All posts by John Xenakis

9-Jan-17 World View — Iran’s ‘moderate pragmatist’ Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at age 82

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Iran’s ‘moderate pragmatist’ Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at age 82
  • Is Rafsanjani’s death a victory for Iran’s hardliners?

Iran’s ‘moderate pragmatist’ Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at age 82

Hashemi Rafsanjani (L) shares a laugh with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, under a photo of the original Supreme Leader, Rouhollah Khomeini.  All three fought together in the 1979 revolution.
Hashemi Rafsanjani (L) shares a laugh with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, under a photo of the original Supreme Leader, Rouhollah Khomeini. All three fought together in the 1979 revolution.

Iran is mourning the death of 82 year old Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, born in 1934, and a key figure in Iran’s Great Islamic revolution of 1979. He was jailed several times by the Shah of Iran during the 1960s-70s for his political activism, and then after the revolution he became the second most powerful man in Iran, behind Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, who ruled Iran as Supreme Leader until his death in 1989.

Khomeini’s chosen successor was Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader. After Rafsanjani was passed over for Supreme Leader, his star began to fade, although he was elected to the presidency from 1989 to 1997.

Politicians in Iran are generally categorized into three groups:

  • At one extreme are the extremely hard-line “principlists,” who insist on adhering to the “principles” of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution. Khamenei and the other old geezer survivors of the 1979 revolution are ususally principlists. Generally, they represent the older generation, the survivors of the 1979 revolution and the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. They impose strict social laws, such as requiring headscarves, forbidding unrelated male-female couples in public, no street music in public, and so forth. Many are opposed to the nuclear deal, and want to resume nuclear weapons development. Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also in this group.
  • At the other extreme are the “reformists,” who are usually members of the younger generations that grew up after the revolution. They are willing to accept the religious precepts of the revolution, but they are demanding that the social restrictions like those described above be reversed. Internationally, they can be described as pro-Western and even pro-American. They like Western clothes and music, and they have nothing against Israel. However, some anti-Americanism is increasing because they believe that America has reneged on its promises to remove all sanctions after agreement was reached on the nuclear deal.
  • In the middle are the “moderates” or “pragmatists,” who are often as hardline as the principlists, but who are in favor of gradual reforms. Internationally, they are opposed to Western and American values, but they believe that it’s necessary to make some minimal concessions, as necessary, to make Iran less isolated. Rafsanjani was a moderate, and so is Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani.

There was a serious split between Rafsanjani and Khamenei after the 2009 presidential elections, when young people were protesting, and there was blood running in the streets because Iran’s security forces were massacring students and other protesters. Khamenei wanted the security forces to be completely unleashed, so they could kill, torture, rape, jail and bash anyone they wanted, with impunity. Rafsanjani wanted to permit peaceful protests, and wanted the jailed protesters to be released. As a result of the split between Rafsanjani and Khamenei, two of Rafsanjani’s children were jailed on separate charges. Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, got herself into even more legal trouble while on leave from prison by visiting a leader of Iran’s persecuted Bahai religious minority. Mehr News (Tehran) and BBC (28-May-2016)

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Is Rafsanjani’s death a victory for Iran’s hardliners?

Many analysts are calling Rafsanjani’s death a victory for Khamenei and the hardline principlists, because he will no longer be able to exert moderating pressure on them. That’s one way of looking at the situation.

The other way of looking at it is that it’s a victory for the young reformists, because he will no longer be able to exert a moderating pressure on them. In other words, in this view Rafsanjani was a powerful buffer between the two extremes, and without him they will both be free to pursue more radical policies. His death might even be the trigger for an Awakening era climax.

Generational Dynamics cannot predict short-term politics, but in many cases it can predict long-term trends, and in this case the long-term trend is clear. The old hardline geezers are dying off, and the young reformists are growing in number and gaining power.

As I’ve pointed out many times, Iranian college students started holding pro-Western and pro-American protests in the late 1990s, and continuing into the 2000s. These protests were quashed by Khamenei, who ordered the security forces to bash any students that expressed any opposition opinions.

But by the year 2017, those students are now 30-40 years old, and they’re increasingly in positions of power, making reformist decisions and implementing reformist policies. And by the way, this is also true within the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

By contrast, the old geezer hardliners are dying off or are becoming senile, and are less and less able to exert decisions as they used to. Rafsanjani was a moderate and a pragmatist, but he was also well-respected by everyone, and could influence moderation in both extremes. Without his moderating influence, we can expect the generational differences between the reformists and the principlists.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Iran is in a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, characterized by a “generation gap,” and a generational clash between the hardline survivors of the last generational crisis war (WW II in America’s case) and the generations growing up after that war. This political clash almost always ends up in a victory for the younger generation, as the older generation retires and dies off. In America, the Awakening era climax was the resignation of Richard Nixon, which signaled a victory of the Boomers over the GI and Silent generations that had survived WW II. In Iran, no such Awakening era climax has not yet occurred, but it’s 100% certain that it’s coming.

As I’ve been writing for years, Iran, will be the West’s allies during the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, the US, Japan, India, Iran and Russia will be allied again China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. Mehr News and Guardian (London)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Shah of Iran, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Rouhani, Faezeh Hashemi, Bahai, principlists, moderates, reformists
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

8-Jan-17 World View — Violent protests in Sri Lanka over China’s takeover of Hambantota seaport

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Britain’s hospitals run out of beds as Red Cross declares NHS in ‘humanitarian crisis’
  • Violent protests in Sri Lanka over China’s takeover of Hambantota seaport

Britain’s hospitals run out of beds as Red Cross declares NHS in ‘humanitarian crisis’

About 6,000 patients per week are being left in ambulances because the hospital is too crowded to admit them (Evening Standard)
About 6,000 patients per week are being left in ambulances because the hospital is too crowded to admit them (Evening Standard)

The British Red Cross is declaring the National Health Service (NHS) to be in “humanitarian crisis,” because 6,000 patients per week are being left in ambulances outside of hospitals that have run out of beds. When patients are left in ambulances, then the ambulances can no longer be used to transport new patients in medical emergencies. So the NHS has asked the Red Cross to help out by providing volunteers and use Land Rovers to transport patients.

Red Cross chief Mike Adamson said:

“The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country.

We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much-needed beds.

This means deploying our team of emergency volunteers and even calling on our partner Land Rover to lend vehicles to transport patients and get the system moving.

We call on the UK government to allocate immediate funding to stabilize the current system and set out plans towards creating a sustainable funding settlement for the future.”

Not surprisingly, a politician like Adamson is simply calling for more money. I’ve been writing about the NHS for years, and the problem is that there’s no more money.

As we reported a year ago, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is facing an existential crisis, with a huge and accelerating deficit expected to reach 22 billion pounds ($32 billion) by 2020.

The system is corrupt, with doctors falsifying records, claiming for work that was never done, or putting in for bogus overtime. Dentistry services are so bad that people are buying “do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry kits” to take care of their whole families, as was done centuries ago.

In desperation to save money, many hospitals have had bed cuts, or have closed their Accident & Emergency departments (known in America as Emergency Rooms). Many maternity units have also been targeted for closure.

One of the biggest farces of the 2016 was perpetrated by the “Leave European Union” camp of the Brexit campaign. They promised that if the UK left the EU, then £350m-a-week that is currently being sent to Brussels would not be invested in the NHS. It was a total lie, and it was retracted soon after the referendum passed, but it’s typical of the lies we hear from politicians on a daily basis.

It would be nice if it were possible to give free health care to everyone, but it isn’t. In America, both the Veterans Administration and Obamacare are financial disasters. At least the NHS was designed carefully enough that it was financially healthy for fifty years of its life, but Obamacare was so poorly designed that it’s a financial disaster within five years of its life. Jonathan Gruber said that Obamacare passed because of “the stupidity of the American voter,” and that same stupidity is continuing, in both America and Britain. London Evening Standard and Reuters and British Red Cross and Guardian (London, 10-Sep-2016)

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Violent protests in Sri Lanka over China’s takeover of Hambantota seaport

Thousands of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist monks and anti-government protesters held demonstrations on Saturday that turned violent, protesting China’s takeover of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota seaport by the Chinese in repayment of a debt to the Chinese incurred by the government.

In 2009, China invested $1.2 billion in the port as part of its “string of pearls” strategy to surround India. Sri Lanka had expected to repay the debt through profits earned by the port, but the slowdown in trade throughout the entire region in the last few years has meant that Sri Lanka has been unable to repay the debt.

Now Sri Lanka’s government has been forced to give China a 99-year lease to take over the port. In addition, China will lease 15,000 acres in the region for an industrial zone for Chinese factories. China is expected to invest another $5 billion in Sri Lanka for industrial development.

At least 21 people were injured on Saturday in violent clashes between government supporters versus those opposed to the plan, the latter led by Buddhist monks. The two groups threw rocks at each other, and police responded with water cannon.

Opponents of the plan say that thousands of people will lose their homes because of the project. They say that China will establish a “Chinese colony” on Sri Lankan soil that will grow and can never be removed.

Supporters of the plan say that China will invest $5 billion in the region, and the new industries will generation 100,000 new jobs.

There are other international implications. China will have responsibility for security at the port, which means that it the port will host the Chinese military, including warships and submarines.

China already has similar seaports in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and India is concerned that it’s being surrounded by China’s military and warships. Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) and AP and News First (Sri Lanka) and BBC

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Britain, National Health Service, NHS, British Red Cross, Mike Adamson, Brexit, Veterans Administration, Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber Sri Lanka, China, Hambantota, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

7-Jan-17 World View — The Gambia’s president prepares for war with Senegal on January 19

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • The Gambia’s president prepares for war with Senegal on January 19
  • Congo’s president Joseph Kabila refuses to step down after losing election

The Gambia’s president prepares for war with Senegal on January 19

The Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh (Reuters)
The Gambia’s president Yahya Jammeh (Reuters)

The Gambia’s president Yahya Jammeh is joining the ranks of national leaders, mostly African, who refuse to give up power after their terms are up, violating their national constitutions, and inflicting violence by the country’s armies and security forces on any opposition figures that protest.

Yahya Jammeh came to power through a military coup in 1994. Jammeh’s reign was authoritarian, intolerant and violent, with executions of political opponents. There were subsequent elections, and Jammeh always won them, but suspicions were great that Jammeh had rigged the elections.

So it was with some surprise that Jammeh lost the recent presidential election last month on December 1 to Adama Barrow, a businessman.

An even more shocking event occurred: Jammeh called Barrow and conceded the election, congratulating Barrow on his victory. Jammeh said that Barrow would become president on January 19, as called for in the constitution. This concession caused dancing in the streets in the capital city Banjul, and enormous relief in the international community, particularly among The Gambia’s neighbors in West Africa.

A week later, Jammeh reneged on his concession, declared that the election had been a fraud, and said that there would have to be a new election.

ECOWAS is the Economic Community of West African States, with 15 member states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte D’ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

ECOWAS is meeting on Saturday to decide what to do. Senegal in particular has vowed that ECOWAS must do all it can to enforce an orderly succession of power on January 19, and has put forces on alert.

In a New Year’s statement on January 1, Jammeh called the ECOWAS statement a “declaration of war”:

“‘‘What is clearly incontrovertible is the decision of ECOWAS to implement the results of the December 1st 2016 election results by whatever means possible. It is totally illegal as it violates the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states, which is an entrenched clause in the ECOWAS treaty.

It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution. It is therefore absolutely unacceptable. This blatant, impartial and one-dimensional approach clearly indicates that the role of ECOWAS is not predicated on the pursuit of justice in the resolution of this stalemate.”

According to Alexander Yearsley, Managing Director of Martello Risk, with 20 years of experience conducting field and forensic investigations across Africa, Jammeh is recruiting mercenaries to fight in a possible with ECOWAS. Yearsley refers to Charles Taylor, the former dictator of Liberia, who was convicted of war crimes during the Sierra Leone civil war for terror, murder and rape. Yearsley says that the same people who fought for and against Charles Taylor are now being recruited as mercenaries by Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia (my transcription):

“From what we’re being told by people who are attending some of these recruitment meetings, a senior figure who used to be in the Taylor fighting setup – they will phone their own contacts, their networks, and they will explain the situation, how much money will be offered on a daily rate, what fighters they need. And they’re recruiting across the boards – their former enemies – they are happy down differences and for $100 a day, they will be getting some very experienced fighters that know how to operate.”

Yearsley’s claims are supported by a former Liberian army commanded who used to fight for Charles Taylor: “Jammeh is ready to fight to the teeth and spend money to stay in power.” Reuters and Africa News and Jollof News (The Gambia) and Deutsche Welle

Congo’s president Joseph Kabila refuses to step down after losing election

Joseph Kabila became president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2001, when his father was assassinated. He’s been reelected to office, but his final term in office ended last month on December 19.

Joseph Kabila pulled a stunt that can only be described as mind-boggling. He claims that he can’t step down because there haven’t been any elections to select a president to replace him. There were supposed to be elections in November but they weren’t held. His political opponents said that they weren’t held because Kabila refused to budget the money to hold the elections.

So that’s the situation. He’ll do everything he can to prevent elections from being held, and so he won’t have to step down because there’s no replacement.

African leaders are always complaining the Europeans and Americans don’t take them seriously, but they have only themselves to blame when you see this kind of nonsense occurring almost every week. Whether in Zimbabwe, Burundi, South Sudan, or The Gambia — and let’s not forge Syria, which is not an African country — leaders use everything from torture and rape and jailing to wholesale genocide to stay in power.

In DRC last month, there was a threat of civil war, but the Catholic Church intervened and brokered an agreement: Elections will be held in December of 2017 to choose Kabila’s successor, and this time, Kabila will really, really, really, really have to step down. This farcical agreement was signed by members of Kabila’s government, but it wasn’t even signed by Kabila himself. All Africa and Daily News (Zimbabwe)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, Adama Barrow, Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Senegal, Alexander Yearsley, Liberia, Charles Taylor, Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, Joseph Kabila, Zimbabwe, Burundi, South Sudan, Syria
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

6-Jan-17 World View — New armed militia emerges in Central African Republic: Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R)

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • New armed militia emerges in Central African Republic: Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R)
  • Central African Republic crisis war continues to spin out of control

New armed militia emerges in Central African Republic: Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R)

A UN convoy with Moroccan peacekeepers like this one was attacked on Wednesday
A UN convoy with Moroccan peacekeepers like this one was attacked on Wednesday

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been riven since 2013 by a civil war mainly between the Muslim Séléka militias and the Christian anti-Balaka militias. However, there are numerous other ethnic militias, including vigilante groups made up of nomadic, predominantly Muslim Fulani herders, as well as others specializing in highway robbery. All of these groups have been guilty of massacres, rapes, scorched earth attacks, and other atrocities, often in revenge for similar attacks by a militia on the other side.

One of the Muslim Fulani herder groups, the Peul tribe, has emerged as a relative new militia group inflicting horrors on civilians in the northwest of CAR, particularly near the borders of Cameroon and Chad. Although they have been mainly allied with the Muslim Séléka militias, fighting against the Christian anti-Balakas, they also claim on occasion to have fought against Séléka militias for the protection of their own Peul tribe.

The Peul armed militia is calling itself “Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation” or “3R”. The group appeared in December 2015, and throughout 2016 they burned down villages, causing tens of thousands of civilians to lose their homes. They’ve killed and raped civilians, and committed other atrocities.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) conducted interviews in November, and documented numerous atrocities and murders. One 30-year-old woman said that 3R fighters broke into her home:

“One said, “Where is your husband?” I said that he was not there. … One of them cocked his gun and pointed it at me and said, “We are going to have sex with you.” He threw me on the ground and [one of them] raped me. Another was waiting for his turn, but there was shooting outside while the first one was finishing, so when he was done they both left. … [M]y two younger children were right beside me, crying.”

I wish that I could tell you, Dear Reader, that this kind of atrocity was rare, but it’s common fare during a generational crisis war, such as the war in Central African Republic. Rape and extermination of opponents is part of the human DNA, and all people of all races and religions are susceptible, often in a cycle of escalating tit-for-tat revenge. Human Rights Watch and Reuters

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Central African Republic crisis war continues to spin out of control

On Wednesday, a convoy of United Nations peacekeepers in Central African Republic near the Cameroon border was attacked unknown assailants who killed two Moroccan peacekeepers and then escaped. It’s not known whether the attackers were from the 3R militias, but this attack shows that the UN peacekeepers have almost no control in the country outside the capital city Bangui.

A month ago, Ban Ki-moon, the outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that he was “deeply concerned over renewed violence last week in the Central African Republic.” A UN Special Adviser Adama Dieng added, “Given the country’s recent history, this kind of targeted violence is extremely dangerous and must be stopped.”

It’s good to hear UN officials making the hard-hitting statements, which are sure to convince both the Muslims and the Christians in CAR to put down their weapons, because other actions by the UN have been useless, and in a sense may have made things worse.

After a coup in March 2013, Muslim Séléka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christians. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Séléka militias.

The actions of the French troops backfired. When the Muslim Séléka troops were disarmed, the Christian anti-Balaka militias “rushed into the vacuum,” and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Sélékas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it’s become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

The French peacekeepers were supposed to remain in CAR for just six months, until a United Nations force could take over. However, they remained in CAR for much longer than six months, and their withdrawal was only announced in October of last year, after several years of almost total failure. In addition, some of the French peacekeepers were charged with raping some of the CAR civilians that they were supposed to be protection. There is now a UN peacekeeping force of 12,500 troops known as MINUSCA, but as Wednesday’s attack illustrates, it hasn’t been any more successful.

Actually, I’ve written about this many times in the last four years. CAR’s last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion (“War of the Hoe Handle”), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis civil war has already started.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a generational crisis war cannot be stopped by “peacekeeping troops.” It begins when the traumatized survivors of the previous crisis war are no longer around, and are no longer able to prevent the younger generations from starting another crisis war. Massacres and atrocities by both (or all) sides continue to grow and worsen on a tit-for-tat basis, usually for five years or more, until there’s an “explosive climax,” some genocidal massacre that’s so horrific that it brings the war to an end, and causes the traumatized survivors, both winners and losers, to vow that they will never let such a war occur again.

UN peacekeeping forces have been more or less successful in minimizing the violence in one city, the capital city Bangui, but everything outside of Bangui is completely lawless, and completely out of control of the peacekeepers. The rise of the 3R militias, and the new atrocities that it’s perpetrating show how far the CAR civil war has yet to go. United Nations and International Business Times and RFI

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Central African Republic, CAR, Bangui, Séléka, anti-Balaka, Fulani, Peul, Cameroon, Chad, Return – Reclamation – Rehabilitation, 3R, Human Rights Watch, Ban Ki-moon, Adama Dieng, France, French Foreign Legion, MINUSCA, Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, Kongo-Wara Rebellion, War of the Hoe Handle
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

5-Jan-17 World View — Israel polarized over conviction of soldier for manslaughter

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Israel polarized over conviction of soldier for manslaughter
  • Protesters clash with police to protest the verdict
  • Comparison to Pakistan murder of Salman Taseer

Israel polarized over conviction of soldier for manslaughter

Screen grab from video of March 4, 2016.  Israeli soldier reloads his gun just before shooting dead the Palestinian lying wounded and bleeding (AP)
Screen grab from video of March 4, 2016. Israeli soldier reloads his gun just before shooting dead the Palestinian lying wounded and bleeding (AP)

Israelis appeared to be deeply polarized in reaction to a verdict handed down by a military court on Wednesday convicting an Israeli soldier, Elor Azaria, of manslaughter, for having shot and killed a Palestinian who was lying on the ground wounded.

On March 24 of last year Abdel Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi Qasrawi Tamimi, two 21-year-old Palestinians, stabbed an Israeli soldier in Hebron, a majority Palestinian city in the West Bank. Tamimi was shot and killed immediately.

Al-Sharif was also shot. The shot did not kill him, but left him wounded and bleeding, lying on the ground. Almost 15 minutes later, one of the soldiers, Elor Azaria, shot al-Sharif in the head, killing him. The entire situation was videoed, and the video was posted on the internet and went viral.

In Wednesday’s court hearing before three military judges in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The lead judge, IDF Col. Maya Heller, spent almost three hours reading the decision that concluded with a conviction on a charge of manslaughter. Azaria had claimed in his defense that he felt he was in danger because al-Sharif might be wearing a concealed explosive vest. The judges rejected that claim, and pointed to the testimony of Azaria’s friend, who testified that Azaria originally said Sharif needed to be killed out of revenge for stabbing a fellow soldier. 24-Mar-2016 and Jerusalem Post

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Protesters clash with police to protest the verdict

Some 400 protesters clashed with police to protest the guilty verdict. One protester wore a shirt saying, “The people of Israel don’t abandon a soldier during battle.” Others referred to him as a hero.

A number of protesters threatened violence by chanting, “Gadi, Gadi beware, Rabin’s looking for a friend.” The protesters were threatening to assassinate IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister of Israel until November 4, 1995, when he was shot dead by an Israeli nationalist who opposed Rabin’s support of a peace treaty with the Palestinians.

Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah said that Palestinians don’t expect anything to change as a result of the verdict:

“[The verdict is] divisive in Israel because there is a widespread view that Israeli soldiers should be able to kill Palestinians with complete impunity. ,,,

Thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the past 15 years by the Israeli army and there has been no accountability. I think, if you ask practically any Palestinian, they will tell you that even though there was a guilty verdict in this case, in all likelihood he will receive a very light sentence.”

The sentence will be handed down on January 15. The maximum sentence that Azaria could receive for manslaughter is 20 years. However, because of the circumstances — al-Sharif had just stabbed an Israeli soldier before being shot — it’s expected that the sentence will be considerably lighter than 20 years. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the military to grant Azaria a pardon. Ynet and Radio France Internationale

Comparison to Pakistan murder of Salman Taseer

As we described yesterday, Mumtaz Qadri was showered with roses and treated as a hero in 2011 after brutally murdering Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Elor Azaria was also treated as a hero after murdering a wounded Palestinian who lay bleeding.

The circumstances are different in that the Palestinian had just stabbed another soldier. But what both cases have in common is that they both show how polarized societies around the world have become in this generational Crisis era.

As I’ve been saying for several years, nationalism, xenophobia and racism have been growing in countries around the world. Those who suffered the horrors of World War II and survived realized that nationalism, xenophobia and racism had been the core reasons for the war, and vowed to make sure that they were permanently extinguished. But now, with the survivors of WW II almost gone, and young generations having grown up after WW II not understanding the dangers, nationalism, xenophobia and racism are returning and are a strong as ever. Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a new world war, the worst war in world history, and the rise of nationalism, xenophobia and racism is one of the reasons that war occur. Vice News

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Israel, West Bank, Hebron, Elor Azaria, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, Ramzi Qasrawi Tamimi, Maya Heller, Gadi Eisenkot, Yitzhak Rabin, Ali Abunimah, Pakistan, Salman Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

4-Jan-17 World View — Pakistan’s bizarre blasphemy laws lead to death threats for son of slain governor

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Pakistan’s bizarre blasphemy laws lead to death threats for son of slain governor
  • Pakistan’s Imran Khan forced to apologize after being accused of blasphemy

Pakistan’s bizarre blasphemy laws lead to death threats for son of slain governor

Shaan Taseer, threatened with death for Christmas greeting (Pakistan Daily)
Shaan Taseer, threatened with death for Christmas greeting (Pakistan Daily)

Shaan Taseer, the son of governor Salman Taseer, who was brutally murdered in 2009 for questioning Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, is receiving death threats for, again, questioning Pakistan’s blasphemy.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province in Pakistan, was shot 28 times in broad daylight in an open marketplace on January 4, 2011. The killer was his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri. The motive, as described by Qadri, was to punish Taseer for objecting to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and for calling for the release of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was in jail facing execution for violating the blasphemy laws.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are totally bizarre and are almost completely meaningless except as a political weapon, similar to sexual harassment laws in the United States, but with much greater consequences. In Pakistan, a politically connected person can manufacture a charge of blasphemy to have a political enemy or hated former friend put into jail or even executed.

In the case of Asia Bibi, there was an altercation between her and another woman in 2010. Bibi drank water from a Muslim cup (whatever that is), and since the other woman was politically connected, Bibi was charged with blasphemy and thrown into jail, scheduled for execution.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, spoke out in defense of Bibi, and criticized the blasphemy laws. This triggered mass hate rallies against Taseer and Bibi, with many religious clerics calling for the immediate execution of Bibi. Finally, Mumtaz Qadri, Taseer’s bodyguard, shot and killed Taseer. He shot Taseer in the back 28 times just to make sure.

Qadri immediately became a national hero. The next day, when Qadri was brought to court to face charges of having assassinated Taseer, the other lawyers in the court showered him with roses. A statement by 500 Pakistan religious scholars praised Qadri for keeping alive a “tradition of 1,400 years in Islam” which they claim requires the killing of anyone committing an act of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.

Qadri was convicted of murdering Taseer, and much to everyone’s surprise, Qadri was put to death by hanging on February 29 of last year. This triggered new violent protests across Pakistan. One terror group, Sunni Tehreek, demanded the immediate execute of Asia Bibi, and demanded that all five million members in Pakistan of the Ahmadi branch of Islam be expelled from the country.

So now, on Christmas, the Shaan Taseer, the son of the murdered Salman Taseer, posted a video message on his Facebook page, wishing a happy holiday to Christians, and calling for prayers for Asia Bibi and for others victimized by blasphemy laws.

One can reasonably question Shaan Taseer’s sanity for doing this, but if his objective was to be threatened with death, he got his wish, and now says that he’s received “very credible death threats,” adding:

“They are sending me Mumtaz Qadri’s photos with messages that there are several Mumtaz Qadris waiting for me.”

It’s expected that we will hear more about this story. Daily Pakistan and Reuters and Daily Pakistan (29-Feb-2016) and BBC

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Pakistan’s Imran Khan forced to apologize after being accused of blasphemy

Imran Khan was one of Pakistan’s greatest cricket players of all time, and was once voted as the “Sexiest Man of The Year” by Australia Magazine Oz. He turned to politics in the 1990s, and has become an extremely colorful and extremely anti-American politician. He refers to Pakistan’s relationship with America as “client and master.”

Now the same cleric that’s threatening Shaan Taseer death for blasphemy is also demanding apology from Imran Khan because one of Khan’s speeches contains “blasphemous sentences for the Prophet Mohammed,” adding:

“If the state fails to execute Imran Khan, it wouldn’t be a crime if any ‘aashiq-e-Rasool’ (lover of prophet P.B.U.H) kills him. He will be exempt from Qisas and Diyat (blood money).”

I’ve read several news stories trying to find out exactly what Khan is accused of saying, but I can’t find it anywhere. I suspect that Pakistani editors are afraid to quote him, for fear of being targeted for death themselves.

It’s ironic that Khan is being charged with blasphemy, because he’s used charges of blasphemy against others when it was politically convenient. At any rate, Khan apologized, saying, “It was a mistake, and I assure that it won’t happen ever again.” Daily Pakistan and Daily Pakistan

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Pakistan, Shaan Taseer, Salman Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, Asia Bibi, Sunni Tehreek, Imran Khan
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

3-Jan-17 World View — Syrian opposition groups suspend negotiations of peace talks

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Video emerges from Burma (Myanmar) showing police beating Rohingya Muslims
  • Syrian opposition groups suspend negotiations of peace talks

Video emerges from Burma (Myanmar) showing police beating Rohingya Muslims

Screen grab from video. Dozens of Rohingyas on the right are being forced to watch the beating
Screen grab from video. Dozens of Rohingyas on the right are being forced to watch the beating

For months, Burma (Myanmar) police and soldiers have been committing ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State by scorched earth attacks, burning down their villages, and committing massacres, rapes and other atrocities that have forced tens of thousands to flee for their lives across the border into Bangladesh.

Burma has forbidden any journalists or humanitarian groups from entering Rakhine State to investigate, which many people consider to be an implied admission of guilt by Burma’s government.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented the ethnic cleansing through a series of “before and after” satellite images. Burma’s government agrees that the satellite images show that Rohingya villages are being burned down, but they make the laughable claim that the Rohingyas are burning down the villages themselves in order to embarrass the government. There have also been dozens of videos showing Burma’s police beating and raping Rohingya civilians, but Burma’s government claims that all of these videos are phony and have been fabricated.

So now a new video has emerged showing police beating and kicking a civilian, and forcing dozens of other Rohingyas to watch as the beating takes place. The video was taken by a policeman smoking a cigarette. Other policemen obviously knew that he was taking the video, suggesting that taking videos of policemen beating, killing and raping Rohingyas is some kind of standard procedure.

The mystery is how this video became public. It’s thought that some dissident official with access to the video, and shocked by the behavior of his fellow policeman, published the video on the internet surreptitiously, where it has gone viral.

The second remarkable thing, beyond the fact of the video itself, is that Burma’s government is acknowledging that the video is portraying a real event. The policemen appearing the video have been arrested, and the government says that there will be an investigation for police brutality.

Nobody seriously believes that anything will change. The investigation may lead to the conviction of one or two policemen, but the Buddhist xenophobic hatred of Muslims in Burma goes very deep. The root of the violence is xenophobic attacks by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his “969 movement,” against the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect.

There are about a million Rohingyas living in Rakhine State, where they have lived for generations, but Burma’s government refuses to recognize them as citizens. They are, for all practical purposes, a stateless ethnic group, living on the Bangladesh-Burma border for generations, but rejected by both countries. In fact, Burma refuses to identify the Rohingya as a unique ethnic group, preferring to call them Bengali, and referring to them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. In the last few years, large mobs of Buddhists have massacred entire neighborhoods of Muslims in various regions of the country, mutilating, raping and killing hundreds, and displacing thousands from their homes. We’re used to hearing about atrocities committed by Muslim jihadists in the Mideast, but in Burma the situation is reversed — it’s the Buddhists who are committing the atrocities, while the Muslims are, for the most part, innocent victims. Russia Today and Bangkok Post and YouTube: Rohingya beating video

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Syrian opposition groups suspend negotiations of peace talks

The Free Syrian Army (FSA), a coalition of “moderate” groups opposing Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, have suspended peace talks because of repeated ceasefire violations by al-Assad’s warplanes and by al-Assad’s ally, the Iran-backed Lebanon militia Hezbollah.

The ceasefire was announced last week, brokered by Russia, Iran, and Turkey, and was to lead to peace talks soon, taking place in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. The United States, the United Nations, and the European Union were all excluded from negotiations about the ceasefire and peace talks, which presumably was supposed to make them more likely to succeed.

Al-Assad has always been the most volatile of the participants in any of these discussions. Al-Assad started the civil war in 2011, when his bombers started targeting innocent women and children, including Palestinians in a refugee camp near Latakia, which drew young jihadists from around the world to Syria to fight al-Assad, resulting in the formation of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

So the question that I’ve asked repeated for months and years is how can any “peace deal” ever succeed in view of al-Assad’s evident determination to exterminate as many Sunni women and children as he can?

The FSA has issued its statement suspending its participation in the peace talks because his warplanes have been bombing civilian targets in a region near Damascus in which the city’s water supply is located. Hezbollah and Syrian army troops are also headed for the same region. According to the FSA, “Any (advance) on the ground goes against the (ceasefire) agreement and if things don’t return to how they were before, the accord will be considered null and void.”

It’s been assumed that Russia and Iran would control al-Assad and force him by any means necessary to honor the ceasefire, but it appears that assumption is wrong. Unless Russia and Iran find a way to control al-Assad, then the “ceasefire” will collapse completely within a few days. France 24 and VOA

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Burma, Myanmar, Rohingyas, Rakhine state, Bangladesh, Syria, Damascus, Bashar al-Assad, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Free Syrian Army, FSA, Latakia, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

2-Jan-17 World View — Istanbul Turkey New Year’s terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Istanbul Turkey New Year’s terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks
  • Terror attacks expose deep divisions in Turkey’s society

Istanbul Turkey New Year’s terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks

Reina nightclub in Istanbul on Sunday morning, several hours after the attack (EPA)
Reina nightclub in Istanbul on Sunday morning, several hours after the attack (EPA)

The people of Turkey were once again traumatized by a new terror attack, this time on a well-known Reina night club in Istanbul, where crowds of 700 people, both Turks and foreigners, were celebrating the New Year. At around 1:15 am on January 1, a gunman opened fire on people in the packed nightclub, killing at 39 people and injuring 65 others. The gunman fled and is still at large.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it’s believed to be the work of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), because of the similarity to attacks in Paris and Orlando, where attackers killed civilians indiscriminately in entertainment venues.

In Paris on November 13, 2015, three suicide bombers detonated themselves at a football (soccer) game. Then terrorists targeted three cafes and restaurants with gunfire, and then attacked the Bataclan theatre, where three gunmen opened fire on a large crowd. In all, 130 people were killed. These attacks were planned and carried out by an ISIS terror cell in Brussels.

In Orlando on June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed by a gunman at a local gay nightclub. The assailant had sworn allegiance to ISIS, but no concrete links were found.

Turkey has suffered dozens of terrorist attacks in the past 18 months, killing hundreds of people. The perpetrators have been both ISIS and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), including the PKK offshoot Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK). There have been four previous terrorist attacks in just the five weeks:

  • November 24: Car bomb targeting a government building in Adana kills two people and injures 33.
  • December 10 – TAK terrorist car bombing in Istanbul killed 44 people, wounding 155.
  • December 17 – Suicide car bombing of a public bus in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri, killing 14 soldiers and wounding 55 others.
  • December 19 — Assassination of Andrey Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, in Ankara by an officer in Turkey’s security forces.

The Turkish people have been traumatized not only by the endless stream of terrorist attacks, but also by the July 15 failed coup attempt. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and AP

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Terror attacks expose deep divisions in Turkey’s society

Ever since the July 15 coup attempt, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been fired or jailed well over 100,000 people. Erdogan has particularly targeted journalists that write dissenting articles, but the targeted people also include members of parliament and other politicians, judges, police, and teachers.

Since many of the people targeted are from the political opposition or are dissenters from Erdogan’s policies, many people believe that Erdogan is using the coup attempt to eliminate his political enemies by force, including violence. This view is supported by the fact that Erdogan had already begun targeting the political opposition when he shut down the opposition newspaper Zaman several months before the coup attempt. These attacks have enormously polarized the Turkish people, with about half supporting Erdogan, and half despising him.

One analyst, Soner Cagaptay of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute says that Turkey’s population is sharply divided into two approximately equal groups:

  • About one-half of the country’s population comprise leftists, liberals, social democrats, Alevis (who are liberal Muslims), secularists and Kurds. Since taking office in 2003, Erdogan demonized, targeted, and brutally cracked down on these people, many of whom loathe him.
  • The other half is a loyal, right wing constituency, including Turkish nationalists, conservatives and Islamists. These people adore him.

Another analyst, Simon Waldman, notes that Erdogan’s reaction to the New Year’s attack was different from his reaction to other attacks in that, unlike other times, Erdogan did not refer to the people who were killed as “martyrs.” This word is almost always used by Erdogan with the death of a Turkish citizen in a terrorist attack or from military combat. But in this case, Erdogan said, “I offer my condolences to our citizens’, to our foreign guests’ and to our security officer’s families.”

Waldman speculates that the reason is that the attack was on a nightclub where alcohol was served, and the people were celebrating not only the New Year but also Christmas, as these two holidays are often conflated by Muslims. These are secular things that are strongly condemned by hardcore conservative Muslim clerics, and indeed it’s suspected that the terrorist attack was inspired by opposition to Christmas and New Year’s parties. Indeed, the attacker was wearing a Santa Claus hat.

In fact, Hurriyet columnist Murat Yetkin suggests that the “poisonous” atmosphere in Turkey is because by “rising nationalist and religious chauvinism”:

“Another question surrounds the political atmosphere in Turkey, which is getting more poisonous every day with rising nationalist and religious chauvinism. Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Görmez was quick to make a statement after the attack, saying there was “no difference” between terror attacks targeting places of worship and attacks targeting entertainment sites, and they should be equally condemned. That statement followed cheering after the attack among certain social media users who believe that celebrating the New Year is un-Islamic and something to be despised.

Görmez’s statement was welcome. But just two days before, the Friday sermon prepared by Görmez’s Diyanet and read in more than 80,000 mosques across Turkey harshly criticized New Year celebrations as illegitimate and having no place in Islam or Turkey’s cultural traditions. Only a few days ago, members of an ultranationalist group made headlines by performing street theater in the Western province of Aydin by pointing a pistol at the forehead of another militant dressed in a Santa Claus costume. Unlike the cases frequently opened against critical media in Turkey, the police and the courts took no action against them for “praising crime” or “stirring hatred among the people.””

In fact, many commentators are pointing out that Turks are now fighting each other as much as they’re fighting ISIS and the PKK. CNN and Globe and Mail (Canada) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Istanbul, Reina nightclub, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Paris, Bataclan, Orlando, Russia, Andrey Karlov, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, TAK, Soner Cagaptay, Simon Waldman, Murat Yetkin
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1-Jan-17 World View — Taiwan’s president responds to military threats from China

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • In New Year’s address, Taiwan’s president responds to military threats from China
  • Did Taiwan’s president say that Taiwan is ‘an independent, sovereign country’?
  • Taiwan president’s planned US visit angers China even more

In New Year’s address, Taiwan’s president responds to military threats from China

Tsai Ing-wen at news conference on Saturday
Tsai Ing-wen at news conference on Saturday

In the aftermath of the 10-minute phone conversation with president-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, tensions between Taiwan and China have been substantially increasing.

Reports indicate that China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has become increasingly alarmed by this phone conversation, since they feel that it threatens additional steps towards attempts by Taiwan to become an independent nation, not a province of China.

Since then, China’s military has been stepping up military drills near Taiwan, in a show of military force. China sent its aircraft carrier and a naval fleet into waters near Taiwan, and also sent military jets to circle the airspace near Taiwan. Taiwan’s defense minister has warned that enemy threats were growing daily.

In a New Year press conference on Saturday, president Tsai addressed a range of issue, including relations with China. She accused China of threatening Taiwan, and said that “we will not bow to pressure”:

“Since [we took office on] May 20, we have endeavored to maintain peaceful and stable relations across the Taiwan Strait in accordance with the people’s will and consensus in Taiwan. Driven by our respect for history and the spirit of seeking common ground while setting aside differences, we have continuously expressed goodwill towards the other side across the strait. We hope that the two sides can gradually reduce confrontations and differences through positive interactions.

But in the past few months, it has been the general feeling of the Taiwanese people that the rational and calm position that both sides have worked hard to maintain has seen certain changes. Step by step, Beijing is going back to the old path of dividing, coercing, and even threatening and intimidating Taiwan. We hope this does not reflect a policy choice by Beijing, but must say that such conduct has hurt the feelings of the Taiwanese people and destabilized cross-strait relations.

For the sake of safeguarding regional peace and prosperity, I want to once again reiterate that our commitments will not change, and our goodwill will not change. But we will not bow to pressure, and we will of course not revert to the old path of confrontation.

Whether cross-strait ties can take a turn for the better in the coming year will depend on our patience and resolve. But it will also depend on how Beijing sees the future of cross-strait relations, and whether it is willing to assume its share of the responsibility for building new models for cross-strait interactions. This is necessary to answer the collective hope for peace from the people on both sides of the strait, as well as the different parties in the region.”

Tsai added, “In 2017, our society is going to face some turbulence and face some uncertainties. It’s going to test our whole national security team, as well as the whole government’s ability to handle change. We need to face this matter calmly.”

Reports indicate that China is planning retaliatory measures against Taiwan, such as conducting war games near Taiwan or imposing trade sanctions.

It never ceases to amaze me that China gets away with illegally annexing huge regions in the South China Sea, in violation of international law by the international tribunal in the Hague, but then considers a ten-minute phone call an act of war. AFP and Office of Taiwan’s President and Reuters

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Did Taiwan’s president say that Taiwan is ‘an independent, sovereign country’?

The excerpt from Tsai’s press conference quoted above is the official translation of Tsai’s statement from a Taiwan government web site.

However, other news reports say that Tsai also said the following:

“The Republic of China is an independent, sovereign country.”

This is a highly inflammatory statement by the president of Taiwan, and so it’s not surprising if it was removed from the official text. (Republic of China is the full official name of Taiwan.)

In a press conference two weeks ago, President Obama said:

“China views Taiwan as part of China, but recognizes that it has to approach Taiwan as an entity that has its own ways of doing things.

Taiwanese have agreed that as long as they’re able to continue to function with some degree of autonomy, that they won’t charge forward and declare independence.”

Obama’s description of Taiwan as an “entity” has angered some Taiwanese activists, saying “Taiwan is an independent state, not an entity.”

Some activists claim that Taiwan is already a de facto independent state, because “Taiwan has already cut through the mire of its troubled history to become recognized by humanity, irrespective of official diplomatic relations.” In fact, these activists claim that calling Taiwan an “independent nation” does not contradict the One-China principle.

That may be the reason why President Tsai felt that it was OK to refer to Taiwan as “an independent, sovereign country.” Bloomberg and Reuters and Taipei Times and China Post (Taiwan)

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Taiwan president’s planned US visit angers China even more

Taiwan has confirmed that president Tsai Ing-wen will make a foreign visit to Central America, and will visit Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras between January 7-15.

The part of the trip that’s further infuriating the Chinese is that Tsai will make “transit stops” in the US before and after the trip to Central America. She will make a stopover in Houston en route to Central America and San Francisco on her return trip to Taiwan.

There has been media speculation that Tsai will meet with representatives of Donald Trump during one of the stopovers, but Tsai’s office has refused to confirm or deny these speculations.

China has repeatedly demanded that Washington not permit Tsai to visit the US during her trip. However, a Tsai spokesman says, “These transit stops are undertaken out of consideration for the safety, comfort, convenience and dignity of the traveler. President Tsai’s transits will be private and unofficial.” China Post (Taiwan)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, China, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras
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31-Dec-16 World View — Hacking of Democratic National Committee computers – I blame the victim

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Obama and Putin play bizarre diplomatic game after expulsion of Russian spies
  • It’s almost always the victim’s fault when computer networks are hacked

Obama and Putin play bizarre diplomatic game after expulsion of Russian spies

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin
Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin

So President Obama is pissed off because Russian hackers hacked into the Democratic National Committee, and so, just three weeks before he’s leaving office, he ordered 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, who always permits his security people to threaten and harass American diplomats just for the fun of it, announced on Friday that Russia would not reciprocate. Instead, Putin invited the children of US diplomats in Moscow to a New Year’s party in the Kremlin.

In the back and forth between Obama and Putin, I sometimes feel as if I’m watching the psychodrama of delusional politicians — a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched in one-sided peace negotiations over Ukraine and Syria over eight long years — played out on the international stage. Russia Direct (5-May) and Belfast Telegraph

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It’s almost always the victim’s fault when computer networks are hacked

As a Senior Software Engineer who has developed many web sites, I’m pretty much in the camp of “blame the victim” when a company’s networks get hacked. At one company where I worked several years ago, I told my managers that they needed to encrypt the social security numbers in their database, and I even told them how to do it easily. I reminded them again after one of their servers got hacked. But the problem is that protecting your networks doesn’t generate sales, and Gen-X managers think that when a Boomer software engineer tells them what to do, they’d rather eat mud than do it.

So that’s one reason there’s a news story almost every week about another company whose networks have been hacked. I write about these every now and then.

However, the real monster hack, the mother of all hacks, was announced last year. Chinese hackers stole the personal and security information of many millions of Americas from the servers at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Department of the Interior. That hack included the SF-86 forms that everyone fills out when applying for security clearances.

There is little doubt that the Chinese military is still sifting through this massive amount of data and using it in a variety of ways — from simple blackmail and extortion of individuals to the creation of sophisticated “spear phishing” e-mail messages used to hack into networks of other agencies and corporations. This massive collection of espionage data will be a powerful weapon in any future military confrontations.

OK, so the DNC hack hurt President Obama’s feelings, while the OPM hack is putting the survival of the country at risk. So which is more important? Why, the DNC hack is more important, because President Obama’s feelings are always more important than the survival of the country. That’s why there have been no expulsions of Chinese diplomats.

I was really appalled when I read the stories about Hillary Clinton’s home server and other flagrantly stupid violations of common sense. Apparently the same stupidity pervaded all of the networks of the Democratic National Committee, so it’s not surprising at all that they got hacked. The CIA and other intelligence agencies have concluded that the perpetrators were linked to Russia’s government, and I believe them, but the DNC servers were apparently so poorly protected that the hacker could have been from anywhere.

I last wrote about the hack of the DNC’s computers in July. At that time, I made the following points:

  • No self-respecting hacker would attack the Democratic party servers without also attacking the Republican party servers. However, there have been no leaks of Republican party e-mails.
  • If the hacker’s intent was to help Trump beat Hillary, then releasing the e-mails was risky because it might have backfired, and created sympathy for Hillary.

So my personal conclusion is that most likely explanation of what happened was that the hacker tried to hack both parties’ servers, but succeeded only with the Democratic party servers, and then released the e-mails because that’s what hackers do, and probably didn’t care who won the election.

It’s not always the victim’s fault when computers are hacked, of course. Hacking is a huge worldwide industry, and hackers are always finding new ways to get around firewalls or to install malware or ransomware. A good idea is to keep separate backups of all your data, so that if you’re hacked then you still have the backup. All you can do is reduce the probability that you’ll be hacked, and for that you need to be totally paranoid. Lawfare (11-Mar-2016)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Vladimir Putin, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OPM, Department of the Interior, SF-86, China
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