Authoritarian Leadership, Quest for Power & Discrimination – China, Russia, Turkey (America?)

This is a food for thought article that will be TL;DR for many out there…

The world of leaders, today – 2019!

Russia, China, Turkey – these are countries that want to and are actively banning dissenting voices. These countries want to control their societies so there are no threats to the government’s strong arm of control over their citizens.

This is when you know leaders of various countries are in trouble. The government starts implementing more control over the press. These governments start controlling what their citizens can say, when they can say it and where they can say anything.

There had been a point in time when I wanted to go visit these countries but that was prior to these control over citizens being put in place. Now, no real desire to do so any longer.

For example, Russia – I’ve written about this in the past, outside of my previous intelligence and cybersecurity work (complete separation between previous work and personal discussions). SORM, its full name is ‘System for Operative Investigative Activities’ and is basically interception of voice and data through all the various networks. It is something Russia implemented in the mid-90s, originating from the FSB (formerly the KGB). This set of regulations under SORM covers everything from credit card transactions, telephone calls, internet activity, etc. And to make it worse, the FSB and the government has been expanding this ever since. If you are an ISP (internet provider), you have to have an FSB compliant box “on your site” that all of your data goes through. Guess what else. All that data goes through an FSB entity in order to archive, cherry pick whatever is needed and to filter what is “not good” for the government, err, Russia. If businesses did not comply and install the device, they were blocked from doing business. Now we have Russia upping the ante and starting to actually block VPNs (virtual private network) who do not agree to censor traffic across/through their VPN system. There are numerous outlets to read up on this, no matter your political stance.

And China, everyone by now is aware of the Great China Firewall.  No matter where you stood in China, everything, everywhere was being filtered AND acted upon to impart the ‘great’ communist party loyalty that everyone must comply with.  Sure, China wants to be capitalistic and make money and be a power house on the world stage. But! China also STILL wants to be a communistic system and FORCE everyone to kowtow to the party line. Look at the Uighurs (Uyghurs or one of the several other ways it is being spelled) – they are being wiped out, systematically. And some would say that they are being wiped out – genocidally. Entire communities of Uighurs have been razed to the ground and replaced with more modern high rises, with many of those Uighurs being placed in “Education” camps, to, ahem, “improve the economic and education levels” of those members. You can also do your own research (which I very highly recommend you do) to find material on what is happening in those Uighur areas – there are also a lot of Uighur refugees in America and other countries. China is becoming like the movie GATTACA where you are tracked at all times and the government knows everything about you…

Turkey, what I can about Erdogan? He is a dictator, clear and through. He is making the country more religious every week. He is trying to still further strengthen his power base and be President for life, outside of the previous term limits. He too is looking to control his people.

The bottom line is that these three countries and others as well, i.e.:

  • Brunei and their new Sharia laws – where gays and adulterers ‘can legally’ be stoned to death
  • Malaysia and their Sharia laws – the government is looking to get tougher on gays there as well and it is already brutal

I happened to latch on to the gay topic above because this is a pet peeve of mine. There are many of us who are very tolerant of people enjoying the lifestyle they believe they want. It is not up to us to control someone else’s personal life – it is none of our business and should be none of yours. It is not harmful to you and please do not insult the rest of us by saying that it creates emotional and mental turmoil and distress – that will not fly. We are grownups (right?) and can handle keeping our noses out of someone else’s personal lifestyle.

But, controlling the people of a country… This has always been a disturbing path to follow. No one wants to engage with or partner with or visit a country where the citizens are dictated to as to:

  • who they in turn can associate with (check out China’s ‘social credit system’) – you can be docked points for the bad people you associate with (or jay walk or spit on the streets or use too much toilet paper) and with enough docked points, you cannot take plane flights anywhere among other things
  • what they can say about their leaders or their government – dissenting voices are knocked down, publicly – in Russia, people are ‘accidentally’ shot down by mysterious forces… or the dissenters can have chemicals thrown into their faces or somehow be ‘legally’ sentenced for tax fraud…
  • where they can go and how many can get together at one time in one area – yeah, Russia and China put size limits and area restrictions on this for their people – and it is worse than the regulations we Americans have to deal with
  • what the people can write, in books, magazines or newspapers – it has to all be glowing lies or B.S. (errr – dang it, sorry, personal content) commentary that those government figures/entities can smile about

No one in the free world wants to part of a society where the leaders only want to gain power, gain more power over time and grab more power – solidifying their choke hold on and over the people of the country. And it goes on. Yet the police and military forces that the leaders control just stand by. There have been instances where the military would step in wrest control from authoritarian leaders and then let the people vote for new leadership AND actually relinquish control to those democratically elected officials.  Now. Now that does not seem to be happening, it is as if the military leaders have become brain dead and, pardon the technical term, stupefied – unless these military leaders have been bought and paid for and these military leaders have no spine or morals or ethic foundation to lead from. It kind of happened in Turkey in 1980 where the military lead the country for several years.

Now don’t get me wrong, America has some kind of leadership issues of our own that is simply baffling to understand. We have our own moral and political compass to correct and our ship really, really needs to be up-righted…

Note: I do not use the term United States any longer due to the fact that we have too much division throughout the country where a sizeable number of people just do not want to see other people in this country gain more power and more equality – those people being discriminated; non-whites, women, immigrants and gays.

This is where it is baffling to me. Instead of coming together as a whole nation and working on solving issues of (small list here):

  • droughts,
  • small towns dying due to young people and others leaving for better opportunities,
  • loss of manufacturing & mining jobs due to technological advances,
  • improving education (as long as the effort does not involve Betsy DeVos – bad choice for that role),
  • improving workplace equality – many, many people know this is wrong and that if a man and a woman are doing the same job and they have the same educational/work experience – it should be a no-brainer that they should be paid equally (however, if one of them is an under-performer, man or woman – that person should be the low earner)
  • having better leaders – this country does NOT need more leaders that only want to have a “good ole boys” club and exclude others (see the discriminated list above) or leaders who want to line their own pockets with ill-gotten gains (ask the congressman who was doing insider trading ON White House property) for themselves and their family and friends

So, where are we headed as a race of humans? Are we headed into a disappointingly dark future of one where leaders continue to gain power and control and lord it over others? Or those leaders who “want” to attempt to gain such power (America – Trump)… Ask:

  • Venezuela’s Maduro if he gets enough to eat or if his people were/are starving during these bleak times there).
  • Russia’s Putin how much money he continues to rake in as possibly the wealthiest ‘voted in’ leader in the world – how does a president become a billionaire (unless they win a huge lottery)? And how much physical force he is going to continue to exert just to remain in power (same goes for Turkey’s Erdogan)?
  • China’s Xi JinPing and his attempts to reach around the eastern hemisphere and gain more power and influence, such as creating man-made islands in the South China Sea (SCS).
  • Or, not to forget – the murder of Khashoggi allegedly under the direction of Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who, again, allegedly to silence Khashoggi…

We simply have too many people in multiple countries around the world who are somehow blinded (or fooled) by their current leader as to how really beneficial that leader is, for everyone…

What kind of future do you want to see? One where medical care is available to everyone, regardless of their social economical stance in society? One where children can go to public schools with decent and up to date system to enhance learning (books that do not have whitewashed history and technological tools) or colleges where students of all levels can get in without bribery? One where needed medicine costs a paycheck?

I am not talking about a Utopian society, just one that makes sense – where people treat each other with civility and common courtesy rather than those full of greed and low moral compasses who want to step on the backs of everyone else, just to gain a 3 second advantage at any cost. Look at the current president of America, where that individual believes that others should abide by the law, yet, yet – he should be excluded from such plebeian exercises…

We should be building upon progressive and liberal platforms that were starting to take root, platforms that also had some conservatism in them. Platforms that were and are socialist as well, which many people seem to forget and just take for granted; socialist programs such as fire departments – they help everyone. Same as with police departments and school systems and hospitals – do people really want to return to the dark days of when they were not? We live in a new time, not the old days of the pathetic class system of race, gender and money – we live in a time that should be about inclusion and growth.

Leaders have to help people and help people grow together – not be authoritarian leaders who want to control every aspect of your life; from the people you associate with, to the religion you practice (for those who believe in that higher power), to even what kind of music you can hear and what kind of movie you can watch (these leaders want to protect your soul and moral compass, right….). What is wrong with helping others to grow? Absolutely nothing at all, it should be an enriching event for everyone.

Go and check out Eli Pariser’s book – The Filter Bubble. You don’t have to read the entire book, just the first few chapters and you will have a better understanding of the filter bubble so many people find themselves. If only we could get more people out of their highly restricting personal filter bubbles and expand their enclosed ‘worldscape’, we might grow better and faster as a global community.

 

 

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Trump and his Reality Show Love Affairs with Dictators, errr, Leaders

NOTE: Remember, do your own due diligent research and deep critical thinking – think for yourself after hearing commentary from other sources who may or may not be qualified to provide you with the necessary and relevant material/analysis.

Hmmmm, still finding it very, VERY difficult to understand why the people who voted for our American president still want him as the president.

We have a problem in America. We have a president who seems to be on a roll with himself and other heads of states, the wrong kinds of heads of state.

  • Trump: Hey, didja see me with Kim Jong Un?   Done. Check.
  • Trump: Hey, didja see me with Putin in Helsinki? NAILED IT!!! Check.

So, what is next with Trump – maybe Erdogan?

  • Trump: Hey didja see me with Turkey’s dictator, sorry, president (for life) – HEYYY, that is a magnificent mansion you live in… maybe I should have one like that too, paid for by my base (and even those unenlightened people who ‘did not’ vote for me…).

Then too, could Syria’s Assad be in Trump’s sight-line as well, maybe?

  • Trump: Hey didja see me with Assad? He has quite the way of putting down civil disturbances. Why, he even has Putin on his side to help him out…

Trump appears to have no idea as to the magnitude of what he is doing to America; its economics, its educational system, its welfare system, its environment, its, well – I could go on but it is as if the people who need to wake up (Trump’s base and a fairly large number of politicians which is an even larger oddity in itself), they just do not get it. They still want Trump in office when the man should be removed as soon as possible.

It’s likely that Putin is laughing his butt off right now after his ‘summit’ with Trump. (It is also likely that Kim Jong Un is still laughing his little body hard as well, especially after Kim, ahem, theatrically blew up his nuclear reactor site. Many of us know that if the intent was to truly blow up that site, the explosive/kinetic force would have been exponentially much larger than, what was that – blowing up the entry way into the site. Folks, just go back and look at it again through the eyes of a diligent observer and equate the size of the blast with the area that was to be destroyed)

Trump, as it has been stated multiple times today, has basically dismissed the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia. And then had the audacity to say that “we’ve all been foolish about our relationship with Russia.” Has Trump not read ANYTHING over the past 2 decades about Putin and Russia???? One has to wonder if Trump even knows that Putin is a former career KGB officer…

What do we have to do is to get “MORE” people {somehow} to wake up and push a movement to impeach Trump before he causes even more damage to America and the global alliance of allies…

UPDATE: Trump came back and stated, 36 hours later that he ‘did’ agree with our American IC (intel community, of which I was a part of for a while). Interesting….

Lunacy – Politics, Dictators (& Trump) and Race

It is now 2017 and we, as a global people, are facing more and more lunacy in the world.

In Turkey, we have Erdogan who constantly expands his political powers to where it is reaching dictatorial levels. When you:

  • Modify the political system;
  • Suppress journalists, military, educators, other political parties and
  • Control the media

— you are a dictator.

In Venezuela, we have Maduro with his recent critically gained presidency. Currently he is an authoritarian (some of us prefer the term ‘dictator’). He appears to be on a track to continue absorbing more power – by rewriting their country’s constitution, even while it is reported that 98% of the country’s people rejected that idea. Approximately, 3.6 million people voted according to an independent analysis. Here are a few of the actions he, Maduro, has implemented or rather, allowed to take place:

  • delayed elections,
  • jailing of opposition leaders,
  • increasing influence of the army, and
  • efforts by the government-appointed courts to curtail the powers of the opposition-held national assembly.

Note, he has the backing of Russian and Cuban leadership…

In Iran, Hassan Rouhani, won the recent presidential election to continue holding office. One item he ran on was to include women in the cabinet. That, as it turns out, did not occur – it is an all-male cabinet…  That is not progress. He ran on the platform of being a reformist.

In Russia, well, actually, do we need to add anything more on him than what we already know of him (and Medvedev)…? When you:

  • Control the political system (arrest opposition on false charges of embezzlement in order to label the person as a criminal, which under Russian laws, the person cannot run for certain offices);
  • Control the country’s media (to spread whatever propaganda is desired); put in a VPN prohibition (so citizens cannot have secure & private communication with the outside world);
  • Use your police force, your military & intelligence services to force how ‘protest rallies should be held (i.e. maximum of 250 people and constrained to protest only within a few block area)’; and
  • Control state conglomerates in order to line the leadership’s pockets with BILLIONS of dollars (& Swiss Francs, Euros, British Pounds and even Bitcoins)

— if that is not dictatorial, not sure what else it could possibly be.

In China, we have a country that wants to be capitalistic but is still hugely communistic. This is a country that:

  • Is also banning private citizen use of VPNs – sorry, correction, citizens can ‘apply’ for use of a VPN (but that means that citizen would have to provide a back door {or front door} into that VPN’s communication path…
  • Has a Communist party with significant control over the country’s media – with an iron fist.
  • HAS BUILT a man-made island in the South China Seas (Spratly Islands) in order to, ahhh what was it they stated (one reason) – to protect their sovereign rights and regional territories. Remember, that area is a hotly contested area for “centuries” by countries in the area (Taiwan, China, Vietnam, with Malaysia and the Philippines).
  • Wants foreign investors (tech) to give up source code to ensure there is nothing hinky or spying related in order for those foreign firms to do business in China.
  • Still has huge human rights issues (think Falun Gong and {two spellings} Uyghur & Uighur people of western China)
  • Wants to completely take over Hong Kong despite what China promised in 1999 (freedom to continue progressing)
  • Suppresses all (or as much as they can find) negative commentary regarding the country and the political leaders

In America, we have someone who may not be dictatorial but is clearly not of the right mettle (and state of mind) to run a country and grow.When we have:

  • An EPA that is relaxing/eliminating rules/regulations left and right to allow toxins into the air and water, it is a very bad sign.
  • A Dept of Education that believed that HBCUs were a wonderful alternative and is attempting to have more charter schools across the country AND not listening to the educators in her own Department – that is a bad sign for our children and future leaders.
  • An Attorney General that should not have been appointed to being with (there are all kinds of reasons to choose from if you wish to do a little research and analysis of your own) – that is a bad sign for the country’s law enforcement system.
  • A Commerce secretary who wants to relax rules and regulations (just recall the sweat shops and lack of workplace violations of yesterday) – we have a problem in that more business will start doing what they want to do without protecting their employees.
  • A secretary of State who does not talk to his own senior leadership nor allow press conferences – that is a bad omen of things happening behind closed doors.

So, that list could have easily continued but many of you know the shortfalls of our current administration. We now come to our president – a choice that the electoral college should never have made when the popular national vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the other candidate. We have a president who:

  • Listens to select individuals, who may not be qualified to provide those kinds of opinions
  • Says whatever he wishes without ANY deep thoughts or consideration, from what we observe – he likes to gain information and content from Alex Jones
  • Gives oversight and strategic control of the military to the generals – that is a bad idea (extrapolate down the road and into the future – you’ve got a big brain to do so)
  • Is a completely bad and wrong role model for youth growing up, who aspire to be someone important – do we want that kind of leader sprouting up everywhere in 10-20 years…? He is definitely not a role model for many of us.
  • Allegedly cooked the books for his Grand Hyatt hotel partnership in New York in the mid-80s (here is one link but please do your due diligence: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/trump-files-how-donald-screwed-over-new-york-city-his-tax-bill/) – Trump had ordered the Grant Hyatt to change its accounting methods to lower its reported profits. Check out what the city’s auditor general at the time (Karen Burstein) reported. And he, Trump, is well known for stiffing everyone he can, from lawyers to chefs in order to get out of paying for it.
  • Barely raises an eyebrow at the Charlottesville, VA white supremacist rally where James Alex Fields Jr, allegedly killed, via a hit & run, a female pedestrian and injured 19 others (ala, an ISIS style vehicle attack). And if I’m not mistaken, he was on the stage behind  and on Trump’s right at some Trump rally late last year or earlier this year. Some media outlet should do a facial scan for this person in the archives – to see what kind of rally he and his friends were attending.  And also, no, Obama did not raise the white racist, supremacist, Nazi spectre when the idiot, Dylann Roof, shot the people in the church. But that was a different scenario – this time (Charlottesville) it was a massive gathering the day after a Tikki firelight march by, hmmmm, individuals of a certain color. The tension and hatred was already at a known and anticipated high level (witness the police and state trooper presence). The Charlottesville situation was not a surprise but our president only gave a rather tepid response for this mass gathering and protest that many people have likened to Hitler and his brown shirts…

The U.S. has a president that is causing this country to waste more money and time on stupidity and inane actions, not just domestically but globally, than we should have to. NOTHING is really getting done and please do not tell the rest of us that he is bringing back manufacturing jobs, those numbers are not significant, especially not for the long run.

 

So, with that list above – definitely not an all-encompassing list of lunatic actions around the globe but it seems to be a glide path for disaster if we do not somehow come together to make change happen. Selfish racial beliefs are not beneficial for a society as a whole – it should be societal belief of everyone helping everyone (no, I’m not intimating that we should be become a socialist society, sorry). We should be working, together, around the globe to make life better for everyone. We, the U.S. cannot even:

  • Make health care affordable to everyone, from poor to middle class in this country when there are other countries who are making it work by using one form or another of Universal Health Care or a One Payer system.
  • Improve our infrastructure system.
  • Innovate and improve our educational system so that it is equitable for all, not just pockets of people scattered around the country.
  • And for sure, we are still leap years behind where we should be where it comes to diversity and dropping discrimination of all forms (race, gender, age) to historic lows.

Instead, we, Americans, have a president that seems oblivious to who he has selected to help run the country – oblivious to what he is saying to the world (where he is a laughing stock, check it out) and oblivious to the image he projects to others outside of his base (which appears to be shrinking, finally).

We should still be the leader of the free world, but that may be gone now in no small part due to our leader. And without having that kind of leader status, we may be a contributing (not root) cause to the rise of lunacy in the world – in race, politics and pop-up dictators.

 

SHAME! ISIS & WEAK Support from Congress, Senate, EU & mid-East allies

Shame on our American Congress and Senate! I will come back to that.

It is sad to see the growth and atrocities of the terrorist oriented group known as ISIS (or ISIL or IS) continue, not unabated, but slowed down. It is not just Americans being beheaded; it is Brits and other mid-Eastern citizens too.

It is Syrians, Iraqis, Yazidis and Kurds being, not murdered, but exterminated!

Okay, back to that shame comment. Here we are with many of our Congress and Senate unwilling to make a sincere, heartfelt move to vote for allowing America to make strongER moves against ISIS. WAIT! I do apologize; let me revise that last statement.

It appears that many in our Congress and Senate want to “wait” until after this fall’s election cycle is over. In this manner, those who are reticent to vote for a move against ISIS can first survive their election race. This way, they would not have to worry about their vote being recorded on the books.

This, to me mind you, seems highly “un-American” that those affected (or afflicted) individuals continue to put themselves before anything else, inclusive of a better:

  • Health care system for all
  • Educational system for our children
  • Highway and bridge infrastructure system for all
  • Clean, green energy infrastructure to wean us off of gas and oil (not just from abroad but from within the US as well)
  • Etc. – it is a very long list that our Congress and Senate can work on.

But, those are episodes for other writings. 

What I currently understand is that these folks really are ready to fully engage – ‘after the elections, once they are voted in again.’

The problem here is, many constituents are very short sighted and selfish and do not look long term, down the road, for the country as a whole. So, we wind up with people in congress and the senate who are also narrowly focused on the short term…

In the meantime, ISIS goes on – very, very sad. 

Now, our EU and mid-Eastern ‘allies’ and “partners” should be even more ashamed. The U.S. did not single handedly create a growing ISIS, even though some snarky hot head will say we did.

This is a conflict of religion. A religious conflict of one extremely radical element with a desire to transform the entire region, if not the world, into what they envision the world should be – a strict adherence to Islam and Sharia law, no exceptions and with the death of all infidels, us. ISIS only wants one thing, a Caliphate.

 

Has diplomacy and communication failed America? Is force truly the ‘only’ answer and best method to curtail this type of situation? 

Maybe now is the time for us to pull back U.S. interests from the mid-East and possibly the EU, letting ISIS flourish and spread throughout the mid-East and into Europe and possibly even the western front of Russia?

If our EU allies and more specifically, our mid-East partners are unwilling to help quash this extremist brand of Islamists, should the U.S. realistically undertake so much of this fight any longer? We simply cannot be the primary force or the leading force in that region… 

Should we become the isolationists we once were prior to the beginning of the Great War (WWI)?

If we pull back all of our forces and much of our American interests as possible and resort to being isolationist again – we can focus on rebuilding America. We can help our own people to grow. We can stop dumping billions of dollars into the Middle East where centuries old tribal factions and sectarian consternation (or mayhem) continues on and on and on. And in the background, some mid-East countries (or leaders) continue to support the radicals.

If we pull back and become isolationists, we can focus on beefing up our airports, shipping ports, borders and coastal defenses to pre-empt any wannabe terrorist from entering the country, our home – where people supposedly stand together, for the American people…

And since there is only tepid overarching support from multiple coalition parties, should the U.S. just stand back in the distance and watch the Wahabis (or Wahhabis) kill off the Sunnis or watch the Shia kill off the Sunnis and Wahabis or some other configuration?

If we pull back, we can rebuild our currency coffers and reduce our national debt load. We can focus on making America great and wonderful!

 

Oh. Yes. You were saying, “What about the spread of ISIS and all the mass killings of men, women and children – and don’t forget the atrocities undertaken on the defenseless – and the wanton destruction of priceless historical artifacts?”

Well…. We can take the tack of Turkey, where they stated the U.S. would not be allowed to use any Turkish sites to launch American airstrikes. We could say in turn when ISIS becomes a bigger problem for Turkey that we prefer not to put U.S. troops in harms’ way by having them in Turkey, Turkey can fend for itself.

Or, we could take the tack of Egypt where they stated that they have their own terrorist problems to deal with. In that case, we could say that the U.S. has our own demons back at home to focus on, such as unhinged KKK members/groups, extreme sovereign citizens, out of control militias, etc.

As for Germany and France, shucks, I am not sure what to say about them. Maybe, we could just stand back and state we have our own problems as German/French ISIS members sneak back into those countries and cause mass casualties. Maybe the U.S. should just let Israel unload on Syria since Assad is unwilling to be a leader and step down from his dictatorial position.

I dunno….

 

In the meantime, tens of thousands of people will needlessly die or be forced to convert to that extreme religion. Along the way, women and young girls will be sold off and/or given away as unwilling brides. Or worse… 

Of course, our backing off and reverting to isolationist will not transpire. It will not happen because of oil in the mid-East and the great many U.S. interests throughout the EU.

Until we, the U.S., actually get to a clean, green energy economy and get people into congress and the senate who “want” to do the right thing instead of listening to the wild, vocal minority of their respective parties, well, we’re screwed basically and will continue playing a massive role of world policemen.

 

If other coalition partners are unwilling to do more to stop this heinous and cancerous growth of ISIS, it is only going to get worse and become costlier over time – in lives and the very, very tight budgets of all countries in the current state of global economy.

The biggest fly in the ointment is Syria, where everyone seems to agree is the nerve center for ISIS. If Assad is unwilling to allow strikes against ISIS and with Putin opening his yap (being Assad’s buddy and all) stating that any strikes into Syria is an act of war – then how will that region of the world ever get to a state of less terror???

 

We, the global community, are at a serious crossroad. How do we solve this ISIS problem if diplomacy has seemingly failed and religious differences continue to fester…?

Because it boils down to this, how does one deal with an unbalanced, unhinged person or group (ISIS)?