Thursday, March 30, 2017
Life in Yemen, Blogger2Book BASH script, and More
- main reasons why it's been in the news is because of recent conflict. A lot of them are saying this is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran who effectively represent different sects within Islam. Over and over again feels like people in the Middle East just want some dignity and respect from the West? Shortages across the board (food, medicine, petrol, etc...) Yemen people saying Saudi Arabia aren't really targeting Houthis military targets. Feels like a battle between Yemen and Saudi Arabia? Anti-Israel, anti-US perspective... Not just an external conflict, an internal one as well
Inside War-Torn Yemen - Sanaa Under Attack
Yemen is a Starving Nation (2010)
US Bombs Al-Qaeda in Yemen
life in yemen
I cannot but admit failure in my job, in helping in any way to bring Yemen closer to the lucky, wealthier side of humanity. Even for those obsessed with raising walls and closing borders in Europe, Yemen doesn’t even feature because barely any Yemenis make it to Europe. There are 21 million people now in urgent need of humanitarian aid, more than 80% of the entire population. Half of them are suffering from hunger. But figures don’t move people.
As our driver Ziyaad took me back to the airport at the end of my stay, he asked a painful question: “I understand your job is to bring attention to our situation, but how do you do it? Nobody cares. We’ve been in this war for almost a year and everyone has forgotten us.”
Yemen has been devastated by the ongoing conflict that escalated in March 2015. It is now estimated that 19.3 million people need humanitarian assistance to establish or maintain safe water and sanitation, with 9.8 million people directly affected by the conflict.
Yemen now has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world, with an estimated 1 in 5 people who are ‘severely food insecure’ (WFP). This means that millions of people do not know when or how they will get their next meal - men, women and children are starving to death and dying of treatable and preventable diseases. These trends point to a potential public health crisis and chronic famine. It is impossible to describe just how distressing the situation is.
- they talk about having terrorist in the country as though they were neighbours? Completely surreal. Shortages everywhere. Official republic in 1990. Drone war is conducted by CIA not US military against Al Qaeda. Despite US backup progress and unity have proven to be difficult issues to pursue. This is a pseudo-religious war that has many different dimensions. Local, regional, and international.
US/Israel is on one side, Syria/Houthis/Yemen, etc... Sounds simple confusing and complicated if you dig a bit further though. Bizarre dimensions to things at times. Casualties on all sides
Yemen - A Failed State
- the obvious difference is that they feel poorer (you need to speak French to understand tihs one). Once again, it feels like their perspectives (on certain things) aren't that much different though from those in the US/West? Marriage possible at 15 for girls. Divorce only possible with 'approval' of husband. Oxfam and WFP active in Yemen
- they still live according to the 'old ways' in many parts of Yemen
Healthy Livestock Means Better Lives in Yemen
- village markets are not too dissimilar to that of India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, etc... Mixture of animals walking around and oldish cars with people in makeshift open air markets
Yemen village market
- spectacular scenary depending on where you look...
Yemen A day in the life
- people still walk around with 'knives/gambia' for dancing, eating, etc... Old architecture beautiful to look at
VISITING AND LIFE IN THE HISTORIC YEMEN
- just like other Islamist countries there is awkward balance between real life and the 'word of God'... There's no question that despite Islamic tradition more progressive, liberal views are coming into play in the Middle East
Akhdam women tell their stories of violence, injustice & poverty in Yemen
Cases - Women in Yemen
The Child Brides Of Yemen (2014)
- conflict a natural part of life. They put film over windows to stop windows from shattering and injuring people
Life in a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aden, Yemen. May 2015
- internal conflict consequence of former exiled president and current (now previous) administration. Khat is a significant/widely used drug in Yemen. 90% penetration amongst men. Takes up 30% of water resources as well
What Is Life Really Like In Yemen
- Hamadryas baboon is interesting because it shows intelligence and a social system. Arabian leopardreminds me of a albino leopard because it's pigmentation is so light. Common genet looks like a long tailed cat. Desert Hedgehog looks like a miniature hedgehog. Sand cat pretty cool because of it's hardiness despite looking not much different from a domestic cat...
- relatively stable history compared to other parts of the Middle East (until recently)
Yemen is one of the oldest centers of civilization in the Near East. Its relatively fertile land and adequate rainfall in a moister climate helped sustain a stable population, a feature recognized by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy, who described Yemen as Eudaimon Arabia (better known in its Latin translation, Arabia Felix) meaning "fortunate Arabia" or Happy Arabia. Yemenis had developed the South Arabian alphabet by the 12th to 8th centuries BC, which explains why most historians date all of the ancient Yemeni kingdoms to that era.
Between the 12th century BC and the 6th century AD, it was dominated by six successive civilizations which rivaled each other, or were allied with each other and controlled the lucrative spice trade: Ma'in, Qataban, Hadhramaut, Awsan, Saba and Himyar. Islam arrived in AD 630, and Yemen became part of the Muslim realm.
- stuck in a doom loop to a certain extent with regards to their economy. Things aren't great generally and due to internal security issues of late. Hard to get a guage of things. Unemployment, poverty, starvation, etc... are major problems
GDP $54.85 billion (2012 est.)
−0.2% (2014 est.)
GDP per capita
$3,800 (2014 est.)
GDP by sector
agriculture: 15.8%, industry: 32.1%, services: 52.1% (2014 est.)
Population below poverty line
7.158 million (2012 est.)
Labour force by occupation
most people are employed in agriculture and herding; services, construction, industry, and commerce account for less than one-fourth of the labor force
Unemployment 37% (2014 est.)
crude oil production and petroleum refining; small-scale production of cotton textiles and leather goods; food processing; handicrafts; small aluminum products factory; cement; commercial ship repair
At the time of unification, South Yemen and North Yemen had vastly different but equally struggling underdeveloped economic systems. Since unification, the economy has been forced to sustain the consequences of Yemen's support for Iraq during the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War: Saudi Arabia expelled almost 1 million Yemeni workers, and both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait significantly reduced economic aid to Yemen. The 1994 civil war further drained Yemen's economy. As a consequence, for the past 10 years Yemen has relied heavily on aid from multilateral agencies to sustain its economy. In return, it has pledged to implement significant economic reforms. In 1997 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved two programs to increase Yemen's credit significantly: the enhanced structural adjustment facility (now known as the poverty reduction and growth facility, or PRGF) and the extended funding facility (EFF). In the ensuing years, Yemen's government attempted to implement recommended reforms—reducing the civil service payroll, eliminating diesel and other subsidies, lowering defense spending, introducing a general sales tax, and privatizing state-run industries. However, limited progress led the IMF to suspend funding between 1999 and 2001.
In late 2005, the World Bank, which had extended Yemen a four-year US$2.3 billion economic support package in October 2002 together with other bilateral and multilateral lenders, announced that as a consequence of Yemen's failure to implement significant reforms it would reduce financial aid by one-third over the period July 2005 through July 2008. A key component of the US$2.3 billion package—US$300 million in concessional financing—has been withheld pending renewal of Yemen's PRGF with the IMF, which is currently under negotiation. However, in May 2006 the World Bank adopted an assistance strategy for Yemen under which it will provide approximately US$400 million in International Development Association (IDA) credits over the period FY 2006 to FY 2009. In November 2006, at a meeting of Yemen's development partners, a total of US$4.7 billion in grants and concessional loans was pledged for the period 2007–10. At present, despite possessing significant oil and gas resources and a considerable amount of agriculturally productive land, Yemen remains one of the poorest of the world's low-income countries; more than 45 percent of the population lives in poverty. The influx of an average 1,000 Somali refugees per month into Yemen looking for work is an added drain on the economy, which already must cope with a 20 to 40 percent rate of unemployment. Yemen remains under significant pressure to implement economic reforms or face the loss of badly needed international financial support.
At unification, both the Yemen Arab Republic and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen were struggling underdeveloped economies. In the north, disruptions of civil war (1962–1970) and frequent periods of drought had dealt severe blows to a previously prosperous agricultural sector. Coffee production, formerly the north's main export and principal form of foreign exchange, declined as the cultivation of khat increased. Low domestic industrial output and a lack of raw materials made the YAR dependent on a wide variety of imports.
- clearly, no problem with Valentine's Day
'Long live peace, long live love' - Yemeni activist hands out Valentine's Day roses in Sanaa
- obviously due to conflict basic food is more then a concern then . Like Wikipedia article says very different from other Middle Eastern food. Personally, it feels more 'accessible' to those who are most used to the Eastern and Western palate. That said, there are some really weird flavour combinations out there?
yemen food recipes
Yemeni cuisine is the national cuisine of Yemen. Largely distinct from the more widely known Middle Eastern cuisines, it is unique and coherent, if characterized by a degree of regional variation. Although some foreign influences are evident in some regions of the country (with Ottoman influences showing in the north, while Mughlai Indian influence is evident in the southern areas around Aden), the Yemeni kitchen is based on similar foundations across the country, and tied to the unique culture and history of Yemen.
- sort of neutral 'foreign policy structure'...
yemen foreign relations
The foreign relations of Yemen are the relationships and policies that Yemen maintains with other countries. It is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Yemen participates in the nonaligned movement. The Republic of Yemen accepted responsibility for all treaties and debts of its predecessors, the YAR and the PDRY. Additionally, Yemen has acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has stressed the need to render the Middle East region free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
- due to civil conflict (and possibly Islamic background which helps to maintain political stabilitylike Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, and Iran) has limited media freedom. Media tends to focus in on regional issues rather than international problems. Like Iraq, strong focus on national and regional security issues (it is an actual problem unlike other parts of the world who tend to hype things up). Enough foreign language options (mainly English and French) to ease transition for foreigners. Tends to have simpler, less media intensive websites
- funny looking animals via Google Images
- it has been excruciating trying to figure out a relatively pain free way off of the blogger file format (even though it says it's XML most of the tools that I've run by it tells me that it isn't proper XML). The main problem is that a lot of the tools that others have come up with are often buggy, don't work the way you expect them to work, have ridiculous sets of additional software/libraries which have to be installed, etc... Ultimately, I built my own tool for it. You can download it here, https://sites.google.com/site/dtbnguyen/blogger2book-1.06.tar.gz Obviously, there's a bonus to the tool that I've built. Technically, you can write a book via it (or generate a new static website from it. You'll understand what I mean if you run the script or examine the way it works). Basically, write post as a chapter for your book. Export the blogger XML file. At the end, run my script and you have a copy of your book. As an aside one of the strange things I've come to realise is that it's often quicker/easier for me to write a script up itself then to go searching for a solution via a Google?
wordpress to text
migrate away from blogger tools
blogger to wordpress
- given the amount of FOSS options online I fail to see how technically inclined people wouldn't want to/be able to build an entirely new Internet backbone if they wanted to?
p2p encrypted speech communications github
Out in the Open: Hackers Build a Skype That’s Not Controlled by Microsoft
Tox: A simple, distributed, free, secure Skype replacement. Now alpha with A/V
- I started building static website (and automated code) generators back in school to speed work up. Interesting the direction that people have sort of taken this in...
bash static website generator
Statix - the simplest static website generator in Bash
simple blog open source software
asciidoc based blog software
- even if you listen to all of the tips and advice out there it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to get hired. Believe me, I've been on both sides of the coin here. Often you'll just be thinking what the heck going on (even when you're attempting to hire someone)? Nothing is what it seems...
- it's so easy to see how badly this could go? For some strange reason, I think it's far more likely humanity will ultimately destroy itself then by some other mystical force?
- latest in finance
- so much for not militarising space, huh?
- one of the reasons to hate things being 'in the cloud'. From the perspective of the service provider if you make a small mistake it can hit 'all of your customers' at once. Not the kind of life for someone seeking a more 'relaxing lifestyle' unless you have extensive testing and deployment mechanisms and processes in place
- latest in the ICT world
- latest in politics
- latest in science and technology
- latest stuff in the defense world
Russian manufacturer creates first full-size model of future strategic bomber — source
- North Korean men have been issued a mandate to cut their hair in the same style as leader Kim Jong Un, according to reports.
The Sun reported the dictator, who sports a ‘shaved at the sides and long at the top’ style, has demanded all men emulate his trademark look, also favoured by his late father and grandfather.
The cut is apparently known as the “ambitious style” in North Korea.
According to the report, women have also been ordered to sport the signature ‘bob cut’ of the leader’s wife, Ri Sol-ju.
The mandates have allegedly caused a spike in revenue for hairdressers, who are struggling to keep up with the demand for those eager to avoid punishment.
- And while Putin said Moscow was ready to keep cooperating with western powers against the “mutual enemy” of Isis, he said the downing of the jet by Turkey this week was “unacceptable”.
“We are ready to cooperate with the coalition which is led by the United States. But of course incidents like the destruction of our aircraft and the deaths of our servicemen ... are absolutely unacceptable,” Putin said at a news conference with Hollande.
“And we proceed from the position that there will be no repeat of this, otherwise we’ll have no need of cooperation with anybody, any coalition, any country.”
The Russian leader said, under the cooperation already established with the US-led coalition, Russia’s military had passed on details of the flight plan of the jet that was shot down this week.
“Why did we pass this information to the Americans? Either they were not controlling what their allies were doing, or they are leaking this information all over the place,” Putin said.
- The Defence Headquarters has warned the general public not to fall prey to the latest antics of the deadly Boko Haram insurgents who in desperate move to carry out their bombing plans have resorted to concealing Improvised Explosive Device, IED, in attractive objects.
Disclosing this to newsmen yesterday at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, the Director of Defence Information, DDI, Col. Rabi Abubakar also urged the media to desist from publishing stories based on mere speculation without getting clarification from the military.
- Israelis have long complained that local monopolies distort the economy, and especially the food market, leading to high prices on products like cottage cheese and Milky brand pudding.
- "Make a no fly zone in Syria, then we won't flee to Europe [as refugees], but will stay in our homes. We don't want to cry [as victims] on your TV screens, instead we want the Assad regime to be stopped."
- Conventional wisdom holds that any one of Trump’s many outbursts would have sunk most politicians without a trace by now.
First there was the time he outraged prisoners of war by doubting the heroism of Vietnam veteran John McCain, because he allowed himself to be captured. Then there was the first television debate, where he appeared to accuse Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly of asking him tough questions because she was menstruating.
If POWs, Fox News and women were not enemies enough, Trump has also accused Mexican immigrants to the US of being rapists; claimed that a Black Lives Matter protester who was violently ejected from a rally deserved to be “roughed up”; appeared to mock a New York Times journalist for his disability and then accused the journalist of “grandstanding” on that disability in his response; falsely accused Muslim Americans of cheering on the 9/11 attackers; and agreed with suggestions that all such Muslims should have their names tracked on a database.
And just as critics began to argue that such comments about Muslims were brutal, racist demagoguery verging on fascism, Trump’s Twitter account recirculated racially charged but falsified crime statistics from an actual Nazi sympathiser.
Trump has complained that many of these incidents were exaggerated by the political media, 70% of whom he says are “scum”. But he has nonetheless refused to retract any of the comments.
- “Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.”
- Eric Du, a management and investment consultant from Beijing, was motivated by the potential for his family and his fortune. Over the last two years, he bought a townhouse — sight unseen — and two single-family homes in Northbrook, Ill., north of Chicago. He paid cash for all of them.
He plans to live in one, to give his children a chance to breathe cleaner air and learn at a better school than he could find in his hometown. He will rent out the other two.
“The price of property in Beijing is very high, the stock market is crashing, and the real economy is not stable,” Mr. Du said of the environment in China. “The people here have some money, but they don’t have enough good ways to invest their money.”
- South Korea’s “Cinderella story” has shown that it is possible to transition from aid recipient to aid donor. Aside from giving now what it received from others in more difficult times, another government official told Devex that growing ODA could lead to a more high-profile global presence for the country, in a continuously diverse donor environment.
“[South] Korea intends to return the favor it once received from the international community and actively engage in addressing global challenges in a way that benefits its growing global presence,” said Sanghyun Ko, an official from the country’s ministry of strategy and finance.
In terms of priority areas despite the lowered target, Ko confirmed that the government will maintain focus on “Asian countries, while steadily increasing our ODA percentage to Africa.” The official concluded that South Korea “plans to expand ODA in such areas as economic infrastructure and environment to bring them in line with the [Sustainable Development Goals].”
- A 22-year-old woman, who declined to give her name, said: 'We're here to criticise capitalism. The G7 is a display of power and it's no longer compatible with democracy.'
- According to the Australian Payments Clearing Association, cash use has declined from almost 70 per cent of transactions to 47 per cent since 2007, while debit, credit and charge card payments have risen from 26 per cent to 43 per cent.
- The U.S. and Russian nuclear strategies are relics of the Cold War, and our nuclear arsenals do little to keep us safe from today’s security threats. French nukes did not deter ISIS from attacking Paris, just as U.S. nukes failed to stop Al Qaeda from attacking the World Trade Center.
What they do accomplish though, is to make the world a very uncertain and often unsafe place. They pose a constant threat to those who have them, and are at continuous risk from those who want to take them.
As Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, has written, “Every step we take to reduce these [weapons], to take them off of hair-trigger alert, to end the obsolete Cold War strategy that still guides their targeting, will not only save us billions of dollars, it will make all of us a whole lot safer.”
The Cold War may be over, but Pres. John F. Kennedy’s warning still rings true. “Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”
We are lucky that the world survived the nuclear close calls of the past. We cannot count on surviving more in the future.
- The media needs to help in this, I just want to say. You know, during the course of this week — a very difficult week — it is understandable that this has been a primary focus. But one of the things that has to happen is how we report on this has to maintain perspective and not empower in any way these terrorist organizations or elevate them in ways that make it easier for them to recruit or make them stronger.
- “In the wake of the US surveillance scandal revealed by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, Russia is planning to adopt a foolproof means of avoiding global electronic snooping: by reverting to paper.
“The Federal Guard Service (FSO), a powerful body tasked with protecting Russia's highest-ranking officials, has recently put in an order for 20 Triumph Adler typewriters, the Izvestiya newspaper reported.
“Each typewriter creates a unique "handwriting", allowing its source to be traced, the report said.”
- The Russian political leadership is concerned with the manufacturing decline in Russia due to lax production standards. That results in the inability to manufacture high quality, high technology products.
- Arbil (Iraq) (AFP) - A bomb-rigged mass grave believed to hold the remains of more than 120 people killed by the Islamic State group has been found in north Iraq, an official said Saturday.
- Capital in the Twenty-First Century, published in 2014, focuses on wealth and income inequality in Europe and the US since the 18th century. The book's central thesis is that inequality is not an accident but rather a feature of capitalism that can be reversed only through state intervention. The book thus argues that unless capitalism is reformed, the very democratic order will be threatened. The book reached number one on The New York Times bestselling hardcover nonfiction list dated 18 May 2014. Piketty offered a "possible remedy: a global tax on wealth."
- Mr Page's troubles began about two months ago, when he starting receiving unwelcome text messages, emails and phone calls.
It's not known if these incidents are linked to Google and its ASIO listing, but he's been reluctant to report it to police. "It's just a series of funny things that could mean something or it could mean nothing at all."
He's now considering the possibility he's a victim of "gang stalking" – where an individual is relentlessly targeted and harassed – or swept up in the ATO's own security problems, which has seen fraudsters obtain hundreds of tax file numbers and breach accounting software.
There are text messages urging him check if his mobile is working, callers saying he's being investigated for fraud. One caller told him his private car registration details. Another claimed to be a debt collector.
At home, his key stopped opening his front door; the lock was broken. His power started going out. Then, something quite strange occurred.
"I came home and there was a bowl of sugar in the middle of the kitchen floor," he said.
Mr Page doesn't know who could be behind it. But he did have a falling out with a former employee, he says, who was involved in one of his other tech ventures. "He told me he had done training with ASIO," he added.
- Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has long been the most politically active drugmaker in Washington, and its representatives have tended to wrap themselves in the American flag while pressing their concerns with lawmakers and regulators.
So when the company announced this week that it would abandon not only the flag but the United States, its planned move to Ireland stunned the medicine industry's lobbying corps – not least because Pfizer's chief lobbyist, Sally Susman, is the daughter of one of President Barack Obama's biggest, most generous benefactors: Louis Susman.
Sally Susman, a former Clinton administration staff member and a major fundraiser in her own right for Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, must now make the argument to Washington that cutting her company's tax contributions to the US Treasury by moving its headquarters to Dublin is actually good for the United States.
Obama's Treasury Department has twice changed tax rules to dissuade such "corporate inversions," and Republicans and Democrats alike from the president to the new speaker of the House, Paul D Ryan, have pressed for a tax-code rewrite to thwart them.
"Ironically, an inversion makes it easier for an American company to invest in the US and less likely that it will be encumbered by competitive tax disadvantages or acquired by a foreign competitor," Susman, Pfizer's executive vice president for policy, external affairs and communications, said in an emailed statement Wednesday that echoed those made in phone calls by her boss, Ian C Read, Pfizer's Scottish-born chief executive.
- But Bush stretched the definition of “emergency” and used the supplemental account longer than he should have. The account has since expanded from a war fund to a true Pentagon slush fund, adding, for instance, funding for the F-15 aircraft program when none of these planes have been shot down in Afghanistan or Iraq.
President Obama tried to change this by creating the Overseas Contingency Operations account, and restrict what does and does not count as eligible for OCO. But the rules about “hat counts and what doesn’t quickly slackened.
To take an example from budget expert Gordon Adams, “OCO is spending $200 to $300 million on fixing propellers on nuclear submarines. That couldn’t possibly be related to Afghanistan. The last I saw, it was a landlocked country.” Although the Pentagon certainly treats OCO like play money, as soon as it’s appropriated, the bill is paid for using real American taxpayer dollars.
- There are an estimated 110,000 horses living on 18,000 Swiss farms. At least one of the beasts are being sexually assaulted every three days, as animal rights workers tell of fears there are as many as 10,000 people in the country with a sexual interest in them.
The group said the number of unreported horse abuse cases is likely much higher than reported, given that so many people in the country are involved with equestrian activities.
Overall, there were 1,709 incidents of abuse against animals in Switzerland in 2014, up from 1,542 from the previous year, according to Tier im Recht.
While dogs remain the most common animal targeted by Swiss sexual abusers, horses are becoming increasingly popular as part of this worrying new trend.
- Gates also waded into the current presidential race, calling for a president "who can bring us together." He worked under eight different White House administrations during his time at the CIA and Defense Department.
"We need a president who will, in Lincoln's terms, appeal to 'the better angels of our nature,'" Gates said. "We've got to figure out how to put people in office who can actually work across the aisle and begin to solve some of these problems, rather than tearing ourselves apart as a country by setting group against group."
- The Syrian Nerwork for Human Rights has some credibility but there reports can't be verified. They rely on unnamed sources. e.g. A few weeks back Russia was accused of bombing Hospitals. About 6 from memory in certain villages. When checked the truth was most of those villages did not have Medical facilities and one Medical Clinic reported as destroyed in one village was still there untouched days later. Very much like the reports in US media always stating "unnamed official sources" told us 4 of the Russian Cruise Missiles landed in Iran. When an honest reporter asked real Officials who should know they said. "We have no knowledge of that happening." Of course that does not go on the front page. It ends up on Page 6 at the bottom.
Red Cross a reputable organization said no hospitals have been hit.
Médecins Sans Frontières also does not know of any hospitals hit. Both reputable organizations in Syria operating in Syria who complain loudly if they are hit or any hospital is hit.
Civilians will be killed by both sides whatever but if it does not come from a reliable source with identifiable people on the ground, odds on its propaganda.
- As the number of cases drawing on neuroscientific evidence rises steadily in Australia, and sharply in the United States, it is demanding that lawyers and judges grapple with thorny questions such as the nature of free will and moral culpability.
"There is an increasing tendency now in the United States, and here too, to use brain-based evidence to argue that people should not be held responsible for crimes," said Dr Sascha Callaghan, a lawyer and lecturer in health law and ethics at the University of Sydney.
In the US, lawyers for notorious Oregon serial killer Dayton Leroy Rogers, who tortured and killed eight prostitutes in the 1980s, argued this year that damage to his brain in childhood could have triggered his sadistic killing sprees.
Macquarie University's Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics (CAVE) has now joined forces with the University of Sydney to launch the Australian Neurolaw Database, a publicly available collection of Australian cases involving neuroscientific evidence, on December 8. The project was started by Macquarie University in 2011.
"Part of what we're doing is trying to work out the extent to which these powerful brain-based arguments are changing the way we think about guilt, but also changing the way we think about mental injuries and emotional injuries," said Dr Callaghan, a researcher on the project. "It breaks down the mind/body distinction."
- The economy is struggling to grow because Australians get too much pay, too much annual leave and are too hard to fire, an American economist says.
Bob Baur, chief global economist at Principal Global Investors, says the local labour market is in need of reform if the economy is going to shift from its dependance on mining for growth.
Mining investment is dwindling and iron ore isn't fetching the prices that it used to, but other sectors have yet to step up to fill the breach.
Dr Baur says Australia needs to start making things again, and exporting its services, like education.
But, with the Australian dollar still too high and the labour market too restrictive, it's hard to do business here, he says.
"The best thing for Australia would be some significant economic reform in terms of maybe loosening up the labour market and making it easier for businesses to take on workers or let workers go in difficult times," Dr Baur said.
"You've got tonnes of wonderful natural resources here but don't export the resources - export them as a car, or a computer or a television set, or furniture.
- Here’s some additional facts from Delloitte, from a number of sources, showing the extent of cyber threats to Australia:
- The average cost of a data breach per Australian organisation is more than $2.5 million per year …and rising
- The average breach involved more than 20,000 records in Australia over the five years to 2014
- There was also a 25% increase in data loss between 2013 and 2014 globally
- Most organisations are focussed on prevention as opposed to detection
- 92% of breaches are perpetrated by outsiders
- These known external perpetrators come from organised crime (55%), state affiliated hackers (21%), activists (2%) and former employees (1%)
- Only 14% of breaches are by insiders, but this is rising
- With rogue hardware and malware also frequent causes of breach or service denial, it is important for all employees, contractors and suppliers to be aware of how criminals are targeting them with their well-planned attacks, often triggered by ‘apparent insiders’ who lie in wait within the organisation.
- It still remains unclear whether the DF-ZF HGV, which allegedly can reach speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or 6,173 kilometers (3,836 miles) per hour and 12,359 (7,680) miles per hour, will be armed with nuclear or conventional warheads.
“Whether China arms its hypersonic weapons with nuclear or conventional payloads — or both — will provide more information regarding how it intends to incorporate hypersonic weapons into PLA planning and operations,” according to the 2015 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review report. The report also notes that the weapon could be deployed as early as 2020 and would provide China with a global precision strike capability.
The DF-ZF HGV could also be launched atop an anti-ship ballistic missile to target naval assets. For example, a DF-21 armed with a DF-ZF HGV would extend the missile’s range from 2,000 to over 3,000 km (2,485 miles). However, China is likely more than two decades away from fielding such a weapon.
- As an alarming majority of Americans stand ready to turn away thousands Syrian refugees, it is worth noting that the United States has been facing a refugee crisis for a long time, we have just been calling them undocumented immigrants. Any talk of rejecting refugees is an abdication of our responsibility to address the fires we have started around the world.
It should go without saying that the specifics of the Syrian conflict and the state of current affairs in Mexico and Central America are, of course, vastly different. But there are indeed parallels between the Syrian conflict that is propelling a desperate population's exodus and the violence that renders much of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala into some of the most dangerous terrain on the planet. In both scenarios, the peril and sheer carnage have sparked a refugee crisis. Additionally, a large swath of the public and policymakers in the country that both benefits the most from and contributes the most to these conditions, the United States, forsakes its moral responsibility to pursue a humane course of action.
These seemingly disparate phenomena are linked through us all. What the American public must come to terms with is that the American way of life and standard of living is buttressed by an international policy of neocolonialism in the guise of anti-communism, the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. The policies produce or worsen countless conflicts and leave millions landless.
- As the only advanced country that has not made a major business out of exporting arms after World War II, Japan never developed the sort of military-industrial complex seen in the United States or European countries. Although Japan hasn’t exported arms, it is one of the world’s largest dual-use technology exporters—a known and recognized player in this field. Its peer countries are making the slow and sometimes painful shift from “spin-off” (transferring defense technology to the civilian field, as was done with the Internet or the microwave oven) to “spin on” (where militaries adapt civilian technology for their own purposes; Japan provided an early example of this with its low-power CMOS chips in Seiko wristwatches). Indeed, much of the technology and all of the talks at the recent Defense Technology Symposium featured such dual-use or spin-on-ready technology.
- "We are witnessing an Islamization of their radicalism, not a radicalization of Islam," he said, citing a recent analysis by Olivier Roy, a leading French academic expert on Islam.
Cazeneuve, who announced a meeting with Muslim leaders about radicalization for early January, said French Muslims should develop a "Gallican Islam, that keeps abreast of modern society's concerns and resolves issues that (Islam) never had to resolve in its societies of origin".
Salafist Islam, the puritan literalist interpretation of the faith that is the basis for Islamic State's violent ideology, says Muslims must return to the practices of early Islam in the seventh century and shun many aspects of modern western life.
Cazeneuve said Paris would continue cracking down on what he called obscurantism and told the meeting that two mosques had been shut down and about 20 more searched since Paris decreed emergency powers to allow it to track down militants.
He praised the meeting for its unequivocal denunciation of extremism and allegiance to France and its values, calling a statement it passed "a declaration of love for the republic and for France".
- The mishap occurred while conducting a medium risk flying qualities test sortie over the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 40 miles south of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. There were no injuries.
The incident occurred while the crew from the 413 Flight Test Squadron at Eglin was performing steady heading sideslips at an altitude of approximately 15,000 feet. The aircraft exceeded the targeted angle of sideslip until it departed controlled flight and momentarily inverted before being recovered after losing approximately 5,000 feet of altitude. The aircraft returned to base and landed safely without further incident.
As a result of the mishap, the aircraft was "over G'd," and exceeded its design limit load, thereby nullifying the airworthiness of the aircraft and rendering it a total loss. The damages are estimated at more than $115 million.
- "They are turning to far inferior products from China because they can buy roughly 10 times the number of systems from China for the same price they can from the US," Lord said. "They know eight out of 10 of those will probably crash very quickly, but they are still left with two. So that's where speed versus capability" comes in.
Lord then added that she sees the biggest competition in the region, at least for unmanned systems, as coming from China.
"The point I make constantly is it's a 30- to 40-year relationship," the industry executive said. "If in one moment in the next six months one of these countries says 'I can't wait any longer … we've lost them for 30 years."
- Russia’s parliament passed the law on “undesirable organisations” in May, and two months later the upper house sent the prosecutor’s office a list of 12 international organisations it wanted to see added to the list, including the two Soros foundations. At the time, parliamentarian Konstantin Kosachev said the organisations on the list “criticise Russia at any chance and are trying to gain external control over the situation in our country and over our people”.
Soros has long been a controversial figure in Russia because of his financing of civil society groups active in protest movements. He is often referred to as a kind of puppet master, directing “coloured revolutions” in post-Soviet states. However, organisations which had received grants from Soros said this characterisation was inaccurate.
Separately, another law requires any Russian organisation that has a foreign source of funding to register as a “foreign agent”, a term reminiscent of Soviet-era propaganda. Memorial’s Moscow office and a number of its regional affiliations have already been declared foreign agents by local courts.
- Using electro-encephalographic (EEG) techniques drawn from the medical diagnosis community, the Intific Neuro-EST solution identifies the patterns of brainwaves of expert marksmen as they shoot.
Analysis provides a brainwave model that can then be transferred to an individual at a lower level of expertise using auditory and haptic techniques that effectively teach that individual to think differently — just about weapons training, of course: There is as good a prospect of changing the entire thought process of an individual as there was of any medieval alchemist actually finding the Philosopher’s Stone.
The brain process is something becoming better understood and this type of exploitation could become the bellwether of future advances. One thing is certain: The process is one of the fundamental components that researchers have identified as the most important in changing learning behavior.
Kruse accepts that the physical components of learning weapons skills can be taught almost by rote. Breathing control, trigger pressure, sight picture; all these are tangible and controllable skills that can be taught.
“But this technology allows the trainee to reach back into their core mental processes and find capability, once they have understood the need to do so,” she said.
The Intific Neuro-EST combines neuroscience with Cubic’s proven technologies in engagement skills trainers.
“Correlating behavior and thinking patterns to the success of expert marksmen has resulted in proven performance improvement of over 100 percent in trials in some cases,” Kruse said.
- Cyanoacrylate was a last-ditch tool to prevent wounded soldiers from dying, and was not extensively used by the Army team — but when used it was mostly successful.
Chantelle Champagne at the University of Alberta reviewed medical literature on the use of cyanoacrylates. Cyanoacrylate sprays successfully stopped bleeding in all but four of 30 well-documented Vietnam War cases. Beyond these cases were many more instances of cyanoacrylate use in the field which lacked the documentation required by these medical studies.
Back on the homefront, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was skeptical of the chemical’s safety. Eastman submitted an application for new drug approval in 1964, not knowing that they were entering a 30-year battle to put their product in the hands of American surgeons.
“FDA scientists put massive implants of super glue in rats, which caused tumors — some of them malignant. Almost anything that massive would cause a tumor,” Coover told the Chicago Tribune.
The inventor felt that the FDA’s tests did not represent the kind of use his team were promoting — small topical amounts of cyanoacrylate as a tissue adhesive which degraded in the body in about 14 days.
As American bureaucracy exercised extreme caution, Japan, Austria, Germany and Canada, among others, conducted their own clinical trials in the 1960s and 1970s. Japan approved cyanoacrylate tissue adhesives in 1963, Germany followed in 1968. The FDA didn’t cave in to overwhelming research findings and international experience until 1998, when it finally reclassified cyanoacrylate for topical use.
- The decaying state of U.S.-supplied equipment on Ukraine’s front lines has bred distrust and lowered morale among Ukrainian troops, based on conversations with them during a recent visit. The low quality of the gear also calls into question the U.S. government’s commitment to a war that is entering its second year, with well-equipped Russian-backed separatists still firmly entrenched in Ukraine’s eastern region.
If the truth be told, the percentage of women in Japan’s military has few places to go but up. It was 5.6% in 2013, according to the latest Self-Defense Forces handbook. That compares to 14% in the US and 11% in Germany.
- I was excited to find out the truth about myself, but at the same time I felt ashamed. Russians don’t tolerate gays and lesbians, don’t want them to publicly acknowledge their feelings, get married or have kids. And while Russian LGBT people kept their sexuality “behind closed doors,” after the first Gay Parade in 2006, students started going public about their rights. Every single conservative in the country went crazy and demanded a law that would forbid LGBTs to “spread the propaganda of homosexuality.”
- What experts describe as Iran's self-inflicted water shortage stems from exploiting 97% of its surface water - in contrast to an international standard of 40%. A change would mean educating farmers and providing incentives for a more efficient use of water.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani recently warned that water shortages were now a national security issue.
Of 32 provinces, 13 face a "critical water situation".
Water mismanagement and drought have also brought Lake Urmia, once the Middle East's largest salt water lake, to the brink of disappearance.
Dust storms are another scourge. In February, daily life came to standstill across Khuzestan province in the south-west because dust pollution reached 66 times permissible levels.
Former Agriculture Minister Issa Kalantari, who still serves as an adviser, famously sounded a dire warning that if Iran did not change course, large parts of the country would be uninhabitable in two decades.
- To state the obvious, Turkey is not a nuclear power. In addition, despite huge errors of judgment in supporting Islamist extremists once they arrived in Syria one to two years after the conflict began, Turkey did not manufacture Syria’s civil war, as Russia manufactured the one in Ukraine. Nor have the Turks put large numbers of “volunteer” troops and heavy equipment into the Syrian battlefield. So Turkey’s ability to influence or respond to events in Syria is extremely limited. In the Donbass region, Putin has been able to turn the conflict on and off, more or less at will.
For the moment, Russian retaliation is shaping up as economic sanctions, deploying additional anti-aircraft missile systems in Northern Syria and, according to some reports, redoubling its bombing campaign in the Turkmen mountains. Erdogan will be powerless to respond effectively, unless he takes even more reckless risks in a fight he cannot win.
- “Most of the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan were from booby traps and explosive devices, so it is very natural to deal with this kind of threat with robots,” Wolf explains. “This kind of equipment allows you to work in that kind of environment and yet allows you to stay in a safe position.”
“You can see the same kind of threat in France today, because [the recent suicide bombers were] using explosives, you can see it in Israel, Afghanistan and in Iraq,” he says of the nature of conflict that deals with anti-terrorism and urban warfare as opposed to open-field battlefields.
- Global security experts say the civil war in Syria is really a power struggle between Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab Gulf States and their historic enemy – Shiite Iran.
ISIS has hijacked the war and is trying its hardest to the West into a fight to the death between Islam and the "Crusader Nations" like America, Britain, France.
The US and a newly resurgent Russia have ended up on opposite sides of the conflict – and the two have had to hold crisis talks after Moscow bombed Syrian rebels trained and funded by the Americans.
Nato – which includes Britain and the US – is sworn to defend any individual member attacked.
Turkey is a member – so if Russia follow through on its threats of retaliation for Turkey's destruction of one its jets near the Turkey-Syrian border, there is real risk of the local conflict spiralling out of control.
- Thinking skills are the best preparation for ambiguity and uncertainty. And that ought to be built around a core of history, moral and political instruction; the complexities of modern science; and sophisticated methods of public policy analysis.
Arguably, too few graduate programs around the country are delivering the kind of deep thinking education that is needed, and there are too few effective government programs to identify, nurture and produce effective deep thinkers for federal service.
Addressing these challenges may not solve the Syria crisis today, but it may well help our nation’s leaders master the next mess over the horizon.
- Russia’s defense industry has completed tests of a new flying command center capable of maintaining full control over the country’s armed forces in the event of a global disaster or nuclear war. Russia and the US are the only two nations to possess a command center of this kind.
The airborne strategic command center aboard an Ilyushin Il-80 aircraft, a modification of the Il-86 wide-body jet airliner, has successfully completed testing and will be ready for operations by the end of 2015, Russia’s United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation (UIMC) said.
The operational deployment of the airborne center is indispensable in situations when there is an absence of ground infrastructure, and in conditions where communications from ground facilities have been disrupted.
- For its survival, the House of Saud relies on its alliance with a domestic and rich clergy that, in the words of Kamel Daoud, recently writing in The New York Times, ‘produces, legitimizes, spreads, preaches and defends Wahhabism’. By exporting fundamentalism, it purchases domestic serfdom, and through its importance as oil producer and its strategic importance for the West, Saudi Arabia has managed to avoid culpability for its role in the rise of ISIL.
- Russia has expanded its military operations in Syria to include a second airbase as well as other posts, according to a U.S. official briefed on the latest intelligence from the region – even as President Obama expresses muted optimism that Russian President Vladimir Putin eventually will “shift” his strategy and work with the West.
Moscow’s presence has grown to a total of four forward operating bases, including recently added bases in Hama and Tiyas. But the most concerning to the Pentagon is the second airbase in Shayrat which can support fixed-wing aircraft, greatly expanding Russia’s capability for airstrikes, which began on Sept. 30.
- With the attacks in Paris putting new pressure on US President Barack Obama to show progress in the stalemated war against terrorists, defence analysts are calling for an intensified campaign of raids to disrupt the group's leadership, gather intelligence and build momentum.
"The goal is to start a chain reaction of intelligence-driven raids that increase in frequency and expand in scope over time," said Robert Martinage, a former deputy assistant secretary of defence for special operations under Mr Obama. "The metric becomes can you disrupt and dismantle the network faster than the enemy can repair and regenerate it?"
- "We will chase and fight any American force deployed in Iraq," Jafaar Hussaini, a spokesman for one of the Shiite armed groups, Kata'ib Hezbollah, told the Reuters news agency. "Any such American force will become a primary target for our group. We fought them before, and we are ready to resume fighting."
"All Iraqis look to (the Americans) as occupiers who are not trustworthy," Muen al-Kadhimi, a senior aide to the militia leader of the Iran-backed Badr Organization, told Reuters.
- Devastating – but now largely forgotten – testimony to Chilcot points to parallels between 2003 and today that should be there for all to see: the dangers of trying to topple dictators without filling the power vacuum they leave behind; of bombing a country without taking responsibility for what’s happening on the ground; and of military intervention increasing, rather than diminishing, the terrorist threat.
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