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Sunday, February 21, 2016

A New Cold War?, Economic Crisis, and More

Most people in the defense/intelligence community view China/Russia as more of a threat from a defensive perspective than a political, financial, etc... threat. However, if you look deeper it's clearer that there are greater strategies/tactics at play. While the world appears to be somewhat stable there is clearly a power struggle going on behind the scenes. If we look deeper there are a few things that are definitely occurring:

- creation of an alternative financial system. This includes reserve currency options, credit rating agencies, banks, etc... Imagine asking the whole world to take a chance on more Russian/Chinese influence if their wasn't a genuine alternative. In part, the US has created the problem for themselves by creating a mountain of debt via their extended campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you look deeper you'll see just exactly how much trouble their financial system was in. It was worse than Europe (12 of 13 major American financial institutions according to Ben Benanke, former head of US Federal Reserve Bank). Instead of just parts of their financial system at risk basically almost all of it was on the verge of collapse. If they did deploy agents/proxies to create trouble elsewhere in order to maintain local stability then this is entirely understandable. One thing I didn't previously understand is why some of these rival countries don't open up their eocnomies and change regulations to make it easier for foreign investment. Based on what I'm reading between the lines they basically see it as a question of sovereignty. Moreover, their previous experiences lead them to believe that they're not getting a fair share of the action. They see it as a form of neo-colonialism with foriegn entities and individuals acting as on behalf of foreign powers. Hence, they proceed down one of two pathways. Namely, massive conglomerates (China and Russia are prime examples with their State Owned Enterprises) or else they refuse to open up unless it's on their own terms (Iran)
Jim Rickards Obama Ending Alliance with Saudi Arabia and Killing the Petrodollar
Dollar Going to Collapse 80% or 90% or More - James Rickards
Peter Joseph - Capitalism will fail & Best of with Jim Rickards, et. al.
From Natural Resources to Currency Wars w_Rick Rule & Jim Rickards
- previously I thought that the Russians/Chinese wanted to only influence the area from Asia to the Middle East but it's clearer that it's much larger than that. Basically, everything outside the traditional Western world (Asian into Europe, South America, Africa, etc...) and then whatever they can take after that. Like the financial arena, I think they'll attempt to expand of interests globally and break into relevant regional and international organisations since it's obvious they perceive their interests as somehow being sidelined in international affairs at times
- complete and total refusal to give in on the PSYOPS area. This is extremely important on so many different levels that I did not realise until recently. If the West is presented as the best possible option they effectively take all of the talent of the world, all of the investment income of the world, etc... Effectively, the rich become richer and the poor remain poorer. The reasoning behind why the Iranians, Chinese, Russians, North Koreans and other opponents of the Western alliance becomes much more clear now and why historically they have been so willing to drug their athletes in order to win in international competition (that said, given the number of elite European/American athletes caught many years after the events you have to wonder whether or not this is a two way street). Moreover, the reason why their are so many high class Russian 'hacker groups' is so much more obvious now. They may be just another part of the Russian apparatus and are a continuation of operations from the former USSR where reverse engineering was common because of trade sanctions. One, they serve to reduce profits to their enemy. Two, they gain access to it. Three, it allows them to plant their own back doors/trojans. Four, it they again a foothold in the PSYOP arena with people worshipping the worker of the Russian hackers rather than the commonly Western software firm. And so on...
Russia Assails ICC For Bias In South Ossetia War Investigation
- create an alternate narrative. It's clear that their narrative sounds borderline crazy at times but it's obvious what it stands for.The US/Western version of the World Order revolves around international norms. This means that things like the UNHCR should be recognised around each and every country and the world will be effectively ruled by the US/West. The Russian/Chinese version revolves around spheres of influence. Most of the time it will be regional. At other times more global but almost certainly less likely to be the case than now. I think the great irony of a single framework is that it while it leads to new markets in the short term it could ultimately lead to collapse. Entire cultures could be lost and so will differentiation which means that it will be a market to the bottom in a lot of cases. It's short time gain for possible long term pain
Cuba stresses foreign investment with respect for sovereignty
- show the world can live well and peacefully without the US at the top of the pile. To a certain extent WikiLeaks has been a godsend for them. It's allowed to paint a far less benevolant, wise, etc... image of the US/Western alliance than has previously been the case. A series of high level of whistleblowers has only added to this. By clearly becoming the more larger source of foreign investment into many countries (as opposed to the US/West) they've been winning the economic/financial race. By effectively shutting down large chunks (directly or indirectly) of US/Western sections of their economies they've made them dependent on other countries and reduced their economic growth. By showing that they've reliable partners in Syria (even when the world was against them) the Russians have shown them to be reliable allies
- win the intelligence/defense battle. This means many different things. However, one thing is obvious one of their strategies is basically swamping Western intelligence so that operations are more likely to succeed. Another is trying to influence the so called 'Shadow Government' (key groups/individuals, think tanks, organistions, etc...) or at least nullifying their impact on their operations or strategies. Divide and conquer and/or nullify key rival organisations such as NATO, the Western alliance, etc... People think that defense starts when you hit the battlefield but it's clear that it begins much earlier than that and despite whatever people may say about Chinese capabilities recent tactics by the US against the Chinese have been somewhat different then previously. Under the Clinton era when China pushed two aircraft carriers forward when she displayed signs of aggression against Taiwan. Under the Obama administration the US has only used sent destroyers/frigates/smaller vessels forward in the SCS dispute. Moreover, the US has recently tested the NULKA system on at least one of it's aircraft carriers meaning they aren't certain of China's Area Denial capabilities. If they can't win they won't let us win. It's guerilla warfare on a state scale. However, it's no different whether we're speaking of China/Russia or the US/West
The Russians Are Coming - Georgia's Creeping Occupation
The Russians Are Coming - NATO's Frontier
George Soros - The Bubble of American Supremacy
- one the funny things is that the further you look the more it looks like our world is just the way it is because it's one bad compromise after another. When we discovered that mass scale war was a bad thing we resorted to a cold war and proxy/hybrid warfare. Some of it is extremely cynical and crazy at times but it's also clear that a some of the people under the microscope in question are just making the best of a bad situation at times (I'll admit that some others just look plain evil). What's also fundamentally clear is that often when you look at the full picture fault often lies in multiple places not just one.
- one of the worrying things about the world is that so much seems to be in invested in maintaining the status quo no matter what country we're located in (any social system). If you can't change things via normal channels what do you do? Should you have to risk the state coming down on you for simply having a different perspective?
John Pilger with Julian Assange (Full)
Wikileaks - The Secret Story [Full Documentary]
We Steal Secrets  The Story of WikiLeaks
The Wikileaks Documentary -- Full Version

Given the focus on global economic growth I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the difficulties in the US and elsewhere:

- opponents to the Western know that fundamentally modern economics is based on effectively arbitrary numbers. It's effectively like managing a food chain. If you understood how modern finance actually worked you would know that there is something very wrong about some aspects of it. Aspects of it are self-defeating and highly desctructive. Think about this. If there is only a finite amount of money or customers for your product how do you continue to afford to pay more a heap of money to some of the major banks? You print it. That's basically the purpose and role of central and reserve banks of the world. Part of the reason why it's so hard to manage risk nowadays is because products/financial instruments are so complex. UK bank industry is most heavily subsidised part of their economy. One of the beautiful aspects of Sharia/Islamic banking is that it doesn't allow you to charge interest and would actually force banks to lend to make money while also balancing the risk side of the equation somewhat by making them more interested in their client's activities. One thing is obvious, some of the signs of breakup of the UK empire are now present within the US empire...
Four Horsemen - Feature Documentary - Official Version
Economic Collapse 'How the Banks Won' Documentary
The real truth about the 2008 financial crisis _ Brian S. Wesbury _ TEDxCountyLineRoad
The Great Euro Crisis BBC Documentary
Overdose - The Next Financial Crisis
The Fall of the British Empire - End of UK [Full Documentary Films]
- if you look at this it looks like we're just repeating history again at times. Do enough background and it feels as though the basis for our financial system is incredibly precarious. Some of the stuff in the following video is borderline conspiratorial/paranoid but it gives you somewhat of an idea of how the US manages to just use so much QE and still manage to maintain relative control of prices. It's as I mentioned previously, it's external to the local system but doing so effectively causes large portions of your local economy to collapse. You hear some of this and you can just feel the irony at times
Firewall - Financial Crisis of 2007-2013 - Full Documentary
- one thing that is obvious is that a lot of people don't realise what part they play as part of an overall system. If you examine things more closely (some of what the conspiracy theorists are saying actually has some merit) you'll realise that a lot of what they are saying sounds rediculous. Many people won't understand the following inquiry on CSPAN. Look through some of the other material in this post and on this blog. It'll make more sense...
How Did Finance Companies Use TARP Loans Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase (2009)
The 2008 Financial Crisis and the Federal Reserve - Alan Greenspan (2010)
The Collapse of The American Dream Explained in Animation
- what's clear is that the European and US banking issues were linked. If you know enough of the industry on both sides of the Atlanatic and you would know that for a long time European subsidiaries/investment bankers were under pressure to chase stronger yields even if that came at the cost of higher risk exposure. In the end, things on both sides of the Atlantic became similar with leverage levels of 30-40 times not being uncommon. Another thing is also reasonably obvious. They're going about things in a very odd way. Instead of trying to increase employment it feels like politicians/financiers are trying to change the rules for credit which effectively means that you're automaticallly increasing risk to the local economy and automatically creating the conditions for an asset bubble. Clearly, a lot of these guys have really lost touch with the real world as well as their own worlds
The Secret Bank Bailout (HD 1080p) _ German TV Award 2013
Global Financial Meltdown (Must See. Full doc)
Global Financial Meltdown - One Of The Best Financial Crisis Documentary Films
- it feels like that US is tanking it's own economy at times through bad political policy. I think the discussion that most governments need to have is what is a reasonable amount of time to purchase a time to pay off a mortage for the 'average person', how many hours should a person have to work to pay for their day's expenses, and then work their way backwards...
Wage Crisis - The USA's new underclass
- the worst part of the financial system is that it's so complex that basically only those who are working in the industry really understand it now. Even though look at further background and it becomes clearer that we're just digging ourselves a hole. By using finance to make bets on price to grow the economy we aren't diversifying our economy enough leading to further difficulties down the track. Imagine if other countries simply do the same thing but undercut (or even supercede) the US. The US economy would completely tank... We've already seen this problem with the developed countries with manufacturing
Wall Street - A Culture of Entitlement in U.S. Finance - Executive Compensation (2009)

- people make the assumption that things are great in the economic perspective. there are already measures that are designed to limit, reduce risk, simplify, help understand unwinding their banking system. Much of the handling seemed to revolve around reducing the chances of market panic
America's Fiscal Future with Ben Bernanke
James Rickards-Next Crash Exponentially Larger than Any Financial Panic in History
Rigged U.S. Ttreasury Bond Market Double Barreled Hidden Q.E. To Infinity
- super complex financial system now where they don't understand how everything is linked together and exposure levels. Reducing panic while providing funding/stimulus was core to keeping things going. Part of me thinks that they know that they know that much of economics is still pseudo-science. That's why they don't really come down harder on financiers/bankers who have stuffed up. Not job of Reserve Banks to deal with equality, government policy is though there are obvious question marks here. As I and others have discussed previously direct stimulus also likely explored but not taken as an option. Fed already goes some auditing as is though whether public things this is enough is questionable. Fed was born to deal with crises'. TARP was unpopular but necessary. Multiple tools used to monitor and deal with possible future problems such as regulation, legislation, supervision, etc... better parliamentary systems better enable handling of crisis such as this. Dodd-Frank makes it easier to prevent but not easier to deal with a problem. Think that there would be measures to over ride aspects of this should it be required though...
Whether this has been deliberate of not we need to acknowledge that certain things have changed
BBC HARDtalk - Ben Bernanke - Former Chairman, US Federal Reserve (26_10_15)
Lords of Finance Bankers who Broke the World
Central Banking after the Great Recession - A Conversation with Ben Bernanke
- father was small business owner. difficult background growing up. Manual work/construction/buidling to pay for bills. comes across as a bit unworldly at times in spite of varied background
Wall Street Week _ Episode 29 _ Ben Bernanke
- defense is obviously very important to US economy. Personnel costs is 110k per military worker and 90k per civilian worker. Defense can have drastic impacts on economy (good and bad)... basic vs applied research. no advantage to working in military and then switching to private sector rather than staying in private sector from get go? warfare completely different. mostly proxy/assymetric type warfare now. Effectively giving away arms now. Often wonder whether it's partially just to hold their currency up?
War Profiteering Is Not Just Good! IT IS ESSENTIAL! Ben Bernanke
- the bail outs make much more sense here. Why certain institutions were bailed out but not others. Feels like things aren't bad but they aren't great
Monetary Policy and the Economy - A Conversation with Ben S. Bernanke, introduced by George W. Bush
- nice overview of what Central Banks do? how they work? history and capabilities/abilities?
Chairman Bernanke's College Lecture Series - The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis, Part 1
Chairman Bernanke's College Lecture Series - The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis, Part 2
Chairman Bernanke's College Lecture Series, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis, Part 3

- one of the funny things I've found with Russian PSYOPS (or US CENTCOM/Western PSYOPS in 'false flag' operations) trolls is that they use the same infrastructure/backend all the time so their filenames always get renamed to roughly the same thing over and over again. It's a pretty good way to identify likely trolls in the comments section of whatever forum/news site you may be frequenting. US PSYOPS is pretty easy to identify because they're using it to collect intelligence so they force people away who may muddle things and then attempt to needle others for further information. Often fiercely patriotic bordering on fanatical (not too much different from Russian/Iranian operations though)

- the updated version of EINSTEIN was something I worked on a long time ago ('Cloud and Internet Security Report', p.401. Worked on it for years on and off). It's effectively a game of sensor fusion. If they're so willing to subvert some groups why not just start a project. I know a lot of modern network companies have this type of capability though I'm not certain that they wouldn't try to price gouge you. DARPA had contracts out for cognitive/behavioural type authentication but it's clear that they don't work well enough?

- at times, you wonder whether or not they're going to give the PAK-FA some time out of the hanger as well. If you look at things in Syria they've really pushed their defense force deployment much further than I (and others) thought they would have

- i see you but can you see me?

- apparently, there aren't really any genuine USB condenser microphones that are comeptitive with their audio interface based equivalents

- tips for recording vocals

Some interesting quotes in recent media:

- This revelation by Wilkerson is important as the majority of the Western public continues to believe that the war in Afghanistan is predominately to do with fighting terrorism. Realistically, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan never really had anything to do with terrorism, but everything to do with geopolitics and the vast amount of economic riches the country possesses.

Similar to many other imperial wars we have seen in recent years, evidence suggests that the war in Afghanistan was pre-planned at least months prior to 9/11. The BBC reported on the 18th of September 2001 that Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by US officials in July that the US was planning to attack Afghanistan in the coming months. A report by a bipartisan commission of inquiry in 2004 also revealed that the Bush administration had agreed on a plan to attack Afghanistan the day before 9/11.

Then, perfectly on time, 9/11 (also dubbed by the neoconservatives the “new Pearl Harbour” event) happens, giving the West the ideal justification to invade and occupy the country in addition to launching the global war on terror.

A look at the map reveals the geostrategic importance of Afghanistan, as it sits between Iran, China, Pakistan and the Central Asian Republics. As Wilkerson emphasizes, US military presence in Afghanistan is about an array of factors, most notably “about China,” “Iran” and “Russia.” Similar to the great game in previous centuries, Afghanistan and Central Asia will be a place of fierce competition between major powers in the coming years.
- Commenting on the study, British immunologist Professor Daniel Davis, from the University of Manchester, said: "These T-cells, the stem memory T-cells first identified in 2011, have stem cell-like properties and are thought to be important for long-lived immune responses.

"The implication is that infusing genetically modified versions of these particular T-cells ... could provide a long-lasting immune response against a person's cancer.

"Immunotherapy has great potential to revolutionise cancer treatment and this study shows which type of T-cells might be especially useful to manipulate for long-lasting protection."

Originally published as Cells may protect against cancer for life
- Since the 1950s, though, the South Korea and the United States have wrestled — both internally and sometimes with each other — over how to respond to North Korean aggressions, from the 1968 guerrilla attack on South Korea’s presidential palace to the 2010 shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.

Again and again, though, the decision has been made to avoid military action. The immense danger on the Korean Peninsula is that any military response from the South could quickly spiral into all-out war. And with nearly half of South Korea’s 50 million people living in or around Seoul — just 50 kilometers (35 miles) from the border and within range of the North’s artillery batteries __ Pyongyang could inflict immense damage on its rival in just minutes.

The potential risks are simply too high.

Can South Korea and the United States “bear the risks of suffering casualties on our side too?” asked Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea’s Kyungnam University. “I don’t think the U.S. and South Korean leaders can afford that.”
- Russia's top investigator Alexander Bastrykin has accused the United States of heralding in a new phase of “open confrontation” with Russia that has seen it undermine justice to damage Russian interests.

Bastrykin told a roundtable discussion at Moscow's All-Russian State University of Justice that the United States and its allies had waged a “hybrid war (economic, political, informational)” against Russia for two decades, a transcript of his speech on the Investigative Committee's website published Friday said.
- Gotta love the National Interest's rare ability to frame every minor military development as a direct threat from Country X to Country Y.

"Look Out Ivory Coast, Ghana Now Has Double Barrelled Muskets"
"Look Out China, America's Military Is More Gay Friendly"
"Tally Ho Chaps, Britain Has Raised Its Threat Level from 'a bit cross' to 'ticked off'"
"Watch out World, Filipino Soldiers Now Get Rice Three Times a Day"
"Look Out France, how will You Surrender if ISIS Bombs Your White Flag Production Complex?"
- On Sunday, the Global Times, an influential Chinese state-run tabloid, said the naming scheme was "futile".

"The U.S. has been at its wits' end in dealing with China as it is reluctant to employ military threats or economic sanctions that may backfire. The only option for Washington seems to be petty actions that disturb China," it said in an editorial.

The bill had been introduced by Senator Ted Cruz, a leading contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

A White House spokesman has said President Barack Obama's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill and it was not an effective way to secure Liu's release.
- "We need to completely re-think the way we approach crime because we're putting so much emphasis on prison when we could achieve the same result, for less money, by reducing reoffending," he told Fairfax Media.

"If politicians keep demanding tougher penalties ... courts will eventually deliver them. This is what's been happening over the last 30 years. We can keep doing this for another 30 years or we can offer Australians are more rational, more considered approach."
- Guillen indicated that "once the U.S. lifts its sanctions on Cuba ... U.S. investments will be convenient to the extent that they are consistent with the national inte
- Ukraine's international backers have invested much money and political capital backing the government in its stand-off with Moscow after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 following the overthrow of Kiev's pro-Russian president by protesters.
But the former Soviet republic's failure to tackle corruption and implement reforms has already derailed a Western aid program that keeps its economy afloat, and a ceasefire with pro-Russian separatists in the east has been fraying.
The fact that the no-confidence vote happened at all underlined the public's growing disillusion with the leaders it elected after the 2013-14 Maidan uprising that raised hopes of transforming the country.
- To be fair, for the decades after World War II, the tension between American power projection and the securing of global markets was nearly invisible. The makers of U.S. foreign policy were determined to rebuild West Germany and Japan, and believed that in doing so they would not only secure capitalist beachheads in Europe and Asia, but also America’s own strategic position in the Cold War. Having strong economic allies, even if they eventually became competitors with U.S. companies and manufacturers, was central to America’s strategy as a world power. Institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF were broadly thought of as complementary to the U.S. military. Interventions and foreign meddling — Iran, Cuba, Guatemala, Chile — were as much about securing American prestige in its rivalry with the Soviet Union as they were about safeguarding capital. That the military and American business could ever foster widely divergent interests may have been a thought experiment indulged by future-oriented businessmen like Bloomberg, but it was not a running concern of the Cold War U.S. foreign-policy establishment.

But it is one now.

As the world’s newest capitalist aspirants, from China to India, continue to rise, it’s difficult to imagine how they won’t erode American power in the world. The prospect of a future China thoroughly integrated with international markets would almost necessarily spell the end of American leadership of the global order. It takes severe headlong optimism to think that a capitalist, but nondemocratic China with an economy that is consumer-driven would subscribe wholesale to American-written international rules of the global world order, which champions independent judiciaries, currencies pegged to the dollar, and no changes of international borders unless they are approved by the United States. If America is insistent on jealously guarding its right to swagger and thrust influence in the world in Jacksonian fashion, it may increasingly have to compromise on its Hamiltonian dreams of a world made safe for capital.
- According to The Australian, there has been a sharp rise in serious attacks on the government’s secure network in Canberra.
Hundreds of attempts to infiltrate the network, used by 97 agencies, are now made every month.
- IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly notes that the Vietnam may have received design assistance from Belarus, given that the unveiling of the aircraft coincided with the visit of the chairman of the Belarus Academy of Science.

In 2014, Vietnam purchased a number of Grif-K tactical drones from Belarus. The Belorussian UAV has a wingspan of 5.7 meters, a maximum take-off weight of 120 kilograms, and a payload of 25 kilograms.

In 2014 and 2015,  Vietnam also ordered Israel-made Orbiter 2 and Orbiter 3 drones for use in the Vietnamese Army’s artillery corps.

Vietnam has been trying to build an indigenous UAV since at least 2008. In May 2013, Hanoi flight tested six drones, all with inferior performance characteristics in comparison to the new HS-6L prototype as The Diplomat reported:

[T]he drones have a weight of 4 kg to 170 kg and wingspans ranging from 1.2 to 5 meters. The smallest of these “can fly at 70 kph [kilometers per hour] within a radius of 2 km and at a maximum altitude of 200 m,” while the biggest one “can fly at 180 kph, within a radius of 100 km and at an elevation of 3,000 meters. It can continuously fly for 6 hours in both daytime and nighttime.”

The unmanned aircraft are equipped with cameras, spectrometers and other devices and will be “used for [the] supervision of environmental natural resources in difficult direct approach territories; observation, communication and seashore rescue; exploration of natural resources, control of forest fire[s], and to follow the situation of national electricity system and transport” (…)

The new HS-6L could be used for surveilling the Chinese naval base at Sanya on China’s Hainan Island and military facilities (e.g., ports and airfields) that China is building in the potentially oil-rich South China Sea.
- A new online service will issue medical certificates and repeat referrals all for the low fee of A$19.99.

The most common reasons for sick notes are heavy migraines, diarrhoea, periods, back pain, and the flu. Dr Sicknote was created to help those most in need by offering a quick, easy and simple solution to get a medical certificate for work.

Melbourne based Dr Sicknote is staffed by general practitioners (GPs) and registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency (AHPRA).

It’s web site stresses that it is not about people ‘chucking sickies’ in fact it actively discourages it.

Medical and taxpayer resources are precious, and the aim is to help patients, doctors and Medicare make the best use of these resources by allowing safe online access to some medical services where physical contact with a doctor is not required.
- Mandela and Gandhi were different to today's politicians. They weren't politicians. They were leaders. They nurtured in their people a sense of personal attachment to the government, they encouraged informed followers instead of supporters, they set long-term ethical agendas, they were self-aware, and unafraid of being seen as vulnerable. And most importantly, they had a "universally conceived humanity" that connected seamlessly with the suffering of others, as Indian political psychologist Ashis Nandy theorised, making the "overcoming of suffering central to thought and action".

Added to that, today's leaders need perfect scales of justice to separate right from wrong, for there are objective truths: terrorism is a crime, so is genocide, as is killing innocent non-combatants. To contain conflict and improve (all) life on earth, politicians should be measured for their leadership qualities, for their personal biases, emotional intelligence, and perceptions regarding the right to freedom of law-abiding peoples, for the world needs less politicians and more moral agents.
- After all, North Korea does not possess any modern air defenses or an air force that would necessitate the use of the Raptor. Pyongyang’s conventional forces are largely comprised of antiquated Soviet and Chinese-built hardware from the 1950s and 1960s. In a conventional war, North Korean forces would likely be annihilated in weeks—but at the cost of Seoul being devastated by Pyongyang’s dug in artillery forces.

Effectively, that means that the North Korean regime is reliant on its nuclear weapons to guarantee its continued survival. That is the single biggest reason that Pyongyang refuses to give up its weapons of mass destruction. Given that Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi—who gave up his nuclear weapons program in exchange for improved relations with the West and security guarantees in 2003—was overthrown by an air campaign led by the United States, North Korea is unlikely to budge on the issue—as Mira Rapp-Hooper and Kenneth Waltz wrote for the Atlantic.

It’s a simple realist calculation that even an undergraduate international relations student should be able to grasp.
- Nevertheless, the Obama summit has prompted some predictable scepticism in the US, with some commentators questioning the point of even bothering to meet this disparate bunch of leaders. "When I need to call ASEAN [in a crisis] whom do I ask for? The answer is nobody," Robert Manning of the Atlantic Council argues, using an old line about the European Union.
- SINGAPORE — The British Ministry of Defence purchased a solar-powered UAV capable of flying almost on the edge of space.

Two of the Zephyr 8 machines built by Airbus Defence and Space were acquired for operational concept demonstration work by the British, the MoD will announce Thursday.

Powered by the sun, the vehicle, known officially as a high-altitude pseudo-satellite, is capable of flying for more than a month at an altitude of between 65,000 feet and 70,000 feet.

The earlier Zephyr 7 holds the world record for 14 days continuous flight set in 2010. The aircraft charges its batteries from sunlight during the day. The new Zephyr 8 has a wingspan of 25 meters, is 30 percent lighter and can carry 50 percent more batteries than its predecessor.

An updated version of the UAV is already on the drawing board, Airbus executives told reporters during a briefing last year.
- Fisher said there is some irony that CATIC is marketing the L-15 at the Singapore Airshow. The L-15 is now the primary competition for the subsonic Russian Yakovlev Yak-130 multirole combat and LIFT aircraft and Yakovlev had played a decisive role in helping Hongdu refine the L-15 design. The Russian’s are also exhibiting a model of the Yak-130 at this week’s show.
- PARIS — Direction Générale de l’Armament will likely recruit 160 staffers this year to work on export efforts as part of a sharper organizational focus on foreign arms sales, said Laurent Collet-Billon, head of the French defense procurement office.

The recruitment plan reflects a significant reorganization to take “into account what the client requests, notably a structured organization of the project,” he told a Feb. 10 news conference.

That first batch of 160 is part of a plan to recruit more than 500 staff by 2019-20, a DGA spokesman later said.

France won export orders worth an estimated €16 billion (US $18 billion) last year, with the DGA in the front line of the foreign sales effort, Collet-Billon said. There is an optimistic mood with hopes of winning some €16 billion again this year, the spokesman said.
- Technology consultant Richard Forno, a veteran in the security industry and one who has worked for the government as well, pointed out that while the FBI is demanding a backdoor, "the NSA director Admiral Mike Rogers has already stated publicly there is no need for such backdoors or law enforcement access, and that strong internet security features are more of a benefit than risk to society".
- As Russia engaged in Syria late in 2015, Moscow analyst Maxim Trudolyubov wrote in The New York Times: "[The Chechen] war defined Mr Putin as a leader. His goal, then in Chechnya [and] now in Syria, is to tame a restive region by giving a free hand to a loyal warlord, no matter how brutal, who will crush all jihadists, separatists and rivals in order to maintain stability."
By making it clear that it is more interested in preserving the Syrian regime than it is in preserving Assad the man, Moscow has opened the possibility that the region's leaders will welcome Russia as a superpower player who will protect their tinpot regimes.

And in investing so much in his Syrian adventure, Putin will expect to dislodge Iran as the principal foreign patron of Damascus – an outcome that would have the Sunni princes of the Gulf gleefully somersaulting. Even a few Western leaders might jump at the prospect of seeing Tehran brought down a peg or two.

In the Putin book, as in the Assad book, a leader does not settle with "terrorists" – he eliminates them. And if whole communities are deemed to be "terrorist", their destruction becomes a logical objective and ultra-violence a legitimate tool.

The different approaches of Washington and Moscow prompted this assessment by a Syrian official escorting foreign journalists in Latakia, on the Mediterranean coast: "They're not like the Americans – when they get involved, they do it all the way."

Indeed. With a pliant news media and the swagger of the dictator he almost is, Putin will have a freer hand than any government whose citizens get to vote in meaningful elections and who tire of war.
- To be clear this is the same dilemma that any IT company faces – US based like Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google (Alphabet), Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Dell, et al – or Asian based like Lenovo and Huawei [that has long been accused – but never proven - of having mandated backdoors for the Chinese Government’s use] et al.
It [and others] need to build devices, services (health, insurance, finance), clouds, etc., that can only be accessed by the person that owns it – unless they choose to share that access credential with someone else and by inference kill them later [change the access credential]. We are going to see a lot more two factor authentication (or more) to enable things like firmware updates, storage access, and privacy protection. The trade-off will be if you lose your key – tough, everything is gone, and that is it.

Democratic governments must respect this basic right. Autocratic governments can and will do whatever they want.
- The US Department of Defense announced today that it is to standardize on Windows 10. Over the course of the next year, some 4 million systems will be upgraded to Microsoft's latest operating system in what must be the largest enterprise deployment of the operating system worldwide.

This is a followup to a November order to upgrade systems in Combatant Commands, Service Agencies, and Field Activities to the operating system. The rationale is the government's desire to protect better against security breaches and reduce IT costs by streamlining on a single platform. Windows 10 is better protected against security flaws than its predecessors, making it a tougher target for attackers.

In tandem with this, the government has given the Surface 3, Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book all the relevant certifications to allow those systems to be included on the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Unified Capabilities (UC) Approved Products List (APL). This means that DoD agencies can now buy and use Surface family hardware in its deployments.

While concerns over Windows 10's privacy policy and network connectivity have been a lingering feature of the operating system's release, this announcement suggests that at least one large, security-sensitive enterprise operator is satisfied with the controls that Microsoft provides.
- At the heart of the problem is the failure by successive governments to cut the cosy ties between Italy's banks and companies, weaning them off loans and onto capital markets, something Bank of Italy Vice Director Fabio Panetta says "could activate a virtuous circle between market growth, investments and economic development".
- But the Chinese space program still remains several years away from doing so, and in the meantime, its increasing presence in space also creates room for cooperation if China and the U.S. can push past their mutual distrust on national security matters. While the military aspects of Chinese space ambitions need to be monitored and understood, Logsdon said, the best way to do that is to engage with the Chinese and their space program.

"We can get more done if countries in space work together," he said. "The days of one country being the dominant space power are behind us."
- As Apple explained in less technical language in its message to customers, this amounts to designing a special version of the iOS operating system that could be loaded onto Farook's iPhone to give the FBI access to the data stored on it. The FBI and the court are not actually asking the company to decrypt the phone: They just want the custom iOS version to disable the feature that erases the data on the phone after 10 unsuccessful attempts to break the password. Disabling it would allow officials to just break the password by "brute force", bombarding the phone with tens of millions of possible character combinations.

Apple can no longer say that is not technically possible, because it is. Instead, in the message to customers, it talks about the absence of guarantees that the iOS version allowing for the unlimited electronic input of passwords will be used only once. The iPhone maker also accuses the government of asking it to hack its own customers, though technically, the FBI intends to do the hacking itself – it just needs an opening to do it.

Those who think encryption protects their personal data from the government – or, for that matter, from anyone determined enough to invest the effort in a brute-force attack – are naive. Any encryption can be broken. Customer protection is entirely in the hands of the software companies that make household-name products, and they will pursue it only as long as that's in their business interests. For now, Apple is in its customers' corner. But I'm not sure it will stay there forever: Creating an iOS version with a backdoor is not its last line of defence.

If Farook had used a device with the Google-designed Android operating system, the FBI might not even be asking for court orders. Although user content is encrypted on Android devices, too, Android is open-source software. Theoretically, the government can produce its own version of the system that would make it possible to hack the encryption. By choosing a product from a company that is paranoid about patent protection, Apple customers have made their data somewhat safer – but still not completely safe.
- “What, little one? What’s troubling you?” the patriarch asked one bold penguin that seemed to confront him, holding out its stubby wings and sticking out its neck.
- "The ability [of Russians] to move a lot of forces very quickly is the thing that worries me the most about what they can do. The lack of indicators and warning that we have and their ability to move a lot of stuff real fast – that's not a good combination," Hodges said in October.
- The world's central banks should take a deep breath and step back from the calamitous misadventure of negative interest rates. Whatever theoretical profit can be mined from this thin seam, it is entirely overwhelmed by the slow ruin of the banking system.

Huw Van Steenis from Morgan Stanley calls negative rates (NIRP) a "dangerous experiment" that undermines quantitative easing (supplying more money) and ultimately induces banks to shrink their loan books, the exact opposite of what is intended.

The market verdict on the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank speaks for itself. Bank equities have crashed by 32 per cent in Japan and by 26 per cent in the eurozone. "Financial markets increasingly view these experimental moves as desperate," said Scott Mather from Pimco.

The policy blunder is distracting attention from the real failings of the global policy regime: lack of willingness to inject money directly into the veins of the real economy through fiscal stimulus when needed, and arguably to do so with turbo-charged effect through central bank transfers rather than debt issuance.
- Independent modelling has dented the Turnbull government's attack on Labor's negative gearing policy, finding it will generate billions for the Commonwealth with the vast bulk of revenue coming from just the top 10 per cent of households who negatively gear their properties.

The report's author says the policy would likely slow the pace of house-price growth and boost new housing construction, making it "potentially the biggest housing affordability policy the country has seen."
- During Holmes’ presentation, retired Gen. John Michael Loh, who served as the chief of Air Combat Command, criticized the Air Force’s lack of transparency on LRS-B. Loh urged the Air Force to release additional details, particularly the members of the industry team that will build the next-generation bomber, in order to drum up support for the costly program on Capitol Hill and in the public eye.

“You are going to have to fight for LRS-B every day, every week, every month, every year, because there are people out there that are going to try to kill it, they are all over this town,” Loh said. “The sooner the Air Force can release the team, the industry team on LRS-B, the more support you are going to get. If you don’t do that, it isn’t going to survive.”
- Of course, this debacle is just one of many problems. As Wess Mitchell and Jakub Grygiel write in The American Interest, "predators" are testing boundaries all over the world: “From eastern Ukraine and the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea, large rivals of the United States are modernizing their military forces, grabbing strategic real estate, and threatening vulnerable U.S. allies. Their goal is not just to assert hegemony over their neighborhoods but to rearrange the global security order as we have known it since the end of the Second World War. ... By degrees, the world is entering the path to war. Not since the 1980s have the conditions been riper for a major international military crisis. Not since the 1930s has the world witnessed the emergence of multiple large, predatory states determined to revise the global order to their advantage — if necessary by force.”
- "The Chinese are the biggest problem we have with respect to the level of effort that they're devoting against us versus the level of attention we are giving to them," Van Cleave explained.

Asked what the Chinese want from America, Van Cleave told Pelley, "Virtually every technology that is on the U.S. control technology list has been targeted at one time or another by the Chinese. Sensors, and optics, and biological and chemical processes. These are the things, information technologies across all the things that we have identified as having inherent military application."
- Another memo stressed that if any problems were encountered, those issues would be promptly blamed on Moscow.

“Any failure to resolve existing problems (or even to engage in meaningful debate) should be seen to be attributable to the Soviet Union (and its allies) and not to the West," reads a Steering Brief for the UK delegation at the CSCE Cultural Forum in Budapest, issued by the Foreign Office on October 15, 1985.

Such words seem bizarre, considering they were written at a time of thawing relations between the West and the USSR, particularly since former President Mikhail Gorbachev had visited the UK and taken part in a conversation with then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher regarding disarmament and improving international security. He went so far as to show Thatcher a secret map of Soviet missile targets in the UK, in an effort of transparency.

'Criticism worth preserving'

Despite the appearance of cooperation between the West and Russia, there was another mission taking place behind the scenes in London.

Assessing the value that the Madrid review of the Helsinki process had on Britain, a Foreign Office memo stated: "This standing to criticize the Eastern European governments’ policies, both domestic and foreign, in an international forum is well worth preserving."

A similar memo was passed around ahead of the Budapest Cultural Forum, stating: "…We must be ready to...refute any assertion by the East that they must protect themselves from Western cultural pollution – pornography, propaganda for racialism and violence.”
- Military training throughout the world is an important part of the US empire. The US Department of Defense/State Department joint report to Congress for 2014 states that 52,600 people from 155 nations were trained—but this does not include NATO members, Australia, Japan, or New Zealand, because they are not required for the report. All arms sales are accompanied by training.

The relationships acquired through training, conferences, seminars, and joint exercises are a source of considerable power, as these experiences help younger people to move up the ladder to civilian and military leadership in their countries.

Bases are also a source of influence. At one time there were more than 800 in Europe; now it is estimated that there are about 350. Originally, there were hundreds in Germany. Everywhere bases generate economic activity and also enable surveillance and influence, as explained in the fine study by Catherine Lutz, The Bases of Empire.
- "You're able to take into account your perspective because your perspective is the same, it doesn't change ... and the world does change."

That's what WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told NPR's Morning Edition about his life in long-term confinement. "For example, let's say you're watching the boats in the river but you're sailing at the same time — it's hard to understand how much they're moving versus your moving."
- Jet-lag can be prevented by "hacking" into the body's circadian rhythm during sleep using a flashing alarm clock, Stanford University has discovered.

Many people suffer from the sluggish feeling after flying to a different time zone as the body struggles to reorientate itself, but scientists have shown that is possible for travellers to get a head start on jet-lag before it even happens by tricking the body into thinking that dawn is breaking earlier.

Being subjected to short flashes of light while asleep before a trip speeds up the process of adjusting to a different time-zone, researchers have proven. "This may be a new way of adjusting much more quickly to time changes than other methods in use today," said Dr Jamie Zeitzer, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Stanford University in California.
- In October 2014, the anti-Islamic State website Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently reported that a group of Russian engineers employed by Stroytransgaz subcontractor Hesco had been given permission by the Islamic State to continue working at the plant. On Tuesday, US-based review Foreign Policy said it had spoken to “Turkish officials and Syrian rebels”, who claimed that the Russian engineers were still at the Tuweinan plant. The sources told Foreign Policy that the Russian engineers had been tasked with completing the construction of the facility, as promised in 2007, but this time with the permission of the Islamic State. The latter needs the plant to remain operational. Both Stroytransgaz and Hesco have denied the allegations. The Russian government has not commented on the case.
- Documents acquired through Denmark’s freedom of information act appear to show that the United States deployed an airplane, which had previously been used to rendition terrorism detainees, in an attempt to capture the American defector Edward Snowden. Snowden, a computer expert for the United States Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, is currently living in Russia, where he defected in June 2013, after initially fleeing to Hong Kong with millions of stolen US government documents in his possession. A few weeks ago, Danish news website Denfri.dk published a set of documents that confirm the deployment over Danish airspace of an American airplane in June 2013. The plane had previously been used by the CIA to carry out extraordinary renditions of terrorism detainees during the Administration of US President George W. Bush.
- A Korean resident of Japan, who was arrested in South Korea for credit card fraud, was allegedly a handler of North Korean sleeper agents operating in South Korea, Japan and China, according to police in Seoul. Pak Chae Hun, 49, was arrested on Tuesday at his home in Seoul by officers of the Public Security Bureau of the Metropolitan Police Department. A statement issued by South Korean police said Pak was until recently an associate professor at Korea University, a higher-education institution based in the Japanese capital Tokyo. The University is funded directly by the government of North Korea through Chongryon, a pro-Pyongyang organization otherwise known as the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan. The group represents tens of thousands of ethnic Koreans living in Japan, who are ideologically affiliated with Pyongyang.
- For the first time, now that China and the BRICs are growing, countries are borrowing not only from the United States subject to U.S. lobbying forces, but can now borrow from China and other countries as well.

The United States has responded by changing the IMF rules. It said, ‘Wait a minute. It’s okay for the IMF to make loans to countries that don’t pay China and Russia or the BRICs, because we’re in a new Cold War. The IMF really is working for us.’ As long as the U.S. has veto power in the IMF, its delegate can veto any loan to a country that owes money to the United States that the United States doesn’t wish to support. But it has no objection for the IMF making loans to U.S. satellites such as Ukraine, that official debts to Russia.

Ukraine last December owed $3 billion to Russia on a loan that is coming due from the Russian state investment fund. The United States is doing everything it can to hurt Russia economically, thinking that if it hurts it enough, Russia will capitulate to the U.S. strategy. The New Cold War strategy is basically an attempt to force other countries to privatize their economies to follow neoliberal policy. The aim is to open their economies to U.S. corporations and U.S. banks.

The IMF rules change was to mobilize the IMF basically as an agent of the U.S. Defense Department, with a side office on Wall Street. All of a sudden it’s become clear that the IMF is not an international institution for global economic performance. It’s an arm of U.S. Cold War diplomacy, one that’s moving far to the right very quickly under the Obama Administration.
- At a subsequent meeting with senior party and propaganda officials, Mr Xi stressed the importance of the party's leadership in "news and public opinion work" to increase the "influence and credibility" of the party's message.
China's journalists are subject to strict censorship and media outlets issued directives on what topics and news events are deemed taboo. It has the most journalists behind bars out of any nation and ranks 176th out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
A sweeping crackdown on dissent has seen some of the country's more adventurous editors and investigative reporters disciplined or jailed, while the fervour with which state-run media outlets attribute coverage to Mr Xi rival even that of Mao Zedong in his prime. A report by the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong found front-page mentions of President Xi in the People's Daily have far eclipsed those of his predecessors including Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.
- China spent 30 years to develop WS-10A and WS-15 engines.

The Chinese WS-10A is an F-16 class engine. It has been installed on the Chinese J-11B, J-10 (a few), J-15, and J-16. The WS-10A uses Chinese DD3 nickel superalloy for the single-crystal turbine blade.

The Chinese WS-15 is an F-22 class engine. It will debut around 2018-2020. The WS-15 will allow the J-20 to supercruise. The WS-15 uses the next-generation Chinese DD6 nickel superalloy.
- A friend of mine that works in the Pentagon for the Air Force (he serves in the USAF) says the rumors about the F-35 being defective are mostly American propaganda to throw off the Chinese and Russians to give them false hope much like how the F-22 doesn't have it's stealth mode fully engaged too. Also, the info they stole was intentionally defective and has backdoors to allow us to bypass them when they try to use it against us. They will be shocked when the actual plane effortlessly shoots down the fake J-31 copies.
- Under the NIFC-CA ‘From the Air’ (FTA) construct, the APY-9 radar would act as a sensor to cue Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles for Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets fighters via the Link-16 datalink. Moreover, the APY-9 would also act as a sensor to guide Raytheon Standard SM-6 missiles launched from Aegis cruisers and destroyers against targets located beyond the ships’ SPY-1 radars’ horizon via the Cooperative Engagement Capability datalink under the NIFC-CA ‘From the Sea’ (FTS) construct. In fact, the Navy has demonstrated live-fire NIFC-CA missile shots using the E-2D’s radar to guide SM-6 missiles against over-the-horizon shots—which by definition means the APY-9 is generating a weapons quality track.

That effectively means that stealthy tactical aircraft must operate alongside electronic attack platforms the like Boeing EA-18G Growler. It is also why the Pentagon has been shoring up American investments in electronic and cyber warfare. As one Air Force official explained, stealth and electronic attack always have a synergistic relationship because detection is about the signal-to-noise ratio. Low observables reduce the signal, while electronic attack increases the noise. “Any big picture plan, looking forward, to deal with emerging A2/AD threats will address both sides of that equation,” he said.
- Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has launched a new pan-European umbrella group that aims to pull together leftwing parties, grassroots protest movements and “rebel regions” from across the continent.

At the launch on Tuesday night, Varoufakis said that the new DiEM25 movement would “shake Europe – gently, compassionately, but firmly”. “Europe will be democratised, or it will disintegrate, and it will do so quite fast”, the self-described “erratic Marxist” said, warning of a return to a “postmodern version of the 1930s”.

The evening at Berlin’s Volksbühne theatre, also featured speeches from Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, British Green MP Caroline Lucas, representatives of Germany’s Blockupy movement, as well as musician Brian Eno, philosopher Slavoj Žižek and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “When parliaments become theatres, we have to turn theatres into parliaments”, said Miguel Urbán Crespo, an MEP for Spain’s Podemos party.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Shadow Government, Key Players, and More

As indicated in my last post, http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2016/01/conspiracy-theories-understanding.html one of the things that constantly gets alluded to (by conspiracy theorists and Russia, Iran, and other countries is the notion of a so called 'Shadow Government' operating in the US and Western countries. Whether or not it's evil or not I'll leave that up to you and your personal research (I've got other stuff to do).

- what's clear is that you go through the so called proxies/agents of US power (individuals, organisations, think tanks, etc...) and it becomes obvious that some of these people aren't 'exceptional' as some of them are sometimes deemed to be. It's even been said that people will doctor documents and histories in order to give someone a better profile than otherwise would be. What is clear is that these people are basically a group of people who believe in a particular ideology in spite of what other people may others may say and whatever evidence are brought before them. The conspiracy theorists, intelligence operatives/analysts and others who are brought up in overly paranoid environments suddenly seize on this thinking that they have found a weakness in the overall complexion of US/Western superiority but without an adequate understanding of the overall facts they look crazy because they are at the other ideological extreme
The Trial of Henry Kissinger - Christopher Hitchens (2001)
history channel documentary - Henry Kissinger - New World Order -   world order kissinger book
Niall Ferguson - Henry Kissinger Reappraised, with Andrew Roberts
- people who are recruited display certain attributes. They've been able to gain success within the immediate local environment (whether it is done by themselves or though the aide of others within the 'establishment'). They aren't coerced but they have a need for something and often have something that the establishment needs or wants. So called 'boy scouts' will never make it because in order to progress through the system they need to corrupt themselves somewhat in order to move upwards (those that do are often easily 'controlled' or made to 'see reason'). Clearly, some of them don't have a clue how they work as part of a system. Others that do, know enough not to talk more about how they work within that overall system. It has been sometimes said at the times that Silicon Valley would not exist (in it's current form) without the aide of the intelligence/defense community. It doesn't make sense until you dig a little bit deeper. The whole thing loops back in on itself and is itself an ecosystem. Any attempt to bring it down would likely require decades
- if you look at the way the PSYOP operations have evolved so much it's clear that basically the security services have been using the FOSS community for a long time in order to bring their operations in for less of a cost and more efficiently/effectively. The problem of late is that people have just been doing whatever they want and are aware of the relationship which they consider wrong (at times). It means that security services aren't necessarily getting the best product for the best possible price since it revolves mostly around money not solutions anymore
- once you understand how the loop back/ecosystem works you'll understand why some states consider multinational ICT firms a threat to the world. If a single nation (or a small number of nations) have backdoors in everything then they have a huge advantage. If you've ever worked in a SME before one of the things you'll realise is that you don't know what you can sell and at what price reasonably. What if you had access to everyone's data. Makes a big difference doesn't it? If this is a game of data then the US wins by a mile. Most infrastructure is based over there and it's clear that based on WikiLeaks and other leaks that the relationship between private enterprise and the security services may be far too close for comfort. Moreover, think of the amount of data they have regarding world trends. It's a huge financial trading system/business intelligence system which is why I'm extremely wary of anything that the US may say if there isn't sufficient background checks. The last time Australia signed a trade deal with the US (Howard era) it would said that we would benefit. We lost out based on some statistics that I've seen. If it ends up being the same I wouldn't be surprised. If Snowden, Assange, Manning, and others are just pawns in a geopolitical game it wouldn't surprise me... Moreover, if there is increasingly higher security (encryption, anonymisation, unbreakable security, etc...) across the globe where does that leave us? In terms of economic growth the information aides mostly those who already have money (more developed countries) so ultimately breaking the system breaks prosperity which is self defeating unless an alternative can be found. Part of me thinks that just like documents which indicated that it dropping of nuclear weapons on Japan was never required to end WWII (they asked for peace months ahead of these events), the memorandum on population control, etc... there's a classified document (or understanding) which basically states that all NATO countries and Western allies will support Western leadership of the world no matter what the circumstances (even if they could lead to worse problems) which makes a lot of our problems and difficulties between Western and non-Western states more clear
- the ecosystems that have been created are so ingrained now that they will take generations to fix. Children would need to trained from a young age to understand it to allow them to progress but to also understand it's flaws and how to change it if people honestly believe that the world is headed in the wrong direction
- to a certain extent we ourselves are to blame for our circumstances. We only know of a certain perspective because we choose not to explore alternatives. I look at the way in which conspiracy theorists look at the media (they sort of believe that somehow people are being brainwashed via PSYOPS) and it's clear that if we go out and search for ourselves alternative perspectives or simply turn off broadcast media from time to time we're free to think whatever we want, whenever we want. The obvious problem is that things are made much more difficult for those who seek to think differently. There's also the exact opposite view. Fine, the West has clearly taken advantage of it's position but without it where would we be? Moreover, how much of your life are you willing to give up in order to gain the type of world that you want? Allegations of corruption high in the US State Department and that they are actually selling nuclear secrets to their enemies seem too crazy to be true (Sibel Edmonds)?
Shadows of Liberty (Documentary Film 2012)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=730YXHI_Z54
Shadows of Liberty - Trailer
- understanding alternative perspectives (mainly talking about the Russians/Chinese) is much easier with a utilitarian perspective. They see the subtleties that people in the West sometimes miss due to their relative innocence but they (the Russians/Chinese) seem so cynical that they verge on the point of paranoia it sometimes seems. For them since the difference between implied and actual relationship is non-existent they mostly see no difference between much of what the West does and what they do. For instance, whether your intelligence services work willingly or unwillingly (but knowingly) with your commerical sector it still amounts to the same thing. Moreover, whether we like it or not allegations that their is a 'shadow government' operating in all former USSR states as well as the US is identical to them
- they think in terms of things from cause and effect perspectives. They regard the relationships between governments and certain actors as being the no different in their homelands as in the West. You'd be on a hiding to nothing to try and explain things are different. As long as they are working in a similar direction then certain entities are deemed to be working together. Intelligence/KGB/FSB background of Russian political elite exacerbates this particular problem of perspective in particular

I wanted to examine some of the members of this so called 'shadow government'. Here we go:

- Western based notion of balanced power. Western conquest is more based on militarism. influence others by performance rather than conquer. China spreads influence as power grows. US thinks that everything can be solved while Chinese think that problems lead potentially to other problems? can they trust one another and co-operate or else just consider each other rivals and engage in what technically amounts to another Cold War? If Iran ends up with Nuclear capabilities so will other countries? Long and short term thinking difficult to fuse together simultaneously in foreign policy. Clear that a lot of people who dabble in foreign policy are out of their depth. They don't have enough real world experience in defense, intelligence, government, politics, etc... Technically, all of the world's major powers believe in a 'world order' of some sort. The problem I have with this is that in many iterations too many people's desires are oppressed in some way, shape of form. My belief is that if there are enough comprimises it will reduce the chances of people wanting to overturn it rather than through sheer power/force. Realistically, difficult to achieve this though. Effect of media, social media, focus groups, think tanks, too great on politics? US national interest by local, overambitious (but less capable) candidates, re-election issues, etc...
Dr. Henry Kissinger fireside chat with Eric Schmidt _ Talks at Google [April 17, 2015]
- difficult, poor childhood as immigrant and parents having limited skills to work in the US. Real spring in life was during switch to military in Germany. Lost friends/family in Germany. Released people from concentration camps. Tenure at Harvard. Thinker for Nelson Rockefeller. Worked under JFK. Not pure academic. Went to Vietnam and found out it was a shambles. Was not a supporter of Nixon as US president. Belief that nuclear weapons provide complete automony for countries. Low yield tactical nuclear weapons only real choice if deciding to go down that particular route. USSR was winning Cold War in 60s? Violence in US, communism spreading in third world, US economy in trouble (stagflation)? A lot of luck was involved in his pathway into foreign policy. Lost faith during war. Had generational issues. Still works at international level and consults with Chinese/US government. Don't underestimate the impact of individuals on human history and international politics.
Niall Ferguson - Henry Kissinger Reappraised, with Andrew Roberts
- had biggest bank in world in 1800s until at least 1900s. Equivalence with European aristocracy. Jewish background. Many organisms named after them. Patrons of many. Married into aristocracy. Close to many politicians. Mutuallly beneficial relationship. Pioneers of economic intelligence. The way in which they work are somewhat similar to the way in which the overall world works now. Essentially helped begin European financial integration. Used war and precpitation towards war in to drive financial growth. Ruthless in using finance to mainpulate/control the world. Theories that indicate that they may have had undue influence in funding wars, assasinating politicians, using proxies such as the Federal Reserve and Bank of England. Started out in finance and slowly branched out into other industries
The Rothschild Family Documentary New World Order
Rothschild's Funding World War 2
- income inequality bigger and bigger problem. Fred Koch funded by USSR. USSR taught him about how to develop oil, went back to US based and used knowledge and USSR funding to create an oil firm. If you are funding something something that furthers causes you beleive in does that make you really that evil? Or is it that you try to conceal the way you attempt to control politicians, think tanks, etc... Am aware that this occurs with states as well (if you look deeply enough) when they pay off people and organisations to overlook/ignore certain local problems, to speak favourably of them, etc...
Koch Brothers EXPOSED - 2014 (ft. Bernie Sanders) • FULL DOCUMENTARY FILM • BRAVE NEW FILMS
- watch carefully for loop backs. One thing that has been said is that by having too close a relationship between academia. The irony is that in pursuit of economic growth we're trying to commercialise virtually everything. Right down to the curriculum as has been alluded to in the some country's education systems. I'm curious whether or not we're going about this the wrong way. Should we be teaching people how to commercialise their work or investing in areas where there is currently growth (as we currently are). There's another thing problem to the puritan belief in a more pure 'free market' society where the balance is probably pushed too far in favour of private enterprise. They can effectively re-write the rules of society in their favour whether in the media, finance, or other parts of the world...
- one of the theories perpepuated by Golytsin (former USSR defector) and other Soviet defectors was that capitalism was going to be used as a noose to hang those who believe in the most pure form of that theory. The irony is that at their most extremes most of the social system in existence now collapse eventually. Capitalism is at the point where private enterprise exert more control over society then should be the case while those who have lived under communist rule understand the dangers inherent to that particular system; what it feels like to lose you home, to lose your money, to lose potentially everything for something for something which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever or what seems completely and utterly unfair. In spite of this those who don't understand the nature of some aspects of pseudo-democractic/capitalist societies don't get the follies of that system either. They come in more subtle ways, ways in which people who aren't trained in intelligence are well versed to understand or know how to counter. The fact of the matter is 'national interest' could literally mean anything is one of the most dangerous aspects of modern society. Things just seem so arbitrary at times (especially when it comes to handling so called whistleblowers who understand 'the system' and are deemed a threat to it?)...
- the loop backs and relationships don't make any sense until you know enough about how the entire system works. Constant allusions to the instability of the US economy in the following documentary. Clearly, a lot of people don't understand the thinking behind some of what actually happened during TARP and the Eurozone debt crisis and why certain things. Allegations that Eurozone/PIIGS/Greek Bond Market were attacked to maintain stabliity of US economy by speculators and other proxies such as Soros
Money Wars (2010) - IMDb
Money Wars Documentary (Trailer)
Money Wars
- look at the background of a lot of leaders in the West versus our enemies and things become much more apparent. Xi Jinpiing, Putin, Merkel all had much more difficult lives than those in the West. The lessons learnt in their lives versus that of many in the West couldn't be starker. I could not possibly imagine any of them saying some of the stuff that more privileged leaders in the West sometimes say. That said, it's obvious how far gone some of these people are who are in power (doesn't matter which country we're talking about). They don't get it. Starting a business when you have relatively well off family members, established social networks, certain experiences is just trivial when compared to starting from scratch (especially if you are an immigrant). They live in a completely different world, a different stratosphere... The worst part is that for those who manage to overcome these barriers (independently) they sometimes lose touch with who they were and where they came from
- despite whatever is said most countries try to control the media and media perception in some form. Forget about the notion that there is a completely unimpeded free press or even completely uneffected media. There is evidence to suggest that many movies in Hollywood have are directly affected by the security services in some form or shape and that every single media outlet in the US is affected. The only question is how far they push things... For the most part it seems about 'perception management'. They don't want us thinking about things that are likely to cause damage to the state
- forget about the notion that he live in true democracies. I'd venture to say outright that Australia or Canada are more genuinely democratic than the US despite what is said in US media. That said, it wouldn't surprise me if opposing countries attempted to detail other countries by deliberately causing closely contested elections whether through tampering, fraud, supporting sympathetic candidates, etc... to cause strategic and political gridlock. Evidence of poor poor security, easily hacked/manipulated, conflicts of interest between voting companies and political parties, aspects of recounting don't make sense since auditing is so poor, malfunctioning of machines deliberate in poor areas in the US
Hacking Democracy - Full Length
- the more you dig a the more it seems like a lot of the members of political elite are somewhat unprepared when it comes to doing their job. They seem to get caught up with a lot of un-important stuff at times, they don't seem up to it, etc... For 'perception management' to give us confidence in our political leadership. If this is the case, it makes a bit more sense why politics is so negative nowadays. It's not a matter of who can do a better job. It's simply a matter of proving that you're the less worse choice
- it often feels like that for global security the Western world has basically gifted the US with leadership. However, at times it feels like a balance between prosperity versus security. At the other end of the scale though what's the point of prosperity if you can't have peace, a life relatively free from crime, etc... The other irony is this, China is playing a bigger role basically everywhere throughout the world not just it's immediate region. Investment from China in it's immediate vicinity, South America, Africa, etc... now outstrips the US. Even if the US has the world's largest economy I'd say that China is probably now more important...
- it's clear that some of the programs that are going on behind the scenes are borderline crazy. There have been allegations over and over again that the US has become more Soviet like over the years. In certain areas, that's almost certainly the case
- in spite of all of the above, it's clear that it's mostly about creating a cohesive society which fosters the 'greater good'. At times, it gets out of hand though. What's also fundamentally clear is that the same mechanisms are being recreated in Russia, China, and elsewhere though they are clearly less advanced

Some interesting stuff I've found on the web lately...

- sometimes email address aliases are useful for not receiving SPAM (or not giving away your email address to people who you don't really want to)

- what better than centralisation?

- obvious, what's happened behind the scenes. Things were somewhat neutral prior to the shootdown. Now, the Russians/Syrians have let through IS fighters into Turkey and are ready to take down the Turks. It's not as though they don't have the ability to fight back though

- I was looking at a unmanned version of this. It's actually not a bad way of using old equipment. The obvious problem is that using some of the larger aircraft under consideration as an 'arsenal plane' will actually leave a huge (RADAR, IR, etc...) footprint on the battlefield (though I think they would factor this into their calculations)
DOD reveals ‘arsenal plane’ in budget speech
DOD reveals ‘arsenal plane’ and microdrones in budget speech

- this is probably one of the cheapest ways to run defense (continual R&D combined with high speed, low cost manufacturing methods). Imagine 3D printed prototypes as well as complete weapons systems, weapons, etc... Between wars you can build limited number of prototypes and spend money on whatever society needs but when required you can just print out as many as copies of whatever you need as required

- floating tanks are a bit of fun for those who haven't seen them before

- a new CAS plane is being looked at since it's clear that the F-35 may not be able to fulfil the duties as required

- apparently, SIM cards get de-activated after six months of non-use

Recent interesting quotes in the media:
- In September 2015 I polled more than 2000 people globally and found that solopreneurs were considerably more likely to:

Feel engaged and energised in their work (70 per cent compared to 48 per cent of all other company sizes).
Believe they are respected and valued for their strengths (70 per cent compared to 61 per cent of all other company sizes).
Describe themselves as flourishing at work over the last three months (52 per cent compared to 32.5 per cent of all other company sizes).

Perhaps it's not surprising that the larger the company size the less likely people were to agree with these statements.

And as my own company starts to add staff, I am shocked to see just how quickly adding more people to manage can undermine performance and wellbeing.
- "Look who’s running now? Has anybody else created a single job? Nobody," Kapnisis said. "We need someone who knows how to create jobs. That’s what I did all my life. And I see that’s exactly what he does.”
- “According to initial evaluations, there was a mechanical breakdown with the drone,” the statement said. "Investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the accident with certainty."

No injuries were reported, according to Air Force Times. The crash marks the second reported Predator loss for the Air Force in 2016. One crashed in Iraq Jan. 8 during a combat mission. Officials said that aircraft was not hit by enemy fire and not captured by enemy combatants.

Another MQ-1 predator drone crashed in the Kumlu district of the southern district of Hatay near Turkey’s border with Syria on Oct. 20. Turkish jets also shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle of unknown nationality in the southern province of Kilis on Oct. 16.
- Mr Kanu, whose radio station broadcasts via the internet to get around a ban in Lagos, is accused of entering Nigeria illegally and conspiring to incite violence, charges that he and his supporters deny.
- Europe has shown us what is imaginary - the idea that rich Western welfare states can have open borders and not suffer catastrophic circumstances. Or the idea that a country can have unlimited resources to shown generosity to everyone in the world seeking a better life.

The idea of no sovereignty, of open borders everywhere, is an honourable ideal. But thinking that it will have no dire consequences in a world with massive inequality is a fantasy.
- Last year’s NDAA shifted some accountability for acquisitions programs onto the chiefs of the armed services and included bureaucracy-streamlining measures. On Monday, Thornberry said he expected the bill to encourage more experimentation and prototyping earlier in the weapons development process, so that cutting-edge technologies are proven before they are included in a formalized and hard-to-kill program of record.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Thornberry said the committee is seeking to shorten and simplify the acquisition system to avoid programs that start in an unstable position by assuming too much risk and producing delays and cost overruns.
- Acquiring fighter aircraft is definitely one investment we will not be making. Obtaining a reasonable fighter capability would simply be too costly for a small nation like ours. We are very happy with the level of air protection afforded by NATO with the Baltic Air Policing mission.

The mission also has another dimension. The NATO allies who are here benefit from a unique training experience. They are faced with real-time action in scrambling to shadow Russian military aircraft in often incredibly dangerous circumstances. Russian aircraft frequently fly with their transponders switched off so they become invisible to civilian radars. They change formations mid-air, some fly higher, others lower while some de-accelerate. This is provocative behavior. In effect, they want to test and evaluate our responses. What they are doing is very dangerous.
- My conclusion is not based on anything other than a healthy paranoia to try and keep a small digital footprint and avoid things like ID theft. I am not concerned about ‘state’ use of Big Data for planning and predicting the future but I am concerned about companies [and cybercriminals] using it to know more about me.

But as big data experts are wont to say, “Throw it in the data lake and see what bobs up” scares the bejesus out of me. You see seemingly disparate data can be combined in that lake to create links that no one ever thought existed. Fitness data added to demographic and geographical (location) data could lead to decisions made on whether one doctor or a truck load set up in that area. Fitness data added to shopping beacons and social data could change the advertising mix etc.

These examples are innocuous enough but a good data scientist will make far more use of it.

It is time that fitness data was reclassified as personally identifiable information and bought under the same scrutiny that your medical data enjoys.
- The study argues that NATO has been caught napping by a resurgent and unpredictable Russia, which has begun to boost defense spending after having seized the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine and intervened in support of pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. In the event of a potential Russian incursion in the Baltics, the United States and its allies lack sufficient troop numbers, or tanks and armored vehicles, to slow the advance of Russian armor, said the report by Rand’s David Shlapak and Michael Johnson.

“Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad,” it said.

The United States and its NATO allies could try to mount a bloody counter-attack that could trigger a dramatic escalation by Russia, as Moscow would possibly see the allied action as a direct strategic threat to its homeland. A second option would be to take a page out of the old Cold War playbook, and threaten massive retaliation, including the use of nuclear weapons. A third option would be to concede at least a temporary defeat, rendering NATO toothless, and embark on a new Cold War with Moscow, the report said.
- Many Iranians, including the intelligence agents I dealt with in Iran, believe the Western media functions like the press under authoritarian regimes, with coverage formally dictated straight from the top. On many occasions, in both Tehran and in later years, authorities and others close to them have asked me who ordered up stories they didn’t like, assuming there was a chain of command you could map out, leading straight back to some official in Washington. The mechanics of this interested the authorities deeply, because in their eyes, it helped determine which journalists were spies.
- In 2012, after people in the small Russian town of Barnaul were banned from holding a public protest, put toys on the public square instead, forcing local authorities to ban toys from protesting “because they are not citizens of Russia.” In Thailand, in 2014, the regime became suspicious of a possible foreign-engineered uprising inspired by the Hollywood blockbuster “The Hunger Games,” and pushed theatres to cancel the movie’s premiere. Just like the rebels in the movie, protesters quickly adopted a defiant three-finger salute as their movement’s symbol. Mocking a conspiracy is the best way to show it up for the desperate narrative trick it actually is.
- The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has described the TPP as a “gigantic foundation stone for our future prosperity” but recent World Bank analysis suggested Australia stood to gain only a modest increase in gross domestic product by 2030.

Of the 12 participants, only the US would experience a lower GDP gain, the report said. By contrast, Vietnam’s GDP could rise by 10%, and Malaysia’s by 8%.

Robb told Sky News there was “a war by modelling” occurring. He pointed to a US Department of Agriculture study that showed Australia’s agriculture sector would be the “biggest winner by a country mile”.

“There are so many parts of this agreement that are very difficult to model,” the minister said.
- The most powerful case against the proposed revamp is that the arguments in the document are illogical, mean-spirited, self-defeating, misleading and poorly expressed.

Take, for instance, the intention to "better align visa and citizenship decision-making with national security and community protection outcomes". What does this mean?

Or the proposal to establish "an intelligence-led threat identification and risk profiling capability incorporating immigration as well as national security and criminality risk".

On my reading, this would involve allocating points under various risk headings to produce "an enforceable integration framework to assess aspiring migrants' suitability for life in Australia".

But to what end? If the objective of a humanitarian program is to help the most vulnerable, ruling people out because they fail a points-based "integration framework" is folly. Far better to focus on ideas to build the nation's capacity to support and integrate new arrivals and make them feel secure and wanted.

What is less ambiguous is the proposal for a revamped citizenship test and citizenship pledge to "strengthen accountability for commitments made at citizenship conferral" - code for being able to take citizenship away if commitments are broken.
- “This scandal showed that Ukraine still has a big problem with the influence of big business on the economy and government,” Fesenko said. “Unlike many countries in Europe, we have a very close connection between big business and government, they’re like Siamese twins.”
- Zients said that 1 in 7 young people ages 16 to 24 are neither in school nor in the workforce. He said that people “who endure a spell of unemployment between the ages of 16 and 24 earn $400,000 less over their careers than those who do not.”
- Typhoons IOC'd in 2003 with no A2G capability. And the earliest lots are too different from the later lots to receive the same upgrades

Same story for the F-22. None of the 36 original Block 10 (now upgraded to Block 20) Raptors can take the new software upgrades for air to ground. The current plan is to use them for training only.
- "The thing is," says Dobrochotov, "there is no Viktoria Schmidt. The woman's real name is Natalia Weiss, she lives in Hanover, and is a sort of agent who puts Russian broadcasters in touch with interview partners in Germany. But sometimes she does the job herself."

Dobrochotov found the woman and called her. He posed as a Russian TV producer looking for a protagonist for a report. He put their conversation on his website, called "The Insider."

Weiss indicated her willingness to work with him. She said her price depends on the kind of service she provides and the broadcaster's budget.

"What kind of person are you looking for? What age, sex? German-speaking or Russian?" she asked. She said other clients pay up to 1,000 euros, but that there were cheaper options. At the end of their conversation, she can be heard saying: "Then just pay what you can." And, she added, she has more than enough topics to offer, scripts, too. "Just let me know what exactly you want!"

It might be an easy way to make some money for her. But for millions of others, the opinions she supplies represent the bitter truth about Germany. Up to 6 million people in Germany can receive and understand Russian television.
- "We're still too insignificant for the authorities. We get a maximum of a million clicks per month. For the Kremlin, you start to be interesting when you're getting half a million per day."

Still, he asks me to refrain from mentioning our exact meeting place.
- "I'm a product of the machine like you would not believe. I joined the Labor Party when I was 16. I took over my first branches by the time I was 17 ... [so] I thought I understood the brutality of politics simply by my time in the NSW Labor Party and my time in the NSW Labor machine."

"[But] none of that braced me for an understanding of just how concentrated, brutal and aggressive a handful of businesses operate [in Australia], and the real corporate power where it actually rests in this country," he said.

He then claimed there are 10 companies that wield the most incredible amount of power in Australia, to the point where it has stifled proper democratic and economic progress.

"Four banks, and we all know who they are – the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac, and ANZ – three big mining companies, in Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, and Fortescue Metals, you've got your two big grocery chains, and you've got your big telco, which is Telstra," Mr Dastyari said.

They have "unprecedented concentration of corporate influence" in Australia, he said.

"The entire political debate has become so dominated by the interests that they're pushing, and the agenda that they're pushing. And [we've] ended up with this complete crowding out of a proper political discourse in this country because there is one sectional interest that is so much louder than every other voice out there combined."
- The rate of F/A-18 Hornet pilots experiencing loss of oxygen mid-flight is holding steady, despite efforts to improve  systems, according to members of the House Armed Services Committee, who grilled top Navy officers on the issue at a hearing Thursday.

Pilots are experiencing hypoxia events at a rate of 20 to 30 per 100,000 flight hours, a figure that hasn't changed in several years, said Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass.
- Initiatives to engage with incarcerated extremists have been operating ad hoc for over a decade in Indonesia, though the first attempt to institutionalize a project came in 2013, when the national De-radicalization Blueprint was published by the National Counterterrorism Agency (Badan Nasional Penaggulangan Terorisme, BNPT).

The 122-page booklet outlined the agency's strategy for reforming prisoners convicted of terrorism-related offences, and presented the task as an ideological struggle with a strategy incorporating four stages.

First, the identification phase is meant to involve collecting data and determining each prisoner's level of ideological commitment. This is followed by a process of rehabilitation, which aims to “develop moderate understandings and attitudes” among prisoners and their families, so they “become inclusive, peaceful, and tolerant” citizens.

The somewhat Orwellian sounding re-education stage is next and seeks “transformations of thought, understanding and attitudes,” yet the description of the process is largely identical to that of the rehabilitation stage.

Finally, re-socialization aims to reintegrate prisoners with society upon the completion of their sentence, which also comprises lengthy duplications from the previous two stages, but highlights the need to involve communities to “remove suspicion and fear on one hand and develop empathy and mutual respect on the other hand.”
- "As a professional military officer he wouldn't make judgements or be involved in missions that he was uncomfortable with, and he is in a position, I assume, where he can cut his employment at any time if he is uncomfortable with what he is being asked to do.

"General Hindmarsh in this case is mostly in an advisory role, so he doesn't bear, as far as I understand it, the ultimate responsibility for actions of the UAE military."
- “A vote today for Hillary Clinton is a vote for endless, stupid war. I have had years of experience in dealing with Hillary Clinton and have read thousands of her cables. Hillary lacks judgement and will push the United States into endless wars which spread terrorism,” Assange wrote on the TwitLonger blog platform.

Clinton virtually destroyed Libyan statehood and aims to repeat the same scenario in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, he noted.

“Hillary's problem is not just that she's [a] war hawk. She's a war hawk with bad judgement who gets an unseemly emotional rush out of killing people. She shouldn't be let near a gun shop, let alone an army. And she certainly should not become president of the United States,” Assange wrote in his blog.
- However, according to a Chinese report cited by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, “from a national security perspective near-space steerable airships can rely on their height advantage for early warning, wartime communications support, or aiding attack platforms.”

During a future conflict where China’s satellite communications are blocked or satellites, in fact, destroyed through anti-satellite weapons, the Yuanmeng could as a communications relay station for Chinese aircraft and ships.

According to Popular Science:

Operating higher in near space means that the Yuanmeng would have constant line of sight over a hundred thousand square miles–an important requirement for radar and imaging. Increased sensor coverage means increased warning time against stealthy threats such as cruise missiles, giving Chinese forces a greater opportunity to detect and shoot down such threats. It would also be harder for fighters and surface-to-air missiles to attack near space objects.

While the airship will be vulnerable to missile attacks and other types of anti-satellite weapons, the Yuanmeng, equipped with sensors, could nevertheless serve as an early warning system in a future high-tech conflict. In particular, it could supplement China’s burgeoning anti-access/area denial capabilities by detecting incoming missiles, stealth planes, and warships from several hundred kilometers away.
- With Israel and Hamas playing a game of cat and mouse underground along the Gaza frontier, the two combatants have opened up a new front in their long-running war – social media.

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit posted an item on its Twitter feed that notes how the Palestinian Islamist group glorifies suicide bombing while threatening "to blow the roofs off of buses" in a new intifada.

The post prompted the Hamas military wing to retaliate with its own angry retort, saying that "force is the only language you understand…idiots!"
- NATO discovered in early 2014 that its force posture in Europe was not up to the task of responding to this new security situation, of assuring the most vulnerable allies or, arguably, of deterring Russian aggression. There are four reasons for this: a relentless American drawdown of U.S. military forces on the continent, Europeans cashing in on the post–Cold War peace dividend through downsizing in the 1990s, flat defense budgets across most of Europe since the mid-2000s and the widespread move from larger conscript-based armies to professional volunteer forces. Together, these factors have resulted in a diminished alliance ability to conduct warfare against a large, near-peer adversary—like Russia.
- The author JRD mentions the Russians that they would never attack the NATO and maybe that is true, but who says that they would not attack countries left in no NATO land as John R. Deni is very unwisely proposing and advocating. The Ukraine and Georgia are the most recent examples what Russia can do. I would also like to remind people who think and preach like JRD that without what they wrongly call the Eastern Europe USA would not have the 30 plus years of globalization and other neoliberal and neocon global projects. It is up to the American politicians and decision makers if they will put permanent NATO bases in countries like Poland and the Baltic States. Hiding behind very poor excuses such as that the NATO wouldn't want to antagonize the Russia smells not only appeasement, but also represents American political myopia, the author should know where appeasements and myopia lead.

If USA and NATO will loose the countries east of Odra river USA will have to say good by to the Europe as a whole. Those countries, to the east of Odra river, need stability now and reliable allies simply because they can't live forever permanently in the twilight zone you are trying to create and maintain now, one Yalta was already too much. If the USA and the NATO can't provide that what those countries rightly need then what was the whole charade all about after 1945 and 1989. USA already lost the Western Europe for all practical reasons and purposes. The Western Europe stay in the camp only for opportunistic reasons and are already mentally and emotionally with the Russia and others. So, America the choice is yours, but you have to remember that actions have consequences. If you loose what you call the Eastern Europe now you will never return to that part of Europe again, not even in thousand years.
- Donald Trump seems quite certain that the real unemployment rate is higher than the 4.9 percent that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported it to be. A lot higher.

“Don’t believe these phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment,” Mr. Trump said in his victory speech after the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night. “The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.”

Mr. Trump might be bombastic, but he’s not entirely wrong. And the ways in which he is wrong are actually useful for anyone who wants to understand how to make sense of economic data.

The truth is, there is no “true” unemployment rate. There are a nearly infinite multitude of ways to think about, and calculate, joblessness. The unemployment rate that is widely reported in the press on the first Friday of every month isn’t some manna from heaven, but rather a convention that has developed over the years that gives a partial — but still useful — view of the state of the labor market.
- Assange said: “Compare the mission statements of Google and the NSA – the NSA, who literally say, ‘We want to collect all private information, pool it, store it, sort it, index it, and exploit it.’ Whereas Google says, ‘We want to collect all private information, pool it, store it, sort it, and sell those profiles to advertisers.’ Really, they’re almost identical.”
- The answer is surprisingly simple. We need to attack wealth, not income. Income is highly mobile and easy to shift around. Wealth is not. The major asset most people have is property, which is rather hard to disguise.

This gives the tax man an advantage: he might not know where your Bermuda billions are hidden, but he sure knows where you live.

Shifting our focus to taxing wealth not income has become increasingly important as wealth inequality has risen. Inequality in earnings has risen, but it is this disparity in the ownership of assets – land, property and shares – that has really blown out over the past decades.

If you want to tax rich people, you need to go after them where they sleep at night.

Drive around the inner suburbs of Sydney; it's not hard to find the wealth.
- After a drug cartel left severed heads in town plazas and discos, the Catholic priest Gregorio Lopez realized that he could no longer be silent. From the pulpit in his native state of Michoacan, in southwestern Mexico, he condemned the bloodshed and urged his flock to stand up to the gunmen. Lopez, who is known as “Father Goyo,” earned a series of death threats for his courage, and he took to giving mass in a bulletproof jacket.

“I saw how they were killing my friends, my brothers, my sheep, and as the pastor I have the obligation to be speaking out,” Lopez told TIME after a mass in 2014 when the death threats were most frequent. “If I do nothing for my sheep I am not a pastor. If a dog bites your children, and you do nothing then you are worse than the dog.”
- When new recruits join the brutal Mara Salvatrucha gang in El Salvador, seasoned members haze the newcomers by beating them in a harrowing ritual. The initiation is said to symbolize a recruit’s commitment to what they call his new family. It also prepares gang members for the dual roles they will face going forward, that of both victimizer and victim. Many of the dead in El Salvador’s current epidemic of murder are gang members themselves.

“Since we were children, we have witnessed these scenes–scenes that never end, that come every day. There are deaths, bodies thrown out, decapitations,” says Marvin González, 32, who leads a faction of Mara Salvatrucha in the town of Ilopango, a few miles east of the capital, San Salvador. “We are killing among poor people. It’s a war without sense.”
- Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: Detainee Mohammed Bwazir's fateful decision to stay in a cell at Guantanamo rather than start anew in Europe came down to a calm, 10-minute stand-off when the warden of the war-on-terror prison urged him to board a cargo plane carrying two other captives to new lives.

Bwazir, 35, feared going to the unnamed country that offered him sanctuary and waffled before he was due to depart after 15 years of US military detention without charge. He'd gone through the formalities of leaving the base and about a week's segregation with two other captives and was shackled at the ankles, wrists and waist at "the bottom of the ramp of the aircraft', US Army Colonel David Heath said on Tuesday.

The Yemeni captive "made it clear that, 'I do not want to leave. I want to go back to my cell.' So that's what we did," the still surprised colonel said of the January 20 episode. "It was disappointing."
- Iran's acquisition is significant given its role as a regional power in the volatile Middle East, where it is backing opposite sides in conflicts in Yemen and Syria to its longtime rival Saudi Arabia.

The fighter jet is believed to be comparable to the American F-15E fighter bomber.

Iran's air force still heavily depends on domestically modified versions of long-outdated warplanes, including former Soviet MiGs and American F14A Tomcats from the 1970s.

Dehghan also rejected reports that Iran has negotiated the purchase of J10 fighter jets from China.

Russia has already started delivering S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran. The advanced defensive weapons system deal was frozen in 2010 due to U.N sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved delivery of the air defense missile system in April 2015, a move that will significantly bolster the Islamic Republic's military capability.

Dehghan said the first Iranian crews, who have been trained in Russia, will return home within the next two or three days and another group will be dispatched for training subsequently.

Iranian efforts to build up its air power is mostly a homegrown project, tweaking older technology or using domestic know-how to build its first generations of spy and attack drones. Iran has also made progress in developing its missile program.
- China and Latin America fit well together despite their recent economic turmoil. China needs raw materials like iron, oil, soy and all types of food. Latin America has lots of that.

China also uses its investment in Latin America as a source of jobs for Chinese workers. Many of the infrastructure projects in Latin America that China finances come with a caveat: Chinese workers get the job.

Latin America obliges because its desperate for the investment and credit China provides.

China also holds an advantage over the U.S.: it doesn't want to intervene in politics or tell leaders how to govern. That's a stark contrast from the U.S., which has a long history of intervening in Latin American politics.

The relationship isn't perfect. China has run into many roadblocks and challenges in Latin America, forcing projects to be suspended or even canceled.

But that's not souring these budding ties.

"China underestimated challenges that it would face in the region," says Kevin Gallagher, a Boston University professor and China-Latin America expert. But "while the rest of the investment community has turned sour on Latin America, China is doubling down."
- Mom's early vision for her sons remains clear in my mind: it was that we would develop intelligence and compassion, and use our intelligence, guided by our compassion, to benefit humanity. This mission would allow us to live with integrity, providing us with the courage to make difficult choices. Mom pronounced the word "integrity" with reverence.
- F-16s would allow Pakistan’s Air Force to operate in all-weather environments and at night, while improving its self-defense capability and bolstering its ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.

US lawmakers have 30 days to block the sale, although such action is rare since deals are well-vetted before any formal notification.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker notified the Obama administration that he would not approve using US funds to pay for the planes through the foreign military financing (FMF) program. That means Pakistan must fund the purchase itself, instead of relying on U.S. funds to cover about 46 percent of the cost.

Given the funds it has available, Pakistan may be able to buy only four of the F-16 Block 52 models, and the associated radar and electronic warfare equipment, said one U.S. source familiar with the situation.
- Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Medvedev said the world had "slid into a new period of Cold War" as differences grew between the West and Russia over conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

"Almost every day we are accused of making new horrible threats either against NATO as a whole against Europe or against the US or other countries," he told delegates at the meeting in the southern German state of Bavaria.

Medvedev said, however, that in the face of the challenges currently facing the world, such as regional conflicts, terrorism and the migration crisis, Russia needed to be regarded as a partner. He added that differences between Moscow and the rest of the world were not unbridgeable.

"Our positions differ, but they do not differ as much as 40 years ago when a wall was standing in Europe," he said, and cited several instances of agreements that had been achieved since then, including on issues such as disarmament, Iran's nuclear program and piracy.
- "Moving from a world where every town runs its own competition to one where a single high-stakes competition is held for a whole country, or the whole world, involves the replacement of local winners with uber-winners who enjoy far higher returns but of whom there are far fewer per type of contest, resulting in a more unequal overall income distribution," Frijters and Foster say.

"This kind of effect explains the enormous salaries earned by today's soccer stars, top artists, top financial advisers, inventors who obtain patents, and so on."
- A study by Sir Anthony Atkinson, a British world expert on inequality, and Andrew Leigh, former economics professor and now federal Labor politician, found that reductions in tax rates explain between a third and half of the rise in the income share of the richest 1 per cent in five English-speaking countries.

But Frijters and Foster took the unusual approach of seeing what clues they could deduce from studying the BRW magazine's list of the richest 200 Australians in 2009. They found that the industry category producing the largest number of super-rich Aussies – 61 – was buying and selling property.

Natural resources was second with 23, then "organising financial investments" with 19. "These 103 cases account for the vast bulk of the $119 billion owned by the top 200 in 2009."

Only eight families in the top 200 held large amounts of inherited wealth and all eight were in those three industry categories. So most of the money of our super-rich was made relatively recently.

As best the authors could determine, only five people on the list invented things. Another five were top entertainers. So only 5 per cent of our super-rich could be classed as superstars or top innovators.

About half spent their efforts on activities where local political decisions determine the winners: about who gets to build which property where, who gets access to favourable mining concessions, and so on.

On the basis of this evidence – which is hardly definitive – the authors conclude that "the political favours story seems more likely than the marginal productivity story".
- London: A disgruntled filmmaker has succeeded in his quest to force the UK's film censorship board to sit through a 607-minute film of paint drying.

A pair of censors sat through the entire, almost featureless epic before giving it a "U" certificate, which means "no material likely to offend or harm", a BBFC spokeswoman told Fairfax.

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

Automated Audiobook Maker Script, Random Stuff, and More

- wanted to find a way to automated building of audiobooks. Built the following: https://sites.google.com/site/dtbnguyen/audiobook_maker-...