Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Yemen's Roadmap To Peace

I know very little about Yemen. I have read very little. But the crisis there must be big enough that I have skimmed a ton of headlines while just going out and about. I am a news junkie. I skim news daily, almost.

This is what I do know. Yemen is not oil-rich. Sand and oil are two different things. It might surprise a lot of people but just because you have sand does not seem to mean you also have oil. Yemen is a poor Arab country. In that Yemen allows for time travel. The oil-rich countries all used to be poor like Yemen. That was only a few decades ago.

Yemen had a president who had been president for a long time, something like 30 years. He was toppled by a group of rebels inspired by the Arab Spring. He was gone and that created a vacuum, quickly filled by the two poles of the regional cold war, Iran and Saudi Arabia. And since there has been a civil war, lurching this way and that. There is widespread misery and mayhem. Fighters are not even 0.1% of the population. But the suffering is across the board.

Iran and Saudi Arabia can't go to war with each other, and they know it. The global economy would have a heart attack if they do. But Yemen is a poor, inconsequential country. War in Yemen does not rattle anyone except the poor, non-fighting Yemenis. This is a sad situation.

And, of course, the military-industrial complex in the United States fishes in every muddied pond. Yemen has been the reason that complex has sold over a hundred billion dollars worth of military hardware. 100 billion dollars is a lot of money.

The sad part is the civil war in Yemen might not see a quick resolution. But it is also true that if it goes for long enough, there are going to be implications beyond Yemen's borders. So it makes sense to proactively put out the civil war fire.

The best way would be for Iran and Saudi Arabia to wind down their Cold War. But that can feel too ambitious for the short term. It is possible to eke out peace inside Yemen even if Iran and Saudi Arabia do not normalize their relations. But it is hard.

There has to be a mediator for the peace talks. I think Imran Khan of Pakistan might be the only available neutral party who has some gravitas. Yemen could be the dress rehearsal for the eventual peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Get the warring factions to meet and talk. Unite their fighters into one unified army for Yemen. Form an interim government. Hold elections to a constituent assembly. Something along those lines.

Yemen crisis: Why is there a war? Yemen, one of the Arab world's poorest countries, has been devastated by a civil war. ......... The conflict has its roots in the failure of a political transition supposed to bring stability to Yemen following an Arab Spring uprising that forced its longtime authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in 2011.......... Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by regional Shia power Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states began an air campaign aimed at restoring Mr Hadi's government........The coalition received logistical and intelligence support from the US, UK and France........... At the start of the war Saudi officials forecast that the war would last only a few weeks. But four years of military stalemate have followed.........

Yemen is experiencing the world's worst man-made humanitarian disaster....... The UN says Yemen is on the brink of the world's worst famine in 100 years if the war continues...... About 80% of the population - 24 million people - need humanitarian assistance and protection.

............ About 20 million need help securing food, including almost 10 million who the UN says are just a step away from famine. Almost 240,000 of those people are facing "catastrophic levels of hunger"........ More than 3 million people - including 2 million children - are acutely malnourished, which makes them more vulnerable to disease........ With only half of the country's 3,500 medical facilities fully functioning, almost 20 million people lack access to adequate healthcare. And almost 18 million do not have enough clean water or access to adequate sanitation..... Consequently,

medics have struggled to deal with the largest cholera outbreak ever recorded

, which has resulted in more than 1.49 million suspected cases and 2,960 related deaths since April 2017......... The war has also displaced more than 3.3 million from their homes, including 685,000 who have fled fighting along the west coast since June 2018....... Separatists seeking independence for south Yemen, which was a separate country before unification with the north in 1990, formed an uneasy alliance with troops loyal to Mr Hadi in 2015 to stop the Houthis capturing Aden......... The situation was made more complex by divisions within the Saudi-led coalition. Saudi Arabia reportedly backs Mr Hadi, who is based in Riyadh, while the United Arab Emirates is closely aligned with the separatists. ....... Gulf Arab states - backers of President Hadi - have accused Iran of bolstering the Houthis financially and militarily, though Iran has denied this........ Yemen is also strategically important because it sits on a strait linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, through which much of the world's oil shipments pass.

Why Saudi Arabia and Iran are bitter rivals Historically Saudi Arabia, a monarchy and home to the birthplace of Islam, saw itself as the leader of the Muslim world. However this was challenged in 1979 by the Islamic revolution in Iran which created a new type of state in the region - a kind of revolutionary theocracy - that had an explicit goal of exporting this model beyond its own borders. ....... Fast-forward to 2011 and uprisings across the Arab world caused political instability throughout the region. Iran and Saudi Arabia exploited these upheavals to expand their influence, notably in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, further heightening mutual suspicions........ Iran's critics say it is intent on establishing itself or its proxies across the region, and achieving control of a land corridor stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean....... The strategic rivalry is heating up because Iran is in many ways winning the regional struggle....... In Syria, Iranian (and Russian) support for President Bashar al-Assad has enabled his forces to largely rout rebel group groups backed by Saudi Arabia...........Saudi Arabia is trying desperately to contain rising Iranian influence while the militaristic adventurism of the kingdom's young and impulsive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - the country's de facto ruler - is exacerbating regional tensions........ In the pro-Saudi camp are the other major Sunni actors in the Gulf - the UAE and Bahrain - as well as Egypt and Jordan. ....... In the Iranian camp is Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, a member of a heterodox Shia sect, who has relied on pro-Iranian Shia militia groups, including the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, to fight predominantly Sunni rebel groups..... Iraq's Shia-dominated government is also a close ally of Iran....... This is in many ways a regional equivalent of the Cold War, which pitted the US against the Soviet Union in a tense military standoff for many years.....Iran and Saudi Arabia are not directly fighting but they are engaged in a variety of proxy wars (conflicts where they support rival sides and militias) around the region........ For a long time the US and its allies have seen Iran as a destabilising force in the Middle East. The Saudi leadership increasingly sees Iran as an existential threat and the crown prince seems willing to take whatever action he sees necessary, wherever he deems it necessary, to confront Tehran's rising influence...... Saudi Arabia's vulnerability has been demonstrated by these latest attacks on its oil installations. If a war breaks out, it will be more perhaps by accident rather than design.


Saudi purge demonstrates ruthlessness of crown prince Big things are happening in Saudi Arabia. Princes, ministers and top businessmen are being arrested, detained in a luxury hotel, accused of corruption, their planes grounded and their assets seized........ Corruption is rampant in Saudi Arabia. Bribes, sweeteners and lavish kickbacks have long been an integral part of doing business in the world's richest oil-producing nation........ Many of those appointed to key positions amassed astronomical wealth - in some cases running into billions of dollars - far beyond their government salaries, much of it stashed away in offshore accounts.......... The government he leads would love to get its hands on some of these offshore private assets, estimated by some to total as much as $800bn (£610bn)....... The ruling Al Saud family has never revealed how much of the nation's oil wealth goes to which princes and their families, and there are thousands of them. .......... many ordinary Saudis are welcoming this purge of the rich and famous, in the hopes that some of their wealth will be redistributed to the general population...... At 32 years old, Prince Mohammed bin Salman - or MBS, as he is known - has already amassed extraordinary control over the key levers in the country.........He is the youngest defence minister of any major country, and is also driving an economic development programme, declaring his intention to wean Saudi Arabia off its dependence on oil revenues......... He is largely popular with the young, despite dragging the country into a seemingly unwinnable war in Yemen and executing a damaging boycott against neighbouring Qatar. .......

The old guard in Saudi Arabia are rattled.

....... The crown prince knows that to drive through his modernising reform programme he may meet resistance, but he is now demonstrating a steely ruthlessness in removing anyone or anything that could get in his way. ........ There is no-one left in Saudi Arabia with any obvious powerbase to challenge the rise to power of the crown prince and he could well become king and rule for the next half-century........ Some among the royal family are grumbling that he is taking on too much too quickly, but perhaps

more worrying is how the religious conservatives will react in the long-term

.......... The Al Saud depend on these clerics for their legitimacy to rule the home of the two holiest places in Islam, Mecca and Medina (the king carries the title "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques")........ So far, the clerics have accepted the curbs on their power and in September acceded to the lifting of the ban on women driving, which they always resisted....... In time, history will decide whether the purge begun on Saturday night has set the course for a better, cleaner Saudi Arabia, or whether it has started to melt the glue that holds this complex country together. 

Crown prince says Saudis want return to moderate Islam Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said the return of "moderate Islam" is key to his plans to modernise the Gulf kingdom........ He told reporters that 70% of the Saudi population was under 30 and that they wanted a "life in which our religion translates to tolerance"......... He made the comments after announcing the investment of $500bn (£381bn) in a new city and business zone.......... Dubbed NEOM, it will be situated on 26,500 sq km (10,230 sq miles) of Saudi Arabia's north-western Red Sea coast, near Egypt and Jordan......... Last year, Prince Mohammed unveiled a wide-ranging plan to bring social and economic change to the oil-dependent kingdom known as Vision 2030......... As part of those reforms, the 32-year-old has proposed the partial privatisation of the state oil company, Saudi Aramco, and the creation of the world's largest sovereign wealth fund....... The government also wants to invest in the entertainment sector. Concerts are once again being held and cinemas are expected to return soon................

"We are returning to what we were before - a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions, traditions and people around the globe," he said.

....... "We want to live a normal life. A life in which our religion translates to tolerance, to our traditions of kindness," he added....... The prince stressed that Saudi Arabia "was not like this before 1979", when there was an Islamic revolution in Iran and militants occupied Mecca's Grand Mosque....... Afterwards, public entertainment in Saudi Arabia was banned and clerics were given more control over public life.

Kashmir Deserves Normalcy
"UAE Against All Violence And Terrorism"
The Hong Kong "Contagion:" Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Chile And Counting
Thoughts On The Middle East
Formula For Peace Between Israel And Palestine
The Stupidity Of The Ayodhya Dispute
Saudi-Iran: Imran Is The Only One Who Can
New Capitalism Is Techno Capitalism, Hello Marc
The Nation State In Peril
Dubai, Pakistan, Peace, Prosperity
The Dubai Sheikh Is A Business School Case Study
South Asians Working In The Gulf
Masa, MBS, And The Broader Investment Climate

Kashmir Deserves Normalcy

India is no longer a democracy if Kashmir can not be like any other state in India. If the regime in Delhi will not respect human rights, it is not a democratic regime. Elections do not make a democracy, respect for human rights does. Delhi must restore normalcy to Kashmir. Israel occupied Palestine is nobody's gold standard, nobody's north pole, least of a country that claims to be the largest democracy.

India consul general in United States calls for 'Israeli model' in Kashmir Indian official tells New York meeting: 'It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it' ........... the Indian government’s goals of a settler-colonial policy for the valley, which Kashmiri academics and scholars have long warned is the ultimate ambitions of the Indian state. ...... there remains a deep anxiety among Kashmiri Pandits that their pain is being weaponised to further the goals of the BJP-led government. ........ Thus far, only a far-right European delegation has been allowed in while foreign journalists have not been allowed to enter the valley since August 5. ........ Estimates vary, but more than 100,000 Kashmiri Hindus left during the upheaval. According to government figures, 219 Kashmiri Pandits were killed between 1989-2004. ........ Since the insurgency began in the late 1980s, more than 70,000 Kashmiri Muslims have died, while an estimated 7,000 others have "disappeared". ....... Israeli-India relations have intensified since the election of Narendra Modi in 2014. India is Israel's biggest purchaser of arms, amounting to $1bn per year. ........ On Monday, Agnihoti delivered a lecture at an event jointly organised by the American Jewish Council and the Hindu Jewish Council. ......... Arab regimes are fully on board with India's settler-colonial project in Kashmir ......... “The violent re-writing of the subcontinent’s history is angering, stunning and also tiring. It’s a familiar tactic that relies on nationalism, Brahminism and Islamophobia. It has little to do with displaced Kashmiri Pandits” ......... .....Though landlines and post-paid mobile phones have been reconnected in Kashmir since the communicat9ions blockade was announced, prepaid phones, text messaging and internet services are still down in Kashmir. ........ ...There are more than 700,000 Indian troops in Kashmir, in what is described as the most militarised region on earth. Since 1947, Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan, with a small portion held by China.
India's blockade of Kashmir: 100 days in, the world's silence is deafening Kashmir is under a tight grip, its people occupied and their movements monitored......... Even Pakistan’s Imran Khan, who has championed the cause since 5 August, seems to be running out of steam ......... whereas Muslims facing persecution around the world are not likely to be holding out for words of comfort or solidarity from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or any other Arab country for that matter, the resounding silence from other Muslim majority countries has been particularly shocking. ........ Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan’ comments at the UN General Assembly in September have earned the wrath of India's government with Prime Minister Modi's planned visit to Ankara postponed as a result. Likewise, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's comments during his address at the UN summit, describing India has having “invaded and occupied” Kashmir, have led nowhere either........... Even Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, who has championed the cause since August, seems to be running out of steam. So, too, has the silence been from almost all quarters of the western world, otherwise evangelical in their approach to spreading democracy and justice......... On Tuesday, it will be 100 days since the blockade began in Kashmir and very little has changed on the ground..........

In the sky, drones conduct sweeping Israeli-inspired surveillance over protest sites, helping armed forces identify "miscreants".

........ Kashmir is under a tight grip, its people occupied and their movements monitored. ....... The crackdown has seen thousands of ordinary people arrested, including children picked up by India’s armed forces - some held for a few hours, others held indefinitely - without any transparency from the state......... Parents are said to be going from prison to prison in Kashmir, only to find that their sons, held without any charge, have been transferred to prisons in a different state thousands of kilometres away. ........In mid-October, 18 female activists and academics, one as old as 82-years-old, were arrested for staging a silent protest. They were only released when they promised not to speak or protest against India, a tactic authorities are using to quell dissent. .......

Over the past week, a series of unusual and record snowfalls hit the valley, leaving residents without electricity for three days. Kashmiris were just left in the dark and in the freezing cold without the ability to call even their neighbours, emergency services or the outside world for help.

........... The spectre of Hindu-only settlements has left Kashmiris concerned that their home will resemble the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Crucially the demographic shift will render the UN mandated question of self-determination obsolete....... Kashmiris are not oblivious that their plight is among a number of vicious resource-driven and politically motivated campaigns against Muslims (often instrumentalised by Islamophobia) around the globe. ........ Kashmir is not just about territory disputed between India and Pakistan. Both countries rely heavily on the water that flows through the region. ....... On Monday, The Gambia took Myanmar to the International Court of Justice, accusing it of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority. ........ The case, filed at the behest of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, has been touted as a historic one, for it gives the Rohingya a chance to seek justice and accountability.
India's annexation of Kashmir is straight out of the Israeli playbook With more than 700,000 Indian soldiers, paramilitary and police in the region, the most militarised region on earth, they argued that Kashmiris were living under client leaders held firm by the might of the Indian military establishment. ........... Revoking article 370 paves the way for a full settler-colonial project in Kashmir, much like Jewish settlements in the West Bank......... This included ending the "privileges" enjoyed by Muslims - even if they were and remain the poorest and most undeveloped community in India. It also included framing Kashmir as one dotted by shrines and temples, and part of Hinduism's glorious past in the Himalayas.......... ... a full settler-colonial project in Kashmir with the next stage likely to involve Hindu-only enclaves, much like Jewish settlements in the West Bank. ........ Pakistan has supported the armed movement, but its security agencies also fear Kashmiri independence as much as India does........ his popularity increases each time Hindu-Muslim tensions rise in the country. He is a master manipulator and puppeteer of majoritarian ambition, scapegoating widespread economic failure to those who fall outside the national project, be it Muslims, or Kashmiris, or those who dare to express dissent.
When it comes to Palestine and Kashmir, India and Israel are oppressors-in-arms The hue of 'democracy' has given India and Israel special gravitas and legitimacy, while human rights violations continue unchecked......... In a back alley in downtown Srinagar, the capital of India-controlled Kashmir, a string of words splashed on a wall reads: "Long Live Palestine". Nearby, "Free Gaza" screams from a shutter on a store. .......... For many Muslims around the world, Palestine holds a special place in their political consciousness. Al-Aqsa Mosque, after all, is one of the most important sites in Islam. Those on the left, whether millennial radicals or grey-bearded Marxists, have also supported the Palestinian cause over the zealous imperialism of Zionist settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing, displacement and war-mongering........... in Muslim-majority, India-controlled Kashmir, the subjugation of Palestinians is a personal matter - a reminder of their own condition...........

When the last Gaza offensive began in July 2014, Kashmiris took to the streets daily to protest against the Israeli bombardment.

....... Kashmir has been claimed in full by both India and Pakistan since 1947. A de facto border separates the Indian-controlled from the Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir. Three out of the four wars fought between the two countries have been over the dispute. ........

with around 700,000 troops amid a population of 14 million, Kashmir is the most militarised place on earth.

....... This is a society harassed by checkpoints and army convoys, terrorised by troops able to operate with impunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and mired in a legal malaise called the Public Safety Act that allows young boys to be picked up and held indefinitely without charge. This is not dissimilar to the Israeli policy of "administrative detention" that has seen thousands of Palestinians held indefinitely. ............ For years, Indian forces have used lead-plated pellets as a method of "crowd control". These have blinded 1,000 people and wounded 10,000 others, with injuries ranging from torn tissue to internal organ damage............. As if violence was not enough, the Indian state regularly disconnects the internet and telephone services to discourage grassroots organising and the dissemination of information, and to cut off Kashmiri people from the rest of the world. ......... Between 2013 and 2017, India was the largest importer of Israeli arms. Israeli Rafael's Spice 2000 missiles as well as Heron drones reportedly played a significant role in India's recent "surgical strike" in Pakistan on 26 February. Just days before the strike, India ordered 50 more drones in a deal worth $500m.......... Israel has systematically ethnically cleansed Palestinians, taking over their homes, buying off resistance, quelling dissent, and appropriating elements of their culture - even cuisine - as part of a larger bid to remove the Palestinian footprint from these lands. As a result, Palestinians are essentially second-class non-citizens. .............In comparison, India, through a policy of "domestication" - or to use BJP leader Ram Madhav’s words, "instilling India" into Kashmiri Muslims - seeks to make Kashmiri Muslims relinquish their political identities and submit to the larger Indian project.............. They would then become "Indian Muslims," who, by all measures of success and equity in Indian society, are second-class citizens. The end game is to facilitate a demographic shift in Kashmir itself, bringing in more Hindus from India to settle into Kashmir............ Both Israel and India employ a sophisticated, securitised, statist language - parroted by their jingoistic media - that helps to legitimise the occupation, along with related human rights violations and crackdowns. ......... The quick resort to Islamophobia is an easy sell to justify their actions. Just as Israel describes its invasions of Gaza as a "defence" against "radical Islamist" Hamas members, Indians are still able to invoke their international brands of "Gandhi" and "yoga" while unleashing ammunition into protests by Kashmiri youth, saying that they are Pakistan-sponsored terrorists or radical jihadists.............. Israelis famously picnicked on hilltops to watch as the bombs rained down on Gaza in 2014. This week, as Indian jets flew over Pakistani territory to kickstart war, Indian celebrities cheered them on Twitter..............

Just as Israelis or Zionists intimidate academics, journalists and intellectuals who question Israeli policies, so too do the strong, often nationalistic Indian diaspora in media houses and schools around the planet attempt to suppress any discussion of Kashmir.

........... Like Palestinians, many young Kashmiris, powerless in the face of state machinery, have resorted to stone-pelting. The fact that Indian authorities use disproportionate force - including burning down villages, homes and crops of those loosely acquainted with rebel fighters - is also conveniently ignored........... Both Palestine and Kashmir have neighbours operating primarily on self-interest. If Palestine has Jordan and Egypt undermining its cause, Kashmir has Pakistan, which seeks little more than allegiance and a worthy alibi in India to deflect from the real and legitimate concerns of Kashmiris.............. This comes after Kashmiris in various Indian cities were beaten and intimidated by mobs who screamed "Dogs welcome but not Kashmiris," following the attack on paramilitary forces on 14 February. ............ The hue of "democracy" has given both India and Israel special gravitas and legitimacy; their supposed utility - India's economic power and Israeli's technological prowess - for the rest of the world has also granted them a certain immunity. Israel might still have its detractors, while India is still "a lesser evil". But together, they are formidable.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

"UAE Against All Violence And Terrorism"

10 most commonly reported but wrong 'facts' about Dubai: Get it right International media usually get its facts wrong on Dubai. Here are the Top 10 examples

Hate Less, Love More (Via Talal Al Murad)
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Getting To Know Mustafa Kheriba
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That who is profiting from the war in Yemen is the military-industrial complex in the United States.

Thoughts On The Middle East
Formula For Peace Between Israel And Palestine
The Stupidity Of The Ayodhya Dispute
Saudi-Iran: Imran Is The Only One Who Can
Can't Stop Water To Pakistan
New Capitalism Is Techno Capitalism, Hello Marc
Dubai, Pakistan, Peace, Prosperity
The Dubai Sheikh Is A Business School Case Study
South Asians Working In The Gulf
Masa, MBS, And The Broader Investment Climate

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Hong Kong "Contagion:" Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Chile And Counting

The Common Element Uniting Worldwide Protests For many of the protests taking place around the world, the lack of an appointed leader is deliberate........... “A leader is best when people barely know he exists,” Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism, is thought to have said. “When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: ‘We did it ourselves.’’’ ...... From Hong Kong and Chile to Iraq and Lebanon, people have utilized social media to whip up spontaneous, mostly nonviolent grassroots demonstrations against their respective governments—efforts they have vowed to sustain until all their demands are met. ....... Without a clear organizer at the helm, do these protests risk morphing into something even its participants can’t control? Is the lack of centralized leadership a source of weakness—or strength? ......... In Chile, the protests have focused on inequality and corruption. In Lebanon and Iraq, the protests against the countries’ political systems have transcended sectarian lines. While some demonstrations erupted over specific grievances, such as proposed legislation in Indonesia to weaken the country’s anti-corruption agency and reduce the personal freedom of citizens, protests in Haiti, Egypt, and Bolivia have expanded beyond their original aims into calls for their governments to resign. ......... In France, the similarly amorphous “yellow vest” movement has also proved its staying power. The national protests, which spiraled from grievances over rising fuel prices into a broader anti-government demonstration, celebrated its first anniversary on Sunday. Still, some things have changed. Though the spirit of revolt is still strong, the turnout has dwindled......... “These movements don’t appeal to specific categories,” he said. “They appeal to the entirety of the citizenry … who feel defrauded by the political class.” ........ Whereas some have relied on encrypted messaging services such as Telegram, others use AirDrop, Apple’s fire-sharing function that lets users easily share content between devices. ........... “Technology means you don’t need a leader to disseminate strategy. The strategy disseminates horizontally.” ...... For many, the leaderless nature is the point. After all, appointing leaders makes it easier for governments “to focus on them, to pick them off, to arrest them, kill them, denigrate them” ....... In Catalonia, where thousands of people have railed against the Spanish Supreme Court’s October decision to jail nine Catalan separatist leaders, protesters paid tribute to Hong Kong by adopting some of their tactics, including staging a blockade of Barcelona’s airport.......... In Chile, at least 20 people have been killed. In Iraq, the death toll has surpassed 300. ........ he said protest movements “are by their very nature not sustainable in the long term,” in large part due to the amount of energy and commitment it takes to maintain them. Unlike official parties and organizations, “they don’t have the bureaucratic structures that would keep them going.” ......... For many protesters, though, the mind-set is simple: Don’t stop until all their demands are met. For those in Hong Kong, it’s expressed through the popular chant “Five demands, not one less.” In Lebanon, protesters have adopted the slogan “All of them means all of them,” in reference to their rejection of the entire political class. ........ “we shouldn’t expect from social movements that which social movements cannot deliver,” noting that it’s not their job to solve the problems that spurred them. Rather, it’s “to raise questions that were not previously on the political agenda [and] to show that there is a large section of the population that doesn’t feel represented.”

The Rising Costs of Protest in Hong Kong When the protests first began, talk of dying for the movement seemed outlandish. Now it is all too real. ........ Just five years before, during the Umbrella Revolution, the use of tear gas by police had stunned Hong Kong, and this time around, the use of the noxious gas was still shocking enough to lead news reports and dominate polite conversations on the weekdays between demonstrations........... as the weeks rolled on and the authorities in Hong Kong (and, in reality, in Beijing) refused to meet most of the protesters’ demands, police were left by the government with the seemingly impossible task of solving a fundamentally political problem ......... It is almost a cliché now to note that the unofficial motto of this leaderless movement is “Be like water.” ........ The rage expressed by protesters as the day wore on was imbued with a sense of desperation stoked by the feeling that they are largely powerless within Hong Kong’s political system. ......... In the afternoon, demonstrators attempted to take control of an elevated pedestrian bridge from riot officers. Rubber bullets and sponge grenades thwacked against protesters’ umbrellas as they mounted a charge up a steep escalator. It did not take a sharp military mind to see that the odds were not in their favor. Police were better equipped and had the higher ground, yet the protesters pushed on before finally being repelled under a cloud of tear gas so thick, it was difficult to see more than a few feet ............ Above, on the mall’s pedestrian bridge, shoppers pressed their phones to the glass, hoping to capture a few moments of the mayhem.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Hong Kong Bill

I Agree With Bill Gates On Huwaei

Bill Gates: Paranoia on China is a 'crazy approach' to innovation Microsoft founder suggests 'objective test' of security claims against Huawei ......... Microsoft founder Bill Gates decried the "paranoid" view fueling the current high-tech rivalry between the U.S. and China, telling an audience here Wednesday that trying to stop Beijing from developing innovative technologies is "beyond realistic." ........ "Huawei, like all goods and services, should be subject to an objective test," Gates said at The New York Times DealBook Conference. "The rule that everything that comes from China is bad ... that is one crazy approach to trying to take advantage of innovation." ....... The billionaire philanthropist said the U.S. and China should take advantage of each other's innovations, rather than turn against one another. ....... Microsoft has provided Windows source code to governments in the past, Gates said, and those officials became comfortable with the American company's products after examining the system. Huawei could adopt the same approach ....... When the event moderator said the Trump administration is unlikely to consider that approach as sufficient to solve security concerns, Gates replied: "Anyone with tech expertise would think so." ...... If Washington does not trust Chinese tech equipment, why would Beijing trust American products such as a jet engine, which theoretically could be shut off remotely. ....... "You should use objective measures," Gates continued, throwing up his hands. "There are people born in foreign countries who write software, honest to God."

Impeachment Proceedings (I Am Not Watching ... Not Fun)


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We obtained 403 pages of Communist Party documents that reveal how China plotted to detain up to a million Muslims in a campaign that it calls a benevolent effort against the pull of extremism. In reality, it is a ruthless, coercive clampdown. The documents — one of the most significant leaks from inside China's Communist Party in decades — show how officials planned to put Muslims and ethnic minorities into camps, and detail secret speeches by President Xi Jinping that laid the groundwork for the crackdown. Tap the link in our bio to read about how the documents show Chinese officials used words like "virus," "infected" and "eradicate" to justify mass detentions, and planned how they would manage and intimidate families that were torn apart.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

US Economy: Competitive? (No Market Economy In America)

Why the US economy isn’t as competitive or free as you think “Why on earth are US cell phone plans so expensive?” ...... Over the past two decades, competition and competition policy have atrophied, with dire consequences ....... America is no longer the home of the free-market economy, competition is not more fierce there than in Europe, its regulators are not more proactive and its new crop of superstar companies not radically different from their predecessors......... an inclination not to take free-market platitudes for granted ......... each step in his argument is based on meticulous analysis of the data. ......... “First, US markets have become less competitive: concentration is high in many industries, leaders are entrenched, and their profit rates are excessive. Second, this lack of competition has hurt US consumers and workers: it has led to higher prices, lower investment and lower productivity growth. Third, and contrary to common wisdom, the main explanation is political, not technological: I have traced the decrease in competition to increasing barriers to entry and weak antitrust enforcement, sustained by heavy lobbying and campaign contributions.” ........ Those prices of broadband access in the US are, for example, roughly double what they are in comparable countries. Profits per passenger for airlines are also far higher in the US than in the EU.......... across industries, more concentration leads to higher profits. Overall, the effect is large: the post-tax profit share in US gross domestic product has almost doubled since the 1990s........ This malignant form of increased concentration reflects significantly diminished entry of new businesses and greater tolerance of merger activity. In other words, the US economy has seen a significant reduction in competition and a corresponding rise in monopoly and oligopoly.............. From 1999 to 2017 real GDP per head rose by 21 per cent in the US, 25 per cent in the EU and 19 per cent even in the eurozone, despite the damage done by its ineptly handled financial crisis. Levels of inequality and trends in income distribution are also less adverse in the EU, so increases in incomes have been more evenly shared........ destroys the hypothesis that technology is the main driver of the downward shift in the share of labour incomes ....... “The US has better universities and a stronger ecosystem for innovation, from venture capital to technological expertise.” ....... the EU has established more independent regulators than either its individual members or the US would do (or have done). ....... Lobbying, both against deregulation and for favourable regul­ation, is much fiercer in the US. ........ this lobbying, which is inevitably dominated by big companies, works. Why else would people pay for it? ........

Members of Congress spend about 30 hours a week raising money.

The Supreme Court’s perverse 2010 “Citizens United” decision held that companies are persons and money is speech. That has proved a big step on the journey of the US towards becoming a plutocracy............ Corporate lobbying is two to three times bigger in the US than the EU.

Campaign contributions are 50 times larger in America than in the EU.

........... the cost of intermediation — how much bankers and brokers charge for taking in savings and transferring them to end users — has remained around two percentage points for a century. All those computers have made no difference. This then is a rent-extraction machine. That really has to change.........

There are two things about America that most outsiders will never understand: its gun laws and its healthcare system.

The US spends far more on healthcare (not much below a fifth of GDP) and yet has far worse health outcomes than any other high-income country......... the system creates rent-extracting monopolies from top to bottom: doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and pharmaceutical businesses all feed at this overflowing trough. ........ the “GAFAMs” (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft) ....... preventing dominant comp­anies from acquisitions or forcing them to divest; limiting their ability to exploit dominant positions by imposing interoperability with other networks and data portability; and breaking them up........ the rise of monopsony — the monopoly power of buyers — in labour markets, via restrict­ive contracts, occupational licensing and restrictions on entry. Deregulation needs to focus on such barriers.........

business on its own will pursue restraints on competition, and with great enthusiasm.

The outcome is rentier capitalism, which is both inefficient and politically illegitimate........... The answers, suggests Philippon, are: free entry; regulators prepared to make mistakes when acting against monopoly; and protection of transparency, privacy and data ownership by customers. The great obstacle to action in the US is the pervasive role of money in politics. The results are the twin evils of oligopoly and oligarchy......... Donald Trump is in so many ways a product of the defective capitalism described in The Great Reversal. What the US needs, instead, is another Teddy Roosevelt and his energetic trust-busting.


If the Fox News legal analyst has ditched Trump that is a sign the US Senate will also dump Trump. People like Ted Cruz will dump him in a hurry. Marco Rubio. I think the 10 Senators will be found.

Which is curious, because we might be looking at one Indiana man, Pete, running against another Indiana man, Pence. I know the state of Indiana like the back of my hand.

When I rooted for Howard Dean in 2004, I was in Indiana. When I moved to New York a year later and met Dean people in the city, they were like, what was an Indian guy doing in a place like Indiana rooting for a guy like Howard Dean!? Well, now you know.

US election 2020: Obama issues warning to 'revolutionary' Democrats