One Hundred and Ninety Eighth Blog Post





It is hard to claim that the design is beautiful, dazzling or engrossing. But the artwork is destined to be priceless and famous, because it seems to be the earliest evidence for a drawing in the archaeological record, by some margin. Apart from some cave paintings from Spain dated to around 64,000 years ago — presumably the work of Neanderthals (D. L. Hoffmann et al. Science 359, 912–915; 2018) — the next instance of drawing came around 40,000 years ago with cave paintings found at opposite ends of Eurasia: in the spectacular art decorating the walls of caves in Spain and France, and the more recently discovered cave art in Sulawesi in Indonesia (M. Aubert et al. Nature 514, 223–227; 2014). Despite being located 12,000 kilometres apart, cave paintings such as these contain images that we instantly recognize as figurative art, including a range of animals, and stencils of hands that speak to us, millennia later, as signs of human self-awareness.


As the sole surviving species of the genus Homo, we Homo sapiens are one of the most taxonomically lonely species living on Earth today. But dig back a few thousand years or more and we find ourselves with plenty of company: Many now-extinct species shared the genusHomo, ranging from the robust Homo neanderthalensis, to the hobbit-like Homo floresiensis to the more primitive Homo habilis and Homo erectus. But do all these species, with their wide diversity of physical and cultural traits, actually belong in the same genus?

Traditionally, hominin fossils have been classified into either the genus Homo or Australopithecus, with Homo dating back to about 2.8 million years and the oldest Australopiths dating back to about 4 million years ago. But some anthropologists think we need more options. “Right now, we are stuck in a false dichotomy, where if it isn’t an Australopith, it must be Homo and if it isn’t Homo, it must be an Australopith,” says Ian Tattersall, a paleoanthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. “We obviously need more genera if our classification of hominins is to meaningfully reflect the diversity within our family.”

But reparsing the hominin family tree is easier said than done. “This problem is just as much philosophical as taxonomical,” Tattersall says. “We’re wrestling with nothing less than human exceptionalism” — the idea that humans are so distinct from other organisms that the rules of taxonomy don’t apply to us, a problem that has plagued paleoanthropology from its earliest discoveries. “Homo has become a wastebasket of names with very little meaning,” Tattersall says. “And yet, we’re so emotionally attached to those names that even people who think they should be changed are unable to agree on how to go about it.” Nonetheless, some are trying.

What’s in a Name?

In the mid-1700s, Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus proposed a binomial naming system to classify organisms according to relatedness and shared characteristics. This organizational system evolved into the familiar ranks of kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.

A species is loosely defined as a population of organisms that can successfully breed. But things get a little more contrived at the genus level, which is less rooted in biology and more in the scientific drive for organization. “Species have a reasonably objective biological reality that is grounded in the dynamic that exists among their members,” Tattersall wrote in the journal Inference in February 2016. “Genera, on the other hand, are purely historical constructs,” he wrote.

“A genus is like a make of car,” says Bernard Wood, a paleoanthropologist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. All Toyotas are more closely related to each other than to any other make of car and they’re all derived from the original Toyota, which was made in the 1930s, he adds. A grouping made up of “all the four-wheel-drive cars made by Toyota would make a sensible genus,” Wood says. “But a grouping of four-wheel-drive cars made by different companies would not qualify, even if they look alike and drive alike, since they don’t share a common ancestor.”


Great archaeological detective stories start with unexpected discoveries in unusual places.

In May, an international team of scientists led by Thomas Ingicco revealed new archaeological findings from Kalinga, in the northernmost part of Luzon, Philippines. Until now, scientists have mostly assumed that the Philippines were first inhabited by modern humans, only after 100,000 years ago. But the artifacts unearthed by Ingicco and coworkers were much older, more than 700,000 years old.


Just a decade has transformed the debate over whether Neanderthals were practising what we have no better word for, than art.

In 2007 a review paper by Marie Soressi and Francesco d’Errico critically discussed much of the until-then disparate finds, and showed that in fact there was a substantial body of ‘legit’ evidence. Since then, researchers have upped their game through not only developing more sophisticated analytical approaches and methods, but also just keeping their minds open to the possibility. Intentionally looking out for those tiny traces which have just managed to hang on over tens of millennia can make the difference between finding them or not.

Two new papers are being released today, and even with the different world we now find ourselves in compared to ten years ago, aspects of them still represent genuinely jaw-dropping finds. [I was asked for comment by a media outlet which is why I’m able to write all this in advance].



But Harris can’t engage any of this history, any of these material factors, because he’s a reductive idealist. Amazingly, he is far more reductive in his thinking with respect to Islam even than the Bush administration. George W. Bush saw very clearly the need for strong institutions in the Muslim world. He understood that the problem wasn’t Islam, it was the poor political order in the region. The problem is that Bush failed to understand that if the United States attempts to provide this order itself, no domestic force will develop which can step in and take the reigns. The order the United States attempted to impose in Iraq and which it continues to attempt to impose in Afghanistan only lasts as long as America remains willing to commit unlimited, vast sums of resources to these countries. As soon as the United States leaves, the same underlying problem resurfaces, because the factions and leaders we put in power are dependent on our military capability to maintain order in the country. Once we leave, they once again must try to come up with a way to legitimate their order on their own. They don’t succeed, and we end up back where we started–with America having spent trillions of dollars and with thousands of lives lost. Our role in the region now mirrors the role that Britain and France used to play–we are breaking Middle Eastern states, failing to put them back together, and eventually quitting and leaving a mess. Between us and the Europeans the region has never been able to find its own path and figure out what kinds of institutions it wants for itself, and the state of Islam reflects this wider governance problem.

I’ve told you all of this history to make a relatively simple point, and one which is perhaps much less important than many of the points we’ve made along the way–that Sam Harris’ idealism and obsessive hatred of religion causes him to ignore the history, politics, and economics of the Muslim world. Despite this, he continues to be taken seriously by other people who also don’t pay attention to these things.


Furthermore, it is well-documented that when a man dons the mask of a Kachina in preparation for the sacred rituals and dances, he is understood to take on and manifest the spirit of the Kachina he is portraying. In the book Masks of the Spirit: Image and Metaphor in Mesoamerica, by Peter and Roberta Markman (1994), a Hopi man named Emory Sekaquaptewa, who has himself performed these rituals, is quoted as saying:

For the kachina ceremonies require that a person project oneself into the spirit world, into the world of fantasy, or the world of make-believe. Unless one can do this, spiritual experience cannot be achieved. I am certain that the use of the mask in the kachina ceremony has more than just an esthetic purpose. I feel that what happens to a man when he is a performer is that if he understands the essence of the kachina, when he dons the mask he loses his identity and actually becomes what he is representing . . . He is able to do so behind the mask because he has lost his personal identity. (page 68)

The similarities to the traditions of the Cantonese opera described above are remarkable, the more so because there is not thought to have been any historical contact between the ancient Native American nations of the Hopi or the Zuni and the ancient culture of China.

Even if one were to admit the possibility of some sort of ancient contact between China and the Americas (which may well have taken place), it would stretch credibility to argue that such transoceanic contact is also responsible for the masked sacred drama of ancient Greece, or of Africa,  and so on around the globe.

The world-wide prevalence of ritual drama and dances, almost always utilizing masks and also similar types of music and percussion, on every continent and island of our planet argues that this pattern may be far more ancient, and may descend from some common predecessor culture or cultures, just as the world’s ancient myths share striking similarities and a basis in celestial metaphor — similarities too specific to be convincingly explained as “coincidental development in complete isolation,” and yet too widespread across both geographical distance and also across millennia to be easily explained by cultural distribution during conventionally-acknowledged history after the rise of the civilizations of ancient China, ancient India, ancient Egypt, and ancient Mesopotamia (especially since the celestial myth-patterns are already present in the earliest known texts from those civilizations).


Exploring the role of instinct and instinctual behaviours in building as a counterbalance to the social determinism of many current narratives; the forms of categorisation used in archaeological and architectural studies are considered, distinguishing between abstract narratives and real-world observations. Strongly canonical monument forms are not only constrained in their original design, but also influence the nature of their subsequent anthropic modifications and predetermines some pathways to decomposition, while ensuring that the form of the original structure may be discernible even following millennia of use and abuse of the monument. Finally, some technical issues affecting drystone building are introduced and the relationship between the concepts of monumentality and engineering efficiency are discussed.


Hello again, my dear readership….

This is the 198th. blog post. Attentive followers may have noticed that I’ve slowed down a bit, and don’t have so much to say. Mostly because of my poor health. I guess I may continue towards the 200th. For no better reason than to make it a round number. Then I might stop. Or not.

It does give me something interesting to do through the long dark wet winter months. I might try out the new version of WordPress, and if it is amazing, that might  inspire me to do more posts. On the other hand, if it’s horrid, that might be another reason to stop. Whatever. All things come to an end, eventually.

The internet and this computer technology has been an exhilarating ride. I’ve enjoyed it all immensely. I used to think that it might solve some of the world’s perennial problems, but that vision has soured. Seems to me, much of it’s become just another vicious political and cultural battleground, a sordid showcase for human malice, nastiness, and depravity. But some of it is still positive and amusing, better than TV and newspapers, anyway.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

712 Responses to One Hundred and Ninety Eighth Blog Post

  1. ulvfugl says:

    HTS has conveniently set itself up for elimination in Idlib after the US mid-term election in early November. As I have said before I think there is a modicum of understanding between Trump personally and the Russian government. CIA communications to US Embassy Moscow would be a reliable means for that.There is nothing illegal about that. POTUS is constitutionally solely responsible for foreign affairs. The US Senate’s role is limited to ratification of treaties, confirmation of ambassadors and such other background functions. IMO the Russians do not want to cause a flap in the US before the election. How helpful of them! When the election is pat, there will be opportunity to crush HTS into the grease spot on the M5 that it deserves to be. The jihadi persistence in shelling the western parts of Aleppo City is another matter. SAA action there can be expected. pl

  2. ulvfugl says:

    The sensational find is located at Viksletta right next to the monumental Jelle mound in Østfold County, Norway. The team has discovered the traces of at least eight so far unknown burial mounds destroyed by ploughing. But with the help of georadar, the remnants and enclosing ditches of these massive monuments can still be mapped in detail.

    One of the former mounds clearly shows the remains of a Viking ship initially buried in the mound. There are clear indications that the ship’s keel and floor timbers are preserved in the grave. Based on other Viking ship finds the archaeologists worked out a first hypothetical reconstruction of the ship.

  3. ulvfugl says:

    The Holocene Impact Working Group is comprised of six scientists who hypothesise that oceanic comet impacts during the middle-to-late Holocene were more common than the current scientific consensus suggests, and that these impacts have profoundly affected the Earth’s natural systems, climate and human societies.

    The scientists, led by Dallas Abbot of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, have identified the 29 km-large Burckle Crater located about 1500 km southeast of Madagascar and 12,500 ft below sea-level. The crater has been dated to 6000 years (c.4000 BCE) and identified as the signature of an impact event that took place in the Indian Ocean. The impact seemingly triggered a mega-tsunami with 200m high waves that created the wedge-shaped chevron dunes found along the coast of southern Madagascar and western Australia.

  4. ulvfugl says:

    Lisa Stout of Bellvue, Ohio was exploring Loch Ness via Google Earth when she found this fantastic shot of Nessie. The Scottish cryptid has previously been spotted on Google Earth but this a much more compelling image. From the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Registry:

    “I had been searching for Nessie on and off for the past few weeks, spending an hour or so a week on Google Earth as well as other places I like to visit in the app. I had seen some of the latest Nessie sightings and thought that I can definitely find a better image of her than that which I used for motivation to challenge myself to find her. On the 13th at 9.45am, I had got my daughter off to school and began to search for Nessie when I noticed a cluster of pictures taken by an Underwater Earth Contributor all in one area near the Loch Ness Highland Resort in Fort Augustus. I noticed what I believe may be the creature known as Nessie – or at the very least what makes up for most of the accounts of Nessie sightings that residents/tourists are seeing and reporting.”

  5. ulvfugl says:

    Update (5:00 pm ET): As the Saudis prepare to pin Khashoggi’s murder on “rogue killers”, just as President Trump had advised, the office of Turkey’s attorney general has leaked the first findings from Turkish prosecutors’ search of the Saudi consulate to Al Jazeera (a news organization that his financed by Qatar, a geopolitical nemesis of the Kingdom, which took place on Monday, nearly two weeks after Khashoggi disappeared.

    In addition to reportedly discovering evidence that Khashoggi had been killed inside the consulate, Turkish investigators also found “evidence of tampering” – suggesting that the Saudis tried to cover up the crime. Though it may have been a coincidence, a team of professional cleaners was spotted entering the consulate early Monday.

    A source at the Attorney General’s office, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera “they have found evidence that supports their suspicions that Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate,” our correspondent Jamal Elshayyal reported from Istanbul.

    “This is a significant step forward after several days of an impasse,” he said.

    The Attorney General’s office also said their team inside the consulate found evidence of “tampering”, Elshayyal added.

    Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that Saudi Arabia is preparing to admit that Khashoggi was killed as the result of an interrogation that went wrong, citing two unnamed sources.

    One source cautioned that a report was still being prepared and could change, CNN said. The other source said the report would likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and that those involved will be held responsible, the news outlet said.

    Considering that Saudi Arabia is effectively a Medieval Theocracy that still beheads hundreds of people every year via sword, we imagine the men who actually killed Khashoggi (and according to Turkish flight records, they were almost certainly men) must be feeling pretty anxious right about now.

    * * *

    If you anticipated that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman – having been backed into a corner by Turkish spooks who had bugged the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate – would swiftly seek to blame the death of regime insider-turned-critic Jamal Khashoggi on some unfortunate underling, then congratulations. You were right.

  6. ulvfugl says:

    Elizabeth Warren just owned herself after releasing a DNA test confirming that she’s as little as 1/1024th Native American – about half the percentage of the average white person.

    What’s more, the DNA expert she used, Stanford University professor Carlos Bustamente, “used samples from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia to stand in for Native American” as opposed to, say, DNA from a Cherokee Indian which Warren has claimed to be throughout her career.

    The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson laid out the Elizabeth Warren fraud in a 10-part tweetstorm which, in a rational world, would end the debate.

  7. ulvfugl says:

    The Judge has dismissed porn actress and stripper Stephanie Clifford’s lawsuit against President Trump, according to one of Trump’s attorneys. The judge says that Trump is entitled to legal fees from Daniels, which Trump’s legal team says will be determined at a later date.

  8. ulvfugl says:

    It’s among the most daring and skilled feats of piloting we’ve ever seen. During a powerful storm that hit England and devastated much of Wales over the weekend with the worst flooding in 30 years, a pilot executed an unbelievable “sideways landing” at Bristol Airport that was caught on film.

    Storm Callum produced powerful 40-knot crosswinds just as a TUI Airways flight full of passengers was attempting to land last Friday. Footage shows the strong winds rocking the plane from side to side as it made its descent, with the pilot spending over a minute angling the plane’s nose in the direction of the winds, causing the aircraft to land almost sideways.

  9. ulvfugl says:

    Aha, the curse of large breasts. What a life-annihilating affliction.

    And yes, you read that right. Mx. Soloway now insists on being addressed as “they” (The Timesobliges), invoking a linguistic hall-of-mirrors in which there are always two of you: the one located in space and the one in the mirror — shall we surmise? — or perhaps there is another explanation. One might goof on the narcissistic buffoonery of this stuff all the livelong day, but that would be tiresome and cruel, so I will just come to the point and tell you what is going on here, what it is all about.

    It is about fashion, status, and prestige as has been the case in human social relations since earliest (hu)man put a banana leaf on its head, to the awe and wonder of others gathered ‘round. All three of those conditions depend on a person being special, a figure apart from the boring, moiling, deplorable mob of morons who agree to be hostage to their own biology. Biology is a disease to be overcome, and you can do that by asserting your will. For instance, in the case at hand of Mx. Soloway, you can get breast reduction surgery, cut off your hair, and wear baggy clothes. This does not make you a man, but it allows you to affect to renounce your “sexual assignment.” Anyway, who wants to be a man? (The enemy!)

  10. ulvfugl says:

  11. ulvfugl says:

  12. ulvfugl says:

  13. ulvfugl says:

    There are not one, not two, but three ‘weapons’ on the “nuclear option” menu for Saudi Arabia to strike back at any US sanctions stemming from its alleged murder and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in what is now being reported as a “botched interrogation.”

    The first is simple and well known – “oil” – cutting off its own supply “nose” to send prices to $100, $200, or $400 may end up spiting its own face however.

    So let’s take a look at some other options.

    The second, and relatively well known, potential course for retaliation is in its choice of who to buy its weapons from…

    President Trump has so far stated his unwillingness to impose any kind of punishment on Saudi Arabia, and as Statista’s Martin Armstrong notes, this could be why – the U.S. is the world’s biggest exporter of arms and according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the biggest importer from the country in 2017 was Saudi Arabia.

  14. ulvfugl says:

  15. ulvfugl says:

  16. ulvfugl says:

  17. ulvfugl says:

  18. ulvfugl says:

    Why would the United States of America make such a fuss over the disappearance of a non-American citizen? Why would America turn a blind eye to the Saudi killing of thousands of Yemeni civilians and the starving of millions others and then make “threats” against Saudi Arabia after one single Saudi journalist disappeared and has presumably been murdered by Saudi authorities?

    And since when did Erdogan worry about human rights? After all, this is the same man whose army has committed countless atrocities against Syria and Turkish Kurds.

    And the repercussions did not stop at the official level. Even Western business leaders are cancelling trade deals with Saudi Arabia and asking its government for explanations.

    Let us not forget that America does not only ignore the war on Yemen, but it also assists the Saudis and supplies them with arms and intelligence. What’s behind the sudden U-turn? Why would the President of the United States of America be personally involved in this?

  19. ulvfugl says:

    Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.

    In 2014, an international team of biologists estimated that, in the past 35 years, the abundance of invertebrates such as beetles and bees had decreased by 45 percent. In places where long-term insect data are available, mainly in Europe, insect numbers are plummeting. A study last year showed a 76 percent decrease in flying insects in the past few decades in German nature preserves.

    “This study in PNAS is a real wake-up call — a clarion call — that the phenomenon could be much, much bigger, and across many more ecosystems,” said David Wagner, an expert in invertebrate conservation at the University of Connecticut who was not involved with this research. He added: “This is one of the most disturbing articles I have ever read.”…

  20. ulvfugl says:

    The floated story will of course not be believed. A forceful interrogation in a consulate going wrong is not plausible. One does not need to fly in 15 operators, including a specialist for autopsies, just to ask a few questions. The intent was either to kidnap the guy or to outright kill him.

    The trial ballon seems to come from U.S. sources, not from the Saudis. Trump yesterday spoke of a ‘rogue element’ who may have caused the incident. U.S. intelligence services seem to believe that Khashoggi was indeed killed. The Wall Street Journal reports that Turkey provided its evidence:

    The Turkish government has shared with U.S. officials what it describes as audio and video recordings purporting to show that Mr. Khashoggi was killed in the building, people familiar with the matter said.
    The Trump administration will have to sell the story not only to the public, but also to the Turkish President Erdogan and to the Saudi King.

    Both seem to prepare for a deal. After two weeks of denial that anything happened to Khashoggi the Saudis finally reacted:

    King Salman ordered the Saudi public prosecutor to head a probe to determine responsibility for who was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, people familiar with the matter said Monday. Probe results could be announced within days, and lead to some Saudi individuals being held accountable for Mr. Khashoggi’s death, one of the people said.
    The Turkish side is also preparing to accept the coverup:

    On Monday Turkish investigators – who had been willing to talk for much of the past nine days – were now more cautious. So too were Turkish journalists, one of whom said that his outlet had been instructed to focus less on the apparent crime and more on the political settlement.

  21. ulvfugl says:

    Here is the home page of this faker. Note the blue wig he pops on his head. This man is determined to have all Olympic sports featuring males with full male equipment, pretending to be ‘women’ and beating the piss out of all real females, nonstop and forever. This is not a joke, it is very real and will inflict real damage on real women and younger girls who once dreamed of winning an Olympic medal.

    The twitter feed of this freak is full of good information that the Olympic Committee should read but of course, this is a pet project of our Real Rulers who want to put women in their place at the back of the line, the back of the room. This is why all the mainstream news praises these interlopers pretending to be ‘females’.

    Next: all the positions at the top of the pyramid where women get to run corporations off the cliff will soon be run by fake women who will probably do a better job of running things. Eventually, all women will be pushed off the top of the dog pile. And this will be thanks to liberal females fighting for their own destruction!

  22. ulvfugl says:

  23. ulvfugl says:

  24. ulvfugl says:

  25. ulvfugl says:

    Even before the publication of last night’s Saudi trial balloon hinting that the kingdom would soon acknowledge that the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi – the insider-turned dissident journalist who walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week and never walked back out – was the result of a “botched” kidnapping attempt carried out by “rogue killers” (despite reports that the US intelligence community knew that Khashoggi was being “targeted”), two realities had become increasingly clear. One: That the Saudis would avoid responsibility for the killing by pinning it on some unfortunate underling, and two: that there would be few, if any, lasting diplomatic repercussions.

    And as more media organizations confirmed reports about Saudi’s plans to spin Khashoggi’s murder as a botched interrogation (we can only imagine what was said in that room to justify the use of such extreme violence), CNN calculated the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh for approximately 15 minutes early Tuesday, following his 12-hour-plus flight to the kingdom.

    Meanwhile, Turkey said the Saudis have not admitted to their role in Khashoggi’s death, contrary to media reports.

    Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia hadn’t offered any confession to Turkey over its alleged involvement in the disappearance and feared slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

    Asked about a New York Times report that Saudi Arabia might say Khashoggi was killed in an interrogation gone wrong, the minister said: “We have not received such information.”

    Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was all smiles at a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman:

    21 minutes ago
    The Saker

  26. ulvfugl says:

  27. ulvfugl says:

    Newark cider was both a point of pride and big business for the region — requested by name, reportedly lauded by George Washington and produced by dozens of Newark-area cideries with acres of orchards. The secret wasn’t a recipe, but the blending of a quartet of superior apples born in the region: Campfield, Poveshon, Granniwinkle and Harrison, the most celebrated of the four.

  28. ulvfugl says:

    As far as English-language coverage of this story goes, only a few tabloids have reported on it, so take it for what you will. Like most stories in today’s schizophrenic news cycle, this one will likely be buried in a few days by the constant stream of apocalyptic developments.

  29. ulvfugl says:

    Archaeologists in Greece have discovered at least 58 shipwrecks, many laden with antiquities, in what they say may be the largest concentration of ancient wrecks ever found in the Aegean and possibly the whole of the Mediterranean.

    The wrecks lie in the small island archipelago of Fournoi, in the Eastern Aegean, and span a huge period from ancient Greece right through to the 20th century. Most are dated to the Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras.

    Although shipwrecks can be seen together in the Aegean, until now such a large number have not been found together.

    Experts say they weave an exciting tale of how ships full of cargo traveling through the Aegean, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea met their fate in sudden storms and surrounded by rocky cliffs in the area.

  30. ulvfugl says:

    But following reports that the Kingdom is preparing to admit its role on Khashoggi’s death (the official story: that Khashoggi was killed during an interrogation by rogue killers), Republican lawmakers are stepping up their rhetoric against the kingdom, with several Republican leaders in the Senate saying on Tuesday that the body could move to sanction Saudi Arabia, a policy that would likely find widespread purchase with liberal lawmakers. As speculation that Republicans could levy sanctions against Saudi Arabia via the Magnitsky Act, the controversial law passed to make it easier for the US to punish Russian officials for perceived human rights abuses, Mitch McConnell left the door open to this possibility, saying “it may well be.”

    “I can’t imagine there won’t be [a response] but I think we need to find out what happened,” he told Bloomberg. “It may well” be worth sanctioning through Magnitsky Act.

    But compared with Lindsey Graham’s comments on Fox and Friends, McConnell’s take was relatively mild.

    Lindsey Graham, speaking during an interview with Fox and Friends, said that while he was once Saudi Arabia’s biggest ally, he would never again support Saudi Arabia – and that he would vote to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia” – if Mohammad bin Salman remains in charge. “That guy’s got to go,” he said.

  31. ulvfugl says:

  32. ulvfugl says:

    Anybody who understands the temperament of Mohammad bin Salman probably suspected that the Saudi Crown Prince wasn’t just going to throw his hands up in despair when confronted by the embarrassing wave of cancellations by Western business executives whom he had enlisted to attend his Future Investment Initiative – better known as “Davos in the Desert.” And just hours after a bevy of banking executives became the latest group to publicly state that they would be skipping the conference, the Saudis have struck back with what the Financial Times described as “the first concrete retaliation by Saudi to the wave of Western executives deciding not to attend FII and criticising Saudi over Mr Khashoggi’s case.”

    Saudi Arabia has pulled a planned deal with Virgin Hyperloop One after Sir Richard Branson said early last week that he would temporarily cut ties with the kingdom until more details about the death of regime insider-turned-critic Jamal Khashoggi – whose Oct. 2 murder at the hands of Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul has sparked a diplomatic crisis with global implications – have been unearthed.

    News of the retaliation is breaking with a slight delay, as the FT’s anonymous sources said that the Saudis and Virgin had been planning to sign a deal for a new feasibility study at a ceremony during the FII. However, within hours of Branson saying he would back away from the Saudis (he is a minority shareholder in the Virgin hyperloop project) the kingdom sent Hyperloop a notice disinviting them from the conference – effectively killing a deal that had been the result of more than 18 months of careful negotiations with the Saudi transportation ministry.

    Branson released a statement at the time.

    The Hyperloop fiasco is just the latest sign that Silicon Valley has a ‘Saudi Arabia problem’ – as the New York Times characterized it in a recent op-ed. But the diplomatic crisis ignited by the extrajudicial killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has inspired some intrepid journalists at the Wall Street Journal to take a closer look at the kingdom’s relationships and investments in the US tech industry. And as it turns out, for a place that holds itself up as a bastion of progressive values, the Bay Area’s dependence on investments from a medieval theocracy where women were only just granted the right to drive is somewhat surprising. The Kingdom, according to a WSJ analysis, is the single largest investor in Silicon Valley startups, either through its sovereign wealth fund, its investment in the Softbank Vision Fund, or some other entity. Since mid-2016, Saudi has directed some $11 billion to US startups, most notably in Uber.

    This gives the kingdom plenty of latitude to inflict pain on the US via a channel that has nothing to do with oil prices. The only question now is whom will the kingdom retaliate against next?

    1 hour ago
    Why is the watching the US and Saudi Arabia kicking each other so much fun?

    It’s like the train wreck I always wished for, truly inspirational.

    More popcorn.

  33. ulvfugl says:

  34. ulvfugl says:

    The roots of that lobby’s rise to prominence in Washington lie in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As you may remember, with 15 of those 19 suicidal hijackers being citizens of Saudi Arabia, it was hardly surprising that American public opinion had soured on the Kingdom. In response, the worried Saudi royals spent around $100 million over the next decade to improve such public perceptions and retain their influence in the U.S. capital. That lobbying facelift proved a success until, in 2015, relations soured with the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal. Once Donald Trump won the presidency, however, the Saudis saw an unparalleled opportunity and launched the equivalent of a full-court press, an aggressive campaign to woo the newly elected president and the Republican-led Congress, which, of course, cost real money.

    As a result, the growth of Saudi lobbying operations would prove extraordinary. In 2016, according to FARA records, they reported spending just under $10 million on lobbying firms; in 2017, that number had nearly tripled to $27.3 million. And that’s just a baseline figure for a far larger operation to buy influence in Washington, since it doesn’t include considerable sums given to elite universities or think tanks like the Arab Gulf States Institute, the Middle East Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (to mention just a few of them).

    – From the must read piece: The Saudi Lobby Juggernaut


    After two days of non-stop news pertaining to the widening backlash to the disappearance of Saudi insider-turned dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is widely suspected to have been murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul during a trip to obtain a marriage license, the New York Times waited until 6:30 pm ET to drop one of the biggest bombshells yet. Citing sources from within the Turkish government (who have taken the lead in directing the international outrage by first leaking information about Khashoggi’s killing, then following that up with claims that they had substantive evidence), the NYT reports that Turkish officials have linked four members of the 15-man Saudi hit squad purportedly sent to ambush Khashoggi to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who earlier today denied having any knowledge of the killing during a conversation with President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

    One of the men is a diplomat who has been frequently spotted in the Crown Prince’s company, including being photographed with MbS during his visit to the US earlier this year. Three others have been linked to MbS’s security detail. A fifth was a doctor and autopsy expert, whose presence suggests that Khashoggi’s murder was a premeditated hit – not the actions of “rogue operatives” as the Saudi government and Trump have suggested. The news is bound to produce a fresh round of outrage directed at MbS, whose authoritarian crackdown on political rivals within Saudi Arabia, as well as his escalation of the conflict in Yemen (which Saudi Arabia has blithely supported with arms and financing) and the kidnapping last year of the Prime Minister of Lebanon have undermined his reputation as a reformer (a reputation that, ironically, the NYT first helped to burnish).

  35. ulvfugl says:

    Tommy is now fighting for the basic civil rights of British soldiers whose families lived in Britain for over 1,000 years. In the Us, we have the SJW gang running and ruining many schools, attacking students who are not SJW clones. In the dying EU, problems roil relations between nations as they cope hopelessly with the flood of invading Muslims. The Saudis continue to roil relations with the US and Europe after a Saudi reporter was butchered at the Saudi Embassy in Turkey last week.

    University of Washington Teaching Assistant Rebecca Ferber openly admitted in recent tweets she recorded the young men so she could get “useful information.” This ‘useful information’ is the identities of GOP student organizers so that the SJW lunatics can then hound them and harass them and vilify them. This is hostile and very nasty coming from ‘female professors’ supposedly paid to educate, not persecute students.

  36. ulvfugl says:

    this story and its abettors just gets more nonsensical. also:
    ‘[O]n Monday, a person familiar with the Saudi government’s plans said that Mr. Khashoggi was mistakenly killed during an interrogation ordered by a Saudi intelligence official who was a friend of the crown prince. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Prince Mohammed had approved interrogating or even forcing Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia under duress. ‘

    who is the anonymous person? where have the sauds made a public confession?

    Posted by: brian | Oct 16, 2018 4:49:05 PM | 82

    you mean Angry Arab:

    ‘Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist, who disappeared in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week is not quite the critic of the Saudi regime that the Western media says he is, writes As’ad AbuKhalil.’

    Posted by: brian | Oct 16, 2018 4:51:23 PM | 83

    ‘The questions that need some answers is why MbS wanted to take out Jamal Kashoggi and why the neocons like Fred Hiatt at the WaPo triggered the “outrage” machine?

    Posted by: ab initio | Oct 16, 2018 11:13:44 AM | 39

    so wheres the body? so far its anonymous people making claims about saudi evil .,…reminiscent of 9-11

    Posted by: brian | Oct 16, 2018 4:53:30 PM | 84

    Sharmine Narwani
    ‏Verified account @snarwani
    6h6 hours ago

    Posted by: brian | Oct 16, 2018 5:26:59 PM | 85

    brian @84&85–

    Sharmine’s show follows on the previous one having similar content.

    Many people accusing Saudi are not anonymous. The Turkish newspaper writer and spokespeople for the Turkish investigators interviewed on Turkish TV aren’t. Erdogan himself and other members of his government have pointed fingers and made accusations. Many members of the alleged hit team were named. And one of the more interesting Twitter threads I’ve seen is one supposedly by a Khashoggi family member: be prepared to machine translate Arabic to English for many comments.

    Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 16, 2018 6:01:50 PM | 86

    ‘Sale affaire’, dirty business, as the French say. Still, I think it is primarily a matter for Turkey, on whose territory the crime allegedly took place, and Saudi Arabia, whose citizen Khashoggi was. They are the two countries directly involved. Every other nation comes into this only tangentially. Why all the song and dance coming from the US, Britain and Germany? Britain, whose Prince Charles, has been seen dancing the jolly Saudi sword dance alongside other Saudi princes. As if massive violation of ‘human rights’, executions (remember the non-violent Shaykh Nimr?), jailings and so on were unknown. The Brits kept mum, as it was in their business and commercial interest to do so. Why the phoney outrage now? As to Turkey, how many innocent people have disappeared thanks to MIT, the Turkish spooks? And how many innocent Kurdish civilians killed by the Turkish Army? Sultan Erdogan may have the moral authority to take over a medium-sized Kebab shop. Certainly not to lead the whole Islamic world.

    Posted by: Frank Gelli | Oct 16, 2018 6:14:30 PM | 87

    And the Plot Thickens:

    “Exiled Saudi Prince Khaled bin Farhan al-Saud says he narrowly avoided a kidnaping attempt in Germany by the Riyadh government just a few days before Khashoggi disappeared.”

    Saudi must have on-call hit teams with their own forensic doctor attached plus the diplomatic jets at the ready to transport them wherever as the following would indicate:

    “Daily Sabah: BBC has documented 3 cases in which monarchy-critical Saudi princes living abroad have vanished. Prince Sultan bin Turki disappeared when he wanted to visit his father in Cairo from Paris in January, 2016. Turki bin Bandar and Saud bin Saif al-Nasr vanished in Europe.”

    More was certainly happening before and during the internal shakedown and arrests/reforms, which negates Khashoggi’s disappearance as an isolated occurrence. But of course, nobody from BigLie Media asked about this. Perhaps Saudi behavior was MI6’s model for its Skripal pantomime.

    Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 16, 2018 6:25:00 PM | 88

    Looks like this story isn’t dying down like the Saudis wanted, more and more descriptive details of the murder are leaking out through the media and the mainstream journalists are now baying for blood and have even gotten Republicans like Lindsay Graham to start threaten sanctions (not that Graham has ever need much prodding to start shrieking for retribution). I guess the moral of the story is that starting a genocidal war for Oil in Yemen is acceptable and will get you a fawning interview with Thomas Friedman from the New York Times, but killing one little journalist (part of our modern nobility) is an unforgivable crime against civilization. I wonder if Thomas Friedman will at least ever need to explain that story he wrote about MBS or if it will just be one more inconvenient fact to go down the memory hole

    Posted by: Kadath | Oct 16, 2018 6:31:20 PM | 89

  37. ulvfugl says:

    Once again, I am not a great fan of Bezos or his blog, but two days in a row they have printed something I can agree with. Something has changed for him.

    It has become a meme in the blather that runs shrill and shallow in the US media, that Saudi Arabia is a faithful, and indispensable ally of the US in the ME. Bezos disputes this and so do I.

    A few points:

    Yes, they chop heads off after Friday prayers outside the local mosque. They also do hands and feet. They stone to death women found guilty of adultery. They sew them in bags before the men present throw handy five pound rocks at them. The government is deeply approving of this. Sound familiar? Yes, it should. The jihadis whom the Saudis sponsor in Syria do the same things. The Sunni jihadis are nearly defeated in Syria and it has become clear that the Saudi government has been evacuating their leaders, probably with US connivance, so that they can pursue greater visions of jihad elsewhere.

    The importance of Saudi Arabia in the world oil market is IMO now much exaggerated. They can undoubtedly do some damage by manipulating the short term contract (spot) market but this is something they would pay for heavily. The Kingdom is cash strapped. It was not for nothing that MBS turned the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh into a prison for the wealthy including many of his own kin in order to squeeze and in some cases torture them into handing over a lot of their cash to the government. Depressed petro sales at artificial prices will only further reduce revenue to the government.

    The notion that Saudi intelligence contributes much to the GWOT is a joke. Saudi intelligence competence is something that exists only in pitchmen’s claims voiced by TV touts. In fact, they get almost everything they have from the US and are like greedy baby birds always looking to be fed. They cannot organize a trip to the gold plated toilet. It took 15 of them to ambush Khashoggi, well, OK, 14 of them and a doctor to carry the electric bone-saw.

    We need to sell them more equipment that they cannot use? It does not appear to me that any of the contracts that they promised to DJT has been signed. Their technique is simple. Keep the hope of profit for the US alive as leverage.

    Lastly, the chimera of a great Arab alliance (a la NATO) is delusory. The Saudis lack both the organizational ability for such a thing and significant military power. They possess one of the world’s largest static displays of military equipment. They have neither the manpower nor the aptitude to use such equipment effectively. As I have written previously, the Gulf Arabs have long had such an alliance. It is the GCC and it has never amounted to anything except a venue for the Arab delight in meetings and blather.

    The basis for the desire for such an alliance is the Israeli strategic objective of isolating Iran and its allies; Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas with an eventual hope to destroying the Iranian theocracy Israel is frightened of a possible salvo of many thousands of missiles and rockets into Israel from Lebanon as well as an eventual successful creation of a missile deliverable nuclear weapon by the Iranians. These are real and credible threats for Israel, but not for FUKUS. Israel has only two really valuable counter-value targets; Haifa and Tel Aviv. A hit on one or both with a nuclear weapon would be the end of Israel. The Israelis know that.

    Adroit information operations carried out over generations by the Israeli government and its supporters have created in the collective US mind an image of Iran as a disguised 3rd Reich. This was well done. The same operation was run against Iraq with magnificent results from the POV of Israel

    Saudi Arabia is a worthless ally. pl

  38. ulvfugl says:

  39. ulvfugl says:

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this week released a special report detailing all the ways climate change is predicted to wreak havoc on humans.

    The report is about 800 pages long, so I’ll offer a summary to save you some time:

    Global temperatures today are 1.0°C above pre-industrial temperatures.

    We’re seeing an increase in extreme weather and other negative consequences as a result of the increase, including receding sea ice in the Arctic and rising global sea levels.

    A 1.5°C increase will be (much) worse than a 1.0 increase; 2°C would be much worse than that.

    We’re currently on track to exceed 3°C.

    Only broad and drastic changes in the world economy can prevent global calamity.

    The report’s glum findings were announced at a press conference by a United Nations panel in Incheon, South Korea. Panelists tried to sound optimistic, but there was no sugar-coating the report’s key finding.

    “If you would like to stabilize global warming to 1.5°C, the key message is that net CO2 emissions at the global scale must reach zero by 2050,” said panelist Valerie Masson-Delmotte, a French climate scientist and research director at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission. “That’s the most important finding of the report.”

    Barring these substantial reductions, we’re told, millions will die. Literally.

  40. ulvfugl says:

  41. ulvfugl says:

  42. ulvfugl says:

    That is the assessment of Breitbart New‘s Allum Bokhari who exclusively presented a leaked Google internal briefing titled “The Good Censor” to the public on October 9th, exposing the world once again to major tech companies’ attitude towards the bedrock of the traditional American attitude.

    “The Good Censor” is an 85-page briefing that openly admits that Google and other tech platforms are undertaking a “shift towards censorship” in response to unwelcome political events around the world. Unsurprisingly – especially afterleaked video showed google employees in an emotional meltdown after the election victory of Donald J. Trump – The Good Censor cites the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the rise of the populist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party in Germany as unwelcomed events.

    While admitting the shift away from free speech it is also simultaneously admitted that those select few giants “control the majority of online conversations.”

    The briefing goes into how Google, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are stuck in a position of going along with the “unmediated marketplace of ideas” (free speech and free markets) vs. “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility” (censorship). These two directions are also described as the “American tradition” which “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility” and the “European tradition,” which “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.” The internal pages claim that all tech platforms are now moving toward the European tradition.

    Perhaps the most significant part of the brief, as Breitbart’s Bokhari reports, is when it associates Google’s new role as the guarantor of “civility” with the categories of “editor” and “publisher.”

    This is significant, given that Google, YouTube, and other tech giants publicly claim they are not publishers but rather neutral platforms — a categorization that grants them special legal immunities under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Elsewhere in the document, Google admits that Section 230 was designed to ensure they can remain neutral platforms for free expression.

    Bokhari wrote on Wednesday:

    What ordinary Americans long suspected, The Good Censor has proven beyond doubt. According to Google’s own analysis, tech companies have performed perhaps the greatest bait-and-switch in American history, promising their users free speech while they were taking over the market, only to go back on their word once they came to “control the majority of online conversations.”

  43. ulvfugl says:

    Recently, the Saudis have pressured their puppet king in Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to fire his uncle, Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. Prince Khalifa is the world’s longest-serving prime minister. However, he has apparently irritated MBS with his work to protect the rights of foreign workers, including those from the Philippines and south Asia, in Bahrain and the wider Gulf region.

    MBS and Kushner are known to view Iran as the chief threat to peace in the Middle East. MBZ shares in their view of Iran, something that is, apparently, not shared by the emirates of the northern Gulf region, including Fujairah. From their actions, MBS and MBZ are, along with their Israeli and American allies, the major threat to peace in the region. The assassination of a journalist resident in the United States in a third country, Turkey, and the kidnapping and house arrest of a sitting prime minister of another nation is unprecedented behavior in the Middle East. The Saudis are only matched by Israel in their total disregard for international norms of behavior in the Middle Eastern region as they and their cohorts engage in their bloody “Game of Thrones.”

    42 minutes ago
    “It took seven minutes for Jamal Khashoggi to die, a Turkish source who has listened in full to an audio recording of the Saudi journalist’s last moments told Middle East Eye. Horrendous screams were heard by a witness downstairs, the source said. There was no attempt to interrogate him. Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, the head of forensic evidence in the Saudi general security department began to cut Khashoggi’s body up while he was still alive”.

    With this barbarian ally on your side fear not enemy.

  44. ulvfugl says:

    Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, who are now more likely to die from a drug overdose than from car accidents or firearms. The United States has the dubious distinction of having the highest percentage of drug-related deaths in the world.

    However, while opioid abuse is a nationwide problem, Visual Capitalist’s Nick Routley notes that there are specific areas that are being hit harder by this epidemic. Using the location data above, from NORC at the University of Chicago, we can see clusters of counties that have an extremely high rate of overdose deaths. Between 2012 and 2016, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio saw a combined 18,000 deaths related to opioid abuse.

  45. ulvfugl says:

Comments are closed.