Apparently recent reports from Western intelligence sources indicate that the government of Syria is in the process of constructing a new secret nuclear plant aimed at producing nuclear weapons.
I say ‘apparently’ because we all know that the Western Governments, particularly the United States and Britain, are in the habit of telling lies.
But, assuming this time they are telling the truth, the question I want to ask is not, ‘are the Syrians building a new nuclear weapons facility?’, but rather, ‘why are they bothering to try to build one?’.
They attempted it before but, just after midnight (local time) on September 6, 2007, Israeli bombers destroyed the facility in an air attack. That site was called ‘al-Kibar’, located 20 miles from Deir el-Zor in eastern Syria. Here are the before and after photos.
The giveaway that the Israelis had got it right lay in the fact that the Syrian government has never commented or protested about the incident. If they hadn’t been up to something dodgy the Syrian propaganda machine would have been telling the whole world about the unprovoked Israeli aggression, you can be sure of that.
Not ones to learn a lesson quickly, the Syrians were at it again in late 2008, trying to produce plutonium aided and abetted by North Korea, which is always keen to promote nuclear weapons development in countries hostile to the West, having for some unknown reason been allowed to develop them themselves.
This time the plutonium producing supplies aren’t heading for al-Kibar which is just a hole in the ground. Instead they are supposed to be going to a facility being constructed in the southwest of Syria in a remote mountainous region near the small town of Al-Qusayr.
That’s just about two miles from the northern Lebanese border and close to the area controlled by the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which is supposed to be guarding the plant with ‘elite units’. The construction project is also being assisted by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
While the project is still in construction I’m sure the Israelis will let the Syrians continue to waste their time and money.
When it nears completion, and the capability to produce bomb quality material, then listen out for another big bang preceding another big expensive hole in the ground.
When the internet was born it was a tool of the military establishment.
Then it broke out of that stranglehold and escaped into a world of freedom of expression and communication for everyone.
Never before had a system like this been available to the general public. Never before had it been so easy to find information, search for friends, communicate with groups with similar interests, etc. Its popularity was assured.
The world wide web developed at break neck speed, much too quick for the people who hate and detest freedom. They were confounded.
It was a free and open internet.
So how could it ever go wrong?
Well, as with the financial crisis, when you dig down a bit you find the Clinton administration again as the culprit.
During the 1990s, when the World Wide Web was first being woven into social and cultural life, internet companies and corporate advertisers lobbied the Clinton administration to minimize privacy restrictions, so that they could re-engineer the Web to enable commercial surveillance of internet users.
The warnings of public interest groups were ignored as social networks, search engines, service providers and advertisers lobbied hard against even the smallest of efforts at data protection. Motivated by greed, they ensured that commercial surveillance would be pervasively integrated online. They are still at it today, that’s really what cloud computing services are all about.
A few thousand giant corporations, like Google, have become able to capture information every minute, of every hour, of every day, from everyone who uses the internet. And they can’t stop because their profit strategies totally rely on accumulating user data.
Thus began the surveillance society. The government saw how easy this could now be done and began to catch up fast. If there was snooping to be done, they were not to be left out in the cold.
Until Edward Snowden, who had been a computer consultant working for a subcontractor to the US National Security Agency (NSA), copied several hundred thousand classified documents relating to surveillance programs being conducted by the US and its allies in the name of the war on terror, and sent them to journalists, nobody really understood the level of snooping that was going on.
Most of it was unnecessary, intrusive, unproductive and immoral, and after Snowden’s revelations nobody believed the United States government was totally innocent of any wrongdoing.
Further revelations published since have helped to reveal a surveillance system that intrudes into almost every facet of our private lives. Privacy in fact is a thing of the past, unless you have the time, resources and knowledge to try to circumvent it.
If the government was only spying on the communications of foreign countries such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, and if it was confined to what could be termed ‘unfriendly’ nations and their agents throughout the world, then I don’t think anyone would mind so much. It’s a necessary evil in today’s world.
But unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Friendly nations and heads of state, European institutions, the UN headquarters, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to name but a few, have all also come under the snooper’s gaze.
This has not only shown up the irresponsibility and arrogance of those in charge of the snoopers, and their lack of common sense and ethics, but it has also created even more ill will against the United States.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an ally of the United States, was a victim of the snoopers. As a result of that revelation, the German government protested publicly its outrage. It also terminated its longstanding telecommunications service contract with Verizon, directing its business to Deutsche Telekom instead. Two weeks after that it expelled the head of US intelligence in Germany.
The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, also took public stands against US privacy invasions. He, like Merkel, had also personally been a victim of the US snoopers.
Then the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to affirm online privacy as a human right, and in June 2014, responding to the EU, the US Justice Department had to promise to send legislation to Congress that would grant European citizens many of the (inadequate) privacy protections accorded to US citizens.
Bad enough not trusting your supposed ‘allies’, but US intelligence agencies have gone even further. Now they don’t even trust the decent, honest, hard-working citizens of America who have never broken any laws, nor have any intention of doing so.
The Prism program, for example, allows the NSA to collect data from your emails, telephone conversations, contacts, videos, etc., from major US digital companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
The XKeyscore program uses several hundred servers distributed across the world to store information on the activities of every Internet user, including your emails, internet searches, the websites you visit, what you post on social networks, and blogs like this. (Whoops!)
The list goes on and on.
After Snowden’s revelations, commercial firms like Google, Facebook and others scrambled to distance themselves by professing outrage. Their protestations had little to do with political principle but a lot to do with ensuring they continued to make fortunes by collecting data on us.
The US Internet companies went on a public relations offensive, and also raced to reorganize their overseas operations, to reassure worried foreign customers that they were complying with local data protection measures.
IBM, for example, committed over a billion dollars to building additional data centers overseas, hoping to ease customer fears that their data was not safe from the US government’s surveillance. But then the US authorities demanded that Microsoft, which deploys more than a million computers in over 40 countries, hand over emails stored on its servers in Ireland. Data is not safe and private anywhere it seems.
Personally I think it is a pity that the powers that be are able to devote time, energy and money against people who have done nothing wrong, yet seem unwilling to remove child pornography and other evils from the world wide web. But the latter would require a decree of decency and morals that is sadly lacking in those who direct such matters for the government.
The US has lost the moral authority to talk about a free and open Internet, because that free and open internet has already been destroyed.
Another rant cunningly disguised as a Sunday Sermon.
Some people say we should be grateful we get told anything at all nowadays. We certainly can’t rely on our governments being honest with their people. In fact, as we have discovered recently, they would rather spy on us and gather secret dossiers on our activities. Much more reminiscent of Stalinist Russia than the Land Of The Free.
A big part of the problem is that in what passes for ‘democracy’ in Western nations, the people are told they have the power to elect whoever they think will be the best rulers, but they are not allowed the tools to do so effectively.
People are encouraged to vote party lines, rather than think about which candidate has the greatest ability.
The Western media compounds the problem by drip feeding information to us on a “what THEY think WE need to know basis”. In doing so they censor and simplify, and more often than not sensationalize that information to the point of it being almost useless.
Naturally the politicians love it that way. An uninformed population makes uninformed decisions at election times, casting their votes for the candidate who has the nicest shirt or some other reason unrelated to political policy and philosophy.
That’s one of the reasons you got the government that is in power – so if you voted them in you did so without knowing all the facts – or maybe any of them!
Not that there was much of an alternative. And it doesn’t matter what country you happen to live in either. Politicians worldwide, like bureaucrats, seem to be cut from the same cloth.
But that’s only part of the problem.
Bad enough that uninformed people make uninformed decisions and elect the wrong people. But worse is the fact that the people they elect are equally badly informed, their lack of knowledge becoming very clear quite quickly after they are elected.
Take America for example. Not the only culprit by any means, but the biggest one because of its size and the power and influence it wields throughout the world.
We all know that the economy is in a horrendous mess, with the administration seemingly clueless as to how to get us out of it. We’ve talked about that before and no doubt will do so again.
But if we were giving out grade marks for America, the ‘F’ minus with at least two exclamation marks would have to go to its understanding of foreign affairs. It’s not a case of ‘could do much better’ but more of a case of ‘couldn’t do much worse’.
Recent history is littered with foreign debacles. Vietnam, Somalia, Lebanon, Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now North Korea, Syria, and Iran are just some of the places where America, and sometimes its allies such as Britain, have tried to interfere only to make things far worse.
To the insult of causing the needless deaths and horrific injuries to the brave souls who put themselves in harm’s way because of these political idiots, they add the bigger insult of trying to excuse their foreign ‘crusades’ by lying to their own people.
Saddam Hussein used to be a ‘friend’, even being granted the Keys to the City of Detroit because of his charitable gifts. Then a few months later they made up blatant lies about his having developed weapons of mass destruction and he became the arch demon of the Middle East. Saddam was no saint that’s for sure, he was an evil man, but he had no weapons of mass destruction and he had nothing to do with Al Quaeda or the 9/11 attack, yet the US Administration went gung-ho to invade Iraq and take him out. Result – a bigger potential threat for the future.
All the years Col. Gadaffi was supporting terrorist attacks in Israel and Britain and Ireland he wasn’t touched, apart from the odd cruise missile sent his way more for publicity than any lasting affect it had on him or his country. Then when he became an ‘ally’ in the war against terror he was killed, leaving behind a country in a complete mess and opening the way for radical groups to take over. Result – a bigger potential threat for the future.
You could say exactly the same thing for Egypt or Syria or almost anywhere else where noses have been stuck in where they aren’t wanted.
Far from winning friends and influencing people, it’s almost as if America’s leaders want to create enemies and store up trouble for the future. Either this is a deliberate covert policy or it is the result of chronic stupidity.
Whatever the reason, it is costing the country far too much, both in terms of lives and money. Our politicians need to be told to get a grip on things in their own country before interfering in foreign lands where they clearly do not understand the damaging consequences of their ill-advised actions.
My blog friend Frank over at A Frank Angle came up with the idea of doing a post based on an alphabetical listing of a selection of his previous posts. An interesting idea and a good way to introduce more recent readers to some of the things they might otherwise have missed.
Of course, Frank couldn’t leave it at that, so he threw out a challenge for others to try to do the same for their blogs. And guess who couldn’t resist the challenge!
So here you are, for new and long term readers of this blog, a alphabetical journey through some of the files of Fasab!
A is for….
Awkward Moments, (Part One, Part Two and Part Three), a short series of amusing anecdotes of times when things didn’t go quite right.
B is for….
Banksters, one of my perpetual hate figures and the subject of numerous rants such as this one
Classifieds, a long running series of funny classified ads that turned out rather differently to the original intent, for example Part Three and Part Fourteen
And also for factoids about Chocolate and Coffee which people seemed to enjoy
D is for….
Dogs. I make no secret of the fact that I am very fond of dogs, and German Shepherds in particular. You won’t get a better or more loyal companion and friend. I’ve done several doggie posts, this one has been the most popular,
The Journey, an eight part story of an eventful and amusing journey from Dublin, Ireland to the Caribbean, by way of Miami, Florida. This was one of the first things I wrote for this blog and published before there was much viewing traffic
A Long Love Affair, a short story about my own geeky love affair with computers during the past few decades.
And for Lost In The Fog, a short story about Tommy who managed to get completely lost in the field beside his house.
M is for….
The MilPost Blog Award, another thing inspired by Frank who was the first blogger to receive this prestigious award only given to those few bloggers who have posted 1,000 times or more on their blog. If you know of anyone who is eligible to receive it please let me know.
N is for….
Numbers, an on going series of factoids about numbers and their meanings and associations, that has surprised me in the numbers of people viewing them. So far the most popular number is Twenty-Three 23.
O is for….
One Small Step For Man, a tribute on hearing of the death of Neil Armstrong the first man to set foot on the Moon. There are differing views on how Mr Gorsky fared, but I hope he did okay!
P is for….
No, you’re all wrong. P is for my loving tribute to the wonderful invention knows as Peanut Butter.
Q is for….
Quiz Show Answers, a very funny and long running series about the dumb answers given by contestants on various TV and radio quizzes over the years. Like this for example,
Versatile Blogger Award. Actually that should be ‘awards’ the first nomination from Alex way back when this blog was barely two months old, and subsequently from Sunny and Wendy. The Fasab blog has also been nominated for the Illuminating Blogger Award (Kenton), Sunshine Award (Wendy again) and the Kreative Blogger Award (Nabdip). My sincere thanks to everyone who though this blog worthy of nomination and I will get round to doing a proper awards page I promise.
W is for….
Word Play. Yes, you were right, just in the wrong place. I like puns and they feature almost every week somewhere in my blog. So like them, or hate them, or like to hate them, or even hate to like them, you’re sure to find some here.
Zero, there are no ‘Z’ posts on this blog, unless the ones that put you to sleep reading them!
I suppose I could have used some of the quiz or puzzle posts, but that’s a bit of a cop out.
I hope this means that Fasab has yet to reach its zenith.
So that’s it, the Fasab A – Z. Feel free to click any or all of the links that take your fancy, and, as always, enjoy!
Frank has asked me to remind everyone that no nominations are required to take part in the A2Z challenge, so why not have a go. It’s a bit of work, but fun too, and it gives you the excuse to look over some of your old posts.
The details are on Frank’s blog. To go there, click here!
It was either a title with a pun in it or just call today’s post “The Sunday Sermon”, but as you can see the pun got the better of me as usual.
If you hadn’t guessed, this one is my take on the goings on in North Korea.
Here we go….
Before the sermon starts I should preface it by saying we are in the current mess because politicians faffed about instead of stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons when they had the opportunity. It’s their mess, but unfortunately we are all in it with them.
JFK had Cuba and now BHO has North Korea, both countries run by dictators and both in their time posing a nuclear threat.
Why do the Democrats always get the best crises? Poor old Dubya and his greedy and power hungry ally in Britain, Tony Blair (often deliberately spelled Bliar for good reason), had to make up an excuse to start a war with Saddam Hussein. Remember the Weapons Of Mass Destruction that never actually existed?
Of course, when JFK was doing his statesman like thing, during his brief breaks between his girlfriends, I was far too young to know or care about nuclear threats or more world wars.I had other more important things to be getting on with like battling invaders from Mars or trying to pluck up the courage to explore that eerie wood just a short distance from the bottom of our garden.
So what I know about the Cuban crisis of the early 1960s is all gleaned from books and reports from that period which are now a matter of history. (We’ll leave the debate about just how accurate and reliable that is for another time.)
The truth seems to be that the Cuban nuclear crisis had very little to do with Cuba or Castro. It was a posturing competition between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, and to a lesser degree a pissing contest between Kennedy and Khrushchev.
In both Washington and the Kremlin, although there were the warmongers, there were more people who were sensible enough to realize that devastating each other’s countries would leave them both weaker and achieve very little.They were able to reach that conclusion simply because they were people who were not completely insane or delusional.
It probably seemed difficult at the time, but for JFK it was a relatively easy crisis to manage.
The ‘nuclear crisis’ facing Obama, if indeed it is that, is a different kettle of fish because Kim Jong-un shows all the signs of being both delusional and ever so slightly insane.
He can’t be held entirely to blame for this. He is the son of a long time dictator, who himself suffered from multiple delusions. And he was brought up in a militaristic and jingoistic regime, which is what dictators like to create for themselves simply because it makes their own people easier to control. North Korean propaganda has taught the public that military goals and economic goals are intertwined and therefore that Kim Jong-un’s actions are for the good of his people.
In the latest moves to up the ante, the North Koreans have told Britain and Russia that they should consider the evacuation of their embassies in Pyongyang. They have also moved another missile to their east coast as a further threat to US Pacific bases.
This in itself is just the latest response to UN sanctions and South Korea-US military drills, both of which have done nothing to ease tensions and in fact have annoyed the North Koreans immensely.
Now the North Korean army is saying that it has received final approval for military action, possibly involving nuclear weapons, against the threat posed by US B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers taking part in the joint drills.And all this has been accompanied by a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks.
The trouble with all this posturing is that Washington, which always gets a ‘F’ for ‘FAIL’ in Foreign Policy, very seldom, if ever, gets it right at the right time.
Washington doesn’t seem to understand that the macho culture in many other countries makes it extremely difficult for them to be seen by their own people as the one who blinked first. Losing face has a terrible stigma for them.
Further military ‘exercises’ and posturing will probably have the result of leaving the Jong-un regime with little alternative (in their eyes) but to act aggressively.
How that aggression will manifest itself is anybody’s guess. Least likely would be an attack on America – it’s too far away for the type of missiles North Korea currently has.
An attack of some kind on the US base at Guam is possible, as is an attack on neighboring South Korea. The latter, depending on the scale and the number of casualties, could spark of retaliatory strikes by the US-backed South Koreans and from there it is a short step into a conventional and probably very bloody war.
And we should remember that the Korean war during the 1950s was a spectacular waste of human lives. Generals sacrificed their men for years and ended back at the 38th parallel, more or less the same place they started.
Admittedly things might be a lot different this time if China decides that the North Korean regime is too out of control to support militarily.I doubt very much if it is in China’s long term interest to have a whacky dictatorship armed with nuclear weapons on their doorstep. After all it’s only 1,000Km to Beijing and more than 5,000Km to Hawaii, the closest state of the US to North Korea. At the same time would China want an economically united and strong US dominated state on its borders?
The jury is still out on that one.
Another thing that Washington gets badly wrong is that it thinks that because it is the most powerful military nation on earth – and it is by a long way – that therefore other countries will be afraid to take it on.
Rather than a comparison with the Cuban Crisis that everyone is concentrating on, I see parallels between North Korea today and Imperial Japan in the 1930s.Both are/were jingoistic regimes with an ’emperor’ having complete control, and both created a military style regime more as a way to suppress and control their own people, and therefore to cling to power, than to attack another nation.
But things being what they are, and people being so bloody stupid it’s unbelievable at times, there comes a time when those in power in such regimes lose their sense of reality and get carried away believing their own propaganda.
Hence Pearl Harbor when Imperial Japan forgot that when something big and powerful is asleep you should never poke it with a sharp stick, coz when it wakens up it will kick the crap right out of you!
And hence, the North Koreans are not afraid of taking on America. They should be, but they aren’t, which again makes some kind of attack more possible the more they are backed into a corner.
Thankfully there are some signs that Washington might be getting the message and preparing to step back from the rapidly approaching brink.American officials have reportedly decided to “pause” the recent show of US force in Korea because
– wait for it, it’s a good one –
they are surprised at the intensity of the North’s response.
I mean who could have seen that coming? Well the answer is just about everyone except for the cretins in Washington!
What is surprising, however, is that the most sense talked about the whole affair recently has been from the world’s number one cigar salesman, Fidel Castro. In fact, make that doubly surprising, in that he has said some things that I am in agreement with and that he is still around to say it!
He said “If a war breaks out there, there would be a terrible slaughter of people” in both North and South Korea “with no benefit for either of them.” And also that the “duty” to avoid the conflict is in the hands of Washington “and of the people of the United States.”
Castro hasn’t quite figured out that once elected US Presidents do whatever THEY want, not whatever the PEOPLE want.
But what he must have figured out is that politicians like to be liked because he also warns President Obama that his second term, “would be buried in a deluge of images that would portray him as the most sinister personality in the history of the United States.”
Equally, he cautions the North Koreans that now they have, demonstrated their “technical and scientific advances, we remind them of their duties with those countries that have been their great friends.” And he urged them to remember that “such a war would affect … more than 70 per cent of the planet’s population,” and decried “the gravity of such an incredible and absurd event” in such a densely populated region.
Do you think he is hankering after one of those Nobel Peace Prizes, like the one Obama got for not being George W Bush?
And who knows what is going to happen in the Koreas?
I’ve been doing puns for a while now and it seems that a lot of other people like them too. I just can’t figure out the reason. I mean the jokes themselves are, to say the least, sometimes contrived and quite bad. Yet people groan, grimace and laugh and come back for more – me included, I’m just not sure why.
If you think you have the answer do let me know.
Meantime enjoy this week’s selection.
The other day someone left a piece of silly putty in my house. I didn’t know what to make of it.
My wife has left me because I am a compulsive gambler. I’d do anything to win her back.
Some people are making Rapture jokes like there’s no tomorrow.
Tea is for mugs.
Did you hear about the physics student who couldn’t understand quantum theory? He was thicker than a Planck!
A woman was attacked by a troupe of mime artists. They performed unspeakable acts on her.
Wind turbines. I’m a big fan.
NBC News: Two pedestrians die in collision. How fast must they have been walking?
Don’t you just hate it when people think there clever but use the wrong grammar?
Iraq drastically needs to reduce its car bomb footprint.
A book just fell on my head. I’ve only got myshelf to blame.
“So, how’s life in North Korea?”
“Well, I can’t complain.”
How do you find a blind man in a nudist colony? It’s not hard.
Cocaine is never a solution. Unless, of course, you dissolve it in water.
I got a phone call from electric company to say my bill was outstanding. I said, “Thanks!”
I often say to myself, “I can’t believe that cloning machine worked!”
When my girlfriend said she was leaving because of my obsession with The Monkees, I thought she was joking. And then I saw her face.
I haven’t had a rant for a while, so one is long overdue. Here it is.
I’m sure hardly anybody noticed, but last week the bureaucrats in Washington effectively shut down the web site Intrade for US citizens. Intrade was the popular web site that any adult, including Americans, could use to wager on the future price of certain commodities, like gold or oil.
Effectively the bureaucrats have now made it illegal to solicit Americans to buy and sell commodity options contracts unless they are listed on an exchange registered with them or on one designated as legally exempt by them, and they have taken upon themselves the power to regulate nearly any commodity-related activity unless Congress provides a specific exemption.
Of course the politically well connected investment banks and hedge funds into which the great and the wealthy put their money can carry on as before speculating on the price of everything from pork bellies to platinum and manipulating gold, currency, oil and other markets. The recent MF Global scandal really puts that beyond reasonable doubt.
Intrade is just the latest move by the bureaucrats and the thought police to restrict the freedom of American citizens. Not so long ago it was the online gambling websites, then New Zealand based Megaupload was targeted, then banking in any offshore jurisdiction, now the Ireland based Intrade, and tomorrow, well, who knows.
Maybe the ever sensitive morons in the thought police will try to stop you reading blogs critical of their asinine bureaucracy? Oh, oh, gulp!
The way they are acting is nothing short of a complete perversion of the concept of a government with limited powers. But are the liberals, who should be in the forefront of upholding such principles, falling over themselves to defend the ordinary people?
If and when this type of interference happens in China or North Korea or somewhere similar, they are rushing to get on to their high horses to condemn and ridicule.
But back in Washington they are busy trying to create an inefficient and bureaucracy-ridden nanny state that they know will necessitate clamping down on individual choice and freedom, if it is to even stand a chance of making it look as if it is working.
To add insult to injury the bureaucrats make their usual claim that they are taking these steps for “your own protection”.
Why is it that the steps the bureaucrats take in the ”public interest” never seem to turn out to be in my interest or in the interest of anyone I know?
By the way, in case you are wondering, I have never used Intrade, it’s not my kind of thing and I don’t know enough about that field to speculate with any consistent degree of success.
But I would appreciate the freedom to make up my own mind on the subject, instead of having the faceless and less intelligent bureaucratic thought police dictate the decision for me.
We all know how successful the Volstead Act was at the beginning of the last century, but the bureaucrats learn nothing from their mistakes. And they never will, because their desire is not to do what is right or just or even sensible, their desire is to create an ever growing bureaucracy which they control.
Home of the brave? No doubt about that when you see the young people who are willingly putting themselves in harm’s way to help to defend the nation.