In every bit of honest writing in the world there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other.

‘Of mice and men’

In every bit of honest writing in the world, there is a base theme.

Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme.

Try to understand each other.


John Steinbeck in his 1938 journal entry
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Dec 3, 2018 RICARDO HAUSMANN Venezuela’s problems will not be solved without regime change. And that could – and should – happen after January 10, when the international community will no longer recognize the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro's presidency.

Venezuela crisis: Trump, Putin new Geo-political playground ?

A student demonstrates in front of a line of riot police during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government in San Cristobal, Venezuela, on February 12, 2015. George CASTELLANO/AFP/Getty Images
A student demonstrates in front of a line of riot police during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government in San Cristobal, Venezuela, on February 12, 2015.
 George CASTELLANO/AFP/Getty Images
Trump, Putin conflicting dealings with Venezuela and why China and Turkey are standing with Maduro as well—in the US’s backyard – Cimson Tazvinzwa, AIWA! NEWS INTERNATIONAL

In a piece ‘Venezuela goes from bad to catastrophe’ published by TIME magazine , June 6, 2016 Ian Bremmer made an alarming new find about the troubled once rich South American country: “.No more coca-cola for Venezuela – there is not enough sugar. Diet coke is still around – until the country runs out of aspartame – but the disappearance from store shelves of an icon of globalization’ was the latest blow for an economy that was fast teetering towards economic abyss.

YouTube
Venezuela debt crisis: Russia, China, Turkey provide relief for Venezuela, Wall Street 'vultures'
YouTube//Venezuela debt crisis: Russia, China, Turkey provide relief for Venezuela, Wall Street ‘vultures’

In April of the same year, the country’s largest private company, Empresas Polar SA, which makes 80% of the beer that Venezuelans consume, closed its doors. The government now rations water, so Venezuelans have begun stealing it from tanker trucks and swimming pools.

Electricity is also in short supply, and President Nicolás Maduro has ordered public offices to conserve energy by remaining open just two days a week. An ongoing drought only makes matters worse. About 65% of the country’s electricity is generated by a single hydroelectric dam that’s now in serious trouble. Blackouts, scheduled and otherwise, have become common.

Venezuela crisis is economics on the surface; but it is geopolitics at play as Russia flexes muscle for global outreach

The crisis in Venezuela appears to be shaping up like a Cold War-style confrontation: The Kremlin is throwing its support behind embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, while Washington backs Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed interim president.

The story at first glance seems to have all the elements of a spy thriller. In recent days, rumors have swirled about Russian mercenaries, massive bullion shipments and murky assassination plots. Maduro has cast himself as a latter-day Fidel Castro in this drama.

Image result for russia turkey china venezuela

Dieselgasoil.comVenezuela divide: Turkey, Russia, China stand against Washington, its Latin America allies

In an interview with Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA-Novosti, Maduro hinted at a US-backed attempt on his life, saying, “Without a doubt, Donald Trump gave the order to kill me, told the Colombian government, the mafia of Colombia to kill me.”

READ RELATED: Russia Is Now Venezuela’s Only Hope

That sounded like an episode ripped from one of the CIA’s failed plots to kill the Cuban leader. And the crisis carries echoes of the Cuban Missile Crisis: Late last year, Russian bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons flew to Venezuela, signaling that Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to play in America’s backyard.

So are we about to watch a Netflix-era remake of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion?

Is Venezuela another arena for proxy conflict between Russia and the United States, much like the way Moscow and Washington back opposing sides in the Syrian civil war?

Certainly, Maduro’s conspiracy theories — and his language about resisting American neocolonialism — are reminiscent of the old contest between the US and the USSR in Latin America. But Russia is not backing his government in Venezuela to spread the ideology of Marxism.

For starters, Moscow sees Venezuela in large part as a business proposition. Russia’s state-controlled oil company Rosneft has been a major backer of Maduro’s government, and Russia and Rosneft have provided billions in loans and lines of credit for cash-strapped Venezuela.

Tokyo Vehicle plows into New Year’s crowd, injures eight people

Policemen stand next to a car which plowed into pedestrians on New Year day in Tokyo, Japan, January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/car-crashes-into-new-year-s-crowd-in-tokyo-in-suspected-terror-attack--eight-injured-11077660

Policemen stand next to a car which plowed into pedestrians on New Year day in Tokyo, Japan, January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

At least eight people were injured, one seriously, when a vehicle plowed into crowds celebrating New Year’s Day in Tokyo early on Tuesday.

CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|A car ploughed into crowds celebrating New Year’s Day early on Tuesday in a suspected terror attack, leaving eight people injured, including one who was unconscious.

A police spokesman said one suspect, in his 20s, had been detained and that he had described the incident as an “act of terror”. The spokesman declined to elaborate.

The incident happened shortly after midnight local time on Monday in a popular tourist area of Harajuku, near Meiji Shrine, in central Tokyo.

“I can’t believe it, this is a place I’m familiar with, so it’s very shocking,” said Tatsuhiro Yaegashi, a 27-year-old worker in the area.

(Reporting by Kwiyeon Ha, Kim Kyung-Hoon; Writing by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Neil Fullick)Source: Reuters


Those opposing the deal, including Republicans like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Democrats like Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, urged their colleagues to reconsider the costs of enmeshing the United States in another war. “Let’s ask ourselves whether we are comfortable with the United States getting slowly, predictably, and all too quietly dragged into yet another war in the Middle East,” Murphy said from the floor. Ultimately, the Senate voted to table the resolution opposing the deal. But 27 senators voted against the motion to table—coming out against the arms deal in a considerable, if symbolic, rebuke to the Saudis, the Obama administration, and their largely Republican backers.

UNITED NATIONS Investigates Saudi Arabia’s Human Record In Wake of The Murder of Washington Post Reporter Jamal Khashoggi


More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report

Journalist and reporter for Washington Post Jamal Khashoggi murdered by a Saudi hit squad in Turkish Consulate in Istanbul.

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|SAUDI ARABIA faces international condemnation and censure for the apparent murder of its citizen at a Turkish Consulate in Istanbul in October; and its ongoing war in Yemen.

The United Kingdom and the US are working towards a joint resolution, and consequently a joint communique ending four-year conflict that has claimed millions of lives and made even more millions of peopled internally displaced.


Yemeni families are on the brink of famine. On top of forced displacement, hunger now looms across Yemen, leaving the lives of millions of children, women, and men at risk. UNHCR is working hard to provide displaced families with vital support like food, shelter and healthcare in their time of greatest need. But we cannot do it without you. 

This is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and it deserves critical attention.
Your donation could help to provide displaced families with the essentials they need to survive: shelter, blankets, medical care and emergency assistance.
UNHCR can make your gift reach the people most in need – fast. We are on the ground within 72 hours from an emergency helping families forced to flee. It is our job to protect and safeguard refugees’ rights and help rebuild their lives.

UNHCR, THE UN REFUGEE AGENCY
More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report


More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report

A joint report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has found that the conflict in Yemen has resulted in the displacement of some 3,154,572 people, of which 2,205,102 remain displaced across the country and some 949,470 have attempted to return home.

“The crisis is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of safety,” Ita Schuette, UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in Yemen said in a news release on Friday, announcing the report.

The news release added that due to the escalating conflict and worsening humanitarian conditions, displacement across the country has seen an increase of about seven per cent since April, with 152,009 individuals fleeing from violence during this period.

The report, prepared by the Task Force on Population Movement, a technical working group led by the two agencies as part of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Yemen, also said that a significant number of those displaced are attempting to return home, a 24 per cent increase of some 184,491 individuals. However, it cautioned that movements remained fluid and correlated to moments of lulls or perceived improvements in the conflict.

“IDP returnees are considered to remain within the displacement cycle as long as they have not achieved a sustainable reintegration and their needs remain high, as is also the case for the non-displaced host community,” said Laurent De Boeck, IOM Chief of Mission to Yemen.

|AIWA! NO!|American militarism has gone off the rails — and this middling career officer should have seen it coming. Earlier in this century, the U.S. military not surprisingly focused on counterinsurgency as it faced variousindecisive and seemingly unending wars across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. Back in 2008, when I was still a U.S. Army captain fresh from Iraq and studying at Fort Knox, Kentucky, our training scenarios generally focused on urban combat and what were called “security and stabilization missions.” We’d plan to assault some notional city center, destroy the enemy fighters there and then transition to pacification and “humanitarian” operations.

The Trump Administration Is Militarizing the Whole Planet


Trump gives OK for troops deployed at US/Mexico border to use lethal force

US Army Soldiers arrive at Valley International Airport, Harlingen, TX to conduct the first missions along the southern border in support of Operation FAITHFUL PATRIOT November 1, 2018, Photo Date: 11/1/2018 / Photo: U.S. Air Force / Alexandra Minor / (MGN

US Army Soldiers arrive at Valley International Airport, Harlingen, TX to conduct the first missions along the southern border in support of Operation FAITHFUL PATRIOT November 1, 2018, Photo Date: 11/1/2018 / Photo: U.S. Air Force / Alexandra Minor / (MGN

|AIWA! NO!|American militarism has gone off the rails — and this middling career officer should have seen it coming. Earlier in this century, the U.S. military not surprisingly focused on counterinsurgency as it faced variousindecisive and seemingly unending wars across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa.

Back in 2008, when I was still a U.S. Army captain fresh from Iraq and studying at Fort Knox, Kentucky, our training scenarios generally focused on urban combat and what were called “security and stabilization missions.” We’d plan to assault some notional city center, destroy the enemy fighters there and then transition to pacification and “humanitarian” operations.

Of course, no one then asked about the dubious efficacy of “regime change” and “nation building,” the two activities in which our country had been so regularly engaged. That would have been frowned upon.

Still, however bloody and wasteful those wars were, they now look like relics from a remarkably simpler time. The Army knew its mission then, even if it couldn’t accomplish it, and could predict what each of us young officers was about to take another crack at, Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fast forward eight years — during which this author fruitlessly toiled away in Afghanistan and taught at West Point — and the U.S. military ground presence has significantly decreased in the Greater Middle East, even if its wars there remain “infinite.”

The United States was still bombing, raiding and “advising” in several of those old haunts as I entered the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Nonetheless, when I first became involved in the primary staff officer training course for mid-level careerists there in 2016, it soon became apparent to me that something indeed was changing.

Our training scenarios were no longer limited to counterinsurgency operations. Now, we were planning for possible deployments to — and high-intensity conventional warfare in — the Caucasus, the Baltic Sea region and the South China Sea. We were also planning for conflicts against an Iranian-style “rogue” regime. The missions became all about projecting Army divisions into distant regions to fight major wars to “liberate” territories and bolster allies.

One thing soon became clear to me in my new digs. Much had changed. The U.S. military had, in fact, gone global in a big way. Frustrated by its inability to close the deal on any of the indecisive counterterror wars of this century, Washington had decided it was time to prepare for “real” war with a host of imagined enemies.

This process had, in fact, been developing right under our noses for quite a while. You remember in 2013 when Pres. Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began talking about a “pivot” to Asia — an obvious attempt to contain China.

Obama also sanctioned Moscow and further militarized Europe in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Crimea. Pres. Donald Trump, whose “instincts,” on the campaign trail, were to pull out of America’s Middle Eastern quagmires, turned out to be ready to escalate tensions with China, Russia, Iran and even for a while North Korea.

With Pentagon budgets reaching record levels — some $717 billion for 2019 — Washington has stayed the course, while beginning to plan for more expansive future conflicts across the globe. Today, not a single square inch of this warming planet of ours escapes the reach of U.S. militarization.

Think of these developments as establishing a potential formula for perpetual conflict that just might lead the United States into a truly cataclysmic war it neither needs nor can meaningfully win. With that in mind, here’s a little tour of Planet Earth as the U.S. military now imagines it.

Never apt to quit, even after 17 years of failure, Washington’s bipartisan military machine still churns along in the Greater Middle East. Some 14,500 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan along with much U.S. air power, though that war is failing by just about any measurable metric you care to choose — and Americans are still dying there, even if in diminished numbers.

In Syria, U.S. forces remain trapped between hostile powers, one mistake away from a possible outbreak of hostilities with Russia, Iran, Syrian President Assad, or even NATO ally Turkey. While American troops and air power in Iraq helped destroy ISIS’s physical “caliphate,” they remain entangled there in a low-level guerrilla struggle in a country seemingly incapable of forming a stable political consensus.

At top — U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles line up by the Trondheim Fjord in Norway. Marine Corps photo. Above — soldiers from 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment, complete their live-fire training exercise at Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk in Louisiana. U.S. Army photo

In other words, as yet there’s no end in sight for that now 15-year-old war. Add in the drone strikes, conventional air attacks, and special forces raids that Washington regularly unleashes in Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Pakistan, and it’s clear that the U.S. military’s hands remain more than full in the region.

If anything, the tensions — and potential for escalation — in the Greater Middle East and North Africa are only worsening. Trump ditched Obama’s Iran nuclear deal and, despite the recent drama over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has gleefully backed the Saudi royals in their arms race and cold war with Iran.

While the other major players in that nuclear pact remained on board, Trump has appointed unreformed Iranophobe neocons such as John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to key foreign-policy positions and his administration still threatens regime-change in Tehran.

In Africa, despite talk about downsizing the U.S. presence there, the military advisory mission has only increased its various commitments, backing questionably legitimate governments against local opposition forces and destabilizing further an already unstable continent.

You might think that waging war for two decades on two continents would at least keep the Pentagon busy and temper Washington’s desire for further confrontations. As it happens, the opposite is proving to be the case.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is increasingly autocratic and has shown a propensity for localized aggression in its sphere of influence. Still, it would be better not to exaggerate the threat. Russia did annex the Crimea, but the people of that province were Russians and desired such a reunification. It intervened in a Ukrainian civil war, but Washington was also complicit in the coup that kicked off that drama.

Besides, all of this unfolded in Russia’s neighborhood as the U.S. military increasingly deploys its forces up to the very borders of the Russian Federation. Imagine the hysteria in Washington if Russia were deploying troops and advisers in Mexico or the Caribbean.

To put all of this in perspective, Washington and its military machine actually prefer facing off against Russia. It’s a fight the armed forces still remain comfortable with. After all, that’s what its top commanders were trained for during the tail end of an almost half-century-long Cold War. Counterinsurgency is frustrating and indecisive.

The prospect of preparing for “real war” against the good old Russians with tanks, planes and artillery — now, that’s what the military was built for!

And despite all the over-hyped talk about Trump’s complicity with Russia, under him the Obama-era military escalation in Europe has only expanded. Back when I was toiling hopelessly in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army was actually removing combat brigades from Germany and stationing them back on U.S. soil.

Then, in the late Obama years, the military began returning those forces to Europe and stationing them in the Baltic, Poland, Romania and other countries increasingly near to Russia. That’s never ended and, this year, the U.S. Air Force has delivered its largest shipment of ordnance to Europe since the Cold War.

Make no mistake. War with Russia would be an unnecessary disaster — and it could go nuclear. Is Latvia really worth that risk?

From a Russian perspective, of course, it’s Washington and its expansionof the by-definition anti-Russian NATO alliance into Eastern Europe that constitutes the real aggression in the region — and Putin may have a point there.

What’s more, an honest assessment of the situation suggests that Russia, a country whose economy is about the size of Spain’s, has neither the will nor the capacity to invade Central Europe. Even in the bad old days of the Cold War, as we now know from Soviet archives, European conquest was never on Moscow’s agenda. It still isn’t.

Nonetheless, the U.S. military goes on preparing for what Marine Corps commandant Gen. Robert Neller, addressing some of his forces in Norway, claimed was a “big fight” to come. If it isn’t careful, Washington just might get the war it seems to want and the one that no one in Europe or the rest of this planet needs.

The United States Navy has long treated the world’s oceans as if they were American lakes. Washington extends no such courtesy to other great powers or nation-states. Only now, the U.S. Navy finally faces some challenges abroad — especially in the Western Pacific.

A rising China, with a swiftly growing economy and carrying grievances from a long history of European imperial domination, has had the audacity to assert itself in the South China Sea. In response, Washington has reacted with panic and bellicosity.

Never mind that the South China Sea is Beijing’s Caribbean, a place where Washington long felt it had the right to do anything it wanted militarily. Heck, the South China Sea has China in its name! The U.S. military now claims — with just enough truth to convince the uninformed — that China’s growing navy is out for Pacific, if not global, dominance.

Sure, at the moment China has only two aircraft carriers, one an old rehab— though it is building more — compared to the U.S. Navy’s 11 full-sized and nine smaller carriers. And yes, China hasn’t actually attacked any of its neighbors yet. Still, the American people are told that their military must prepare for possible future war with the most populous nation on the planet.

In that spirit, it has been forward deploying yet more ships, Marines and troops to the Pacific Rim surrounding China. Thousands of Marines are now stationed in Northern Australia. U.S. warships cruise the South Pacific. And Washington has sent mixed signals regarding its military commitments to Taiwan.

Even the Indian Ocean has recently come to be seen as a possible future battleground with China, as the Navy increases its regional patrols there and Washington negotiates stronger military ties with China’s rising neighbor, India. In a symbolic gesture, the military renamed its former Pacific Command the Indo-Pacific Command.

Unsurprisingly, China’s military high command has escalated accordingly. It advised its South China Sea Command to prepare for war, made its own set of provocative gestures in the South China Sea and also threatenedto invade Taiwan should the Trump administration change America’s longstanding “One China” policy.

From the Chinese point of view, all of this couldn’t be more logical, given that Trump has also unleashed a “trade war” on Beijing’s markets and intensified his anti-China rhetoric. And all of this is, in turn, consistent with the Pentagon’s increasing militarization of the entire globe.

Would that it were only Africa, Asia and Europe that Washington had chosen to militarize. In fact, more or less every square inch of our spinning planet not already occupied by a rival state has been deemed a militarized space to be contested. The United States has long been unique in the way it divided the entire surface of the globe into geographical combatant commands presided over by generals and admirals who functionally serve as regional Roman-style proconsuls.

And the Trump years are only accentuating this phenomenon. Take Latin America, which might normally be considered a non-threatening space for the United States, though it is already under the gaze of U.S. Southern Command.

Recently, however, having already threatened to “invade” Venezuela, Trump spent the election campaign rousing his base on the claim that a desperate caravan of Central American refugees — hailing from countries the United States had a significant responsibility for destabilizing in the first place — was a literal “invasion” and so yet another military problem. As such, he ordered more than 5,000 troops, more than currently serve in Syria or Iraq, to the United States-Mexico border.

Though he is not the first to try to do so, he has also sought to militarizespace and so create a possible fifth branch of the U.S. military, tentatively known as the Space Force. It makes sense. War long has been three dimensional, so why not bring U.S. militarism into the stratosphere, even as the Army is evidently training and preparing for a new cold war with that ever-ready adversary, Russia, around the Arctic Circle.

If the world as we know it is going to end, it will either be thanks to the long-term threat of climate change or an absurd nuclear war. In both cases, Washington has been upping the ante and doubling down. On climate change, of course, the Trump administration seems intent on loading the atmosphere with ever more greenhouse gases. When it comes to nukes, rather than admit that they are unusable and seek to further downsize the bloated U.S. and Russian arsenals, that administration, like Obama’s, has committed itself to the investment of what could, in the end, be at least $1.6 trillion over three decades for the full-scale “modernization” of that arsenal.

Any faintly rational set of actors would long ago have accepted that nuclear war is unwinnable and a formula for mass human extinction. As it happens, though, we’re not dealing with rational actors but with a defense establishment that considers it a prudent move to withdraw from the Cold War era Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia.

And that ends our tour of the U.S. military’s version of Planet Earth.

It is often said that, in an Orwellian sense, every nation needs an enemy to unite and discipline its population. Still, the United States must stand alone in history as the only country to militarize the whole globe and space in preparation for taking on just about anyone. Now, that’sexceptional.

Maj. Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians and the Myth of the Surge. He lives with his wife and four sons near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet. This story originally appeared at TomDispatch.