19 October 2016   1 comment

Urthecast is a company that publishes satellite images of the earth.  Some of these photographs are stunning–for a view of their gallery, click here.  Today it published an image of the scorched earth tactics of Daesh (the Islamic State) as it tries to defend the city of Mosul.  The New York Times published an article on Daesh’s tactics in Mosul and the evidence suggests that the upcoming battle will be brutal.

Infrared view of the Mosul District taken by UrtheCast on October 18 showing oil fields deliberately set on fire.

D2_20161018_Oil_Fires_Full_Med

Reuters is reporting that Russia is sending its entire Northern Fleet and a good part of its Baltic Fleet, including its only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, to the eastern Mediterranean.  The fleet is being deployed to support what looks like the final assault on the city of Aleppo.  It is Russia’s largest naval deployment since the Cold War and it is an unmistakeable sign that Russia fully intends to support Syrian President Assad to the fullest extent.  The graphic below is a representation of the disposition of American and Russian naval forces in the summer of 2013–I cannot even imagine what it going to look like in a few days.

In 1935, Sinclair Lewis published a novel entitled It Can Happen Here.  It was a novel of how an authoritarian leader was elected President of the US.  Lewis wrote the novel in the context of the rise of authoritarian regimes throughout Europe in the 1930s.  As we witness the resurgence of right-wing parties throughout the globe, it might be instructive to think about how far this tendency might go.  As we ponder this question, as Larry Diamond does in The Atlantic, we should also remember that few in Germany in 1933 ever thought how bad things might eventually get.

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Posted October 19, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

One response to “19 October 2016

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  1. To most people, voting for a president is like deciding on an investment strategy. By comparing future promises of each candidate, we pick our final choice in hoping for the maximum gain, either in political rights or financial reward. But events like the 2008 economic crisis occurred, suggesting that not enough people can always wisely identify the risks associated with extra gain. According to Diamond, “support for democracy had begun to decline significantly, especially among young people, and not only in the U.S. but in Europe as well.” As more people shifting their votes from democratic leaders to their opponents in trusting some quite powerful promises by the latter, very few would be able to fully recognize the realistic outcomes of their own choices. Whether or not the more powerful promises are possible in reality, and more importantly, whether or not the powerful promises are associated with disastrous byproducts (such as McCarthyism), are the questions that tend to be easily overlooked. Just like before 2008, many people believed, or simply imagined, or in fact hoped, that there was no bubble in the sub-market they picked, and that even if there were a bubble, it wouldn’t damage their profiles for the period of time they were involved. Knowing this, could we persuade the people that are making unwise choices in either scenario? Famous scholars such as Robert Shiller predicted the failure of 2008 well ahead of time, but obviously not enough people bought it. I think, in case of electing a president, very much like in the economics world, propaganda war can serve our objective even better than many other ways, which are either more time consuming or less far-reaching. But well, no matter if it was back then during the unusual moment, or if it is now the most unsettling time, we don’t seem to face challenges that are impossible to deal with, in my opinion.

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