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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.

Quick Beef Stew Recipe, Random Stuff, and More

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