Values or Venal Based Foreign Diplomacy | Clean Streets But A Dirty Conscious | Light Hearted Presidential Tweets

“Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets. Corruption is why we win.” – Character in Syriana (a film about money, oil, corruption, politicians, & set in the Middle East) “Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate. There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media. But these governments, whose very existence relies on the control of information, have aggressively blocked the Internet. They have also arrested local reporters and pressured advertisers to harm the revenue of specific publications.” – Jamal Khashoggi’s last essay for the Washington Post
  Source: U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister on a previous trip to Saudi Arabia Will American Call B.S. on MbS: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Ankara Wednesday, where he met with Turkey’s president and foreign minister on the second leg of his mission to address both unanswered questions and political fallout resulting from the October 2 disappearance and purported murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Speaking to reporters afterward, Pompeo denied giving the Saudi regime the “benefit of the doubt” about their alleged involvement in the incident, and claimed President Erdoğan was satisfied with Saudi cooperation in the investigation. Pompeo emphasized the necessity of giving the Saudis enough time to conduct a thorough investigation, but made clear the Trump administration would take commercial ties and “a lot of important relationships – financial relationships between US and Saudi companies, governmental relationships” and Saudi cooperation in the attempted isolation of Iran into consideration when formulating a response to what is now a diplomatic crisis. Saudi denials of involvement are getting harder to support. Not only are news outlets digging deeper and confirming various allegations (the New York Times has verified several of MbS’s security detail as being members of the hit squad), but Turkish officials also claim to have audio recordings that prove the gruesome details of Khashoggi’s premeditated torture, murder and dismemberment. Reports say Khashoggi was seized as soon as he entered the office of the Saudi consul general. He was beaten and had his fingers cut off before being dragged from the office to an adjacent study and put on a table. Then a Saudi military forensics expert put on headphones to listen to music as he began to dismember the still alive Khashoggi. Turkish authorities said they have turned the recordings over to the US and Saudi Arabia, although Trump told reporters on Wednesday: “We’ve asked for it…if it exists….”; then he added: it “probably does” exist. The world is watching while a possible modern day Munich appeasement occurs. Additional reads: – “Saudi Arabia Delivers $100 Million Pledged to U.S. as Pompeo Lands in Riyadh”. The money promised last summer for US efforts to stabilize areas in Syria liberated from the Islamic State showed up in government coffers the day the secretary of state met with the Saudi crown prince to discuss the fate of Jamal Khashoggi. (NYT) – “Silicon Valley hoped the Khashoggi story would go away; instead, it may end an era: A huge percentage of the money flowing into Silicon Valley in recent years has come from the kingdom. That’s been just fine with founders and investors, who’ve grown fat and happy off that flow of capital.” (TechCrunch) – “A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East: In his work with the White House, is Mohammed bin Salman driving out extremism, or merely seizing power for himself?” (New Yorker profile)
Sending The Salmon To The “Farm” Upstream: Scotland’s salmon industry is thriving, but “wild” Scottish salmon may soon go the way of Model Ts and land-line phones, all thanks to salmon “farms.” Squared off against each other in “the rise of salmon farms vs. wild fish declines” debate are the pro fish farming interests— aquaculture businesses and supporters of the 2,472 jobs the sector brought to the Scottish Highlands in 2016—and wild fish advocates, environmental organizations, and coastal community groups concerned about the sector’s environmental impacts. It’s reminiscent of the climate change debate. One side concludes that the industry’s ambitious growth targets fail to “take into account the capacity of the environment to farm that quantity of salmon,” and plans for expansion “may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment,” while the other side contends that “any potential impacts on wild fish are not understood, and the science is particularly lacking for Scotland.” (NPR) Clean Streets But A Dirty Conscious: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed in 2015 he was one of very few European leaders defending the continent’s Christian identity against a Muslim influx. Defending Christianity is now part of the country’s constitution. But Orban’s government passed a constitutional amendment this summer that bans people from “living on the streets,” something UN experts say is “cruel and incompatible with international human rights law”. Not to mention a Christian imperative to help the homeless. (WaPo) Light Hearted Presidential Tweets, For Once: Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joined Twitter in 2017 because he thought it would help him win a third four-year term. It didn’t. But not being president means he has more time to tweet. He particularly loves to tweet about American sports figures. In August he chided President Trump for mocking LeBron James, someone for whom Mahmoud had “love”. He also had “love” for Michael Jordan. Last month Mahmoud tweeted his sadness that the NFL would be starting its season without “one of the best Quarterbacks in the league.#ColinKaepernick #NFL“. Tuesday it was time to show Michigan some love. Mahmoud tweeted that with “a hard work ethic,” the Wolverines’ program “will return to its glory days.” Inshallah. (WaPo) Another Middle Eastern American Catastrophe-Fiasco: Afghanistan’s parliamentary election campaign is in full swing despite Taliban threats to sabotage the polls. More than 2,500 candidates are running in Saturday’s election for 249 seats in parliament. It’s risky—violence has already killed 10 candidates and scores of supporters; hundreds of polling places in high-risk districts will not open at all. (WaPo)   #MeToo Goes Worldwide: More than 20 women have come forward to accuse 67-year-old junior foreign minister Mobashar Jawed Akbar of sexual harassment as India’s #MeToo movement widens. Akbar, a former newspaper editor, submitted his resignation Tuesday. He has been a prominent figure in Indian public life for decades as a writer, the editor of national newspapers, a confidant of the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and as part of the prime minister Narendra Modi’s government. Among the allegations against Akbar was that he insisted on conducting job interviews on beds in hotel rooms. (Guardian) – “US-China tensions soar as ‘new cold war’ heats up: Rivalry escalates amid concerns over trade, as warships nearly collide and an FBI trap angers Beijing” (Guardian) China is biding its time while America fixates and continues its Middle East quagmire. – “Ian Kiernan, Australian Sailor Who Battled Pollution, Dies at 78:Appalled by the trash he saw in the world’s oceans, he began a cleanup campaign in Sydney that went global.” (NYT)
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– “Everglades: climate change threatens years of work to reverse manmade damage” (Guardian) – “New York City Had Its First Weekend Without A Shooting In 25 Years:The New York Police Department’s current system for tracking shootings goes back only to 1993, so it’s possible that it was the first time in even longer, the department told CNN.” (NPR) – “Vast archive of tweets reveals work of trolls backed by Russia and Iran:Two misinformation campaigns spent years sowing discord in US and elsewhere” (Guardian)
– “There May Soon Be Three Internets. America’s Won’t Necessarily Be the Best” (NYT) – “Too much sleep is just as bad for your brain as too little, concludes world’s largest sleep study” (New Atlas) – “A new study reveals the real reason Obama voters switched to Trump:The study, from three political scientists from around the country, takes a statistical look at a large sample of Obama-Trump switchers. It finds that these voters tended to score highly on measures of racial hostility and xenophobia — and were not especially likely to be suffering economically.” (Vox) – “‘There is no God,’ says Stephen Hawking in final book: The book, which was completed by his family after his death, presents answers to the questions that Hawking said he received most during his time on Earth.” Stephen Hawking tried to go out like Galileo and Voltaire. (CNN) – “Could an Ex-Convict Become an Attorney? I Intended to Find Out: After serving time for a crime I committed at 16, I discovered how hard it is for a felon to get a second chance.” (NYT) – “Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators: The ideological bent of those overseeing collegiate life is having the biggest impact on campus culture.” (NYT)
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