Chicken in the Gulf

Iran’s probably think it’s in their interest to try pull US forces back to the Middle East by engaging in asymmetric provocation. It is something Trump will resist. But some damn fool thing can always happen. History shows that once escalation occurs it becomes unpredictable.

The semi-official ISNA news agency quoted hardliner Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad in the city of Isfahan as saying: “Their billion(-dollar) fleet can be destroyed with one missile.
“If they attempt any move, they will … (face) dozens of missiles because at that time (government) officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” he said.
‘SANCTIONS HAVE NO EFFECT!’
Separately, Yadollah Javani, the elite Revolutionary Guards’ deputy head for political affairs, said: “No talks will be held with the Americans, and the Americans will not dare take military action against us.”

Reuters

Singapore outlaws fake news, allows govt to block, remove it

By blocking certain users social media assumed the responsibility of publishers. This may destroy them.

The law bans falsehoods that are prejudicial to Singapore or likely to influence elections and requires service providers to remove such content or allows the government to block it. Offenders could face a jail term of up to 10 years and hefty fines.

AP

Restaurants to offer penance at meals

Selling indulgences to Gaia. A future historian might write: “Indulgences became increasingly popular in the 21st century as a reward for signaling virtue, hugging rough trees, and going on pilgrimage to environmental summits; for putting on processions and marches; associations demanded that their meetings be rewarded with indulgences.

Good deeds included tax donations of money for a good cause, and money thus raised was used for many righteous causes, like building abortion clinics and sanctuary cities.”

Dining out isn’t the most eco-friendly activity, thanks to the carbon footprint of food brought in and the waste inherent in running a restaurant. Now, an effort by California restaurants wants diners to help fight climate change – by paying more.
Concerned eateries can join the Restore California Renewable Restaurant Program and add an optional 1% surcharge to diners’ checks. The money will go towards a public fund to help farmers reduce carbon in their food production practices.

Guardian

Iran revisited

The Iran nuclear deals seems to have represented a fundamental strategic choice which the Obama administration made and which Trump has now rejected without either really explaining why.

The lack of public debate is reflected in the non-ratification of Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal and the lack of Congressional consensus behind Trump’s actions toward Iran.

Maybe this is because both the Dems and Republicans don’t want to draw attention to the withdrawal from Iraq or entering Iraq in the first place, which seems to have destabilized the Arabs and given Iran and Turkey their big chance.

Tehran is virtually certain that Trump will not — indeed politically cannot — return to the Middle East in force and that the Arabs are presently too scattered to oppose them. At the same time Iran must see Israel benefiting from the same Arab weakness.

This, plus the growing realization that by using hybrid warfare Trump need not return to MENA is probably driving a sense of urgency among the Ayatollahs, who must move now lest the tides turn against them.

In this context the Iran nuclear deal, which was supported by Europe and Obama, can be seen as a strategic attempt to buy off Tehran, thereby forestalling more refugees, a course of action deemed more realistic and cheaper than trying to stop them.

Sending the pallets of cash was seen as more economical than gearing up to stop the Army of the Guardians.

Not a good indicator

And yet you hear less about China and Iran than Russia. That’s not to say Russia isn’t a factor but what a strange sense of proportionality the media have.


Together, the U.S. and China make up half the world’s military spending, expending as much as the rest of the world combined. In fact, the “significant increases in spending” by the two countries drove total global military spending up 2.6% from 2017, researchers said.

“The spending boom is driven, above all, by the contest between America and China for primacy in Asia,” writes The Economist in summarizing the report. America’s increase “reflected the Trump administration’s embrace of what it calls ‘great power competition’ with Russia and China — requiring fancier, pricier weapons — in place of the inconclusive guerrilla wars it had fought since 2001.

NPR

Had They Bet On Nuclear, Not Renewables, Germany & California Would Already Have 100% Clean Power

Had California and Germany invested $680 billion into new nuclear power plants instead of renewables like solar and wind farms, the two would already be generating 100% or more of their electricity from clean (low-emissions) energy sources, according to a new analysis by Environmental Progress.

Forbes

Iran threat inflated say sources

It sounds like ‘when’ not ‘if’. The reality of the Iranian threat means whoever the US backs in the Islamic civil war that they will be backing a “bad guy”. The only escape from this dilemma is to make both Iran and KSA irrelevant but the Greens through their policies will ensure they both remain vital.

“It’s not that the administration is mischaracterizing the intelligence, so much as overreacting to it,” said one U.S. government official briefed on it. …

The source added that the administration’s steps are a way to tell the Iranian government that the U.S. will hold them responsible for their surrogates’ actions.
A third U.S. government official close to the situation described the administration’s response this way: “It is meant to send a clear message and remove any ambiguity from a tense situation. We’re demonstrating the overwhelming capability we can bring to the region.” …

“I would characterize the current situation as shaping operations on both sides to tilt the field in preparation for a possible coming conflict,” continued the second source, who is also a U.S. government official. “The risk is a low-level proxy unit miscalculating and escalating things. We’re sending a message with this reaction to the intelligence, even though the threat might not be as imminent as portrayed.”

Daily Beast

Kamala Harris Wants to Be Your Online Censor-in-Chief

We will hold social media platforms responsible for the hate infiltrating their platforms, because they have a responsibility to help fight against this threat to our democracy. And if you profit off of hate—if you act as a megaphone for misinformation or cyberwarfare, if you don’t police your platforms—we are going to hold you accountable as a community.

Reason

What we don’t like to hear is hate speech. We will punish you severely for hate speech. We will punish you for what we don’t like to hear. And by the way this is called “preserving our democratic way of life “.

It’s Time for Jews to Realize They’re No Longer Welcome in American Universities

Something took over. An intellectual generation scornful of “thoughts and prayers ” were wholly defenseless against a hostile meme. Like the proud Martians in the War of Worlds they proved vulnerable to a virus against which humble men had been inoculated.

Tablet

James Comey is in trouble and he knows it

Barr has made plain that he intends to examine carefully how and why Comey, as FBI director, decided that the bureau should investigate two presidential campaigns and if, in so doing, any rules or laws were broken.

In light of this, the fired former FBI director apparently has decided that photos of him on Twitter standing amid tall trees and in the middle of empty country roads, acting all metaphysical, is no longer a sufficient strategy.

Hill

China lacks capability to invade Taiwan, focuses on neutralizing US

The Chinese communist party seeks to diplomatically isolate Taiwan by stripping it of its diplomatic allies, by meddling in democratic elections and by applying economic pressure through redirecting tourism and financial development away from the island, Randall Shriver, assistant secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs, said during a Friday media briefing about the report.
“China has never renounced the use of military force and continues to conduct military exercises,” Shriver said.
However, China does not appear to be currently investing in the equipment likely required for a direct assault on Taiwan, such as large amphibious assault ships and medium landing craft necessary for a large beach assault, according to the report. The bulk of China’s recently created marine corps forces currently lack proper equipment or operational training. …

Instead, China’s recent spate of military exercises and the PLA Navy’s focus on building large aircraft carriers, escort cruisers and amphibious transport dock (LPD) ships suggest the military, for now, is geared toward blue water naval operations and smaller expeditionary missions.

USNI

Does this advice apply to socialism?

One of my proudest professional accomplishments is a weird one: I convinced a handful of colleagues to just give up.
We were in a brainstorming session trying to solve a problem that had been giving us trouble for some time. We must have run through a half-dozen solutions, each more convoluted than the last, essentially trying to figure out how to fit a square peg into a round hole.
The real problem, we finally realized, wasn’t the one we were trying to solve. It was that we were so focused on finding a solution that we never stopped to question whether we should even be doing the thing causing us problems in the first place. The solution we were too tunnel-visioned to see turned out to be the simplest: Just stop doing that thing. Duh. …


Compounding the problem is that we sometimes force ourselves to stick with failing endeavors — even if we’re fully aware they’re failing — because we’ve already invested so much time in them. In one studythat examined this phenomenon (known as the sunk cost fallacy)

NYT

Snookered by Putin

Who benefits from renewables? Ironically those who sell oil and gas. Since renewables are not currently technologically viable this forces those who prematurely rely on it to become more dependent on things like Russian gas. Wind power was the how Putin became indispensable to Germany.

Now comes a major article in the country’s largest newsweekly magazine, Der Spiegel, titled, “A Botched Job in Germany” (“Murks in Germany“). The magazine’s cover shows broken wind turbines and incomplete electrical transmission towers against a dark silhouette of Berlin.
“The Energiewende — the biggest political project since reunification — threatens to fail,” write Der Spiegel’s Frank Dohmen, Alexander Jung, Stefan Schultz, Gerald Traufetter in their a 5,700-word investigative story (the article can be read in English here).
Over the past five years alone, the Energiewende has cost Germany €32 billion ($36 billion) annually, and opposition to renewables is growing in the German countryside.

Forbes