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Monday, February 27, 2017

Life in Afghanistan, Random Stuff, and More

On Afghanistan:
- the place reminds me of a lot of other Middle Eastern countries.... Despite this and their internal stability issues clear that they have their own 'identity'. The deeper you look the more you'll realise why the US/West is having such difficulties there
Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located within South Asia and Central Asia.[9][10] It has a population of approximately 32 million, making it the 42nd most populous country in the world. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and China in the far northeast. Its territory covers 652,000 km2 (252,000 sq mi), making it the 41st largest country in the world.

Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country's strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. Through the ages the land has been home to various peoples and witnessed numerous military campaigns; notably by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviet, and in the modern-era by Western powers. The land also served as the source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khiljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.[11]

The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan began with the Hotak and Durrani dynasties in the 18th century. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between British India and the Russian Empire. Following the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919, King Amanullah unsuccessfully attempted to modernize the country. It remained peaceful during Zahir Shah's forty years of monarchy. A series of coups in the 1970s was followed by a series of civil wars that devastated much of Afghanistan and continues to this day.
The written history of Afghanistan can be traced back to around 500 BCE when the area was under the Achaemenid Empire,[1] although evidence indicates that an advanced degree of urbanized culture has existed in the land since between 3000 and 2000 BCE.[2][3][4] The Indus Valley Civilisation stretched up to large parts of Afghanistan in the north, with several sites being known.[5] Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army arrived at what is now Afghanistan in 330 BCE after conquering Persia during the Battle of Gaugamela.[6] Since then, many empires have established capitals inside Afghanistan, including the Greco-Bactrians, Mauryas, Kushans, Hindu Shahi, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Timurids, Mughals, Hotakis and Durranis.[7]

Afghanistan (meaning "land of the Afghans") has been a strategically important location throughout history.[8] The land served as "a gateway to India, impinging on the ancient Silk Road, which carried trade from the Mediterranean to China".[9] Sitting on many trade and migration routes, Afghanistan may be called the 'Central Asian roundabout'[10] since routes converge from the Middle East, from the Indus Valley through the passes over the Hindu Kush, from the Far East via the Tarim Basin, and from the adjacent Eurasian Steppe.

The archaeological manifestation of the Indo-Iranians (Aryans) before their split into separate language groups is generally seen as the Andronovo culture to the north of present-day Afghanistan. The Iranian languages were developed by one branch of these people; the Pashto language spoken today in Aghanistan is one of the Eastern Iranian languages. Elena E. Kuz'mina argues that the tents of Iranian-speaking nomads of Afghanistan developed from the light surface houses of the Eurasian steppe belt in the Bronze Age.[11]

The Arab invasions influenced the culture of Afghanistan, and its pre-Islamic period of Zoroastrian, Macedonian, Buddhist and Hindu past has long vanished. Turkic empire-builders such as the Ghaznavids and Timurids made the region now called Afghanistan of major importance.

Mirwais Hotak followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani unified Afghan tribes and founded the last Afghan Empire in the early 18th century CE.[12][13][14][15][16] Afghanistan's sovereignty has been held during the Anglo-Afghan Wars, the 1980s Soviet war, and the 2001-present war by the country's many and diverse people: the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Aimak, Baloch and others. The Pashtuns form the largest group, claiming to be descendants of ancient Israelites or Qais Abdur Rashid but scholars believe that they are a confederation of various peoples from the past who united under Pashtunwali.
- main players are Northern Alliance and Taliban. Get to know them if you want to understand the political landscape in Afghanistan. Northern Alliance is the other group (not Taliban) that exists in Afghanistan. If you know about them you know that they have worked with the USSR/Russia before. Civil war in Afghanistan started with Soviet occupation from 1979. No major ethnic group in Afghanistan, it's a mix Pashtu (~40%), Tajik(~25%), Hazara, Uzbek, etc... Majuhudeen went to war against USSR but also against one another after they left (1979-1988). Northern Alliance (Tajik) was mainly from North while Taliban (Pashtun) based mostly in South. Complete shenanigans. Clear that the Afghans have used foreign backing for their own desires. The Afghan military has been completely politicised? They don't think that Afghanistan has any real energy resources believe that wars are fought for ideology. Most believe in Islamic/Sharia law not secular law. Peace is possible but difficult. The main issue is how to share power. Have always been under occupation or repelling it. Graveyard of empires includings British in 1800s, USSR in 1980s, and possibly US/NATO from 2000-? Many of them don't see the point of 'global economic integration'... Nationalism won't work in Afghanistan, just figure out a way for them to live with one another in peace?
Q&A - Why war persists in Afghanistan
Afghanistan report - Government losing ground to Taliban
Afghanistan - Taliban At The Gates - 101 East
Inside the Taliban 06 - N.G.
What Is The Taliban Really Like
- the funny thing about Afghans is that despite their internal tensions they seem united in their deire to use foreigners and to get rid of foreign influence (for those who have a slightly sadist sense of humor internal political stability as well)? Lot of overlaps between Afhgnistan and India. Look around (and from a superficial perspective) it looks like an unstable version of India
- life in Afghanistan is crazy... Death is an everyday part of life for people living in Afghanistan. Enough footage and you understand why others have such a difficult time 'conquering' Afghanistan. More and more defectors to the Taliban all the time. Weapons in plentiful supply. Government corruption problems across the board. Internal displacement problematic due to fighting. Watch the streets and it reminds you of India in a way. Stuck in the past... Tribal society. Very difficult to see how anyone can turn them into a 'nation' unless they are willing to dig in for the long haul. Most sides basically shoot at anyone suspicious which explains why they have safety issues? Police consuming drugs/hashish? Afghan army outgunned. If Taliban catches you you're basically dead. If Afghan army catches you they'll hand you over to the government. How this plays out in reality I'm not too certain though. It feels like the US/West knows that they have no genuine chance of converting them to their ways of life? The Afghans are simply the way they are and what the most media classifies as 'Taliban' could be anyone from locals, mercenaries, to actual members of the Taliban itself...
Afghanistan - The Fall Of Helmand - People and Power
Afghanistan - Taliban At The Gates - 101 East
Soviet soldier life in Afghanistan, 1988.
afghanistan history
- too unstable generally for others to come into and invest. Lots of basic problems that need to be dealt with for it to really develop. It's almost like going back in time and to other parts of the Middle East and trying to get them to change their ways...
afghanistan economy
The economy of Afghanistan has improved significantly since 2002 due to the infusion of billions of dollars in international assistance and investments,[5] as well as remittances from Afghan expatriates. The help that came from expatriates and outside investments saw this significant increase when there was more political reliability after the fall of the many terrorist groups in the early 2000s such as the Taliban.[6] The recent improvement is also due to dramatic improvements in agricultural production and the end of a four-year drought[7] in most of the country.

The government of Afghanistan claims that the country holds up to $3 trillion in proven untapped mineral deposits, which could make it one of the richest mining regions on earth. However, due to the conflicts, it remains one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking 175th on the United Nations' Human Development Index. The nation's GDP stands at about $34 billion[8] with an exchange rate of $19.85 billion, and the GDP per capita is about $1,150.[1]

About 35% of its population is unemployed[9] and 36% live below the national poverty line,[10] suffering from shortages of housing, clean drinking water, and electricity. The Karzai administration along with international donors have remained committed to improving access to these basic necessities by prioritizing infrastructure development, education, housing development, jobs programs, medical care, and economic reform. Afghanistan is the poorest country in Eurasia.
- everything feels incredibly strange? One of the poorest countries in the world. More then 2/3 less then 25 years old. Water an issue in the mountian regions. They create makeshift 'dams' by digging holes (or using existing holes) in rock and collecting water from there. Clear that they have development issues acoss the board if you look at their streets and homes. This isn't about rich and poor. This is a basic question of how to survive. Massive refugee camps internally...
Meet The Real People Of Afghanistan (2014)
- music reminds me of that in India/sub-continent. Micro-stores much like in India
Daily Life in Jawzjan Proince Northern Afghanistan
- architecture reminds you of other parts of the Middle East and Northen Africa. Street life feels like a less busy India? Very strange seeing donkeys and carts on the streets with modern cars on the roads at the same time. Kids as young as seven years old are working (most get by for less then $1.5 a day). They must combine school and work at the same time for their families to get by. Kids walking 40km+ a day to find scrap wood to heat their homes. ~36% living below poverty line. 500K living in Kabel in 2000 now 5M. It feels like they make do with regards to public amenities? They dig a hole just in the street to dig with water drainage problems. Education is a privilege for them
Life as an Afghan- A documentary filmed in Kabul
- the strange thing about Afghanistan is that unlike other parts of the Middle East US/Western influence on their culture is extremely minimal. Iran and Saudi Arabia are Western paradises compared to Afghanistan. Mountains are what we mainly know it for but there are also flatish areas where people build villages/tribes and even parts that have snow?
My life in Afghanistan
- watch some of the problem countries of the world and it's completely surreal... The strangest thing is when they're out in the middle of nowhere and they use modern electronics such as a computer or DVD player or else your in the middle of a city and a tank, Humvee, or Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) travels by. Most people don't seem much different except they're poorer and have security issues? If you look at the kids who are really young (kids ~5 years of age) it's hard to tell the difference from other kids in the Middle East... It's only when they get older that they start to grow bears...
23 Hours in Kabul
Afghanistan in Focus - Living Through War
- perspective of US/Western troops. They feel as though life is easier in Afghanistan then in Iraq where they are less wanted. People appreciate the humanitarian aide. Clear that a lot of the troops are are pretty young. Most miss their families. Others prefer the independence. IED's and guerilla warfare normal part of life
Daily Life in Afghanistan
Daily Life for US Soldiers on the Afghan_Pakistan Border
This Is My Life In Afghanistan - Marine Lance Cpl. Geoffrey West
Soviet soldier life in Afghanistan, 1988.
- problems across the board with refugees because of security, humanitarian, development problems. People are tired of being used for various ulterior motives by both insiders and outsiders
The Stream - Afghanistan’s displaced - The challenges of returning home
HRW accuses Pakistan of driving out Afghan refugees
Daily Life in Afghanistan
- apparently, it's difficult to grow food in Afghanistan so many farmers resort to growing opium. Depending on who you listen to either the Afghans are growing opium completely of their volition to help them support themselves, foreigners are helping them to grow it, or the US/West has effectively given up trying to stop Afghans doing this because it's aggravated tensions between them and the locals
Analysis - Afghan opium production up 43 percent
- we all know about the issue of women in Afghanistan. Poverty, forced marriages, abuse, domestic violence, issues with divorce (in Islam technically men are the only ones who can initiate a divorce?), literacy, lack of opportunities, etc... Strange thing for me is that if you know some Muslims you'll know that their religion basically tells them to take care of women in their lives?
Life Behind The Burqa In Afghanistan
Afghanistan Full Documentary Film (Half Value Life) By Alka Sadat
The Eye-watering Truth About the Taliban's War on Women
Afghan women share stories of surviving abuse
The Girls of the Taliban - Featured Documentary
Women in Afghanistan
Women Living and Working in Afghanistan
- high infant mortality. 3M people internally displaced in Afghanistan currently. Massive refugee camps in the hundreds of thousands range in Afghanistan. No real improvements in a long time. Massive issues with unemployment, healthcare, food, etc... Many struggling to get by. Men just foraging for what they can get. Women and children out begging for $4 a day. Getting thrown in to jail occasionally. ~$60 to bribe their way out. It's like they're stuck several hundred to thousand years in the past. Just waiting in town/markets hoping that someone will want to hire them. Poor getting poorer, richer getting richer. Most foreign aide goes to hiring foreigners not locals. They are building cinemas and hotels but no one can afford to use them? Traders take on casual staff as required. Most kids have no chance at an education. Even those who have an education struggle. They want jobs, they have ideas on how to fix things, very little support in the areas that they need though? Government corruption a common theme. They want foreigners to leave and Afghans (especially those who are wealthy) to come home and help them?
[DOCUMENTARY] Fifteen Million Afghans - Life in Kabul
Afghanistan life
ICRC suspends work in Afghanistan over slain aid workers
- obviously the big focus of international attention on Afghanistan has been the drone program and the war on terrorism
- lot of people are saying this is a no win situation. The US/West can not win this? A lot of them are saying that foreigners are 'infidels' and it is the duty of Afghans to get them to leave their country. Continual complaints about stories of foreign aide not reaching Afghans? People are so poor that it's difficult for them not to accept bribes. Even foreigners have an issue with this if they've spend enough time there... Divided opinions on whether to accept or reject foreigners in Afghanistan. Security concerns have increased over time for foreigners? One thing that you don't immediately notice is lack of 'traffic lights' and 'zebra crossings' in general. Infrastructure and power issues. Insurgency pulling in supporters from Pakistan (complicated relationship with neighbours. If you ask some people Pakistan supports the Taliban and gives them a secondary based on Pakistan). People are saying repeatedly to help them solve problems by themselves to resolve their difficulties. Don't support one side and hope that they will win. They've tried that in the past and it hasn't worked. Afghans tired of foreign interference. Most of them acknowledge that the Afghan government will fall upon the US/West leaving in quick time
Afghanistan - Outside The Wire
Afghanistan report - Government losing ground to Taliban
Afghanistan - Taliban At The Gates - 101 East
Inside the Taliban 06 - N.G.
The Stream - Afghanistan’s displaced - The challenges of returning home
What's behind the uneasy ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan - Inside Story
Why is Pakistan forcing Afghan refugees back home – Inside Story
- strong family focus as is the case in many other Middle Eastern/Islamic cultures. Life is a struggle. Still nomadic/agricultural culture in parts. Islam is a focus
life in afghanistan
Village men work in the fields, joined by the women during the harvest. Older children tend the flocks and look after the smaller children. The village mosque is the center of religious life and is often used as the village guest house.

Twice a year groups of nomads may pass through villages on their routes from summer highland grazing grounds to the lowlands where they camp during the winter. The villagers traditionally permit the nomads to graze their animals over the harvested fields, which the flocks fertilize by depositing manure. The nomads buy supplies such as tea, wheat, and kerosene from the villagers; the villagers buy wool and milk products from the nomads. For food and clothing, the nomads depend on the milk products, meat, wool, and skins of their flocks; for transportation they depend on their camels. Nomadic women are freer and less secluded than the village women.

A favorite sport in northern Afghanistan is a game called buzkashi, in which teams of horsemen compete to deposit the carcass of a large headless calf in a goal circle. Afghans also play polo and ghosai, a team sport similar to wrestling. The most important holiday in Afghanistan is Eid and Nowruz, or New Year's Day, which is celebrated on the first day of spring.
- given the relative isolation of the country over the years it makes sense that things are very much isolated. If anything it's a strange mix of local and regional flavours. You'll notice a lot of overlap in the food ingredients from Afghanistan and it's Middle Eastern neighbours. That said, look through the food and you'll definitely see that it's very much unique. For me, it's Afghan falvours are going to be one that you're going to like or not
afghanistan food recipe
The diet of most Afghan villagers consists mainly of unleavened flat bread called nan, soups, a kind of yogurt called mast, vegetables, fruit, and occasionally rice and meat. Tea is the favorite drink.
Afghan cuisine is largely based upon the nation's chief crops, such as wheat, maize, barley and rice. Accompanying these staples are native fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products such as milk, yogurt and whey. Kabuli Palaw is the national dish of Afghanistan.[1] The nation's culinary specialties reflect its ethnic and geographic diversity.[2] Afghanistan is known for its high quality pomegranates, grapes and sweet football-shaped melons.[3]
- general lack of information. Lots of animals that you wouldn't expect here? Given it's location it shouldn't be surprising that there is a mix of animals from both Asia and Europe
afghanistan animals
- given it's basic economic development issues you wouldn't expect that it would even have local English media. Not so... Languages include Arabic, Dari, English, Persian, Pushto, Russian, Urdu, Uzbek. Feels like almost all of their media is dedicated to local and regional issues. Very little interest about international affairs. Most websites are basic but it's there are some which have more of a media intensive base. The irony is that those that are more media intensive fell like they have a more US/Western orientation (as evidenced by some of the advertising on their websites)
afghanistan media

Random Stuff:
- the latest in 'show offs' from the animal kingdom...
- it's clear that a lot of people are frustrated by excessive collection of user data. One of the solutions/ideas currently being thrown around is basically throwing in random junk data periodically to make the data useless (I know that even companies such as Facebook themselves admit that a lot of data online is just junk anyhow). Lot of interesting FOSS solutions out there
script post random stuff facebook
facebook bot
open source facebook bot
open source linux cli facebook bot
open source linux cli facebook bot
- from time to time there is interesting work from FOSS developers out there. There are those who have created scripts to download the Github repositories of others (mostly based on Python). Am currently working on a more 'portable version' (doesn't require external libraries to be installed). Will post here when I'm done and it's tested
github repository downloader
- can be a frustrating device... Have an issue with mine currently. Am trying to figure out whether it's a hardware flaw or software one. Limited information out there and information online says that the company backing has possibly gone under? More reading for me to do...
Openmoko's WikiReader
wikireader hacking
- not a bad game considering it's FOSS (if you've been in the Linux/FOSS community you'll realise how badly Linux/FOSS games are generally compared to their commercial/closed source counterparts)
- some interesting new 'inventions'. Not certain how 'excited' I'd be watching robots racing around based on AI though? Imagine an argument about whose 'bot' is better? My bot is better then your bot, my bot is braver then you're bot, my bot uses less memory then your bot, my bot is faster then your bot, etc...
- a lot of the time I think people just pick 'facts' based on what they like? One of things I find interesting is that in a lot of poorer countries they can be extremely innovative. People in Bangladesh came up with a 'passive air-conditioner' composed of plastic bottles?
creator fridge
creator air conditioning
- just plugin a pair of headphones to your record socket (or just purchase a really cheap set of headphones from your local $1/$2 store, break off the plug end, and plug that in. It's actually cheaper then purchasing a plug itself from an electronics store)? By default this bypasses the internal microphone... Else, just open the thing up and disconnect/short circuit of what is relevant. Another day, another set of bugs...
- space is difficult no matter how long you've done it...
- latest in news about how humanity has stuff up/fixed the world...
Banned chemicals persist in deep ocean
- if animals are being trained to take down air-borne drones I wonder whether they can be trained to do the same in the sea as well? Whether they can work alongside man to track all enemy threats?
- more new stuff happening in the world of defense and geo-politics
Jordanian F-16 jet crashed in Saudi Arabia, pilot OK
F-22 Raptors to deploy to RAAF Base Tindal

Random Quotes:
- With less than two months until the Iowa caucus opens the 2016 primary season, Donald Trump's poll-leading candidacy continues to cause increasing anxiety among Republican Party leaders worried about how he can be stopped from actually getting the nomination. Trump poses two overall problems for the party. One is how freely he insults, denigrates, and offends a variety of groups—to the extent that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank flat-out calls him a bigot and a racist and criticizes other Republican candidates for being hesitant to call out Trump in the same way. The political problem for the party, of course, is that Trump's ignoble attitudes in this respect will become associated with the party as a whole.
- Senior media operatives are treated as "emirs" of equal rank to their military counterparts. They are directly involved in decisions on strategy and territory. They preside over hundreds of videographers, producers and editors who form a privileged, professional class with status, salaries and living arrangements that are the envy of ordinary fighters.

"It is a whole army of media personnel," said Abu Abdullah, a second defector who served in IS's security ranks but had extensive involvement with its propaganda teams.

"The media people are more important than the soldiers," he said. "Their monthly income is higher. They have better cars. They have the power to encourage those inside to fight and the power to bring more recruits to the Islamic State."
- It is a measure of how cold the West’s relations with Russia have become that NATO’s membership invitation to Montenegro — a small, poor Balkan state with a military force of 2,000 and no strategic significance save putting the last bit of Europe’s Mediterranean coastline under the alliance — would provoke furious cries of “provocation” and “encirclement” from the Kremlin.

Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that NATO is not focused on Russia “per se,” but the inescapable perception is that that’s exactly where the old Cold War alliance is once again. Inviting Montenegro into the alliance at a time when Russia and NATO are pursuing different military goals in Syria was a message to Moscow that it does not have a veto over Western actions.
- In a yellowed letter, nearly a millennium old, a Jewish trader sings the praises of his Muslim business partners; pages from medieval Hebrew and Christian bibles sit side by side with those of an eighth-century Qur’an. Egypt’s history of religious pluralism is rich and nuanced. So too, unfortunately, is the track record of those in power who have exploited and manipulated religious differences down the centuries to serve their own ends.
- France's government published a guide on Friday on how to survive a terrorist attack, coupled with a warning from the prime minister that people must learn to live with the risk.

Advice in cartoon-strip form, to appear on posters in public places like train stations and available online, recommends three key responses: flee, hide and raise the alarm.
- The Saudi-Iranian rivalry plays out throughout the region, the memo said, most recently and strikingly in the Saudi military intervention in Yemen. There, it said, “Saudi Arabia wants to prove that it is ready to take unprecedented military, financial and political risks in order not to fall into a disadvantageous position in the region.”

In Syria, Saudi Arabia’s aim was always to oust President Bashar al-Assad, and that has not changed, the memo said.

But it suggested that the recent shift in Saudi leadership has added new factors in the Middle East. “The concentration of economic and foreign policy power on Mohammed bin Salman contains the latent danger that, in an attempt to establish himself in the royal succession while his father is still alive, he could overreach with expensive measures or reforms that would unsettle other members of the royal family and the population,” the memo observed, adding, “That could overstrain the relations to friendly and above all to allied states in the region.”
- The problem is that there are real challenges in the Vienna process designed for this very purpose. Which of the Syrian opposition groups are terrorists? Could Bashar al-Assad take part in the future election planned for 2017? How can there be any success without the Syrian regime or opposition at the table? This requires real hardheaded diplomacy – the sort that yielded the unlikely agreement between the United States and Iran on the nuclear issue. But such success does not happen without extensive involvement of senior decision-makers from all the key stakeholders, as co-ordinated by world-class negotiators and mediators. The UK has the capability and is well positioned to make a real difference in this non-military sphere. The question is, will it do so?
- “The government doesn’t force its opinion on you,” she said. “What happens is you’re robbed of the ability to form opinions.”
- “Germany is the first country in the world to show they can uncouple growth from burning of fossil fuels,” said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank. “This is the main task of our generation.”
- “We were on the way to forging a really positive and solid relationship between the US [and Russia], and then in 1996 we announced we were going to expand NATO, which, as I said, I’m not opposed to in general, but it was premature,” said Perry.  “That was the first move down the slippery slope.”

“It’s as much our fault as it is the fault of the Russians, at least originally,” he said. “And it began when I was secretary.”

Although Perry accused Russia for “entering Ukraine [and] threatening Baltic nations,” he admitted that “if you look over a 20-year period and put the scoreboard together, there are at least as many American mistakes as there were Russian.”
- Last year, the Air Force achieved a little-noticed aviation milestone: the first-ever drop of a winged, precision guided aerial mine. Almost fifty years after Texas Instruments slapped a laser guidance kit on a M117 dumb bomb, the Air Force added a guidance kit to a dumb mine, and greatly expanded the potential for aerial mining. The late arrival of precision capabilities to the antiship mine is no less revolutionary than it was for the advent of precision bombs in the first place, allowing precise placement of mines and improving the survivability of the employing platform. This development has the potential to revitalize aerial mining and add immeasurably to joint countermaritime operations.
- ‘What the hell is the EU thinking meddling so openly in our internal affairs. What is the US thinking of meddling in our affairs? Yes, the US has a two term limit for their presidents but look at the EU. Britain does not have a term limit and Blair had three. Germany has no term limits and some of their chancellors, present and past, served multiple terms. In fact few other countries in Europe other than France have term limits on their Prime Ministers or Presidents. What issue do they suddenly have with Rwanda, a strong ally in the fight against terror in Africa, a committed peace keeping supporter for the African Union and the United Nations? Let me remind them that after wiping out what they called pro-Rwanda militias in Eastern Congo they are now literally a year sitting on their hands but have not eliminated the FDLR which is sworn towards aggression against Rwanda and has time and again vowed to repeat and finish the genocide if ever they return to power. Let me be very clear, if the so called West sees more and more African countries look East, it is entirely their own fault. They offend us, treat us like political minnows and minors and try to dictate values and solutions they themselves do not abide by. I do not want to use a four letter word here but ‘Get Lost’ comes nearest’ ranted a regular source from Kigali with dozens of others echoing such sentiments via emails and direct messages.
- Beijing: China has mounted an extraordinary set of attacks against Communist Party members in the troubled western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, with accusations of disloyalty, secret participation in religious activity, sympathy with the Dalai Lama and even support for terrorism.

The accusations reflect a hardening of the party's stance in Buddhist Tibet and in Muslim-majority Xinjiang, experts said, as well as President Xi Jinping's determination to push for ideological purity within the party nationwide, quashing debate and dissent.

But critics say they also reflect the fact that the party's hard-line approach toward crushing "the three evils of separatism, terrorism and religious extremism" in both regions has not only alienated many ordinary ethnic Tibetan and Uighur people but has also provoked significant disquiet in its own ranks.
- You can't bomb a force to death that exists everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Its idiocy to even try. That's not to say bombing their resources and crippling their supply chain isn't effective. I'm just saying you can obliterate ISIS with bombs. ISIS/ISIL is an idea, in some aspects, its not even physical... let that sink in... we are bombing a force that is, for all intents and purposes, not a physical state. WE ARE BOMBING GHOSTS, and the data effectively substantiates that. 20,000 bombs (roughly $1 billion+) and we MAY have killed 10,000 combatants over the past 3 years. That means at BEST, we are killing one combatant for every 2 bombs... or even more sobering 1 kill cost taxpayers any where from $50-100k for the munitions alone. That's insane.
- The United States should do in 2016 what it failed to do in 1990. It should announce that the world has changed since creation of a U.S.-dominated NATO. It is time to refashion the alliance for a world in which allies had prospered and enemies had disappeared. One possibility for the future would be a European-run NATO, with America perhaps as an associate member. Another alternative would be a continental defense run alongside the European Union. Maybe there’s something else.

But the time for subsidizing, coddling and reassuring the Europeans is over. American taxpayers deserve as much consideration as European ones. U.S. military forces shouldn’t be deployed to advance interests of greatest concern to other nations. Any future alliances forged by Washington should act as serious military pacts, not international social clubs.
- Lt Gen Graeme Lamb, former head of UK special forces, said the playbook carried a warning for current military strategy.

Referring to sections of the statecraft text in which Isis repeatedly claims it is the only true representatives of Sunni Arab Muslims in the region, Lamb said it was all the more important to ensure wider Sunni leadership in the fight with Isis, or risk “fuelling this monster”.

“Seeing Daesh [Isis] and the caliphate as simply a target to be systematically broken by forces other than Middle Eastern Sunnis … is to fail to understand this fight.

“It must be led by the Sunni Arab leadership and its many tribes across the region, with us in the west and the other religious factions in the Middle East acting in support.

“It is not currently how we are shaping the present counter-Isis campaign, thereby setting ourselves up for potential failure.” 
- “Only 6% of Australian businesses engage in international innovation, compared to the OECD average of 18%. Australia could make more of our strong international research reputation and the valuable knowledge and contacts of our diaspora, including by working with organisations such as Advance.”
- “You might think you understand your systems and the security measures you have in place, but how well do you know the security of your suppliers’ systems? Cyber criminals are very aware of these connections and are using them to access networks that are otherwise well-protected.”

So, what are three key ways that BAE recommends so organisations can protect themselves from the potential threats posed by a suppliers’ access to your networks, infrastructure, people or premises?
- “A lot of people believe that if an app is popular or available on one of the big app stores then it must be safe, and we suspected that wasn’t the case,” said Michalis Faloutsos, a computer science professor in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering.

By developing a tool called Android URL Risk Assessor (AURA), the team identified more than 2,50,000 URLs accessed by the 13,500 apps, which they cross-referenced for trustworthiness using VirusTotal, a database of malicious URLs, and Web of Trust (WOT), a popular website rating system.

The apps tested were created by reputable developers and downloaded by many people, among them popular social media, shopping, news and entertainment apps. At this stage these apps have not been named and shamed.

The team will present their findings at the IEEE Globecom conference in San Diego, US on December 8.

"We focused on a relatively neglected aspect of security research, which is the potential for good apps to leak personal information through the sites they interact with,” Faloutsos said.

    9% of the popular apps interacted with malicious URLs (implicated in distribution of malware)
    15% talked to bad websites (with intentions that vary from harming devices, stealing confidential data or annoying users with spam)
    73% talked to low-reputation websites, the researchers found
    74% talked to websites containing material that is not suitable for children

"The team plans to make AURA available for developers, researchers, android users, and distributors like Google Play," said Xuetao Wei, professor at the University of Cincinnati in US.
- The fundamental questions that need to be confronted are simple but difficult to address. Why is a small but significant segment of Muslim youth in the West—despite having all the trappings of success in society—drawn to the fanaticism of ISIS and other extremist groups? What can American society do about it in a way that is consistent with our interests and values?
- French security forces have drafted proposals that would ban public Wi-Fi and access to the Tor network, Le Monde reports, citing internal documents from the Ministry of Interior. The anti-terror proposals come three weeks after Islamic extremists killed 130 people and injured more than 300 in a series of attacks across Paris.
- Switching between Windows and Linux can be a hassle, with some customers opting to dedicate an old computer to running Linux from the USB stick. Despite the inconvenience, Speak says BankVault is not a hard sell to small businesses considering the rise in banks contesting major fraud reimbursements – leaving affected businesses struggling to pay the bills.

"Everyone assumes that banks compensate you straight away, but they don't," Speak says. "Sometimes businesses are never compensated – we hear about these kinds of business attacks regularly and I can tell you not all of them get their money back from the bank."

"Even if you do get your money in the end, the delay of a large investigation is the pain point for a small business which has lost tens of thousands of dollars. Meantime you can't make payroll, buy stock or pay rent – you might be technically insolvent."
- HALHUL, West Bank — Kalila was 14 years old when she married her 32-year-old second cousin. She was also 14 when she became pregnant. Neither her marriage nor her pregnancy were her decision; ashamed and embarrassed, as well as afraid of giving birth, she decided to get an abortion. It was a harrowing decision, and one she told no one about. At five months pregnant, Kalila — whose name has been changed — climbed atop a 9-foot stone wall in this Palestinian city and tossed herself off of it, belly first.

The pain and bleeding began immediately, and her contractions lasted three days. Finally her mother brought her to the family doctor, who told Kalila that she would have to deliver her dead fetus at home, without any medical assistance. Abortion, after all, is illegal under Palestinian law; while it is technically legal in order to protect the life of the mother, in practice, according to experts, it is impossible to get such a procedure. Especially for those like Kalila, who might want an abortion without the knowledge of their husbands.
- For the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students that comprise that community, years spent in the United States immerse them in a new environment, challenge their understanding of the world, and provide them with new skill sets. And, willing or not, their presence and experiences stateside are often viewed through the prism of U.S.-China rivalry. But for many Chinese students, it’s not that simple. “I like the U.S.,” one survey respondent wrote. “But I love China; it’s my motherland.”
- “We’ve got to work closely with live-and-let-live Muslims because there needs to be, as President (Abdel Fattah) Al-Sisi of Egypt has said, a religious revolution inside Islam,” Mr Abbott said on the program. “All of those things that Islam has never had – a Reformation, an Enlightenment, a well-developed concept of the separation of church and state – that needs to happen, but we can’t do it; Muslims have got to do this for themselves, but we should work with those who are pushing in that direction.

“The other thing that’s needed is a restoration of cultural self-confidence in those who are supporters of Western civilisation. All cultures are not equal and, frankly, a culture that believes in decency and tolerance is much to be preferred to one which thinks that you can kill in the name of God, and we’ve got to be prepared to say that.”
- Simon Hackett, chair of RedFlow —an Australian company that designs off-grid batteries — told Fairfax the Australian energy industry is facing a "perfect storm".

"The combination of high energy prices, widespread deployment of photovoltaic solar panels (PV), a ready supply of sunshine and the looming presence of widespread, affordable and effective energy storage systems is encouraging customers to look for other ways to supply their energy needs," he said.

"If energy companies ignore the opportunity to diversify, by embracing the energy storage revolution, someone else — potentially their existing customers — will eat their lunch. They missed the rapid solar uptake and they cannot afford to miss storage as well."

The chairman says incumbents must "become part of the solution instead of digging their heels in and potentially being seen as a part of the problem".
- China views capital outflows as a problem. Over $500 billion has left China so far this year, according to U.S. Treasury data through August.

China limits the amount of money an individual can move out of the country to $50,000 per year. But this fall, Beijing even clamped down on the amount of cash its citizens can withdraw from ATMs overseas, another attempt to stop money from leaving the country. 
- “We need to distinguish between the mass population and the perpetrators of the terrorism. Pressuring the whole population might be something that is counter-productive. It won’t prevent Palestinians teenagers from attacks.... The answer is societal,” he continued.
- Around 6000 fighters from Tunisia have gone to Syria, 2500 from Saudi Arabia and 2400 from Russia, according to Barrett. Of the roughly 5000 EU recruits, around 3700 come from four countries - France, Britain, Germany and Belgium.

The figure for France may be overstated as officials say 1800 citizens and residents are linked to Islamic State but that this number encompasses those who have been killed, are in prison, returned or may be planning to go.

Recruits from the former Soviet Union, particularly Russia's North Caucasus republics of Chechnya and Dagestan and the Muslim countries of Central Asia, have also dramatically risen.

"As the Islamic State changes its focus from consolidating control of territory to attacking its foreign enemies in their own homelands, or their interests elsewhere, the profile of its foreign recruits will also change," Barrett said.

"The Syrian civil war will not end soon," added Barrett, who between 2004 and 2013 headed the United Nations team that monitored al-Qaeda and the Taliban. 

Quick Beef Stew Recipe, Random Stuff, and More

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