Web hosting

Friday, June 17, 2016

Religious Conspiracies, Is Capitalism Collapsing 2?, and More

This is obviously a continuation of my past post, http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2016/06/is-capitalism-collapsing-random.html You're probably wondering how on earth we've moved on to religious conspiracies. You'll figure this out in a second:
- look back far enough and you'll realise that the way religion was practised and embraced in society was very different a long time ago and now. In fact, religious and state affairs were almost one and the same. Now, it's very much seperate in Western cultures (not so much in Islamic countries). It's almost like a lot of people just gave up because they couldn't figure out what it was all about. The people who have taken over and hold much of the world's wealth are purported to be called the Illuminati, Freemasons, 1%, etc... The name doesn't matter but specualtors have said that they basically share the same bloodlines/relationships and have basically led us up until this point and will continue to do so for the foreeable future (not saying this is true. It's just some information I found out there)?
Secret Societies - Full Documentary - HD - Illuminati - Freemasonry
Freemasons - CFR Illuminati NWO Bilderberg Masonic Secret Society Documentary - The Secret Empire
How The Illuminati Were Created _Full Length
Knights Templar (New Documentary 2014)
The Templar Code
When The Knights Templar Transformed to Freemasonry & The Rosslyn Chapel
- it's really obvious what many of the upper echelon have been trying to do. Unite the world as one through PSYOPS/propaganda. If you were smarter than average you'll always wonder why things seemed to proceed so slowly through school and why we were basically told to learn the same thing over and over gain in spite of us not gaining much. At times, it felt like we could have gained so much more. If there is a deliberate plan along these lines it makes a lot of sense. People are conditioned through question and short responses to  support a particular ideology and paid for it ultimately at the end through higher earnings. We create an army of workers and promote those that support that ideology best. In spite of us valuing creativity and scarcity we want everyone to learn the same thing. How does that equate to genuine value though? Was it not that the that many of the revolutions were created by outliers? Why do we fear people who bring new ideas even if they could bring so much good to the world? What's the danger (particularly if they are genuinely good people and seek to merely explore new ideas and not necessarily bring about political change/revolution)? That said, if you look at a lot of things and you try to untangle them your head may end up being complete mess
- the reality is that 'world order' means control by a group of countries/people. If they can't get what they want then they can always resort to intimidation. That's why countries spend so much on defense in spite of no real threat really being on the horizon. That said if countries have the ability to challenge one another they will which leads to larger scale warfare?
- with the exposure that some governments have to overseas markets how much control do governments actually have over finances? Average exposure is around 20-30% for most developed countries. Here's the other thing you have to think about. When you here news about how people are worried about certain things are happening and that is what is causing market movements think about the amount of QE that is floating out there and the breakdown of volume on most markets. These are institutions and wealthy individuals who are mostly making the calls based on best guesses. Most of the time these do worse than random guesses (read 'Random Walk Down Wall Street'). Look back at previous post and you'll notice growth declining across the board. Balance of trade stable or getting worse across most countries. Few getting better and most of the time general trend has generally only been over a short period. It may be that it literally may not matter who we put in political power? One of the great ironies in the whole 'Brexit' affair is that the finance sector is basically the most heavily subsidised industry in the UK. It could be a good thing if they were actually able to some of it off of their books and they can replace the jobs?
CrossTalk - Bullhorns In The House
- if you're honest with yourself a lot of what is being done to maintain the current system are 'structural scammy'. Education - convince population that there will be growth or jobs in spite of their not being any, means spending is brought forward. Specialisation - means that demand and supply equation can't be met which means that we can charge a more. Media Speculation - means that we can force you to sell at a less favourable price. When it comes down it people want to be make money by taking bets or by not working at all. That's why we have a structurally unstable economy now. If you layer bets on top of bets on top of bets on top of debt and more debt you have a structurally unsound system. We're making more with less not necessarily making something different which was the general equation for creating value in the past?
- the only way you can beat the speculators is with the truth. If you have the truth you need to hit the markets hard to be able to take advantage of it. TTIP and TTP are designed to take public assets and put them in privae hands. It'll trade between private hands until the correct (or lower) price is reached (oxymoron when you put it together with modern economic theory and their belief in 'equilibrium'. Namely, perfect pricing all the time). It's the only way out if they can't figure out other avenues for growth. Europe still definitely in trouble. Defaults on mortage rates going up in a number of Eurozone countries. We basically know that they are lying about unemployment figures. Notice the world bank labour participation rates are staying static or have gone down in many Western countries? Italy, Australia, Malaysia, Lithuania, Turkey/Hong Kong/Switzerland/Iceland (possibly) in trouble (long term) based on bankruptcy rate. UK/South Africa holding (I'm looking at long term trends (to see where capitalism is headed) so click on the 'MAX' box)
Neoliberalism: Oversold?
Domestic credit to private sector (% of GDP)
Unemployment, total (% of total labor force)
Labor force participation rate, total (% of total population ages 15+) (modeled ILO estimate)
- we say that we use arbitrary/market mechanisms to determine wealth distribution but the fact is we're victims to systems that we've created. In spite of huge fees to pay to executives, financiers, etc... they aren't delivering. For me the easiest way to establish whether or not someone is worth that much extra is to let them take a few months off. If you lose/gain a particular amount from their abscence that's how much extra they should earn/lose from their pay. The obvious flaw in this is the Hawthorn effect though? How does the work rate of others change in the abscence of this particular worker. Do they get better/worse, etc...
'How to Get a Job at the Big 4 - Amazon, Facebook, Google & Microsoft' by Sean Lee
Panel Discussion - Performance Pay - Where It's Working
Pay for Performance or Performance for Pay _ W. Bentley MacLeod
Pay-for-Performance Puzzles - Public and Private
Small and Mid-Cap CEO Pay Strategies
Steve Kaplan Discusses CEO Pay
What can policymakers do to reform executive pay _ 24.05.2012
- one of the strange things that is happening is that in spite of capitalism and the West being associated with freedom for so long the exact same is being offered to those looking for a way out. It's clear that in many places people are pushing further and further outwards away from the centre. Either way, it will be interesting if we proceed down the pathway towards experimenting with alternate social systems. I doubt it will be the exact same. It must be different for it to work long term
Poland vows to end free market approach despite economic gains
Foreign fund managers retreat from Poland
- if things are worsening why don't we have more protests? Wussification, lack of understanding, PSYOPS programs, media blackout, nationalism, infiltration by security services, confusion, fear of the unknown should we change, bans of demonstrations, etc...
- if you were pragmatic and didn't look at North Korea, Iran, USSR, and other closed systems as straight out 'evil' and saw them as alternate social economic experiments it gives you somewhat of an insight into what would happen of alternative pathways to development. The irony is that since the West considers 'communism/socalism' a threat these countries all require/d strong intelligence and defense capabilities. Moreover, they had to parallelise/create all other systems internally which makes the Nordic countries look much more interesting. They've been historically neutral which means that they've been able to gain progress and have been able to experiment with their social system and have never had to deal with the issue of sanctions. In reality the only way we can be free of some silly aspects of capitalism, socialism, or communism is if we do away of this notion of simply working for ourselves or for the state. If we can take care of our food, housing, energy, medical, and defense then the complexities and vagaries of management of the social system disappear. Within this system, you need an unbreakable/fair method of ensuring promotion from within who are best able to manage affairs towards the top. Everybody gets their share and ultimately progress is achieved via this since the measurement of 'value' no longer comes down to a 'perception' but down to something others want. Ironically, crowdsourcing provides for this particular mechanism, Islamic banking (actually common to all Abrahamic religions) allows us to reduce silliness/risk taking, the Internet and mass media allows for rapid transmission of information and progress across the entire state and by using minimal currency internally you can maintain relative higher levels of control/sovereignty than in a more pure neo-liberal capitalist economy? Complete transparency and rule of law would need to be enforced but in order to allow for a transition from a prior system there may need to be pardons or an expulsion of those who are not compatible with the new system. Further progress facilitated by acknowledging the fact that we're not all the same. Centralisation is a flaw which plagues both capitalism as well as socialism/communism. It ultimately allows for larger scale projects but it also means that we're constantly trying to maintain upkeep of the system itself
Noam Chomsky on the economic war on Latin America
Mini Bio - Leon Trotsky
Friedrich Hayek - Why Intellectuals Drift Towards Socialism
Poland’s anti-free-market plan is not as radical as it sounds
Argentina calls an end to its ‘statistical emergency’
- the silly thing about many social systems systems (particularly those where you don't want challengers) is that they require a decision, a hierarchy, an order of sorts. If Einstein were employed in a standard job he never would have come with with the breakthroughs he did. Imagine if Einstein had of not questioned and been given time to pursue his studies and understanding of the world and had merely towed the hierarchal line? Many others along the same line... We've only been driven together through greed not through a better understanding that we're better off with one another. Since scarcity is one of the mechanisms through which we measure value it leads to inevitable conflict (possible outright way in future). Suspect that we need to review this if we are to lead a peaceful and progressive global society in future. We may literally have things upside down. We feel threatened or else we don't believe in that certain others offer something to us but they are often the ones who are able to come up with something from left field which changes the world
- the imperial/expansionist/self destructive nature and cycle of capitalism is only obvious after a while. Look at globalism. It aims to shape/mold us so that we all want to do, eat, etc... the same thing. This means that ultimately (unless there is a monopoly) it will drives prices downwards which leads to deflation. Moreover, look at some of the disruptive technologies that are currently being deployed. They all lead to more destruction than construction (and honestly they're not like previous breakthrough technologies which are generally more useful like cars, mechanical tools, etc... These retain value unlike a lot of the stuff is being pursued which is based more on speculative value). More and more jobs are being lost through automation. Many of the projects that are being produced will lead to deflation rather than growth. Look through my presvious post. Watch the way labour participation is dropping across the board and the way growth is getting lower across the board across almost all countries. The only way captalism finds a way out of this particular hole is basically if they re-think the way it works. Even if everyone goes onto a Basic Income/Welfare it can still lead to odd economic behaviour
- think carefully about the nature of running a surplus if you're in government. If you assume there is a finite supply of money, it means that you're basically extracting more money from the private sector than normal. Ultimately, this means that over time the number of unviable private sector businesses goes up and if measures aren't taken to fix it collapse of the economy. Reverse the situation, it's the same thing if the private sector does the same over an extended period
- the world is literally upside now. A lot of developed countries are mired in debt with no forseeable mechanism to grow out of it. Look at the way QE is being used to hold asset prices up. If you think about this carefully, it always turns back in on itself. Nobody wants to lose money but the fact of the matter is that may be what may have to happen. Instead of holding up stock prices it may have to be dropped directly into people's bank accounts for use in the real economy. Else, people need to acknowledge that some individuals/companies aren't worth all that much? Then again capitalists tend to have short term thinking so even if there was a collapse it wouldn't matter as long as they could take care of themselves?. Household debts going up in spite of lower income or stable income across the board (zoom out to view over multiple decades). Capitalism seems to be destroying itself over the long term whether from a public or private perspective. These are debts which will never be paid. Something needs to change for it to work long term... or an alternate system needs to be sought
- everytime bankers cry foul that they can't make money due to new regulations think about how few of them are making money in spite of most of thme failing over the long term. Regulations as much about protecting bankers from themselves as it is about protecting the public. The irony is that had these people been deployed elsewhere in the economy one wonder's whether they could have done something more productive? One wonders whether or not some people honestly believe that one day they can up with an algorithm that can factor in human individuality over the long term? This isn't a question of finance as it is a question of physics?
Keiser Report - Greek Tragedies in Fracking Sector (E887)
Keiser Report - America the Walmart of Fraud (E615)
Keiser Report - $32 trillion in pointless trading (E799)

Some random stuff:
- there are quite a lot of music based AI systems out there. Most sound strange or are based on really simplistic algorithms which don't make much musical sense though (even though a lot of modern music feels algorithmic/formulaic at times)
- free patches/soundbanks for various VST's
- spend enough time around search engines and you'll realise a lot of results don't make sense. If they're biased deliberately then things make a lot more sense. This is especially the case especially if they are using humans to double check to ensure that results are making sense. That said is it even possible to build an unbiased algorithm? Not realistic? Do we need politically correct algorithms (we already have safe search type technology deployed)? Guess it's like the software testing problem? Can't cover all eventualities?
- neither side are naive in with regards to a possible future conflict. China have hedged against a possible externally triggered collapse of their economy by purchasing assets in the West. On the other hand, the West have threatened to annul possible agreements. They both have each other in a bind
- it's pretty obvious what will happen if things heat up between the US and China. Speculate and hope that the opposing economy collapses. Ironically, democracy would slow them down. If they are more autocratic and have the right policies in place the irony is that changes can occur much more quickly which translate into higher growth even if they lose some liberties (which many Chinese people are willing to put up with at the moment apparently). That said, if something goes wrong in a more authoritarian society you don't have much recourse...
- apparently, heaps of people think that the US elections are rigged? Note these are some of the first results returned from search results "us election rigged?"
Is the US presidential race 'rigged'?
- Switzerland rejected Basic Income concept. In Vancouver more people made money speculating on real estate prices than actually going to work. Massive changes in gold market at the moment. Strange market manipulation at the moment especially with regards to gold and silver. The major players in Canada, US, England, etc...
Keiser Report - Gold Price Manipulation (E926)
- alternative to Swift has been formed. Agriculture growing in Russia. Chinese increasing gold assets in New York and London. Chinese gold markets are based on bullion not derivatives. Russian and China are becoming the big players in gold now. China and India both building up gold reserves
Keiser Report - New Intl Gold Order (E927)
- there's quite a few development options for VST development out there aside from the straight Microsoft/Steinberg setup
Windows VST on Linux, FINALY!
- met someone recently who busks for a living. Always wanted to know how much they make... Can vary drastically
- best free EDM drum VSTs
The Battery free and payware alternative thread
I need a cheap alternative to battery 3?
Free: Battery/Kontakt alternative
- you may be surprised at some of the countries that head the lists (in terms of total deaths) during the World Wars. Even though we came together to save the world from some of them are actually viewed as almost-enemies now?
- USD weakened against Euro, Canadian dollar, and British pound and strenghtened slightly over Japanese Yen over 10 year period. Turnover dropped over several decades. Historical currency data indicates that only USD has gone down? No matter how I try to look at things the US is going into backwards currency, growth rate, debt level, etc... Over decades it's going backwards. They need to pursue an alternate path
- spend enough time watching things (any country) and it's real intentions become more obvious (it's just that most people don't unless that's their profession). No matter how nationalistic some people are some things come across really badly. One such quote, "Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction."
CrossTalk - Exceptionalism’s Wars
- any one who says that the world order isn't changing is kidding themselves. Look at the change/distribution in GDP share over the years
- if you aren't aware there is something called the 'prosperity gospel'? Wealth is a sign of God's favour. Donations will result in faith coming back to you. For instance by prodividing money to preacher faith and good favour will come back to you?
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - Televangelists (HBO)
- if the Japanese are absolutely desperate to de-valuation that try selective defaulting? It's obviously a crazy option (especially if their borrowing costs go up). One of the interesting things for me is if basic income becomes standard how will people may change. Do people need an incentive to work? I know that there are many people that will still attempt to engage in productive work in spite of their employment status?
Japan's Debt Problem Visualized
The Japan Bubble vs The Credit Crisis (CCGL9030)
Japan's economy stumbles - Is Abenomics working
The Worst Internship Ever - Japan’s Labor Pains
Keiser Report - America at War with Itself (E928)

Some quotes in the recent media:
- Defense policy will also see a kind of revolution. Given huge concerns about Russian aggression in neighboring Ukraine, the previous Polish government began a massive process of modernization of the army, shopping for missile defense system, helicopters, and submarines. The first signals from the new government indicate that these public tenders might be either heavily delayed or re-started from scratch.

The new government, which in July 2016 will host the annual NATO summit in Warsaw, started by asking NATO to establish permanent bases in Poland and the Baltic countries. That idea does not have many supporters in Washington, London or Berlin.
- Defenders of the U.S.-led war against ISIS said that it brings resources no other nation can, including hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid and a massive air strike campaign. While the Russians have launched their own aerial assaults, American officials cautioned that Baghdad and the Sunnis should take the long view when it comes to making any deals with Moscow.

As one U.S. official said, “If you get in bed with the Russians, it doesn’t always end well.”
- Until the recent campaign in Syria, Russia had talked of itself as a global power, but behaved like a regional power.

Russia's greatest challenge is to preserve its global importance while most of the relevant indicators are dropping and its allies are few and far between (dictators, largely).

For some, Russia's natural and historical pre-eminence mean it will always be a key player.

Others fear Russia may compensate for weakness with risky foreign adventurism.

Indeed, for many, it is already doing just that.
- Sky News has uncovered evidence suggesting the Russians are concealing the true number of military deaths in Syria.

It is claimed they are conducting military funerals quietly and withholding information about servicemen's deaths.

It comes as the country continues to ramp up its military action in Syria - opening new air bases and supplying sophisticated kit and personnel to the Bashar al Assad regime.
- In the Monday attack, the gunmen ordered Muslim passengers to come out of the bus and separate themselves from the Christians.

The Muslim passengers refused.

"We even gave some non-Muslims our religious attire to wear in the bus so that they would not be identified easily. We stuck together tightly," Abdi Mohamud Abdi, a Muslim passenger, told Reuters.

One passenger was shot dead while trying to flee, Nkaissery, the interior cabinet secretary. He didn't elaborate on the second death.

The gunmen left, but warned they would return.
"We are all Kenyans, we are not separated by religion," he said. "We are one people as a nation. And this is a very good message from my brothers and sisters from the Muslim community."
- European and American negotiators, and their emerging market counterparts, talk like free traders but act like old-fashioned mercantilists bent on opening up other countries’ markets while offering as little as possible themselves. Meanwhile, the rules-based, multilateral trading system is increasingly unable to rise to the challenge of supporting inclusive growth, eradicating poverty and tackling climate change.

If you think the denouement in Nairobi will change this, think again. Michael Froman, the US trade negotiator, has promised a new era for the WTO, with the focus shifting to regional and sectoral trade agreements. That’s good news for vested interests in the corporate sector and bad news for everyone else.
- If you want to see the future of world trade as imagined by the US, read the TPP chapters dealing with investment, intellectual property, financial services and pharmaceuticals.

What’s on offer is a charter for corporate self-interest giving immense power to multinational companies. Under the investor-state dispute settlement system in the TPP, companies can contest legislation and challenge governments through international arbitration panels.

We are not dealing here with hypothetical threats. Philip Morris (unsuccessfully) sought to overturn Australian legislation aimed at curtailing smoking. Chevron brought a case against the Ecuador government after the company lost a court ruling on oil pollution costs, with an arbitration tribunal challenging the country’s constitution. An investor dispute panel ruled against Canada’s right to withhold a blasting permit from a US mining company operating in an ecologically fragile area.

The Doha soap opera deserved to be discontinued. But in a world threatened by unprecedented ecological pressures and rising inequality, we forget the importance of trade multilateralism at our peril.

We cannot afford a new order that puts corporate profit before people and planet.
- But alas, Turnbull already has security advisers he trusts: Lewis, for instance, and also the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Andrew Colvin, who has also spoken on the need for a calm and measured approach when it comes to dealing with the Muslim community.
Donald Trump has a problem, perhaps best defined as a tendency to wrap worthy observations in outlandish language, thus undermining his rhetorical force and subjecting him to severe criticism. So far this weakness doesn’t seem to have held him back in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, but it could catch up with him in coming weeks and months.
- The mirror trades, as described in a Russian central bank report earlier this year on Deutsche Bank, involved clients buying Russian shares for rubles in Moscow and simultaneously selling them in London, usually for dollars, according to people familiar with the central bank’s findings.

That sort of trade, while legal in some circumstances, can also be used to skirt U.S. rules on reporting large international movements of money.

Assets in some of the accounts under review at Deutsche Bank were believed to belong to close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, people familiar with the matter have said. These associates include a relative of the president and two of his longtime friends, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, the people said.
This is broadly consistent with China’s approach to the Middle East as a whole since the end of the Cold War, whereby Beijing’s core interests in the region—access to energy resources and overseas markets and investment opportunities—have been pursued through an “offend no one” and “attach no strings” strategy.

Indeed, a column in Foreign Policy earlier this year lamented that Beijing, in contrast to the United States, has tended to avoid taking sides “in a region that regularly demands it.”

Yet this posture is arguably under pressure from three directions, which may soon push Beijing to choose sides in the region.
George Orwell once said: "The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it."

This explains why an authoritarian China that insists on dictating truth will always lack soft power.

Beijing seems determined to continue to rail against Western ideas, tear pages from university textbooks and lock up its lawyers.

But in 2015, as its hard power has grown, its soft power has withered.

And that is what makes the thugs outside the courtroom necessary.

After all, as history has shown over and over again, soft power can challenge hard power and a man or woman with convictions is dangerous to a system with none.
- Syrian authorities “would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change,” read an April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time. “A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti-[government] factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive,” the cable said.
“Reporting in other channels suggest the Syrian [Mukhabarat] may already have penetrated the MJD and is using the MJD contacts to track U.S. democracy programming,” the cable stated. “If the [Syrian government] does know, but has chosen not to intervene openly, it raises the possibility that the [government] may be mounting a campaign to entrap democracy activists.”
- As ever in Afghanistan, regional actors continue to pursue their narrow interests. China is worried about spillover radicalisation of its Muslim population in western Xinjiang province. Russia has expressed similar concerns about the destabilisation of former Soviet central Asian states and the inexorable northwards flow of Afghan opium. Moscow has discussed supplying heavy weapons to favoured warlords such as Abdul Rashid Dostum. Beyond the western border, Iran, as always, looks for advantage.

Like the US and Britain, none of these countries has a credible plan, or even half a half-baked idea, about how to solve the Afghan conundrum. But the principal Afghan lesson is clear, and it is one that applies elsewhere in the world: generally speaking, military intervention just makes matters worse.
The common element in many of Trump's golf valuations is that he assumes he has multiplied the value of his clubs once he has poured money into renovations, appraisers said.
But that is a common fallacy in the golf business, where the price of capital improvements rarely, if ever, carries through to the bottom line.
"Golf courses are like new cars," said Larry Hirsh, a founder of the Society of Golf Appraisers and president of Golf Property Analysts in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. "You drive them off the lot and they're worth half as much."
- Harare: Zimbabwe plans to make the Chinese yuan legal tender as part of a deal that will see about $US40 million in debt cancelled by Beijing.

"Discussions are under way as we speak," finance and economic development minister Patrick Chinamasa said. "It will all happen in the context of the RMB [renminbi, or yuan] being part of our basket of currencies."
- The Chinese leadership has identified excess industrial capacity as the number one problem for the country to resolve in 2016. Many companies in these sectors with excess capacity are turning into ‘zombie companies’, on life support from local governments and the state-owned banking system.

These ‘zombie companies’ are transmitting their disease to the Chinese banking sector. The proportion of bad loans is increasing rapidly on their balance sheets. Beijing is trying to prevent a systematic financial crisis from happening.

Beijing has undertaken some important steps to address the problem of burgeoning local government debts. Chinese auditors, finance ministry officials and regulators are closer to getting to know the true size of the country’s debt problem. More importantly, the government is implementing a large-scale debt swap program.
- The broader point here for the 2016 presidential debate and beyond is both simple and profound: While the United States still far outspends China on the military front, it seems to be only a matter of time until Clausewitz’s war by algebra tables will be turned. That’s why U.S. strategists must start planning today for a very different future—and a very different strategic approach to countering the power of what appears to be an increasingly aggressive and revisionist China.
- If the Cold War had turned thermonuclear, we know that the United States and Soviet Union would have been devastated.

But now for the first time, we know which Russian cities would have been destroyed, and why. The U.S. government has finally declassified the 1950s Strategic Air Command target list, which would have dispatched American bombers and missiles on nuclear strikes across the Communist world.

"SAC listed over 1200 cities in the Soviet bloc, from East Germany to China, also with priorities established," according to the National Security Archive, the non-governmental organization which requested the declassified information. "Moscow and Leningrad were priority one and two respectively. Moscow included 179 Designated Ground Zeros (DGZs) while Leningrad had 145, including 'population' targets."
- Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has agreed to a deployment of 200 American ground troops to help with operations against the Islamic State militants.

Security forces have entered central Ramadi, from several directions, and met little resistance. They have also met few civilians. So far, the districts of al-Bakr, Aramel, and Dhubba were retaken. Gen. Sabah al-Numani believes that the entire city will be cleared of militants in just days.
- "Without serious security sector reform and serious justice sector reform in Iraq there is absolutely no point engaging in any of these initiatives," says Ali, also a visiting lecturer and fellow at Princeton University.

Instead of dealing with the threat of Islamic State militants by undertaking military and police operations based on good intelligence, Iraqi forces were randomly rounding people up, arresting them and forcing them to pay bribes to get out.

"The justice system is equally shambolic … in most cases the most senior leadership of [IS] get away scot free while the people who cannot afford to pay bribes are left behind," Ali says.
The Iraqi military displays confiscated Islamic State weapons and ammunition, with an IS flag placed upside down in the background as a mark of disrespect.

"Unless you make sure terrorist organisations cannot exploit huge loopholes by paying huge bribes, then it will all happen again," he says. "It happened with al-Qaeda and it happened again in with the emergence of [IS]."

Corruption, he says, is now worse than ever and terrorist organisations are even more capable of adapting to the environment and learning from their mistakes.

"The only people who don't adapt are policymakers in Baghdad and Washington," Ali says.
- President Xi Jinping has even publicly chided Chinese travellers for their behaviour, telling tourists during an official visit to the Maldives last year to "eat less instant noodles" - a response to reports that high-end resorts in the Maldives were removing kettles from their rooms to stop Chinese tourists from cooking instant noodles.

The state's anxiety over tourists' behaviour was sparked by high-profile incidents that have gone viral online. In 2013, a Chinese teenager gained infamy online for defacing a 3500-year-old temple in Egypt, and the following year, Chinese passengers threw hot water on a flight attendant aboard an AirAsia flight from Thailand (the state newspaper China Daily said the tourists were "behaving like barbarians").

Earlier this year, a video filmed by Duangjai Phichitamphon at an airport in South Korea went viral after she accused Chinese tourists of jumping the line and making the airport bathrooms dirty, earning the Thai model both praise and criticism online.
- BEIJING—China’s central bank said it would extend the yuan’s trading hours in the mainland market starting next month, in a much-anticipated move aimed at increasing the Chinese currency’s global appeal.
- Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, used to be only game in town. But in October, the government said that Roscosmos, like NASA in the U.S., will now allow private companies access to the market of space services within four short years, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

“By 2020, we plan to form an effective system of support for Russian corporations on the market of space services and allow private companies onto the market,” Rogozin said during a tech forum in Moscow in October. He did not say whether foreign firms like SpaceX in the U.S. would be allowed to bid for projects. The U.S. and Russia have an open relationship on space exploration. Both share equal responsibility on the International Space Station, regardless of geopolitical spats on Earth.
- That same strong-arm approach to reform was on display on Monday, when four party secretaries at major universities in Beijing argued that universities must “resist unhealthy trends [and] build a strong firewall to resist foreign-funded schemes from penetrating classrooms, lectures, forums, salons, and book clubs.”

To prevent that sort of “infiltration,” according to Secretary Han Zhen of the Beijing Foreign Studies University, faculty “should be prepared to be missionaries [and] permeate the thinking of students.”  “They shouldn’t blindly rely on the usual methods of direct indoctrination,” Han said, “but instead seek to convey socialist principles as salt or other sort of condiment, necessary and beneficial to one’s health.”

Han’s comrades insisted that universities as a whole needed to “build strong ideological positions, wherein the recruitment and evaluation of teachers’ performance and their promotion should be based on their moral character.”  Those are code words for compelling professors to pledge fealty to party doctrine.
- The property market has become a vexing political issue at the highest levels. This month, the Politburo of the governing Communist Party announced plans to address an enormous housing overstock nationally, including relaxing restrictions on internal migration to help create demand for homes in outlying cities.

But the frenzy in Shenzhen highlights the difficulties that China faces as it tries to manage a crucial engine of the economy.

The runaway expansion in real estate and construction in recent years — and their slowdown more recently — has led to serious problems with industrial overcapacity and rising debt. In the Shenzhen disaster, the deadly mound of debris was created to fix another problem, the haphazard and sometimes dangerous dumping of dirt and construction waste.
- Billionaire Con Makris has a simple message for investors looking for an edge: Don't trust the sharemarket, and the "paper money" on which it is built.

Makris, who came to Australia as a 16-year-old from Greece, has built up a property empire worth more than $1 billion which puts him at No.47 on the BRW Rich 200 list. He says he closely adheres to the fundamentals of investing in bricks and mortar in the right locations, and picking trends that will ensure the values of those commercial properties and shopping centres continue to rise.

But he steers clear of the sharemarket, which he says is becoming even more volatile in part because of the increasingly complex world of derivatives, hedge fund trading and short selling, which exacerbates the extreme fluctuations and can mean that vast amounts of sharemarket wealth on paper can go up in smoke in a short space of time.
- "Putin faces a harsh dilemma. He could try to make Russia more competitive by carefully retreating in Ukraine, getting Western sanctions lifted, and liberalizing the domestic economic climate. That would mean dismantling the backbone of his regime," Bershidsky wrote.

"Or Putin could drop the remaining pretense of democracy and rule openly by force, ordering mass reprisals against opponents both real and imagined. The system Putin has created is pushing him toward the second option."

The barbed wire around Ostankino is symbolic -- and it is probably just the beginning.
- An Iranian hactivist group has claimed responsibility for a cyberattack that gave it access to the control system for a dam in the suburbs of New York — an intrusion that one official said may be "just the tip of the iceberg."

The group, SOBH Cyber Jihad, sent a message through another Iran-linked hacker outfit, Parastoo, promising that it would release the technical information that proves it was behind the 2013 breach, according to Flashpoint Intelligence.

The hackers claimed they kept quiet about the attack for two years because of a "state-level" warning not to go public with it "for the greater good."
- US F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-18 and Sukhoi Su-27/30 family of fighter jets are ranked most popular combat aircraft in the world.

According to a report published by Flight International analytical center Monday, US F-16 fighter jet makes up 16 per cent with 2264 jets ranked at number one is followed by F-18 with 1,047 aircraft making up seven per cent jets around the world.

The two US fighter jets are followed by Russian Sukhoi Su-27/Su-30 family of aircraft with 943 fighter jets making up six per cent of the total number of combat aircraft in the world.
As of late 2015, there are 14,552 combat aircraft operational in armed forces across the world.
- China Military Online said today that In addition to the wheels, the PLA must have used stealth technologies on the missiles and the transporter vehicles to reduce the number of identifiable features on the weapons, he added.

The article said 30 engineers and workers from the Wuhan Magnetism-Electron Co Ltd in Hubei province, including four doctoral and 11 master's degree holders, took part in developing the unidentified equipment. Work started in March.

Gao Zhuo, a military observer in Shanghai, said missile specialists would be able to calculate the weight of a missile and its warhead if they could examine the transporter vehicles' wheels.

"This information is highly sensitive because you can use it to judge a missile's power and capacity," he said. "I think the specially designed shells can reduce radar and thermal detection, enabling the missile to remain a secret from those in the crowd using mini-detection devices, or from spy satellites."
- Steven Levy, writing in 2015 on the agreement, wrote that "Steve Jobs blithely mugged her and HP's shareholders. By getting Fiorina to adopt the iPod as HP's music player, Jobs had effectively gotten his [iTunes] software installed on millions of computers for free, stifled his main competitor, and gotten a company that prided itself on invention to declare that Apple was a superior inventor. And he lost nothing ..."[91]
The term "underground bank" conjures up certain images that may be misleading. In China, even a regular street merchant can be part of an underground financial network.

     This was the case with a vendor at a pedestrian mall in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. Amid rows of clothing shops for young people, the vendor, a woman in her 50s, sat on a plastic chair next to a sign advertising watch repairs. Her real job was to serve as a teller for a banking ring. "We can send money overnight if it's less than 300,000 yuan ($46,307)," she said.
- The U.S. government had been reluctant to add the Chinese currency to the IMF basket, but the American financial sector was worried about missing out on the yuan's inevitable emergence. Beijing had previously struck deals to encourage yuan trading in London, Toronto and other international financial hubs.

Unless the Chinese government loosens its capital controls, however, the widening gap between expectations and reality could prove problematic.
- After 37 miserable years of the so-called Islamic Republic (IR) and more than $1.6 trillion of oil income, Iran's oil and gas infrastructure has become ineffective and is suffering from poor management and chronic corruption. As a result, the well-respected healthy national oil company, with a 6.3 million b/d crude production prior to the revolution, plunged to a near bankrupt industry with at best a little above 3 million b/d production.
- There are basically four types of seeker heads in use for AAMs. There are Semi-Active Radar Homing (SARH), Active Radar Homing (ARH), Infrared Homing and Passive Radar Homing. Optical seeker heads have been tested but not really used as they have some serious weaknesses and we can leave them out as nobody is really using them.

Flankers have Passive Radar Homing version of R-27P1/EP1 but that would be useless against modern AESA radar like AN/APG-81. IMO, it might be useful against older and larger EW and AEW aircraft which radiate with a lot of power all around and in predictable pattern. Fighter AESA radiation pattern and power levels would be such that there is very little such missile could detect, let alone lock on to. I doubt any Flanker has capability to have a firing solution against F-35 with such a missile or even detect AN/APG-81 at useful ranges. So I say that these missiles are useless against F-35.

Other missiles would need having reliable tracking from some sensor before launching missiles. Launching blind might be possible but would just be waste of missiles. Flanker would need to detect and track F-35 using either radar or IRST system. Flanker IRST systems have pretty modest range against large non-stealthy targets in best conditions and F-35 has many IR suppression measures and systems. I'd say Flanker IRST would be useless against F-35 until close to WVR range and even then it would only give cue that there is some heat source at some direction. It's not an imaging system, so Flanker pilot would not know if it was F-35, F-22, F-15C or ballistic missile and would not know the range to it until within LRF range.

Using Radar homing missiles would also require having solid track for firing solution and that would be problematic against VLO target like F-35. Since F-35s would have not much trouble knowing where Flankers are, they would maneuver themselves in a way which minimizes the change of Flankers even detecting them, let alone shooting. Even if engaged, the small RCS of F-35 would make it really troublesome for missile seeker to lock on to it and maintain lock. Even if that happened, the small RCS would magify the effect of EW and chaff. IMO, killing F-35 would be difficult with radar homing missiles and probability of kill would be low.
- Google is often painted as an open source company and this has tended to be a factor in its garnering more support from the media over the lawsuit. But this is not strictly true: Google uses licences that suit its business interests and, in truth, it avoids any open source licence that insists on the doctrine of share-and-share alike. As proprietary businesses do, Google loves open source licences that permit open slather, licences that allow all and sundry to take code, change it in any way needed and then lock it away unseen forever.

Its business practices are under the microscope in Europe where it appears likely to be hit with a massive fine before summer. And if there are no charges pending in the US, it is probably due to the fact that former officials from the company are employed in federal policy or law enforcement areas that are of commercial interest to Google.

Given that, if Google were pulled into line, it would serve the long-range interests of the software industry much more. Like Microsoft in its prime, Oracle is not exactly popular in both industry and media circles and a victory for the database maker would doubtless take many people by surprise.

But then one cannot take from others for business and profit reasons and expect that others will turn a blind eye. True, a verdict in favour of Oracle may well open the floodgates for patent and copyright trolls to have a field day. But then that would only be the effect; the cause lies with Google.
- “But how to accomplish that task? Pacifying Afghanistan is not the answer. The US, for all its rhetoric, is not interested in peace but in having compliant surrogates wage an asymmetric war against its main adversaries, both Russia and China,” Professor Etler said.

“This is not an ideological struggle. Even during the ‘Cold War’ the contention with the Soviet Union was more geo-political than ideological, although cloaked in the terms of ‘anti-communism’ to make US imperialist aggression more palatable to the US electorate. Naked imperial aggression does not sit well with the American people so it must be sugar-coated with patriotism, American exceptionalism, and making the world ‘Safe for Democracy,’” he stated.

“The US is hence not interested in establishing peace in Afghanistan. They will always try to use it as a staging ground for intervention throughout the region and as a card to play in its geo-political deck. It should be expected that no matter who is in the White House come 2017 US forces will try to remain in Afghanistan in perpetuity,” the scholar said.

“This scenario however need not be the final word. Both China and Russia are forging new economic, political and military ties with the nations of Central Asia, South Asia and Iran. If Afghanistan can be integrated into the emerging security network linking the nations of the region in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) there is ample opportunity for the US to be read out of the picture,” he noted. 

“The US is trying as hard as it can to break these emerging relationships, such as BRICS, the EAEU and the SCO. The trend of history is, however, on the side of the emerging, sovereign nations of the world, not the declining imperialists, no matter how much havoc is wrought in the process,” Professor Etler concluded.
- “It is very clear that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sort of the first shots of the Cold War. These were statements to the Soviet Union to stay out of the Asian theater and to understand that in the wake of World War II, there was one and only one nuclear superpower,” Streets adds.

The analyst says the US officials claim they have “good intentions” when they order invasion of other countries, but the American wars were initiated based on a “criminally-concocted pretext.”

Peck, for his part, believes there is no need for the United States to apologize for Hiroshima and Nagasaki incidents because the Americans nuked Japan with the mere aim of ending the war.

“The decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were made in the hope of saving lives,” says Peck, adding that Japan itself has not apologized to China, Philippines, Myanmar, Korea, Manchuria and the US for the atrocities it perpetrated during the two world wars.
- China’s labor-intensive industries have been rapidly shifting toward jobs-killing automation in recent years, with a world-leading 16 percent rise in industrial-robot sales last year alone. Now, a new official estimate has put a spotlight on some of the effects of these investments in China’s electronics-manufacturing center.

Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., more commonly known as Foxconn, has shed 60,000 workers at one factory alone, according to a recent report in the South China Morning Post. Foxconn is most famously known as Apple’s largest contract manufacturer, which has faced criticism over the treatment of its workers and for a string of worker suicides.

“The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots,” Xu Yulian, spokesman for Kunshan city, told the Post. “It has tasted success in reduction of labor costs ... More companies are likely to follow suit.”

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

Automated Audiobook Maker Script, Random Stuff, and More

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