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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 Gonz├ílez, 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

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

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