Hezbollah threatened, Iran fumbled and 15K Florida Teachers Went on Strike
Third Cultured vol. 44
|Kyle Borland||Jan 14|
Lots of new today, so no commentary up top.
Thanks for reading!
Three Things to Know
One American Thing
Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah announced on Sunday that Iran’s attacks on two Iraqi bases “were only the beginning” of retribution the US would face for killing Soleimani. As Nasrallah spoke, rockets attacked a base north of Baghdad where US troops are currently housed. Four Iraqis wounded, but no casualties reported.
Trump’s gut seems to be have been the basis for when/why to kill Soleimani. If there was no true imminent threat – as it looks like given Trump authorized the killing seven months ago – then there was no legal basis.
The US intelligence-military apparatus has made targeted strikes, like the one that killed Iranian General Soleimani, the new norm in warfare.
General Petraeus said President Trump may have re-established deterrence.
Iraq’s prime minister is (quietly) lobbying to keep US troops in the country, while also looking to purchase Russia’s S-300/400 missile defense systems.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper refuted the President’s claim that there was evidence Soleimani planned to attack four embassies.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to testify on the Soleimani strike.
One International Thing
Iran admitted to accidentally shooting down the Ukrainian airliner, killing 176. To recap, Iran’s “revenge” killed more Canadians, Ukrainians, and Iranians than American soldiers. What little advantage Tehran may have had over the US, even if just rhetorically, evaporated with that plane. Lying for three days made it worse.
Ukraine and Canada demanded Iran take “full responsibility” and allow for a “complete investigation.” At a vigil in Edmonton on Sunday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would “pursue justice and accountability.”
Iran arrested the UK’s ambassador for participating in the protests following Tehran’s admission to downing the airliner.
Mass student protests broke out in Iran after it was revealed Tehran’s missile strike had killed 176 people on the Ukrainian plane, and they lied about it. The government shot live rounds into the crowds to disperse them.
Washington shouldn’t get too excited. It’s a PR crisis, not an existential one.
But it was not enough to placate many Iranians, who headed out into the street chanting slogans suggesting that Iran, not the United States, bore the greatest share of responsibility for the current state of crisis—especially after Tehran initially claimed, in another misrepresentation, that it had killed 80 U.S. troops in a retaliatory strike. The missile strikes on two bases in Iraq that housed U.S. troops were later deemed ineffective, causing no casualties, in yet another blow to Iran’s credibility.
One Cultural Thing
80% – California’s Central Valley grows 80 percent of the world’s almonds, and it’s killing the bees. In winter 2018-2019 alone, 50 billion bees were wiped out.
Bagram, Afghanistan is a boomtown of 80,000 that thrived next to the US’ largest base in Afghanistan. That same status now makes it a sitting duck as US troops plan an inevitable withdrawal from the nation.
China Trade Deal: Trump has invited at least 200 people to the January 15 signing of the “Phase One” portion of the deal, but the details are still not final.
US envoy to visit London in last-ditch attempt to ban Huawei from 5G network.
The US threatened more sanctions on China if continues to purchase Iranian oil.
US Treasury to lift China’s “currency manipulator” status.
White House grounded civilian drone program due to worries over Chinese tech.
COMAC, China’s answer to Boeing and Airbus, is 5-to-10 years behind schedule.
The Senate’s impeachment trial – the third such event in US history – could begin as early as Wednesday, once Pelosi transmits the Articles.
Who will be the House’s impeachment managers? There can be four to 10.
Russia’s military successfully hacked the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma – the company Hunter Biden served on the board.
Attorney General Barr thinks the US should be ruled by a king.
Texas becomes first US state to ban resettlement of refugees.
The world is not confident in President Trump…at all. But, the US is still favored.
Southern Puerto Rico experienced a 5.9-magnitude aftershock in its 15th consecutive day of seismic activity. Last Tuesday, the island was struck by a 6.4-magnitude quake.
What is “The German Problem”? That Berlin is becoming a giant Switzerland.
Why doesn’t the Middle East already have a NATO? It’s not for a lack of trying.
Moreover, as Paul Pillar explains in his important book Why America Misunderstands the World, the United States’ unusual historical experience, geographic isolation, large domestic market, and general ignorance has weakened its ability to fashion viable foreign-policy strategies.
Biden is being criticized for his vote to support the Iraq War, similar to Obama’s attacks against Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary.
Cory Booker dropped out of the race on Monday.
New Hampshire’s influential union, SEA/SEIU Local 1984, endorsed Bernie.
Warren accused Bernie of saying that a woman wouldn’t be elected POTUS, a day after shaming him and his campaign for “trashing” her on the campaign trail. Warren is in the top-tier but solidly behind Bernie and Biden at this point and is in need of momentum from somewhere. Bernie profusely denied ever saying it.
China, Europe, Russia, and Everyone Else
24 – The number of people in Australia arrested for allegedly starting the bush fires.
620% – China increased military spending 620 percent since 1990 to catch the US.
Africa’s Sahel and Terrorism
France held a summit with five Sahel-region nations – Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania – to discuss the proliferation of Islamic Extremists in the region. After threatening to withdraw its 4,500 troops, Paris agreed to send an additional 220 soldiers to West Africa.
At least four killed and 10 wounded near parliament in Mogadishu, Somalia.
20 soldiers killed and 1,000+ displaced in northeastern Nigeria.
Brussels wants the EU to decarbonize the economy by 2050.
Colombia said they stopped an assassination of the former FARC leader, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, better known as Timochenko.
Eritrean infrastructure projects use EU funds and forced labor. Not a great combo.
France’s government caved on its pension reform plan – raising the retirement age by two years – after the largest transportation strikes the nation has seen in decades.
Indians took to the streets last week to protest the nation’s economic slowdown.
Netanyahu is unlikely to get immunity and may sit trial before the March 3 elections.
Northern Ireland legalized same-sex marriage. Congratulations!
Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said passed away. He was the Arab world's longest-serving ruler. His cousin has been sworn in as his successor.
The Philippines issued an evacuation for thousands as Taal Volcano spews ash.
South Sudan’s VP was sanctioned for human rights abuses to pressure him to form a unity government.
Taiwan re-elected Tsai Ing-wen as president, rebuking Beijing’s campaign efforts.
Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaidó was re-elected Speaker after forcing his way into the National Assembly building, despite Maduro loyalists’ best efforts.
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Cities, Climate, Culture & Corporations
52 books for 52 weeks to better understand the 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico.
400: A Collective Flight of Memory. (A must-see art exhibition.)
$42 billion – 2019’s global box office total, a new record.
A playboy tortoise had so much sex that he saved his species.
‘A Rich Man’s Revolt.’ What kind of revolution was the US War of Independence?
Christian Dominionists think the US is the new “Promised Land” and Christian Americans have replaced the Jewish people as God’s “chosen ones.” And, they love Dave Ramsey. (Yeah…the “debt-hating” guy. See the problem?)
We’ve already tried the Christian empire thing…we’ll pass.
Facebook doubled-down on its political ad policy that allows the spread of lies.
Fast fashion is making it impossible to recycle clothes.
Happiness, in the American sense, is a neurosis.
If America is Rome, we’re in the beginnings of a nasty civil war.
So in a way, the current era not only recalls but rewinds the Roman civil wars. Caesar’s wars and dictatorship ultimately resulted in Augustus’ maius imperium and personal accumulation of offices, but at least gave Rome peace in exchange. We, instead, have broken the Pax Americana and diminished our global authority in order to wage “wars that will win no triumphs.”
Mark Twain described the lunacy of war in 1905 as vice-president of the American Anti-Imperialist League.
Former Pope Benedict published a book attempting to sway Pope Francis to not change the Church’s traditional celibacy and gender rules regarding the priesthood.
The enduring legacy of the “Oxford School” in children’s fantasy literature.
Will the Universe expand forever or will it collapse on itself in “the Big Crunch?”