Category: The Fifth Column

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7 Key Events That Changed the Geopolitical Landscape This Week

This has been a big week in world events and we here at Geopolitics Alert have covered a few major stories. Here are your key takeaways for the week of December 25th:

Israel Reacts to the UNSC Settlement Decision.

After the United Nations Security Council bite last week calling for a halt to Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory, Israeli officials have been, in the words of some commentators, “throwing a tantrum.”

The God Line: Science, Psychedelics, And The Realms In Between

Interest in medicinal use for psychedelics is exponentiating within the confines of American consciousness. Perhaps successes in medical cannabis aided the humble psychedelics to transcend cultural stigma, but that’s less important.

What’s important is compounds like LSD and psilocybin have qualities besides medical benefits. Namely, the psychedelic experience: a journey through the self, outer world and, some report, those beyond. Psychedelic research oftentimes introduces scientists to a “god-line” separating simple medical curiosity, and “the other”. How is western– particularly American–science to navigate the god-line? Is our culture prepared for the consequences of crossing it?

EXCLUSIVE: Training ‘preferable, but not required’ for out of state cops in Standing Rock

While the professionalism, training, and tactics of Morton County is being openly questioned after bystanders are shot with rubber bullets, tear gas canisters are lobbed with their spoons taped down, and water cannons are used in freezing temperatures, a team of journalism students on assignment in Standing Rock uncovers willingness on the part of the Morton County to field untrained officers.

The debut report from TFC’s newest team.

The Evidence of Soros Funded Protesters

George Soros. The name sends chills up many peoples’ spines. He’s a billionaire power broker on the international scene implicated in dirty dealings the world over. He’s got a crazy backstory stretching back to Nazi-occupied Hungary. He’s about the closest the world has ever come to a Bond villain.

Because of the activities he has been involved in, he’s become a boogeyman. He’s a scary story politicos tell their children at night. “If you don’t support our cause, George Soros will reign supreme.”

The latest dust-up involving Soros revolves around his alleged payments to Anti-Trump protesters. It’s quite a claim. Evidence of this could actually land Soros in criminal court. How could we prove this allegation? We’d need evidence of money flowing from Soros to Open Societies to a local organization and then to protesters. A tall order, but not impossible.

Deputies From Wisconsin And Elsewhere Leave North Dakota, Refuse To Return As Millions Join Movement

Widespread outrage over both the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and violent police crackdowns rages on. That outrage is spreading even to police agencies now returning from deployment to the reservation. Two departments have already refused to return, citing personal and public objections. As if that wasn’t enough, an army of sympathizers is re-purposing social media to combat police efforts in Standing Rock.

Minnesota’s Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department is among that group. Lawmakers, according to MPR News, found police activities in Standing Rock “inappropriate”. It’s to the point where they’re considering rewriting legislation to avoid future deployments to incidents like the pipeline resistance.

Police officials, of course, declined to comment on their return from North Dakota or their feelings on what’s happening there. It’s also made the task of rebuilding trust with the community an even loftier uphill battle. “I do not support Sheriff Stanek’s decision to send his deputies to North Dakota”, says LT. Governor Tina Smith, “nor did we approve his decision to begin with. I do not have any control over the Sheriff’s actions, which I think were wrong, and I believe he should bring his deputies home if he hasn’t already.”

The Refugee and Friend Who Opened My Eyes About El Salvador’s Civil War

Lacking the innocence and serenity most kids his age had an abundance of, Osmaro Aviles lived in constant fear and anxiety. The peaceful sky I slept under every night didn’t exist in his world. Helicopters replaced the stars and machine gun fire drowned out the sounds of nature. While I played with rocks I discovered as I walked peacefully around my neighborhood, Ozzy walked to a brick house riddled with bullet holes, and without a roof, to play around with shotgun shells left on the ground surrounding the home, on the rare occasion he was granted freedom to go outside.

When you are raised in the western world and have a normal life free of debilitating trauma like I did, you expect everyone else lives in the exact same world. The world is your oyster; it’s peaceful,fun, and full of wonder. Little did I know a kid my same age lived in a world full of turmoil, violence and secrecy, that robbed children of the very things many of us still take for granted.

US Admits Use of Depleted Uranium in Syria

The US has finally confirmed that it has fired DU ammunition Syria, after it had earlier stated that the weapons would not be used. US Central Command (CENTCOM) has acknowledged that DU was fired on two dates – the 18 and 23 November 2015. Between the strikes on the two dates, 5,100 rounds of 30mm DU ammunition were used by A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. This equates to 1,524kg of DU. CENTCOM said that the ammunition was selected because of the “nature of the targets”.
The news comes as governments are debating a UN General Assembly resolutionon DU weapons in New York. And, although DU use has only been admitted on two dates, ICBUW and PAX are concerned that this disclosure could be the sign that DU has, or will, be used more widely in the conflict.

In March 2015, and following the deployment of A-10s to the conflict, the US hadconfirmed to journalists that the aircraft would not be armed with DU, stating: “U.S. and Coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.” Justifying the decision, CENTCOM public affairs explained that: “The ammunition is developed to destroy tanks on a conventional battlefield; Daesh does not possess large numbers of tanks.”

The Snowden Cipher: Can You Break It?

Your privacy and way of life is in jeopardy. Snowden risked his life, freedom, and reputation to warn you. He deserves a pardon. He displayed himself a true patriot.

In 2002, I developed a multi-step cipher. Over the years, it has been used to transmit information in the United States and in foreign countries. It has securely transmitted information across international borders and out of prisons. Maybe half a dozen people know the steps necessary to render the message below in plain text. #PardonSnowden

Understanding the difference: Terrorism, Insurrection, and Guerrilla Warfare

Due to the continued plunge into “The War on Terror” and the different conflicts the West has started, become involved with, or prolonged; a series of terms have lost their meaning. The meanings are important. It is fundamentally impossible to understand the nature of many of today’s conflicts because the terms defining them are muddled and lead people to believe a cookie cutter response is appropriate.

The response that may destroy an organization engaging in guerrilla warfare will strengthen a terrorist group. In some cases a certain response can turn a guerrilla group into a terrorist group. The tactics used to disrupt a terrorist group will typically have little or no impact on a mature guerrilla group. Understanding the definitions of political violence are essential to understanding a world steeped in it.

Cycle of Insurgency: How the US military is expected to put down an insurrection

One of the overriding questions when discussing an insurgency within the United States has always been the debate over how the military would respond. Those who hope for the military to break ranks and join the resistance will be disappointed. Those who would believe the military will employ surgical strikes to remove dissidents through technology will be surprised. The American people don’t have to guess how the US military would respond any longer. Two respected academics chose to war game a scenario using the United States Operating Concept (2010) as a guide.

The first thing to understand about an insurrection is that it isn’t terrorism. The terms are often used interchangeably by the media, but there is a significant difference.

Entrapment, CSIS, and an RCMP Operation

The conviction of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody being found guilty of a manufactured terror plot by the RCMP was shown in the BC Supreme Courts decision by tossing the prosecution from court. This decision is historic in Canada and in North America; here we see Canada’s Anti-Terror strategy being found guilty, not the suspects.

The common law couple, Nuttall and Korody, is free now after the court ruled that they were entrapped by the RCMP. Justice Catherine Bruce said the police used “trickery” and “subterfuge” to coerce and manipulate Nuttall and Korody, via the RCMP plan, into planting and blowing up pressure cooker bombs at the BC Legislature on Canada Day in 2013.

The highlight of Bruce’s conclusion was this: “… the world has enough terrorists. We do not need the police to create more out of marginalized people who have neither the capacity nor sufficient motivation to do it themselves.”

Meet the Workers Already Left Behind by Donald Trump’s Management Failures

This week, as most of the media’s attention was focused on the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia, there was a lot of talk about how bad Donald Trump would be for the people of the United States. Among all that talk though there was no mention of the damage he has already done to a whole region of people who depended on some of his businesses for their livelihood.

Donald Trump’s failed casino ventures in Atlantic City have been mentioned a few times by his opponents on the campaign trail, but only as political points in the tit for tat campaign style we are all so used to. What was never discussed was the effect his failures are still having on the former east coast gambling mecca, now a city that has fallen on hard times as new casinos have popped up across the country.

How one lie obtained through torture destroyed the lives of millions

In the United Kingdom, there is a demand for an independent inquiry into British Intelligence’s involvement in the CIA’s torture and rendition program. Despite promises, one has not emerged. The government in the UK does not want to rehash the effects of the program or the the loss of life it caused.

In the days after the September 11th attacks, Americans waived their rights and waved their flags at the same time. If the government wanted a power, the people meekly agreed. They were literally scared stupid. The government was given a blank check to stop the terrorists. The people looked the other way as the government ramped up domestic spying efforts, enacted bizarre vague legislation allowing them to deem just about anyone a “terrorist”, eliminated due process, and began torturing people. What did surrendering their rights gain them? The War on Terrorism has been a complete and utter failure in every respect. What’s worse is that it was the waiving of rights and general sense of humanity that led to the Iraq War.

Cycle of Insurgency: What an insurgency in the US would look like

It’s important to understand the stakes as people cheer on the attacks in Dallas. I’m very critical of law enforcement’s brutality and I can’t bring myself to condemn the shooter wholeheartedly because I can understand the origin of the frustration and anger. At the same time, I’ve seen violence, I’ve helped people fleeing countries in the throws of insurrection, and I’ve witnessed man’s inhumanity. An insurrection in the United States is not something to hope for. We’re closer to it than we’ve been since the Civil War.

Sadly, I don’t know a way out. This attack set a chain of events in motion that placed the nation on a crash course with insurgency. This attack will cause officers to fear for their safety. They will, in turn, be more jumpy and trigger-happy. They will kill more innocents. This will lead to more attacks and the cycle will continue. Eventually, a spark will cause widespread rebellion.