Monday, February 11, 2019

Today's links

 1--Oppose the Democrats’ #MeToo witch-hunt against Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax

11 February 2019
The Democratic Party is carrying out a #MeToo-style political operation against the lieutenant governor of Virginia, Justin Fairfax. On the basis of unsubstantiated allegations of sexual assault by two women concerning encounters that took place 15 and 19 years ago, respectively, the entire Democratic leadership in Virginia, virtually all of the announced and soon-to-announce Democratic contenders for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, and the Black Congressional Caucus and leading Democrats in the US House and Senate are demanding that Fairfax immediately step down....
Nothing that has been presented to date makes a serious factual case against Fairfax. Yet a Democratic member of the House of Delegates has pledged to introduce articles of impeachment against him on Monday. There is no legitimate basis for the impeachment of Justin Fairfax. No criminal charges have been filed. There are no indictments, let alone any judicial process.

The lawyers for the two women accusers have said their clients are prepared to testify at impeachment hearings. This amounts to a pseudo-legal set-up. They know that in such a process the politicians will be terrified of offending the professional witch hunters in the media and the Democratic milieu. There will be nothing like the rigorous questioning of the accusers that would take place in a trial.

In its second year, the #MeToo movement has already led to the purging and blacklisting of scores of artists, musicians, actors, television and film personalities, and others. Most recently, Amazon Studios has refused to distribute Woody Allen’s latest film, despite the fact that the filmmaker resolutely denies the allegations against him of sexual abuse of his adopted daughter, and investigations by the New York Department of Social Services and a team from the Yale-New Haven Hospital Child Sexual Abuse Clinic, ordered by the Connecticut State Police, found the allegations to have no credible basis....

There is a definite political agenda behind the demand for Fairfax’s resignation. It is no secret that the Democrats are doubling down on a strategy based on a form of anti-democratic identity politics. Earlier this month, defeated Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who gave the official Democratic response to the State of the Union address, authored an article in Foreign Affairs defending the Democrats’ focus on identity and their repudiation of the “catchall category known as ‘the working class.’”...

The FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover perfected the use of sex as a tool for blackmail, provocation and destruction against his political opponents, particularly on the left. One can only wonder how Martin Luther King Jr., whom the FBI sought to discredit through revelations regarding his private life, would have fared had he lived in the current #MeToo era.

These are the traditions on which the Democratic Party is basing itself. This latest ugly episode, whatever its immediate outcome, makes clear that the Democratic Party is intensifying its reliance on identity politics and on this basis moving ever more sharply to the right. This is its response to the growth of the class struggle and the rise of anti-capitalist and socialist sentiment among masses of working people. One thing is certain, the Democrats are infinitely more committed to promoting the politics of race, gender and sexual orientation than they are to defending democratic rights

2--N Korea Summit

He also delivered a comprehensive speech at Stanford University, articulating Washington’s expectations for North Korea—a full accounting of the nuclear and missile programs, “access and monitoring mechanisms of key sites,” and the “removal and destruction of stockpiles of fissile materials, weapons, missiles, launchers, and other weapons of mass destruction.” And as President Trump was delivering his State of the Union address, Biegun was in Pyongyang to discuss the summit agenda and hopefully, an agreement on a roadmap for denuclearization.

Yet there are still huge gaps between the U.S. and North Korean positions. Biegun’s address acknowledged that Kim Jong-un has not followed through on “significant and verifiable progress on denuclearization”; Kim has been insisting on corresponding U.S. measures before he would undertake such moves. Biegun also stated that the two sides have yet to agree on a “specific and agreed definition of…final, fully verified denuclearization,” laying bare the hollowness of the President’s triumphant declaration post-Singapore that

3--O Hanlon on N Korea

So far, North Korea has only offered to place a moratorium on future nuclear and long-range missile tests, which has been a welcome development, but has only talked vaguely about “denuclearization” and has not stopped making more bombs. Now, apparently, Kim would put nuclear production capability on the table as a bargaining chip.
North Korea experts like Jonathan Pollack and Jung Pak have documented how unlikely Kim would be to give up all his nuclear bombs (U.S. intelligence estimates he has as many as 60 by now---...prioritized when they led North Korea, so giving up all those bombs quickly would almost seem to dishonor the memory and legacy of his forefathers. And perhaps even more importantly, Kim as well as his generals remember the one cardinal mistake Saddam Hussein, Mohammar Quadhafi, and the Taliban all committed—leaving themselves vulnerable in war against the United States because of the lack of a nuclear deterrent. For Kim to give up the bomb, he would need a great deal of confidence that relations will remain peaceful....

there is still a big opportunity for compromise, if Kim is serious about ending production of more bombs. North Korea could stop expanding its nuclear arsenal, and we could relax, then lift some of the sanctions imposed on North Korea over the years, especially the U.N. sanctions that have really cut into North Korean trade with China and South Korea in the last couple years. The goal of complete denuclearization could await another day.

4--YPG runs afoul of US sanctions, supplies oil to Assad regime

Located near the Iraqi border, Deir el-Zour is home to a significant amount of Syria's energy resources. There are 11 large oilfields on the eastern side of the Euphrates, which cuts the province into two. These oilfields make up around one-third of Syria's energy resources. About 70 percent of Syria's oil resources lie within the territories currently occupied by the U.S.-backed YPG. Washington put a ban on oil sales to the Syrian regime in 2011 in response to Assad's brutal crackdown on civilians, paving the way for a drop in the regime's oil production from 353,000 barrels a day in 2011 to 25,000 barrels a day in 2018....

U.S. President Donald Trump rebuked YPG early January by underlining that the YPG militants in Syria were selling oil to Iran and Washington was "not thrilled" about it. He said he did not like the fact that the YPG was selling oil to Iran and that they told the militants to stop.
"The Kurds, our partners, are selling oil to Iran. We are not thrilled about that. I'm not happy about it at all," Trump said, referring to the YPG...

According to Turkish officials, the U.S. has provided nearly 20,000 truck-loads of weaponry and military equipment to the YPG so far, which could ultimately be used against Turkey....

While the regime and the YPG share the net income of oil extracted from the fields in Syria's north-eastern province of al-Hasakah, the Assad regime and YPG agreed to control nine of fields together, of which three are currently active....

In July 2017, the YPG handed over the control of oil production in the Rimelan region to the Assad regime after they signed a revenue-sharing agreement between the two sides.
According to the agreement, the regime received 65 percent of the oil production revenues, while the YPG obtained 20 percent. The remaining revenue was given to the Arab forces that are responsible for the protection of the fields. The regime, on the other hand, paid the security guards and other related workers.

One year later, the YPG and Syrian regime agreed to a decentralized state system for Syria and the group handed over key cities, including Raqqa and Deir el-Zour, to the regime.
Anadolu Agency (AA) reported last week by citing local sources that the regime-affiliated companies, operating in the west of Deir el-Zour, were laying pipes under the Euphrates to transport oil to the war-torn country's eastern provinces. The agreement would pave way for a rapid transfer of oil, which was previously carried by boats

5--Turkey, Russia agree to take measures to stabilize situation in Syria's Idlib

The meeting comes ahead of a planned summit on Syria between the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Thursday

6--Pivot to Asia?

the U.S. had to focus mostly on Asia instead of the Middle East. The policy was named "Pivot to Asia" and entailed three main pillars, including economic diplomacy among Asia economies, the redeployment of the U.S. Navy near Asia and forward deployment of U.S. diplomatic instruments in the capitals of the region. This ambitious policy generated a major debate in Washington among the observers of U.S. foreign policy.

7--Nigel Farage Speech on Brexit, Gets a Standing Ovation


8--Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature'


9--Are Investors Finally Waking up to North America’s Fracked Gas Crisis?


With many fracking companies failing to meet their production forecastsas The Wall Street Journal has reported, investors may have good reason to be fearful.
The days of unlimited low-interest loans for an industry on a decade-long losing streak might be coming to an end.
As Bloomberg credit analyst Spencer Cutter explained to >CNN: “Investors woke up and realized this was built on debt.”...

Too much supply, not enough demand.





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