He Said That? 9/24/17

From Robert Heinlein (1907–1988),  American science fiction writer, Starship Troopers (1959):

Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost

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Patriotism, Flags and Referendums, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Self-determination and sovereignty are running head-on into globalist dreams of supra-national institutions. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

‘Tis the jolly time of elections, referendums, flags and other democracy-related issues. They are all linked in some way or another, even if that’s not always obvious. Elections, in New Zealand and Germany this weekend, referendums in Catalonia and Kurdistan the coming week, a looming Party Congress in China, quarrels about a flag in the US and then there’s always Brexit.

About China: the Congress is only in October, Xi Jinping looks sure to broaden his powers even more, and it ain’t all that democratic, but we should still follow it, if only because party officials will be either demoted or promoted, and some of them govern more people than most kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers. They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but in China everything really is. Including debt.

New Zealand: the election very early this morning didn’t bring a much hoped for win for Labour, or any clear winner at all, so don’t expect any grand changes in policy. New Zealand won’t wake up till its economy dives and the housing bubble pops.

Germany: Angela Merkel has set up today’s election so that she has no competition. Though she will see the ultra-right AfD enter parliament. Still, her main ‘rival’, alleged left wing Martin Schulz, is a carbon copy of Merkel when it comes to the main issues, i.e. immigration and the EU. An election that is as dull as Angela herself, even though she’ll lose 10% or so. The next one won’t be, guaranteed.

As for the US, no elections there, but another round of big words about nationalism, patriotism and the flag. Donald Trump is well aware that 75% or so of Americans say the flag must be respected, so criticizing people for kneeling instead of standing when the anthem gets played is an easy win for him. No amount of famous athletes is going to change that.

It all doesn’t seem very smart or sophisticated. But then, the US is the only western country I know of that plays the anthem at domestic sports games and has children vow a Pledge of Allegiance to it every single day. Other countries can’t even imagine doing that. They keep their anthems for special occasions. And even then only a few people stand up when it’s played. For most, it’s much ado about nothing but a strip of cotton.

To continue reading: Patriotism, Flags and Referendums

How World War One Still Haunts America, by James Bovard

World War I was a watershed, and not a good one, for America. From James Bovard at theburningplatform.com:

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This year is the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s pulling America into World War I. Many people celebrate this centenary of America’s emergence as a world power. But at a time when the Trump administration is bombing or rattling sabers at half a dozen nations and many Democrats are clamoring to bloody Russia, it is worth reviewing how World War I turned out so much worse than the experts and politicians promised.

Wilson was narrowly reelected in 1916 on the basis of a campaign slogan, “He kept us out of war.” But Wilson had massively violated neutrality by providing armaments and money to the Allied powers that had been fighting Germany since 1914. At the same time, he had no quarrel with the British blockade that was slowly starving the German people. In his April 1917 speech to Congress seeking a declaration of war against Germany, he hailed the U.S. government as “one of the champions of the rights of mankind” and proclaimed that “the world must be made safe for democracy.”

American soldiers helped turn the tide on the Western Front in late 1918. But the cost was far higher than Americans anticipated. More than 100,000 American soldiers died in the third-bloodiest war in U.S. history. Another half-million Americans perished from the Spanish Flu epidemic spurred and spread by the war. But the political damage lasted far longer.

In his speech to Congress, Wilson declared, “We have no quarrel with the German people” and feel “sympathy and friendship” towards them. But his administration speedily commenced demonizing the “Huns.” One Army recruiting poster portrayed German troops as an ape ravaging a half-naked damsel beneath an appeal to “Destroy this Mad Brute.” Wilson’s evocations of fighting for universal freedom were quickly followed by bans on sauerkraut, beer, and teaching German in public schools. Tolerance quickly became unpatriotic.

To continue reading: How World War One Still Haunts America

Harvey and Irma Won’t End Carmageddon, by Wolf Richter

As the auto industry goes, so goes the economy? From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

GM cuts entire shift at factory for crossovers due to “moderating” sales, layoffs not temporary.

For the first eight months of the year, car sales by GM and Ford plunged 19%. Industry car sales fell 11%, despite record incentives. Sales of trucks – pickups, SUVs, crossovers, and vans – have been the big hope. Total truck sales are up 3% for the year, reducing the overall sales decline to 3%. Particularly crossovers have been red-hot. Every manufacturer has jumped into this booming segment. They’ve been the big hope. But now, even that hope is fading.

“Although crossovers now make up a larger share of the automotive industry, overall volumes are moderating,” General Motors told employees in a layoff notice at its Spring Hill, Tenn., assembly plant that makes the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5. These crossover models are among the very vehicles GM is counting on to pull it out of its sales funk.

“We believe the best way to react…is to reduce output,” the statement said.

GM will eliminate an entire overnight shift with about 1,000 workers. Some of the workers might be transferred to the engine or component manufacturing side of the plant, according to the GM spokesman.

The notice was sent on Friday. It was meticulously timed. By the time it was reported by the Wall Street Journal, the markets had already closed and no one was supposed to pay attention any longer.

Already in December 2016, GM announced that it would kick-start 2017 by temporarily closing five assembly plants, temporarily laying off 10,000 workers. But most of those employees were involved in making cars.

What GM told its employees on Friday was different: It would cut an entire shift, it would not be temporary, and the purpose would be to cut production of formerly hot crossovers.

Every automaker is pursuing the hot crossover segment with a vengeance. They’re still selling, but not as well as expected, and demand is “moderating,” as GM put it, and now overcapacity is setting in, the bane in auto manufacturing. It has been hounding plants that make cars. But now the problem is spreading the plants that make crossovers.

To continue reading: Harvey and Irma Won’t End Carmageddon

Congress Passed a Bill to Deport Suspected ‘Gang’ Members — There’s Just One Problem, by Sarah Cronin

The effects of a law often hinge on its definitions. From Sarah Cronin at theantimedia.org:

Last week the House passed a bill to expand the government’s ability to deport immigrants on the basis of alleged gang affiliation. Promoted by Republicans as a way to target members of gangs such as the transnational M13 gang, H.R. 3697, the “Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act,” amends the Immigration and Nationality Act by adding gang affiliation to the list of criminal offenses that qualify as grounds for detention and deportation.

The bill passed 233 – 175 with almost unanimous Republican support and now must gain approval in the Senate, where it is currently pending in the Committee on the Judiciary. While the bill still has yet to come to a vote in Senate, it has already gained the presidential nod of approval. Shortly following the bill’s passage, the White House Press Secretary published a statement applauding Congress’ decision, and the administration already affirmed that “If H.R. 3697 were presented to the president in its current form, his advisors would recommend that he sign the bill into law,” according to a  statement of administrative policy published last Tuesday.

The bill has received strong criticism from House Democrats and organizations such as the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who claim the bill provides the government with sweeping discretion to detain and deport immigrants using a broad and arbitrary label.

The bulk of the debate on the bill revolves around how it defines ‘gangs.’ The bill defines a gang as any group of five or more people that has as one of its primary purposes the commission of one or more specified criminal offenses. The bill goes on to expand on these ‘criminal offenses’ to include felony drug offenses, which would include the possession of marijuana. It also explicitly names the ‘harboring’ of undocumented immigrants as a crime.

This means, theoretically, that any organization that helps, shelters, or hires undocumented immigrants could be considered a gang, and thus any immigrant member of such group could theoretically be detained or deported as a gang member.

To continue reading: Congress Passed a Bill to Deport Suspected ‘Gang’ Members — There’s Just One Problem

China’s Maritime Strategic Realignment, by Brian Kalman, Daniel Deiss, and Edwin Watson

China is slowly becoming a naval power. From Brian Kalman, Daniel Deiss, and Edwin Watson at southfront.org:

China has begun construction of the first Type 075 Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD). Construction most likely started in January or February of this year, with some satellite imagery and digital photos appearing online of at least one pre-fabricated hull cell. The Type 075 will be the largest amphibious warfare vessel in the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with similar displacement and dimensions as the U.S. Navy Wasp Class LHD. The PLA has also made it known that the force plans to expand the current PLA Marine Corps from 20,000 personnel to 100,000.

As China completes preparations for its new military base in Djibouti, located in the strategic Horn of Africa, it has also continued its substantial investment in developing the port of Gwadar, Pakistan. Not only will Gwadar become a key logistics hub as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the “One Belt, One Road” trade initiative, but will also be a key naval base in providing security for China’s maritime trade in the region.  When these developments are viewed in conjunction with the decision to reduce the size of the army by 300,000 personnel, it is obvious that China has reassessed the strategic focus of the nation’s armed forces.

The PLAN’s intends to expand the current force structure of the PLA Marine Corps fivefold, from two brigades to ten brigades. At the same time, the PLAN will be increased in size and capabilities, with many new, large displacement warships of varying types added to the fleet. Of particular interest, are the addition of at least two Type 055 destroyers, an indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier of a new class, two more Type 071 LPDs, and the first Type 075 LHD.

China is rapidly gaining the ability to project power and naval presence at increasing distances from its shores. Not only is the PLAN expanding in tonnage, but its new vessels are considerably more capable. The PLAN will be striving to add and train an additional 25% more personnel over the next half a decade, in an effort to add the skilled crews, pilots, and support personnel that will facilitate such an ambitious expansion.

To continue reading: China’s Maritime Strategic Realignment

 

Spain In Crisis: Catalan Police Reject Madrid Takeover, Vow To “Resist”, by Tyler Durden

Here’s the latest in the ongoing standoff between Spain and Catalonia. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Spain found itself on the verge of a full-blown sovereign crisis on Saturday, after the “rebel region” of Catalonia rejected giving more control to the central government in defiance of authorities in Madrid who are trying to suppress an independence referendum on Oct. 1.

As tensions rise ahead of the planned Catalan referendum on October 1, and as Madrid’s crackdown on separatist passions took a turn for the bizarre overnight when as we reported Spain’s plan to send boatloads of military police to Catalonia to halt the referendum backfired with dockers in two ports staging a boycott and refused access, on Saturday Spain’s Public Prosecutor’s Office told Catalan Police chief Josep Lluis Trapero that his officers must now obey orders from a senior state-appointed police coordinator, Spanish news agency EFE reported on Saturday.

The Catalan Police, however, disagreed and as Bloomberg reports, the SAP union – the largest trade group for the 17,000-member Catalan Police, known as Mossos d’Esquadra – said it would resist hours after prosecutors Saturday ordered that it accept central-government coordination. The rejection echoed comments by Catalan separatist authorities.

 “We don’t accept this interference of the state, jumping over all existing coordination mechanisms,” the region’s Interior Department chief Joaquim Forn said in brief televised comments. “The Mossos won’t renounce exercising their functions in loyalty to the Catalan people.”

The Mossos are one of the symbols of Catalonia’s autonomy and for many Catalans the prosecutor’s decision may be reminiscent of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and subsequent dictatorship of Francisco Franco, when the Mossos were abolished.

In a joint press conference today with the Catalan home affairs minister Joaquim Forn and the Mossos chief Josep Lluís Trapero, Forn said that the move by Spain was “unacceptable”.

“We denounce the Spanish government’s will of seizing the Mossos, as they did with Catalonia’s finances” Forn said adding that that “the Catalan government does not accept this interference, it bypasses all the institutions that the current legal framework already has in place to guarantee the security of Catalonia.” Additionally, Trapero expressed his intention to not accept the measure, which he described as “interference by the state”, and also warned that “it skips over all the bodies of the legal framework to coordinate the security of Catalonia”.

To continue reading: Spain In Crisis: Catalan Police Reject Madrid Takeover, Vow To “Resist”