Power never takes a back step — only in the face of more power.” - Malcolm X

This week, an article caught our attention: a detailed survey of the various forces behind the Rohingyas crisis. The conclusion is clear: the religious explanation for killing this population is not enough. Indeed, more than anything else, it hides the actual motivations of the perpetrators, as well as the actual perpetrators. This example shows how important it is to understand the various powers that shape any type of situations. Indeed, most of the time we are given very simple explanations about particular issues, which influences our vision of things. This is called ‘perception management‘, the art of constructing and distributing information to shape public opinion and achieve a given goal.

In Syria, this included branding Islamic groups as ‘moderate rebels’ in order to be able to fund, train and arm them against a regime that was authoritarian and murderous, but whose goal was not to eventually attack Western countries. Another example is how the Kurds are getting support from Western public opinion by repeating key words such as ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’, even if their actual actions apparently are as ruthless as our arch enemies ISIS (such as fleeing from ISIS without warning after having disarmed and assured Yazidis that they would protect them).

Another incredible PR stunt is the alleged Russian involvement in the US election (and then in the French one, and warning before the German one). No concrete proof has been given and all stories from large media outlets conveniently repeat that an ‘anonymous high ranking official believes that Russia was involved’. This incredible story now has a life of its own and continues to reach higher, even if no evidences have been given. The Facebook and Twitter ‘scandals’ should have alerted any reasonable mind that a few hundred thousand dollars worth of ads are unlikely to have shaped a multi-billion election. But the madness goes on.

When you look at the reasons for orchestrating the diffusion of such blatant idiocies, you may come across conspiracy theories that have as much support as the original fake news. We believe that the reality is always more complex and crude. In Syria, the USA is trying to shape the region according to its ideas, leading it to support groups that it could be fighting in another region of the world. Meanwhile, the ‘Russiangate’ is a useful tool to avoid the hard introspective look to understand what actually happened during the election (and 40 years of neoliberalism) while discrediting President Trump. This plays awfully well for the Democrats, the US party that is usually supported by the rest of the world, though only because they are the lesser of 2 evils.

The world is a complex place and we believe that technologies are further confusing people. As a result, we usually forget to thoroughly analyze situations through the lenses of power.

Science; General Knowledge & Environment

Forget Countdowns – Climate Catastrophe Has Started in the High Mountains of Asia – Asia’s high altitude mountains are warming up faster than the rest of the world, with expected glacier loss of 30-40% in the best case. The most likely scenario is that 40-70% of glaciers will have disappeared by 2050, with unspecified impacts on water cycles, rainfalls and monsoon.

Alarm as ‘super malaria’ spreads in South East Asia – Yet another drug resistant parasite, with up to 60% failure in treatment in Cambodia and a third in Vietnam.

History & Geopolitics

Is Foreign Propaganda Even Effective? – By foreign they mean Russian. There is strong evidence that: Russian propaganda networks have a low penetration in America; their effectiveness in subverting Americans is close to zero; none of the blue collar workers that voted for Trump watches the channels, let alone take their content seriously. We’ll let you draw the conclusions regarding the impacts of Russian ‘propaganda’ on the 2016 US election.

Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet? – Yet another claim debunked: the alleged Russian hacking of US voting systems is actually… false. Just like the rest of the various claims. What is worrisome is that these stories (actual fake news) continue to be reported and taken for granted, helping to shape a grand narrative and potentially leading to actual war with Russia.

The Kurdish independence genie is well and truly out of the bottle – Baghdad, Ankara and Tehran are unlikely to stand by in the face of the Kurdish referendum. More importantly, to avoid further fanning the flames of violence in an already violent region, the Kurds must embrace other tribes, ethnics and religions.

By The Grace Of Israel – The Barzani Clan And Kurdish “Independence” – The forever persecuted Kurds are not necessarily the democracy loving, ethnically and religiously open people that have been portrayed by the media. Their tentative to build their own state is unlikely to succeed since all their borders are controlled by their enemies.

The forbidden questions about the Korea crisis – The US needs to take a more proactive stance over North Korea, agree to talks with Pyongyang (consistently rejected) and stop the various threats that legitimately fuel North Korean nuclear ambitions.

Rohingya Crisis: Focus on ‘Intolerant Religion’ Disregards Complex Moral and Policy Challenges – By focusing on the religious aspect of the Rohingya crisis, we are dangerously simplifying a complex situation involving a large number of issues, increasing religious tensions, as well as overlooking the role of the state and of the deep transformation undergoing in Burma.

Finance & Economics

China’s Great Wealth Transfer Falls to Reluctant Heirs – 90% of Chinese private companies are family owned and as their founders age, they are faced with a disruptive transition: many of their heirs are reluctant to follow the footsteps of their elders, and those who do are faced with management methods quite different from what they’ve been taught.

Picture of the week: Las Vegas Strip

About Carlito Riego

"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi