“Netherlands becoming a narco-state, warn Dutch police”

That is the headline from the Guardian.

Here is one bit.

A large majority of ecstasy taken in Europe and the US comes from labs in the south of the country, which are increasingly run by Moroccan gangs involved in the production of cannabis. Half of the €5.7bn a year of cocaine taken in Europe comes through the port of Rotterdam, according to Europol.

You can read the rest here.

 

The Trump effect?

“The “facade” of free press in Cambodia “collapsed” in 2017, according to the annual report of the country’s preeminent media watchdog, released Wednesday.”

You can read more here.

More elements of the Chinese security architecture are being put in place.

This time in Pakistan. This follows Djibouti, China’s first overseas military base as well as China’s purchase of Hambantota port in Sri Lanka.

Here is the headline in SCMP.

First Djibouti … now Pakistan port earmarked for a Chinese overseas naval base, sources say.

 

You can read more here.

India announced it will build a similar style base in the island state of Seychelles.

The Indian Ocean is shaping up as the candidate to figure out if China’s rise will be peaceful or not. Keep in eye on this region.

 

 

 

 

A summary of what Chavismo gets you…

By May 2017, Venezuela’s minimum monthly wage wasn’t enough to meet even 12 percent of a single person’s basic food needs. A survey of 6,500 households by three prestigious universities showed that 74 percent of the population had lost on average nineteen pounds in 2016. Infant mortality in hospitals has risen by 100 percent. Diseases nearly eradicated in many countries, like malaria and diphtheria, have flourished; illnesses largely new to the area, like Chikungunya, Zika, and dengue, have spread. Caracas is now the most dangerous city on the planet. All this is happening in a country that has one of the largest oil reserves in the world.

You can read more at the NYROB here.

China’s continual creep into Latin America

Two recent articles on the deepening ties of China and the Western Hemisphere.

Defense One has a piece on Chinese courting Latin American generals with lavish gifts and military training, building strategic ties with those who control the military in Latin America. Here is how the article opens

China has started to woo America’s nearest allies by funding “lavish” trips for Latin American military officers to live and study across the Pacific. Beijing is courting officers from the region, offering to cover the cost of military education and travel, Adm. Kurt Tidd, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, told lawmakers Thursday.

In a separate piece, Briebeart reports that “Adm. Kurt Tidd, the commander of SOUTHCOM, testified that Beijing has already pledged $500 billion in trade funds with various Latin American countries and $250 billion in Chinese direct investment over the next decade, adding:

American grand strategy is almost entirely designed to prevent a regional hegemonic power from being able to roam in America’s back yard. It has long been suspected that  the OBOR was the economic groundwork for a later security architecture. As well, Latin America has a history of military coups. According to research done by Marsteintredet & Berntzen (2008), 8 since 1991 alone. Both articles indicate China is laying the groundwork to act more aggressively in the West. It is not unreasonable to be concerned with this as there is probably a huge demand for their model among certain generals. That is, grow rich but retain political control.

Jeffery Sachs on American involvement in Syria

America’s official narrative has sought to conceal the scale and calamitous consequences of US efforts – in defiance of international law and the UN Charter – to overthrow Assad. While the US vehemently complains about Russian and Iranian influence in Syria, America and its allies have repeatedly violated Syrian sovereignty. The US government mischaracterizes the war as a civil war among Syrians, rather than a proxy war involving the US, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Qatar.

The blob is strong. So strong that a man who for the past 15 years has complained of regime change and nation building can’t resist the temptation to make semi-permeant American troops in Syria.

You care read the rest here.

America risks an “Ottoman slap” in Syria.

That is the warning given by our “ally,” Erdogan. You can read more at CNN here.

The reasoning behind the Turkish-American alliance has two parts. One is a relic of the Cold War and was meant to produce Turkish security against the real threat of Soviet expansion. Today there is still probably a threat as Russia still covets access to the black sea, yet the Turks can figure this out for themselves at this point, perhaps by employing an Ottoman slap(?). The second reason why the United States has included Turkey into it’s security umbrella is to provide the security to allow the democratic process to further take root. Yet no other country has regressed politically as much as Turkey has in the past 15 years.

 

Best writing on the peacock incident

Is by none other than George Will.

Here is one bit

“But the proliferation of emotional-support animals suggests that a cult of personal fragility is becoming an aspect of the quest for the coveted status of victim. The cult is especially rampant in colleges and universities, which increasingly embrace the therapeutic mission of assuaging the anxieties of the emotionally brittle. There, puppies are deployed to help students cope with otherwise unbearable stresses, such as those caused by final exams or rumors of conservatism.”

You can read the rest here.