Report: Military Spent Over $10 Million on ‘Paid Patriotism’

You know when you go to a baseball game and invariably during some inning break the team points out a group of soldiers or national guard members in the stands and tries to get a big round of applause going? That doesn’t just happen.

A new report from Sens. John McCain (R – AZ) and Jeff Flake (R – AZ) revealed that the Pentagon has spent over $10 million in recent years to keep those “shows of patriotism” active across sporting events.

Whether it’s paying for special VIP parking for generals or for some team to show the military’s logo on their jumbotron, these programs are overwhelmingly pay-to-play sponsorship schemes. If 20 members of the military are getting the “Richard Petty ride-along experience,” it comes as part of a $1.5 million annual expenditure.

Interestingly, Congressional leaders seem to be of two minds about this heavily subsidized pretense of a pro-military environment, insisting it is a waste of money but largely expecting the teams to continue the programs irrespective of whether they pay for them.

That’s probably not going to be realistic, particularly in the long run, and while it’s certainly a waste of taxpayer money to have the National Guard buying a block of Red Sox tickets, Congress may be about to learn that in the absence of “paid patriotism” there’s going to be a lot less VIP treatment coming the military’s way.

Turkey’s Erdogan Blames ISIS, PKK, YPG, and Syrian Spies for Ankara Attack

In the least probably theory of all time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed that the bombing of a peace rally in the capital city of Ankara earlier this month was coordinated by a “terror collective” that includes materially everyone in the region that Turkey isn’t on good terms with.

So even though there are several active wars between these factions, Erdogan named the four culprit factions as Syria’s government intelligence services, ISIS, the PKK, and the Kurdish PYD, the political wing of the YPG.

The claim doesn’t make sense even a little, and is doubly odd when one considers that Erdogan’s government also claims the peace rally’s organizers, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), is itself secretly part of the PKK, and claims that the PYD is also part of the PKK, which would mean the organizers of the rally and two of the four parties involved in attacking the rally were all the same organization for no reason.

The HDP has accused factions in Erdogan’s party of being behind the attack, noting there were similar attacks on their rallies in the lead-up to the last election. There’s no evidence of that either, but given the lack of patently absurd conspiracies it is still the more reasonable of the two narratives out there.

US Falsely Claims Iran Missile Test a ‘Violation’ of UN Resolution

Just a day after Iran’s Guardian Council approved the P5+1 nuclear deal, the US is already showing extremely bad faith, with Ambassador Samantha Power claiming Iran had violated a UN resolution with a recent missile test.

The resolution in question is 1929, which was itself created in response to the already resolved nuclear issue. The resolution forbids Iran from developing ballistic missiles for delivering nuclear warheads.

The US is falsely treating this as a ban on all ballistic missile improvements, even though the missile Iran tested is simply an improved version of the Shahab-3 missile, with better accuracy, and is not designed for nuclear arms.

1929 is a part of a set of sanctions and bans that was already clearly on the way out after the ratification of the P5+1 nuclear deal, and clearly wasn’t intended to forbid Iran from making improvements to its own conventional military arsenal in the first place. The US allegation, then, is doubly problematic, and a bad first sign on how the US is going to treat the post-deal situation.

Brzezinski Urges US to ‘Retaliate’ Against Russian Forces in Syria

In a newly published op-ed for the Financial Times, former official in the Johnson and Carter Administrations Zbigniew Brzezinski urged that US to use “strategic boldness” in confronting Russia, potentially militarily, over their involvement in Syria.

Brzezinski presented Russian airstrikes against Syrian rebel factions as at best a display of “Russian military incompetence” and at worst a “dangerous desire to highlight American political impotence,” saying America’s credibility is at stake from allowing Russia to strike the rebels the US previously armed, terming them “American assets.”

He called for the US to openly demand Russia unconditionally halt all such moves, saying Russian warplanes in Syria are “vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland” and could be “disarmed” by force if the Russians don’t comply with US demands.

Perhaps most bizarrely, Brzezinski closes with talk of calling for Russia to coordinate with the US in the war against ISIS, even though Russia has been openly offering this for weeks over US objections. He further suggests coaxing China into joining the war against ISIS as well, saying China would likely be interested in “increasing its own regional influence.”

Ultimately, the long-time policy adviser’s position seems, like so many of his recent missives, to center around deliberately antagonizing Russia. He advocates taking enormous risks of a large military confrontation with Russia, and his end-game goal is something Russia is already offering at any rate, and which the Obama Administration keeps spurning.

Urdu Speakers at Border Spun as ISIS Infiltration Through Mexico

Formally linking the border control operation along the US-Mexican border with the global US war on terror is a long-standing goal of a lot of hawks, and it doesn’t take much of a comment out of an official for people to start trying to make connections.

Today’s effort comes from the Washington Times, where comments from a Texas Department of Public Safety official about the need to debrief Urdu speakers in relation to border security matters. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, and is also spoken in parts of India.

Which immediately became “Islamic State terrorists” trying to infiltrate through Mexico, even though ISIS has never been reported to have much of a presence in Pakistan or India, and the fact that someone speaks Urdu is far from indicative of an ISIS connection.

Still, that doesn’t stop hype about America being open to “jihadist attack” from Mexico, and the Department of Public Safety is cited, way at the end of the article, conceding that there is “no credible evidence” of anyone from ISIS coming into Texas from Mexico. That, however, wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting of a headline.

Norway’s ‘Doomsday Seed Vault’ Gets Its First Withdrawal Because of Syrian Civil War

On the sparsely populated Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Circle, there is a giant “doomsday” seed vault, which houses samples of the seeds of crops from gene banks around the world. The theory behind this plan was that some huge cataclysm might wipe out some important types of plants and the frozen vault would serve as a last-chance place for humanity to recover some of those seeds.

It was opened back in 2008, and it’s already had its first withdrawal.

The cause was the Syrian Civil War, and in particular the years of fighting over Syria’s former financial and industrial capital of Aleppo. Among the many things that were located in Aleppo was the International Center for Agricultural Research in The Dry Areas (ICARDA), which had been the primary gene bank for a lot of seeds that can grow in dry climates like Syria.

Luckily, the group had deposited copies of the seeds at the doomsday vault, and having had to relocate from the rubble that used to be Aleppo to Lebanon, they’re withdrawing those seeds, to replace all the ones that got destroyed in Aleppo. The plan is to make copies of those seeds and send those back to the vault, in case Northern Lebanon isn’t as safe as it seems right now.