Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Today's links

"Catastrophes such as the Texas flood are social crimes, committed by a financial aristocracy that has spent the past half-century plundering the country and neglecting its social infrastructure, while accumulating unimaginable sums of personal wealth." The Houston flood disaster: A social crime of the American oligarchy, Barry Grey

1---How History Explains the Korean Crisis 

1945--...the American military authorities in their part of Korea pushed aside the nationalist leaders (whom the Japanese had just released from prison) and insisted on retaining all power in their own (military) government. They knew almost nothing about  the anti-Japanese Koreans who set themselves up as the “People’s Republic.” On behalf of the U.S., General John Hodge rejected the self-proclaimed national government and declared that the military government was the only authority in the American-controlled zone...

(1946, the puppet appears)  Syngman Rhee appeared on the scene. Reliably and vocally anti-Communist, American-oriented, and, although far out of touch with Korean affairs, ethnically Korean, he was just what the American authorities wanted. He gathered the rightist groups into a virtual government that was to grow into an actual government under the U.S. aegis....

Both the USSR and the U.S. viewed Korea as their outposts. They first tried to work out a deal to divide authority among themselves. But they admitted failure on December 2, 1945. The Russians appeared to expect the failure and hardly reacted, but the Americans sought the help of the United Nations in formalizing their position in Korea. At their behest, the U.N. formed the “Temporary Commission on Korea.” It was supposed to operate in all of Korea, but the Russians regarded it as an American operation and excluded it from the North. After a laborious campaign, it managed to supervise elections but only in the south, in May 1948...

The elections resulted in the formation on August 15 of a government led by Syngman Rhee. In response, a month later on September 9, the former guerrilla leader, Communist and Soviet ally Kim Il-sung, proclaimed the state of North Korea. Thus, the ad hoc arrangement to prevent the collision of two armies morphed into two states....there was no long-standing, pro-American or ideologically democratic cadre in the South.....Rhee may have been the darling of America but he was unloved in Korea. That was the situation when the Korean War began....

Organized by the United States, the United Nations Security Council – taking advantage of the absence of the Soviet delegation – voted on June 27, just before the fall of Seoul, to create a force to protect the South. Some 21 countries led by the United States furnished about three million soldiers to defend the South

Carpet-Bombing the North...In all, 8 million to 9 million Koreans were killed. Whole families were wiped out and practically no families alive in Korea today are without close relatives who perished...

To  stay in power, Syngman Rhee’s government imposed martial law, altered the constitution, rigged elections, opened fire on demonstrators and even executed leaders of the opposing party. We rightly deplore the oppression of the North, but humanitarian rights investigations showed little difference between the Communist/Confucian North and the Capitalist/Christian South. Syngman Rhee’s tactics were not less brutal than those of Kim Il-sung...

South Korea joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1975, and North Korea joined in 1985. But South Korea covertly violated it from 1982 to 2000 and North Korea first violated the provisions in 1993 and then withdrew from it in 2003. North Korea conducted its first underground nuclear test in 2006...

Not less oppressive than Rhee’s government, Park’s government was a dictatorship. To protect his rule, he replaced civilian officials by military officers. Additionally, he formed a secret government within the formal government; known as the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, it operated like the Gestapo. It routinely arrested, imprisoned and tortured Koreans suspected of opposition. And, in October 1972, Park rewrote the constitution to give himself virtual perpetual power. He remained in office for 16 years...

in January 2002, President George Bush made his “Axis of Evil Speech” in which he demonized North Korea. Thereafter, North Korea withdrew from the 1992 agreement with the South to ban nuclear weapons and announced that it had enough weapons-grade plutonium to make about 5 or 6 nuclear weapons

2--ZAKHAROVA: Russia is fully opposed to sanctions against Venezuela

3--US covert program sent Bulgarian weapons to Al Qaeda via private military contractor 

4--Can the US and North Korea Move From Threats to Negotiations?

The Trump administration nevertheless embraced OPLAN 5015 enthusiastically as a form of pressure on North Korea. In mid-April, multiple intelligence officials – presumably with the encouragement of CIA Director Mike Pompeo – told reporters from NBC News that the United States “was prepared to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea” in response to intelligence that North Korea was planning a nuclear weapons test.

There is good reason to believe that the story reflected a psychological operation aimed at North Korea. It appears that the Trump administration was seeking to intimidate Kim Jong-un by convincing him that the US was contemplating regime change by force. However, the United States couldn’t attack North Korea without the permission of the South Korean government, and no South Korean government is likely to risk a war with the North over the belief that North Korea was about to test a nuclear weapon

OPLAN 5015 became the basis for the annual joint US-South Korean military exercises called Key Resolve/Foal Eagle and Ulchi-Freedom Guardian. The new war plan added a major new provocative element to the joint exercises, which the North Koreans had already regarded for decades as possible moves toward war. Pyongyang was especially upset at the presence of long-range US bombers in the joint exercises beginning in 2016....

What is needed, however, is a return to the successful diplomacy of the Clinton era, which produced an agreement – the “Agreed Framework” of 1994 – that could have avoided the present situation of high tension over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Given the advances of North Korea in both nuclear and missile technology since then, it will be more difficult now than it was then – but far from impossible – to devise ways to satisfy the interests of both sides. But as always, the main obstacle to such an accommodation is the US political elite’s deeply imbedded habit of refusing to accept the legitimate interests of other states

5--The disaster in Houston 

Houston is the most frequently flooded urban area in the country. Officials at the federal, state and local level were repeatedly warned by scientists and weather experts that the license given to real estate developers and speculators to pave over wetlands, as well as the government’s refusal to build proper flood defenses, was setting the city up for an unprecedented flood disaster. These warnings were ignored.

This is the 21st century, not the Dark Ages, and the United States is the richest country in the world. Four hundred years ago, the Dutch figured out how to build cities situated below sea level. The US is, moreover, home to some of the most advanced research and engineering institutes in the world. Yet supposedly no one could have anticipated or planned for the flooding of a major city on the Gulf of Mexico?

What has been done in the 12 years since Katrina to prevent more hurricane disasters? Nothing! Or, more accurately, less than nothing, because Katrina was seized on as an opportunity to treat New Orleans as virgin territory for the privatization of public assets and establishment of a free market paradise for big business, to be replicated across the country. The most overt example of this plundering operation was the dismantling of the public school system in favor of private, for-profit charter schools.

Catastrophes such as the Texas flood are social crimes, committed by a financial aristocracy that has spent the past half-century plundering the country and neglecting its social infrastructure, while accumulating unimaginable sums of personal wealth. According to the corporate-controlled media and the entire political establishment—Democrats no less than Republicans—there is no money to build up flood defenses or rebuild crumbling bridges, roads and water systems, modernize and expand public transport or provide decent schools and housing for the population.

But there are trillions of dollars stashed away in the bank accounts and stock portfolios of the rich and the super-rich. Hundreds of billions are squandered every year on the instruments of war.

The country staggers from one preventable disaster to another: Katrina in 2005, the BP oil spill in 2010, Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and now Harvey. In between are countless floods, tornadoes, fires and other events that wreak havoc on working class and poor families, who are left to fend for themselves by a ruling elite drowning in its own excess.

Just as in the feudal era, when the development of society required the expropriation of the landed aristocracy, so today society must seize control of its own resources from the modern aristocracy of finance and corporate wealth. The barbarians of today, who hoard society’s wealth and say nothing can be done to address poverty, disease, war or repression, must go the way of all ruling classes that stand in the way of social progress.

It is not that society cannot afford the type of social investment needed to prevent or minimize the impact of events such as Hurricane Harvey. What society cannot afford is the rich.

A little more than a week before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Trump signed an executive order revoking a set of regulations to make federally-funded infrastructure projects less vulnerable to flooding and sea level rises due climate change. ...

While multi-million-dollar homes in the affluent community of Memorial are protected by 30 to 40 foot riverbanks, the working class neighborhoods in the flat and low-lying areas, east of the downtown area and along the industrialized Houston Shipping Channel, are expected to suffer increased flood damage.
The chief victims of the flooding are the poor and working class.

6--Amid high tensions, North Korea fires intermediate-range missile over Japan

The US also refused to call off the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian war games involving tens of thousands of South Korean and American troops in what amounts to a rehearsal for war with North Korea. The Pyongyang regime has repeatedly condemned the annual drills and warned the US against any attack on its territory. A small number of Australian troops are participating in the exercises and Australia is host to US spy bases, as well as Marines, warships and military aircraft.

In a letter on Monday, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, Ja Song Nam, called on the UN Security Council to urgently schedule a discussion on the US-South Korean military exercises. He likened the drills to adding “fuel to [an] open fire” and accused the US of staging “a provocative and aggressive joint military exercise at this critical moment of the Korean Peninsula, where the situation is just like a time bomb.”

At the same time, US and Japanese troops have just completed military exercises, dubbed Northern Viper (NV17), on Hokkaido. The August 10-28 drills involved about 2,000 US Marines and 1,500 Japanese ground troops along with F-16 fighters, MV-22 Osprey aircraft, military helicopters and first test-firing in Japan of the M142 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

US Air Force Colonel R. Scott Robe pointed to the tense conditions under which the war games were held. “Misawa [Air Base] is a hub for forward-deployed operations if a real-world scenario were to occur; it is vital for us to maintain security and enhance our combined abilities.” In other words, the NV17 was a drill for the most-obvious immediate “real-world scenario”—a war with North Korea.

By firing a missile over Japan, the Pyongyang regime has played directly into the hands of the right-wing Abe government, which has exploited the supposed threat from North Korea to advance its agenda of remilitarising Japan. Since coming to office in 2012, Abe has boosted the defence budget, loosened constitutional limits on the military, and is pushing to re-write the constitution to remove the remaining constraints.

Abe’s government used the missile launch to again fuel a climate of fear and panic. The official emergency information system sent out alerts within minutes with the message: “Missile launch. Missile launch. North Korea seems to have launched missile. Please evacuate into substantial buildings or basements.” The alert was called off within a quarter of an hour

7--Houston stories...…Building a home in a frog pond.

When the Allen brothers founded Houston in 1836, they established the town at the confluence of Buffalo and White Oak Bayous. Shortly thereafter, every structure in the new settlement flooded. Early settlers documented that after heavy rains, their wagon trips west through the prairie involved days of walking through knee-deep water. Harris County suffered through 16 major floods from 1836 to 1936, some of which crested at more than 40 feet, turning downtown Houston streets into raging rivers. After the tremendously destructive floods of 1929 and 1935, however, citizens clamored for solutions. Estimated property damage in 1929 was $1.4 million, a staggering sum at the time. Losses more than doubled in 1935, when seven people were killed and the Port of Houston was crippled for months – its docks submerged, its channel clogged with tons of mud and wreckage, its railroad tracks uprooted. Twenty-five blocks of the downtown business district were inundated, as well as 100 residential blocks…

8--Allen Dulles OPC Office of Policy Coordination

Shadow CIA: "Dulles idea was to cover his clients investments in Nazi Germany under a shroud of national security. ...For 4 years in America, we had 2 CIAs. One that hunted Nazis and one that recruited them." "There were 150 americans working in Nazi Germany all thru the war on behalf of American companies. and Dulles had to hide them, so he set up a special prison camp called ashcan dustbin and they hid the American traitors there. Not one was tried for treason. All were quietly released.

Dulles et up massively decentralized intel agency to conceal activities and investments of rich clients that collaborated with Nazis and Bolsheviks.

9-- North Korea’s latest launch designed to cause maximum mayhem, minimal blowback

But most of all, analysts say, Kim Jong Un is showing that he won’t back down, no matter how stern Trump’s threats....

North Korea’s latest missile launch seemed designed to wreak just the right amount of havoc: Enough for Kim Jong Un to show that he wouldn’t be cowed, but not so much as to invite American “fire and fury.”The missile launched early Tuesday appeared to be a Hwasong-12, the intermediate-range ballistic missile that North Korea has been threatening to shoot into the waters near the U.S. territory of Guam....

In Washington, President Trump warned that the North’s “threatening and destabilizing actions” will only increase its international isolation. “All options are on the table,” he said in a statement...

For now, though, the provocative launch does not rise to the level of requiring a military response, analysts say. It will, however, help Abe press his case to increase Japan’s defenses and possibly its offensive capability.
Japan’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air missiles were unable to intercept the North Korean rocket. The PAC-3 system has a range of about 20 miles and can shoot down the missile as it’s on the way down, and Tuesday’s missile landed 700 miles east of Hokkaido.

U.S. Forces Japan declined to comment on why it did not attempt to shoot down the missile.
Abe’s government has been pushing for new American missile defense systems including the Aegis Ashore, which would theoretically have been able to shoot down Tuesday’s provocation. “This helps Abe make his case for strengthening his defense capabilities,” said Michishita in Tokyo.

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