Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Strategic depth and sunk costs

"'This is not Aleppo': Shock at extent of destruction of Saudi Shia town".

"In NATO Split, Turkey Warns of Syria Invasion Against Kurds".  "Making Sense of Turkey’s Syria Strategy: A ‘Turkish Tragedy’ In the Making".

"‘The Palestine Exception’: War on BDS is now a war on American democracy" (Baroud).  "Is this the revival of the blacklist in Nassau?":
"Is Nassau County ready to return to the days when entertainers were punished because of their political beliefs?
The blacklisting of actors, writers and directors during the Cold War is among the most shameful chapters of American history. People who refused to tell the House Un-American Activities Committee whether they had ever been members of the Communist Party lost their jobs and were unable to find work. Some even committed suicide.
Yet a group of Nassau County lawmakers appears to favor a revival of a blacklist. They are determined to prevent former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters from performing at Nassau Coliseum next month because he has endorsed the goals of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. BDS seeks to punish Israel because of its policies toward Palestinians."
"Roman Britain in Black and White".

"Joe Scarborough Thinks Your Children Should Want to Die in Wars Rather Than Playing Games".  They really ought to reopen the investigation of the woman found dead in his office.

"Josh Kushner's Complex World: How Jared's Liberal Brother Runs A Billion Dollar Fund In Trump Era".  And a tweet.

"Activities Report":
"I was contacted a few months ago by representatives of David Berlinski, who is often billed as a renegade, independent thinker, a skeptic who resists all schools of thought, the last of the true free-thinkers. As far as I can make out, he is a paid agent of the Discovery Institute, that powerful association of American Christian fundamentalists set on deepening our country's great cultural divide by sowing the seeds of doubt about evolutionary theory and forcing public schools, as a first step, to 'teach both sides'. Richard Dawkins has cited Berlinski as the only public figure railing against Darwin who is not ignorant, stupid, or insane; Berlinski is rather, Dawkins maintains, simply wicked. The Discovery people seem to like him because he is a self-described secular Jew and a scientist and a bon-vivant expat in Paris, and has come to his skepticism about Darwinian orthodoxy as a result of nothing other than rational inquiry. This lends them a respectability that 10,000 evangelical know-nothings could not deliver, whatever credentials Oral Roberts may have bestowed on them. Anyhow, I ended up having an indescribably weird lunch with him and some of his associates from Inference, the new journal he is spearheading, apparently with Discovery Institute money. Discretion requires me to leave out the details of the conversation, but I will say that I was stunned at several moments by the crassness and cynicism on display. He let me know that he would like for me to get involved in the editorial operation behind the journal, and he also let me know that to do so could potentially be very lucrative for me. This was the last time I spoke with him, though I did send him a message telling him that everything I think and write presupposes human-animal kinship, and I cannot be associated with anything even remotely connected to that sinister institute in Seattle."
"Garage Museum founders Roman Abramovich and Dasha Zhukova split":
"Among the Russian social media speculation on Monday were suggestions that the split was fueled by Western sanctions against Russia. High-level Russian officials have reportedly been divorcing their wives in recent years and by some accounts transferring assets to them as a way to protect their fortunes against potential seizure."
"The Tale of the Brothers Awan" (Giraldi) (some of the links don't work):
"As Imran Awan reportedly had access to Wasserman-Schultz’s iPad, he presumably also was able to see the incriminating Hillary Clinton emails. He used a laptop in her office as well that was, according to investigators, concealed in an “unused crevice” in the Rayburn House Office Building. It is currently being examined by police but Wasserman-Schultz tried strenuously to recover it before it could be looked at. She pressured the Chief of the Capitol Police Matthew Verderosa to return it, threatening him by saying “you should expect that there will be consequences.” Initially Wasserman-Schultz refused to cooperate with the police, refusing to provide her passwords and not permitting them to open her computers, but Fox News reports that she has recently apparently allowed the authorities to do a scan.

There is another odd connection of Imran Awan that goes back to the neocon circle around Paul Wolfowitz during the Iraq War. In late 2002 and early 2003, Wolfowitz regularly met secretly with a group of Iraqi expatriates who resided in the Washington area and were opponents of the Saddam Hussein regime. The Iraqis had not been in their country of birth for many years but they claimed to have regular contact with well-informed family members and political allies. The Iraqi advisers provided Wolfowitz with a now-familiar refrain, i.e. that the Iraqi people would rise up to support invading Americans and overthrow the hated Saddam. They would greet their liberators with bouquets of flowers and shouts of joy.

The Iraqis were headed by one Dr. Ali A. al-Attar, born in Baghdad to Iranian parents in 1963, a 1989 graduate of the American University of Beirut Faculty of Medicine. He subsequently emigrated to the United States and set up a practice in internal medicine in Greenbelt Maryland, a suburb of Washington D.C. Al-Attar eventually expanded his business to include nine practices that he wholly or partly owned in Virginia and Maryland but he eventually lost his license due to “questionable billing practices” as well as “unprofessional conduct” due to having sex with patients

Al-Attar was investigated by the FBI and eventually indicted for large scale health care fraud in 2008-9, which included charging insurance companies more than $2.3 million for services their patients did not actually receive with many of the false claims using names of diplomats and employees enrolled in a group plan at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington. In one case, the doctors claimed an embassy employee visited three of their clinics every 26 days between May 2007 and August 2008 to have the same testing done each time. The insurance company paid the doctors $55,000 for more than 400 nonexistent procedures for the one patient alone.

Dr. Ali A. Al-Attar fled the United States after the indictment to avoid arrest and imprisonment and is now considered a fugitive from justice. Late in 2012 he was observed in Beirut Lebanon conversing with a Hezbollah official. Al-Attar is of interest in this case because he appears to have been a friend of Imran Awan and also loaned him $100,000, which was never repaid. The FBI is currently looking into any possible international espionage specifically involving the two men as Awan and his associates clearly had access to classified information while working in the House of Representatives that would have been of interest to any number of foreign governments.

The Imran Awan case is certainly of considerable interest not only for what the investigation eventually turns up but also for what it reveals about how things actually work in congress and in the government more generally speaking. I don’t know which of the allegations about what might have taken place are true, but there is certainly a lot to consider. Whether the case is investigated and prosecuted without fear or favor will depend on the Department of Justice and FBI, but I for one was appalled to learn that the official who quite likely will oversee the investigation of the Awans is one Steven Wasserman, Assistant Attorney for the District of Columbia, the brother of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. If that should actually occur, it would be a huge conflict of interest and it has to be wondered if Wasserman would have the integrity to recuse himself."
"Peak White Man" (Dinh) (see also:  "The bulk of “Operation Finale” is devoted to Eichmann’s abduction from Argentina, masterminded by the Mossad and encouraged by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister." and "Abu Omar case"):
". . . Vietnam recently kidnapped a Vietnamese asylum seeker from the Tiergarten, right in the heart of Berlin, then smuggled him back to Hanoi to stand trial. A former head of the state-owned oil company, Trinh Xuan Thanh is accused of pinching $150 million."
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