April 26, 2017

Perhaps you thought nothing could get more surreal than Donald Trump nearly starting WW3 with Russia over chocolate cake with the Chinese President in his golf club, well,  it could. Today’s White House briefing of Senators, is turning out to be even more bizarre.

Congressional officials are asking why the briefing, which could result in a chain of events that see America enter into a devastating war with North Korea and WW3, is occuring at the White House at all, and not at Capitol Hill, as usual, according to CNN.

“I, frankly, don’t understand why it’s not easier to bring four people here than it is to take 100 there,” said Senator Angus King.

The Trump team say the Whie House location underlines the importance that Trump places on the meeting. Yet, now it turns out, the enigmatic Trump may not even attend the briefing.

“If he attends — which is not determined — it will just be a brief drop-by,” a Trump official said.

A brief drop by? Does that show Trump takes the briefing seriously? If he doesn’t take the briefing seriously, why hold it at the White House?

Or is he going to drop by declaring he has just launched 59 nukes against North Korea, putting the Senators before a fait accompli?

“Is this a real briefing or is this another Trump dog-and-pony show? This feels very much that this is just a Trump request to hold a photo-op, it is totally outside the normal boundaries,” said a Democratic congressional aide, who also questioned the security of the White House auditorium.

“A (secure facility) exists (on Capitol Hill) for a reason,” the aide said. “Will he be treating this as a stunt, is that the approach that he is bringing the briefing or will this be a serious conversation about North Korea?”

Conquering fear. Practical tips for us today from the ancient Greek lit on how to overcome our fears and take effective action

April 26, 2017

Prince Harry, William and Kate have launched a ground breaking campaign to get us all to talk more honestly about our personal problems, and they have also modelled just such behaviour for us.

I’d like to join in that conversation, and talk a little to you about conquering our fears.

“There is nothing to fear, but fear itself,” said F.D. Roosevelt.

I’d like to turn to that trusty old epic, the Iliad, for clues on how we can handle frightening situations.

At the start of Book Ten, we find Agamemnon, King and Commander of the Greek army, unable to sleep. His mind is racing, churning from the stressful situation he is in.

But Agamemnon then goes on to model for us how we can, step by step, come to terms with our fears as well as work out and implement a successful plan.

Agamemnon knows the enemy Trojans are camped close by and could attack any moment, wiping out his exhausted troops.

That may not be our exact problem. But I bet a lot of readers can identify with Agamemnon’s sleeplessness, his feeling of being overwhelmed, trapped, facing impossible odds, seeing no way out.

If you can recall a stressful situation, such as an appointment with an angry boss or bank manager, how did you react? Did you try to bury your emotions? Escape into a fantasy world (TV)?

Or face your fears and work out a plan?

Worn out though he is, Agamemnon gets up in the middle of the night, and looks the danger straight in the eye. He does not deny he has a problem, and his willingness to face his fear is first thing he teaches us to do, too.

“When he turned his eyes to the Trojan’s camp,
he was staggered by the number of fires burning
in front of the fortress of Ilios,
by the shrillness of the flutes and pipes,
and the tumult of people.”

Agamemnon imagines the worst case scenario, namely, that the Trojans could in a surprise night attack overwhelm him and his soldiers. In short, he could die that very night.

Maybe you have also been in this kind of life threatening situation? Or maybe you have felt an existential anguish when you turn your eyes to the pile of work on your desk, the bills you have to pay, contemplate the ravages of divorce, unemployment or too much employment, sickness and death?

In that case, copy Agamemnon, look the threat straight in the eye and consider the worst case scenario. Agamemnon shows us that’s okay to vent emotions like fear, despair, horror, even going so far as to pull our hair at the roots, though that may not improve our appearance.

Allowing ourselves to feel fear is uncomfortable but it will release adrenaline, a powerful source of energy, that enables the otherwise exhausted (you, I and) Agamemnon to figure out a plan and put it into action. If there is no consciously felt fear, there is no adrenaline, no energy, and no life saving action.

Having vented his emotions, his mind starts working. His mind is working, Agamemnon resists the immediate impulse and temptation to do the first think that comes into to mind (like flee on a ship) and decides, instead, to work out a detailed plan. He goes in search of the oldest and most experienced warrior in the camp, Nestor, to think up a “foolproof plan that just might ward off disaster”.

Foolproof, and likely even Trumpproof.

A smart move. The better the preparation, the greater our plan’s chance of success. Faced with a complicated problem, we also should take a deep breath and consult our inner Nestor or another wise and experienced person or source of advice to identify risks, potential problems and consider the many angles needed to overcome them and formulate an effective plan.

Determined to think out a good plan together with his trusted friend, Agamemnon throws on the glossy hide of a big tawny skin, takes up a spear and leaves his quarters. Before copying him and putting on a lion skin, dear readers, think twice, especially if you have to take the tube to work. But you can always put on a mental lion skin, or use any other item symbolizing courage.

Tiger Woods, for example, said he puts on a red shirt when he faces a particularly difficult round of golf, the red symbolizing for him fire, boldness and courage.

Outside, Agamemnon meets his younger brother, Menelaus, who is also unable to sleep for the very same reason and who is prowling around in a leopard’s skin.

Agamemnon and Menelaus talk honestly about the life threatening danger they are both in, allowing them to better process the frightening experience, and support eachother emotionally.

Strengthened and calmed by this communication, they move from easily from being passive sufferers of fate to active agents.

The lesson here, again, is the importance of talking to someone who can empathize and whom you trust about your situation. As Prince Harry said, talk is like medicine. If you have no one to talk to, talk to yourself. Talking, the act of verbalizing allows us to become conscious and aware of our situation and options and increases our mental flexibility.

Agamemnon and the other leaders start to get concrete about their plan. They decide to inspect the guards to make sure they have not fallen asleep, and also to get more information about their enemy by sending out a spy to the Trojan camp.

Checking the guards underscores the importance of paying attention to little details (details like remembering to bring our laptop recharger on a journey or getting an email address right). We might have a great plan, but we have to pay attention also to the tiny details that will allow our plan to be realized.

Sending out a spy to the enemy camp underscores the need for us to find out as much information as we can about the challenge facing us.

Agamemnon choses only his best and most experienced fighter, Diomedes, for the task after weighing all the choices. He shows empathy for Diomedes’ fear and allows him to pick a companion to go with him. Diomedes choses Odysseus.

The lesson here is that we have to be realistic about our limits and abilities, and cut ourselves some slack, when we are about to undertake a stressful task, meet a furious boss, spouse, etc, have to deal with an especially difficult task, and make sure we ask for, and get, the extra support we need whether it is something as simple as an extra cup of tea or something more complicated, like a better computer or work space.

Brave as Diomedes is, he is honest enough to admit to himself and to the other Greeks that he does not want to go to the Trojan camp alone and honest enough to ask for someone else to go with him and for help. He choses the person feels most comfortable and confident with, Odysseus.

The Greeks go over the upcoming mission until they feel confident they know what the risks they are going to encounter are and they are going to be in a position to handle them.

Before leaving the camp, Diomedes asks the goddess Athena for help, showing the importance of focusing on positive thoughts of success, and shutting out negative thoughts.

In this positive frame of mind, Diomedes and Odysseus sneak out across the strip of black land covered in corpses towards the enemy camp…

Meanwhile, the leader of the Trojans, Hector, has sent out a spy, too. But Hector, elated perhaps at his success in battle, lets down his guard. Hastily, without considering the consequences, he allows someone without pluck or nerve to carry out the mission, promising Dolon the legendary horses of Achilles and his chariot if he succeeds.

Hector illustrates the danger of acting too quickly in a stressful situation.

Lacking all capacity for introspection and circumspection, Dolon rushes out into the night only to be seen by Diomedes and Odysseus.

Dolon also illustrates the danger of impulsive action, of rushing at a problem without thinking things through.

Their fear in check, their minds working clearly, Odysseus and Diomedes lay a careful trap for Dolon and catch him.

Facing the threat of death, Dolon turns into a quivering sheet of terror. Thinking only of how he can save himself, Dolon betrays everything he knows aboutthe Trojan camp. Diomedes then kills Dolon with a swift blow, rehearsing the timeless truth that calculating cowardice never pays. That part of our inner pysches that will survive are Odysseus and Diomedes and not Dolon.

Armed with Dolon’s information, Diomedes and Odysseus are able to sneak into the Trojan camp, capture the best Trojan horses and chariots and return to the Greek camp.

Finally, Odysseus makes a sacrifice to Athena, underlining the importance of recognising the frailty of all human beings and their reliance on higher spiritual powers for help.

We’re going to finish with a short multiple choice quiz to see how much you have absorbed about Agamemnon and fear.

Question 1

If you were facing a camp full of heavily armed and angry Trojan warriors, who could attack you any moment while you are sleeping, would you

a) turn over in bed and go back to sleep
b) plug in your walkman and listen, resigned, to Wagner’s Valkyrie
c) get out of bed and look at the enemy camp and feel terror

Question 2

If you find yourself in a life threatening, terrifying situation, would you

a) do nothing, freeze, paralysed
b) do the first thing that comes to mind
c) resolve to work out a plan after acknowleding your emotions
Question 3

What might the benefits of talking honestly about your situation to a sympathetic person e?

a) none
b) some, but is worth the embarrassment of having to admit I am not totally self sufficient?
c) lots, show me that person

Question 4

Once you have worked out a plan to tackle a problem, should you just dash at it or

a) take time to think out the details
b) take time to consider the scenarios and chose the best tools
c) make sure you have the support you need

Question 5

If you were to meet an immediate setback and catch an enemy spy Dolon sneaking across to your camp at night, would you

a) run away in terror, imagining thousands of Trojans are following him
b) laugh at him for daring to think he can capture Achilles’ horses
c) sympathize with him

If you have answered all those questions correctly, you are now an honorary Greek warrior.

Mene, mene, tekel, Ivanka

April 26, 2017

Wearing an enchanting frock and looking every inch like a princess from the Kingdom of Sylvadia, Ivanka Trump had an unfortunate “Mene, Mene Tekel” moment in Berlin when an unruly and really, very badly behaved audience refused to pay the role of adoring subjects and (gasp!) booed and hissed her.

Tut, tut, Germans. Where is your sycophancy, sorry, I meant, propriety? Just where is your sense of propriety? Ihr seid doch alle hirnlose Heinis, oder?

Churlish tongues might say that, a  bit like King Balthasar drowning his woes in wine while his city was under siege, Ivanka Trump seems to have sought forgetfulness from her conflicts of interest and a possible FBI inditement, in the glare of the TV spotlight.

But as even as she revelled being seen beside some of the most powerful, some might say evil, women on the planet, Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde as well as charming Queen Maxima of The Netherlands, a banker, daughter of a minister in an Argentine Junta, which killed at least 30,000 political opponents,

and a confidante of Nat Rothschild at Davos,

Ivanka had a glimpse of the famous “writing on the wall.”

The moderator brought up Ivanka’s business interests, and her huge influence, presumably also on her father’s World War Three  warmongering plans, and the audience hissed and booed her. Now, in Sylvadia, anyone who irks the royal family is summarily sent to prison as happened under the Argentine junta when anyone who irked the generals was thrown out of a plane at a high altitude.

But you naughty Germans can make amends by buying lots of Ivanka’s lovely, rustic frocks. 


April 26, 2017

Donald Trump made a surprise request for the entire Senate to go the White House at 3 pm EST today for a briefing on North Korea amid growing fears the Trump administration plans to start a war to deflect from a probe into its ties with Russia and the deepening recession.

Trump could be trying to repeat the psy op that he used to launch a missile strike against Syria when he announced out of a blue over dinner with the Chnese president a couple of weeks ago that he had nearly started World War Three. Only, this time, unable to get the entire Senate to go to his private Florida club, Trump may have settled for the White House, his personal residence as president, to intimidate them.

Even Senate aides have speculated that Trump could be insisting on a briefing in the White House “to showcase an assertive president”.

Confusion is another part of an psy op and confusion surrounds the briefing.

“The state department appeared unaware on Monday that Tillerson would be delivering a briefing,” reported The Guardian.

Watch out for other elements of a psy op when the Senators arrive at the WH this afternoon.

For example, Donald Trump, a Vietnam War dodger, could take the salute in front of a military guard, appealing to revered traditions.

Trump and his advisors may seek to increase feelings of fear and intimidation by having the Senators met by large numbers of staff to make them feel vastly out numbered.

A display of US flags as well as statues of the Founding Fathers could be used to arouse feelings of deference before authority and tradition, and make Senators feel small, insignificant by comparison, as part of his pys op.

Watch out for TV cameras to make Senators feel public pressure to pretend Trump’s act as the patriotic president, defending the USA from a crazy North Korean dictator who could nuke American any minute, is serious.

Neocon hawk Senator John McCain could be given the spotlight, and footage of him smiling and shaking hands with Trump would increase pressure on the other Senators to behave in a similar, approving, deferential way.

The venue, the Eisenhower centre, may also also designed to appeal to tradition and historical continuity.

The briefing will be given by the secretaries of State, Defense, the chief of staff and the head of national intelligence, whom Trump obviously belives can all be relied on be on message and exaggerate the threat of North Korea while downplaying the risks of a military engagement, scaring the daylights out of the Senators.

Trump team could also make use of the well known pyschological mechanism of transference, projecting the unpredictable, disjointed, confusing, crazingess of Trump onto Kim Jong, whom even US media admit is an unknown quantity, something which does not stop them labelling him a crazy who wants to press the nuke buttom the second he can and wipe out the USA.

Transferrence would also allow the blame for the conflictto be transferred from Trump to Kim Jong.

The aim of the psy op seems to be to terrify Senators and then carrel them into giving interviews to the media such as the one John Kelly recently gave, when looking like he had seen the grim reaper, he told the media that Kim Jong posed a threat the minute he got hold of a nuke without offering a shred of evidence.

In my view, the Senators should  take their trip to the WH with a pinch of salt.


April 26, 2017

The Senate returned from its Easter recess yesterday and its Armed Services Committee questioned experts on North Korea, experts who gave a much more realistic picture of the risks than Trump and his administration has given so far. 


Also, a U.S. military strike on Pyongyang would pose huge risks for the U.S., South Korea and other allies in the region, and the outlook for regime change is grim even if economic incentives were offered.


At the same time, senators were told the U.S. needs to consider diplomacy as a solution to limit the North Korean threat but also must accelerate defensive options, including its regional missile defense systems with allies such as Japan and South Korea as well as the U.S. homeland itself. They indicated that more focus on defensive systems was a prudent strategy in case diplomacy fails with Pyongyang.

Yet the military option should remain on the table too, experts said. They said the U.S. could target missile launch facilities in North Korea or other key military installations but the possibility of eliminating all the nuclear locations is challenging at best.

“The nuclear targets themselves have become more numerous,” said Princeton’s Friedberg, who previously served as a deputy assistant for national security affairs in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. “North Koreans are starting to develop mobile ballistic missiles. The problem with pre-empting or attacking in a preventative way and destroying the North Korean nuclear capabilities is only getting worse.”

That said, experts also testified there’s a very high risk with U.S. military action against North Korea because it could result in the Pyongyang regime launching a retaliatory strike with conventional weapons against South Korea and Japan as well as lead to Chinese military intervention on the Korean Peninsula.

“We should not kid ourselves here,” said Magsamen. “A conflict on the peninsula would be unlike anything we have seen in decades. North Korea is not a Syria. It’s not an Iraq. The consequences could be extremely high.”


April 25, 2017

Newsweek, a neocon magazine, has a sobering analysis of the toll of  a second Korean War if Trump manages to start one as a diversion from an FBI probe into his Russian ties and from his historically low approval ratings.

Newsweek estimates there could be at least one million dead even if nuclear warheads are not used (false flags?) and even if the conflict does not trigger a wider, military confrontation with China and Russia.

If nuclear missiles are used and World War Three starts, we are talking about an horrific scenario.

To think Trump has turned down a reasonable offer from China to stop North Korea developing nuclear missiles in return for a stop to US South Korean military exercises.

I’m sorry to say, but Trump and his advisors really are dangerous, deluded maniacs. The mainstream media are depicting Kim Jong as crazy. But that looks like typical war propagand. It’s implausible that Kim Jong, who has been so ruthless and determined in trying to cling onto power and enjoy the good things of life,  is going to start a chain of events which he knows will lead to his destruction. The idea that Kim Jong is going to fire a nuclear missile at the USA, the moment he gets one, knowing he will end up nuclear dust one minute later is implausible.

The question is now if the Pentagon, Senate or Congress can stop him on time.

“U.S. war planners believe North Korean forces would to try to overrun South Korea’s defenses and get to Seoul before the U.S. and the South could respond with overwhelming force. As Cha says, “as wars go, this would be the most unforgiving battle conditions that can be imagined—an extremely high density of enemy and allied forces—over 2 million mechanized forces all converging on a total battlespace the equivalent of the distance between Washington, D.C., and Boston.’’ The United States would immediately dispatch four to six ground combat divisions of up to 20,000 troops each, 10 Air Force wings of about 20 fighters per unit and four to five aircraft carriers. In Cha’s scenario, U.S. and South Korean “soldiers would be fighting with little defense against DPRK artillery, aerial bombardments, and in an urban warfare environment polluted by 5,000 metric tons of DPRK chemical agents.”

Even if that artillery barrage and push into the South gave the North the initiative, there is no question, military planners all say, who would ultimately prevail in a second Korean War. The U.S. and South Korea have far too much firepower, and if Kim Jong Un decided to go to war, that would be end of his regime, whether he knows it or not.

But this would not be a one-week walkover, like the first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, when his forces were arrayed like clay pigeons in the Iraqi and Kuwaiti deserts, where they were easily destroyed by U.S. air power. Conventional thinking in the Pentagon is that it would be a four- to six-month conflict with high-intensity combat and many dead. In 1994, when President Bill Clinton contemplated the use of force to knock out the North’s nuclear weapons program, the then commander of U.S.-Republic of Korea forces, Gary Luck, told his commander in chief that a war on the peninsula would likely result in 1 million dead, and nearly $1 trillion of economic damage.

The carnage would conceivably be worse now, given that the U.S. believes Pyongyang has 10 to 16 nuclear weapons. If the North could figure out a way to deliver one, why wouldn’t Kim go all in?”

Trump starts to use royal “we” as pushes world to bring of war. New persona resembles quixotic Tintin comic book character

April 25, 2017

Trump has started using the royal “we”, fuelling confusion as to whether he plans to become a king or a dictator following the ongoing “deconstruction” of US institutions and administration.

Trump’s royal ambitions became evident when he demanded a gold plated carriage to ride through humble London during his visit in autumn.

The way he summoned the entire Senate to the White House tomorrow to hear a briefing on North Korea also resembles the use of a royal prerogative.

Overleaping the act of coronation altogether, Trump has now even started talking about himself using the majestic plural, the “we”, used by monarchs like Queen Victoria (“We are not amused”).

‘Now, does everybody like Nikki? Because if you don’t – otherwise, she can easily be replaced,’ Trump told a UN delegation as Haley sat beside him.

‘No, we won’t do that, I promise. We won’t do that,’ Trump said, signalling his new  perception of kingly power by using the majestic plural.

Mind you, the “we” could also be referring to Trump’s increasingly split identities.

Interestingly, Trump’s spokesperson Haley herself used the majestic “we” when she said Trump had dismissed (out of hand without consulting Congress, Senate, the Pentagon or his party base) a very reasonable Chinese proposal that would call for an end to joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises in exchange for Pyongyang’s pledge to stop developing its nuclear missile program.

“We are not going to do that,” she said.

Anyway, if Trump is nurturing royal ambitions, the question is what kind of Kingdom does Trump want to rule over? What might America look like ten years from now under a King Trump?

My suspicion Trump is modelling his new kingdom on Syldavia, a Balkan kingdom featured in Tintin comic books.

After a nuclear war, America could well find itself  thrown back several hundred years and a rural, backward Balkan kingdom might be all it could hope to resemble as Trump may well realize.

Recall, Trump’s supporters claim he is a genius playing multi dimensional quantum chess when he launched a missile strike against Syria over chocolate cake with the Chinese Prez from his country club.

Plans to transform an America turned into a nuclear wasteland by his reckless actions into a pretty, rural Balkan kingdom further down the line might be just such a 24 D chess move.

After all, Trump’s Hungarian aide Dr Sebastian Gorka sports a hussar’s uniform and pointed beard exactly like that of courtiers depicted in Syldavia. His daughter Ivanka also has a typically Syldavian fashion style and her name is Slavic, the root language of Syldavian.

These fashion preferences of his entourage could be clues that Trump is be harbouring a secret hankering to be a new King Muskar XII when the few Americans surviving any nuclear world war start the work of rebuilding.

Trump’s increasing unintelligibility to American reporters could also be due to the fact he has started using Syldavian, his new kingdom’s language.

In an interview Trump gave to AP on Friday, the transcript frequently marked Trump as “unintelligible.”

Trump Gen. (Jim) Mattis (the defense secretary) said, “I’ve never seen anything like this,” because he had to sign the ultimate (unintelligible) … He had to sign the ultimate, you know. He said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before, as long as I’ve been in the military.” You know, that kind of cutting.

AP: Right.

TRUMP: Now, if I can do that (unintelligible) … As an example, the aircraft carriers, billions of dollars, the Gerald Ford, billions and billions over budget. That won’t happen.

AP: Is that something you’re going to take on?

TRUMP: (unintelligible) But as we order the other ones, because they want to order 12, the other ones are going to come in much less expensive. …


AP: Can I ask you, over your first 100 days — you’re not quite there yet — how do you feel like the office has changed you?

TRUMP: Well the one thing I would say — and I say this to people — I never realized how big it was. Everything’s so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive. I was talking to —

AP: You mean the responsibility of it, or do you mean —

TRUMP: Number One, there’s great responsibility. When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I’m saying to myself, “You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that’s involved,” because people could have been killed. This is risk that’s involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet …. every decision is much harder than you’d normally make. (unintelligible) … This is involving death and life and so many things. … So it’s far more responsibility. (unintelligible)

Now, mockers have claimed that Trump’s unintelligibility was due to his increasing derangement. But much more likely is that he is so advanced in learning Syldavian, that, like many bilingual adults, he uses words from the two languages interchangeably.

Since Syldavian “looks and sounds Slavic,” his Czech ex wife, Slovenia wife and daughter Ivanka may have been able to help him reach proficiency very quickly.

When Trump did use English during the AP interview, he also made use of typically, picturesque Syldavian vocabulary like “hamlet”. Who in America nowadays uses the word “hamlet”? Trump’s use of hamlet strongly hints at a foreign lexical influence.

Detractors have also claimed that Trump could not remember how many missiles he fired at Syria nearly causing WW3 with Russia because he said 79 missiles instead of 59. Yet, anyone who knows Syldavian will instantly understand the real reason for the confusion.

In Syldavian fifty nine sounds like this “Seventsi Znaim.”

Seventy nine sounds lie “Vivftsi Znaim.”