Despite very little attention, a major referendum is scheduled to take place Monday, September 25th, 2017. It’s a movement that has been a long time coming. The Kurdish Regional Government is going forward with its controversial referendum for independence. For decades, the Kurdish region of Iraq has pressed for independence and in 2005 were granted considerable regional autonomy in Iraq’s constitution. Still the movement lingered.
With the rise of the Islamic State and the embarrassing military shortcomings by the US-trained Iraqi army, the Kurds largely began to rely on their own defense capabilities. In both Iraq and Syria, Kurdish militaries have been instrumental in routing ISIS in both desert and urban warfare. The Iraqi military has relied on several regional militias both Sunni and Shi’ite in its fight against ISIS. The Kurds have capitalized on their strength and the Iraqi government’s weakness and seized land that isn’t necessarily Kurdish such as the region of Kirkuk, an oil rich city. The KRG has yet to formally annex Kirkuk, but nonetheless Kurdish presence in Kirkuk adds to the tension. The tensions between the KRG and Baghdad have escalated with the Iraqi parliament ruling the vote unconstitutional and nonbinding. The Kurds have withdrawn their support of Iraq’s offensive to retake Hawija, one of the last major ISIS strongholds in Iraq.
— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) September 21, 2017
Masoud Barzani, the leader of the KRG, has steadfastly maintained that the referendum will go on whether or not the Iraqi government will allow it.
The United States has come out strongly against the KRG’s proposed referendum. The United States urged the KRG to cancel the referendum and called the vote a distraction from the ongoing fight against Islamic State. However Israel is a different story. Israel is the first country in the Middle East to voice its support for an independent Kurdistan. Support for an independent Kurdistan is strong among the Israeli public, and Israel and the KRG have strong economic ties. It is believed that since 2015, Israel has imported up to 77% of its oil from the KRG. Turkey has long opposed an independent Kurdistan and considers the Kurdish nationalist party within Turkey, the PKK, a terrorist organization. Turkey officially opposes the vote. In fact, Turkey staged tank drills on its border with Iraqi Kurdistan on Monday as a sign of its opposition. However, Turkey has long had good relations with the KRG, especially when it comes to oil. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are taking a diplomatic position and have offered to mediate between the KRG and the Iraqi government in Baghdad.
Russia supports Iraq’s territorial integrity and calls on Baghdad and the government of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan to begin dialogue on all disputable topics and agree on mutually acceptable principles and forms of coexistence. This would make Russia the primary nation in support of the referendum, when so many including the United States and Iran are in opposition.
The Iraqi parliament earlier voted against the poll being held, branding it “unconstitutional” and, authorizing the Prime Minister to “take all measures” to preserve the country’s unity. However, the resolution did not specify what these measures might be. The KRG has already seen its central government funding slashed in protest against its selling of oil directly to Turkey. Kurdish lawmakers walked out of Parliament before the decision was taken. “Kurdish lawmakers walked out of (Tuesday’s) session but the decision to reject the referendum was passed by a majority,” said Mohammed al-Karbouli, a Sunni Muslim lawmaker. Oil rich Kirkuk voted to participate in the referendum further escalating tensions.
It is rare for the United States and Iran to agree on anything but this week both Washington and Tehran have been scrambling to try to dissuade the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, from holding a referendum on independence. Their vehement opposition to an independence vote partly stems from their concerns about each other. Tehran worries that an independent Iraqi Kurdistan will cleave ever closer to America and the West, while Washington is anxious that the referendum will trigger war between Iraq’s Shi’ite militias and the Kurds, a conflict that would likely end up splintering Iraq, which the United States has spent considerable effort trying to bolster, and distract from the U.S. priority of defeating the Islamic State terror group.
The pro-Iranian shi’ite militias are willing to go to war over the disputed city, Kurkik. Whether serious fighting begins the day after next week’s referendum — no one doubts a majority of the Kurds will back independence — will depend on the restraint of the governments in Baghdad and Tehran, and that in turn will hinge, analysts say, on whether the Kurds announce an independent state immediately and move to annex disputed territories such as Kirkuk.
My prayer is that the Kurdish independence referendum will go peacefully & the U.S. will stand by their decision to chart their own future.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) September 22, 2017
— Chwas (@Chwas_Ah) September 19, 2017
#kurdishreferandum on the boiling point. ”Don’t be worried about 25th of September, the sunrise would be the same.”
— GGardi (@GardiGoran) September 22, 2017
— Ceng Sagnic (@cngsgnc) September 16, 2017
Spoiler Alert: The Kurds are going to vote “Yes” for their independence. The Iraqi government is too weak to stop the vote much less go to war over it. The shame of the matter is that the Trump administration has come out against the vote. America needs to accept the reality that this vote is going to happen, and quite frankly the Trump administration should come out in support for Kurdish independence. The Kurds have been a remarkable ally in the Middle East in the fight against ISIS. So Trump should reward their loyalty, and failure to do so could have consequences when the inevitable independence happens.
They would also be a likely ally of Israel, the nation most prominently supporting their independence. In addition to another tally in the box of Middle Eastern countries that recognize Israel, Kurdistan would also be a strategic ally in the future against Iran. Iran may in fact go to war over this, so the enemy of my enemy saying rings true.
Furthermore, an independent Kurdistan is good for the middle east, in part, because nations are against it. Kurdistan has the potential to be the region’s second (to Israel) most stable country. In recent months, the KRG has been fortifying its borders, a sign that it is ready to handle broader responsibilities of self defense from Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. On top of being a more safe place, Kurdistan may be a hub for tolerance and equity. The pro-Israeli sentiment is a great sign that religious minorities will not be persecuted, at least not to the same extent as their neighbors.
America needs to help facilitate this outcome, or else hinder an alliance that Russia will be eager to grasp. And as for Kirkuk, Iraq should forget about getting that land back.
In UK, Ancient Heathenism Reigns Supreme
Several minutes had passed since the medical examination of the newborn had begun. They stood inspective over the infant, occasionally murmuring to one another in a hushed tone. The babe’s father stood nearby, pacing: his eyes intractably fixed on the small group of elders in a desperate attempt to interpret each subtle lift of an eyebrow or pinch of the lips.
Then came that dreaded nod…
The tormented father wept as the judge read the decision aloud: “as thinking it neither good for the child itself…” the child must die.
The above description is not a reference to the United Kingdom’s government-ordered killing of little Alfie Evans, nor the United Kingdom’s government-ordered killing of little Charlie Gard.
The infant’s death-order, described above, was merely the price of societal perfection for his father, living in the Statist abyss of Ancient Sparta.
In Lives: Lycurgus 16, Greek historian Plutarch (48-122 A.D.) wrote of the medical inspections of infants by “elders,” and of the state-ordered murder of infants in Ancient Sparta under the rule Lycurgus, a tyrannical central-planner:
“Nor was it in the power of the father to dispose of the child as he saw fit (as was his right in most heathen societies). He was obliged to carry (the newborn) child before certain men at a place called Lesche; these men were some of the elders of the tribe to which the child belonged; their business was to carefully view the infant, and, if they found it stout and well made, they gave order for its rearing and allotted to it one of the nine thousand shares of land above mentioned for its maintenance, but, if they found it puny and ill-shaped, ordered it to be taken to what was called the Apothetae (“depository”), a (large cave) under Mt. Taygetus (in the Peloponnese); as thinking it neither for the good of the child itself, nor for the public interest, that it should be brought up, if it did not, from the very outset, appear to be healthy and vigorous.” (emphasis mine)
Undesirable Infants – those either deemed unfit in some way, were conceived through rape, were unwanted, or were female – were often exposed, meaning that these infants were tossed into pits or over cliffs, or were abandoned in the wilderness and then left to starve or to be eaten by wild animals.
Such was life in the pagan purgatories of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.
Such has life begun to be again, today, in the United Kingdom.
As I type, a toddler lies in the hospital, a prisoner, detained by the pagan pride of evil monsters, by his own Statist government.
The “elders” in the UK have sentenced little Alfie Evans to die, “as thinking it neither for the good of the child itself.” Alfie may not be alone in the wilderness, but he is being exposed by the sword of starvation.
Right now, a tormented father weeps for his child.
The cruel winds of an evil-ridden history are circling ’round again.
Once Christianity came upon the scene, Christians began to regularly rescue exposed infants.
As Tertullian stated, “Christians sought out the tiny bodies of newborn babies from the refuse and dung heaps and raised them as their own or tended to them before they died or gave them a decent burial” (Early Church History).
“The Christian idea that each individual person has worth because they were created by God was foreign to the lies of pagan society where the State, the tribe, the collective was the only value they knew” (Early Church History).
One can even visit these once abandoned babes at the Catacomb of Praetextatus. “The catacombs are filled with very tiny graves with the epitaph ‘adopted daughter of…’ or ‘adopted son of…’ inscribed on them. These inscriptions refer to the many babies and young children Christians rescued from the trash over the centuries” (Early Church History).
Unlike during the times of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, however, today’s United Kingdom prevents Christians from aiding Britain’s exposed children.
Christians from across the globe have offered aid and open arms to little Alfie Evans. Pope Francis has faithfully attempted to save the ailing child, arranging medical transportation for Alfie so that he might fly via air ambulance to the Vatican’s hospital.
Still, the prideful “elders” cling mercilessly to their pagan heathenism, determined to deny any and all Christian charity for little Alfie.
Alas! One thing is now crystal clear: in the United Kingdom, ancient heathenism reigns supreme.
For a glimpse of the future, listen to these famous voices from the past:
In On the Laws 3.8, Cicero (106-43 BC) states:
“Deformed infants shall be killed.”
Posidippus, a Greek poet, wrote:
“Everybody raises a son even if he is poor, but exposes a daughter even if he is rich.”
In On Anger 1.15, Seneca (4 BC-65 AD) wrote:
“…mad dogs we knock on the head…unnatural progeny we destroy; we drown even children at birth who are weakly and abnormal.”
In Politics 7.1335b, Aristotle (364 BC-322 BC) wrote:
“As to exposing or rearing the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared; but on the ground of number of children, if the regular customs hinder any of those born being exposed, there must be a limit fixed to the procreation of offspring, and if any people have a child as a result of intercourse in contravention of these regulations, abortion must be practiced on it (the child).”
In Theaetetus, the Greek philosopher Plato (quoting Socrates) wrote of the important societal task of killing infirm infants:
“For we must take care that we don’t overlook some defect in this thing that is entering into life; it may be something not worth bringing up, a wind-egg, a falsehood. What do you say? Is it your opinion that your child ought in any case to be brought up and not exposed to die? Can you bear to see it found fault with and not get into a rage if your first-born is stolen away from you?”
In Ad Nationes, Tertullian (155-220 A.D.) recorded the frequency of pagan infanticide in the Roman Empire during the late 100’s and early 200’s A.D.:
“…because, although you are forbidden by the laws to slay new-born infants, it so happens that no laws are evaded with more impunity or greater safety, with the deliberate knowledge of the public, and the suffrages of this entire age…But then you make away with them in a more cruel manner, because you expose them to the cold and hunger, and to wild beasts, or else you get rid of them by the slower death of drowning.”
In Book 3 of Instructor, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 A.D.) wrote of Roman women caring more for animals than for children:
“And though maintaining parrots and curlews, they do not receive the orphan child; but they expose children that are born at home, and take up the young of birds, and prefer irrational to rational creatures.”
Face Off: Congress v Zuckerberg
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony revealed much about both the social media industry, and our government’s mentality.
First, Zuckerberg. He seemed “in over his head,” repeatedly inserting “run out the clock” words and phrases into his responses to evidently hide his nervousness (do you blame him?). How many times did he say, “Congressman!” and “that’s a great question”? (Well, of course it was a great question, I waited for someone to say, because if it wasn’t so great, I wouldn’t have asked it!) Zuckerberg time and time again seemed to be buying time, running seconds off each elected representative’s four or five minutes of allotted time.
Zuckerberg got buffeted by representatives on privacy, on European regulations, and most notably by Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Steve Scalise on the subject of political bias.
Yet Zuckerberg disappointed before a worldwide audience. He had a chance to tell the world that:
1. no, a private tech company is not an unpaid deputy of the government, acting with the authority and power of the state;
2. A private tech company is not acting
in loco parentis when it obtains user information, and
3. Users across the world are free to use, or leave, Facebook and that these freedoms often exceed the freedoms people enjoy under the laws of most nations in the world today. Facebook, warts and all, is one of the most democratic institutions on the planet!
Instead, Zuckerberg came to Capitol Hill, showing contrition over the involvement of Cambridge Analytica (a third party as to which Facebook’s responsibility is unclear and dubious). What we saw — what the world saw — was the United States Congress bullying a private social media company.
Now, Zuckerberg is hardly a sympathetic figure. Many people envy him for his fantastic wealth and profile, and for his youth. Also, Silicon Valley and indeed much of American big business is quite leftist (Zuckerberg acknowledged this). But his beating — which he handled pretty well, all things considered — was both undeserved and likely to backfire.
Some representatives used the hearings to preen, showboat and showcase their “fighting for the common man” bonafides, and any business leader makes for a great whipping boy these days. But almost everyone grilling Zuckerberg showed a zeal for flexing the awesome powers of government.
There are many problems with the operations of major social media platforms. The growing publicity surrounding these problems is already causing reform, and in some cases, boycotts and departures from the platforms, and innovations by new competitors.
All we got from Washington, DC was a group of elected representatives reminding the tech innovators of America of “who’s the boss.”
I can’t help but think that, across the world, innovators and disruptors are heeding that message. So are, I fear, America’s competitors.
Paving a greener California, $40000/mile at a time.
Many weird ideas come out of California. Painting roads a lighter color to reduce heat in order to combat global warming is a new one. It is well known that paved surfaces are hotter that natural surfaces. So consequentially cities create heat islands through urban sprawl. Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, is a vocal critic of Trump, especially when Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. Last June, Eric Garcetti was quoted saying:
“Climate change is a fact of life that people in Los Angeles and cities around the world live with every day. It is a grave threat to our health, our environment, and our economy — and it is not debatable or negotiable,” said Mayor Garcetti. “This is an urgent challenge, and it’s much bigger than one person. With the President pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, L.A. will lead by committing to the goals of the accord — and will work closely with cities across America and the world to do the same.”
It appears $40000/mile every seven years is part of the effort for LA to lead the country in fighting climate change.
“We’re exploring ways to reduce the heat island effect by reducing the absorption of heat in the built environment.”
Street Services, working in conjunction with GuardTop LLC, an asphalt coating manufacturer based in Dana Point, had first tested the cool pavement seal in the Sepulveda Basin.
Asphalt at a parking lot at the Balboa Sports Complex once averaged 160 degrees in summer. After the seal was applied two years ago, company officials say, surface temperatures dropped to between 135 to 140 degrees.
Now, after rigorous testing for durability and wet skid potential, the CoolSeal coating was being slathered across a half block of Jordan Avenue just north of Hart Street near the headwaters of the Los Angeles River.
If the new seal could boost solar reflectivity —and dramatically cool a street lined with two-story apartments in the hottest region of the San Fernando Valley — it could do it anywhere, city officials said.
The experiment will soon be duplicated in 14 other council districts before the end of June. If successful, city officials hope to encourage manufacturers to help develop cool pavement that could be incorporated into a multimillion-dollar drive to fix a backlog of L.A.’s failing streets.
“I’m thrilled to be here. This is a great day for all of us. We look forward to seeing what the results will be,” said Kevin James, president of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works.
A CoolSeal coating could cost an estimated $40,000 per mile and last seven years, city officials said. But that’s subject to change pending pavement innovation.
“We’re going to try to make Los Angeles as cool as possible,” said Jeff Luzar, national sales director for GuardTop, a privately owned firm that has covered coated mostly playgrounds and parking lots. “We’re going to be the coolest island in Southern California.”
Average temperatures in Los Angeles have risen 5 degrees in the past 100 years on account of the heat island effect produced by miles of asphalt freeways, roads, parking lots, roofs and more, climatologists say. In summer, temperatures have risen an average 10 degrees.
In addition, extreme heat days near 100 degrees have risen from two a year in 1906 to 24, while their duration has increased from a few days in a row to heat waves of two weeks, said climatologist Bill Patzert of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“I’m all for it,” Patzert said of the cooler pavement. “We could certainly stop the rise — and perhaps reverse it.”
Unfortunately, he added, the urban forest across Los Angeles is dying because of insufficient watering during the recent drought. “They can paint the streets gray,” he said, “but when all these trees die, you’ll see a dramatic increase in the heat island effect in the whole Basin.”
The lack of fiscal responsibility is reason enough that this idea should be thrown out upon arrival. The idea isn’t bad. Reducing city heat does have a public benefit, in the summer. However, $40000 is comparable to a person’s yearly salary. That’s a lot of cash just to paint about one mile of roadway. California has problems and environmental concerns, and these concerns ought to be addressed. But the most pressing concerns are sourced from the fact that California is overpopulated.
California could stand to benefit from more plants as noted in the article. But plants require water, of which California has struggling issues with. California’s booming agriculture requires a lot of water and the entire country would hurt if it went thirsty. This was a foreseeable issue that California is behind on addressing. California should be leading the world in desalinization, thus watering its state and perhaps other states as well. But instead, they would rather focus on high price low reward methods of combating environmental concerns. Environmental policies should keep to a strict cost-benefit analysis. Eric Garcetti needs to learn that unlike climate change, fiscal responsibility should be non-negotiable.