Sunday, November 22, 2015

How Wasteful is the US DoD?, How Groundbreaking is the JSF?, and More

It's clear that I've been doing some digging of late with regards to US DoD and Intelligence spending. What's obvious is that large chunks of it are extremely wasteful but other parts are very underfunded which gives a very bad overall look to it. Some ex-defense/intelligence officials have stated that if they could run things more efficiently they could probably halve their spending and still get the same level of efficacy from their services. The main problems appear to be purchasing equipment that they don't need, repetition of programs/work, inadequate ovesight and corruption, lack of project management (whether in the defense or intelligence sector things seem to be caught very late in the game), high costs of ownership and/or research and development, overly ambitious programs, etc...

The following is a random sample of some of the US DoD's modern programs with some very rudimentary research regarding their status. Next to them is an indicator of whether they are likely on or off budget as well as status (in brackets)

- Bell V-22 Osprey Program (OVER BUT IN)
- Boeing Comanche (OVER AND CANCELLED)
- Ford Class Aircraft Carriers (OVER BUT IN)
- Apache Helicopter (OVER BUT IN)
- Seawolf class submarine (NOT ENOUGH INFO, LIKELY OVER)
- Virginia class submarine (UNDER COST AND IN)
- Zumwalt Class Destroyer (OVER)
- B-1/XB-70 (OVER)
- Arleigh Burke Class (NOT ENOUGH INFO, LIKELY ON)

The other thing we should factor in is that even though the US may enjoy a qualitative (and quantitative) edge it's clear that they have security issues possibly owing to the size of some of their programs and some very odd issues which have cropped up in the security of some of their equipment. For instance, it's speculated that some of their drones may have been jammed/hacked...

What's muddying things further is that like other bureaucracies worldwide they also seem to be getting creative with regards to accounting. It's very difficult to get a good idea of what things are like when they're trying to cover things up the way things are rather than how they're likely to be. If you're shifting money to make things look like things are working out okay you know that a program is in trouble. We could put some of this this down to 'Black Ops' but if what you see on the open is true it's likely that what you see behind the veil is also true... which means that the guesstimate by some ex-defense/intelligence staff that you see in the media makes sense (of halving the budget but maintaining the same capability)

As I've said previously a lot of what seems to be said in the marketing and advertising about the F-35 just seems rediculous. Moreover, if you know a bit or do a bit of research a lot of the new capabilities that the JSF is going to have (or is likely going to have) have already been trailed by the US and other defense forces around the globe. Seeing as though the program has been stripped back to meet a deadline I'm of the opinion that I'll believe it when I see it (there's just way too much spin doctoring at the moment for me to honestly believe that things are 'on track' in spite of what they say).  As for a break down of what I'm talking about let's take a look at some of the JSF's much vaunted capabilities...
- as I've said previously does anyone notice something vaguely familiar between the Yak-141 and the F-35? Apparently, after economic issues in the USSR they decided to cut their losses with regards to this program. Lockheed Martin engaged in joint research and also experimented with technology that was possibly later used in the F-35 and F-22 (thrust vectoring, lift off system (the Yak-141 has a different style of of system to achieve SVTOL but similar. They gave up on a dual engine configuration because of instability during takee off and landing. They also had experimented with different engine layouts and materials such as composites, flat nozzles, etc...). What is it that they say? Good artists create, great artists steal? (not having a go at the US just the marketing/hype is just so frustrating. Russia/China also just as guilty with regards to 'industrial espionage') Japan's F-2 (ground breaking AESA RADAR and work with composites) along with the Russia's Yak-141 probably gave the US the core of the F-22 and F-35 progams
- extended supercruise cababilities have been around for more than half a century
- LPI capabilities been around for quite a while. While they may have been crude they've existed
- it has been said that that helmet mounted targeting and cueing and HOBS is revolutionary but has been present for decades (though likely in a less advanced form)
- sensor fusion available in 4.5 gen fighters for a while now though in less advanced form. Likely to be upgraded in future
Sensor Fusion
- ceramic heat signature reduction experimentation on nozzles (look carefully at some of the pictures online. It's clear that the Russians have at least played around with this stuff before decades ago and other countries are likely the same...)
- sometimes I just wonder what the point of the JSF is? If the B/2LRS-B can penetrate unseen into enemy defenses and the JSF's EW capabilities are too weak that they require an escort (in the form of Growlers) the value for money aspect of the JSF goes out the window. What really peturbs me is this. One moment (sometimes the same person in the same conversation) they say the JSF is self-escorting. The next minute they say they have to travel with EW aircraft. If that's the case why don't you just run the LRS-B with Growlers... or just upgrade/increase the number of F-22's in the fleet (unless they also have serious running problems?)
Buying Growlers instead of Lightnings
- stealth has definitely been around for a long time with experiments being developed by many nations prior to the US. The one thing I will give the F-22/F-35 programs are that they represent a jump in capabilities. How much of a jump is yet to be determined. I'd like to say I could make a recommendation of countries who are able to make a genuine attempt at this at an economical cost but it doesn't seem possible. Every single country that has attempted to gain 5th Gen capabilities has basically ended up in cost overruns. They're so expensive that you're struggling to cover all of your own airspace. The best choice for construction would likely be a joint venture in a high/low configuration. Namely, one group does the research/design (or has a advantage here) while others supply cheap labour and materials... Ironically, many of the decent/obvious options here have already been taken, India/Russia, US/Allies, etc... (China is one of the obvious one's out but they've probably gained a huge leg up with regards to industrial espionage of US technology)
Stealth Fighter - Hitler's Secret Weapons Recreated | Greatest Mysteries of World War II | 720p
Inside the Stealth B2 Bomber - Military Documentary
Symposium: Integrating Innovative Airpower 
- at the moment it's clear that other defense manufacturers can smell, "blood in the water". Moreover, there are too many SLEP, review programs at the moment to honestly say that out and out that the JSF is out of the woods with regards to research and development. Auditing and other reporting is being covered up through media hype (truth is in audit reports while 'spin' is healthy in media). Creative accouting possibly being used. Like I said, I'll believe it when I see it... As far as I'm concerned concurrency is basically disguising development and the true cost of the program (a lot of the cost savings that they're finding with regards to lubricants, different coatings, etc... they should have found earlier). If they had of been kept separate somewhat we would have a better understanding of what the true cost of development and production will ultimately be...
Why is the UK treating the F-35 like a 2nd tier Fighter?

- RAM upgrade on a Macbook Unibody

- diagnostic boot command options on statup for Mac OS X
Startup key combinations for Mac

- accessing HFS filesystems from Linux and Windows

- creating DMG files and bootable USB flash drives

- hard drive upgrades on a from Macbook Unibody

- Verbatim seem to use standard SATA based drives (not soldered USB PCB options) in their enclosures. A good option if you can find a good deal. Reputation of some of their internal drives seems a little dodgy though...

- The V-22's development process has been long and controversial, partly due to its large cost increases,[51] some of which are caused by the requirement to fold wing and rotors to fit aboard ships.[52] The development budget was first planned for $2.5 billion in 1986, which increased to a projected $30 billion in 1988.[33] By 2008, $27 billion had been spent on the program and another $27.2 billion was required to complete planned production numbers.[26] Between 2008 and 2011, the estimated lifetime cost for maintaining the V-22 grew by 61 percent, mostly allocated to maintenance and support.[53]

    Its [The V-22's] production costs are considerably greater than for helicopters with equivalent capability—specifically, about twice as great as for the CH-53E, which has a greater payload and an ability to carry heavy equipment the V-22 cannot... an Osprey unit would cost around $60 million to produce, and $35 million for the helicopter equivalent.
    — Michael E. O'Hanlon, 2002.[54]
- The V-22 Osprey program has become the largest scandal in US military history.  Stubborn Marine Corps Generals refuse to admit that dedication and political influence cannot overcome the laws of physics which have proven the complex tilt-rotor design flawed and ultra-expensive.  Details can be found in the seven previous G2mil articles about the V-22, which reveal blatant lies about the V-22's performance.  This article will cover the V-22's soaring cost, $96.2 million for each MV-22 this year, while the FY2005 defense budget request boosts the price 19% to $114.8 million per aircraft. The US Air Force requests three similar CV-22s in FY2005 for $443.0 million; or a unit cost of $147.7 million each.  If the $395.4 million requested in FY2005 for V-22 research, development, evaluation and testing is included in this buy of 11 V-22s, the total cost of each V-22 is $159.7 million.

     The US Army has lost 41 helicopters over Iraq and Afghanistan this past year, with another 24 so badly damaged they are likely to be scrapped.  This is proof that employing ultra-expensive V-22s over combat zones is unwise, especially since they are larger than any helicopter in the US inventory. The V-22 weighs twice as much and costs four times more than helicopters with comparable abilities.  For example, the Navy's FY2005 budget requests 15 MH-60S helicopters for $400.8 million; or a unit cost of $26.7 million each. This helo weighs one-third as much as the V-22, but can pick up nearly the same payload. It has room for 13 combat equipped Marines, compared to 18 for the V-22.  If Congress canceled the V-22 and diverted its $1756.5 million FY2005 request to buy MH-60Ss, this could provide 67 modern helicopters for the Corps, which can also carry machine guns, rockets, and Hellfire missiles, unlike the V-22.
- A day before the offer's expiration, both Lockheed Martin and Austal USA received Navy contracts for an additional ten ships of their designs; two ships of each design being built each year between 2011 and 2015. Lockheed Martin's LCS-5 had a contractual price of $437 million, Austal USA's contractual price for LCS-6 was $432 million. On 29 December 2010, Department of Navy Undersecretary Sean Stackley noted that the program was well within the Congressional cost cap of $480 million per ship. The average per-ship target price for Lockheed ships is $362 million, Stackley said, with a goal of $352 million for each Austal USA ships. Government-furnished equipment (GFE), such as weapons, add about $25 million per ship; another $20 million for change orders, and "management reserve" is also included. Stackley declared the average cost to buy an LCS should be between $430 million and $440 million.[103] In the fiscal year 2011, the unit cost was $1.8 billion and the program cost $3.7 billion.[104]
- Requiring 1,000 fewer crew members and 30 per cent less maintenance over its 50-year lifespan, the Ford is said to let the US Navy save $4 billion.

While the Navy praises this as another significant advantage, critics say, the cost of building the ship has already skyrocketed.  With the carrier now 70 per cent complete, construction costs are about 22 per cent over the over the scheduled budget. 

The high price still will not guarantee that after it is commissioned in 2016 the carrier will not face “significant reliability shortfalls”, as the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said in September.

This may limit the ship's mission effectiveness and increase the government’s costs even more.
- “No one on this planet knows what inflation will be in, say, just six months time, but the Department of Defense seems to think they do,” said renowned military expert Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project, started in 2005. “The Pentagon plays this game all the time. It’s a typical example of how they manipulate long-term projections to make programs go down smoother.”
- Members of Congress have repeatedly criticized the inflated costs, and in 2012 lawmakers essentially reset the program’s budget and made Lockheed responsible for future cost increases. But that still leaves a hefty cost for the Pentagon, which will continue paying for its share of expenses well into the second half of this century. Yet in its 2013 F-35 report, the Pentagon claims the project has come in within budget and that costs have been reduced -- by $15.1 billion in today’s economy, or $89.5 billion, according to its 2065 projections.

However, the 97-page report doesn’t mention that the annual savings for the years 2012 to 2013 are both based on projections through 2065, the end of the program’s life. Analysts often project future costs over the short term, and often they’re wrong  -- Wall Street analysts, for example, regularly miss month-to-month projections for jobs reports. Projections for the next fifty years would have to involve an unusual degree of speculation and a wide margin for error.
-In a 2014 article in Foreign Policy, Lewis recalled the history of dirty bombs. How Russia tinkered with the radiological weapons during the 1950s. And how, during the darkest days of the Korean War, with Chinese and North Korean troops threatening to overrun American forces, U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur proposed “sowing a band of radioactive cesium across Manchuria as a kind of ‘cordon sanitaire’ against the Chinese advance.”
- First off, this has nothing to do with the F-22, F-35, B-2 or anything else the US is currently flying. It will not make them obsolete, because this isn't a detection tech. The UHF frequencies aren't a particularly effective counter either, because the installations have to be really large just to be able to resolve something the size of an aircraft. You can't just run the noise through a statistical model to pop out a Raptor. Even if you could get some kind of signal, you wouldn't be able to tell if there was one or twenty. UHF has poor angular resolution due to the wavelength.

Second, even if you could detect a stealth aircraft from the ground, you still need a way to guide aircraft or missiles to it. Combat tests have shown that pilots that can *see* an F-22 can't lock their fighter on to it. Since UHF sets have to be large to have sufficient resolution, you can't fit one into a fighter, never mind a missile. Indeed, UHF antennas aren't even road-mobile. They're fixed installations right now.

Third, coatings are actually the LEAST important part of a stealth aircraft. First is shaping, second is how it flies. Third is substructure. Fourth is coatings. And the coatings in use are already broadband-absorbing, including being fairly effective against UHF. Yet that's insufficient for complete invisibility because the shaping is optimized for high band.

Now, having said all that, is this a big advance? Maybe. It depends not just on the tunability (which appears to be fantastic) but how much of the spectrum it can absorb at a given time. Passive coatings will absorb all high band frequencies at the same time. You need to do that because a modern AESA emitter is broadcasting (randomly) over a very wide range of frequencies. You have to block all of those simultaneously, otherwise you're going to get pinged the next time the emitter cycles to a frequency you aren't currently blocking. Which is going to happen multiple times a second.
- A speaker at the recent ASPI submarine conference made the observation that ‘no system was too beautiful’ for the Seawolfs. In other words, pursuit of the highest level of performance was given priority above any thought of economical production. The result was inevitable; the Seawolf entered into an F-22-like ‘death spiral’ of higher projected unit costs and lower projected build numbers. In the end only three were built, versus 29 planned, as the 1991 cost estimate was close to US$5 billion per boat in today’s dollars.
- In 2005, it was estimated to cost at least $8 billion excluding the $5 billion spent on research and development (though that was not expected to be representative of the cost of future members of the class).[13] A 2009 report said that Ford would cost $14 billion including research and development, and the actual cost of the carrier itself would be $9 billion.[52] The life-cycle cost per operating day of a carrier strike group (including aircraft) was estimated at $6.5 million in 2013 published by the Center for New American Security.[53]
- Lawmakers and others have questioned whether the Zumwalt-class costs too much and whether it provides the capabilities the U.S. military needs. In 2005 the Congressional Budget Office estimated the acquisition cost of a DD(X) at $3.8–4.0bn in 2007 dollars, $1.1bn more than the navy's estimate.[76]

The National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2007 (Report of the Committee On Armed Services House of Representatives On H.R. 5122 Together With Additional And Dissenting Views) stated the following: "The committee understands there is no prospect of being able to design and build the two lead ships for the $6.6 billion budgeted. The committee is concerned that the navy is attempting to insert too much capability into a single platform. As a result, the DD(X) is now expected to displace over 14,000 tons and by the navy's estimate, cost almost $3.3 billion each. Originally, the navy proposed building 32 next generation destroyers, reduced that to 24, then finally to 7 in order to make the program affordable. In such small numbers, the committee struggles to see how the original requirements for the next generation destroyer, for example providing naval surface fire support, can be met."[citation needed]
- In February 2011, the USAF reduced its planned purchase of RQ-4 Block 40 aircraft from 22 to 11 in order to cut costs.[19] In June 2011, the U.S. Defense Department's Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) found the RQ-4B "not operationally effective" due to reliability issues.[20] In June 2011, the Global Hawk was certified by the Secretary of Defense as critical to national security following a breach of the Nunn-McCurdy Amendment; the Secretary stated: "The Global Hawk is essential to national security; there are no alternatives to Global Hawk which provide acceptable capability at less cost; Global Hawk costs $220M less per year than the U-2 to operate on a comparable mission; the U-2 cannot simultaneously carry the same sensors as the Global Hawk; and if funding must be reduced, Global Hawk has a higher priority over other programs."[21]

On 26 January 2012, the Pentagon announced plans to end Global Hawk Block 30 procurement as the type was found to be more expensive to operate and with less capable sensors than the existing U-2.[22][23] Plans to increase procurement of the Block 40 variant were also announced.[24][25] The Air Force's fiscal year 2013 budget request said it had resolved to divest itself of the Block 30 variant, however, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 mandated operations of the Block 30 fleet through the end of 2014.[26] The USAF plans to procure 45 RQ-4B Global Hawks as of 2013.[1] Just before his release from ACC, Hostage said of the U-2's replacement by the drone that "The combatant commanders are going to suffer for eight years and the best they’re going to get is 90 percent".[27]

From 2010-2013, costs of flying the RQ-4 fell by more than 50%. In 2010, the cost per flight hour was $40,600, with contractor logistic support making up $25,000 per flight hour of this figure. By mid-2013, cost per flight hour dropped to $18,900, contractor logistic support having dropped to $11,000 per flight hour. This was in part due to higher usage, spreading logistics and support costs over a higher number of flight hours.[28]
- Iran’s story about the electronic ambush of America’s sophisticated drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, is that their experts used their technology savvy to trick the drone into landing where the drone thought was its actual base in Afghanistan but instead they made it land in Iran. They used reverse engineering techniques that they had developed after exploring less sophisticated American drones captured or shot down in recent years. They were able to figure how to exploit a navigational weakness in the drone’s system. "The GPS navigation is the weakest point," the Iranian engineer told the newspaper.

Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off the communications link by jamming on the communications. The engineer said that they forced the drone into autopilot. That state is where “the bird loses its brain." The Iranians reconfigured the drone's GPS coordinates and they used precise latitudinal and longitudinal data to force the drone to land on its own. In doing so the Iranian team did not have to bother about cracking remote control signals and communications from a control center in the U.S., and the RQ170 suffered only minimal damage, according to the report.

Adding strength and credibility to that story were military experts saying that even a combat-grade GPS system is vulnerable to manipulation. According to a GPS expert at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, Richard Langley, it’s theoretically possible to take control of a drone by jamming.
- Top US officials said in 2009 that they were working to encrypt all drone data streams in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – after finding militant laptops loaded with days' worth of data in Iraq – and acknowledged that they were "subject to listening and exploitation."

Perhaps as easily exploited are the GPS navigational systems upon which so much of the modern military depends.
- With privacy and state snooping politically sensitive issues in Germany, the BND was already the focus of a parliamentary inquiry in Berlin into the extent of its surveillance and its targeting guidelines. It was reported in May that, despite Mrs. Merkel’s anger, the agency was aware of and cooperated with the National Security Administration’s surveillance program based out of Germany.

If true, the scope of Germany’s spying program seems to be more closely aligned with U.S. intelligence programs than previously stated.

Separately, citing Germany’s far-reaching data protection laws, U.S. software giant Microsoft announced plans Wednesday to build data centers in the country in an attempt to shield customers from U.S. surveillance.

The tech giant said it will provide cloud services, including Azure and Office 365, from facilities in Magdeburg and Frankfurt.
- “He has to travel around the entire country for field guidance, so there always needs to be a personal restroom exclusively for the Suryeong [Supreme Leader] Kim Jong-un,” the source said. “It is unthinkable in a Suryeong-based society for him to have to use a public restroom just because he travels around the country.”
- "China makes it a practice to not get extended into military conflicts in the Middle East," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said at the White House press briefing on Thursday. "Their policy over years, if not decades, is to not be overextended in military exercises."

This echoes what foreign-policy experts have said about the likelihood of Chinese involvement in Syria.

"This is very far from China's fight," Bremmer told Business Insider earlier this week. "They don't want responsibility for it, there's no potential diplomatic or security win for Beijing."
- But Kuwait is fighting back. Volunteer organisation Kuwait Oasis is working to plant 315,000 trees along the country's borders by 2019 to hold back the moving sands.

A similar initiative in Mongolia's Kubuqi Desert reduced sandstorms from 80 a year to fewer than five. Both use Waterboxx plant incubators from Dutch startup Groasis Technologies. These collect water from the air at night via condensation and prevent its evaporation during the day, so each tree consumes 35 times less water than with standard irrigation.
- “If you listen to what the IRGC says they’re doing, they say they’re assisting the Syrian military and the [National Defense Forces militias] at various different levels in how to run hardware, to use artillery, to do tactics and logistics—everything from the tactical to the strategic,” says Afshon Ostovar, an Iran expert at the Center for Naval Analyses, a federally funded research and development center.

“It doesn’t make sense for [Quds Force] to be able to advise on everything,” says Ostovar. “You’re going to need various skills brought to bear and it doesn’t make sense to just bring your special forces Quds Force guys, who are trained in language, tradecraft and bomb-making, to teach a guy how to use a howitzer or how to integrate armor with infantry tactics.”
- Should it be selected, the F-35 will replace Denmark's aging F-16 aircraft with an affordable, sustainable, and highly capable fifth-generation aircraft. The F-35 program includes partners from nine countries – Australia, Italy, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States – as well as three foreign military sales customers – Israel, Japan, and South Korea

Multicut A/S has a modern factory delivering complex machined parts and subassemblies. It uses state-of-the-art production equipment in its lean manufacturing facility – including 9-axis mill-turn machine tools, as well as 5-axis vertical and 4-axis horizontal computer numerical controlled machines networked with robotic material handling systems.
Source: Pratt & Whitney
- True, Syria is not Vietnam. In fact, it could end up being much worse, not least because instead of two broadly definable camps with (relatively) defined strategic and tactical objectives, Syria's war involves dozens of local and regional actors with shifting allegiances and often unidentifiable strategies. As a result, Syria makes the three-dimensional chess played by superpowers back then look quaint.
- Congressmen in Brazil, one of the most violent countries in the world, are proposing to dramatically loosen restrictions on personal gun ownership, bringing the country much closer to the American right to bear arms.

The politicians say the measures are necessary to allow embattled citizens the right to defend themselves from criminals armed with illegal weapons. But opponents say the move will only increase the country’s toll of nearly 60,000 murders in 2014.
- Truth be told, no one knows how to deal with ISIS. Not Washington, not Paris and not Moscow. There isn’t a rulebook — but there is certainly a list of tried and tested failures that can inform our decision making. What is also clear is that this threat does demand solidarity among nations who should be able to put their minor differences aside to face a common threat.
- Syria, though, remains the potent drawcard for those trying to radicalise citizens from France or elsewhere. Combined with social media, the propaganda has been much more effective than during other conflicts.

For instance, during 2001-2012, only about 60-70 French citizens were known to have journeyed to fight in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the official said.

And unlike the 1990s, identifying potential radicals within mosques had become "a nightmare for intelligent services".

The would-be fighters were often "isolated individuals" who might be radicalised within just one month. About 20 to 30 per cent of the French citizens seeking to fight for IS were converts to Islam, he said.
- In a recent report on American public opinion and U.S. foreign policy, “Defending our allies’ security” ranked near the bottom of a list of foreign policy priorities. Judging from their rhetoric and military spending plans, protecting our allies is the top concern for many of the men and women aspiring for higher office.
- According to North Korean state media both countries declared 2015 a “year of friendship”  in order to commemorate “Korea’s liberation and the victory in the great Patriotic War in Russia.”  A North Korean delegation, led by Lieutenant General Choe Jang Sik, deputy head of the Korean People’s Army General Staff Operations Bureau, visited Moscow in August to discuss the possible participation of a North Korean team in the “2016 International Army Games,” annually hosted by the Russian Ministry of Defense (See: “Russia Beats China in This Year’s International Army Games”).
- “Lichtenstein ranks number 1 considering the rights its citizens enjoy outside its jurisdiction. This is far beyond popular immigration countries such as the US, which is ranked 34. The UAE scores relatively well in 26th position.”

In another ranking, Kochenov compared countries considering these rights internally as well as externally. Here, Germany topped the list of strongest passports, while the UAE ranked 63th out of the 199 countries compared.
- "IS has shown that when they suffer battlefield reverses, they try to do something that ensures they counter any perception they are losing strength."

Ingram believes the shift in strategy was most likely long planned. He says it dovetails with another core IS objective, to weaken "infidel" western states and prove that Muslims and those of other faiths can't coexist.

He notes a lengthy article from an edition of the IS propaganda magazine vowing the destruction of the "grayzone", its term for secular societies.

"IS is saying to Muslims you no longer have a choice. There is no grey zone. You now have a caliphate, you have your own world to return to.

"You can't live in the land of the kuffar, no matter how devout, and be a good Muslim. Even if you pray five times a day and fast.

To this end, Islamic State hopes there will be rise in Islamophobia in the West. It will reinforce its hateful ideology."
- “From 1990 to 2010, the Army began and then cancelled 22 major programs,” the article noted, “at an approximate cost of $1 billion per year starting in 1996 and rising as high as $3.8 billion per year after 2004.”
While the White House tried to distance itself from the idea of containment, a senior administration official said, “What we had in essence was a containment policy” based on the belief that efforts to counter the Islamic State’s ideology had to be led by Sunni Muslim states, with backup from the United States.

Yet Mr. Obama’s strategy was also based on intelligence assessments that the Islamic State was overextended and vulnerable to a cutoff in its oil and black-market revenues — and that, in the long war against extremism, there was still time to bolster the most capable local forces and bring Arab states to the fight.

“If Paris changes anything,” an American official said, “it’s the recognition that we can’t wait for those two events to happen, if they ever happen.”
- In Brussels, NATO dropped the flags of its 28 member nations to half staff to honor the French dead. NATO officials said that France so far has declined to invoke the alliance's Article 5, which would oblige all members to join its fight against the militants..

The only time Article 5 has ever been invoked was, at U.S. request, after the September 2001 al-Qaeda attacks.
- With the trade of stolen data booming on the multi billion-dollar dark web, Mr Pogue said "data is the new oil" yet Australia, like most countries, still has a "head-in-the-sand approach".

"It will get worse before it gets better," he told Fairfax Media. "The sooner decision makers understand that there are only three types of organisations – those that have been breached, those that are currently breached (and likely don't know it) and those that are about to the breached – the better."
- Mr Pogue, senior vice-president of cyber threat analysis with Australian data investigation company Nuix, said hackers were becoming more creative and more aggressive.

Most advertise their skills in hidden Russian-language forums. The stolen data is sold on encrypted "dark net" sites, with stolen credit card details fetching an average of $100.

The money is then funding other crimes, such as terrorism and people smuggling.

One dark-net site identified by Australian police recently was selling credit cards for 8¢, CCVs for $8 and other card details, such as billing addresses, for $80. At one point, 14,000 users were accessing the site.
- The renminbi is already, according to SWIFT, the fifth most-used payment currency in the world, helped by the rapid expansion of the country's middle class and its growing use of the internet for shopping.
- Experts noted that several factors may have been behind the failures in January: Security services are drowning in data, overwhelmed by the quantity of people and emails they are expected to track, and hampered by the inability to make pre-emptive arrests in democratic countries
- Bernard Bajolet, the head of the French spy service, spoke during a public appearance at George Washington University in Washington two weeks ago about the twin threats France was facing, both from its own extremists and "terrorist actions which are planned (and) ordered from outside or only through fighters coming back to our countries."

General warnings about potential attacks from Iraqi intelligence or other Middle Eastern intelligence services are not uncommon, the official said. The French were already on high alert.

"During the last month we have disrupted a certain number of attacks in our territory," Bajolet said. "But this doesn't mean that we will be able all the time to disrupt such attacks."

Obtaining intelligence about the Islamic State group has been no easy feat given difficulties accessing territory held by the radical Sunni group. Iraqi agencies generally rely on informants inside the group in both Iraq and Syria for information, but that is not always infallible. Last year, reports from Iraqi intelligence officials and the Iraqi government that al-Baghdadi was injured were later denied or contradicted.
- The Prime Minister told Radio 4's Today programme: "The disagreement has been that we think that Assad should go at once and obviously Russia has taken a different view.

"We have to find a settlement where Assad leaves and there is a government that can bring Syria together and we mustn't let the gap between us be the alter on which the country of Syria is slaughtered.

"That is the challenge. Now that is going to take compromises."

Mr Cameron's talks with Mr Putin will be followed by a meeting of the Quint - an informal group of Western powers within the G20, made up of the UK, US, France, Germany and Italy - to assess progress and discuss how further efforts on Syria can be co-ordinated.
- What happened in Paris represented one shot in what could prove to be a long, painful battle that we cannot win with the sword. It was tragic for sure, but also predictable. The French have discovered what some of us have predicted since the outset of the US-led campaign: rather than stemming terrorism, the air strikes in Iraq and Syria are creating new Sunni  jihadists in the region and abroad.
Make no mistake: Paris was a direct response to this war. According to Professor Robert Pape, a terrorism expert at the University of Chicago, the clear majority of culprits in the more than 2100 documented cases of suicide bombings from 1980 to 2009 were motivated by foreign intervention in the Middle East, not ideological or religious conviction. For example, the 2004 Madrid and 2005 London bombings were in response to the 2003 Iraq invasion. And the recent downing of the Russian airline over the Sinai was in response to President Vladimir Putin's air strikes in Syria.
- Officials believe the ISIS geek squad is teaching terrorists how to use encryption and communication platforms like Silent Circle, Telegram and WhatsApp.

Aaron F. Brantly said he and his colleagues at the U.S. Army-affiliated Combating Terrorism Center have found that Islamic State members use as many as 120 separate platforms, many of them encrypted, to communicate and share information. One of its most favored methods, he said, is a highly encrypted form of communication called Telegram.

"It essentially allows them to hide what they are discussing from people who aren't explicitly looking for it," especially law enforcement and intelligence agencies, Brantly said. "Obviously this is a major concern. … They are creating a space for themselves to operate independent of direct surveillance."
- The senior European counterterrorism official said that European authorities are gravely concerned and will meet this week to discuss the issue - though they are already becoming contentious with each other about their lack of options. Some are restricted by civil liberties concerns in their home countries, while others note that creating a "back door" in an electronic communication platform - meaning a way for governments to spy on messages in real time - also creates an opportunity for non-governmental groups to take a peek. When Greece put a "back door" in electronic communications passing through its territories, it was quickly exploited by hackers.

"I am waiting for somebody to show me a way we can do this that is guaranteed to be only used by the good guys," said Paul Rosenzweig, a cyber consultant and former deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "But it is not person-specific. Anything that we can create can, and will, be cracked."
- The fundamentalist interpretation of Islam is not a common mode of thinking for most Muslims, especially in recent times. But it is clearly driving the political agenda in Muslim countries. Not all Muslim modernisers are willing to confront the anti-Western and anti-Semitic beliefs that feed the Islamist narrative. The Islamists are dominating the discourse within the Muslim world by murdering secularists and forcing many of them to leave their countries.

With more than 1.4 billion Muslims around the globe, the swelling of the fundamentalist ranks poses serious problems. If only 1 per cent of the world's Muslims accepts this uncompromising theology, and 10 per cent of that 1 per cent decide to commit themselves to a radical agenda, we are looking at a 1 million strong recruitment pool for groups such as al-Qaeda, IS and whatever comes next.

Only a concerted ideological campaign against medieval Islamist ideology, like the one that discredited and contained communism, could turn the tide.
- "It is not just my view, but the view of my closest military and civilian advisors that that would be a mistake," he said.

"Not because our military could not march into Mosul or Raqqa or Ramadi and temporarily clear out ISIL, but because we would see a repetition of what we've seen before which is if you do not have local populations that are committed to inclusive governance, and who are pushing back against ideological extremes that they resurface."

Instead he defended his administration's current strategy and vowed to intensify it – supporting opposition forces on the ground with training, weapons and intelligence while conducting an airstrikes from above.

He said only by finding a political solution to the war in Syria could the chaos be ended and IS stifled, and that there was finally agreement on this course.

"We have the right strategy and we are going to see it through."
- Like Akshaya Mishra of Firstpost states, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the likes of Osama bin Laden would not have existed if the US didn’t actively promote ideology-driven thugs to fight its Cold War against Russia. "Iraq would not be such a dangerous place if the US had not brought down Saddam Hussein for no reason at all."

The West is in the danger of making the same mistakes in this new Cold War that it did in the original one and such discord will further the causes of such entities as the Islamic State. The focus should remain on rooting out terrorist groups, that no longer require a US or a Russia, or even financiers within the G-20 countries; they are pretty much self sufficient.
- Imagine if every time you typed “Netflix and chill” (that’s code for casual sex, for the uninitiated) into Tinder, the app slapped you on the wrist with a warning message.

That’s what happens for users of Tantan, a dating app that’s popular among randy Chinese. A pound-for-pound copy of Tinder, Tantan lets users make friends or meet potential partners by swiping left or right at a set of photos, and enabling two-way chat for every mutual match. While it might help facilitate one-night stands, Tantan is not immune to China’s internet censorship.
- We applaud people in the Arab Spring standing up and saying this is not right. But when it happens in Yarraville people say that we are yuppies.
- Others have pointed out that the F-35 is hardly the first maligned plane in U.S. history. The F-4 Phantom suffered the same slings and arrows, and went on to survive battle with the more nimble MiGs during Vietnam (though as with all military history this is hotly contested: A better plane would have performed better). Still, as FighterSweep put it: “It’s fun to trash the new kid, especially the new kid that’s overweight, wears too much bling, and talks about how awesome it is all the time.”
- In considering future adversaries, Chinese information warfare doctrine makes clear the requirement to attack US C4ISR systems, including satellites, from the outset or even prior to, any military conflict. This information warfare campaign will be fought in space, cyberspace and across the electromagnetic spectrum. The PLA sees the information battle-space as an integrated environment comprising both cyberspace and electronic warfare, and base their approach to these domains around the concept of Integrated Networked Electronic Warfare (INEW).

General Dai Qingmin, PLA, states that a key goal of the PLA’s approach to INEW is to disrupt the normal operation of enemy battlefield information systems, while protecting one’s own, with the objective of seizing information superiority. Therefore, winning in the air against the PLAAF may be determined as much by which side wins these information warfare campaigns, as through success in tactical beyond-visual range air to air engagements. Imagine no data links between the F-35s and the AWACS; AESA radars on an E-7A Wedgetail spoofed; ASAT attacks that bring down strategic communications or computer-network attacks that strike logistics or which jam GPS signals, and the first shots fired are not missiles but satellites silenced by computer hackers or ground-based jamming. Furthermore there will be an incentive to strike quickly and decisively, with an information ‘battle of the first salvo’ effect emerging. Without the flexibility bestowed by these systems, the F-35 pilot must rely on on-board sensor systems such as its AESA Radar and Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) to detect, track and engage targets which increase the detectability of the aircraft and potentially bring the F-35 into the envelope of an opponent’s within visual range systems.
- The terrorist attacks in Paris, beyond their obvious horror, recalled to me the words of the late Bernard Fall, a French-American historian and war correspondent in Vietnam. In 1965, Fall wrote: “When a country is being subverted it is not being outfought; it is being out-administered. Subversion is literally administration with a minus sign in front.” ISIS has subverted western Iraq and eastern Syria because it is out-administering the Baghdad and Damascus regimes there. That is, ISIS has erected a competent bureaucratic authority covering everything from schools to waste removal which, combined as it is with repression, is secure and stable. And with that territorial security, ISIS has apparently created a central dispatch point for planning terrorist attacks abroad. Eventually, the end of ISIS can only come about when some other force out-administers it.
- The AH-64 played roles in the Balkans during separate conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s.[92][93] During Task Force Hawk, 24 Apaches were deployed to a land base in Albania in 1999 for combat in Kosovo. These required 26,000 tons of equipment to be transported over 550 C-17 flights, at a cost of US$480 million.[94] During these deployments, the AH-64 encountered problems such as deficiencies in training, night vision equipment, fuel tanks, and survivability.[95][96] On 27 April 1999, an Apache crashed during training in Albania due to a failure with the tail rotor,[97] causing the fleet in the Balkans to be grounded in December 2000.[98]

In 2000, Major General Dick Cody, 101st Airborne's commanding officer, wrote a strongly worded memo to the Chief of Staff about training and equipment failures.[99] No pilots were qualified to fly with night vision goggles, preventing nighttime operations.[100] The Washington Post printed a front-page article on the failures, commenting: "The vaunted helicopters came to symbolise everything wrong with the Army as it enters the 21st century: Its inability to move quickly, its resistance to change, its obsession with casualties, its post-Cold War identity crisis".[101] No Apache combat missions took place in Kosovo due to fears of casualties.[100]
- In January 1968, the United Kingdom terminated its F-111K order,[109] citing higher cost; increased costs along with devaluation of the pound had raised the cost to around £3 million each.[110] The first two F-111Ks (one strike/recon F-111K and one trainer/strike TF-111K) were in the final stages of assembly when the order was canceled.[109] The two aircraft were later completed and accepted by the USAF as test aircraft with the YF-111A designation.[108]
- The program costs, during 1963–1967, grew at an alarming rate; estimates by the USAF at the start of the program was placed at US$124.5 million, but by April 1967 had risen to $237.75 million.[36] While the initial price of US$5.21 million per aircraft was capped at US$5.95 million, R&D, labor, and other costs were not.[37] The rising price, three unexplained losses of USAF F-111As in Vietnam during their first month of deployment, and the British and U.S. Navy's orders' cancellations caused further controversy in Australia during 1968.[38] By 1973, however, when the F-111A had accumulated 250,000 flight hours, it had the best safety record among contemporary aircraft, which presaged the F-111C's own excellent record.[39]
- WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.
- Obama says he won't put boots on the ground. Does that mean the special forces will be going in with bare feet?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Middle Eastern/African/Asian Background, NSA Whistleblowers, and More

- whenever you take a on a new job you feel naive (the following are all publicly available videos/documentaries often from well known media outlets). Despite what is being said by a lot of people in the public spotlight I don't believe that there is a way to acheive victory in a timely fashion. Kids of primary school age are being trained to hate the West, to learn how to use weapons, to become suicide bombers, etc... We can destroy large parts of the organisation but then it will be a case of managing the situation downwards if there is to be some form of major 'direct foreign intervention'. This will be a multi-generational fight which people in these areas seem to understand. Teachers know that there's a strong chance that they will be killed if they attempt to re-educate children against such groups...
Peshmerga vs. the Islamic State - The Road to Mosul (Full Length)
The Enemy Within (Pakistan Taliban)
Yemen - A Failed State
The Alleged Iranian Plot To Kidnap And Kill British Nationals (2010)
The Battle for Iraq - Shia Militias vs. the Islamic State
The War Against Boko Haram (Full Length)
Syria's Unending Rebel Conflict - Wolves of the Valley
Naxal - Terrorism from Inside
ISIS  - Vice Iran vs ISIS Documentary 2015 (isis vice)
- assume that any media that you see regarding conflict will be controlled. A common tactic among biased regimes/media is to interview people who are less than competent. You may be shocked by some customs among some militaries... and some of the decisions that are made. The way that the a lot of these rebels fight is foolhardy at times. They often have no body armour, have little/no aerial/naval/artillery support, limited ammunition, wepaons, and communications capability, and yet they walk around problem areas as though things were peaceful. Only when they get fired upon do they up the tempo...
The War Against Boko Haram (Full Length)
Full Documentary US Marines Attack On Taliban War Of Afghanistan HD 2015 !! 720p
People and Power - Chad - At War With Boko Haram
- just like in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 it feels like a lot of public officials are unsure exactly what to do. The public services (including defense and intelligence) are supposed to fill the breach. However, it's clear that publicly elected officals sometimes don't listen, the services are getting swamped, etc... Ultimately, it means that public officials are effecitvely just getting a filtered version of what may be happening. They may not making the best decision after all. For any official to have a genuine chance they need more background prior to them entering their job at the highest levels of government
- at times, some of these groups almost seem sane. At others you just wonder how on Earth they can believe what they believe. One thing which is interesting (if you know about prophets and prophetic visions) is that they seem to be trying to attempt to acheive prophecies rather than letting them happen. I'm certain that if there is a God, things will be done according to his timing not ours
The Islamic State (Full Length)
Featured Documentary - ISIL and the Taliban
- the more you look the more it feels as though the average person in these areas doesn't care about who governs them as long as they are safe and well looked after. Most of these strange groups aren't that much different though and foreign intervention can often be interpreted as 'plots' when countries/companies later try to exploit the resources of their country. If there is to be foreign intervention, the interests of the people in these countries must come first not the interests of those who are intervening to stop the spread of such propaganda. Stay out of internal politics and religious issues if at all possible
- the average citizen doesn't really care about major conflicts in distant lands as long as it's not in their own homeland. A lot of the time it feels as though the US is unsure (and the rest of us are well) of it's place in the world
- a lot of decisions that need to be made by governments are effectively the lesser of two evil type decisions... Whether it's supporting one side, engaging in a proxy war, etc... The irony is that a lot of what we end up is often a consequence of an earlier decision. We think we know a group or individual and think that we're on the same side. Not always
- regime change isn't as simple as changing leader like changing your vote in a democracy. The USSR/US have had a long history of involvement in proxy wars and yet they still haven't figured things out. Often it's a combination of luck as well as skill to determine whether your strategy will hold
Afghanistan War - Military Documentary HD
- I have a feeling no matter how much intelligence we have we'll never understand what is actually happening. There is no perfect solution. The other issue is that we're basically getting all the information that we need as is (even without extra powers). It feels as though it's just a decision every once in a while which is allowing an attack to slip through the net. Something which a lot of whistleblowers also seem to be saying (see the next section on NSA whistleblowers in this post). Making better decisions would probably save us more money (and would probably be more effective) than simply spending more money on our intelligence/defense budgets
Featured Documentary - ISIL and the Taliban
- a lot of multi-generation Westerners are too blinkered. A lot of immigrant parents would prefer to be in their homeland and they transfer this tought into their children as well. To those people who say, 'go back their homeland' a lot of the time these people simply don't have a choice... If they think that 'Western interference/intervention' is for the greater good wait until they come up against people who have been cut loose from covert operations or feel that their homelands have been destroyed as a result of it. At the other end of the spectrum, if the situation were explained more completely in the media a lot of the time strategic decisions will make much more sense and people will likely give some strategies greater acceptance
- at times it feels as though some public officials are just inviting/inciting further trouble. Some areas they shouldn't touch at all... It makes it a thousand times easier to turn into anti-Western propaganda. Free speech is great but at times like this it can sometimes feel more trouble than it's worth
The Stream - Alarm over Australia's counterterrorism plans
- whether it's the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, or terrorist groups part of the problem is that Western strategies are often too predictable (admittedly, there are only so many tricks in the bag). Due to this opponents often take pre-emptive measures to hedge against any actions that the West is likely to take

- some of what the NSA does makes no sense (I've worked on this type of stuff and there are solutions which help to maintain 'national security' while maintaining privacy. Some of which they also worked on...). If the problem comes down to deicision making and not collections/technology capability why don't they spend more time in training in these areas rather than new programs which have little chance of succeeding? Sometimes it feels as though the US is simply feeding into the 'military complex' for no reason other than to create employment. If that's the case, aren't there industries with better money to employment ratios? The other thing that's obvious is this. In the past, the US defense industry clearly had spin off technologies which could be used in the civilian sector. Obviously, this helped to pay the bills over the long term. I wonder whether this is what they're thinking. The obvious problem is that it's in the technology sector. A sector which generally employs fewer people for the amount of money involved...
NSA Whistleblower - Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post
- problem of mass storage of data (in context of Operation Trailblazer) is that the job of analysts is much more difficult. Throws you much more work for something not neccessarily worthwhile. Operation Trailblazer makes sense if required data wasn't coming into the system but they did? The impression that I get over and over again is that they're getting enough information in order to prevent something from happening. The reason why things are getting through are bad decisions every once in a while (9/11, Boston, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc...). The main reasons why I think they're holding data is to use as leverage in investigations where something has managed to get through (Boston), some for encrypted/encoded content, some for 'Automated Analysis/Intelligence' type techniques, etc... The obvious problem is like that of Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc... With lack of oversight individuals could get into trouble for doing something that the government does not like, not what is actually unlawful. I've heard of bizarre cases where people have been visted by Federal Agents for talking about stuff that was already in the public sphere...
'NSA owns entire network anywhere in the world' - whistleblower William Binney
Exclusive Interview with Former NSA Technical Director - William Binney
US' Betrayal of Truth _ Interview with Whistleblower Thomas Drake
- I find it strange that they haven't been able to make better progress on 'Operation Trailblazer'. Technically, it's not much different to what scientific and financial programmers face. Think about HFT/Algorithmic trading and the issues faced are almost identical (high speed analysis of massive amounts of data). They shouldn't have issues with wages either since intelligence/defense contract wages are pretty high as indicated by Snowden
- even though the US government has said otherwise it doesn't seem plausible that these people would be whistleblowing without probable cause. The whistleblowers all have high level access which means that technically they would have access to operations intelligence which would also give them a high level overview similar to the highest levels of government. They would know if something seemed wrong with the current setup
William Binney on The Alex Jones Show - March 18,2015
- a lot of whistleblowers just sound slightly naive
Assange on 'US Empire', Assad govt overthrow plans & new book 'The WikiLeaks Files' (EXCLUSIVE)
Live Q&A - Edward Snowden
- if the internal electronic, monitoring systems of the US intelligence is that inefficient Russian and Chinese practice of relying more heavily on HUMINT makes much more sense. They can gain everything for the cost of a single agent... (doesn't matter if it takes one thousand agents are caught) Obviously, it's possible that some of these whistleblowers could be 'false flag' operations but what's the point?
William Binney on The Alex Jones Show - March 18,2015
- if the reason for high US spending on defense/intelligence is for subsidising jobs wouldn't they be better off subsidising jobs in other areas? Think about it, bang for buck? Skills in intelligence/defense are somewhat limited to that particular field. A lot of private defense jobs are mostly about high wage jobs for a small number of people. The US could create chain stores/resturants and employ heaps more people? Else, help people start up firms. It would surely be a more more efficient way of creating jobs? Unless this is about veneer of success? Like when you bring people over but only show them the 'finest cutlery'?
- Soviet/Russian whistleblower/defectors tend to have very short lifespans after they defect or speak out. If you want more details look over some of my previous posts. The West tends to punish those that speak out via professional discrimination thereafter as indicated by the accounts of some of the people mentioned in these videos
- after getting a lot of background it seems clear that the US is unsure of how to attack the terrorist issue. Hence, they've resorted to mass surveillance and the solutions are neither elegant, efficient, cost-effective, etc... They sound rediculous, incompetent, and wasteful at times. This theme seems to be consistent across the intelligence as well as the defense sector. Indications (by people employed by US defense and intelligence agencies) are that they can slash about half their spending and still achieve the same capability which means the current targeted reduction in spending make much more sense...
NSA Whistleblower William Binney the 3 words that will put you on the NSA List
Edward Snowden, v 1.0 - NSA Whistleblower William Binney Tells All
Thomas Drake 60 Minutes Documentary
China employs two million microblog monitors state media say

- reset of firmware password on a Macbook can be fairly painless on older systems but extremely difficult on newer ones

- certain Macbook performacne issues can come down to SMC issues (which will require a reset)
Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) on your Mac

- just like other operating systems Apple hardware/software also has these options

- I wonder how many refugees are hailing Facebook's efforts? Who cares about food and water as long as have have connectivity, huh?

- it had to happen sometime, huh?

- always been curious about this as another form of 'passive income'...

- what should you charge as an IT specialist as determined by Google

- proxying web requess via the CLI

Some recent quotes in the media...

- “Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.”
- I think this only amplifies that, for the most part, we are doing hiring wrong. What shows up in an interview is often the person you like the most, or the person that fits your interviewing style, rather than the best person for the job. This is why contract-to-hire has been in use much more recently. The problem is that contract-to-hire usually isn't appealing to a candidate if they already have a job.
- China never promised to be the global factory forever. Its export-driven model was fine for a while because it allowed for fast growth, but it also ruined the country's environment and made the economy dependent on foreign demand, which, as recent economic crises have proved, can be unreliable. This model is being gradually dismantled and those countries that built their own economic plans upon it need to rethink and prepare for slower growth.
- David - otherwise known as the hero our city deserves - called out: “Did you see Tony Abbott eat the onion?”

“T - Tony Abbott? Tony Abbott what?”

“The onion! Eat the onion! Tony Abbott ate the onion!”

The sheer disbelief in Oliver’s voice said it all, as he attempted to make sense of the question. Just remember that this was a man hearing that the current Prime Minister of Australia bit into a raw, unpeeled onion.

“Did he do it competently?”

Laughter followed, but it soon became clear that words were not enough. Oliver would need evidence of this. He just wasn’t getting it.

“He ate an onion? He ATE an ONION? He ate an onion like a two-year-old eats an onion, thinking: ‘It’s round and I’ve seen round apples! Is this an apple?’ No. He did not do that.”

And then, when an audience member enlightened him further: “He ate TWO?! Get the f**k out!”
- I am struck not only with the rubbish in this article, but the success of P. Leahy in espousing conflicting and incoherent views without in any way realising their combination of sectarianism, futility, militarism and inconsistency.However his recognition that “A strategy should be about what we want to happen” is sensible – even if he endows us with the right to decide how Middle Easterners should live and who should run it.“Our” decision regarding Saddam Hussein was impressively wrong, with continuing consequences.

Most of the mass murderers and war criminals who took part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 have now received the Freedom Medal.  Those behind America's Iraq adventure - people like Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John McCain and Condoleeza Rice - are as visible as ever, pushing their hawkish views in the papers and the talk shows.  As Conor Friedersdorf comments, it's amazing 'how much influence Iraq War supporters still have in US foreign affairs'.

Yet Iraqis are still dying in large numbers from the war that they started. They also made ISIL what it is today.So our real scale of values is our ruling clique demonstrating their impunity to plunder us while using us and our resources to attack their self-defined “enemies”.Our so-called enemies will have noticed – after all, our ruling clique ruthlessly drives a global order that has long done the same to them. That is why the peasants are revolting.

As Thatcher said, “We are all responsible for our own actions. We cannot blame society if we disobey the law.  We simply cannot delegate the exercise of mercy and generosity to others.”

Note the media silence on the enormous costs of these utterly futile wars to the American people.
- There is no requirement for the Australian electorate to vote for these idiots. Yet we do it regularly and constantly. I put it to you, we are the bigger morons.
- Greetings to you all at the NSA and everybody else who is reading this on ECHELON.
- Sir Winston Churchill quote: "The vice of capitalism is that it stands for the unequal sharing of blessings; whereas the virtue of socialism is that is stands for the equal sharing of misery."
- The developed world is rich but ageing, and unevenly recovering from the profound shock of the GFC. And China is no longer our free ride. In business, as Mr Turnbull says, the only way forward is by disrupting others and avoiding it yourself. New interconnecting digital technologies mean old natural barriers to competition and old business models built around them are crashing, with people's jobs changing in ways we are only just grasping. That is the world Mr Turnbull says we can master. It will mean changes at basic levels, from schools and universities, through to creating the entrepreneurial culture that our top econocrat, Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens, says we have too little of. It means accepting failure as a step on the path to success and of praising tall poppies who earn their place.
- He noted that he was asked at a hearing last year whether the U.S. would come to the defense of those it trained when they were attacked by forces loyal to Bashar Assad. Hagel said yes.
“The White House didn’t like that answer, but I said, ‘Guys, let me give you the facts of life. You can’t play think-tank nonsense and bullshit when you’re getting a question like that because the whole world is listening and watching what your answer to that is,’ ” Hagel said.
- Having worked with pilots, I have seen their enthusiasm to play with something shiny and new. But in their enthusiasm, they tend to gloss over a lot of problems in its implementation.

I will take a problem that we had when Canada initially received the F-18. On take off there was a fault where instruments would throw a breaker on take off. The pilot solution, and the solution that was accepted,was to get the pilot to unclip the panel and use a rod to flip the circuits back on. All this while flying the aircraft fter takeoff. This was the accepted solution for quite a while as the maintenance people tracked down and repair the problem. The rational solution would have been to ground the fleet and make this repair a top priority.

This is the problem with pilots and remember that it is pilots who are in charge of the air force. They would risk their lives in a slingshot and a large bucket than give up an opportunity to fly. Time and time again, u have seen a pilot (an officer) try to coerce a technician (not an officer) to sign off that a plane was safe to fly when it wasn't. Just to get a little more flight time. Now if that plane suffered from an incident, you would see that same pilot screaming for the tech'support head for signs in off on the a/c.
- Elliot: My father picked me up from school one day and we played hooky and went to the beach. It was too cold to go in the water, so we sat on a blanket and ate pizza. When I got home my sneakers were full of sand, and I dumped it on my bedroom floor. I didn't know the difference; I was six. My mother screamed at me for the mess, but he wasn't mad. He said that billions of years ago, the world shifting and moving brought that sand to that spot on the beach and then I took it away. "Every day," he said, "we change the world," which is a nice thought until I think about how many days and lifetimes I would need to bring a shoeful of sand home until there is no beach... until I've made a difference to anyone. Every day we change the world, but to change the world in a way that means anything, that takes more time than most people have. It never happens all at once. It's slow. It's methodical. It's exhausting. We don't all have the stomach for it.
- A wise man once pointed out that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. Relative to the 1970s and 1980s, the United States is almost incomparably powerful and secure, enjoying presumptive military advantage over any opponent or plausible coalition of opponents. We sometimes forget, for example, that there is some history to the idea of Russian troops freely operating in Ukraine.

And the point is not that the United States deserves some kind of comeuppance for its arrogance. Geopolitics isn’t a Shakespearean drama, or a morality play. Noting that Russia, China, and others have the growing capability to act independently in their regions does not imply that they will act justly, or that they have any special right to torture their neighbors.
- “On June 22, 1941, Churchill had enough common sense to make an alliance with the USSR, because the alternative alliance with the Third Reich was even less appealing than the one with Moscow,” observes Maxim Sokolov, a popular Russian political commentator. “But John Kerry is obviously no Churchill. He has a different style of thinking.”
- Like that quote that's usually attributed to Einstein says, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
- iSight makes 90 per cent of its revenue from subscriptions to its six intelligence streams, each focused on a particular threat, including cyberespionage and cybercrime.

The company's most recent competition comes from its oldest clients, particularly banks, which have been hiring former intelligence analysts to start internal operations. One former client, which declined to be named because of concerns that doing so could violate a nondisclosure agreement, said it had been able to build its own intelligence program at half the cost of its cancelled iSight subscriptions.

But most businesses do not have the same resources as, say, a company like Bank of America, whose chief executive recently said there was no cap on the bank's cyber security budget.

Many of those businesses remain paralysed by the drumbeat of alarms that expensive security technologies are sounding on their networks.

At iSight's threat centre, the company's approach is perhaps best summed up by a logo emblazoned on a T-shirt worn by one of its top analysts: "Someone should do something."
- "We don't have a good sense, sometimes, of what's going on," she said. "And worse, as a policymaker, it's not like they can fly in and take a look at what happened."
- On Syria, the president said we could work with Iran and Russia to combat terrorism, but: “we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo.” Bashar Assad must go.

Putin’s riposte “We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face.” Bashar will stay and his Russian and Iranian friends have the military power to make it so — regardless of how many Syrian Christian and Sunni “terrorists” they have to butcher.

He also announced a new Russian-led front against “terrorism,” defined as anyone who opposes Assad. Their destruction, he promised Europe, will stem the flow of refugees as Assad’s authority is restored — under Russian guidance. Front members include Syria, Iraq and Iran; bombing has already begun.

So, on one hand, a man with a relatively weak state but who is a realist with specific goals; long-range plans; a thirst to right what he describes as a “historic tragedy”; and an iron will to act.

On the other, a man leading the world’s most powerful nation who pronounces his visions and cannot grasp why they do not come true, as they often do at home. Who is confused when his opponents are not cowed by his words. Whose irresolution fills his allies with apprehension. There is weakness in the water, thicker than blood; below, sharks circle.

This will not end well. Not for anyone.
- So Russia's state-dominated space industry is set to continue struggling to outperform its Western counterparts. Meanwhile, existing companies are plagued by lack of quality control and expert oversight. In 2013, a Proton rocket was lost because a worker installed a sensor upside down — and hammered it in to fit.
- If you want to understand Afghanistan’s opium problem, put yourself in the shoes of an Afghan farmer. Your country’s in turmoil, you’re largely disconnected from the rest of the population, and you have few options to earn a living. There’s no irrigation infrastructure, and poppies are the only plants tough enough to withstand the environmental conditions. You could plant wheat, but why bother? Poppies will earn you eight times as much money.

So the extent to which Afghanistan has become ground zero for opium, as the latest United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime 2007 World Drug Report makes plain, should be no surprise. Around 92 percent of the world’s heroin comes from Afghan poppies, and—thanks to the 49 percent increase in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2006—global opium production reached a record high of 6,610 metric tons last year. Opium production and trade accounts for at least a third of all economic activity in Afghanistan.
- In a typical year, Afghan farmers sell about 7,000 tons of opium at $130 a kilogram to traffickers who convert that into 1,000 tons of heroin, worth perhaps $2,500 a kilogram in Afghanistan and $4,000 at wholesale in neighboring countries. That works out to roughly $900 million in annual revenues for the farmers, $1.6 billion for traffickers from operations within Afghanistan, and another $1.5 billion for those who smuggle heroin out of the country. (2010 was atypical; a poppy blight drove opium production down and prices up.)
- Often, but not always. In the early years of the Afghanistan war, coalition policy included widespread forced eradication. In June 2009, however, Barack Obama’s administration announced that U.S. and other international forces would no longer conduct eradication operations, on which the late Richard Holbrooke said the United States had "wasted hundreds of millions of dollars."

The sensible motivation for this reversal was recognition that eradication produced unintended consequences. Pulling up a farmer’s opium crop could generate ill will, perhaps enough to produce a new recruit for the insurgency. It was also geographically inconvenient. Afghanistan is a horrendously complicated place, but to oversimplify, two-thirds of the country (roughly 27 of 34 provinces) has been nearly poppy-free and relatively stable for a few years. The remaining third — in particular Helmand and Kandahar provinces — is rife with both poppies and insurgents. Eradication in those areas has a minimal and temporary effect on the drug trade, at most pushing production to the next valley or district. And angering farmers where Taliban recruiters prowl seemed like a gift to the enemy. So the Obama administration swore off direct support of eradication, though the governors of some Afghan provinces continue to pursue their own eradication programs.
- It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we've just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. ... At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell."