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Sunday, December 13, 2015

US Drone Warfare Program, Financial Trading Thoughts, and More

- a lot of people have probably been wondering about the so called 'drone wars'. I have too. Below are some debates, documentaries, and random thoughts regarding the US drone programs (from various biased as well as unbiased perspectives. The irony with certain things is that it may be difficult to find unbiased sources or else different perspectives no matter how balanced an opinion you want to give. Most of the stuff online seems to be focused on being strongly against it or else more about the technology itself)
Unmanned - America's Drone Wars • FULL DOCUMENTARY FILM • BRAVE NEW FILMS
Drone Warfare - Prospects and Dangers
Richard Clarke - U.S. Drone Program Under Obama 'Got Out of Hand'
US Drone Strike Technology and Future Warfare
The Lunchbox Series - Beloit College's Beth Dougherty on 'Drone Wars'
The U.S. Drone Program Is Fatally Flawed - Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates
McCain Institute Debate--Drone Wars - Are We Going Too Far
The Bipartisan Mainstreaming of Drone Warfare
Versus Debates - America's Drone Campaign is Both Moral and Effective
Advanced Drone Warfare Sky Assaassins 2015 HD Documentary
Drone Documentary
- if you spent enough time around the public service, media, government, think tanks, etc... it can become fairly obvious after a while that what is said and what is actually takes places can be very different. It's clear that oversight, the notion of 'checks and balances', transparency, etc... are playing a smaller role nowadays. The difficulty here is that it (lack of these) helps to facilitate operations against targets who skirt around the edges of what is technically classified as offensive action and it encourages you to make use of lethal force more often. The irony is that if you dig through enough of US history it's clear that they've tried other means of dealing with this problem (diplomacy, statecraft, special operations, local intelligence/assets, etc...) but these have all resulted in limited success. This is the 'easiest' option whether they (and others) like it or not
DEBATE - The Legality of Drone Strikes (10-03-2012)
Professor Turley - 'Obama Is at War with the Rule of Law!'
- the actual number of civilian versus militant casualties is impossible to know. What seems obvious is that it's too high too acknowlege and be considered acceptable to the public. Variations from 0-90% have been mentioned depending on who you listen to. Single digit figures seems impossible. My guess is the figure is around 20-40% based on a rough guesstimate of all figures that have already been compiled (one of the strangest quote I've heard is that drone strikes have been causing more collatoral damage (in some areas) than actual terrorist acts themselves). While going through some material it seems like the intelligence services have been running bizarre sting operations at times, almost handing finacial aide and weapons to those who may possibly engage in terrorist acts in future. Sometimes, it feels like some people people/organisations are just looking for a purpose in life at times...
Veterans Panel at Syracuse Anti-Drone Conference
Richard Clarke - U.S. Drone Program Under Obama 'Got Out of Hand'
The Debate - Drone Doctrine Warfare killing Civilians
Drone Wars - Counterterrorism and Human Rights
The Debate - US drone strikes continue to kill Afghans
Debate - US secret drone base in Saudi Arabia
- for a long time there has been a desire to control the 'narrative' (propaganda. This applies to all countries). This trend is likely to continue in future with weapons which leave no residue/remnants which can link the weapon with a source or point of origin. Can you imagine a future where even civilian casualties can be 'plausibly denied'?
Richard Clarke - U.S. Drone Program Under Obama 'Got Out of Hand'
- in general, US intelligence services are aiming for above 90% accuracy. In reality, (based on what I'm hearing) they hit about 70-80% average (if you believe some of the accounts of former intelligence and defense officials) on short range intelligence (about one year which is obviously the easier to predict than anything longer term). I'm guessing that they have they're ~50% accuracy on medium to longer range intelligence. Ultimately, it feels as though that if you're a foreign government you should probably give as much weighting to your own services and sources as theirs; possibly more if you're services/sources are good
Former CIA Deputy Director Apologizes for Flawed Iraq War Intel
- amongst the reasons for higher than desired civilian casualties is that local resources/assets are handing off faulty intelligence, use of human shields, intelligences services may not be reading the situation correctly, stupidity, etc... Some people are claiming that the drone program is the biggest recruitment tool amongst terrorist groups. The irony is that it's also one of the most effective options out there as indicated by intercepts of Osama bin Laden's notes. It's obvious that most of the time we're catching those who lower down the chain with these drone programs. Some of the more knowledgeable terrorist are actually faking their own deaths by going electronically blank and using decoys or else killing their enemies by switching electronic identities
'New Snowden' Leak Exposes Brutal Drone Program
Air Force Drone Whistleblowers Speak Out!
America's Ex-Drone Pilot
Drone War Exposed - Jeremy Scahill on U.S. Kill Program's Secrets & the Whistleblower Who Leaked Them
BBC Protects UK’s Close Ally Saudi Arabia With Dishonest and Biased Editing
- one of the funny things about the current US administration is that there seems to have been a lot of whistleblowers in spite of a supposed crackdown. I wonder how much thought has been given over to whether or not the US has stepped over the line?
[77] Drone Pilot Whistleblowers Persecuted, Walmart Working With FBI, & More…
- 'narrative' is a word that is used a lot amongst US Defense/State Department officials. Whether their motivations are good or bad, other countries seemed to have learnt a lot from this. Russia almost caricutures this. I recall a recent commentary which said that during Stalin's time it was 25% propaganda and 75% brutality. Now it's the inverse of that...
- I've known people who have participated in the US drone programs. Based on what they said there was much more oversight than mentioned in recent times. It could be a case of things simply getting out of hand as has been mentioned by some
Richard Clarke - U.S. Drone Program Under Obama 'Got Out of Hand'
- one thing that is clear is that a lot of people who end up higher in the chain of command can be blinded by patriotism at times (this applies to all countries). Obviously, loyalty is important but this is the type of loyalty which (I feel) can impair their ability to make the best decision at times. Not enough people taking the other side of the argument
Drone Warfare - Prospects and Dangers

- if you're involved in the finance industry then you'll know about HFT and Quantitative/Qualitative trading. Some background you should probably know about
Final Rule: Regulation NMS - Securities and Exchange Commission
- parts of the finance industry are like others. Lots of glamour, not a lot of substance (monetary rewards or quality of life)
- if you've built or worked on financial trading software, you'll realise that it is very diffferent to working on other software. Other software can slow down the functioning of a company. In this case, if you work in a proprietary trading firm you can actually bring down the entire firm itself
- whether or not you end up working for someone else or for yourself there are a lot of options and resources out there
Black Algo Trading: Build Your Trading Robot - Udemy
How To Create Forex Robots - No Programming Required! - Udemy
Trading with MATLAB: Advanced Trading Robots - Udemy

- ever have a file that you've not been able to delete due to filesystem corruption? I have (especially on the Android platform), sometimes different commands or switches can be used to get around this problem. Other times you need to edit the FAT itself. The obvious and easiest way is to copy it to a 100% functional filesystem though (all of this assume normal filesystem diagnostic software doesn't work)

- I know of a bunch of people with Sleep Apnea. Apparently, diagnosis and treatment can change your life drastically as long term sleep deprivation can have an impact on your health in many different ways

- if you've ever done any work in text processing you've probably wondered how to determine bias in text. There's actually quite a bit of research in this area already but most of it is of limited utility

- music guides for those interested in music production

- product support resources for those who use the Novation Launchpad

- blocking and adding advertising on Android

Some interesting quotes in the recent media:
- The point of this discussion is not to claim that Northrop Grumman is perfect, nor that Boeing and Lockheed are imperfect. But when one looks at its competitors, Northrop Grumman appears the better choice to build the LRS-B, a conclusion with which the U.S. Air Force appears to agree.
- Maybe you should go and read the National Intelligence Estimates from 2006, 2007 and 2008 - but be aware you won't like what you read. From 20032-2008, the administration of G W Bush radically increased the dual-use technology transfers to Communist China (10's of thousands of them), far beyond that of any previous administration. Furthermore, they also permitted the transfer of the manufacturing techniques, and millions of US jobs (8M+), not to mention the tax base that went with it.

Patrick Buchanan wrote many and editorial during this period imploring the POTUS (and GOP) to cease and desist, warning not only of the millions of lost jobs (and tax base), but also of China using these technologies to rebuild their military, after which they would likely start trying to settle old scores in the region.

All 16 US National Intelligence Agencies, in the NIE reports of those years, deplored the transfer of so many technologies, and the massive damage done to the US national/strategic manufacturing base - in return for short-term profits of administration/GOP donors. They classified it as a massive national security disaster - not only for the USA - but also for all of our allies and all the asian nations.

Obama might have his faults - but he's done nothing to damage this nation anywhere near the scale as his predecessor, with tacit support from the GOP - who unhesitatingly sold our national security down the river.
- The 227-millimeter rockets have enough range to keep the launchers far from the front lines. Carrying a 200-pound high explosive warhead and guided by GPS, the M-31 rocket can hit precise targets up to 43 miles away. Each HIMARS vehicle can shoot up to six rounds in rapid succession before needing to reload.

The trucks can also fire rockets filled with tiny bomblets or a single, larger Army Tactical Missile System missile. The Army is working on new warheads that will shred targets with a cloud of shrapnel.

In Iraq, the rockets’ accurate nature and ability to fall straight down onto a single target have been especially important. The round “strikes a target with pinpoint accuracy with minimal potential for collateral damage as it impacts a target at a 90-degree angle and has a relatively small blast radius for the effect achieved,” the public affairs official noted.
- Estimating costs, as well as controlling them in this advanced research domain, was exacerbated since the projected costs were based on building the original number of 132 B-2s, not the reduced number of 20 plus one converted prototype. Northrop, having learned its lesson, was unwilling to be seduced into bidding for the Navy’s fixed-price A-12 stealth bomber contract.

In spite of the temptation for more business, Northrop would not reduce its bid to the Navy’s maximum number because as Northrop CEO Tom Jones would later say, “we had learned what it cost to build stealth, the Navy had not.”

Meanwhile, Boeing has built hundreds of C-135 Stratolifters, with and without internal refueling tanks, and more than 1,000 767 passenger airliners. In spite of its background, Boeing is failing to contain costs with its proposed solution for the Next Generation Tanker, a version of its 767 airliner. Fortunately, the cost overrun of $1.2 billion will not affect the taxpayer, at least not yet, because the contract is “fixed price.”

However, the Long Range Strike Bomber contract is not. So Boeing’s inability to control cost on an airplane it has built more than 1,000 times, lined with tanks it has installed over decades into Boeing airplanes, is no guarantee the taxpayer will not pay for Boeing’s inability to control costs on a stealth bomber, a far more problematic production challenge than airliners and tankers.
- In an effort to dampen fears about Chinese plans connected to its increasingly modern and confident military, Beijing has repeatedly said it does not want military bases abroad.

However experts have said China is likely one day to have to overcome its discomfort about overseas military bases, as its forces are drawn into protecting its growing overseas interests. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)
- Jihad is an Arabic word meaning "struggle". In Islam, all Muslims are expected to undertake jihad to overcome their own base desires and personal failings. In this context the word is often a given name for Muslim boys.

However jihad is also the word used in Islam for a just war, and in recent years its appropriation by Islamist groups trying to justify violence has linked the word in the minds of many non-Muslims with terrorism.
- If they were involved in the FC-31 design, MiG officials might not want to take any credit, because the display at Zhuhai revealed some poor aerodynamic efficiency. The aircraft bleeds too much energy and the pilot had hard time keeping the nose up during turns and other maneuvers. He also had to engage afterburners far too often to maintain a proper energy utilization curve.

Western aerospace analysts point out that the FC-31 flown at Zhuhai was a “clean” jet. An aircraft configured for a real mission and fitted with weapons would be even heavier and would have an even more dismal flight performance, they said. A large-scale model of the FC-31 on display inside the halls at Zhuhai showed some detail changes of configuration, compared to the flying prototype.

Observers of China’s aerospace industry point out that the aircraft is designed primarily for export and that the PRC’s industry desperately wants to generate more export sales. Russia, for its part, has offered to integrate some of its weapons onto the aircraft so that its sale to a foreign nation would not compromise the technical details of Chinese weapons that Beijing would like to reserve for the exclusive use of the PLAAF.
- WASHINGTON: Since last month, U.S. warplanes have struck Islamic State's oil infrastructure in Syria in a stepped-up campaign of economic warfare that the United States estimates has cut the group's black-market earnings from oil by about a third.

In finding their targets, U.S. military planners have relied in part on an unconventional source of intelligence: access to banking records that provide insight into which refineries and oil pumps are generating cash for the extremist group, current and former officials say.

The intent is to choke off the Islamic State's funding by tracking its remaining ties to the global financial system. By identifying money flowing to and from the group, U.S. officials have been able to get a glimpse into how its black-market economy operates, people with knowledge of the effort have said.
- On 26 February 2014, Russia launched a so-called 'snap exercise' involving 38,000 troops in its Western Military District near the Ukrainian border. A few days later, many of those same Russian troops were involved in the seizure of Crimea – part of Ukraine's sovereign territory.

As a response to growing unpredictability in our neighbourhood, NATO has taken defensive measures to protect all Allies and we will continue to do so as long as necessary. However, restoring long-term stability in Europe also requires to modernise the rule-book of European security.

Russia's pace of military manoeuvres and drills are reaching levels unseen since the end of the Cold War. Over the past three years, Russia has conducted 18 snap exercises. Some Russian exercises have involved more than 150,000 troops, and several have appeared to include simulated nuclear attacks. We also see a clear increase in Russia's air and maritime activities, including – it seems - to test its neighbours’ reactions.

Military training and exercise is part and parcel of every nation's right. NATO exercises its forces too. Last month alone, we conducted our largest exercise in years with 36,000 troops dispatched across Portugal, Spain, and Italy. However, unlike Russia, we publish our exercise schedule, and we invite observers, including from Russia, to attend. This stands in stark contrast with Russia's calculated unpredictability and lack of transparency.
- Significantly, the new proposal introduces a higher test threshold before a direction to a telco can be made by the government.

A security agency must have provided an adverse security opinion on the specfic issue and the Attorney-General must be satisfied the problem is prejudicial to national security - and have consulted with the company - before a direction can be issued.

The new bill also allows telcos to apply for a judicial review of a government direction, and has removed the government's power to hand authority to make a telco direction to the head of ASIO.

It has similarly tightened protections around how much data can be sought from a telco and who the government can share that information with.

The powers to issue directions now sits with the Attorney-General only, rather than the secretary of the department.
The department said the ongoing costs of resourcing and administering the scheme were estimated to be $1.6 million annually for the government.

The costs of compliance for telcos was previously estimated to be around $184,000 per organisation annually.

The Communications Alliance said it was still digesting the draft but noted the changes did reflect concerns expressed by the industry.

"[The new draft] certainly represents a more balanced approach to meeting the objectives outlined by government," the industry body said.
- ISIS hates the West as an abominable nest of infidels, infidels who reject the Quran and Shariah Law, and so must be annihilated.  We are the obstacle to the new Caliphate. OKAY— got it: We stand against the Caliphate. But what do we stand for? What is our alternative ideal to the Islamist ideal? Those happy optimists who think this is a largely academic question should consider the generational dimension to cultural identities and dissatisfactions.

    While radical Islam may indeed hold little attraction for the large majority of Muslim immigrants and refugees now relocating in Europe and America, it will be different matter for thousands of their children. The mastermind behind the Paris terror attack was the son of successful, fully assimilated Moroccan immigrants.

    A growing number of reliable public opinion polls of Muslim populations (Pew, Gallup, Rasmussen, among others) reveal that 13% to 32% of Muslims have a positive view of ISIS — as do 17% of Syrian refugees.

So, it is both reasonable and prudent to ask ourselves — what percentage of the children of several million Muslim migrants will choose the values of our ascendant secular hedonism over the allure of “true Islam”? One percent of two million is 20,000 potential jihadists.

Radical Islam’s principles are out there for all to see if they open their eyes. But what are our principles? In truth, they are up for grabs.
- Rice, which used to be a Korean staple eaten three times a day, has lost so much of its appeal that South Korea is now stuck with a huge rice surplus of 1.36 million tonnes after a record bumper crop this year.

With South Koreans eating less and less rice - only 9.6 times a week according to a recent study - the government is now trying to create new rice-based products in a bid to increase consumption.

The latest is rice-based penne pasta, after rice bread and rice noodles. But habits may be hard to change as people have become used to eating such products made from wheat.

Industry data shows that Koreans spent over 6.3 trillion won (S$7.75 billion) on bread, sandwiches and pastries last year and the nation's per capita flour consumption registered a high of 33.6kg - slightly over half of the 65.1kg for rice.

Rice consumption has halved since the 1970s, as growing Western influence has swayed people to embrace alternative sources of carbohydrates like bread and noodles.

- as usual thanks to all of the individuals and groups who purchase and use my goods and services

Quick Beef Stew Recipe, Random Stuff, and More

This is the latest in my series on quick, easy, and tasty meals:   http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2017/11/chinese-style-congee-jook-recipe...