Monday, November 16, 2015

Thank You

A sincere Thank You to all gentle Readers who continue to pass through and visit the blog even through periods of dormancy and inactivity.

A special Thank You to all the recent Readers who sent along donations thru the PayPal account with notes of concern attached.

All is well, but your concern is appreciated, as are your gifts and your encouragement.  It truly is humbling to know that people are reading, considering and acting upon the information provided here, even on posts that have been archived for years, and that it is of some value to many.

Going forward, I am not sure how to best manage the blog.  Considerations include a by-subscription pay service so that those who are interested in following along with "Plan B" can do so in the company of other like-minded travelers.  Rebuilding from the ground up is exhausting, even more so if one is forced to do so in isolation.

I am also working on setting up an Amazon Book shop to dispose of the large library that has been amassed here su casa in preparation for our move to our smaller, more compact "Retirement Villa".  More details on that soon.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

5 Things to Know: Baltimore, Foco Theory and Contemporary American Urban Unrest

5 points to know about the confluence of Foco Theory and contemporary American urban unrest

As the seasons change, the same old human drama continues to play out in Baltimore. The dialectic of: generate a problem, propose the solution, and implement the final solution continues apace. Inquiring minds will want to know: what is the intersection of some guerrilla warfare theorists and modern American urban (i.e. “black” or “minority”) unrest? How does this impact the reader and inform as to the shape of things to come?

1. What is "Foco Theory" ?

Ernesto Che Guevara, darling of the modern American progressive movement,  published in 1961 his seminal work, Guerrilla Warfare”. Its basic tenets were:

1-“popular forces can win a war against the enemy” 

2-“is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making a revolution exist; the revolution can create them” 

3-“in underdeveloped America the countryside is the basic area for armed fighting” 

Guevara's work inspired French intellectual Régis Debray, who further developed the guerilla concept of "Foco revolution".

Foco theory has two components: the "popular forces" and a Vanguardist cadre.

"Refugee" Gate-Keeper: Has Greece's Alignment Choice Been Made?

The visuals of military-age male "refugees" originating from the mideast now flooding into Fortress Europe are impossible to ignore, no matter what your news source.  As alluded to in the post "Five Myths About Greece" , a dramatic realignment of allegiances that has been percolating for quite some time is now taking place within Fortress Europe.

The Greek islands have been a waypoint/staging area for the muslim "refugee" deluge for months now, but this recently "made visible" crisis (cui bono?) was previously overshadowed by the EU/IMF/Greek Default drama breathlessly and endlessly reported upon by the corporate chorus media as a deliberate misdirection for the uninformed and easily distracted.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Backgrounder About Yemen and the Middle East Reset

Guest post by Blogger PZ, Plank hold Member of The Skiff...

Yemen lurks in the back corner of news bureaus in America due to the sheer discomfort that the subject brings up for the talking heads of D.C. What is it about this remote, yet strategic corner of land at the south east corner of the Arabian peninsula that should captivate the reader's attentions?

Information Bullet # 1

Geography.  Like most things, geography will explain a lot to the observant. 

Yemen's position is astride the Strait of Mandeb (Bab al Mandeb), which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Appropriately, this means “Gate of Tears” ( باب المندب) in Arabic .  A narrow passage about 20 miles wide, with small islands interspersed throughout, it hosts two internationally significant shipping channels.

Graphic courtesy of Iron Mike @ Rapid Republican Blog
Through this key and narrow choke point, trade flows to and from Europe. It is a major export route for petroleum to Europe, and finished value-added goods from Europe to all points in the East, as the primary shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian ocean.

The British, French, Ottomans and Portuguese all vied for control of this strategic trade route over time. The basis for that conflict and struggle for control remains the same, although the players may change.

The Houthis have sought to reassure Egypt, over concerns this will have on shipping transiting through the Suez Canal, which Egypt controls and brings it billions of dollars in revenue.  However, should the Houthis lose control of the region, all such "assurances" are moot.

Information Bullet # 2

The turmoil in Yemen is tied to control of potable water.

Public drinking fountains in Sanaa, Yemen
 Access to clean drinking water and rudimentary sanitation is a struggle for Yemenis at the best of times.  An report published by the Guardian newspaper in 2012 found that the average Yemeni uses 140 cubic meters of water per annum - in stark contrast to the average for Americans, who consume the highest per capita, at 2,842 cubic meters a year.
Even before the most recent turmoil, ongoing political instability in the country had already pushed down access to potable water and basic sanitation even further down the list of priorities.

The American consultancy consortium McKinsey stated that the S'anaa basin, where the majority of Yemenis reside, will most likely run out of water by the year 2020.  The water table has dropped to more than 1,200 metres below surface level in some areas.

The 1974 Kissinger report, NSSM 200, outlined the issue of food scarity and water allocation as source of destabilization, stating that "at present there are no solutions to these problems in sight".  The US Army has commissioned a number of White Papers that examine the potential for global conflict over access to fresh water.
Control of sustenance (water, food, shelter) has been used throughout history to effect defeat of enemies. The entity that can provide water, or, in the alternative, successfully use water denial as a weapon of war, will increase their chances of prevailing and securing control over the Bab al Mandeb.

The price of potable water in Yemen will skyrocket.  This singular event will bankrupt Yemenis, already the poorest of the poor.  People will not just be unable to afford water to live, water itself will be unavailable even from "free" government provided public taps. At that point, complete chaos will erupt even among today's marginal allies.

Evacuation of non-Arab skilled and technical expatriates working in Yemen is ongoing; India news agencies estimate that approximately 3,000 Indian ex-pats are waiting for egress to India, half of which are estimated to be nurses.  Loss of trained medical personnel will exacerbate the already deteriorating conditions.

Information Bullet # 3

The middle east is dominated by tribal systems of loyalty and power. 
This aspect is merely given a modern look by the draping of nation-state structures upon ancient and stable systems for ordering life itself. Consider the Sykes-Picot Treaty as an example of this superficiality.

The Yemeni conflict has several main players. The Houthis, a tribal group that is of the Zaidi sect of “Fiver” Islam are in control (for now). They are domestically opposed by Al Quaeda/Ansar Al Sunnah, the secessionist southern socialists and remaining Sunni politicians. The Houthi takeover changed the dynamics of the region, as Yemen went from Saudi influence to Iranian influence. Blood (tribe, religion) is thicker than water.

The Houthis control the main watersheds and ground water in Yemen, as evidenced in this map of Houthi/Zaidi/Shia (dark green) presence 

The external players in the conflict are many: the Saudis, erstwhile supporters of the ousted Saleh Regime, the Iranians- supporters of the Houthi, Egypt/Sudan/Eritrea/Djibouti all having local interest in control of the Bab al Mandeb (trade influence, easy pirate access). 

Interestingly, American forces of CJTF-HOA are heavily ensconced in Djibouti at Camp Lemonier. Where they use the base for a variety of functions and to base drones from. The distance between Djibouti and Sanaa is a mere 230 miles, which gives drones a stunning loiter time

Information Bullet # 4 - A point to ponder

The dynamic where Saudi Arabia was replaced as the main foreign influence in Yemen is puzzling. The House of Saud has been staunchly linked to America for decades. It is the home to both Mecca and Medina, the focus of the Ummah. 

Saudia Arabia has the cheapest production costs for crude oil in the world, listed as 1-2$ a barrel in 2009  The Saudis have defiantly rebuked any suggestion by professional petroleum engineers that they have reached "Peak Oil" and what they are conducting now is an elaborate shell game with an ugly ending.

The Saudi oil fields are not randomly distributed. Saudi oil fields are mostly in the eastern section. Let the following sink in: 

It is apparent that the oil resources in Saudi Arabia sit under the sandals of Shia. Shia are clumped together above oil fields and at strategic junctions. 

Consider the implications to geopolitics if one were to suppose that Iran were to be on the rise with America, and that the House of Saud had outlived its usefulness. Maybe, maybe not. In any event, the future will be pretty sporty, though.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Rub Raw The Sores of Discontent ....

This is the first article written by The Skiff - a group of "analytical" professionals, who want to provide short, easily digestible wave tops of key geopolitical events for readers.

"The despair is there; now it's up to us to go in and rub raw the sores of discontent, galvanize them for radical social change. We'll give them a way to participate in the democratic process, a way to exercise their rights as citizens and strike back at the establishment that oppresses them, instead of giving in to apathy....We'll not only give them a cause, we'll make life goddamn exciting for them again -- life instead of existence. We'll turn them on. Saul Alinsky

Summer is looming for Baghdad, providing ample opportunity to "rub raw the sores of discontent" of the many factions fighting for control in the spreading mideast conflict.

Recent unverified news reports filed by the english speaking Arab press that Dae'sh (ISIS)  had taken control of the Baiji refinery and co-located power plant speaks to the nature of the asymmetrical battle being waged in a region Americans were assured by Obama had been pacified when he "declared victory" at a speech at Andrews Air Force base in 2010 and announced his decision to withdraw stabilization and occupation forces from Iraq.

The majority of the reports are focusing on the news that Baiji is the site of a refinery; however, those in the West are most likely not aware it is also the co-location of a major 600 megawatt thermal power plant which supplies a significant portion of Baghdad's fragile power grid.

Temperatures in Baghdad soar in the summer months; as does the demand for electrical power to drive air conditioners and the water pumps necessary for irrigation and drinking water.  There is very little relief for Baghdadis - the physical elements of the city are unrelenting - few trees to provide "natural" cooling and cover, as well as the use of masonry construction makes the entire city an unrelenting heat sink.

The Dae'sh took, but unsuccessfully held, the Baiji refinery/power plant in the spring of 2014 before being routed by the Iraqi army.  It is no surprise to analysts who follow the region that this season the Dae'sh have shifted their strategy from attempting to secure and hold Baiji - to a play to simply disrupt and vandalize, which yields the same outcome:  to make life as miserable as possible for the people of Baghdad and "rub raw the sores" of their discontent.
It is a balancing act - Dae'sh recognizes it is necessary to act before the weather gets too hot to make large scale military operations challenging, but close enough to the peak of summer heat to make the repairs as difficult as possible to get online quickly enough before the true measure of the misery is felt.  In the eyes of asymmetrical warriors, a secondary goal is to transfer people's ire from the disrupters (Dae'sh) to the government for its failure to protect them and maintain essential services.

Another Archimedean point in the strategy will be the Musayyib plant south of Baghdad.  This region is known as the "Throat of Baghdad" and is a majority Shia area.  Creating ongoing disruptions to the power grid in this region will go a long way in furthering the "rubbing raw" of the already existing ruptures of the multiethnic social fabric, barely kept intact in the past only by the brutal oppression of the US-removed Sunni majority Hussein regime.

As the entire Iraqi power grid is already fragile and given to overt piracy by citizens desperate for access to western comforts, it doesn't take much to overwhelm a system already under duress.  A take down of any plant triggering a loss in generating capacity within the network immediately shifts demand to the rest of the already overburdened grid, with the predictable brown and blackouts as other plants are forced into peak load in a cascading failure.

It is not just that misery is created because access to water driven by electric pumps (irrigation, any municipal systems) is curtailed, it will be the load imposed by relentless demand for air conditioning. They will at best have to go to rolling blackouts and rationing of electric power to various areas (opening up another political can of worms which will rub raw other sores), as there is just not enough capacity in the system even operating undisrupted and optimally for anything else.  Iraq is grossly under resourced to meet all of their nation's demand - some estimates put the existing infrastructure as fulfilling only 50% of the true thirst for power.

As such, all generating plants become strategic objectives.  Control or destroy, same effect.  Dae'sh is keenly aware of this.

It will be a long, hot and miserable summer for many in the mideast this year.  Who shoulders the blame for that may decide the "victor" in this loser-take-all struggle.


You can follow the Stop Shouting blog on Twitter at:  @StopShoutBlog

Thursday, April 9, 2015

GREXIT watch: Greece establishes "Public Debt Truth Commission"

Greece's parliament voted to establish a "Public Debt Truth Committee" and conduct an examination and audit of the public debt, and the circumstances under which the former Greek government entered into the agreement.

Two short video clips, with the tag line "Check it, Erase it" were already in the can and ready for mass distribution by Zoi Konstantopoulou, the head of the Greek parliament as soon as the vote had wrapped up in Athens.

Following on the heels of tiny Iceland's successful repudiation of their international debt in 2012, complete with indictments against the bankers involved in the fraud, Greece now elects to give serious consideration to the legal concept of "Odious Debt", which would determine how much, if any, of the outstanding debt was illegal and unenforceable.

As financial markets blog ZeroHedge notes:  

If the Greek "Debt Truth Committee" indeed persists with determining how much of its debt is legal and enforceable, and ultimately decides to rescind some (or all) of it, the only question is how long until other countries around the world, all of which are burdened with massive, untenable debt loads across the government, financial and household sectors, decide it is time to do the same and declare a fresh start. 

With a growing belief in the rights of states to unilaterally repudiate their debts, will this give momentum to the domestic US "Audit the Fed" movement?

When the head of JP Morgan takes to the talk show circuit to reassure markets that his bank has pre-emptively "stressed tested" a GREXIT scenario, anything is possible.

You can follow Stop Shouting Blog on Twitter: @StopShoutBlog

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

5 Myths about Greece the Banksters need you to believe

Follow Stop Shouting Blog on Twitter:  @StopShoutBlog

Greece's Prime Minister Alex Tsipras will be heading to Moscow tomorow, and the legacy media that is the de facto public relations wing of the IMF and World Bank are in overdrive to continue to advance the narrative that Greeks are irresponsible, indolent, the visit is an amateurish attempt to blackmail Germany, and further evidence that the Syriza government is out of its depth.

Those who continue to buy into the IMF propaganda without pause should consider these points, before they decide whether or not they want to continue to do the legacy media's work for them by reporting their key talking points almost verbatim in the comments section of every blog or media account of the current contretemps.

This should not be relied upon as a comprehensive list, but rather a starting point for your own investigation and research: