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Friday, January 29, 2016

Conspiracy Theories, Understanding Propaganda, and More

- everytime you go through history things are a lot more complex than they actually seem. One thing is fundamentally clear though is that if you meet the average Australian, Japanese, Russian, American, Chinese, Korean, Saudi Arabian, Iranian, etc... person they couldn't care less about a lot of the things that the government seems to want. However, one thing is obvious. It's the feeling of betrayal which leads certain people to take a completely different perspective of things. When they discover that things aren't how they appear or are purported to be they can go on a completely different tangent. That's very obvious with a lot of conspiracy theorists and alternative news channels out there
NATO looks to combat Russia's 'information weapon': document
- you need to forget the idea that any country is 'exceptional'. Look deeper and you'll uncover that most countries have alternative/parallel programs doing the exact same thing. For instance, while it has been documented that the Russians and Chinese have so called 'web brigades' of humans who leave comments on forums and after articles in an attempt to persuade or muddle the situation it's clear that they (as well as the US) have also come up systems to defend against and in order to achieve the exact same thing. At times it seems some of this stuff is just too crazy to be true?
- there is obviously a crazy level of surveillance on now. The problem is that with the advent of modern hybrid warfare, covert operations, false flag operations, etc... things have become far more complex. Claims that senators, politicians, other people being spied on... and that intelligence is being used as 'leverage' (blackmail)(I doubt most people would have a problem if this was being used for pure screening purposes. Some of the claims just seem very wrong though). Problems with consistency with application of laws which is frustrating with for many 'whistleblowers'. If some people leak classified material and aren't reprimanded why are others (unless for actual operational/tactical/strategic purposes)? It doesn't seem right?
Silenced (2014)
SILENCED - Whistleblower Documentary w. Thomas Andrew Drake, Jesselyn Raddack + James Spione
- claims that Hoover used intelligence as leverage against US political elite (including president)(Chinese/Russians have done this for a long time if you look back through history)? Feels like the notion of what democracies should be and what they've ended up as is being eroded a lot of the time and if this is the case, the US is effectively a pseudo-democracy especially when you consider how big of a factor financial backing plays as part of their electoral process. Power shifts towards security services with each new enemy it seems. Deliberate or accident? Over and over again, it feels like that virtually all possible attacks can be prevented based on whitleblower accounts? Bad decisions being made over and over again which is what is allowing terrorist attacks to slip through? Claims by whistleblowers of politicisation of intelligence to the point that it feels like they're just pinning the blame on whoever they want, that intelligence is being mishandled/deliberately corrupted/mis-translated, buried evidence, using subterfuge to hide files that would otherwise come up via FOI requests, that they're struggling to find the right balance between desire for intelligence and savings lives, troubling claims that the US works way too closely with some terrorist/rebel groups and that they are partly causing their own problems, profiteering from terrorist attacks, software which allows for profiteering from such attacks/launder money/financial fraud, people's livelihoods being threatened (journalists, whistleblowers, etc...) who want to speak out, whistleblowing made extremely difficult via rules/regulations, etc...
- some conspiracy theorists/alternative news outlets are clearly just looking to make a name for themselves. Others lack credibility because they're theories are so outlandish that they feel almost impossible
- over and over again the question runs through your head whether or not our world only exists this way because of what happens beneath the surface. If this is the case, can you live with it?
- from the moment we enter school we're taught to take a position and argue for it. It's almost like a self referential loop that almost leads to us taking on an ideology and doesn't allow us to develop our critical thinking/reasoning skills (conspiracy or not)
- almost any conspiracy can be proven given the advent of data mining and the Internet
- given the nature of these operations it feels like the only way you can keep your sanity and keep grounded is to come up with your own definition that sounds about right and ten stay rooted to that. For instance, for me a democracy means that the voice of the people are heard, listened to, people have of any background have a genuine chance at power, there are checks/balances in case of abuse, genuine chance of advancement based on merit not on arbitrary and constantly changing variables, etc...
- interesting perspective/overview of conspiracy theorists. Information warfare via WikiLeaks? Clearly, a lot of it is just a data dump designed to make it easier to get to worthwhile content, some of it is deliberate mis-information, etc... Claim that 98% of time bad decisions comes down to incompetence rather than conspiracy theories seems hard to believe given enough background. Use morals singularly as the basis for foreign policy to your peril. In the real world you need actual/practicable solutions. One core idea to all conspiracy theorists is their belief that their will one day be a New World Order/One World Government... If you think about how democracies work this is very difficult to believe but if you dig deeper it becomes obvious how this is achieved. Think tanks, some organisations, the public service, concentrated media, certain random powerful/wealthy individuals/organisations (in both West and other places there has been a tendency for private enterprise to help the security services if required), etc... act as third party proxies to help achieve this... What sounds like crazy stories from China, Russia, Iran, etc... making more sense
- the Russians sound completely crazy at times. It's only clearer if you dig deeper what they're getting at. It's effectively the same issue with the Chinese. If the ideology is a threat to the existing ideology, it's rejected in much the same way that US/Western (other countries as well) citizens often consider themselves and their societies 'exceptional'. Soros knows that Chinese actual power is not commensurate with their existing status within existing Western organisations such as the IMF. Believes in a 'New World Order' concept. Believes that US economic power and other supremacy is getting eroded. Fined for market rigging/insider trading in multiple countries. He helped the Nazis/Gestapo confiscate goods from fellow Jews in the past. Bush administration ordered CIA to de-stablise Iranian regime recently (by funding terrorist groups, protesters, NGO's, etc...). Widely known/broadcast throughout global media. Funding of the order of $40 million USD in the Iranian operation. So called 'elite' (Ted Turner, Bill Gates, David Rockefeller, Oprah Winfrey, etc...) discussing philantropy but also some very controversial theories such as 'culling' of the human population. Soros believes that in the battle of success versus truth most people in the US believe in the former
- whistleblowers say that if you understand it and expose it then they're in trouble? They will try to bury the truth somehow. Controlling the inquiry (and who gets appointed to run it) is the easiest way to control it. Working for the security services almost means that you must get your hands dirty at times. Operation 40 was an a operation that involved covert assassinations of 'unfriendly' foreign heads of state. Approved by Nixon? Run by CIA. JFK assassination an inside job? Possible 60 minutes episode but it was killed. No coverage whether to refute, confirm, etc... aided by existing security legislation, corporate media, cronyism, stripping of whistleblower protection, apathy of public, etc... Cover ups occur constantly in spite of what we believe
- claims that Skull and Bones group form the core of the CIA like Cambridge/Oxford are known recruitment areas for MI5/MI6. Claims that CIA has been using drugs to fund operations whether directly or via third parties. Global intelligence services using certain banks globally as fronts for 'black operations'. Obvious question is if this is the only way they can fund their operations? Given that it's clear that they may also be profiteering via other avenues likely that it may also serve other purposes
- growth in alternative media at expense of current/establishment media outlets? Wonder whether it'e because of the messaging and whether it's because it's the same message on repeat? Even for the most ardent nationalist some propaganda is surely a turnoff?
- explores the possibility that society is being dumbed down and our field of thought limited deliberately in an attempt to achieve harmony? In the context of democracy we can achieve totalitarianism without having to use force. Find it hard to believe that this is a genuine, deliberate, long term strategy though. Lenin thought that propaganda such as slogans, repitition, etc... was core to winning?
- two of the names mentioned behind the scenes are Kissinger and Soros. Kissinger background was Jewish. Family left Germany because of Nazism. Strong at debating/rhetoric in high school. Drafted into military and worked in intelligence/defense/administration for an extended period before he entered the political world. Allegations that he was recruited by KGB. Scholarship offers to Harvard after being 'discovered' by those amongst the establishment. In fact, Rockeffeler family/group themselves took an interest in him and sort of guided him through Washington. Concerns that Rockeffeler had undue influence over Kinsinger and his dealings in Washington. Geographical unions and interdependence is idea behind greater future global peace and prosperity. 600 elitists who control/shape world into NWO (New World Order)? Kissinger would be arrested for war crimes if he travelled? Previously I mentioned that some whistleblowers (Binney) worried that population control was actual foreign policy. Apparently, this policy has been around for quite a while but never really mentioned in public. US policy, NSSM 200 (a version of 1944 British policy by King George) openly states that since third world population growth was a threat to Western power and therefore measures needed to be taken to curb this. Thirteen key countries where massive population control programs control programs would be undertaken (the two obvious ones China and India are missing from the list but obviously given the policies of China one wonders whether or not they were effectively put under duress into implementing a 'one child policy' in return for financial, development loans?). It would be done by controlling IMF loans, sterilisation, food control, wars, etc... If certain people are appointed to commissions we should be wary of any possible outcome. For some people the outcome is irrelevant as opposed to whether the national interest. Some US foreign policy makes much more sense given that some US 'elite' believe that victory is the only viable choice. Never, ending war is a self fulfilling prophecy given this background. Kissinger still has strong/undue influence over US foreign policy?

- it's fundamentally clear that behind the scenes it's almost undeclared war between China and the US for regional and global supremacy at times. Watch the timing of some events (launch of their local stealth fighter program during US official visit, launch of own meta-data program when US program was shut down, etc...) and it becomes clear that essentially China is basically sticking it to the US at times saying that their system of government is just as valid and good as the US way of life (and the exact same vice-versa)... The battlefield has simply switched over to the economic, intelligence, etc... world

- crowd sourcing of public policy? Limited success... and there were a lot of people who actually circumvented it to try and maintain the current status quo

- recently have been working on some text analysis software. Had to look at some FOSS summarising software

- you won't understand the problem with anonymisation and the problem of civil liberties unless you dig deeper

- interesting map of the sectarian division in the Middle East
What Is the Difference Between Sunni and Shiite Muslims--and Why Does It Matter?

- one of frustrating things that you'll find out is that Windows 8 keys aren't compatible with Windows 8.1 media in spite of the difference basically being a service pack. The answer is to use generic keys apparently (334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT for Core, XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB for Professional) and then switching back to the proper key or else just downloading the most appropriate media from Microsoft (free)

- ever wondered what superheroes existed worldwide? I have...

- apparently, almost impossible to duplicate/clone modern SIM cards owing to server side checking as well as more tamper proof SIM card technology

- something so simple can create so much trouble if not working properly

- just let them get on with it. Nothing we can really do. Given the troubles of the Yak-141 program (somewhat similar though much older USSR equivalent program to the JSF), the JSF program, and Golitsyn's ramblings part of me wonders whether the JSF program was somewhat of a poison challice. Even if you could get it done it would undoubtably be very costly and difficult to build. Part of the problem with the program is that even with experience you can't predict/manage the project easily because it feels like a lot of it is being done from scratch. If they had of made it of a more open architecture other partner nations could have contribute more to it's core development without necessarily having to compromise on security (think open box vs black box security models...). Possibly even help to bring the development part of the program to a close quicker?
- this practice is actually reasonably common amongst Asian people who often never even had the luxury of guaranteed food safety (for anyone who could afford it). Even when people have migrated they have often been a stigma that people have brought problems (and standards) with them. For instance, some Asian businesses are known to have engaged in improper food handling/safety locally in order to gain a buck. Hence, they try to source from places they can trust...

- there are actually a lot of ex-service/veteran organisations around the world.

Some qutoes in the recent media:

- But in a more balanced fight — such as versus Soviet armored columns in a European blitzkrieg — the results would have been very different. Not only would the Soviets come with better tactics, they’d have more heavily-armored tanks. The Pentagon was painfully aware that M-72’s rockets would bounce off those tanks’ frontal shielding.

That’s why, in May 1977, the U.S. Army hired the Brunswick Corporation — a large manufacturer that started off making pool tables and bowling balls in 19th century — to design a whole new weapon. Brunswick’s California-based defense division would refine the design of a spherical rocket dubbed the Rifleman’s Assault Weapon, or RAW.
- Chinese oil major Sinopec is building a filling station on an island in the South China Sea, as China continues to expand its civilian infrastructure in the disputed waterway, entrenching its reach in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

The filling station and accompanying storage tank on Woody Island in the Paracels will take a year to complete, the company, whose listed flagship is Sinopec Corp , said on its microblog on Monday.
- Genuinely independent middle powers are actually attractive partners for friend and putative foe alike. They also have more potential diplomatic leverage than countries whose every move is an all-too-predictable reflection of, and supplement to, that of its principal ally.

Outsourcing effective responsibility for foreign and security policy to the US or anyone else wouldn’t be wise even if we could afford the obligations this involves. It looks even more indefensible, unnecessary and unproductive in the current environment. New Zealand’s experience suggests that Australia’s future defence direction is at least worth debating.
- Firstly, the US’s allegations that the Islamic State is preparing to use chemical weapons must be looked at in light of the US’s incredibly limp-handed offensive against ISIS. Not only have the US’s so- called bombing attacks on the Islamic State been shockingly ineffective, but now that Russia has begun her own bombing of ISIS, the US has gotten hopping mad.

As revealed here,  the US has been behind ISIS for some time now. So if ISIS is now deploying chemical weapons, one must ask if the US is also behind this development.

The US’s repeated claims that other countries are using BW and CW must be viewed in the perspective of its own activities. When the US changed its domestic legislation to give itself immunity from violating its own biological weapons laws,  it was done so apparently to grant itself leeway to deploy a country-wide bio/chem attack, via this delivery system.

The US has now been caught red- handed in another covert program, facilitated by a secret handshake with selected pharmaceutical companies, to supply pre-determined targets with “imposter pharmaceuticals.” These imposter pharmaceuticals, which come in the same packaging as ordinary pills, will cause heart attacks/strokes in those who unwittingly consume them.
- Mainstream Western media usually cast Putin's popularity as the result of Russians' heavy reliance on government-controlled television, i.e. 'brain-washing.' But such a one-sided view may misrepresent the relationship between power and public opinion. Tellingly, only 34 percent of Russians say they trust the media.

The 'brain-washing' theory also misses what is possibly the most significant feature of modern Russia: for the first time since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union (if not the 1917 revolution) government policies reflect the attitudes and opinions of the conservative majority of Russians rather than a Westernizing, neo-liberal (or Marxist) elite.
- Nabiullina has come under criticism from members of the Duma for being far too slow in building the gold reserves of the ruble. Russia today is the world’s second largest gold producer after China, and China has been building its Peoples’ Bank of China gold reserves in recent years at a feverish pace. Western central banks, led by the Federal Reserve, since gold backing for the dollar was abandoned in August, 1971, have done everything, including brazen market manipulation, to discourage gold currency reserves around the world.
- The APCs are being transferred via the Excess Defense Article (EDA) program, which grants excess military equipment from the United States without cost to qualified allied countries. Manila did have to pay 67.5 million pesos ($1.4 million) to cover transport costs, however.
- Screen Australia will suffer its third round of cuts in 18 months while the government scraps the Book Council of Australia as part of $52.5 million in cuts to the Arts and Communications, $47 million of which it will redirect to major Hollywood film studios for Thor and Alien sequels.
- According to the Daily Dot, nearly 5 million usernames and passwords associated with Gmail accounts have been leaked on a Russian Bitcoin forum. Here's what you should know.

The list has since been taken down, and there's no evidence that Gmail itself was hacked—just that these passwords have been leaked. Most sources are saying that lots of the information is quite old, so chances are they were leaked long ago—though others are claiming 60% of the passwords are still valid (not to mention really, really horrible).

5 Million Online Passwords Leaked, Check Yours Now [Updated]

To check if your password was one of the leaked, plug your Gmail address into this trusted tool from KnowEm. Alternatively, if you aren't comfortable giving out your email, you can change all your passwords now.

No matter what you do, make sure you using a strong password on all your accounts and that you've enabled two-factor authentication. Hit the link to read more.
- Most critically, according to prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Leviathan has enough gas to yield Israel’s first-ever energy export deals—offsetting the state’s increasing isolation over its reluctance to hold comprehensive peace talks with the Palestinians. “Our ability to export gas enhances the strength of the state of Israel… It makes Israel much more resilient to international pressures,” he recently told the Knesset’s economics committee.
The threat of a formal declaration of independence by Taiwan is a clear red line for Beijing. In July of 1995, China began an almost yearlong campaign of intimidation in an attempt to unduly influence Taiwan’s first democratic election for its president, which featured a pro-independence candidate Lee Teng-hui. Beijing quite literally fired a series of “warning shot” missile tests less than 40 miles off Taiwan’s bow. This provocation was followed by a second wave of missiles, live ammunition exercises and a “mock Taiwan invasion” in November.

In December, the United States finally responded by sending the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group towards the Taiwan Strait. While several months of quiet followed, China launched additional ballistic missile warning shots in early March and conducted all-out war games with the participation of some 40 naval vessels, 260 aircraft and 150,000 troops—effectively a Chinese Communist blockade of the Taiwan Strait. In response, President Bill Clinton moved the USS Independence aircraft carrier strike group already stationed in the Pacific to waters much closer to Taiwan and then summoned the USS Nimitz from the Persian Gulf, ordering it to proceed at high speed.

To the chagrin of Beijing’s leadership, it intimidation backfired and helped Lee Teng-hui win 54 percent of the vote. Once America’s carrier strike groups steamed into the area, Beijing also realized it had no answer for an American force commanding both the seas and skies above.

In this way, this Third Taiwan Strait Crisis was simultaneously an “ah hah” epiphany and a “never again” moment for Beijing. Since 1996, China has not only sought to develop a world-class navy—along with an anti-access strategy and anti-ship ballistic missiles designed to keep America’s carriers away from Taiwan. China has also steadily transformed its air force from a motley collection of aging aircraft into a modern armada capable of going stealthy toe to missile toe with any rival in the region.
- The Homestead Act of 1862 is one of America’s best-known and beloved laws. By giving away federal land for free to anyone who settled and cultivated it, the act enshrined the governing principle of the newly ascendant Republican Party: government should act to help the average man help himself build a better life. Together with the Land Grant College Act and the Pacific Railroad Acts, the Homestead Act placed the federal government squarely on the side of the average American in his or her quest to live in comfort and with dignity.

Today we have no frontier, no untapped source of federal lands. We do, however, have the same issue the Homestead Act tried to solve. Millions of low-to-moderately skilled, native-born and immigrant Americans live in places where they can’t find decent work while a vast new economic frontier unfolds in Southern and Western states such as Texas, Florida and North Carolina. These wide open spaces are enticing enough to encourage millions of Latin Americans to undertake dangerous and expensive journeys, yet millions of other Americans remain mired in ghettoes, depressed steel towns and struggling regions like Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta.
- In a recent interview on a Russian news program, Konstantin Syvkov said more than 300 artillery pieces concentrated on a half-mile line outside of Hama produced a so-called "fire wave" that greatly aided the Syrian offensive at first. "This method consumes a lot of ammunition, but it is very effective in getting through fortifications," Syvkov said. "This allowed the breakthrough via the enemy defenses."
- If prices continue to fall, there will be losers outside the oil patch. The drive toward renewable energy technologies will be slowed. Median stock prices for solar energy companies have fallen almost 30 percent in a month, tracking the decline in oil prices. Sales of electric cars also move in step with the price of oil.

There will also be winners -- millions of them. For every $10 drop in the price of a barrel of oil, world economic output increases by almost half a percentage point. Prices at the gasoline pump have already dropped about 50 cents a gallon. That translates to about $500 a year in savings for the average gas-guzzling U.S. household.

And if the history of oil prices has taught us anything, it's that these low prices will continue -- until they don't.
- Though the number of rigs exploring for oil in American fields has collapsed since December, U.S. production remains near historic highs at about 9.3 million barrels a day.

Shale muscled into the middle of the cost curve in the $30 to $70 cost level, but the price of producing a barrel of oil is still heading downward, Lee said.

"Cost deflation in the sector is pretty spectacular due to low utilization in the services sector, but also productivity gains," he told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."
- Launched in 2001, the SCO is composed of China, Russia, former Soviet republics Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan with the aim of strengthening political, trade, intelligence, security and military ties between the border-sharing members. Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia, India and Pakistan are currently observers, but the latter two are expected to be official members by next year.
- “The transition phase between communist and post-communist Poland was very painful for a large part of the population,” Mr. Smolar said. “For a lot of people, especially the older population, it was perceived as a catastrophe.”

Now there are concerns that the party, simmering in opposition for so long, will seek to redress a litany of grievances, even if it means bending the Constitution.

“This is not the problem in Poland only,” said Aleksander Kwasniewski, Poland’s left-wing president from 1995 to 2005. “This is happening in countries across Europe. This is the problem of democracy in general. Traditional democracy is in crisis.”
- The researchers observed similar walking patterns — a stiff, nearly immobile right arm accompanying otherwise normal movement — in four other prominent Russian officials: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev; former Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov; Sergei Ivanov, chief of the presidential administration of Russia; and Commander of the Western Military District Anatoly Sidarov.

Other footage and photographs that the scientists examined showed that the Russian officials were all right-handed and did not appear to suffer from any impairment of their right arms, except as exhibited while they were walking.

That, Bloem told Live Science, was when things became "reallypeculiar."

The odds of all five Russian officials suffering from Parkinson's and exhibiting precisely the same symptoms that appeared on the same side of the body and at the same stage of degeneration were slim. Bloem and his colleagues knew there had to be another explanation, and they found it — not in medical literature, but in the pages of a KGB training manual. [3 Myths About Parkinson's Disease]

"It literally says, when you're walking, don't move the right arm, keep it close to the holster and be ready to draw the gun," Bloem described.
- “Since November 2012, when Xi took the helm of the [Communist Party] CCP, Freedom House’s China Media Bulletin has noted over 40 instances—in 17 countries and international institutions—of Chinese information controls negatively affecting free expression outside China,” she said. “These are likely only the tip of the iceberg. The CCP’s interventions and influences extend to a surprising range of media, including pop music, hot air balloons, and video games.”
Prague, Dec 15 (ČTK) — Czech arms dealers have “discovered” Saudi Arabia and the military material export to the country has risen more than six times in the past two years, daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today, citing data from the Industry and Trade Ministry.
- “Defending our national interests always involves risk,” Bush said in a speech on national security policy in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. “But the greatest risk of all is the risk of military inferiority. Today, that is the direction we are headed.”

It’s difficult to imagine a more wrongheaded statement.

The U.S. spends far more on defense than any potential adversary--or any combination of adversaries. According to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the U.S. spent $610 billion in 2014. Of the top-spending seventeen countries, the U.S. accounted for 40 percent of total defense spending. Of the remaining sixteen counties, all but Russia and China are U.S. allies, partners, or friends. Russia and China combined spent $300 billion less than the U.S. alone.

The U.S.’s massive spending advantage actually understates the extent of its dominance, because China’s and Russia’s militaries face real problems. A recent RAND Corporation report argued that, despite increased Chinese defense spending, shortfalls in airlift capabilities, logistical weaknesses, poor training, lack of professionalism, and endemic corruption, (among other problems), will prevent the People’s Liberation Army from conducting effective offensive operations in the near future. And Russia’s faltering economy has forced Moscow to scale back plans to modernize its military and reduce its operations.
- With the collapse in oil prices has come a reckoning. At least 18 of the newcomers have filed for bankruptcy so far this year, and many others are now struggling with debt servicing costs. Barclays predicts that the default rate for speculative-grade companies - increasingly made up of oil and gas firms - will double over the next year.

Standard & Poor's ratings service recently warned that an astonishing 50 per cent of US energy junk bonds are at risk of default, or $US180 billion ($249 billion) in total. If we extrapolate this out to the $US2 trillion of debt sold globally by energy and mining companies since 2010, the numbers begin to look strikingly similar to the sub-prime mortgage lending which front ran the financial crisis. Of the $US2 trillion of mortgage lending that became distressed, $US800 billion was sub-prime and $US1.2 trillion of the supposedly less risky Alt-A.
- Much is said these days about the mismatch of missions and resources for the U.S. military. Indeed, the chants of neoconservatives on Capitol Hill have grown quite loud: more military spending, more personnel, more weapons. A recent RAND Corporation report also warned that failing to deploy a large enough military could “lead to a failure of the U.S. strategy and subsequent regret.”

But the solution is not to spend more. It is to reassess foreign policy objectives and decide whether they are worth the cost. Better to scale back an over-ambitious strategy than to waste scarce resources pursuing dubious goals.
- Of course, the United States has made space part of its way of war for decades—using satellites to guide bombs, relay signals, and gather intelligence. The U.S. is still by far the world leader in space, with some 400 satellites in Earth’s orbit, including nearly 200 military models. That’s according to the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group based in Massachusetts. By UCS’s count, Russia possesses the second-largest space force—89 satellites including around 50 belonging to, or working for, the armed forces (PDF).
- A weaker ruble has helped inbound Russian tourism jump 13 percent in the first nine months of the year, despite simmering geopolitical tensions that have marred diplomatic relations and trade ties with the West.
- Performed at Northrop Grumman's B-2 Depot and Modification Center in Palmdale, PDM includes a complete restoration of the B-2's outer surfaces; servicing of its moving parts such as landing gear, control surfaces and ejection seats; and software / hardware upgrades.
- If conflict did break out, Hanoi could target Chinese-flagged merchant container and oil ships in the South China Sea, said Thayer, who said he was told this by Vietnamese strategists.

The aim would be not to defeat China's superior forces but "to inflict sufficient damage and psychological uncertainty to cause Lloyd's insurance rates to skyrocket and for foreign investors to panic", Thayer said in a paper presented to a Singapore conference last month.

Vietnam's foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
- Kirby said Washington wanted to work to establish a "better, more transparent more effective relationship" with China in the region and had been in contact with both Taiwan and China on this on Wednesday. He declined to elaborate.

David McKeeby, another State Department spokesman, said the arms package included two Perry-class guided-missile frigates; $57 million of Javelin anti-tank missiles made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin; $268 million of TOW 2B anti-tank missiles and $217 million of Stinger surface-to-air missiles made by Raytheon, and $375 million of AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicles.

The State Department said the frigates were being offered as surplus items at a cost of $190 million. The package also includes $416 million of guns, upgrade kits, ammunition and support for Raytheon's Close-in Weapons System.

Analysts and congressional sources believe the delay in the formal approval of the sales was due to the Obama administration's desire to maintain stable working relations with China, an increasingly powerful strategic rival but also a vital economic partner as the world's second-largest economy.
- Xi called on all nations to respect cyber sovereignty.

"No country should pursue cyber hegemony, interfere in other countries' internal affairs or engage in, connive at or support cyber activities that undermine other countries' national security," he said.

Countries have the right to independently choose their own path of cyber development and model of cyber regulations, he said.

The right for countries to participate in international cyberspace governance as equals should be respected by all, Xi said.

Stressing maintenance of peace and security, the president urged the international community to cooperate to combat cybercrimes and Internet terrorism.

He said nations should work together to prevent and oppose the misuse of cyberspace for crimes such as terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and gambling.

All cybercrimes, be they commercial theft or hacker attacks, should be handled in accordance with laws and international conventions, he said.

"No double standards should be allowed in upholding cyber security," Xi said. "We cannot just have the security of one or some countries while leaving the rest insecure; still less should one seek the so-called absolute security for oneself at the expense of the security of others."
- There were 122 F-16 Class A mishap accidents for the period from FY 89 to FY 98. These accidents consisted of mishaps involving destroyed aircraft. A total of 272 F-16 aircraft had been destroyed from the introduction of the F-16 in 1975 to 2003. F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin determined that half of Class A F-16 accidents were caused by pilot error.
Regrettably, the FDA persists in falsely claiming that GE foods qualify as Generally Recognized as Safe, and to this day, it continues to exempt them from the requirement of safety testing.
- "I think anybody who still has a huge bill for developing infrastructure, these people are in deep trouble," Mr Xie added.

The analyst refused to name names, but he said at least one Australian company could go under.

He said globally more miners faced collapse.

"I do see bankruptcies, even major players who seem very large, I think bankruptcies are quite possible in 2016," Mr Xie forecast.

"I think tier two, tier three companies ... will be in trouble, especially the ones who were expanding very rapidly, buying assets and trying to increase in size by buying assets at very high prices."

Earlier this month, global miner Anglo American said it would sack 85,000 workers out of a 135,000-strong workforce and close or sell mines, including in Australia, as it merges six divisions into three.

Mr Xie said there were few buyers for Anglo's four Australian coal mines which are on the market.
- ABOARD THE LITTORAL COMBAT SHIP MILWAUKEE, VIRGINIA CAPES – The littoral combat ship Milwaukee, the Navy’s newest ship, broke down Dec. 11 and had to be towed more than 40 nautical miles to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Virginia.

The ship suffered an engineering casualty while transiting from Halifax, Canada, to Mayport, Florida, and ultimately its home port of San Diego. The cause is being evaluated by ship’s crew and technical consultants.

Initial indications are that fine metal debris collected in the lube oil filter caused the system to shut down, according to a Navy statement provided to Navy Times. The cause of the metal debris in the lube oil system is not known and assessments are ongoing.
- The CH-4 can strike from an altitude of about 16,000 feet and fly at up to 112 miles per hour, according to an article in China Space News, a publication run by C.A.S.C.

“What is clear is that the price of one Caihong-4 drone is much lower than the price of an advanced battle tank on the international arms market,” said the article, published in March.

The loss of a drone is “affordable even when military budgets are tight or in small countries,” it noted.

Chinese-built drones and aircraft are generally built to compete on price, experts say. Technological limitations mean the finished products do not often perform at the same level as their Western counterparts, but they are cheaper — and have far fewer restrictions on who can buy them.
- Western media often use videos from Russia’s anti-terror campaign in Syria to depict airstrikes by the US-led coalition. This is due to the coalition’s reluctance to share more information about its operations, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.

Unlike the Russian anti-terror operation command in Syria, the US-led coalition has not organized coverage for journalists in the region. “I have to stress that no-one has ever heard of the reporters’ press-tours to the anti-ISIS coalition’s bases,” Major General Igor Konashenkov told journalists in Latakia, Syria on Wednesday.

“As a result even the most reliable international TV channels – I am sure unintentionally – are often using the footage of Russian airstrikes to illustrate the airstrikes by the anti-ISIS coalition,” he said.
- When Jabhat al-Nusra decided to attack the US-backed secular Hazm movement in March, after accusing it of being an “agent of the west”, Hazm decided to disband rather than retaliate, and the majority of its fighters joined the Shamiya Front. Which raises the question: what will David Cameron’s moderate fighters do when Jabhat al-Nusra in turn brands them “agents of the west”? Will they fight back? Or will they disband, as Hazm did, to spare “the blood of the mujahideen”? We don’t know. Worryingly for David Cameron, neither does he.
- The IRGC Air Force capabilities are not, per se, a strategic threat to Israeli operations. Iran's most modern aircraft include some MiG-29s that Tehran acquired in the early 1990s and old Russian Sukhoi jets. Some of Iran's MiG-29s were grounded for years and, although Iran's Air Force commander, Shah Safi, boasted in 2010 that Iran’s MiGs were finally operational, they are no match to Western aircraft. The Sukhois Iran has are an older version of the plane downed by Turkey last month.
- The GPL is the sole licence that takes the factor of human greed into consideration: it ensures that if one builds on the work of someone else and distributes it, then one has to also make one's changes available. In other words, share and share alike.
- Feight, from upstate New York, pleaded guilty in 2014 to providing material support to terrorists and was this week sentenced to eight years behind bars.

He told a US District Court he was first approached by Glendon Scott Crawford, the plot’s mastermind and member of the Ku Klux Klan, to help create a mobile X-ray device to sterilise medical waste. Feight said he only learned later that the machine was intended for use to target Muslim terrorist cells operating in the US.

“Potential targets were never discussed with me,” Feight said.

The married father-of-three said he became afraid to drop out of the plot after Crawford introduced him to two seemingly dangerous investors in the project. The pair were actually FBI undercover agents.
- Moldova’s problem is not that it’s a failed state. It’s a state where almost nothing has ever actually worked. In 2013, forty EU judges journeyed to Chișinău to observe how different state institutions functioned. They didn’t. Jobs that ought to be off-limits to political appointments—heading the banks, overseeing the police—are the specialty of political appointees. Four in five Moldovans profess no faith in the rule of law. Ninety percent of judges may be convicted of corruption when tried, but only last year, for the first time in Moldovan history, did one go to jail. Moldova is a state that cannot even pretend to control the real estate it calls its own. Roads are in disrepair if they’re paved at all. The national rail system is single-track—two trains cannot simultaneously operate in opposite directions. The complete lack of national interconnectedness is most evident in the presence of the notorious baroni locali, the “local bosses” who govern largely beyond Chișinău’s reach. Justice in Soroca, a town in the north, is meted out by a bulibaşa, a gypsy king called Artur. Oleg Bădărău, the mayor of a village called Bahmut, was hauled to trial in 2012 when he was discovered to have raised his own private militia.

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

Cheesy Tomato Based Pasta Recipe, Adding Subtitles to Video Files, and More

This is the latest in my series on quick, easy, and tasty meals:   http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2018/08/cheapeasyhealthy-tomato-based-pa...