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26 November 2016


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My first memories of Fidel Castro are his interview with Jack Paar in 1959 and the commotion over his stay at the Hotel Therese in Harlem and something to do with chickens. Was he or wasn't he a communist was the question at the time. Long time ago.


A while ago various worthies on this site mentioned a book which argued that both Christianity and Islam were formed in order to oppose and prevent the debt societies created by the financial elites of the Ancient World. (A least, I think that's what was discussed).

I failed to note down the author of this book or its title. Can anyone remind me because this is a subject that interests me.


Cuba Libre! Well, soon anyway. Meanwhile the brother of the man who killed political dissidents, imprisoned gays and supported dictators across the globe is still in charge. Oh, and the losing candidate who said "... refused to say he would respect the results of this election. That's a direct threat to our democracy." now supports (kinda sorta) Jill Stein's ever escalating fundraising scheme to force recounts to overturn the election results because riots, threats to electors and campus cry-ins haven't worked. I wonder how much she and the lawyers will skim off?

Time for some popcorn.


Serious provocation coming up?

Ukraine has made a unilateral decision to organize missile-firing exercises over Crimea, in the sovereign airspace of the Russian Federation, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency Rosaviatsiya reported. Missiles will be fired in regions where civil and state aviation flights run.
... Rosaviatsiya said, add[ed] that not only will the military exercise invade Russian territory, but the plans also had not been coordinated with Moscow.
On Friday, Russia's Defense Ministry voiced protests against Kiev's intention to apply restrictions to airspace above the Black Sea and the Crimean peninsula due to missile-launching training. The ministry summoned Ukraine's military attache, to present him with an official diplomatic note.
Ukraine released an aviation notification on Thursday, activating "dangerous zones" in all flight levels near Crimea and the city of Simferopol for December 1 and 2, the agency reported. It added that the “dangerous” areas included airspace above open sea which is in Russia's area of responsibility, and over Russian territorial waters.

Commenting on the Russian aviation agency's statement, the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Aleksandr Turchinov, said "Russia's airspace above the Black Sea ends in the middle of the Kerch Strait." According to the official, Kiev does not plan to perform training missile launches "in that region."
"All the remaining territory to the west of the Kerch Strait is Ukraine's sovereign airspace," Turchinov said, as quoted by TASS, implicitly denying the legitimacy of the 2014 referendum, after which Crimea reunited with Russia.


ex-PFC Chuck

RT Headline: "Kiev to hold missile-firing exercise over Crimea, where civil aviation performs flights - Moscow" I find it hard to believe that the Ukraine leaders would do this without the active encouragement of Victoria Nuland et al. If only the Tsar knew! Cough.



I would be more than happy to hear anyone's opinion on the Washington Post article labeling blogs as "Pro Russian" or "Useful Idiot".

This is genuinely the strangest and most unsettling thing I have seen of late. I think that the political ecosystem is getting to be as strange as the on-month run-up to the election, and that was really strange.



Maybe off the topic but SAA has liberated Hanano district and Ard Hamra district ( in this case without having to fight). A pincer is ongoing with an offensive in Jabal Badro district.All defenses line in Jabal Badro district face east so a bypass west of this district is possible for SAA attacking from Hanano district. With Hanano, as of now, completely liberated, a very wide and not defended flank of Haydariyah is open to be stormed.
Terrorists inside al Haydariyah are risking being seriously cut off once the Tiger Forces advance inside the southern part of this neighbourhood where no defensive line is set.
So far SAA is 1 miles east away from the Citadelle. East Aleppo could be cut in two these coming days.
Most important civilian begin to flee East Aleppo as djihadist defense lines collapse rapidly.
All East Aleppo could be liberated before 2017



Thoughts on the passing of Fidel Castro? Do the dynamics of US, Cuba current relations change in any way from the status quo?


If nothing else, the headline over at South Front says it all.


I tend to think that there is a good chance that someone will try to gin up some mischief in Cuba.

Ishmael Zechariah

A question to General F. B. Ali:
What is happening in Pakistan?
re: Pakistan Appoints Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa as Army Chief of Staff in Unusually Smooth Transition ( http://www.wsj.com/articles/pakistan-appoints-gen-qamar-javed-bajwa-as-army-chief-of-staff-in-unusually-smooth-transition-1480187126 )
This is being billed as a victory of "pro-democracy" groups. This is a peculiar term with some interesting connotations. Your comments would be much appreciated.
Ishmael Zechariah


Is the fight for al-Bab going out of control or were there never any agreement between the Turks and Kurds?


different clue


If the current rulership of Cuba does not make visibly steady moves towards Democratic Socialism or Social Democracy, beginning with a Dubcek-style "Socialism with a Human Face" stage, rising discontent on the Island will open up gaps and opportunities for the Miami Cubans to intrude through.


Any plans for a Syria sitrep?


Truth be told, I think that I am a touch miffed that SST isn't on the list.


Cuba is officially capitalistic since a year (or is two) so Raul will just blame it on the Blockade (and be right). Besides everybody knows what you should do after communism and that is following Belarus


Fidel's passing is more a symbolic watershed than an event that changes what's been unwinding... pace may pick up, but that '57 Chevy has long turned off the Malecon.
I'm finding the Chess Championship to be more captivating than most of what's going on during the present interregnum.


You might want to look up MICHAEL Hudson on this:


The Twisted Genius


The SAA is now in the mix. They are coordinating with the YPG/SDF to cut off the IS supply line to Turkey. Maybe it will be at al-Bab. Maybe it will be south of al-Bab. The YPG has supposedly told the U.S. that they will not assist in the further drive for Raqqa until the U.S. does something about the Turkish drive to keep Rojava split in two. YPG columns may be moving west to reinforce Manbij. There's mention of SAA strikes on Turkish troops and Turkish strikes on the SAA. No telling what the truth is with this. One thing I am confident about is that there is no agreement between the Turks and the Kurds.

The Twisted Genius

My take is that the crowd that takes politics way too serious just figured out that some people who don't give a rat's ass about politics have been using the internet to make money. Sure there were plenty of false stories out there, but it was just click bait. It just turned out that the hard core Trumpsters were more prone to click on stories that supported their views. Once this phenomenon was discovered by the hard core Clintonistas, paranoia raged supreme. Now any site that publishes stories not critical of Russia is labeled a tool of the Kremlin. All these sons of bitches ought to get a hobby or take up heavy drinking.

I knew some Russian hackers who came up with an ingenious scheme. They formed a group that advertised itself as a righteous scourge of pornography. They would hack porn sites leaving some outrageous diatribe behind. One day I asked their leader, "Mudak, why the hard on against porn sites?" He told me it was all a front. He was after the credit card info on the sites and didn't care a whit about the porn. The internet is full of these pirate entrepreneurs.

Babak Makkinejad

Can a Liberal Democracy, say like Sweden, long survive in political opposition to the United States or NATO?

That is, if a state wishes to maintain strategic autonomy from the United States and her allies, she cannot afford to be a Liberal Democracy.

What do you think?



I just stumbled on this a couple minutes ago.

Thought it might interest you.

FB Ali


I wouldn't place too high a value on the WSJ report. It starts off with a blooper ("...the first smooth transition for the top military job in 20 years"). The outgoing chief did in fact take over from his predecessor in a 'normal' transition.

I'm afraid I have no special knowledge of the situation, no 'inside story' - I don't take that kind of interest in what goes on in Pakistan.

Of course, PM Nawaz Sharif must have been keen to appoint someone who didn't get too big for his boots (he's been bitten a couple of times). Incidentally, that's one of the big pluses for the outgoing chief, Raheel Sharif. He became very popular, and some political opponents of Nawaz Sharif hoped he'd use that to topple the PM. He resisted all such calls (and temptations).

Qamar Javed Bajwa was the junior-most of the four generals being considered. It is possible that he was considered the least ambitious out of them. His appointment results in the retirement of two of those senior to him; this may also have been a factor since those two were closer to the outgoing chief, and may not have had his balanced judgement.

The "victory of pro-democracy groups" nonsense was probably uttered by those who were afraid of a military takeover, or by journalists (who probably were tantalized by the prospect).


The passing of Castro triggers memories from a book on Cuba I read a few years ago...

"Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba... and Then Lost It to the Revolution" by T.J. English. https://www.amazon.com/Havana-Nocturne-Owned-Cuba-Revolution/dp/0061147710

From the Introduction:
It is a historical fact - and also a subject of considerable folklore in Cuba and the United States - that the Havana Mob comprised some of the most notorious underworld figures of their day. Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Santo Trafficante, Albert Anastasia, and the other gangsters who came to Havana in the late 1940s and 1950s were men who had honed their craft and amassed or inherited their wealth during the "glory days" of Prohibition in the United States. These mobsters had always dreamed one day of controlling their own country, a place where they could provide gambling, narcotics, booze, prostitution, and other forms of vice free from government or law enforcement intrusion,

Gaming and leisure were only part of the equation. The idea formulated by Luciano, Lansky, and others was for Havana to serve as the front for a far more ambitious agenda: the creation of a criminal state whose gross national product, union pension funds, public utilities, banks, and other financial institutions would become the means to launch further criminal enterprises around the globe. The Havana Mob could then bury the profits from these criminal operations underneath the patina of a "legitimate" government in Cuba and no one would be able to touch them.

Of course the combination of US law enforcement coming at them from one side and Fidel's revolution on the other (since President Batista backed the Havana Mob) meant they never totally achieved their dreams. But they had a good run for a decade, until they lost almost everything at the end.

The book is primarily focused on the history of the Havana Mob and it's key players and their ongoing dance/chase with US law enforcement. Political analysis is not it's strength, but it does give a greater context to Castro's background (which is covered in several sections of the book) and how he developed his view of the US culture and US gov't. All were willing to loot or use Cuba for their own purposes.

One final quote from the Introduction:
"For some, it was a time of diversion and fun. For others, it was a moneymaking proposition. To the revolutionaries and the government of Fidel Castro that followed, the era stands as an example of capitalist exploitation at it's most venal."

No wonder Castro became a communist.

This book is a great read, very entertaining, highly recommended. Goes well with whiskey ;)

Chris Chuba

An assessment of material support for Syrian Rebels
This article appeared on Southfront, https://southfront.org/terror-accounting/
Mikhail Nicolaevsky estimates the amount and structure of material support given to Syrian rebel groups in different categories. I am summarizing the article, words enclosed in [ ... ] are when I inject my personal comments into the subject matter, otherwise I am posting the author's opinion. I don't have a means of verifying this data, so I am posting it as is.

1. He describes the cost of maintaining refugee camps and their role as recruitment pools. There is a payment in kind where a recruit will have his family transported to an EU country.

2. Recruitment cost of foreign fighters, $430M (including family relocation) + $163M (transportation mgt) + $324M (instructors) per year

3. Salaries by role and specialty, total $473M. The estimated number of rebels in Syria has dropped from 105k to 74k. [this seems really high to me, if true Syria's still in for a long fight, I wish I had a dime every time I've heard Al Nusra has 15,000 fighters, it's like a cosmic constant.]

4. Medical costs since Oct. 2015 including family death benefits, $674M.

5. He gives a description of the supply and type of weapons and their attrition.

Final tally, since 2015 the rebels have had $4.5B dollars worth of material support.

I was surprised by the assertion that Turkey is still bearing most of the cost to overthrow Assad. His recommendation is, no truces. Attrition is grinding down the rebel groups, don't let them recover.


The story has mistakes that shouldn't have made it through an editorial evaluation. The question is what is the reason for this editorial lassitude? Maybe staff cutbacks, lack of morale, and possibly bad feelings from the Trump victory.

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