The Unwinnable and Forever War
November 19, 2019
“Integrity, wisdom, skill, intelligence – such things are forged in adversity.”
“A man must not be without shame, for the shame of being without shame is shamelessness indeed.”
Shining Light On A Shadow War
Leaked Iranian documents now offer a full picture of Tehran’s aggressive campaign to embed itself into Iraqi affairs, as well as the shadow war being waged for information and regional influence. Largely detailing a multitude of espionage and information-gathering efforts, the nearly 700-page document was leaked to The Intercept and New York Times by an anonymous source.
Iraqi leaders and officials forged many deals and had secret relationships with Tehran, with ex-ambassadors between Iran and Iraq confirming that Iran had “the upper hand in information gathering in Iraq,” stating that they knew everything happening between America and Iraq during withdrawal negotiations. According to the reports, Iran also moved quickly to add former C.I.A. informants to its payroll following the 2011 military withdrawal.
An unprecedented leak, considering how tightly controlled and secured Iranian information is, the documents show how much time and effort has been put into keeping Iraq a client state of Iran. And making sure that political factions loyal to Tehran remain in power. This leak comes at a key point of contention between Iraq and Iran, as seen by the increasingly intense riots and protests across Iraq during the past six weeks. Some Iraqi officials fear that war may be coming.
CrazyCon Tries To Get To The Core Of The Conspiracy
- The third annual FIat Earth International Conference was held in suburban Dallas last week, with some 600 believers in attendance.
- The event’s schedule resembled any typical corporate conference, except for the unusual content of speakers’ presentations, like “Space is Fake” and “Testing The Moon: A Globe Lie Perspective.” Awards were handed out for the year’s best flat Earth-related videos.
- The hundreds of flat Earthers at the Dallas gathering were just a small portion of the movement; conferences have been held in Brazil, Britain and Italy. Online communities have hundreds of thousands of followers and YouTube is inundated with flat-Earth content creators, whose productions reach millions.
- And even though the Earth’s curvature can easily be seen from an airplane window on a clear day, people across the planet — including Hollywood A-listers and, most surprisingly, commercial airline pilots — are rejecting science and spreading the word that the Earth is flat. (CNN)
- India’s air pollution remains at exceedingly toxic levels. Doctors report a surge of patients with severe respiratory problems, and the New Delhi government closed schools for the second time this month. Yet despite air so scary it may be causing brain damage in children, some central government officials have either resisted acknowledging the problem or minimized its severity.
- The situation has prompted desperate people to turn to Oxy Pure, a small shop in Delhi that calls itself an “oxygen bar.” Customers can attach small tubes to their noses, and for 15 minutes, breath in pure oxygen scented with lavender, lemongrass or spearmint.
- One customer who came to the bar suffering from itchy eyes, a runny nose and a swollen throat, said: “I don’t know if it’s psychological, but it makes me feel good to know I am inhaling pure oxygen, if only for 15 minutes.” (NYT)
Breaking The Wrong Kinds Of Records
- New data released by the Brazilian government shows that deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest has hit the highest annual level in over a decade. Nearly 10,000 square kilometers (3861 square miles) of forest has been lost in the past year, highlighting the lack of proper efforts made by the Brazilian government in preserving the planet’s largest forest.
- Land-grabbers, agribusiness, miners, and loggers have been heavily supported by the government, leading many environmental groups to place the blame on them, stating they were weakening environmental protections and almost promoting the environmental destruction.
- A recent civil society gathering titled “Amazon: Centre of the World” brought together activists from around the globe to draw up a forest manifesto that would put nature and the Amazon at the heart of the international debate about the climate and biodiversity crisis, though their efforts are heavily opposed by many local interest groups. (Guardian)
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Pardon Me, You’re Pardoning Them?
- Last Friday President Trump pardoned three US servicemen accused or convicted of war crimes. The reprieves were issued against the advice of top defense officials and seen by many, especially in military legal circles, as a sign not only of disregard for the decisions of military juries, but for the judicial process itself.
- Army First Lt. Clint Lorance was convicted in 2013 for ordering the shooting of a group of civilians in Afghanistan, then trying to cover up the order. Major Matthew Golsteyn of the Army Special Forces was awaiting trial on charges that he killed an unarmed Afghan in 2010. Both men received full pardons. Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALS was tried and acquitted of murdering a captive in Iraq, but found guilty of a minor offense. His sentence was reduced.
- Military officials, while publicly accepting the president’s orders, privately worried Trump’s actions could erode discipline by sending a message to troops and commanders that in some cases the laws of war would not apply. A retired Air Force lieutenant and former judge advocate said of Trump’s decision: “It’s just institutionally harmful.” (NYT, $)
- There Will be No Victory in Dishonor: President Trump’s pardons for three service members accused of war crimes will have lasting consequences. (Atlantic, $)
- With impeachment, America’s epistemic crisis has arrived: Can the right-wing machine hold the base in an alternate reality long enough to get through the next election? (Vox)
- Trump’s Impeachable Tweet: Nothing in Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony had directly added to the Democrat’s case for removal. Then the president stepped in. (Atlantic, $)
- Zelensky Planned to Announce Trump’s “Quo” on my Show. Here’s What Happened. (WaPo, $)
- After private White House meeting, Giuliani associate Lev Parnas said he was on a ‘secret mission’ for Trump, sources say (CNN)
- Fact check: A list of 45 ways Trump has been dishonest about Ukraine and impeachment (CNN)
- How FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0: The company, like much of corporate America, has not made good on its promised investment surge from President Trump’s 2017 tax cuts. (NYT, $)
Start-Ups Go The Way Of Scrooge McDuck
- Venture-capital-backed tech start-ups have enjoyed years of easy money and fast growth. But now they’re beginning to do something that’s at odds with the whole concept: stockpile cash. Some start-ups are worried about a potential slowdown, and they’re preparing now by cutting spending and raising money earlier than planned.
- Joe Horowitz, an investor at a venture capital firm in California, recently met with two companies in one day that were raising unplanned “interim” rounds of funding to safeguard against a difficult environment in 2020. Horowitz says those were prudent moves. “We do advise companies to be more cautious on spending, move up fund-raising plans and raise a bit of extra capital if they can, particularly as we look at these headwinds.”
- Another investor recalled some bad downturns in the not-so-distant past, but noted: “Most folks under 30 haven’t known anything but a growing market, so most … aren’t as worried as they should be.” Horowitz agrees. “When the public markets are doing well, we’re this sexy asset class. When the public markets turn, we become toxic waste.” (NYT)
The Google Giant Ate The Internet
- 146 New Vulnerabilities All Come Preinstalled on Android Phones: The dozens of flaws across 29 Android smartphone makers show just how insecure the devices can be, even brand-new. (Wired, $) & Google Pixel 4 review—Overpriced, uncompetitive, and out of touch: It’s the fourth generation now, yet we’ve got to ask—what’s the point of the Pixel line? (Ars Technica)
- How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results: The internet giant uses blacklists, algorithm tweaks and an army of contractors to shape what you see (WSJ, $)
- Why You Shouldn’t Use Your Web Browser’s Password Manager (How-To Geek)
- Why is Google Slow-Walking Its Breakthroughs in AI? (Wired, $)
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