Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 13, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2020-98

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

Transition:

Syraqistan:

James Jeffrey is a stupid man:

Anti-Corbyn Labor:

Covid-19:

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on December 13, 2020 at 13:51 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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I wish I could reach out to an Ayatollah with this question: Alcohol is najis (unclean) in Islam. When one's hand touches alcohol, it is to be washed with water immediately so as to clean it. How does this reconcile with hand sanitizers that are, well, mostly alcohol?

Health of people before such and such, is my guess the response would be.

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | Dec 15 2020 3:45 utc | 201

@Lurk #185
I would recommend polishing your reading comprehension skills.
Never once did I say cannabis was made illegal in Amsterdam.
What I said was that the previous open policies are being pulled back.
It isn't available for anyone, from anywhere, to buy in all of the previously available venues.
Nor is marijuana actually legal in the Netherlands to start with - it is decriminalized only.
Decriminalization has also not removed the crime factor - organized crime controls most of the actual "commercial" production and distribution.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 15 2020 3:47 utc | 202

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | Dec 15 2020 3:45 utc | 202


I wish I could reach out to an Ayatollah with this question: Alcohol is najis (unclean) in Islam. When one's hand touches alcohol, it is to be washed with water immediately so as to clean it. How does this reconcile with hand sanitizers that are, well, mostly alcohol?

Health of people before such and such, is my guess the response would be.


That's a very rigid way of framing the Islamic view of alcohol. Alcohol is unclean within the context of it's consumption and the evil which results from it's consumption. This is the orthodox religious interpretation.

Clearly alcohol for cleaning is a different matter. I'm sure this would be the Ayatollah's interpretation.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 4:18 utc | 203

An afterthought, regarding the use of pork in Islam:

Ibn Taymiyyah was asked about seeking treatment with pork fat and he said:

“It is not permissible to seek treatment by eating pork fat. However, treating in it by applying it and then washing it afterwards, then this is based on the permissibility of touching impurity when one is not performing the prayer. Indeed this is a controversial issue and the most correct opinion is that it is permissible in case of necessity.”

There are many similar fatwas and opinions in Islamic jurisprudence making allowance for the use of an impure substance (pork, alcohol) in medicinal contexts.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 4:22 utc | 204

@202 Sakineh Bagoom, #204-205 Arch Bungle, and others

I have developed a great respect for the wisdom I find manifested in Islam's doctrines. It doesn't surprise me in the least that when it comes to circumstances that appear to violate the letter of the law, the wise ones recommend deferring to the superior command of the spirit of the law instead.

All wisdom doctrines do this, I think. And when they don't, we see that they are not wisdom doctrines, but simply dogmas.

Wisdom has the same flavor of goodness wherever it is found. All beings are endowed with the faculty to recognize this, if they can but hear, if they will but listen.

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 15 2020 5:03 utc | 205

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 15 2020 5:03 utc | 206


All wisdom doctrines do this, I think. And when they don't, we see that they are not wisdom doctrines, but simply dogmas.

Wisdom has the same flavor of goodness wherever it is found. All beings are endowed with the faculty to recognize this, if they can but hear, if they will but listen.

Amen.

Religion is subject to evolution and natural selection. In the end it is yet another piece of 'software' we evolved to survive.
Software that becomes too rigid and cannot adapt to the environment becomes useless, humans eventually discard it.

Islam 4.0 has 2 Billion+ users at present. Despite the bugs, there must be some good features there somewhere ...

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 5:14 utc | 206

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 15 2020 5:03 utc | 206


All wisdom doctrines do this, I think. And when they don't, we see that they are not wisdom doctrines, but simply dogmas.

Wisdom has the same flavor of goodness wherever it is found. All beings are endowed with the faculty to recognize this, if they can but hear, if they will but listen.

Amen.

Religion is subject to evolution and natural selection. In the end it is yet another piece of 'software' we evolved to survive.
Software that becomes too rigid and cannot adapt to the environment becomes useless, humans eventually discard it.

Islam 4.0 has 2 Billion+ users at present. Despite the bugs, there must be some good features there somewhere ...

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 5:14 utc | 207

@ Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 5:14 utc | 207/8 who wrote
"
Religion is subject to evolution and natural selection. In the end it is yet another piece of 'software' we evolved to survive.
Software that becomes too rigid and cannot adapt to the environment becomes useless, humans eventually discard it.
"

Its that eventually discard it time frame that is in question. The God of Mammon religion has been the dominant software in the West since the Roman era, hasn't it? Can that bastard child of the monotheistic religions coexist with its antithesis, China? I don't think so, at least for very long because it will start to smell fairly putrid next to the China example to the masses.

@ Grieved # 206 nicely worded description of wisdom doctrines, thanks

While I see Islam as an enemy of my enemy, from a cultural anthropological view, I see Islam as another good myth software that may still have applicability but still has the better-than-others myopia of monotheistic religions.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 15 2020 5:52 utc | 208

uncle tungsten @ 154

It was only after I posted that I realised that my comment wasn’t specific. To be clear I wasn’t referring to Marxism itself as an ideological prison, any ideology can become a mental prison if you cannot not see outside the prism of it.

Posted by: Down South | Dec 15 2020 6:57 utc | 209

Hoarsewhisperer # 196

Scum Mo is a clown of abysmal ignorance. Politics and Trade are inextricable. A person representing the loony rightists of Oz should understand that as a first principle. But not Scum Mo. He understands nothing except kissing Gina's ring. And even she can't sell coal or Iron ore to China now.

The Bunya Nut Republic's PM is a loser and has totally screwed the Oz economy all because he likes to insult foreign nations. One of his idiot predecessors was going to 'shirt front' Vladimir Putin over some BS idiocy.

That never happened and I bet it was a very expensive threat that had to be paid for by the rest of Oz. Cretinous morons is too kind a description of that clown cart.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 15 2020 9:13 utc | 210

@ c1ue | Dec 15 2020 3:47 utc | 203

I would recommend polishing your reading comprehension skills.
Never once did I say cannabis was made illegal in Amsterdam.

I thank you for your sincere concern with my cognitive abilities, but they appear to be fine, in fact much better than yours:

quote c1ue @ Dec 14 2020 18:20 utc

I would note that places like Amsterdam - which had legalized marijuana a long time ago as well as many other soft drugs - has been pulling back from its previous stance.

quote Lurk @ Dec 15 2020 0:36 utc

C1ue, you are factually incorrect about the legal status of cannabis in the Netherlands (and thereby Amsterdam.) It has illegal status, but has been condoned and not actively prosecuted.

quote c1ue @ Dec 15 2020 3:47 utc

Never once did I say cannabis was made illegal in Amsterdam.

You see, nothing wrong with my reading comprehension skills (and memory if I may add.)

On a side note, Amsterdam doesn't actually make any laws, that is done in The Hague. Some foreigners mistake Holland to be the capital of Amsterdam, but they're wrong.


Decriminalization has also not removed the crime factor - organized crime controls most of the actual "commercial" production and distribution.

In the more laid back times, it used to be a sort of cottage industry, with many lower income households making some extra money from a few plants growing in the attic. Then reactionary forces in the government clamped down on that and the business became a captive market to organized crime groups, who subsequently invested their financial gains first into XTC production and next into large scale cocaine imports.

The latter market is more tricky in the Netherlands, as there are other contenders, including shady deep state groups. In fact the Dutch royal family used to own coca (and opium) plantations in Indonesia, when it was still their personal fiefdom. The coca from the Dutch Indies was processed in Amsterdam into pure cocaine. Sigmund Freud (and the pope) loved it.

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 15 2020 11:17 utc | 211

Why Tibet should never exit socialist China:

Average life expectancy in Tibet rises to 70.6

Before democratic reform in 1959, the average life expectancy in Tibet was just 35.5 years.

Nobody wants to get back to feudalism.

Posted by: vk | Dec 15 2020 11:29 utc | 212

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 15 2020 9:13 utc | 211

The Anglo Entitlement cum Victim Claiming Personality Disorder (AEVCP): What, me bearing responsibility for consequences because of stupid actions I chose to take? That's unfair, I'm the real victim here!

Posted by: J W | Dec 15 2020 11:29 utc | 213

First World problems:

I Want to Share an Ice Cream Cone With a Stranger Again

Posted by: vk | Dec 15 2020 12:09 utc | 214

Dayton accords were fine then but now that NATO wants more members, as if there were not enough, it seems that the accords are not that good any more. Respublika Srpska wants neutrality, the Bosniaks and Croats want NATO.

Lavrov in Bosnia Herzegovina

Posted by: Paco | Dec 15 2020 12:44 utc | 215

MC-21 with Russian-built PD-14 engines carries out maiden flight (FlightGlobal, December 15, 2020)

Posted by: S | Dec 15 2020 13:08 utc | 216

And while at the MID site I noticed a press conference with the Uruguayan foreign minister. James, Uruguay was a refuge for Dukhobors just like British Columbia. I was surprised to find out that Uruguay and Russia have had diplomatic relations for over one hundred and sixty years.

And then the depressing moment, the question asked by a journalist of the agency EFE, that is the Spanish oficial news agency, sort of accusing Uruguay of taking advantage of the Russian foodstuffs sanctions against the EU to occupy that empty spot in the Russian market. That idiot thinks that Uruguay and Latin America are still colonies of the colony. The foreign minister proved his diplomatic skills mentioning his special feeling towards Spain where he lived for eight years, but business is business and if the imperial master pushes Europe, Uruguay is too far and maybe too small to deserve a lot of attention from Uncle Sam.

Posted by: Paco | Dec 15 2020 13:11 utc | 217

Posted by: vk | Dec 15 2020 11:29 utc | 213

While I am not blind to the benefits of CCP rule for China I need to challenge you on your argument.


Why Tibet should never exit socialist China:

Average life expectancy in Tibet rises to 70.6

Before democratic reform in 1959, the average life expectancy in Tibet was just 35.5 years.

Nobody wants to get back to feudalism.

You seem to be comparing Tibet of 1959 to Tibet of today and ascribing life expectancy to Socialism.

That is a false premise. The rise in life expectancy is due to a global trend in modernisation, not a particular political system or lack of it.

Compare two neighbouring countries under different systems of government:

Nepal: 70.17 years (2017), A federal democracy, an absolutely monarchy until 2008 (life expectancy was 66+ in 2008 )
Bhutan: 71.13 years (2017) ... 34+ in 1960, A land-locked monarchy, essentially a benign feudal kingdom.

For laughs, throw in Thailand:

Thailand: 76.68 years (2017), Absolute Monarchy/Military Dictatorship/Partial Democracy

Based on this data it's quite reasonable that Tibet would have progressed similarly without CCP interference, potentially even under a modernised form of feudalism.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 13:32 utc | 218

A late afterthought (I'm not as sharp as I used to be):

India, the so called "largest democracy in the world" 69.16 years (2017)
Japan, ostensibly a democracy but in my opinion so rigidly hierarchical that might as well be thought of as a shadow monarchy: 84.10 years (2017)

So, nothing can be concretely said about the life expectancy of a nation relative to its system of government, there are overriding factors.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 13:38 utc | 219

@ Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 13:32 utc | 219

Sierra Leone (a capitalist nation), life expectancy, 1950: 27.63 years.

In 2019: 54.81.

By UN projections, Sierra Leone will only reach 70.50 years of life expectancy in 2098 (!!).

You see, I can cherry pick, too.

Posted by: vk | Dec 15 2020 13:45 utc | 220

Posted by: vk | Dec 15 2020 13:45 utc | 221


By UN projections, Sierra Leone will only reach 70.50 years of life expectancy in 2098 (!!).

You see, I can cherry pick, too.

Congratulations. You've just proved my point!

So we agree then that your original assertion has no basis in data and that nothing can be said about the life expectancy of Tibet vis-a-vis Socialism?

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 13:52 utc | 221

@ Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 13:52 utc | 222

There are a lot of differences:

1) life expectancy is not a linear grandeur; if that was the case, Japan should already have more than 130 years of life expectancy (this is also why the HDI is a failed concept, but that's another discussion for another time);

2) if modernization was the sole factor, Sierra Leone should already have 70.5 years as is Tibet. Or the 84 years Japan already have. After all, modernization is the same at any given point in time: we're all living in 2020, there are no alternative universes;

3) Tibet is a peripheral region of China. This makes all the difference, because capitalism tends to ignore and neglect its peripheral regions (e.g. Sierra Leone). That Tibet reached a life expectancy of 70.5 years in 2020 is remarkable because its peers are not Japan or even the smaller "emerging economies", but the likes of Sierra Leone. Bhutan, albeit being politically hostile to China because of an ancient border dispute, is essentially part of China economically and geographically, and has only 700,000 inhabitants (too small a sample, susceptible to higher statistic distortions).

Posted by: vk | Dec 15 2020 14:13 utc | 222

On a side note, Amsterdam doesn't actually make any laws, that is done in The Hague. Some foreigners mistake Holland to be the capital of Amsterdam, but they're wrong.

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 15 2020 11:17 utc | 212

This mistake seems like a capital crime to me. Lower Countries are complicated, but I would guess that Amsterdam is the administrative center of South Holland. [checking ... ] No! Amsterdam is in North Holland, and in North Holland "the provincial capital is Haarlem (pop. 161,265)." In short, Lower Countrians do they best to confuse people. E.g. by locating the main airport in some s..t hole.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 15 2020 14:35 utc | 223

@Lurk #212
Sadly, your reading comprehension is poor no matter what you think it is.
I never once said marijuana was made illegal - what I said was that the previously open policies are being reined in.
You just reinforced what I said - except you call it "reactionary forces in government". Those reactionary forces in government are people elected into office as well as other EU member states - to which the Netherlands voted to join.

Nor is your assertion that the old days were all about marijuana being a mass of boutique family enterprises particularly convincing.

The reality is that marijuana decriminalization was passed due to 1960s era activism - and that era has ended. People in the Netherlands as well as other EU countries don't like the Dutch (lack of) enforcement model, and everyone freely acknowledges that it is impossible to legally grow, transport and store sufficient quantities of marijuana legally even with the existing coffee shop system - which is why their number keeps falling. Owners had been tiptoeing between the line where enforcement starts and demand and are increasingly failing.

So net net: marijuana decriminalization is going backwards in the Netherlands due to societal shifts in views about it.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 15 2020 15:47 utc | 224

@vk #223
FYI: some significant part of Japan's life expectancy is false due to fraud.
230,000 missing people over 100 years of age in Japan
Note this was only a search for people over 100 years of age. The 2010 probe was launched after someone found a mummified corpse that had died some 30-odd years ago. This was found by officials who came to congratulate the corpse for reaching 111 years of age.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 15 2020 15:58 utc | 225

@ Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 13:38 utc | 220

“ So, nothing can be concretely said about the life expectancy of a nation relative to its system of government, there are overriding factors.“

Amartya Sen investigated relationship between famine and food distribution systems, so there is some scholarship on this indirectly impacting life expectancy.

”Drawing on his own personal experience of the Bengal famine of 1943, which saw more than three million people perish, Sen published Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation in 1981. For Sen, famine was not the result of a simple lack of food, but rather it was a direct consequence of the specific nature of the inequalities that were built into the apparatuses and mechanisms for distributing food. Not only this, Sen also suggested that unemployment and a boom in the urban economy – which saw the wages of rural workers fail to keep pace with rising food prices – played an important role in the death of more than three million people from starvation...”

https://globalsocialtheory.org/thinkers/sen-amartya/.
Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation in 1981

Posted by: suzan | Dec 15 2020 16:30 utc | 226

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 15 2020 5:52 utc | 209

Some interesting ideas here ...


Its that eventually discard it time frame that is in question. The God of Mammon religion has been the dominant software in the West since the Roman era, hasn't it?

If you mean Mammon the god (aka Baal/Bel/Hadad/Beelzebub), he/it has been worshipped in one form or another the world over, thousands of years before the Romans. Mammon is the incarnation of human greed, a feature of human hardware, it has no religious structure but manifests as an emergent property of the neural wiring of Homo Sapiens.

The early design and implementation of all modern religious software was a reaction against the defects represented by Mammon, an attempt to gain control of the underlying human hardware through application of sophisticated operating system design, improved iteratively in major phases over the next 3000 years or so:

- Zoroaster:

Created the essential paradigm for spiritual computation up to the modern era: The separation of a morally ambiguous world into a clear "Good" and "Evil". This was a fundamental requirement of any system capable of governing the Mammon feature.

- Moses:

Building on Zoroaster's essential architecture, Moses proposed a streamlined set of specifications which could be used to simplify the process of spiritual computation, with optimisations for an experimental range of hardware called the hebrew (v1.0) as a test case

- Jesus:

Contributed A software fork of the source developed on Moses' original specification, but with generalisations which allowed a spiritual operating system to be run on neural hardware other than hebrew 1.0.

- Mohammed:

A software fork of the source developed on Moses' original specification, with some feature contributions from the Jesus fork, including better cross-platform compatibility and significantly stricter controls on resource usage and the operating system security.

- Buddha:

An independently developed approach to spiritual computing featuring paradigm virtualisation to abstract away any design dependence on the "Good/Evil" paradigm, a complete circumvention of the requirement to manage the Mammon Controller and other such legacy neural hardware defects and replacement of the Mammon Controller with an optimising compute module called the "Nirvana Unit" (which provides a virtual modernisation of the Mammon Controller by circumventing it using the Enlightenment algorithm)



Can that bastard child of the monotheistic religions coexist with its antithesis, China? I don't think so, at least for very long because it will start to smell fairly putrid next to the China example to the masses.

I would think deeply before I consider China the antithesis of Mammon. Remember these words:


"To get rich is glorious" -- Deng Xiaoping


One could argue this was the moment the leaders of China bowed and prayed before the altar of Mammon. This picture is still unfolding ...


While I see Islam as an enemy of my enemy, from a cultural anthropological view, I see Islam as another good myth software that may still have applicability but still has the better-than-others myopia of monotheistic religions.

That raises an interesting question: Is the "better than others myopia" specific to monotheistic religions, or is it also present in pan-theistic on a-theistic religions?

I'd propose that the same attitude exists in Pantheistic relgions, e.g Hinduism to an extent: "Our Gods Are Better than Your God"

But, on further examination it would appear that these "Exclusivity" and "Inclusivity" properties of religions are simply another design feature of the software evolved over time to adapt to the political realities of a given socio-geographical region, in brief:

- "Inclusivity":

i.e Pan-theism ("The Gods on this list are acceptable"): An evolution required to allow the peaceful co-existence of diverse cultures forced to cooperate in a constrained region - when no one culture could achieve dominance, or in order to explain multiple features of the real world which could not be attributed to one god alone. For example Hinduism.

- "Exclusivity":

i.e Mono-theism ("There is but one God, ours."): A feature required to force the unification of diverse cultures under one centralised control mechanism ("The One God") - when a single culture was able to achieve dominance. For example, Islam resulted in the unification of pan-theistic Arabs under a single virtual construct/God.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 16:35 utc | 227

I think the primary distinction to be made is between "religions" that are about controlling yourself ("spiritual paths") and religions which are about controlling everybody else ("evangelical religions"). The latter tend to be much more dangerous, although Buddhist monks can make great soldiers (some of them). Islam is remarkably simple and easy to understand, the mumbo-jumbo is all centralized at the source (no three-in-one trinity mysteries or anything like that), and all about control. I rather think the evangelical protestants back in the Reformation were taking a hint from them. We got lots of other things from the height of Islamic civilization. Both the Xtian and Islamic faiths incorporate quite respectable spiritual paths too. The problem is the people who know the one right answer and want to make everybody else obey.

Posted by: Bemildred | Dec 15 2020 17:10 utc | 228

@ Arch Bungle | Dec 15 2020 16:35 utc | 228 who responded very well to my writing about religion as software.

I just want to make clear that I believe most religions are myth and a disservice to humanities evolution. Give me a religion that preaches awe of our ignorance of the cosmos we live in and then I might believe we are evolving.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 15 2020 17:34 utc | 229

@ Bemildred | Dec 14 2020 23:42 utc | 176.. thanks bemildred! i agree with your conclusion and share in the experience of the drug culture from the 70's when i was privy to it all from the experience and witnessing of it all.. i had a friend who i hitch hiked across canada who died at 26 from drinking pear wine and smoking opium... bad combo as you lose your clarity and i believe the opium slowed his heart rate down in combo.. he died way too young... i stayed away from the hard drugs but did all the pot related stuff - hashish is especially enjoyable, along with some mushrooms which grow wild in our climate - pslicibin - don't know how to spell that word... i never did lsd or chemical stuff, but i had many friends who did.. i think criminalizing marijuana is a bad idea.. at the same time it is a drag young people getting into it if what they say is true about it affecting developing minds.. i know some friends kids who are into it and it has become a habit too... they worry about it all too.. ultimately life is an amazing drug! who needs drugs when we have this world to live in with all its amazing beauty and nature.. thanks for your comments.. i agree with your conclusion @ 229 as well..

@ Paco | Dec 15 2020 13:11 utc | 218 thanks paco.. i didn't know that! i have always wanted to travel to uruguay! i have heard great things about it.. speaking of smoking pot - wasn't the leader for many years supportive of marijuana in uruguay as well? that is what i recall..

Posted by: james | Dec 15 2020 17:48 utc | 230

Anti-Orwell:

The Australian 'turned' me into a CPC member overnight

An "exclusive" news story published in The Australian's website in the middle of the night of December 13 leaked an alleged database, containing a list of 1.95 million CPC members, including me.

[...]

I have never joined the CPC. I have no party membership for any CPC committee to reserve or to restore. Since late 1994, I have never stayed outside of China for over four consecutive months.

[...]

Author's note: The article was written in response to The Australian's erroneous reports about my alleged CPC membership. It was submitted to The Australian for publication with the purpose of clarification of basic facts. The Australian, however, did not publish this article in full, but only ran a news story containing truncated parts of this article, which regretfully does not completely reflect my thoughts at all.

Let me get this straight: a de facto expat Chinese - who probably hated the CPC with all of his/her passion, never having anything to do with the Party - is declared a CPC member by the Australian Government. He then writes a letter to the Australian newspaper for clarification on the mistake. The Australian newspaper outright censor the letter. He/she then goes to the Global frickin' Times - the CPC's extraofficial tabloid - which publishes it in full!

As a Cold Warrior would say: the world has turned upside-down. The democrats become the dictators; the dictators become the democrats.

--//--

On the pandemic:

If 300,000 died from COVID-19 in China, how would West react?: Global Times editorial

Only 300,000? The Westerners already were celebrating over the prospect of 1 to 15 million Chinese dead! (do a google search for the Western articles of January-February to see if I'm lying).

Posted by: vk | Dec 15 2020 17:49 utc | 231

@james:

Copacetic. I think the issue of "young brains" deserves dispassionate study. From observation I can say that booze is one heck of a lot more dangerous, any time of life. But I found pot to be incompatible with the higher reaches of math and computer science, so ...

My youngest, the one in the mill?, he had a lot more trouble with booze. And we have been doing extensive natural experiments on the subject of pot and young brains here for decades.

For more imaginative things like music or graphic arts on the other hand, I'm sure you know.

But morally it's a stupid question. Booze won't help you do math either.

Posted by: Bemildred | Dec 15 2020 18:08 utc | 232

Cannabis is so 20th century...
https://www.wsj.com/articles/mexican-cartels-are-now-cooking-chinese-chemicals-in-dutch-meth-labs-11607430794
Belgium and the Netherlands are now the biggest producers of crystal meth in the world

Posted by: Mina | Dec 15 2020 19:05 utc | 234

Lavrov's busy and in Serbia today. He's had three different press interactions that deserve attention. This first is with the UAE and covers recent discussions and events in the latter's region. In the second presser, Lavrov deals with the West's meddling with the Dayton Accords:

"I would like to seriously caution some of our partners against trying to destroy the Dayton architecture. We have noticed such attempts, which are fraught with grave consequences, whatever the reasons behind them. I took part in the talks held to coordinate the Dayton Agreement. I know how fragile the balance is and how important every element of this fundamental achievement of the international community is. Removing even a single element can threaten the entire agreement and provoke unpredictable consequences. The Dayton Agreement in no way hinders the development of relations between that state and its foreign partners, including European integration structures. Any decisions on the speed of movement towards European integration should be made on the basis of strict compliance with the Dayton principles. We will respect any decision. It is in the same spirit that we regard the choice of military-political neutrality by Republika Srpska. We regard this as a responsible position based on an understanding of the current complexities in Europe and the need to avoid any moves that could aggravate confrontation, deepen the dividing lines and move them further east, which, regrettably, NATO members continue to do."

Further important questions and equally important answers occur about BiH that will interest several of our barflies.

In the third, Lavrov further elaborates Russia's position on the Dayton Accords. Lavrov was also Russia's representative at three shared cultural events that can currently be found at the top of the news queue at the Foreign Ministry's website. Juliania will certainly be interested in them as would other Orthodox Church members as well as Russo/Serbian patriots. The main lesson: NATO hasn't yet captured Yugoslavia despite breaking it into pieces.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 15 2020 19:10 utc | 235

karlof1@236-many thanks for this post & its informative links.

Posted by: emersonreturn | Dec 15 2020 19:17 utc | 236

Thanks emersonreturn @237!

As a reminder about the upcoming important online discussion of A Hard Look at Rent and Rent Seeking, I highly suggest reading this item "Wall Street Titan Gloats Over Pandemic Profits From Rentals as Eviction Tsunami Looms":

"As the December 31 expiration date on the CDC's federal eviction moratorium nears in the midst of the surging Covid-19 pandemic and freezing weather, an estimated 30 to 40 million working-class households in the United States are bracing for the possibility of eviction—but at least one Wall Street investor looking to capitalize on the crisis is bragging about what he sees as a golden opportunity to expand his real estate empire."

Blackstone is likely the #1 Neoliberal Parasite alive today and needs to be hunted until it's extinct, which is what was happening in the mid-19th Century in the UK until the effort was blunted, undermined, then omitted from general histories, particularly that of political-economy. If psychohistorian could lop one of the heads from the Private Finance Hydra, this is the one he'd likely aim for first.

The online event is free, although you'll need to register by clicking the first link. How soon a transcript will be made available is unknown, but I'll report after its conclusion tomorrow.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 15 2020 20:53 utc | 237

@ Piotr Berman | Dec 15 2020 14:35 utc | 224

Seriously, I'd rather live in Haarlem than in Amsterdam. Most people living in Amsterdam would as well, if they could afford it.

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 15 2020 22:08 utc | 238

On this day 50 years ago USSR made history by performing the first soft landing on another planet in human history with its Venera-7 spacecraft. In commemoration of the event, Roscosmos has published several previously classified documents about the mission: The Taming of Venus (machine translated).

Posted by: S | Dec 15 2020 22:28 utc | 239

From a drug war perspective not inclusive of CIA trafficking activities alleged over and through Russian Federation territories and within other countries on the typical "axis of evil" type lists put out by the Empire, the resistance to rescheduling cannabis, specifically, is just wrong.

It can be argued that cannabis CAN BE harmful, but it also has MANY positive attributes, and even the negative ones don't justify the War on (Some) Drugs waged by the Western power elite and despotic (and in many cases popular) leaders like Duterte. It's just another way to keep down the working class/left and of course certain minorities that differ by country. Cannabis has been rescheduled (legalized or decriminalized) in numerous U.S. states, European countries, Mexico and Portugal went the route of decriminalizing ALL previously illegal narcotics with a good deal of success for the people affected by those policies, directly and indirectly.

Back to the CIA angle, they haven't been trafficking in marijuana for decades. So Russia, Iran, Venezuela and other countries who are often targets of the Empire are STILL wrong to oppose rescheduling it at the international/global level. Anyone who reads their statement in opposition will find the typical, mostly debunked, "reefer madness" type arguments. It's really quite disappointing that these leaders still consider cannabis to be as great a danger as opioids and other much more powerful psychoactive and addictive chemicals.

Posted by: _K_C_ | Dec 15 2020 22:33 utc | 240

c1ue | Dec 15 2020 15:47 utc | 225

Sadly, your reading comprehension is poor no matter what you think it is. I never once said marijuana was made illegal - what I said was that the previously open policies are being reined in.

You said that it had been legal. That I pointed out as incorrect. Then you revealed the violent nature of your willful ignorance. Yawn.

The facts are that cannabis has never been legal in the Netherlands, it has been deprioritized, that's all. The Netherlands has always feared the wrath of bigger countries like Germany, France and the USA and for that reason, cannabis has always remained strictly illegal. In practice, cannabis has been condoned by means of deprioritizing enforcement of cannabis prohibition.

It is funny to witness how the Dutch political elite fear to provoce (mainly) the USA's wrath over transgressing against international treaties banning cannabis, where several states in the USA don't care about these treaties at all and have legalized cannabis without much ado.

BTW, 70% of the Dutch voters are in favor of legalizing cannabis, but that somehow doesn't translate into a political majority. So much for "democracy works".

The decline of the number of coffeeshops has halted and recently there has been a very slight increase.

(repost after accidentally posting this reply in the wrong thread)

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 16 2020 0:19 utc | 241

@ Bemildred | Dec 15 2020 18:08 utc | 233... thanks bemildred.. i have been unusually busy the past few days and having a hard time keeping up.. there is no doubt in my mind that alcohol is a much more problematic drug that cannabis! i also share @ _K_C_ | Dec 15 2020 22:33 utc | 241 viewpoint expressed as well...

Posted by: james | Dec 16 2020 3:48 utc | 242

@ arby 119
Yes, I thought so, too. But what do you make with this excerpt from the Indian Punchline article linked above?

"The bottom line is that Germany is rejecting the objective trends towards the formation of a multipolar world. Its game plan is on the one hand to lead the EU with European sovereignty as its motto, while on the other hand to strengthen the European pillar of the NATO, which enables Germany to pursue a security policy in areas from the Sahel to the Mediterranean and the Near and Middle East. Germany will define its regional policy interests together with the US but in a balanced partnership with a greater role in political decision-making."

So you have Germany (according to the author) trying to:
- lead the EU
- strengthen the European pillar of NATO
- enable Germany to conduct a security policy at the periphery of the EU (presumely independent of the "Amarican pillar" of NATO)
- establish a balanced partnership with the USA
- with the goal of a greater role in political decision-making

To me this reads like Germany is trying to make Germany/Europe a pole in a multi-polar world order.

But to the author of the Indian Punchline article it means Germany is -rejecting- the multi-polar world order. Why? Because for him (as well as for many commentators here at he forum) "multi-polar world order" is just a code-word for "Anti-American". "Multi-polar world order" doesn`t mean "multi-polar world order" but in reality it means bi-polar world order. A world divided between the USA and it`s allies/vassals as one pole and a coalition of Anti-American countries as the other pole.

Posted by: m | Dec 16 2020 8:48 utc | 243

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s first flight of twin-jet airliner MC-21-310 with PD-14 turbofan jet engines, today a new regional twin-engine turboprop airliner IL-114-300 (a modernized version of IL-114) has also made its first flight: New passenger aircraft Il-114-300 made its first flight (RIA Novosti, December 16, 2020 — machine translation).

Posted by: S | Dec 16 2020 14:12 utc | 244

The event, A Hard Look at Rent and Rent Seeking, began at 6am PST and I didn't get up in time to log on before the event was locked out. Bummer. Hopefully, it will become available later.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 16 2020 14:40 utc | 245

_K_C_ @241

Cannabis is widely used in the Philippines and while it is illegal it is not aggressively suppressed. Less than 9% of drug seizures in the Philippines involve cannabis. The crackdowns we have heard much hand-wringing about in the western "Operation Mockingbird" mass media have been targeting the CIA's distribution network for heroin and other dangerous (and lucrative) narcotics. The Philippines is an important revenue source for the CIA (they and similar gangsters associated with the American empire have been operating there for over a century). The CIA trains their death squads on Mindanao, pushes drugs on the population nationwide, and traffics young people from across the islands to wealthy buyers in places like Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

Duterte's efforts are being mischaracterized in western mass media. He is cracking down of the CIA and their pet rabid dogs who are victimizing the vulnerable, not on the impoverished and working people. Much of the western mass media is little more than orifices for the CIA so the it shouldn't surprise that they mischaracterized it when their toys get broken.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 16 2020 14:53 utc | 246

William Gruff@247 asserts without evidence that the hierarchy of the Filipino drug trade is being targeted, and that this hierarchy essentially equates to the CIA. If these facts were true, support for Duterte might be reasonable. That might be why Jomo (Jose Maria Sison, head of the CPP, which is fighting an armed struggle,) may have imagined Duterte as something of a dissident and support for Duterte might de facto split the Filipino ruling class.

But there has never been a drug suppression trade that didn't include strong state action against the foreign suppliers. The only instance I know of where this happened was Commissioner Lin'g efforts to suppress the Opium Trade, which resulted in the Opium war against the Chinese empire. The US by contrast never attacks the drug trade at the higher levels. In places like Colombia, it helps the government attack the population. They only cut down the Escobar's when they get both too big and too unruly for the domestic politics, like Escoabar. The drug war fought by the US in Mexico is basically a war against the people, one with savage death tolls (estimates of over 20 000 the last time I looked.) This is what anti-drug war really looks like.

Jomo has turned against Duterte, who is now engaged in a war against the Communists. In particular, Duterte has launched a great red-tagging campaign---where Duterte is trying to outlaw, imprison leaders of and surreptitiously kill, torture ordinary activists---mass organizations as Communist fronts. In short, it seems to me Gruff's facts aren't correct. I suspect Gruff knows this, and that this bloody murder of addicts is more appealing than appalling. But even if support for Duterte is just an old position uncorrected, because who covers Filipino politics? Even if it's just automatic pilot, there is never any great reason to deem prohibition of drugs a left position. The Prohibition amendment in the US was a minority using a counter-majoritarian system to suppress personal freedom. Alcohol is a quite dangerous drug, so the William Gruff position would be to support revenue agents killing several thousand people to suppress bootlegging.

As they say, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts. I don't believe Gruff is correct, not at all, in his claim the traffickers are being targeted. The addict who tries to pay for their next fix by selling some of their last purchase is not a "distribution network." Also, the lurid claims the CIA is trafficking young people to Saudi and Hong Kong. Never, never, never have I found people heated up over sex scandals, especially ones that may be entirely imaginary, to be leftists. They rarely are even sensible people. Hating the ruling class and their employees because they are having disgusting sex is right-wing fantasies about decadence.

Posted by: steven t johnson | Dec 16 2020 16:22 utc | 247

"...there has never been a drug suppression trade that didn't include strong state action against the foreign suppliers."

The Philippines remains a de facto US colony. The US, via the CIA, is the foreign supplier of narcotics. The Philippines is not currently in a position to directly confront their occupiers.

"Never, never, never have I found people heated up over sex scandals, especially ones that may be entirely imaginary, to be leftists."

To be sure, the entire #MeToo phenomenon is often referred to as left wing but it isn't. That doesn't mean that the problem of human trafficking for fun and profit is a non-issue.

Fascinating how the poster jumps in to defend and deflect for the CIA.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 16 2020 16:48 utc | 248

This last note about Lavrov's visit to Balkans provides the following details:

"Question: Could you comment on the refusal of two members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic, to meet with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov? What is your opinion on the statement made by the Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who compared Milorad Dodik to Hitler? Could you also comment on the Western claim that Russia’s interests in Serbia are used as an instrument of pressure on Belgrade?

"Sergey Lavrov: Regarding our visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina today, we have shared our impressions with our Serbian friends. As for the incident you have mentioned, I regard it as having little effect on the development of our ties with the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"I think that the politicians who made this decision are not independent people. They obviously acted on somebody’s suggestion, and they most likely do not express the interests of their electorate, or at least not the majority of their voters, but rather the interests of the external forces that do not want Russian-Bosnian or Russian-Serbian relations to develop and, in general, are not interested in the West Balkans countries realising their right to have mutually beneficial cooperation with all international partners.

"When our delegation was headed for the Balkans several years ago, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, the High Representative of the European Union – the post was at that time held by Federica Mogherini – said that the Balkans were a zone of EU interest and that all others, including Russia, had no place there. This philosophy became deeply ingrained in many European countries long ago, during the colonial and semi-colonial period. It is impossible to do anything about this, but it is possible and necessary to stand up against a completely unacceptable policy and mentality.

"As for claims about Russia’s alleged interests in Serbia and the Western efforts to hinder our friendship and cooperation, I answered this question when I spoke about the Western attitude to Russia’s cooperation with Bosnia and with the Balkans as a whole. Serbia is a sovereign state. We respect the desire of Serbia and the Serbian authorities to promote equal and, I would like to emphasise this, mutually beneficial relations with all countries that are interested in this. All our efforts to promote strategic partnership between Moscow and Belgrade are based exclusively on respect for the right of our Serbian friends to do this. I believe that any other approach will clash with modern realities and so will be completely out of place."

And so goes the continuing embattlement of Serbia, The Balkans, and all the peoples residing there--it's as if the Hapsburg Empire never died and two world wars never happened.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 16 2020 17:40 utc | 249

@ karlof1 250 - it is always refreshing and frankly - liberating - to read lavrovs commentary and these words from him are no different. thank you for this! bang on...

Posted by: james | Dec 16 2020 17:46 utc | 250

William Gruff@249* responds to questions about the truthfulness of claims Duterte is targeting the CIA where it's part of the drug distribution system in the Philippines with "The Philippines remains a de facto US colony. The US, via the CIA, is the foreign supplier of narcotics. The Philippines is not currently in a position to directly confront their occupiers." That is mere repetition, not an answer.

I still believe the facts on the ground show that Duterte's anti-drug policy targets addicts with bullets. I do not think occasional sharp words about lady senators constitutes an attack on the CIA or even on Filipino traffickers in office. I think the whole point of the US (not just the CIA and the State Department) fostering drug trade is most certainly never about giving the profits to the neocolonial government. They want the profits to go into the US banks. (At this point, the capital inflow into the US from drugs seems to me to be significant in the economic sense.) The neocolonialists never want the compradors to get off the hook financially. They always want to dribble out the money, via such tried and true, open but legal means, as foreign aid, military aid, military cooperation, loans, rent for bases, on and on in a bewildering multitude of ways.

Duterte is largely targeting, so far as I can tell, addicts and the very lowest level. The mainstream media *does not* rail about Duterte's campaign day in and day out, nor does it exercise the outrage that it does over Uighurs and Hong Kong college students. It is more concerned about Filipino drug addicts than it is about the entire population of Kashmir. But that's a bar set low enough to trip over. If Duterte was seriously targeting the drug trade, the US would be raving about the landlords put in jail, the property of wealthy drug barons being expropriated, over drug lawyers being disbarred, and yes, yes, yes, CIA being implicated.

The rebuttal, that the Philippines isn't in a position to fight the CIA ignores the ongoing armed struggle. But even if it were true that the situation is hopeless, then there's no reason to defend Duterte as fighting the CIA. Or maybe it's just a left-handed way of conceding that he isn't?

*For some inexplicable reason, I kept writing "Jomo" instead of "Joma."

Posted by: steven t johnson | Dec 16 2020 22:31 utc | 251

To the CIA screening agent:

I clearly said "The Philippines is not currently in a position to DIRECTLY confront their occupiers."

I bolded and went Circe on the keyword that our CIA apologist seems to have deliberately overlooked. Despite being a largely hostile occupation force in the Philippines, the US cannot complain too hard about the Philippine law enforcement targeting the CIA's drug dealers, particularly not when the Philippine authorities are paying lip service to fighting the evil commies for the empire. If CIA operators themselves started getting snuffed (what a boon to global civilization that would be) then the empire would go kinetic on Duterte.

"...so far as I can tell..."

Which happens to match precisely with what the "Operation Mockingbird" mass media is saying on the issue. Funny that.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 17 2020 0:13 utc | 252

William Gruff@253 repeats that Duterte is not actually hitting the higher ups, and pretends that killing addicts is just being indirect. The CIA has no problem with killing peasants, and Duterte is not in opposition, direct or indirect, in the drug war. And he waffles in the diplomacy, achieving precisely nothing. Gruff likes to pose a lefty, playing the committed right-wingers favorite game of "Gotcha!" Someone who is actually defending the CIA does not agree the CIA deals drugs. But someone who is a leftist does take a movement committed to armed struggle seriously. You can disagree with the CPP and Joma, (those here who follow WSWS know something about that,) but not to be interested in what the CPP and Joma think, that's because you're not on the left. You just pretend to be. (Or maybe, if you're delusional enough, you really think so. But, still, sorry, no, you're not.)

Posted by: steven t johnson | Dec 17 2020 0:32 utc | 253

Third-worldization:

Unicef to feed hungry children in UK for first time in 70-year history

I think we can now decree the end of the British Empire.

Posted by: vk | Dec 17 2020 0:33 utc | 254

Outlaw US Empire sanctions Vietnam over legitimate trade dealings with Iran. If Biden is going to continue the idiotic, illegal and immoral sanction regime against Iran and the world, he might as well just cease all trade and cut everyone from SWIFT cause when BRI and the recent trade deals start rolling that is what will need to be done if policy is going to remain consistent. All the various Eurasian Blocs are allying with each other in a manner and speed that will soon see almost all those nations interconnected such that all will be trading with all. And it's that primary fact that shows the Empire's policy to be complete folly. Neither China or Russia can be lied about and singled out as primary national security threats when they're interconnected with dozens of other nations. It's the mirror image of the United Nations fighting the Fascist Few during WW2--which is another reality that the world must also face. Neoliberalism has the same essential goals as the Fascist, Colonialist, and Feudalist family of which it's the most recent member; and its features must be exiled from all nations.

Lavrov and Putin's shared maxim is to try and elicit dialog with other nations; but if the other nation refuses to talk seriously about serious topics, then there's not much that can be done except reduce relations to a minimum along with trade volume. IMO, the Outlaw US Empire ought to also be sanctioned over its continual violation of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the point of embargo if it doesn't begin obeying its own and international law.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 17 2020 0:57 utc | 255

karlof1@256, ty. trump indeed is the drunk @ the dinner party...the cab waiting...the hosts having finished the dishes, glasses & heading off to bed while the drunken sodden guest tosses cushions onto the carpet searching for godknowswhat. will he still be there in the morning? like you i appreciate that putin, lavrov, xi, nasurallah, assad remain the adults in the room & an inspiration. bless them all, bless you.

Posted by: emersonreturn | Dec 17 2020 1:33 utc | 256

"UK Supreme Court Accepts Guaido's Appeal For Control Over BoE's Seizure Of Venezuelan Gold"

"“There are concerns that Mr. Maduro may seize the gold, which is owned by the state, and sell it for personal gain,” the newspaper said."

Posted by: arby | Dec 17 2020 13:22 utc | 257

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