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The religious impulse

As part of my personal Southeast Asian studies program, I follow a K-Pop boy band. Check this out:

America's dumbest Secretary of State, John Kerry, stays at blacklisted hotel in Myanmar

Myanmar Times:

US Secretary of State John Kerry touted the significance of what remains of his country's sanctions regime against Myanmar on Sunday, describing it as a sign that Washington is keen to avoid rushing its engagement with Nay Pyi Taw.

But the strength of his message, which talked up the importance of targeted sanctions, was tempered by the fact he spoke at a hotel owned by a blacklisted business tycoon where Mr Kerry and other members of his delegation had been staying since arriving in the capital yesterday.

"Sanctions now are very much focused on members of the junta and on key individuals who may still be representing a challenge to achieving some of these [Myanmar's] goals," Mr Kerry told members of the media gathered at Lake Garden Nay Pyi Taw.

One of these sanctioned individuals is tycoon U Zaw Zaw, whose company Max Myanmar built the luxury Lake Garden last year. U Bo Chan Tun, project manager at Max Myanmar's hotel arm, confirmed to The Myanmar Times that Max Myanmar built and owns the recently opened Lake Garden property, which is managed by French hotel group Accor under its MGallery brand.

Both U Zaw Zaw and his Max Myanmar Group of Companies are on the Special Designated Nationals (SDN) list maintained by the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. U Zaw Zaw and his companies were added to the SDN list in 2009, according to the Treasury Department's website.

"Tempered." That's good. Read below the fold...

Daily Kos War Coverage Rating: 4%

Of 12 front page stories, a major mention in one. No headlines. We'll give a headline 1 point; a major mention half a point. 0.5 / 12 = 4.16%. Here's a visual representation. (It's a thumbnail of the whole page, so please readers, let me know if it's too slow to load.) Read below the fold...

"West warns Russia against 'illegal' invasion of Ukraine"

That's rich.

US President Barack Obama, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Germany's Angela Merkel made it clear they would not brook any attempt by Russia to use humanitarian excuses to sneak troops and military equipment into the conflict-torn east of Ukraine.

"The Prime Minister and President are absolutely clear that such a so-called humanitarian mission would be unjustified and illegal," Downing Street said in a statement following a phone call between Obama and Cameron.

The mind reels. Read below the fold...

"The Credibility Trap"

This is an important post from Jesse's Cafe Americaine. Slightly re-arranged and edited:

What Is a 'Credibility Trap'
"A credibility trap is a condition wherein the financial, political and informational functions of a society have been [so] compromised by corruption and fraud, so that the leadership cannot effectively reform, or even honestly address, the problems of that system without impairing and implicating, at least incidentally, a broad swath of the power structure, including themselves.

The status quo tolerates the corruption and the fraud because they have profited at least indirectly from it, and would like to continue to do so. Even the impulse to reform within the power structure is susceptible to various forms of soft blackmail and coercion by the system that maintains and rewards.

And so a failed policy and its support system become self-sustaining, long after it is seen by objective observers to have failed. In its failure it is counterproductive, and an impediment to recovery in the real economy. Admitting failure is not an option for the thought leaders who receive their power from that system.

The continuity of the structural hierarchy must therefore be maintained at all costs, even to the point of becoming a painfully obvious, organized hypocrisy.

It always ends, often from external forces, and too often badly. But while the money is still flowing the band plays on.

Somehow, that seems awfully familiar. I would say "ruling class" rather than "power structure," and I'd think carefully about "the leadership," but I think Jesse's nailed and named a real phenomenon. Read below the fold...

Tweet of the day

This actually looks like a keen travel tip and a fine example of lateral thinking.

Why didn't we just give the weapons to ISIS directly, and cut out the middleman?

Do I have to do all the Pentagon's thinking for it?

It appears that the US is destroying artillery the US paid for, after it was abandoned to its enemies by troops the US paid to train. Under Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi army had significant heavy weaponry, but much of it was destroyed or decommissioned in the 2003 US invasion. Efforts to provide American-made mobile artillery was seen as a key step toward making the new Iraqi military an independent force. In the past few weeks, millions of dollars of US weapons have fallen into ISIS's hands.

See, that's what I mean. Read below the fold...

Steve Israel to help defend Netanyahu against war crimes charges?


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked US lawmakers to help Israeli officials defend a projected Palestinian legal campaign over alleged war crimes committed against the Gaza population.

It is believed that attempts will be made to bring Israel's military and political leaders in front of international courts such as the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Read below the fold...

The Fertilization thru Harvest of Israeli Racism



“Palestinians returning home find Israeli troops left faeces and venomous graffiti” by Harriet Sherwood:

When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.

Read below the fold...

Memo to Steve Israel: Fire your bulk emailing service

Because the personal touch matters so much, right? Read below the fold...

More problems for Boeing's union-busting plastic plane, the 787

I'm tellin' ya, I'll be checking my flights to see if they're putting me on one. It's only a matter of time! Reuters:

Exclusive: Boeing 787 output hiccups reemerge at assembly sites

More like what my father used to call a frothy eructation than a "hiccup," but never mind that. Read below the fold...

In the garden: Hidden raspberries

And the morning glories seem to be twining about nicely, even in shade. Read below the fold...

Tweet of the day

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Ginormous medical bills because Nevada Health Link can't fix a typo

Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The family’s troubles began in February, when Amber Smith delivered daughter Kinsley five weeks prematurely. Kinsley spent 10 days in Summerlin Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, and Amber’s 40-day hospital stay included two surgeries.

The Smiths bought insurance from Anthem Blue Cross through Nevada Health Link in October and made two premium payments in January. Yet the claims are being denied because Amber’s birth year is listed incorrectly on the family’s insurance identification cards, Smith said. It’s one year off — written as 1978, when it should be 1979.

What a shocker. Health insurance companies will do anything to deny care when the bills get large. This is just rescission under another name! Like for post-existing conditions....

Nor has Smith been able to get baby Kinsley added to the family’s insurance, despite “dozens of calls” to Nevada Health Link and Anthem. So despite never missing a $1,300 premium payment, the Smiths are on the hook for all of Kinsley’s follow-up care. What’s more, some of Amber’s specialists have unexpectedly [oh?] abandoned provider networks, leaving the family with unexpected out-of-pocket expenses, he said.

The family’s grand total? Roughly $1.2 million.

That's a lot of money! And it's a two-fer! Not only denial for a post-existing condition, a narrowing network! Ingenious. And the Smiths aren't the only ones: Read below the fold...


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