country, Americans who binge drink are consuming more drinks per person: That number spiked from 472 in 2011 to 529 in 2017, a 12% increase.

Historically, men have been more predisposed to “deaths of despair” than women: But a study published in “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research” found that the largest increase in recent years in these types of deaths occurred among non-hispanic white women.

Public health crises tied to substance abuse have been plaguing American for decades. So, what is it about our contemporary society that’s causing deaths to skyrocket?

There’s some food for thought.


Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/18/2020 – 21:15

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It Was Rod: DOJ Court Filing Reveals Rosenstein Behind Strzok-Page Text Dumps

It Was Rod: DOJ Court Filing Reveals Rosenstein Behind Strzok-Page Text Dumps

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized the release to the media of text messages between ‘FBI lovebirds’ Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, many of which revealed deep animus towards then-candidate Donald Trump while they were investigating him during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Politico.

In a Friday night court filing submitted shortly before midnight, Rosenstein says he made the decision to protect Strzok and Page from the damaging effects of lawmakers and others releasing the texts for use as political ammunition.

In the messages, Strzok and Page regularly disparaged Trump and appeared to seek to reassure each other he could not be elected. Both called Trump an “idiot” and said Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton deserved to win.

The texts also included murky discussions of an “insurance policy” to guard against Trump’s election. Trump backers have interpreted the reference as a plan to use the then-ongoing investigation into ties between Trump advisers and Russia as way to prevent him from taking office or undermine his presidency, but Strzok and Page have denied any such intent. –Politico

Lisa Page – who sued the DOJ and FBI in December over the release, appears to be pissed.

Strzok has separately sued the agencies as well – for which Rosenstein’s admission was submitted as part of the government’s defense. The former DAG says that public disclosure of the texts was inevitable in connection with testimony he was set to give the next day in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

“With the express understanding that it would not violate the Privacy Act and that the text messages would become public by the next day in any event, I authorized [Justice’s Office of Public Affairs] to disclose to the news media the text messages that were being disclosed to Congressional committees,” wrote Rosenstein.

In November, the Justice Department asked U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson to throw out Strzok’s suit, which challenges both his firing from the FBI and the release of the texts. However, Strzok’s attorneys countered in a court filing last month that one reason to allow the suit to proceed was that Justice Department was being vague about just who made the final call to give the messages.

Arguing that an air of mystery continued to surround the disclosure, Strzok lawyer Aitan Goelman called “revealing” Justice’s decision to seek dismissal of the suit without identifying the responsible official.

“An agency cannot avoid Privacy Act liability for a disclosure actually made for an improper purpose by eliciting a sanitized after-the-fact rationale from an official who does not have all of the facts,” Goelman wrote. –Politico

According to Rosenstein, his aides originally suggested that he should delay sending the texts to Congress until after his testimony in front of the House, however he thought it would be “inappropriate” to do so for that reason. He also said he decided to give them to the media prior to his testimony over concerns that they would be cherrypicked and weaponized.

“The Department’s Office of Public Affairs … recommended providing the text messages to the media because otherwise, some congressional members and staff were expected to release them intermittently before, during and after the hearing, exacerbating the adverse publicity for Mr. Strzok, Ms. Page and the Department,” wrote Rosenstein. “Providing the most egregious messages in one package would avoid the additional harm of prolonged selective disclosures and minimize the appearance of the Department concealing information that was embarrassing to the FBI.”

See the filing below:


Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/18/2020 – 20:50

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“Hard” Of Hearing: PornHub Being Sued By Deaf Man For Lack Of Closed Captioning

“Hard” Of Hearing: PornHub Being Sued By Deaf Man For Lack Of Closed Captioning

Visuals are sometimes difficult to enjoy without context.

At least, that’s the argument being made by Yaroslav Suris, who is suing the popular online porn site claiming that its lack of closed captioning for the deaf and hearing-impaired is discriminatory. 

Suris is claiming that the website violates his rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act, according to TMZ, who first broke the story. 

He claims that the deaf and hearing impaired can’t understand the audio tracks of videos on the website and claims that some of his favorite titles – with names like “Hot Step Aunt Babysits Disobedient Nephew,” “Sexy Cop Gets Witness to Talk” and “Daddy 4K — Allison comes to Talk About Money to Her Boys’ Naughty Father” – are difficult to follow.

This is a man who obviously appreciates artistic integrity of the actors and actresses…

He also says that he would pay for a Premium subscription to PornHub, but that it is pointless to shell out the money for it without closed captioning. Because we all know there isn’t enough free porn out there – and there definitely isn’t enough free porn with closed captioning. 

He is suing PornHub not only to request closed captioning, but also for damages.

PornHub, on the other hand (no pun intended), actually does have some closed captions.

PornHub’s VP, Corey Price responded by saying: 

“We understand that Yaroslav Suris is suing Pornhub for claiming we’ve denied the deaf and hearing impaired access to our videos. While we do not generally comment on active lawsuits, we’d like to take this opportunity to point out that we do have a closed captions category.”

We hope Yarslav doesn’t spend too much of his spare time on the site, however. He could wind up deaf and blind. 


Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/18/2020 – 20:25

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2NFwIq0 Tyler Durden

Why Laws Against Hate Speech Are Dangerous

Why Laws Against Hate Speech Are Dangerous

Authored by Fjordman via The Gatestone Institute,

In November 2019, Germans celebrated the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany 30 years earlier. That same month, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a speech to the German federal parliament (Bundestag), advocated more restrictions on free speech for all Germans. She warned that free speech has limits:

“Those limits begin where hatred is spread. They begin where the dignity of other people is violated. This house will and must oppose extreme speech. Otherwise, our society will no longer be the free society that it was.”

Merkel received great applause.

Critics, however, would claim that curtailing freedom in order to protect freedom sounds a bit Orwellian. One of the first acts of any tyrant or repressive regime is usually to abolish freedom of speech. Merkel should know this: she lived under a repressive regime — in the communist dictatorship of East Germany, where she studied at Karl Marx University.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects freedom of speech, specifically speech critical of the government, and prohibits the state from limiting free speech. The First Amendment was placed first in the Bill of Rights because the American Founding Fathers realized that freedom of speech is fundamental to a free society. US President George Washington said:

“For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences… reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”

Without freedom of speech, you cannot truly be free. Freedom of speech exists precisely to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

What exactly is “hate speech,” and who gets to define it? Those who love justice usually also hate injustice. But what is justice? Social justice? Economic justice? Ecological justice? Religious fundamentalist justice? Climate justice?

Hate may be a negative emotion, but you cannot ban emotions. Envy and jealousy are also widely considered negative feelings. Yet we do not ban them. Envy of people who are wealthier than you is arguably a component of Socialist and Marxist political parties everywhere.

The concept of a “hate crime” is also flawed. If you rob, assault or murder people, that is equally injurious regardless of the motivation of the assailant or of who the victim is. We should not have different penalties depending upon whether the victim is a gay black man, a straight white man, a Muslim woman or a Christian nun, or we will end up with a kind of a legal caste system.

Although the legal system should not be based on feelings or emotions, we see an increasing tendency toward this subjectivity. There is a tendency to censor certain viewpoints because they might “offend” others. The problem is, it is not the inoffensive things that need protecting; it is only the offensive things that do. When, in the US, the National Socialist Party of America wanted to march though Skokie, Illinois, home to many Holocaust survivors, the Supreme Court decided that the Nazis’ right of free speech overrode suppressing the marchers. According to the Bill of Rights Institute:

“In these cases, National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie (1977), and Brandenburg v. Ohio (1968), the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects individuals’ rights to express their views, even if those views are considered extremely offensive by most people…

“American writer Noam Chomsky said ‘If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.’ Individuals who express unpopular opinions are protected by the First Amendment. The First Amendment prevents majorities from silencing views with which they do not agree—even views that the majority of people find offensive to their very core. “

Possibly many things people say will be considered offensive to somebody, somewhere. In 1600, Giordano Bruno was burned alive at the stake as a heretic for saying that the universe has no center, and stars are suns, surrounded by planets and moons. The findings of Charles Darwin were challenged by the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925, when a high-school teacher in Tennessee, John T. Scopes, was charged with violating state law by teaching the theory of human evolution.

Just a few years ago, it was uncontroversial to state that there are only two biological sexes. After all, this is a fact that would seem pretty straightforward. Yet recently, even this simple statement has become explosive. When the tennis champion Martina Navratilova questioned the fairness of having transgender men compete in sports again women, but was eventually driven to “apologize.”

In the UK, a physician, David Mackereth, recently lost his government job as a medical assessor after more than three decades for refusing to renounce his view that gender is determined at birth.

People who claim to combat “hate” often seem to be quite full of hate themselves. Some Americans claim that US President Donald J. Trump is a racist, yet themselves express open hatred toward Trump, and those who vote for him. They do not object to hating. They just seem to believe that their hate is the only legitimate one.

In 2013, the American scholar Robert Spencer was banned by British authorities from entering the UK. Spencer the author of many books about Islam and runs the website Jihad Watch.

The Koran sura 9:5 has verse stating:

“When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful.”

The exact translation of this verse can be debated, but the Arabic verb qatala generally means to kill, slay or murder somebody. How come it is all right to publish the original source, prescribing murder, but that it is “hate speech” to point out that quote?

Robert Spencer and others have observed, for instance, that verse 9:5 and other intolerant verses in the Koran have been quoted repeatedly by militant Muslims to justify jihad attacks and violence (for instance herehere and here). Although other religious books also contain violence, as the scholar Bruce Bawer points out:

“Sometimes, when one points out these rules, people will respond: ‘Well, the Bible says such-and-such.’ The point is not that these things are written in Islamic scripture, but that people still live by them.”

Muslims in Britain and other Western nations are free to spread teachings that are hateful towards non-Muslims. Yet because non-Muslims such as Robert Spencer pointed out that some teachings are hateful and have inspired actual atrocities, UK authorities banned Spencer for spreading “hate.”

One sees, then, that restrictions against “hate speech” often do not really ban hate speech; instead they may actually be protecting certain forms of hate speech against legitimate inquiry.

Laws against “hate speech” and “racism” always lead to political censorship, because the definition of what constitutes “hate” is always influenced by politics and ideology. Laws against hate speech or racism should therefore be removed. No person has the right “not to be offended.” Freedom of speech means saying and hearing things with which you may disagree. What remains important is to be able to say and hear them.


Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/18/2020 – 20:00

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Haftar Blocks All Libyan Oil Exports Day Before Berlin Peace Conference

Haftar Blocks All Libyan Oil Exports Day Before Berlin Peace Conference

Given Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar has over the past two years captured the majority of the oil and gas rich country’s energy producing regions, he’s now playing his biggest card yet to leverage international peace talks in his favor amid a final push for his Libyan National Army (LNA) forces to take Tripoli. 

Bloomberg reports Saturday that the Benghazi-based ‘rebel’ general has now “blocked oil exports at ports under his control, slashing output by more than half and posing a potential setback for an international conference on Sunday that aims to broker an end to a civil war in the OPEC nation.”



Image source: AP via Oilandgaspeople.com

The major talks Sunday are due to be held in Berlin, and a who’s who of external backers of each side of the conflict will be in attendance, including Putin, Erdogan, France’s Macron, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as the Italian prime minister and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Berlin conference comes after a failed deal to establish a ceasefire in Moscow earlier in the week, when Haftar left the city after the head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, Fayez al-Sarraj, actually signed the agreement. Haftar also reportedly secretly scuttled to different Mediterranean capitals, including Athens, in a bid to gain recognition as legitimate leader on the ground.

Haftar’s drastic move to block oil exports is likely aimed at torpedoing the Berlin meeting before it even starts, given he’s proven intransigent in the face of international pressure for him to halt the ongoing Tripoli offensive — even during the talks hosted by one of his key political backers Vladimir Putin. 

Libya’s National Oil Corp. (NOC) has now declared Force Majeure, per Bloomberg:

As a result of the blockage of ports in the central and eastern parts of the country, oil output will fall by about 800,000 barrels a day, costing $55 million daily, the National Oil Corp. said in a statement on Saturday. The NOC declared Force Majeure, which can allow Libya, which holds Africa’s largest-proven oil reserves, to legally suspend delivery contracts.

The stoppage also has military implications on the ground, given the GNA’s national army relies on the country’s oil revenue to purchase weapons via Tripoli’s central bank. The NOC has placed sole blame on Haftar for the shutdown, while the LNA has claimed to be listening to the demands of “the people”. 



GNA’s Fayez Al-Sarraj (left) and Gen. Khalifa Haftar, via the AFP.

Speaking to Bloomberg, European Council on Foreign Relations top official Arturo Varvelli acknowledged the action as bold ploy by Haftar to control Berlin discussions before they commence. “It could be counterproductive as it could make the Europeans, who are the largest consumers of Libyan oil, very upset,” he said.

And S&P Global Platts warns the country’s oil sector could enter a “tailspin”

Libya’s oil sector could go into a tailspin with two-thirds of its total crude oil production of around 1.20 million b/d at risk after its key oil ports were suspended Saturday by the Libyan National Army…

There’s huge potential for fireworks at the conference itself, given international heavyweights on either side of the conflict will be represented.

Turkey’s Erdogan has recently ordered troops to prop up the Tripoli government, not to mention Turkish drones and military hardware which have for months already been active in defense of the capital against pro-Haftar forces. 

Oil exports make up over 90% of Libya’s national revenue and as the below 2019 Stratfor map demonstrates, Haftar has long held the majority of the nation’s oil fields.

Russia, for its part, is believed to have hundreds of mercenaries from the Wagner Group embedded within Haftar’s forces. And complicating matters in the emerging proxy war, Egypt, the Saudis, and UAE (and most recently the Trump White House, apparently) also back Haftar, while Italy, Turkey, and other UN member nations back the GNA’s Sarraj. 

Meanwhile, Haftar has vowed repeatedly to not give up until he has control of the Libyan capital, despite fighting for months staying at a relative stalemate. So the Berlin conference outcome is not looking good before it even starts. 


Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/18/2020 – 19:35

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