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Monday, April 24, 2017

Life in Vietnam 2, Data Recovery Work, and More

This is a continuation of my other post:

- more YouTube channels regarding Vietnam
Pho Your Eyes Only
Man With No Plan
Oscar Feeney Silva

- people very creative in Vietnam. Banh Tieu with different fillings such as coconut, mung bean, red bean, etc... Grilled egg which is pre-seasoned. Grilled corn basted in/with pork/onion fat
- for most people who haven't heard Vietnamese music it can be an 'acquired taste' (often depends on the style though as well)?
VIETNAMESE MUSIC. Folk music in HOI AN 2014.
- tourist attractions are too Western for my liking? Food as usual creative, cheap, good quality... Tamarind is a big thing in Vietnamese snacks/sweets
is VIETNAM too TOURISTY - Da Nang's Ba Na Hill and Hoi An's Old Town -  Daily Vlog #13
- this doesn't sound to bad? Raw seafood with vegetables, fruit, herbs, etc... in a rice paper roll... and dipped in a spicy, sweet, sour sauce. Raw fish cured in chilli, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice. Like spicy sashimi. Shrimp sashimi for desert. Da Nang is river, lake, mountains... Da Nang cuisine is really unique
Bizarre Vietnamese Foods - RAW FISH WRAP in Da Nang. Goi Ca!!
- just strange seeing so much sea life in Vietnam. Very different to the West where they've been over fished?
Tide Pools in Vietnam - Searching for rare sea creatures
- North Korean restaurants in Vietnam? Really weird. No filming in Vietnam either? Guess they're just protective of their culture? At times, I wonder whether we should just give them the peace agreement that they seem to want and then see how things play out?
North Korean Restaurant in Vietnam. 2013
- Da Nang Banh Rice Paper is to be eaten dry? Vegetables and pork inside. Papaya, cucumber, coriander, lettuce, celery, bean sprouts, etc... Mam/fermented fish base sauce with chilli and garlic
The Best Vietnamese Food in DA NANG - PORK WRAPS!!
- Bun Thit Nuong is Bun Cha in Da Nang. It's really wierd but a lot of food in Vietnam seems simplified when you compare to the versions that you get in the West? 
Vietnamese food - Bun Cha for Breakfast in Da Nang city 2013
- a local dish. Basically a thicker rice noodle with pork, chicken, and vegetables
Vietnamese food - eating My Quang in Da Nang city 2013
- it's times like this when you wonder whether life in Vietnam is better or in the West (that said, it's clear that there are a lot of poor people in Vietnam)? Temples are massive. Beaches seem full of animal life (dead or alive) unlike many beaches in the West? As I've said previously huge variations in recipes in Vietnam. Bristling with creativity. Huge amount of development (indicated by economic growth figures as well). They have an elevator going up the side of 'Marble Mountain' which has temples, caves, etc... 
Touring Da Nang VIETNAM - 1 Day eating and exploring.

- Hue is a former imperial city and capital of Vietnam. Many tourists. Much to see. Many local food specialities which are well known throughout Vietnam. Heaps of different types of banh. Lots of development and changes occurring
Vietnam Travel - HUE today - Food, Hamburger Hill. SoJournaling Vietnam
- if you've never seen Westerners sing Vietnamese it's a bit of a novelty. Strangely funny and entertaining. Bufallo bathing at the beach. Frog is better then chicken as a food source (small bones though)? Grilled frog with chilli, lemongrass, okra. Sauce, ginger, salt, pepper, lime, etc...
American Girl Sings VIETNAMESE perfectly.
- Girls in Hue really beautiful. Bun Bo Hue in Hue is generally better. People are generally very nice. Forbidden city in Hue. Used to have monarchs/emperors who lived there. Various 'banh' composed of rice/tapioca flour with pork, shrimp which is steamed in a banana leaf. Banh Quay like a mini version of Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancake)
Delicious Vietnamese Cuisine in Hue - 1 Night in Hue 2015
- much of Vietnam still seems pristine?
Hue, Vietnam 2014. - Bee Keeping in the Mountains.

- not much different to Europe in Hanoi?
exploring Streets of HANOI today. 2014 Vietnam
- North and South Vietnam still seem to have significant differences in culture... Even basic things like how things are named
TOP VIETNAMESE FOODS in HANOI, Vietnam today. 2015

- the background for the guy (Pho Fam) doing these series of videos... Canadian cinematographer/video producer. Limited market for foreigners looking for work in Vietnam 
- some overheard shots. Nice to see what it's like from up above. Clear, that they're a little behind. Much more food seems to be made fresh and in front of you in Vietnam. Lower incidence of processed/packaged food
- if you don't know ancestor worship and festivals such as New Year are pretty 'big' when compared to the West
- obviously, some parts of Vietnam are pretty up market. Ironically, it feels strange/wrong at times to see Vietnam/Asia become more Western?
- Banh Mi Thit looks a little bit different then you'd find in the West. Fresher ingredients... Vietnam makes premium chocolate now. You have to be aggressive/shouting at times to get what you want in Vietnam?
- even Vietnamese fast food (such as KFC) seems to be fresher/better then in the West?
- 1M deposit required to see doctor. 200K just to see doctor without any medication or anything else
. You get the rest of what is not spent from your deposit back
- grilled meat are something not to miss in Vietnam
- interesting to see how many people (and how they are doing it) are monetising online presence. It's a full time job for them. Their traffic reminds me of my own blog from time to time. Every once in a while traffic just seems to shoot through the roof. Often, have no idea why?
- not surprisingly grocery shopping is extremely cheap in Vietnam

- I thought there was something odd going on with Kyle Le and this guy (a few strange videos here and there are out there)?
Kyle Le Dot Net is a liar [Exposed]

- the section in this video seems pretty underdeveloped. Vietnam is becoming more Western. More difficult to tell the difference between Vietnam and the West. Losing it's identify? Awkward relationship between locals and ex-pats/Viet Kieu. Wealth disparity is frustrating for those who are poorer. Locals tend to stay with locals and expats with expats (Viet Kieu)
Why expats treat local Vietnamese like sh_t
- very difficult to believe the wealth gap in Vietnam at times...
Visiting a poor kid in hospital.
$1000 USD help for a poor 5yo orphan girl.
$1000 USD to help a 5yo orphan go to school. Vietnam.
$3000 to the girl who lost her leg. Vietnam.
Buying water for a poor girl in Nha Trang. Vietnam.
Giving $100 USD to a Vietnamese child worker. Saigon.
Giving money to a poor woman in Can Tho. Vietnam.
Giving money to a poor woman in the Mekong. Vietnam.
She left me speechless.
I give $100 USD to a kid with Agent Orange.
- the way poor people live in Vietnam can be pretty shocking at times... The interesting thing is that people still have a sense of humor in spite of their difficulties. They live in make shift houses/huts like in Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Philippines, Brazil, etc... Funny/interesting scene at 5:40 with some buffalos/cows
Vietnam's poorest slum. People living in huts.
Saigon's worst slum. Vietnam ghetto life.
I ride through a poor ghetto in Vietnam. Ca Mau today.
- disparity between city and rural living pretty interesting. Like I said previously very interesting how much it feels as though many parts of Vietnam feel pristine environmentally
Why Bao Loc is better than Dalat. Vietnam Travel
Why I love Kontum. Vietnam Travel
- one interesting thing about development in Vietnam is that development is like in China, Russia. Take the best or what the West has to offer and ignore the rest. Lots of greenery in spite of being location?
Where rich people live in Saigon. District 7.
- District 1 is backpacker area. Broader demographic out at night at night in Vietnam then in West. Greater family orientation in Vietnam then in West. Cities run all night long? Lot of people speak English in Vietnam now. Lot of cheap copies of Western goods (clothing, jewelry, luggage, etc...)
Ben Thanh Night Market - Why it sucks
- a problem in South East Asia...
White pedophiles in Asia. English teachers in Vietnam.
- this guy is a bit over the top at times...
Serpentza - 'Chinese have minds like children. Too sensitive'. RESPONSE.

Data Recovery:
- I've been screwing around with building data recovery software of late. The core concept isn't that particularly complex. The irony is that data recovery and data archival recovery isn't that much different. As I've said previously, been looking at one group of files/set of files in particular. In the past, I used to step through the code in order to understand how the code (often raw binary/assembly or custom configuration files) actually works so that I could bypass existing checks. It's not as easy as that this time. There are many, many layers stacked on one another and this seems to be at least a partly proprietary solution... May have to build a custom tool to do a direct extraction of required files?
get filename from bin archive
data recovery open source
perl open source data recovery program
Restoring deleted files under Linux
- building an undeletion utility isn't all that difficult. Finding the data you need to build it seems to be a bit of an issue though?
find end of zip archive
perl find all unallocated blocks from hard drive 
disk image forensics
show all deleted files perl script
show all deleted files perl script
- one of the strange and interesting things about existing undeletion utillities is the acknowledgement is that it's a bit of a 'black art'. They're effectively guesstimating new methods of data recovery... Read the comments in FOSS implementations. Very interesting. Another thing I've found curious is that most people Github, Bitbucket, and/or their repertoire in general seems to be composed of building up around existing software. Their seems to be very few genuinely deep, low level ICT people out there now? Here's the other irony for me, most employers want people who have used a particular tool or that tool regardless of whether that may be the best option out there? 
perl file recovery open source
scalpel open source
view file allocation table perl
- have been playing around with building something like this as well. As with much software, it feels like it's not that difficult to build something but the problem is the lack of portability of code of existing implementations, their relative lack of extensibility, etc... May be easier to work on something from scratch?
perl password crack
Pete Finnigan's Oracle Security Weblog
This is my first try at obf^H^H^H password cracking...
perl zip password crack
python zip archive password cracker

Random Stuff:
- latest stuff in ICT
- the other alternative is to just let things run free? The irony in this whole thing is that just like my relevance checker and political bias checker they might not expect/like the results they actually get first time round from a prototype? Moreover, I expect another irony is that it's more difficult to bias something in favour of a political set of opinions then it is to build something more 'honest'?
- pretty obvious you need a more genuine type of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to stop stuff like this. I may do a proof of concept some time in future?
- feels like a good player with potential to grow...
- latest in science
- latest in finance and politics
- bit confused? As an aside, shouldn't Google and Bing be in the same situation?
- latest stuff in defense
CrossTalk - Pentagon Rules

Random Quotes:
- Many of the U.S.-supplied bombs in this deal are intended to strike designated targets with greater precision, but the benefit of these “smart bombs” is belied by the fact that the Saudi-led coalition has struck civilian infrastructure, including factories, schools, a refugee camp, and even weddings. Oxfam International’s Tariq Riebl lamented, referring to Saudi strikes on hospitals and other civilian targets, “What happened in Kunduz [referring to the bombing of a Medicin Sans Frontieres hospital in Afghanistan by U.S. airstrikes] is happening multiple times a day in Yemen.” The Yemen bombings are simply not getting the same media attention.
- "The human embryo is a new human life with potential; it should be respected and protected from the moment of conception and not used as disposable material," Bishop John Sherrington said in a statement issued on behalf of the church in England and Wales.

The Church of England said it was not in favor of "preventing people from benefiting from a major advance in genetics and assisted reproduction." Rather, it said in a statement, "we want to ensure that as a nation we get such a significant treatment and its regulation right."
- "We're at the beginning of an important moment in human history: the trial separation of humanity and nature," said science ethicist Stephen Gardiner of the University of Washington.

"I recommend modest steps in this direction, with trepidation."
- "A hobby is hard work you wouldn't do for a living." Anonymous
"A man must have his hobbies." Anonymous
"Everyone needs three hobbies: one for the body, one for the mind, and one for the soul." Anonymous
- Hollywood spent years trying to make ISPs liable for illegal downloads by their subscribers in the "iiTrial", which it picked on mid-sized Australian ISP iiNet. During that case it emerged that iiNet was targeted because its was something of an internet Golidilocks: not so big that taking it on would be painful (in terms of legal resources required to run the case or damaging the prospect of future content sales deals), and not so small that the fight would be a mismatch.

iiNet triumphed in that case, with Australia's ultimate appellate tribunal, the High Court, ruling that the ISP had no technical method with which to stop theft and that Hollywood's allegations of illegal downloads weren't a reasonable basis on which to act.
- As former opposition leader Kim Beazley is reputed to have said: when you explain something so many times you think "if I have to say this again I'll vomit", that's when the public is just starting to get it.
- "The Status of Forces agreement gives you your legitimacy; if you don't have one - if you take if from the ultimate end of the spectrum - you're actually an occupying force. It's rather like Russian soldiers turning up in New Zealand with weapons.  They have no jurisdiction, no legality to be here, no legality to wear [weapons] and shouldn't be wearing uniforms and so on."
- As far back as 1817, the economist David Ricardo pointed out that the optimal basis for trade is comparative, not absolute, advantage. In other words, even if a country is better at everything, it should export what it is best at and import what it is less better at. Having an across-the-board advantage does not imply that it makes good economic sense to produce everything yourself, much less to sell more than you want in return. Or, to put it a bit differently, there's no inherent reason why earning more can't mean spending more, on consuming both public and private goods, as well as investing in future productive capacity.
- In 1918, it became apparent that a breakup was imminent. Mr Spencer said that people took "boxcar loads of currency" across borders to where, upon conversion, their money would have greater worth.

The process of conversion then involved stamping currency with ink, as almost all money was held in a physical form. Now, most savings are held electronically, and could be converted in an instant.

So as long as word doesn't get out, most cash can be dealt with. If it does, then capital can flee even more quickly than before, as shuffling currency to a different currency no longer relies upon the maximum speed of a horse.

In Greece this deposit exodus has already begun. JP Morgan warned a week ago that capital flight from Greece had reached a rate of EUR2bn a week, leaving lenders without collateral within 14 weeks.

By Friday, fears that a compromise would not be found led deposits to fall by a further EUR1bn in just two days, Reuters said citing sources.

Gabriel Sterne, the head of global macro research at Oxford Economics, said: "Argentina in 2001 is one of the most commonly cited historical examples of capital flight, and its extent is very small by comparison." 
- "Either we get a massive injection from the government to keep the business going, or they give us the permission to manage the business and therefore no subsidy is required and the business can continue," he said.

Letter volume decline accelerated to 8.2 per cent, year-on-year, which is the largest decline recorded since Australia Post's letter volumes started falling in 2008.
- In the example of the power supply above, suppose that the transformer had been protected by a fuse. In that case the diodes would have likely shorted out anyway because of one of Murphy's laws, "An expensive semiconductor device protected by a fuse will protect the fuse by burning out first." Therefore, when the power supply comes to your service bench it will have a shorted filter capacitor and one or more shorted diodes. If you replace the faulty diodes and the fuse and apply power you will just burn out some more diodes and another fuse. 
- "The 21st century exam system (is) the same as the 19th century one," he told Fairfax Media.

"We still give a student a pencil and a piece of paper, tell them to collaborate with nobody, tell them to look up no information and ask them to perform an incredible memory test.

"(It) doesn't represent the way they learn and it doesn't represent the way we would expect them to work."
- Sport and scandal are familiar companions. Where there is money there is greed. Where there is greed there will be cheating. Where there is power there will be temptation. 
- Paying full price, just like paying high interest rates on loans, is for those of very limited financial means. Take a look at how it works in third world countries, with the kind of income disparities that we are rapidly heading toward in Abbott's Australia. The poor get bled. The rich get plied with freebies by business and pandered to by government.
- In "A note on Jane Austen", C S Lewis remarked that "The hard core of morality and even of religion seems to me to be just what makes good comedy possible. 'Principles' or 'seriousness' are essential to Jane Austen's art. Where there is no norm, nothing can be ridiculous ..."
- It's axiomatic in the digital world that if an app or service is free, you're the product. Or your data is. So what to make of consumers who are willing to pay handsomely for the privilege of being spied upon?

Wearable fitness devices act like the most intimate of observers, silently tracking users' heartbeat, logging every step taken, every calorie burned, your hours asleep - and report the data back to their masters. Consumers love them. 

It's ingenious product design, perhaps; and a very Silicon Valley version of win-win. Users get free information about themselves, and in the process generate a brand new category of data that's extremely valuable to healthcare providers, insurers, employers and marketers.
- When the big firm recruit's work and values are in conflict, becoming depressed is one option. Another would be to find a way to ignore, if not reconcile, the contradictions between a right-on past and a sellout present by flying the ideological flag of convenience. Masters of expediency just mould their belief systems to fit the prevailing ideology of their environment. At university, where the cool kids hang out on protest marches, burning effigies of politicians and visiting refugees in detention, it makes sense to adopt views which are left wing - radical, even. Flying this ideological flag is the easiest way to acceptance and eventual triumph within the social hierarchy of university culture.

A few years later, a new flag is necessary to achieve the same aim. By the recruit's late twenties, power and influence are to be found in scaling the heights of the corporate world. The cool kids are taking holidays abroad yachts off Croatia, perusing degustation menus and closing big deals. A new ideological flag of convenience is needed at this point. Lofty ideals are shrugged off as the amusing musings of the young and naive. Sure, the sellout might retain some ideals but now sees more practical ways to achieve those ideals. They may embrace a 'third way' of looking at politics, which is neither left wing or right wing. Equality is all well and good but it is best achieved by third-world countries opening their borders to free trade. The tendency of the general population to condemn the high salaries of CEOs and the high fees of banks is dismissed as populist nonsense. The class system they once railed against starts to seem so much fairer when you have before you the likely prospect of becoming part of the ruling class. From the top, society does not look too unfair at all.

Thus, the process of selling out is entirely logical and consistent. And entirely depressing and self-interested.
- "If you take care of your employees they will take care of your business," Branson said.

"That is a philosophy that has served us well for more than four decades and is the foundation of everything we do at Virgin."
- Heres a hot tip for ANYONE that buys a Samsung product. (or incidentally any mass-produced electronics - Monitors and TVs are the most obvious examples)

During a Samsung product cycle - in this instance a phone - The handset is first produced with original specifications and components it was developed with in Korea.

Its produced in a very tightly controlled environment within Samsung's primary production facility itself. As such there are so few mistakes, generally any handsets produced then have almost no faults. They are produced to put the handset out there with the best possible experience.

Once 6 months hits and the thing is a whopping success (or not) its shifted off to its Chinese production facilities. Controls are less, but the handset is now cheaper to produce than it was before. There are a few more mistakes, but its still a great gadget.

Once you're shooting for 12 to 18 months, its now being pushed to malaysia, india or vietnam for production. As such you can imagine theres now a quality slide, but the handset is now about half its original price. Its still good ... but quality has slid dramatically and production of the new version is now in full swing at Samsung Korea.

Its much the same processes Nokia used to use > produce in finland > move design to china > boost margins but forfeit quality.

Sad, but its mass-production. Happens everywhere. On a side note - I've seen that email at Allphones, it covers ALL handsets from Roadhound in ALL variants and colours in the i9100 model - not just white.

Find ANY S series or Note series from the first 6 months initial shipments; its made in Korea.
- anawth on 16/06/2015 - 15:34

Agreed. I work in IT, get paid well...and it's miserable.
I hate it.
Find something you like and work out how to get paid doing it.
- I have a degree in Biological science majoring in biomedicine. I'm now doing another bachelor in business majoring in management. I've studied my ass off and now i'm earning in a week what my friend makes in one night being a stripper! She is about to buy her 3 home & pay off her 2nd house. She plans to strip until she can't and then just live off the rent money she makes. Looking back now at my hecs debt and her really nice apartment I should have just danced on a pole too.
- I am sorry peeps, but all seemed to rip apart the jobseeker. Just so you know many employers are also partly to be blamed. They do discriminate. Oh yes they do! You are kidding yourself if you think they follow the Human Rights Act word for word. Employers wants them very well educated, loads of work experience with only 1 week gaps in CV, not old age wise, don't have an accent, A sharp dresser be exceptionally well groomed happy to accept low pay etc. Not so long ago, I had the unfortunate task of looking for work and I was shocked to see ads asking for a Degree for what appears to be a glorified Lunch Lady position at the office. Also recruitment agencies lie to get you show up for them to eliminate and also to get your hopes up then selects only all the brain surgeons for their client who only needs a telephone operator. I do believe the employment place is so competitive that a tiny little thing they can find issues with, they will. Your age is something employers love to pick on. They will not tell you, no but they don't like people who are old. These days to answer a phone call for a job, you need to be in a Hugo Boss suit for the interview, wear K mart and you will be rejected. Older than 40? Well you better have CEO experience otherwise, you're too old. Oh you do have CEO experience? well you are over qualified. Still others look for experience in their own inhouse software that only an ex employee would know how to use let alone be proficient. No one from outside their organisation would know how to use their in house software. It is important to minimise gaps, so any casual or temporary positions will fill it nicely. I also think the welfare payments can be addictive that is why they have changed it to be more strict.
- The "private sector-led recovery" has been highly successful at increasing the wealth of the richest. But otherwise it has delivered only stagnation and social injustice. It is time to take the billions and invest them in a public sector recovery.
- "When 95 percent of our potential customers live abroad, we must be sure that we are writing the rules for the global economy, not a country like China," Obama said in his special message to Congress on Thursday, RIA reports. 
- Shipton has to have two casual jobs, while also pursuing his music career, to make enough money.

"I've met many musicians who I admire and respect and they're working in call centres, and I have friends who have toured Europe, but they're cab drivers," he says.

"You can't make money out of music unless you're a big pop star and have corporate backing."
- Channel 2 reported Sunday that the information security department, part of the IDF's intelligence force, issued a call to its officers and soldiers to beware of recruitment attempts by the CIA.

The advisory called on soldiers to "be aware and report any unusual incidences."

The warning was issued to all officers and soldiers of the IDF.

Attached to the warning was an article from Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot chronicling a phenomenon circa 2012 in which post-army youngsters, upon arrival in the United States, were taken in for extensive questioning by American authorities in an attempt to recruit their services.
- In cloning the F-35B, China risks committing military-industrial suicide. Go ahead, Beijing—copy our crappiest warplane. If the United States with its $600 billion annual defense budget can barely afford the F-35B, then China—which spends a comparatively paltry $130 billion a year—can’t afford it at all, and could suffer irreparable self-harm in attempting a technological copy-and-paste.
- The U.S. Marines lost a third of their roughly 300 Harriers, and 45 pilots, in just the first three decades of use ending in 2002, as the Los Angeles Times explained in an award-winning investigation. Since then, more Harriers have crashed and more pilots have died—although recent upgrades have reduced the accident rate.
- To understand why China would follow Germany, the U.K., the U.S., and the Soviet Union down the expensive, often fatal path toward a vertical-takeoff fighter—which even under the best of circumstances is much less capable than a normal jet—you have to look past atomic warfare and small aircraft carriers to the South China Sea islands.

“You’ve got to start thinking in terms of power projection and influence,” Nordeen explained. You have to assume, like Nordeen says he does, that Beijing doesn’t mind spending a lot of money and sacrificing a bunch of pilots for a warplane that, like every jump jet that came before it, simply doesn’t work very well.
- Rather than compiling evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, the FBI and fellow practitioners will jump at any flimsy thread of possible wrong doing, make a public arrest, sent out a press release on their accusation and put the hapless Chinese American in detention.

When their findings are then subject to scrutiny and fail to pass muster, the charges are quietly dropped. By then, of course, the reputation of the person is in tatters and the victim’s life and finances are in ruin.

The latest such victim was Sherry Chen, a hydrologist working for National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The headline of the New York Times article said it all: “Accused of spying for China until she wasn’t.”

According to published sources, Ms. Chen is from Beijing who immigrated to the U.S. and became a naturalized American citizen in 1997. The second piece of damming evidence against her is that she goes back to China every year, allegedly to see her aging parents. The third piece of evidence is that she has a classmate who is now a vice minister at the Ministry of Water Resources.  He apparently told her that he would like to know how the repair of old dams is financed in the U.S. — a threat to homeland security if ever was one.
- Take the case against Dr. Bo Jiang. After his Ph.D. degree, he found work as a NASA subcontractor. When his contract expired and he did not get permanent residence to remain in the U.S., he bought a one-way ticket to go home to China — the feds tend to regard a one-way ticket as a tell-tale sign of sinister intentions.

The then Congressman Wolf’s gut was convinced that Jiang must be a spy and had him yanked off the plane and incarcerated. Despite violating his civil rights and finding not a shred of evidence to justify putting Jiang in jail, he was released only after agreeing to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count in exchange for the seven weeks of jail time he already served.

He saved the U.S. government’s face but it was doubtful that he got any thanks for his generosity. He won’t be allowed to come back to the U.S. though it would be doubtful that he would want to.

In a June 2013 press release, FBI Executive Assistant Director Richard McFeely expressed satisfaction at their effort to catch spies. He said, “Since 2008, our espionage arrests have doubled, indictments have increased five fold, and convictions have risen eight fold.” 
- Russia’s military action in Syria is a ploy to ease western sanctions that punish Moscow for its incursions into Ukraine, says an authority on Russia’s economic system, and former major investor.

“Russia’s airstrikes and troops in Syria are a relatively inexpensive gambit that costs about $2 million a day,” Bill Browder said on a visit to Toronto this week. “But when it causes another flood of refugees, the West could buckle.”

Browder, a former Moscow-based hedge fund manager who founded multi-billion-dollar Hermitage Capital Management, contends that Russia’s military move is more economic than political.

By joining the conflict, he adds, “(President Vladimir) Putin thinks there will be a UN-style division of Syria, and he will be part of it. Putin understands how volatile the refugee situation is.

“It’s geopolitics. Putin would keep what he has in Ukraine, and Ukraine would be thrown under the bus.”
- Eating the bounty offered up by bitumen is nothing new in Australia. For many years in Darwin, a stall at the city’s famous sunset markets offered up tasty treats including buffalo, wallaby and possum. A speciality at the Roadkill Cafe, whose slogan was “you kill it, we grill it”, was “impaled camel”, succulent meaty chunks of the beast served on skewers.


“Roadkill is organic, natural, free range, costs you nothing and it’s never been processed so it’s superb food,” Zell tells news.com.au.
- Polls in South Korea show that Abe is about as unpopular as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who regularly threatens to use his nuclear weapons to turn Seoul into a river of fire. Animosity toward Japan is fanned by the media, with television shows, films and musicals on the brutality of Japan's colonial rule on regular release. A 2015 film "Assassination," about a plot to kill a senior Japanese official and a Korean collaborator drew more than 10 million viewers, about a fifth of the South Korean population.

Abe too has fed that resentment. In 2013, he visited a Tokyo shrine seen by many in Asia as a symbol of past militarism, prompting public outrage in South Korea and China.
- State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin, speaking to a group of lawmakers from Serbia on Wednesday, called for the dissolution of NATO, beginning with the removal of the United States. According to the state-run news organization RT, he said, “My attitude to this organization is special,” adding, “It would only be for the better if this organization is dissolved.”

“First of all, the USA should be excluded from the bloc, and after this it would be possible to painlessly disband the whole organization,” Naryshkin said. “This would be a good step towards greater security and stability on the whole European continent.”

NATO’s original purpose, of course, was to deter Russian aggression in Europe. Moscow’s actions over the past few years, including the invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, its continued support of armed rebellion in the east of Ukraine, and its frequent testing of national boundaries with warships and military planes have all left its neighbors somewhat disinclined to drop their collective guard.
- Here’s a phrase to conjure with: “zero-day vulnerability”. If you’re a non-techie, it will sound either like a meaningless piece of jargon or it’ll have a vaguely sinister ring to it. “Year Zero” was the name chosen by the Khmer Rouge for 1975, the year they seized power in Cambodia and embarked on their genocidal rule. Behind the term lay the idea that “all culture and traditions within a society must be completely destroyed or discarded and a new revolutionary culture must replace it, starting from scratch”.

If you run a computer network, though, especially one that hosts sensitive or confidential data, then zero-day vulnerability evokes nightmares and worse. It means that your system has a security hole that nobody, including you, knew about and that someone is now in a position to exploit. And you have no real defence against it.

All software has bugs and all networked systems have security holes in them. If you wanted to build a model of our online world out of cheese, you’d need emmental to make it realistic. These holes (vulnerabilities) are constantly being discovered and patched, but the process by which this happens is, inevitably, reactive. Someone discovers a vulnerability, reports it either to the software company that wrote the code or to US-CERT, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. A fix for the vulnerability is then devised and a “patch” is issued by computer security companies such as Kaspersky and/or by software and computer companies. At the receiving end, it is hoped that computer users and network administrators will then install the patch. Some do, but many don’t, alas.

It’s a lousy system, but it’s the only one we’ve got. It has two obvious flaws. The first is that the response always lags behind the threat by days, weeks or months, during which the malicious software that exploits the vulnerability is doing its ghastly work. The second is that it is completely dependent on people reporting the vulnerabilities that they have discovered.

Zero-day vulnerabilities are the unreported ones. Nowadays, they can be very valuable. Software companies and computer manufacturers offer bounties to those who report them. But they are also traded online in the recesses of the dark web, where the customers include not just affluent criminals but also government agencies.

For years, it’s been a reasonable conjecture that intelligence agencies such as the NSA and GCHQ were stockpiling zero-day exploits for use in the wars against cybercrime and global terrorism. Some of these will be vulnerabilities that the spooks themselves have discovered; others will be ones they’ve bought on the black market. After all, if you’re a public official charged with protecting society against these threats, then you would take all available steps to fulfil that mission.

The agencies won’t talk about their hoards, for obvious reasons. So up to now all we’ve had are our suspicions. But on 13 August all that changed. A mysterious group calling itself the Shadow Brokers released 300 megabytes of the NSA’s “cyberweapons” stash on the internet. “The people behind the link used casual hacker lingo,” reported Bruce Schneier, a leading computer security expert, “and made a weird, implausible proposal involving holding a bitcoin auction for the rest of the data: ‘!!! Attention government sponsors of cyber warfare and those who profit from it !!!! How much you pay for enemies cyberweapons?’”

Nobody knows who these Shadow Brokers are but the stolen material appears to be genuine. In which case, it’s embarrassing for the NSA. What is more interesting, from a democratic point of view is the nature of the zero-day vulnerabilities that have been revealed. For some of them can be exploited not just against enemy states or cybercriminals, but against common internet security systems – Schneier identifies products made by Cisco, Fortinet, Topsec, WatchGuard and Juniper, for example.
- SAN FRANCISCO — Want to invisibly spy on 10 iPhone owners without their knowledge? Gather their every keystroke, sound, message and location? That will cost you $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee with an Israeli outfit called the NSO Group. You can spy on more people if you would like — just check out the company’s price list.

The NSO Group is one of a number of companies that sell surveillance tools that can capture all the activity on a smartphone, like a user’s location and personal contacts. These tools can even turn the phone into a secret recording device.

Since its founding six years ago, the NSO Group has kept a low profile. But last month, security researchers caught its spyware trying to gain access to the iPhone of a human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates. They also discovered a second target, a Mexican journalist who wrote about corruption in the Mexican government.

Now, internal NSO Group emails, contracts and commercial proposals obtained by The New York Times offer insight into how companies in this secretive digital surveillance industry operate. The emails and documents were provided by two people who have had dealings with the NSO Group but would not be named for fear of reprisals.

The company is one of dozens of digital spying outfits that track everything a target does on a smartphone. They aggressively market their services to governments and law enforcement agencies around the world. The industry argues that this spying is necessary to track terrorists, kidnappers and drug lords. The NSO Group’s corporate mission statement is “Make the world a safe place.”

Ten people familiar with the company’s sales, who refused to be identified, said that the NSO Group has a strict internal vetting process to determine who it will sell to. An ethics committee made up of employees and external counsel vets potential customers based on human rights rankings set by the World Bank and other global bodies. And to date, these people all said, NSO has yet to be denied an export license.

But critics note that the company’s spyware has also been used to track journalists and human rights activists.

“There’s no check on this,” said Bill Marczak, a senior fellow at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. “Once NSO’s systems are sold, governments can essentially use them however they want. NSO can say they’re trying to make the world a safer place, but they are also making the world a more surveilled place.”
- The report, commissioned by NBN, said the number of sole traders had increased by 3700 in the 12 months to June 2015, taking the total to almost 1.2 million.

It said new technology including virtual reality, video collaboration, data analytics, cloud computing and Fintech were contributing to the growth in start-ups.

Mr Salt said the days of car manufacturers or companies such as Alcoa coming from overseas to Australia to hire thousands of workers on local pay rates were over.

"We have to create our own jobs of the future," he said. "Therefore any level of entrepreneurship should be encouraged."
- There is precedent for fearing Chinese espionage attempts. In 2008, a Downing Street official, who was accompanying then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was preyed upon by a beautiful Chinese woman.

The UK official took the Chinese spy back to his hotel room, but woke up to find his Blackberry and documents from his briefcase were missing.

Damien McBride, who was previously Brown’s spin doctor, witnessed the incident, which he recorded in his memoires published in 2013.

He woke up the following morning "minus his Blackberry and half the contents of his briefcase,” as cited by the Telegraph.

The official also had a “very bad headache, owning to the Mickey Finn nightcap his overnight companion had administered to him in his hotel room.”

Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2014 revealed that the UK actually employed the very same “dirty tricks” that it is warning its delegation to Hangzhou to be wary of.

Snowden stated that British intelligence has used sexual “honey traps” to ensnare rival agents, hackers and suspected terrorists, with targets lured “to go somewhere on the internet, or a physical location” where they are then “met by a friendly face.”

Later in 2014, a leaked UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) document said that detailed instructions had been given to British officials that the Russian intelligence, the FSB, may try to compromise and blackmail foreign agents “through knowledge of marital infidelity or sexual activity the target may wish to hide.”

Chinese intelligence, meanwhile, has a “voracious, vast and indiscriminate appetite” for all types of data, and allegedly recurs to blackmail as well.
- “Thank you very much for the gift, for the tasty ice-cream. In my every trip to Russia I always ask to buy Russian ice-cream. And then, at home, we eat it,” the Chinese leader said.

“You have the best cream, and it makes it so tasty. I like it very much. Thank you for this courtesy,” he added.

And Xi isn’t the only one who thinks Russian ice-cream rocks!

On Friday, a Chinese businessman in Russian Far-Eastern city of Vladivostok complained to Putin that the customs doesn’t allow Russian ice-cream to be brought to China.

“It’s the first time I’ve heard this. Starting from now, each time I go to China, will bring ice-cream as a gift for Xi [Jinping],” Putin said, as quoted by TASS.

The G20 summit started on Sunday in the Chinese Hangzhou, and prior to that, Putin took part in an informal BRICS countries meeting (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).
- The cheapest and easiest way to reduce the benefits of terrorism is to stop overreacting. That 129 people were killed in the Paris attacks is a terrible tragedy and a vicious crime, but 16,000 people in the United States are murdered each year in “ordinary” homicides, 30,000 die in accidental falls, 34,000 die in car crashes, and 39,000 die of accidental poisoning. We should mourn each and every death, and we should take all reasonable steps to prevent more deaths from occurring and punish those responsible for intentionally inflicting harm.

But we need to stop viewing terrorism as unique and aberrational. The more we panic and posture and overreact, the more terrorism we’ll get.
- Iran is the “the world’s cheapest country” for oil production, head of investment at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Ali Kardor said last month.

“The finished cost of each oil barrel produced in Iran is about $5. This price tag doesn’t exceed $10 with the costliest of processes,” he said on the sidelines of an energy event in Tehran.

Several oil majors including Royal Dutch Shell, France’s Total, BP and Italy’s Eni have indicated interest in the new projects. American countries are also eyeing new opportunities with enthusiasm, but they are bound by US government sanctions banning any business with Iran.
- “To my Chinese counterparts, I would remind them, increasingly you are as vulnerable as any other major industrialized nation state. The idea that you can somehow exist outside the broader global cyber challenges I don’t think is workable,” Rogers said.
- One former intelligence analyst who spent several years focused on Afghanistan and who served multiple tours there said there was a constant friction between military commanders and the DIA analysts, reflecting different training and mindsets. But he said he never saw evidence of outright manipulation of intelligence reports by Centcom.

“I don’t want to say it’s malfeasance. But it’s true there’s cultural tension,” said the retired analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It’s not like they’re fabricating information. But it’s how they assess what’s going on.”

Military officers are often in the difficult position of having to defend the performance of Afghan security forces, while intelligence analysts are more ready to point to the weaknesses and shortcomings of the Kabul government’s army, he said.
- A senior NATO commander said last month that the number of Russian submarine patrols had risen to levels not seen for a decade as UK defence officials warned Russia was exploring plans to cut underseas communications cables which carry nearly all the world’s internet traffic.
- “My sense [is] you will have candidates in both parties arguing, not for a once-in-a-generation buildup, but a buildup beyond what the program is currently,” Brose said, adding later: “As you look to next year’s election, spending less on defense doesn’t strike me as a winner.”

Yet how such a buildup will be funded in the federal budget remains an open question, Kosiak said. Will there be a tax hike or tax cuts? Will entitlements be cut or left alone? Will there be parity on the non defense side?

“Both Republicans and Democrats agree we need more money for defense,” Kosiak, “but how does that fit into the overall [federal budget] package.”

Mackenzie Eaglen, an American Enterprise Institute analyst and former congressional defense aide, said Congress will have to find funding for the Pentagon's efforts in the Mideast, Europe and the Pacific, or it will have to choose from among some politically unpopular options: shuttering units, closing bases, or cutting contractors or depot workers.

“There's no magic sauce here,” Eaglen said. "The entire economy needs to grow or you're cutting defense under any scenario."
- Last year, The Fiscal Times compared Facebook’s photo tagging system with the FBI’s billion dollar facial recognition system — the one that’s supposed to ID the bad guys. The test was done by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a tech trade group, which found the FBI’s system was accurate only 85 percent of the time compared with Facebook’s system that works 97 percent of the time.

In one case, the FBI’s facial recognition system matched a suspect’s photo with the wrong name one in seven times.

The FBI story is still a good result compared with, say, Healtcare.gov — the billion dollar website that never worked well and cost taxpayers a bundle. Or the IRS’s inability to keep millions of taxpayers’ Social Security numbers from being stolen. Or how about the Office of Management and Budget letting the personal information of 25 million federal workers be hijacked by hackers?

A few examples of federal I.T. expertise:

    A failed electronic health record program that was supposed to allow the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs to share files. DOD canceled it when the cost of the program was projected to top $28 billion. The original system was supposed to cost $1 billion.
    The Virtual Case File System, for which the FBI paid contractors $170 million. The bureau eventually decided the program as conceived would never work -- and canceled the contract.
    The Secure Border Initiative, which was supposed to create a virtual fence between the U.S. and Mexico. Homeland Security canceled it after spending $1 billion on just 53 miles of fence. The entire border is 1,954 miles.
    The Business Modernization Program, launched by the IRS in the 1980s. The program’s goal was to help the IRS manage files. More than 20 years and $7 billion later, it's still not done.
    The Kinetic Energy Interceptor, an anti-ballistic missile system that would take down enemy rockets early in flight; Northrup Grumman was the contractor. After the DOD spent $1.2 billion on it, the Obama administration canceled the program because it simply didn't work.
- A Coalition senator who was supposed to announce the Turnbull government's decision to create a team of "behavioural economics" advisers once slammed the Gillard government for pursuing similar ideas.

Senator Arthur Sinodinos was due to reveal plans on Monday of the federal government's decision to create a new team of economic advisers, to be housed inside the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The team will be asked to design policies using insights from behavioural economics, a field of economics that recognises that people do not always make decisions on a purely rational basis.
In 2013, Mr Sinodinos slammed the Gillard government for experimenting with behavioural economic theories, accusing it of using them for "economic and social regulatory engineering" rather than listening to the Australian people.
- Despite presiding over a vast hydro-engineering industry—there are more than 87,000 dams in China, most of which have been built since 1978—Beijing’s politicians have yet to prove they can keep their cities safe from flood and drought.

Since 2008, the number of Chinese cities affected by floods has more than doubled. Severe and extreme droughts, too, have become more serious since the late 1990s. Chronic water shortages in northern China have led to the construction of a $81 billion canal to transfer water south to north.

“The rate of flooding is a national scandal,” says Kongjian Yu, the dean of Peking University’s College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. “We have poured more than enough concrete. It’s time to invest in a new type of green infrastructure.”

For the first time, Yu feels he may be preaching to the converted.

In September, the government rubber-stamped the development of 16 model “sponge cities”—an ecologically friendly alternative to the gray urban expanses of modern China. These will require infrastructure retrofits of existing cities all over China, ranging from Xixian New Area in the north, with about 500,000 people, to Chongqing in the south, with a population of 10 million.
- The U.S. military receives intelligence from a large number of analysts from a variety of agencies, both military and civilian, on any given subject or target — much of it contradictory — which leaves the information open to subjective interpretation and possible manipulation at more senior levels, both civilian and military. 
- So, as Russia nicked Crimea off Ukraine in the name of protecting the Russian-speaking population, so too is Turkey enraged at Russia's air strikes on Syria which drop bombs on ethnic Turkmen. Russia, meanwhile, cheerfully bombs anyone opposed to Assad as a way to preserve him and maintain its own regional power. So for Putin, IS is simply convenient rhetorical cover that allows him to bomb whoever stands in Assad's way.

No one likes IS, but everyone ultimately has greater, conflicting concerns. Partly that's because most nations recognise IS has no air force, no history of military victories against capable enemies and controls a largely empty swath of land, which it has recently commenced losing. Western nations might be keen to see that process complete itself, but the truth is they have little appetite for making it happen.
- There are striking similarities between Erdogan’s Turkey and Putin’s Russia, not least their ability and propensity to move conflicts into the covert arena. While Russia’s intervention in Syria may have cynical intent, the Turks are acting in support of their national interests in Syria with equal ruthlessness.

Ankara is often guilty of neglecting attacks on Isis and hitting the Kurds (who are in so many ways the most effective force against the jihadists) instead, smuggling weapons in the guise of humanitarian convoys (something we saw the Russians doing in Ukraine), and being willing to support groups which are often jihadist in their own terms. Turkish military intelligence organisation (MIT) is every bit as cynically opportunist as the Russian military spy agency (GRU), and Erdogan every bit as erratic, brutal and ambitious as Putin.
- “The United States has employed a raiding strategy in a variety of countries, and the results have been far from encouraging,” said Mark Moyar, visiting scholar at the Foreign Policy Initiative. “During the Bush administration, huge numbers of raids failed to prevent the resurgence of the Taliban or the flourishing of Iraqi insurgent groups,” he said, while the Obama administration’s reliance on Special Operations raids in Afghanistan ultimately failed to prevent the Taliban from gaining ground over the past year.

The nighttime raids by the Joint Special Operations Command during the surge in Iraq did, however, knock al Qaeda in Iraq leadership off balance to a significant degree, killing large numbers of militants and allowing the Iraqi security forces to find their footing.
- Addressing the Politburo last week, Xi said Marxist political economy could “help conduct economic analysis in a scientific way, improve the capability of managing a socialist market economy, and better answer problems of economic development”, in the face of the extremely complex economic situation at home and abroad.
- The motion looks set to pass given the broad majority held by Ms Merkel's "grand coalition" of conservatives and Social Democrats.

Lawmakers from the pacifist Left party have warned that the government is raising the risks of an attack on German soil by joining the mission.

They have promised to vote against it and challenge the deployment in court.

Some members of the opposition Greens also have reservations.

"This deployment is combustible and politically and militarily wrong. Showing solidarity with France cannot mean undertaking something that's wrong," Greens politician Hans-Christian Stroebele said, adding he feared more civilian victims.

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, told Bild daily that patience was needed and, pointing to the ongoing talks in Vienna, stressed that a political process for Syria's long-term future was essential.

"Bombs and rockets alone will not conquer terror, that will only happen though politics," he told Bild.
- I remember only too well being a junior. I was basically scared stiff of anyone who was more senior than me – everyone in the business.

When someone said jump, I said how high? I knew nothing and even basic office processes seemed complex to me. I even remember being scared of the fax machine and the photocopier.

However, when I encounter juniors today, they seem so different to when I was starting out. They seem to know everything. Or at least they think they do. Although this is rarely the case.

What this shows is that junior staff need a lot of support to learn how to be a productive member of the team. However, very often, they just don't get it.  

There's rarely a process for teaching young team members about the things that happen in an office that most of us take for granted. Basic stuff like how to work the telephone system and what happens with the mail.

Plus, all too often the junior is treated like a second-class citizen; certainly that has been the case at many of the places I have worked.
- Russia has begun building two modern military compounds on the far eastern Kuril islands, defence minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday, heightening long-running tensions with Japan over the disputed islands.

Russia is "actively carrying out construction of military compounds on the islands of Iturup and Kunashir", Shoigu said at a meeting with military top brass, according to the ministry's website.

Relations between Moscow and Tokyo have been strained for decades because of the status of the four southernmost islands in the Kuril chain, known as the Northern Territories in Japan.

Some 19,000 Russians live on the remote rocky islands, occupied by Soviet troops in the dying days of World War II.

The two countries have never officially struck a peace treaty and the lingering tensions over the issue have hampered trade ties for decades.
- On the front lines of the battle against the Islamic State, suspicion of the United States runs deep. Iraqi fighters say they have all seen the videos purportedly showing US helicopters airdropping weapons to the militants, and many claim they have friends and relatives who have witnessed similar instances of collusion.

Ordinary people also have seen the videos, heard the stories and reached the same conclusion - one that might seem absurd to Americans but is widely believed among Iraqis - that the United States is supporting the Islamic State for a variety of pernicious reasons that have to do with asserting American control over Iraq, the wider Middle East and, perhaps, its oil.

"It is not in doubt," said Mustafa Saadi, who says his friend saw US helicopters delivering bottled water to Islamic State positions. He is a commander in one of the Shiite militias that last month helped push the militants out of the oil refinery near Baiji in northern Iraq alongside the Iraqi army.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIL or Daesh, is "almost finished," he said. "They are weak. If only America would stop supporting them, we could defeat them in days."

US military officials say the charges are too far-fetched to merit a response. "It's beyond ridiculous," said Colonel Steve Warren, the military's Baghdad-based spokesman. "There's clearly no one in the West who buys it, but unfortunately, this is something that a segment of the Iraqi population believes."
- “The continued development and testing of destructive [anti-satellite] ASAT systems is both destabilizing and threatens the long-term security and sustainability of the outer space environment,” Frank Rose, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, said in February.

China has conducted several tests of anti-satellite weapons, including a 2007 test that left tens of thousands of pieces of dangerous debris floating in space. The debris continues to threaten both manned and unmanned satellites.

Meanwhile, a polar-orbiting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite, NOAA 16, broke up in space mysteriously last week, according to the Air Force’s Joint Space Operations Center.

“The cause is still unknown at this point,” said John Leslie, a NOAA spokesman.

Air Force Space Command spokesman Nick Mercurio said no satellites or other objects were detected near the NOAA 16 prior to the breakup on Nov. 25. The debris currently is not posing a risk to other satellites, he said.
- At issue is the 1987 treaty banning intermediate-range missiles based on land, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev, then the Soviet leader, and has long been viewed as one of the agreements that sealed the end of the Cold War.

The Obama administration charged in July 2014 that the Russians had violated the treaty, popularly known as the INF accord, by developing and testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile.

Repeated attempts to persuade the Kremlin to resolve the issue have failed. Rose Gottemoeller, the senior State Department official for arms control, told a joint meeting of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees that Russian officials had never acknowledged developing the prohibited system and instead had focused on leveling “counteraccusations,” which she dismissed as spurious.
- Yes, of course Iraq added a new excuse, a new pretext, to a list of Islamist grievances that range from the way women dress and behave to the rights of gay people (including the right to live, in Isis territory) and the impiety of laughter and music. And – yes – Britain’s participation in the campaign against Isis in Syria as well as Iraq will probably make them hate us more.

But they hate us pretty comprehensively already. When Isis talks about “the crusaders”, it doesn’t don’t just mean today’s soldiers and their political leaders, but Godfrey of Bouillon (1060-1100) and everyone else in between.

For these jihadis, Iraq is only a recent chapter in a very long book of history; they are now immersed in writing the next. The question facing MPs in this vote is whether Britain wants to pick up its pen too.
- Moscow opposes any NATO extension to former communist areas of eastern and southeastern Europe, part of an east-west struggle for influence over former Soviet satellites that is at the center of the crisis in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in September that any expansion of NATO was “a mistake, even a provocation”. In comments to Russian media then, he said NATO’s so-called open door policy was “an irresponsible policy that undermines the determination to build a system of equal and shared security in Europe.”

RIA news agency cited a Russian senator as saying on Wednesday that Russia will end joint projects with Montenegro if the ex-Communist country joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The Adriatic state of 650,000 people is expected to become a member formally next year.
- The allegations of American collusion with the Islamic State are aired regularly in parliament by Shiite politicians and promoted in postings on social media. They are persistent enough to suggest a deliberate campaign on the part of Iran's allies in Iraq to erode American influence, US officials say.

In one typical recent video that appeared on the Facebook page of a Shiite militia, a lawmaker with the country's biggest militia group, the Badr Organisation, waves apparently new U.S military MREs (meals ready to eat) - one of them chicken and dumplings - allegedly found at a recently captured Islamic State base in Baiji, offering proof, he said, of US support.

"The Iranians and the Iranian-backed Shiite militias are really pushing this line of propaganda, that the United States is supporting ISIL," Warren said. "It's part of the Iranian propaganda machine."

The perception plays into a widening rift within Iraq's ruling Shiite elite over whether to pivot more toward Iran or the United States. Those pushing the allegations "want to create a narrative that Iran is our ally and the United States is our enemy, and this undermines Abadi, who is America's ally," Sowell said.
In a part of the world where outcomes are often confused with intentions and regional complexities enable conspiracy theories to thrive, the notion that the United States is colluding with the Islamic State holds a certain logic, according to Mustafa Alani, director of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre. Most Arabs are too in awe of American might to believe that it is deliberately adopting a minimalist approach, he said.

"The reason is that the Americans aren't doing the job people expect them to do," he said. "Mosul was lost and the Americans did nothing. Syria was lost and the Americans did nothing. Paris is attacked and the Americans aren't doing much. So people believe this is a deliberate policy. They can't believe the American leadership fails to understand the developments in the region, and so the only other explanation is that this is part of a conspiracy."

On the streets of Baghdad, most Iraqis see no other explanation.

"The image of the US was damaged in the region, so they created Daesh in order to fight them and restore their image," said Mohammed Abdul Khaleq, a journalist for a local TV station who was drinking coffee in a cafe favoured by writers, most of whom said they agreed.

A rare dissenting voice was offered by Hassan Abdul-Wahab, 23, selling luggage in a nearby shop. "It is true that most people believe that," he said. "But it's not based on reason. It's based on racism - because Iraqis don't like Americans in the first place."
- When the Grand Mufti of Australia invited us to debate the "causative factors" behind the Paris terror attacks our political leaders should have risen to the challenge. They should have seized the opportunity to elaborate on the flawed logic and troubling premise behind Ibrahim Abu Mohammed's comments. They should have engaged in a polite but robust debate that respected the intelligence of the Grand Mufti and the community. They should have done so because we can't tackle radicalisation without fighting the battle of ideas.
- If the war was about defeating ISIS, how long would it take these global powers and NATO, with trillions of dollars in military budgets, to wipe these untrained and ill equipped ISIS fighters off the map? The problem is not defeating ISIS. The global powers are locked in an impasse over the post-ISIS power structure in the region, meanwhile giving ISIS time to gain momentum, conduct propaganda, recruit militants and attack Western cities.
- The Pentagon lavished nearly $150m of taxpayer money on villas with private security, flat screen TVs and three course meals for “special events” for US government staff in Afghanistan, an official watchdog has found.

The defense secretary, Ash Carter, is under pressure to explain why the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) spent about a fifth of its budget on external residences in Kabul instead of accommodating the employees at American military or diplomatic bases.

The demand from John Sopko, head of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar), comes just a month after he questioned the Department of Defense’s outlay of nearly $43m “for what is likely to be the world’s most expensive gas station”.
- Prince Charles is demanding "North Korean-style" pre-conditions in television interviews, including advance knowledge of precise questions, the right to oversee editing and even to block a broadcast if he does not approve of the final product.

The Independent has learnt that the Prince of Wales will only speak to broadcasters on the condition they have signed a 15-page contract, demanding that Clarence House attends both the "rough cut" and "fine cut" edits of films and, if it is unhappy with the final product, can "remove the contribution in its entirety from the programme". 
- Even if they had used encryption, what would that prove? Are we ready to endorse the precept that no human communication can ever take place without the US government being able to monitor it? To prevent the CIA and FBI from "going dark" on terrorism plots that are planned in person, should we put Orwellian surveillance monitors in every room of every home that can be activated whenever someone is suspected of plotting?
- Your employees have been shot at by armed insurgents. Multiple times. Your work crews have been attacked by small arms and mortar fire, machine gun fire, and rocket-propelled grenades. One of your teams also was ambushed and assaulted by rocket and machine gun fire. Finally, an IED (improvised explosive device) took out one of your vehicles, killing the driver and seriously injuring two security guards.

You suspend operations due to security concerns and ask the Government to push back the delivery date. The Government accedes to your request. But it’s too late; the die has been cast. The IED incident led to severe workforce disruption among security personnel. They walked off the job. You miss the new delivery date, and the Government terminates your contract soon thereafter.

What just happened and what are your rights?
- "Many criminals usually use 10 to 15 SIM cards for planning and committing crime," Jurakhon Majidzoda, the head of parliament's security committee, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service, adding that the new measures should help tighten security and prevent crime.
"Nowadays, in some countries, including Pakistan, authorities use mobile-phone registration to catch criminals," he said, referring to Pakistan's nationwide drive earlier this year to verify the identity of every mobile-phone user in country.
- Jesus Mary and Joseph, Tony Abbott. Did you just tell Muslims that they need a theological reformation, like Christianity has had?

I know it was some time ago that you were in the seminary, but surely you remember that the Reformation created Protestantism. You and I are members of the unreformed strain of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church. You and I and our 1.2 billion fellow Catholics around the world have had no reformation. We are part of a church that has steadfastly refused to embrace, in both internal structures and theological development, modern concepts like democracy or gender equality.
- Should the United States take in Syrians fleeing their forlorn country or not? The issue is acute, since 300,000 Syrians are now dead, four million are refugees, and another eight million have been displaced internally as a result of the ongoing war—with no end of the disaster in sight.
- In total, Germany owned 89 Tornados, had 66 available and 38 deployable in 2014. That means less than half of Berlin’s fighter fleet is reliable in a war.

“The state of our flying systems remains unsatisfactory,” German army chief of staff Gen. Volker Wieker said.

But it’s worse than that—and even these numbers are misleading. Germany’s ministry of defense does not “distinguish between ‘full’ or ‘conditional’ operational capability,” Der Spiegel noted last year. When only counting the fully operational Typhoons, the number drops . . . to eight.

The number of deployable Tornados fell further in 2015 to 30. So that’s 38 deployable fighters out of an inventory of 198.
- According to the Navy, the massive stealth warship—roughly the size of a World War II-era cruiser—is the largest destroyer ever built for the service. While its sharp lines and size appear impressive, the Zumwalt is effectively a program to demonstrate what is possible with leading-edge technology. The Navy will only build three ships because of their high cost and their inability to provide ballistic missile and area air defense capabilities. The service also has concerns about the stability of the ship’s hull in rough seas.
- Simply, a country that starts as a low-income country is likely to stay there (the same holds true for the high-income brackets). A recent St. Louis Fed study by Maria Arias and Yi Wen found a 5 percent chance of transitioning from low to middle and an 18 percent chance of middle to high—over 140 years.
- AIPE cost taxpayers almost $1 million per graduate last year. It received $111 million in Commonwealth funding after handing out just 117 diplomas. In 2013 it received $114 million. 

To put that into perspective: the college received $10 million more in taxpayer funding in one year than the federal government's entire national package dedicated to combating domestic violence.
- "The Russian people have a long history of suffering and tolerance, and with the geopolitical tensions growing, people are much more prepared to have lower standards of living for a certain time," he said.

 "The question is: for how long?"

Simonyan said there are "no hints yet" as to whether economic conditions alone could lead to social unrest, especially given growing patriotic fervor during a period of tension with regional neighbors and the West.

"But….to be real power, or a super power, you need to have a healthy and efficient and modern economy, and that is a huge task."

However, Simonyan is optimistic about Russia's prospects, given market performance over the past 12 months.

"People were so gloomy about this year. It was not that bad," he explained. "(Russian stock) was the best performing stock in the emerging markets," he added.

The country's MICEX Index gained around 13 percent over the past 12 months. That's against an 18 percent slide in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Though Simonyan admitted the Russian crisis wasn't necessarily over, he said "investors are surprisingly positive."
- TEHRAN, December 8. /TASS/. Iran intends to buy the T-90 tanks from Russia, Commander of the Iranian Ground Force Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said in an interview to local reporters on Tuesday.

"Our ties with Russia in the field of equipment supply are established, and we have on our agenda the purchase of T-90 tanks," Pourdastan told reporters on Tuesday, quoted by the Tasnim news agency. He expressed the hope that the corresponding contracts will be concluded and Iranian experts will go to Russia to acquire the experience of operation of this modern equipment.
- MOSCOW, December 8. /TASS/. The IMF’s decision to lift the ban on loans to nations with overdue sovereign debts was made to prejudice Russia and in order to legalize opportunity for Kiev not to pay its debts, Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Tuesday.

"It was made solely to prejudice Russia and for purposes of legalizing the opportunity for Kiev not to pay its debts. Reluctance of the United States to resolve the issue with replenishment of IMF’s capital that would be highly useful for tackling Ukraine’s debt problems appears glaring against such background. It turns out it is much simpler to change base rules of IMF work formed for years on end and delay the decision on amendments to its Articles of Agreement and capitalization then to essentially resolve problems of defaulting nations implementing the IMF program," Siluanov said.
- (Newser) – A device developed by the military to save lives in the battlefield could soon be saving lives on US streets. The FDA has approved the XStat Rapid Hemostasis System, a syringe that pumps scores of tiny sponges into gunshot wounds, for general use by first responders in the US, the Verge reports. The sponges expand when they come into contact with blood and can plug a gunshot wound in only 15 seconds, meaning they could help prevent the hemorrhaging deaths that military researchers believe account for up to 40% of all civilian deaths from traumatic injury, reports Gizmodo. The FDA says the XStat dressing, which lasts for around four hours, stops bleeding in places like the armpit where a tourniquet cannot be placed. 
- Security holes have been found in Dell System Detect, Lenovo Solution Centre, and Toshiba Service Station - they are dangerous!

No it is not the Superfish crap-ware scandal again but thes vulnerabilities have been described as a ‘hackers best bud’ and a ‘drop everything and panic issue’. All these devices run Windows although it is not so much at fault as the companies that designed this support-ware without proper testing. Researchers have yet to find similar vulnerabilities in HP and other major OEMs but state that any remote support software is likely to have vulnerabilities.
- The $500-million Expeditionary Mobile Base vessel — 784 feet long from bow to stern — combines all the most important features the military believes ships will need to respond to the more frequent and more severe natural disasters.

A modified version of a commercial oil tanker, the base ship boasts vast storage capacity for hauling emergency supplies, a huge flight deck for launching and landing helicopters and other aircraft, and plenty of internal space for people and medical facilities. By deliberately taking on water, the Montford Point-class “Expeditionary Mobile Base” can bring its lower deck level with the sea, allowing it to easily launch hovercraft and small boats. Observers have described the new ships as “ports at sea.”

The Navy originally intended the Montford Point class to support amphibious beach assaults, but the sailing branch now realizes the ships are also ideal for swiftly responding to natural disasters — including those worsened by climate change — by delivering relief supplies by air and by sea, as well as helping to care for victims.
- In Iraq and Libya in particular, we used military force to dismantle dictators, with no good alternative to fill the gap. In Syria, the West did even worse by encouraging the opposition to rise up against President Bashar al-Assad without backing them sufficiently to finish the job. The resulting instability provided the perfect environment for Islamic State to thrive.

The result has been devastating — a nine-fold increase in deaths worldwide from militant attacks, almost all of them concentrated in a relatively small number of countries across the Middle East and Africa.

Yet the situation isn’t necessarily as bad as many think it is. Yes, Islamic State still controls a disconcerting amount of Iraq and Syria. Its expansion, however, has largely been halted as a result of airstrikes and efforts by local forces. As a result, it has become much harder for the group to maintain its narrative of invincibility, particularly as it begins to be pushed back in Iraq, in particular.
- WASHINGTON — Two servicemen have told Congress that American special forces called in an airstrike on a hospital in Afghanistan because they believed the Taliban were using it as a command centre, contradicting the military's explanation that the attack was meant for a different building.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, quoted the servicemen without naming them in a letter he sent Tuesday to Defence Secretary Ash Carter. The letter highlights gaps in the military's explanation of an October airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz that killed 31 civilians.

Hunter said the accounts provided to him raise the possibility that the United States was manipulated by its Afghan partners into attacking the hospital. If true, that would be a setback in the U.S. effort to work with and train a local force capable of securing that country. 
- Russia, which had repeatedly warned Montenegro against joining NATO and has invested heavily in the country, railed against the invitation. “Moscow has always said that the continued expansion of NATO, of NATO military infrastructure in the East, cannot but lead to a response from the East—that is, from Russia,” said Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman.

NATO’s decision to admit Montenegro will certainly send a signal to other countries in the region that the alliance is open for further expansion. But admitting a highly corrupt country such as Montenegro also sends another signal—and a negative one.

Montenegro’s weak rule of law, poor governance and increasing attacks on the media undermine NATO’s commitment to upholding democratic values. The European Commission’s annual report on Montenegro goes into detail about how the country’s democratic institutions have come under pressure from the government led by the veteran politician Milo Đukanović—not that this situation influenced NATO’s decision.
- I'm not sure whether its because of the internet or what, but journalism in general has just flat gone into the tank. No one seems to know how to do it any more. There a few idiots, literally pizza salesmen living in Mom's basement writing about things they are completely clueless on. There are once professional writers who have forsaken honest journalism for sensationalism, and click bait headlines. These sources quote each other for authority, and create narratives totally lost in space. Competitors like Boeing, who is virtually weeks away from being left behind and out of the fighter business, feed these narratives hoping somehow to save themselves by selling just two or five or ten more aircraft this month to postpone the inevitable. 
- Imports from China by Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and biggest importer, eliminated or displaced over 400,000 jobs in the United States between 2001 and 2013, according to an estimate by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive research group that has long targeted Walmart’s policies.

The jobs, mostly in manufacturing, represent about 13 percent of the 3.2 million jobs displaced over those same years that the study attributes to the United States’ goods trade deficit with China. Walmart’s Chinese imports amounted to at least $49 billion in 2013, according to the study, which was based on trade and labor data. Over all, the United States’ trade deficit with China hit $324 billion that year.

“Walmart is one of the major forces pulling imports into the United States,” said Robert E. Scott, an economist at the institute and the study’s author. “And the jobs we’re losing are good-paying manufacturing jobs, which pay higher wages and provide better benefits.”
- In the nearly 10 months the Raptor has been flying combat missions against Islamic State militants, the F-22 fighters have flown just 204 sorties. Of those, the Raptors launched airstrikes in about 60 locations, and dropped 270 bombs, as of July 9. In contrast, the U.S. and coalition aircraft have flown nearly 44,000 sorties since last August, including refueling and surveillance flights, and have conducted airstrikes in close to 7,900 locations.

Air Force leaders and the pilots who fly the F-22 say, however, that the Iraq and Syria deployments have given them greater insights into how well it can sweep up information about enemies beyond the horizon and spread that intelligence to the fighters moving in to strike targets on the ground.
- The ex-KGB strongman attracted the support of four out of five Express.co.uk readers, compared with just one in five who opted for the current PM running the country.

Asked 'Who would you rather was Britain's prime minister?', 78 per cent chose the Russian president, while 22 per cent voted for Mr Cameron.
- The tensions between the European Union leaders exposed the difficult balancing act the bloc has played with the Kremlin as it tries to vie for Russia’s energy business and seek Moscow’s help in quelling the conflict in Syria, while also seeking to punish President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for his annexation of Crimea and interference in eastern Ukraine.
- Russia's defense ministry said on Tuesday its planes had carried out air strikes to support four rebel groups in Syria, saying it was working to try to unite the efforts of the Free Syrian Army and government troops against Islamic State.

The General Staff of the Russian army issued the statement as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held closed-door talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, with Syria topping the agenda.

It said over 5,000 Syrian opposition rebels were fighting against Islamic State in concert with the government forces of President Bashar al-Assad and that some rebels were supplying Russia's air force with targets for air strikes.

It said it had conducted strikes in support of a group called "Ganim" which it said was part of the Free Syrian Army, as well as in support of a group called "Desert Lions", another group called "Kalamun," and another called "the Democratic Forces."

"This work aimed at uniting the efforts of the government forces and other groups, which are interested in liberating Syria from international terrorists, will be continued," the statement said.
- THE feeding frenzy for the pandas comes at nightfall. People furtively approach them, pouring bags of old clothes down their gullets. By day, the trucks arrive to clean the bears out, leaving them empty for the next big meal. The pandas are plastic. They are large, bear-shaped receptacles, designed to entice people to donate their unwanted garments to those in need. First deployed in 2012, there are now hundreds around Shanghai, often placed by entrances to apartment buildings. They swallowed about a million items of clothing last year.

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...