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Author: TriSec    Date: 03/24/2020 11:48:43

Good Morning.

Coronavirus might cancel the Olympics, but does it cancel war?

Well of course not!

Iran might be suffering as badly as anyone else with this, but of course they might still attack us at any time. Despite the larger threat, the US and UAE have decided to go ahead with war games, in some kind of 'message' to the region.

AL-HAMRA MILITARY BASE, United Arab Emirates — U.S. Marines and Emirati forces held a major military exercise Monday that saw forces seize a sprawling model Mideast city, a drill conducted amid tensions with Iran and despite the new coronavirus pandemic.

Troops raced over the dunes of the Al-Hamra Military Base to take the model city, complete with multi-story buildings, an airport control tower, an oil refinery and a central mosque. Controlled explosions rang out as Emirati troops rappelled from hovering helicopters and Marines searched narrow streets on the Persian Gulf for “enemy” forces.

The biennial exercise, called Native Fury, shows the close ties between American forces and the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula home to Abu Dhabi, the capital, and Dubai, its financial heart.

It also comes after the U.S. killed Iran's most prominent general in a drone strike in January, and Tehran retaliated with a ballistic missile attack on American forces in Iraq. While acknowledging the tensions, U.S. officials dismissed the idea of Tehran viewing such an exercise with suspicion, only some 300 kilometers (185 miles) from its shores.

“Provocative? I don't know," said Brig. Gen. Thomas Savage of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, the ranking U.S. commander at the event. “We're about stability in the region. So if they view it as provocative, well, that's up to them. This is just a normal training exercise for us.”

Sure, in normal times, it might be a normal training exercise....but as we're all aware, things are decidedly NOT normal these days. Wonder where all those troops are going to go home, and what souvenirs they might bring back?

At least the UN "gets it", and the Secretary-General has called for a global cease-fire. Nice in principle, but seeing how little regard the US has for any sort of global co-operation these days, file under "pipe dream".

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed Monday for an "immediate global ceasefire" to protect vulnerable civilians in conflict zones from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war," he said in a brief speech at UN headquarters in New York, mentioning no country by name. "That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world."

Syria has reported its first case of the COVID-19 virus, in a country already torn by 10 years of war, and other cases have emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan.

Experts and diplomats expect the virus to wreak havoc in countries in conflict, which often are very poor and with fragile health care systems.

"It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives," Guterres said. "Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes."

Doing so, he said, was crucial for opening corridors to deliver life-saving aid.

"End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now," he said.

"If the fighting goes on, we might have an absolutely devastating spreading of the epidemic."

I suppose the takeaway here is maybe all sides will eventually be too sick to fight, and we'll have a natural cease-fire?

Moving on, we all remember the Howard Jones song "No one is to blame"? Our Dear Leader isn't helping matters any, stirring up anti-Asian sentiment by repeatedly calling this the "China Virus". What you probably aren't aware of, is China is also blasting away with their own war of words.

Early on, Chinese state media suggested that the U.S. was responsible for the outbreak, and that it was an attempt by the U.S. to cripple the Chinese economy. Much the same thing happened during the SARS epidemic, leading to a deluge of conspiracy theories across Chinese social media sites that the virus was a CIA creation.

In late January, a Chinese military website, Xilu, which is owned and funded by China's Ministry of Defense, claimed that the coronavirus had been specifically engineered by the U.S. to target people of Han Chinese ancestry. The Han represent some 99% of China's population. Supposedly, according to Xilu, the virus was introduced into Wuhan by American servicemen participating in the Military World Games in October 2019. The report claimed that the "poor performance of the American athletes" was evidence that they were not in fact athletes but "biowarfare operatives."

Since late February, Chinese state media has shifted tack, arguing that "the virus may have first appeared in China but that did not mean that it had originated or been created there."

In the meantime, Chinese media have been emphasizing China's "heroic actions" in fighting the pandemic, describing its actions when the outbreak emerged as a "selfless sacrifice to buy the world more time." Beijing has also cracked down on the western media, limiting their ability to report on the coronavirus pandemic in China. Reporters from The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among others, have been expelled. Additionally, Chinese natives who have been working for foreign news bureaus have been dismissed by the Chinese government.

The Chinese press has extensively covered the spread of the coronavirus around the world, pointing out other countries' failure to contain the virus, in particular Italy and Spain. They continue to stress the foreign origins of the virus. The consistent talking points across a broad number of media underscore that this is a widespread media campaign to shift blame away from the Chinese government.

Beijing has also continued to allow conspiracy theories that blame the U.S. to proliferate uncensored on Chinese social media. Beijing's censors are usually quick to delete comments that vary with the government's official position. The extent and continued presence of these conspiracy theories on Chinese social media represents a tacit endorsement by Beijing.

The world spins on, but it sure seems like it's been spinning off its axis recently, hmm?


12 comments (Latest Comment: 03/24/2020 22:14:48 by TriSec)
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Comment by livingonli on 03/24/2020 13:16:26
Well now it's official that the Olympics have been postponed to 2021.

Comment by wickedpam on 03/24/2020 13:19:33

Comment by livingonli on 03/24/2020 14:00:47
Listening to Momma on the phone while The Princess Bride plays on AMC.

Comment by trojanrabbit on 03/24/2020 14:57:37
So I might have a new position.

Had a phone interview today with the head EMC Engineer at a nearby testing lab and he saw no reason why I couldn't fit right in now. They do have some staff working through the 'shutdown' - they're deemed essential because they're testing medical equipment. The official offer needs to be made and all that other stuff.

Comment by livingonli on 03/24/2020 15:03:12
Fingers crossed for you, trojanrabbit.

Comment by BobR on 03/24/2020 15:19:39
Comment by TriSec on 03/24/2020 15:23:30
Hi all. Maybe worth starting a little "side blog" during the shutdown?

On our work chatbot (we use slack) we've been trading museums, shows, movies, and other entertainments for the down time. I can start with a couple - if you've ever wanted to visit Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, they had a pretty good website BEFORE the disease.


The Gardner Museum is online too, and their app at least does a cool thing - you can view the still-stolen artworks in the galleries online where they're supposed to be.


And one I'll be wandering about for days on end. L'Hermitage in St. Petersburg (Russia).

What's out your way people should see?

Comment by TriSec on 03/24/2020 15:25:44

You probably didn't hear that it's spread to both Martha's Vineyard AND Nantucket in recent days. These are both islands, as you probably know. They couldn't keep it out of there?

Easy: Ferry Service suspended. Sorry. But it got there anyway.

Comment by livingonli on 03/24/2020 15:28:34
I have heard that resentment is building towards the wealthy in the Hamptons who may have helped spread it out there.

Comment by TriSec on 03/24/2020 16:23:14
One thing is certain - it's becoming increasingly easier to identify who on the book of face should be blocked forever without any further response.

Comment by Will in Chicago on 03/24/2020 16:29:19
Hello, bloggers!!!

I am reaching out to students and looking over papers. It is quiet here. I did make a store run today. No disinfectant spray or dish soap.

The Olympics are now postponed to next year. I doubt I will see my students for the remainder of this school year.

Comment by TriSec on 03/24/2020 22:14:48
So, Old Town Trolley Tours has just laid off ALL hourly employees nationwide.

I"m sure it's for legal purposes, and to make it easier for everyone to file for unemployment, but it is a hard layoff - not a suspension or leave.

If we ever operate again, there will be 5 of us (management, former drivers) tour-certified in the building.