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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Capitalist Liberalist Democracy Thoughts 3, Random Stuff, and More

On liberal capitalist democracy: 
- before we go through this we need to preface this was the reasoning for this. Capitalism is literally collapsing globally. All core metrics indicate things are getting worse and a lot people have stopped believing in 'the system'. If you look at all core metrics and trust in our system it's clear that people want and need change. To put things into perspective we literally have a former clown standing for office in Italy (who actually has a genuine chance of challenging for power), people who are probably unfit/unable to do their job who are also running for office elsewhere yet are garnering substantial support, etc... Depending on how you look at things we're also selecting people who people don't trust, aren't well prepared enough, just don't don't get it, aren't able to get things done, etc...? It just doesn't make sense?
CrossTalk - Presidential Trump
- what seems clear to me is that that 'capitalist democracy' never actually won... Core metrics are the same (or even better) in other forms of societal setup and and the primary difference is that things are less coercive in a liberal, capitalist, democracy... Moreover, despite what the US/West says about the 'superiority' of their 'system' it simply doesn't scale upwards. That's why so many people are on edge about it...
Keiser Report - Banks appeased, crocodiles feasting (E1032)
- if the US/West had gained it's position through pure trade and without war/conflict whatsoever I'd be inclined to say that it's the liberal, capitalist, democracy ideology overwhelmingly succeeded but it's clear that it didn't. Moreover, in spite of rigging the system in their own favour they've progressively become weaker in comparison with the traditional world powers (looking over the whole of human history). What we're witnessing is an effective reversion to the mean in spite of a concerted and massive effort by the US/West to maintain their position. Look at the leadup to the Chinese Opium wars, WW2, and so on. The US/West simply can't compete head to head in a straight contest. It's obvious that we're possibly worshipping a system that is possibly making people unhappier and less trusting over time? 
Nikolay Starikov - How to Escape the Tyranny of the Western Financial System 
Central Bankers suppressing Russian economy 
Charles Bausman at the World Russia Forum in DC 
Will Trump Crash The System on Purpose To Restore Freedom - An interview with Bix Weir
An Economic Hit Man Comes Clean 
An Economic Hit Man Confesses and Calls to Action _ John Perkins _ TEDxTraverseCity 
John Perkins on Embracing Cuba, TPP Kiss of Death & Restoring the Life Economy 
India is Not The New China
- one funny thing about the world now is that 'charity paradox'. Some countries did really well after the World Wars (the main reason why the US/West pulled ahead was because they less directly involved in the World Wars, slavery, colonialism, etc... http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2016/08/neo-colonialism-and-neo-liberalism.html). Others didn't. Those who did well appeared to look more charitable while others were less so didn't (this applies to the rich and poor parent scenario as well). The irony is that a lot of core metrics (heathcare, wealth distribution, poverty, etc...) look fairly similar? Many are just trying to do the best they can given the circumstances? I think this is fundamental to understanding the present state of affairs. Think about the 'charity paradox' in terms of your family. When there is enough to share everyone gets enough and a little bit extra. If there's not enough to share to begin with though, then you end up with horrible results and that's what we're basically seeing across the board now. Without a method of adequately sharing limited resources any system will look like it's failing. Conversely, if there are adequate resources to begin with any system will look like it's succeeding
Inside Story - Is the new US President against free trade
US trade retreat under Donald Trump - Counting the Cost
- if you understand enough about economics you'll realise that the US economy is fundamentally about 'hype'. Moreover, it doesn't what makes sense or what is the truth or not. It's about what the masses believes. That's what causes everyone to move in a direction or another
- the notion of finding an ideology that suits people is folly? People are all unique (DNA testing wouldn't work if this at true and DNA testing is said to be 99.99% accurate based on some of the statistics that I've seen) so pushing rules at them that don't make sense is probably the wrong way to go about this? Wonder whether it's possible to achieve above 70% happiness for all people at all times in an ideology? Wonder which ideology would win out if given the same resources from the outset (fair contest in a controlled experiment. The 'Cold War' wasn't really fair as they didn't really start from the same point (the USSR was far weaker then the US from the outset despite what many people seem to say?), https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/mharrison/public/ww2overview1998.pdf)? People live according to rules they're comfortable with not ones that are forced upon them?
- choice of social system over lifetime so you get to see pros and cons of each. At the moment, it's just a choice up and down the scale of capitalism based upon the rules of the 'ruling class'?
- it's clear that people value rule of law, prosperity, peace, etc... more than they value democracy?
- dump all unnecessary laws. This is especially the case for laws which only get passed into government policy... How many laws are applicable to each person anyhow?
- the danger of the the post-truth, opinion world is that we ignore the facts and shoot ourselves in the foot over and over again because we can't see our genuine problems?
Fear of Influence - 'Post-Truth' report claims Russia 'shaped' world order
- mandatory public service for everyone for a small period of their life for minimum wage. Doesn't matter what capacity, cleaning, administration, building, cooking, aged care, defense, intelligence, etc... Helps to keep government budget in check while also helping to bind everyone better
- 'deep state' needs to end. We need fresh faces coming through from time to time to stop a 'shadow government' from forming...
CrossTalk - Deep State
- one of the fascinating things about the US economy is that there is a strong correlation between US GDP growth and wars (higher GDP growth during war) but over time the US/West's share of global GDP is 'normalising' (becoming more equal over countries and regions)
Soros-funded NGOs aiming to bring down our govt – Hungarian Foreign Minister
CrossTalk - Liberal War Addiction
- job sharing. People share job opportunities from to time. It should hopefully distribute resources and opportunities in a way that makes more sense
PublicServants.mp4
- an interesting perspective of some of the social systems on display so far...
Core of Socialism: The workers, the craftsmen, the artists own their production, meaning, they are not hourly wage slave of people with the capital.
Core of Capitalism: You work for the owners of capital, the bankers/investors.
Core of Communism: Power reside within the state, meaning, communism is super-capitalism.
Core of Religion: You don’t need proof (high faculty brain), you need faith.
Core of Fascism: When either capitalism and communism fail. Fascism is a by-product of power structures. Fascism wouldn’t last 5 hours in a socialist system.
So you know my “leaning” biases, I am an agnostic liberal, meaning, I don’t believe in any of these as well as liberal views can work.
However, socialism would be the least damaging to humanity, because in its core, it would not lead to too much. On the other hand, the others that I just listed are dangerous, because they are run by ideologues, meaning, opportunists.
- electoral boundaries reset randomly periodically
- limited terms/periods for which you can run for public office. Only way this can be over-ridden is by a significant majority of parliament (3/4 of all parties and has already run a number of terms to avoid certain anomalies which can arise in traditional democracies) and only for particular positions of significant importance
- when you actually think about it, capitalism, liberalism and democracy are mutually exclusive. The main problem seems to be capitalism though, if capitalism is to scale up you need it to stop it from subsuming democracy (when inequality becomes too extreme, capitalism effectively forces choices upon people). Max size for any company/business globally/locally at all times (currently, dealt with via anti-monopoly laws but clearly this doesn't really work). Only way around this is to start/fund another company (and license) it to do the same thing in other markets. The following are interesting perspectives of how things appear from the top. It's obviously somewhat pessimistic
IfYouWereKing.mp4
How Do People Work For The Illuminati Without Knowing It - David Icke
- every empire that I see faces what I call the 'empire compromise paradox'. Namely, the larger your empire the more likely you'll have to incorporate people of different cultures, religions, races, etc... into it. On top of this they will have different wants, needs, desires, and so on. Fundamentally, you can not deal with this unless you devolve power and decision making more locally or else you attempt to manipulate people on mass (clearly, the former is what Gaddafi tried in Libya while the latter is what most others have tried including the US, USSR, Cuba, China, etc...). Either way, you need people on board
- this brings me to my next point. The 'charity paradox' (the US/West has looked more charitable in the recent past simply because it has been richer). While it has commonly been said that it has been the liberal, capitalist, democracy that won the World Wars, Cold War, etc... it clearly hasn't been (for me), http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2016/06/is-capitalism-collapsing-random.html Until very recently I didn't realise that wealth used to be distributed reasonably equally among countries globally (for thousands of years on end). Basically, it was only with the advent of colonialism and imperialism that things really changed. The 'World Wars' effectively did the job of strengthening some empires and weakening others at which point the US (they were generally better strategically, better at warfare, were slightly cynical in the way they approached things, etc...) was left running things? The 'charity paradox' made things look better internally as well since they could afford to compromise in ways that other countries quite simply couldn't (it's like the rich parent versus poor parent scenario. No matter how much the poor parent gives away he may never be able to keep up with the rich parent)
- as the US/West (and by de-facto, liberal capitalist democracy) 'breaks down' (namely, the advantage that it gained through imperialism, slavery, colonialism, etc...) it will face difficult choices. The reason why the above points are very important is that it possibly brings war back into the equation for the world once more. If the global economic system crashes and everyone is struggling countries may not have any other choice but to go to war (the big wildcard is the proliferation of WMD such as nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons). If it plays out like last time it may end up looking very similar (owing to simple geography, http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2016/01/xi-jinping-china-background-and-more.html Trade imbalance issues is effectively how the previous Chinese/Opium wars started). That said, it's much more likely the US/West will have to deal with war more directly and on multiple fronts. You could say this has already started, we already security issues across most of the world now whereas it used to be relatively isolated to parts/regions of the world?
Keiser Report - China-US Trade War (E1036)
Keiser Report - Greek Final Reckoning (E1037)
Russia Proposes Different New World Order
CrossTalk - Revolt in the West
CrossTalk - Trump Revolution
- the 'charity paradox' is extremely important for other reasons. After all of the conflict it has been clear that the US has tried to rig the global economy in their favour. They insisted on having the world's reserve currency, that they have a core say/veto powers in many of the world's global institutions (UN, WTO, World Bank, IMF, BIS, etc...), etc... The clear danger is that people have lost sight of the reason why and how they got into that position. It wasn't the ideology... If wealth distribution, poverty, education levels, healthcare access, etc... are supposedly the same or better in many 'poorer countries' (according to core metrics and these numbers are true: http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2017/02/life-in-libya-going-off-grid-and-more.html, http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2017/01/life-in-cuba-more-russian-stuff-and-more.html) how can they have succeeded? Here's the other thing, a lot of people in the US may complain that they they've been running a 'trade deficit' for a long while but if other countries don't have any money how can they afford to purchase anything from the US?
The rise of populism - Should we be worried - UpFront
Keiser Report - Banks appeased, crocodiles feasting (E1032)
Since the 1970s the system has evolved further still, with the US seeking to compensate for what has become a structural deficit in traded goods brought about by its ‘open door’ economic policies by insisting that other countries deregulate their financial systems by abolishing capital controls, thereby resulting in huge compensating capital flows to the ‘safe haven’ of the US.
The Committee of 300. Secrets of world government
- there are fundamental contradictions in capitalism, liberalism and democracy which are almost impossible to reconcile. More and more people are seeing flaws in the logic. The interesting thing will be what alternatives rise up?
WESTERN VALUES HEADING TOWARD OBLIVION
Wall St Power - Are financial elites a good fit for Trump's cabinet (SophieCo with William D. Cohan)
Moldovan President - I don’t think we’ll ever join EU, Brussels understands this
Anti-Trump protests expand across US
- there's a lot of alternate movements advocating drastically different social models out there. It's clear that they would have a difficult time making any inroads into standard society since they're making such drastic comprimises to achieve their goals
Putin's plans to tax the Garazhniki _ DW Documentary
- the obvious move for the US/West is to have multiple agreements adding up to the same thing. However, as we've seen on multiple occassions this has led to 'problems'
Trojan Horse CETA - Protests arise after agreement approval
- if you read between the lines it's clear that the US suffering from the exact same problems that afflicted the USSR towards the end of the 'Cold War'. Only those who are watching closely at this area realise how big the problem may be? The key problem is how enmeshed the US/West has become to certain parts of the world? The other problem is an alternative global leadership structure looks very awkward/different. Either way, countries will have to look after themselves a bit more in the future?
CrossTalk - Trump's Media War
Keiser Report: ‘Healthcare’ Debate (E1024)
Bullhorns - POTUS 45 (CrossTalk)
Trump signs executive order withdrawing US from TPP
Nobody ‘stealing’ your jobs, you spend too much on wars - Alibaba founder to US
‘People fed up with politically correct elites’ - Anti-establishment parties summit in Koblenz
Davos 2017 - The rich striving to adjust to Brexit & Trump world after failing to predict both
Bullhorns - Trump Watch (CrossTalk)
‘People fed up with politically correct elites’ - Anti-establishment parties summit in Koblenz
Russia Proposes Different New World Order
“The world is on the brink of radical changes. We see how the EU is gradually crumbling and the US economy is collapsing. This will end in a new world order. So, in 10 years we will have a new world order unlike anything before in which the key will be the Union of Russia and China,” said XI.
All told, Gorbachev was effectively powerless to stave off the Soviet Union’s implosion without simultaneously uprooting the lobbies stymieing his reforms. Forced to cover a booming budget deficit — while still offering some of the largest agricultural subsidies in history — Gorbachev resorted to printing more rubles, spiraling inflation and increasing shortages. Soon, arguments for secession gained sufficient traction, accelerating after the failed August 1991 coup. And a quarter-century later, we can look at a sprawling post-Soviet region — 15 nations, and all that’s come since — and see the after-effects of what a handful of entrenched, crony interests, looking at only for their own, can accomplish, and can destroy. 
Merkel against Trump because she’s spearhead of Obama’s confrontation policy – OSCE Assembly ex-VP
Zimbabwe: U.S. Dollar Disappears From Banking System
- I think everybody would happily go along with this if it made sense but it feels wrong at times? Moreover, the plan for if/when the system collapses is the exact same plan as in the past...
[51] Rogue Economist Explains why Capitalism is Collapsing - WATCH
- as I said previously as the US/West weakens (relative to other countries) people will push to the more extremes to seek solutions to their problems (especially allies)...
- it's interesting that some have commented that our social system is effectively an enforced 'Ponzi scheme', that free market capitalism is effectively a grown up versions of 'musical chairs'. They're sort of right. The difficulty is this. People want to earn but they don't want to have anything confiscated from them. Those at the top control the rules though so there's no mechanism to re-take control without resorting to a revolution?
- the idelogy can't be 'anything goes'? If you examine more 'stable' societies they tend to de-centralise control (or at least provide that particular idea). Rightly or wrongly they centralisation of power means that interconnectivity and interdependencies make things more difficult for anyone as part of a hierarchal/centralised system...
- people aren't willing to let go of national identities quite yet? The framework currently setup doesn't quite scale or work at a global level? Despite what people say it's clear that their are aspects of liberal, capitalist, democracy that is strongly at odds with religion (any)? Unless this problem can be dealt with (in any way no matter who is the 'leader of the world') we're going to be stuck with pseudo-religious wars for a long while yet... That said, the US/West could get really lucky and they ultimately could take over the entire world (as desired/prophesised) but I'm certain that it's not going to be with this particular method of development? There are just way too many people on the 'outer'
- crypto-currencies clearly have a Marxist aspect/component to them. They're finite in number which means that the value of the currency doesn't diminish over time. Cynical person would also say that it's a way for some countries to maintain their relative position if they can't figure out a way of growing out of their circumstances
- clear that the point of some of media outlets is more about demoralising some, change others opinions, etc... Spend too much time watching it and you'll go crazy. Spend enough time watching it and you'll understand how to better make it in the world and also probably how to make some money as well
- the communist, socialist, capitalist, etc... argument is an oxymoron and a Faustian bargain. It's the ultimate fool's errand because of it's difficulty. Moreover, what we're ultimately arguing about is how resources are distributed. Imbalances are fundamentally inherent to capitalism but more socialist/communist policies often leave people yearning for more... My guess is that we're going to be more fluid with regards to ideology into the future
- technically, if you can deal with the population and finite resource issue then scalability of any social system shouldn't be a problem? The only problem is how to maintain happiness and order. Obviously, certain people are more amenable to constructive social conduct without manipulation and co-ercian then others... Capitalism deals with this by classing them based on income/assets and interests. From then on hopefully things work out the way they should...
- a lot of people know we're at a tipping point. Possible that that a lot of countries have just been sitting on the sidelines. They've just been taking the money while it's been on offer but their perspective of things has never really changed? What happens next is anyone's guess? US/West is already unstable and possibly beyond repair?
Keiser Report - China’s 'Debt Trap Diplomacy' (E1031)
Keiser Report - Trump_Abe Golf Diplomacy (E1030)
- system is hilarious because growth and risk is linked to reward. Therefore, the riskier something is the more likely. It's inherent instablity
- the US has little to no headroom for further growth. History tells us that there isn't much to separate us as a species. The irony is that as the US continues to weaken any attempts that it makes to maintain it's position will only likely to result in conflict. There needs to be a transition and it needs to be as quick as possible for their to be relative stability in the world...
Trump team backs call for crackdown on China over semiconductors
Make America silent US lawmakers try to criminalize illegal protests
- if we examine hierarchal social systems it becomes clear that a majority eventually become a minority and this minority often loses perspective owing to outside forces which leads to periodic instabliity. The cycle repeats itself over and over again. While we don't actually say it explicity we codify these ideas by imposing a terminal limit on profits (through progressive taxation). We seek to avoid internal conflict by externalising the resource contention issue by making that external through neo-liberalism/neo-colonialism/globalism. The problem is that with neo-liberalism and nationalist policies there's no genuine left anymore which means that the balance between those who run things and those who do the 'ground work' can not be maintained
- we are resorting to increasingly crazy ways to make and save money. Look at the questionable entry of some Mediterranean states into the Eurozone alone and it seems clear that their were big question marks from the start
- the only reason why capitalism has been able to continue is because neo-liberalism effectively avoids people in the same country having to endure the good and bad/wealth disparity of capitalism. By shifting the bad and good parts to different countries some people don't really notice any of the problems inherent to it
- given that we are stuck with the finite resource problem for the forseeable future it feels as though Marx-Lenin were right. Think about this. Most of us know that deep down in most social systems resource distribution probably isn't fair. Ultimately, since capital buildup/money dictates power level within society though those lower down the hierarchy have no choice but to do what those higher up the chain want them to do. So without dealing with the finite resource issue (stuck on planet Earth and without an inexpensive means of space travel) we're stuck with what we have

Random Stuff:
- I've noticed that my blog has a big US and Russian following. Dobriiy dyen'/Zdrastvooiytee and hi to these folks!
- you've probably seen the new banner ad running across the top of this blog. Yes, there actually are companies out there offering free web hosting!
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- it feels like the US empire is teetering on the edge of collapse at the moment... If you watch people on the other side of the fence it feels like they sense it as well. The signs of the demise of the US are mirrored in the way the USSR breakup. Everything that seemed to happen to thm is now happening to the US
Assange - CIA is the world's most dangerously incompetent spy agency
'I will not forgive or forget' - Assange speaks
Julian Assange - 'I cannot forgive terrible injustice'
Ray McGovern & Sam Sacks Make Clear The MSM Is Working With Pentagon To Lie Us Into Wars Of Choice!
Is Snowden The Real Deal
Julian Assange DESTROYS The CIA In EPIC Response To Mike Pompeo
Julian Assange - 'I cannot forgive terrible injustice'
Secret World of US Election - Julian Assange talks to John Pilger (FULL INTERVIEW)
Julian Assange Says He Will NOT Be Leaving The Ecuadorian Embassy Just Yet
Auto Lending - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Gerrymandering - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Trump vs. Truth - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Julian Assange Says He Will NOT Be Leaving The Ecuadorian Embassy Just Yet
[52] The Activist Collective You Need To Know About!
TheRulesOrg
- unusual animal news roundup
"Cyclops" Goat Born in India | National Geographic
- have been trying online HTML editors. Horrible for the most part since they're so limited. Hand coding can be just as painful though since you can get lost in code pretty quickly unless you work with that code a lot. Irony is that I prefer hand coding stuff because it's easier to automate (automatically generate code via static site generators). That said, of late have had had to work with Drupal and Wordpress a lot but have issues with it given the number of security issues both have had in recent history
online wysiwyg web page editor
adding columns wordpress
adding divider wordpress

- latest in science and technology
Childless women in Niger
fertility by country niger
UNICEF joins tech giants in artificial intelligence group
Tech giants tackle health
Something I wrote about. Robots Are Learning to Cook by Watching YouTube
- wonder whether it's a viable tactic to train birds to fly around air bases to stop them from taking off? Actually cheaper then a SAM system?
- latest in defense
NATO Gearing up for Regime Change in Russia with False Flag Operations
North Korea panic - Media hysteria over new missile test
If the U.S. Attacks, Russia Will Support North Korea
Armies of the Future - AI Bots or “Enhanced” Humans
- latest in finance and politics
Reviving the 'silk road' - Inside Story
Putin holds press conference at Silk Road forum in China
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yXc_T7g5wI
Keiser Report - Welcome to White House aka Profit Source (E1072)
Cholera in Yemen - 1,000s infected in outbreak, state of emergency declared in Sanaa
Cholera Outbreak - 'Aid available, but very hard to get inside Yemen' - UN special rapporteur

Random Quotes:
- An airworthiness directive from the US Federal Aviation Administration says the three flight control modules must be reset every 21 days.

"This AD (airworthiness directive) requires repetitive cycling of either the airplane electrical power or the power to the three flight control modules (FCMs)," the directive reads.

"This AD was prompted by a report indicating that all three FCMs might simultaneously reset if continuously powered on for 22 days. We are issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products."

The Dreamliner is part of the Qantas fleet and is expected to be used on the new Perth-London 17.5-hour flight announced recently.

It is used on the airline's US flights which normally take from 14 to 16 hours on routes to Los Angeles or Dallas.

The FAA directive said: "We have received reports indicating that an FCM will reset if continuously powered on for 22 days.

"This condition, if not corrected, could result in simultaneous resets of all three FCMs, which could result in flight control surfaces not moving in response to flight crew inputs for a short time and consequent temporary loss of controllability."
- However, Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE's representative on the freedom of the media, wrote earlier this month that "no one should be penalized for social media activities such as posting and direct messaging unless they can be directly connected to violent actions and satisfy the test of an 'imminent lawless action.'" 

"Issues related to social media activities should be addressed exclusively through self-regulation, education and literacy, not through new restrictions," she said.

European Digital Rights Initiative (EDRi) Executive Director Joe McNamee told DW that social media companies such as Facebook should not be given a mandate to select the content on its platform.

"EDRi would strongly oppose making private, profit-oriented companies into arbiters of truth and the legislators, judges, juries and executioners of our freedom of communication," McNamee said.

Former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden told Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Tuesday that the strategy against fake news shouldn't revolve around censorship.

"The problem of fake news isn't solved by hoping for a referee but rather because we as participants, we as citizens, we as users of these services help each other," Snowden said.

"The answer to bad speech is not censorship. The answer to bad speech is more speech. We have to exercise and spread the idea that critical thinking matters now more than ever, given the fact that lies seem to be getting very popular," he added.
- MP: Unfortunately, there is no single solution here. I think what becomes more and more important is that the American public, and not just the American public, but the world public, pays attention and evaluates according to many sources. I choose to go to social media because I know there are many sites that I believe far more than I would corporate media. Somebody else may have a different avenue that they use. But the only way that I go about preparing a story… is to go to multiple sources. And then figure out where I am being hustled, what is accurate and what is not, and that takes some work. Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, people are working, they have families to have to take care of, they have children in school, they have jobs to take care of. So, at the end of the day it is a lot of work to really find out what is real and what is not. I don’t know whether there is any one solution, but if I were trying to suggest where do you begin, most of the time I find the search is much better off with social media that is less affected most of the time by big advertisers. Now, it is affected by special interest groups. What we are seeing worldwide now is advertisers commandeering social media; special interest groups commandeering social media.

But there are still places where you have a better choice of information than you would get if you get home and what the nightly news. If you are going home and simply watching the nightly news in the US or most countries around the world, you are not getting any part of the real story. You are maybe getting what is being sold that moment for corporate media. In most parts of the world, investigative journalism is dead because they simply don’t take the time to really look at all sides of the story.
- Karl Marx's analytical focus on exploitation -- how surpluses are extracted from producers (slaves, serfs and proletarians) by exploiters (masters, lords and capitalists) -- points toward a socialism that negates all forms of exploitation. In contrast, state capitalist enterprises change who the exploiters are and the conditions of that exploitation. State and private capitalisms can be and have been very different in their social consequences, political complexions, etc. Struggles between them have had momentous historical significance. But they did not end worker exploitation; they did not establish a socialist economy that banished exploitation.

For struggles between private and state capitalisms to become means for or steps toward transitions to socialism, their limits must be appreciated. The emerging twenty-first century socialism, focused on a system beyond state capitalism, represents both a return to Marx's basic insights and a learning from the successes and failures of what the twentieth century called socialism. This will be a stronger, more developed kind of socialism, confronting a capitalism whose internal contradictions, flaws and weaknesses are now more widely appreciated than ever.
- A wave of revulsion rolls around the world. Approval ratings for incumbent leaders are everywhere collapsing. Symbols, slogans and sensation trump facts and nuanced argument. One in six Americans now believe that military rule would be a good idea. From all this I draw the following, peculiar conclusion: no country with a McDonald's can remain a democracy.

Twenty years ago, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman proposed his "golden arches theory of conflict prevention." This holds that "no two countries that both have McDonald's have ever fought a war against each other since they each got their McDonald's."

Friedman's was one of several end-of-history narratives suggesting that global capitalism would lead to permanent peace. He claimed that it might create "a tip-over point at which a country, by integrating with the global economy, opening itself up to foreign investment and empowering its consumers, permanently restricts its capacity for troublemaking and promotes gradual democratisation and widening peace." He didn't mean that McDonald's ends war, but that its arrival in a nation symbolised the transition.
- The Russian language has two words for truth — a linguistic quirk that seems relevant to our current political climate, especially because of all the disturbing ties between the newly elected president and the Kremlin.

The word for truth in Russian that most Americans know is “pravda” — the truth that seems evident on the surface. It’s subjective and infinitely malleable, which is why the Soviet Communists called their party newspaper “Pravda.” Despots, autocrats and other cynical politicians are adept at manipulating pravda to their own ends.

But the real truth, the underlying, cosmic, unshakable truth of things is called “istina” in Russian. You can fiddle with the pravda all you want, but you can’t change the istina.
- Kevin Cunningham, president and co-founder of identity and access management software firm SailPoint, said the Yahoo! hack indicated a trend where attackers were going after user data, rather than company secrets.

"What this latest breach disclosure by Yahoo! underscores is an interesting trend where hackers are breaching user accounts, not necessarily to infiltrate corporate networks and applications, but to grab highly sensitive data hiding in email and other unstructured file stores," he said.

"Think about all of the highly sensitive files that could be lurking in these breached Yahoo! email accounts: incredibly sensitive tax or financial statements, personal healthcare data, even banking or credit card information."
- We have been tracking Russian online information operations since 2014, when our interest was piqued by strange activity we observed studying online dimensions of jihadism and the Syrian civil war. When experts published content criticizing the Russian-supported Bashar al Assad regime, organized hordes of trolls would appear to attack the authors on Twitter and Facebook. Examining the troll social networks revealed dozens of accounts presenting themselves as attractive young women eager to talk politics with Americans, including some working in the national security sector. These “honeypot” social media accounts were linked to other accounts used by the Syrian Electronic Army hacker operation. All three elements were working together: the trolls to sow doubt, the honeypots to win trust, and the hackers (we believe) to exploit clicks on dubious links sent out by the first two.
- WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- Monkeys have the vocal tracts to produce human speech sounds, but what they lack is a speech-ready brain, a new study has found.

The study, conducted by researchers from the U.S. and Europe and published this week in the U.S. journal Science Advances, used X-ray video to see within the mouth and throat of macaque monkeys induced to vocalize, eat food, or make facial expressions.

The scientists then used these data to build a computer model of a monkey vocal tract, allowing them to answer the question "what would monkey speech sound like, if a human brain were in control?"

The results showed that monkeys could easily produce many different sounds, enough to produce thousands of distinct words.

For example, monkeys could produce comprehensible vowel sounds -- and even full sentences -- with their vocal tracts if they had the neural ability to speak.
- Turnbull helped found ARM in 1991 and chaired the republican movement from 1993-2000. In 1999, the movement faced defeat in a referendum on independence, which he had spearheaded.

He insisted at the ARM gathering that the issue required a “grassroots” movement to succeed.

The premier said an advisory plebiscite would also be “absolutely critical” to determine which form of government would lead the potential republic. “We would need to have an advisory plebiscite which would offer a choice between two republican models, presumably direct election and parliamentary appointment.”

“The less party political the republican movement is, the broader its base, the deeper its grassroots, the better positioned it will be when the issue becomes truly salient again,” the Australian leader said.

Turnbull said that now was not the right time for another referendum on independence and that the issue will be followed up after Queen Elizabeth II’s reign had ended. He admitted that the issue was now less urgent for the nation.

“Today, if anything, it is more a slow burner than it was 20 years ago,” he said, adding, “It’s not something that keeps most of us awake at night.”

Turnbull said his support for a republic stemmed from patriotism.

“We do not diminish or disrespect the patriotism of those who take a different view, but we have no other motive, no other reason than love of country,” he said.

Meanwhile, opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten has criticized the PM for not following the republican cause more rigorously. Shorten said in a post on Twitter that Turnbull must not submit to the will of the people within his party who oppose a breakup from Britain. “Time for the PM to lead his party, not follow,” he said.
- To the extent that a U.S.-Russian adversarial relationship is tempered from the U.S. end—which otherwise can be a good thing, as far as international peace and stability are concerned—there can be consequences for other relationships commonly seen as adversarial. Americans have a strong Manichean tendency to perceive the world as divided simply and rigidly between friend and foe, between good and evil.  A Washington Post article described this tendency as especially exhibited by military officers who are senior Trump appointees, although it has roots in broader American history and political culture.  The less that Russia serves as an evil empire, the more someone else must fill the role of evil-doer.  Those general officer appointees are already well primed to see political Islam—and as far as states are concerned, Iran—playing that role.  They are so well primed in that regard that the United States getting into trouble with a new war in that direction is not out of the question.

What Romney specifically said during the 2012 campaign about international threats was that he saw the “greatest threat that the world faces” to be “a nuclear Iran,” and that Russia was the prime geopolitical foe because “it’s always Russia” that “stands up with the world’s worst actors” such as Iran and North Korea, especially in blocking action in the United Nations.  Things haven’t worked out that way at all.  Russia was a key player in negotiating the multilateral agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear program and blocks any path to a bomb—an agreement blessed by the U.N. Security Council.  The frictions with Russia in the last four years have had to do not with Iran or North Korea but instead with Ukraine, Syria, and military shows of force in Eastern Europe.  With Putin’s Russia now having interfered in the U.S. election, there may yet be a connection of a different kind between U.S.-Russian relations and U.S. policy toward Iran—although blowing up the nuclear agreement would only complicate the U.S.-Russian relationship. 
- Roof's decision not to call mental health experts or present mental health evidence came after he called the field of psychology a "Jewish invention" in his journal, part of which was read aloud at his trial earlier this month.

"I am morally opposed to psychology. It is a Jewish invention that does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don't," Roof wrote.
- “In hindsight, the thought of having an ageing and disengaged Saddam in power seems almost comforting in comparison with the wasted effort of our brave men and women in uniform and the rise of Islamic State, not to mention the £2.5 trillion spent to build a new Iraq,” he wrote. Nearly 4,500 American personnel, 179 British troops and estimated 150,000 Iraqis were killed during the active phase of the war and in the years which followed.

Nixon says he was also warned by the late leader that American attempts to stabilize the country were doomed to fail. “You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, the history, and you do not understand the Arab mind,” the ex-CIA agent quoted Hussein as telling him.

Despite the Iraqi army and militia backed by Washington now achieving some success in destroying Islamic State, “we [the US] are still far from achieving this goal," Nixon said.

According to Nixon, incoming US President Donald Trump will now have a chance to “play a very large role” in creating a new order in the Middle East. “This will require making tough decisions and, ultimately, recognizing that we may have to deal with people and leaders that we abhor if we want to help bring stability back to the region and limit the scope of terrorism’s reach.”

Following his election, Trump warned against pursuing regime change in Syria and said the US should focus on tackling the threat of Islamic State.

“My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS,” Trump said. He added that while Washington is backing rebels against President Assad, it has “no idea who these people are.” 
- What’s interesting in Taghvaee’s piece is how Iran describes the intruders, which the Iranians called “luminous objects” in the belief that they were emitting light to enable night photography:

According to Iranian sources, the CIA’s intelligence drones displayed astonishing flight characteristics, including an ability to fly outside the atmosphere, attain a maximum cruise speed of Mach 10, and a minimum speed of zero, with the ability to hover over the target. Finally, these drones used powerful ECM that could jam enemy radars using very high levels of magnetic energy, disrupting navigation systems.

In one intercept over the Arak nuclear facility in November 2004, an Iranian F-14 Tomcat tried to lock its radar on to a luminous object, only to have the radar beam disrupted. “The pilot described the object as being spherical, with something like a green afterburner creating a considerable amount of turbulence behind it,” according to the article. The intruder then increased its speed and “disappeared like a meteor.”

The tale took a deadly turn in January 2012, when an F-14 was scrambled to intercept an intruder flying towards the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Seconds after take-off, the F-14 exploded, killing both crewmen. No cause for the tragedy was determined.

This is not the first time that Iranian fighters tangled with alleged UFOs: In 1976, during the reign of the Shah before the fundamentalists took over, Iranian F-4 Phantoms unsuccessfully attempted to intercept fast, bright objects, only to have some unknown force knock out their instruments. Yet note that nowhere in Taghvaee’s article do Iranian authorities describe the luminous objects in 2004 and 2012 as UFOs (indeed, the only time the word “UFO” is used at all is in a single sub-headline). It is possible that jamming could have disrupted the dated 1970s radar of Iran’s F-14s in the 2004 incident, while an aging aircraft kept flying by parts smuggled past a Western embargo may have exploded in 2012 for reasons other than extraterrestrial action.

In that case, the question becomes, what kind of aircraft flies at Mach 10? That’s 10 times the speed of sound, or 7,612 miles per hour (the legendary SR-71 Blackbird spy aircraft flew at around Mach 3, or 2,283 miles per hour). An obvious candidate is a hypersonic aircraft like NASA’s experimental X-43  hypersonic aircraft, which flew at Mach 9.68 in 2004. That program was terminated, and briefly resurrected as the Air Force X-51 Waverider, which flew at Mach 5 for nearly four minutes last May before plunging into the Pacific.

But these projects are more like experimental missiles that one day might become manned or unmanned aircraft. If the “luminous objects” described by Iran really did fly at Mach 10, jam radars and zoom away from jet interceptors, then this suggests a hypersonic aircraft mature and reliable enough to be trusted with sensitive reconnaissance missions. Perhaps the semi-mythical Aurora?

Without a lot more evidence, such as a crashed spacecraft of an alien pilot, I am not inclined to believe that UFOs felt a need to peek at Iran’s nuclear sites. It’s more likely that the Iranian military – perhaps through an honest mistake – exaggerated the performance of the intruders. But if they didn’t, and the U.S. was able to deploy Mach 10 reconnaissance aircraft a decade ago, then here’s the biggest mystery:  Why is America spending a trillion dollars to develop a troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that can’t even fly Mach 2?

Maybe the aliens could explain that one.
- "There is an inverse relationship between available knowledge and the operation of political systems," he lamented in this year's Don Dunstan oration.

There is also an irony: the right accuses the left of political correctness when it comes to social cohesion and free speech, but recoils at the suggestion that we discuss whether the market has a role to play in tackling climate change.

The most troubling finding of all is that the dissatisfaction with democracy is most palpable in the demographic that should be most engaged in the contest of ideas: those in their 30s.

Ian McAllister, the lead researcher in the study, says this is not because young people are uninterested in politics or public policy, but because they reject what is being served up by the system.

Herein lies the challenge for Turnbull and Shorten, and the young idealists who have entered politics in the last couple of elections: respect the intelligence of voters, seek out common ground and aspire to the highest common denominator, not the lowest. Or deal with the consequences, just like America, just like Britain.
- A product manager at Google has filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that its confidentiality policies violate California labour laws.

The suit, first reported in The Information (paywalled) and later on The Verge, alleges that Google operates what is virtually a spying programme on its employees.

The plaintiff has not been named, instead taking on the usual John Doe nomenclature.

In the suit, he alleges that as a condition of employment, Google requires all its employees to comply with "illegal confidentiality agreements, policies, guidelines and practices".

The suit alleges that these policies restrict the rights of employees to speak, work, or act as whistleblowers.

"The policies prohibit Googlers (staff of the company) from speaking plainly — even internally — about illegal conduct or dangerous product defects because such statements might one day be subject to discovery in litigation or sought by the government," the suit states.

It says policies prevent disclosure to a prospective employer of how much an employee is paid or the work he or she does, or disclosing all of the skills, knowledge, acquaintances and overall experience at Google when working for a new employer.

The policies are also claimed to prevent employees talking to the government, lawyers or the media about wrongdoings at Google, or even telling their spouse or friends about whether they think their boss could do a better job.
- But one country will profit from the deal immediately: Iran. Israel's archenemy is one of ThyssenKrupp's investors, and it has been so since 1974.
Benjamin Netanjahu Kabinett (picture-alliance/dpa/Ronen Zvulun/Pool)

During the shah era, the governments of Iran and Israel were the best of friends. Both were also allies of the United States. With its coffers overflowing after the oil crisis of the early 1970s, Iran went on an international shopping spree. At the time, Iran invested $400 million (383 million euros) in Germany's Krupp corporation, purchasing 25 percent of its shares. 

After the Islamic revolution in 1979, Iran entered a long war with Iraq. Iran needed cash, and sold off a portion of its shares. Yet it still held about 8 percent of the company's equity share.
- This week internet service providers began blocking access to sites that host illegal torrents and streaming services but the site blocking regime has already proved fallible. However this could prove to be the real threat to online pirates.

If a person’s metadata can be requested in civil cases it could one day be used by rights holders to go after online pirates.

The government says it is seeking public input on the specific circumstances, or “appropriate exceptions” in which metadata could be sought by plaintiffs in civil cases. But privacy advocates are concerned about the direction the government is heading.

Electronic Frontiers Australia CEO Jon Lawrence has been among those who have condemned the potential move saying it amounts to a betrayal of the Australian people.

“We warned of this potential expansion in scope before the legislation was passed and are therefore not entirely surprised that the government is considering this move, though of course it is very disappointing,” he told news.com.au.

“This government has arguably done more to undermine the privacy rights of Australians than any other since World War II, and this represents just the latest betrayal of those rights.

“We will be pushing for a comprehensive review of this legislation in 2017 and will strongly oppose any move to make this data available in civil cases.”

Prior to the introduction of the mandatory data retention laws, the telco industry and a number of politicians warned the laws could soon be expanded in scope. But those fears were quick to be allayed by proponents of metadata collection, saying the information would be reserved for fighting serious crimes such as terrorism and child pornography.

“The mandatory metadata retention regime applies only to the most serious crime — to terrorism, to international and transnational organised crime, to paedophilia, where the use of metadata has been particularly useful as an investigative tool,” Attorney General George Brandis Brandis told ABC’s Q&A program in 2014.

Law enforcement officials also said such data would not be used to go after pirates and copyright infringers.

“The Government’s introducing this to address vital needs of national security and law enforcement, not copyright,” AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin said in October 2014.

But pretty quickly it seems, terrorism and paedophilia could be on the same footing as much more benign civil matters when it comes to accessing people's metadata.
- Former US Congressman Ron Paul says the American government interferes in other countries’ elections “all the time” and cannot blame Russia for doing the same.

Discussing claims by Washington that Moscow had a role in President-elect Donald Trump’s victory on November 8, Paul told Fox Business Network on Wednesday that the outcry was more about “politics."

“I’m sure the Russians are interfering,” noted Paul, a three-time presidential candidate. “We are interfering all the time.”

“If you review the history of how many elections we’ve been involved with, how many countries we’ve invaded and how many people we’ve killed to have our guy in, I’ll tell you what – we don’t have very much room for condemning anybody else,” he added.

Paul said Moscow’s influence on the heated race between Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was “insignificant” and Democrats were only using it as an excuse for their candidate’s surprising defeat.

“I don’t think it made any difference. But when you lose, you can jump on that and make a big point of it," he said.
- The United States is returning almost 10,000 acres of land in Japan’s Okinawa prefecture back to Tokyo after decades of having a military base there, with the official ceremony of transfer set for Thursday.

The Okinawa land has been controlled by the United States since World War II, but the return of the territory was considered closely only last year amid tensions over the expansion of the US base there. The Japanese government stood by its decision to move the US military to another location, while Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga refused to fulfill Tokyo's recommendations to accept the relocation the base. 

Earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the Pentagon would return some 9,800 acres to Tokyo by the end of the year.
- WASHINGTON, March 7— Following are excerpts from the Pentagon's Feb. 18 draft of the Defense Planning Guidance for the Fiscal Years 1994-1999:

This Defense Planning guidance addresses the fundamentally new situation which has been created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the disintegration of the internal as well as the external empire, and the discrediting of Communism as an ideology with global pretensions and influence. The new international environment has also been shaped by the victory of the United States and its coalition allies over Iraqi aggression -- the first post-cold-war conflict and a defining event in U.S. global leadership. In addition to these two victories, there has been a less visible one, the integration of Germany and Japan into a U.S.-led system of collective security and the creation of a democratic "zone of peace." . . . DEFENSE STRATEGY OBJECTIVES

Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia.

There are three additional aspects to this objective: First, the U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. Second, in the non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. Finally, we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role. An effective reconstitution capability is important here, since it implies that a potential rival could not hope to quickly or easily gain a predominant military position in the world.

The second objective is to address sources of regional conflict and instability in such a way as to promote increasing respect for international law, limit international violence, and encourage the spread of democratic forms of government and open economic systems. These objectives are especially important in deterring conflicts or threats in regions of security importance to the United States because of their proximity (such as Latin America), or where we have treaty obligations or security commitments to other nations. While the U.S. cannot become the world's "policeman," by assuming responsibility for righting every wrong, we will retain the pre-eminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations. Various types of U.S. interests may be involved in such instances: access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, threats to U.S. citizens from terrorism or regional or local conflict, and threats to U.S. society from narcotics trafficking. . . .

It is improbable that a global conventional challenge to U.S. and Western security will re-emerge from the Eurasian heartland for many years to come. Even in the highly unlikely event that some future leadership in the former Soviet Union adopted strategic aims of recovering the lost empire or otherwise threatened global interests, the loss of Warsaw Pact allies and the subsequent and continuing dissolution of military capability would make any hope of success require several years or more of strategic and doctrinal re-orientation and force regeneration and redeployment, which in turn could only happen after a lengthy political realignment and re-orientation to authoritarian and aggressive political and economic control. Furthermore, any such political upheaval in or among the states of the former U.S.S.R. would be much more likely to issue in internal or localized hostilities, rather than a concerted strategic effort to marshal capabilities for external expansionism -- the ability to project power beyond their borders.

There are other potential nations or coalitions that could, in the further future, develop strategic aims and a defense posture of region-wide or global domination. Our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor. But because we no longer face either a global threat or a hostile, non-democratic power dominating a region critical to our interests, we have the opportunity to meet threats at lower levels and lower costs -- as long as we are prepared to reconstitute additional forces should the need to counter a global threat re-emerge. . . . 
- [O]ne of the things that you come pretty early on to understand in this job, and you start figuring out even during the course of the campaign, is that there’s Barack Obama the person and there’s Barack Obama the symbol, or the office holder, or what people are seeing on television, or just a representative of power. And so when people criticize or respond negatively to me, usually they’re responding to this character that they’re seeing on TV called Barack Obama, or to the office of the presidency and the White House and what that represents. And so you don’t take it personally. You understand that if people are angry that somehow the government is failing, then they are going to look to the guy who represents government. And that applies, by the way, even to some of the folks who are now Trump supporters. They’re responding to a fictional character named Barack Obama who they see on Fox News or who they hear about through Rush Limbaugh.
- WASHINGTON -- The US Army is dusting off mine dispenser systems it originally used in the 1990s because it sees an important role for them against near-peer adversaries now and in the future.

The Volcano system can turn a vehicle or a helicopter into something like a Pez dispenser for mines. Volcano was used prior to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but has laid relatively dormant during the last 15 years of war in the Middle East because the Army did not see a role for it there.

But the systems didn’t go away entirely. A 2012 video posted to YouTube shows the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade stationed at Seoul Air Base in South Korea training and qualifying to use the air Volcano mine system. Volcano was deployed there to serve as a deterrent to North Korean advances, allowing a large amount of land mines to be dispersed quickly.
- Microsoft will have to make changes in its source code if called upon to do so by the US Department of Defence to serve its objectives, according to a new US$927 million contract signed by the two entities.

The so-called Blue Badge Cardholder support that the contract affords the department "requires access rights to Microsoft's proprietary (closed-source) code, which is licensed under exclusive legal right of Microsoft, and are required to support the Department of Defense's mission," the contract specifies.

Microsoft first signed this kind of contract with the department in 2013 for US$412 million, according to a report in Ars Technica.

The cap of that contract was later raised to US$575 million in 2015.

The contract specifies: "The core requirements are for the contractor to provide Microsoft consulting services that include software developers and product teams to leverage a variety of proprietary resources and source code, and Microsoft premier support services such as tools and knowledge bases, problem resolution assistance from product developers, and access to Microsoft source code when applicable to support Department of Defence's mission.

"Performance will predominantly be within the continental US; however, support services may also be required at multiple locations outside the continental US."
- Google Play’s Android store claims it has about 2.75 million apps – how can 21 million be “suspect”? Via Norton’s GIN it has identified a total of 30 million Android apps (these may be enterprise, special purpose, different or variants) in the wild and two-thirds are “suspect.

It merely shows that developers are focused on writing apps, not being security specialists, and few apps are hardened against the brute force attacks that cyber criminals can use. For example, the author of a common audio/video player app never realised that it could be exploited to record from a microphone and Web camera, much less be used to gain root privilege.

As AI and machine learning become more a part of security defence, the cyber criminals too have access to similar resources. Using these tools Symantec set up a Centre for Advanced Machine Learning (CAML) with 10 PhDs who have 100+ years of experience in applied machine learning, including deep learning, manifold learning, Bayesian learning and more, plus extensive security expertise. Add to that all the resources of its 3000+ software engineers and 15 global security centres and the GIN was able to block 500,000 more attacks daily.

But it was a never-ending circle of block one and another variant appears — kind of a whack-a-mole scenario — that has led to predictive machine learning, a loop that constantly trains itself and can find “pre-zero-day exploits” – protection against yet to be exploited vulnerabilities.

Gorrie said that consumer protection had moved way beyond “signature-based” detection and now covers attack vectors – email and anti-spam, the web (reputation of sites), USB/external storage, network incursion), blocking calls to C&C servers, looking at machine behaviour (Sonar) and so much more.
- Rouhani welcomed Atambayev’s proposal to connect China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran through a railway linking the region to the Sea of Oman, Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

He also expressed Iran’s preparedness to transfer technical and engineering services to Kyrgyzstan and cooperate with the country in different areas, including countering terrorism, narcotics and organized crimes.

Close stances on international issues

Atambayev, for his part, lauded the close stances of both countries on different international issues.

The two countries condemn terrorism in all its forms, said the Kyrgyz president, adding that no one has the right to attribute terrorism and extremism to a nation or religion with the aim of inciting Islamophobia.

He also expressed support for full membership of Iran to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and noted that Tehran’s potential can promote the international Kudos of the SCO.

Rouhani and Atambayev also oversaw the signing of five cooperation agreements aimed at expanding economic relations.

Rouhani arrived in Kyrgyzstan on Friday on the final leg of a Central Asia tour that already took him to Armenia and Kazakhstan.
- Autonomous or semi-autonomous robotic vehicles flanking tanks in combat, quite naturally, could bring a wide range of combat-enhancing possibilities. Ammunition-carrying robotic vehicles could increase the fire-power of tanks while in combat more easily; unmanned platforms could also carry crucial Soldier and combat supplies, allowing an Abrams tank to carry a larger payload of key combat supplies.

Also, perhaps of greatest significance, an unmanned vehicle controlled by an Abrams tank could fire weapons at an enemy while allowing the tank to operate at a safer, more risk-reducing stand-off range.

As unmanned vehicles, robotic platforms could be agile and much lighter weight than heavily armored vehicles designed to carry Soldiers into high-risk combat situations. By virtue of being able to operate without placing Soldiers at risk, tank-controlled ground drones could also be used to test and challenge enemy defenses, fire-power and formations. Furthermore, advanced sensors could be integrated into the ground drones to handle rugged terrain while beaming back video and data of enemy locations and movements.

“You don’t need armor on an auxiliary kit,” Michael Peck, Business Development Manager, General Dynamics Land Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Manned Abrams tanks, therefore, could make use of advanced thermal sights, aided by robotic sensors, to locate and destroy enemies at ranges keeping them safe from enemy tank fire. Sensor robots could locate enemy artillery and rocket positions, convoys and even some drones in the air in a manner that better alerts attacking ground forces.  

Land drones could also help forces in combat breach obstacles, carry an expeditionary power supply, help with remote targeting and check route areas for IEDs, Army and General Dynamics statements said.

Some of the early prototyping is being explored at the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, Warren, Mich.
- Ten percent of eurozone households own more than half the region's wealth, with half a million euros each on average. Meanwhile, the poorest five percent owe more than they possess, and are stuck with negative net worth, according to the survey.
- In December 2015, the nonprofit Tax Policy Center estimated that Trump’s tax “reforms” would reduce federal revenues by at least $9.5 trillion over the first decade. Tax cuts and sustained high levels of federal spending could nearly double the national debt, the Tax Policy Center warned.
- Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said in an interview on Tuesday that the lack of supplies from Ukraine hasn't had a significant impact on Russia's military capability. Borisov says Russia acted quickly to develop the industrial capacity to supply its own military hardware.

Ukraine cut all military exports to Russia after Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and flooding eastern Ukraine with weapons and the combined force of mercenaries and army regulars.

Until 2014, Russia had depended on Ukrainian defense industries to provide numerous components for its weapons, the legacy of close ties between the two ex-Soviet neighbors.

Borisov says Russia has launched its own production of helicopter engines and ship turbines that previously were purchased from Ukraine.
- An academic journal based at Cambridge University has closed after alleged links to Russia emerged.

The Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism Studies announced its closure after revelations emerged about possible links with the Kremlin.

The journal channels its funding into an academic forum called the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar. The forum meets at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge and debates international intelligence and terrorism issues.

Its closure came after three members of the forum reportedly resigned because they believe the Kremlin is linked with the journal.

Veruscript, its publishers, dismissed the suggestion and said it is "a serious and wholly unfounded allegation".
...
"We appreciate that there is heightened interest in Russia and its geopolitical status, but despite all parties disputing the allegations, and no evidence being found, Veruscript and its publication has found itself caught up in news and speculation about independent research, thinking and the University of Cambridge which is the exact opposite of what we have set out to achieve.

"We must though accept that the media interest in intelligence affairs, even their academic study in a mainly historical context, has made the launch publication in our series unfortunate in its subject matter, however excellent its merits.

"It clearly serves the interests of all concerned now, not least the academic communities to which we are passionately committed, for us to refocus our attentions exclusively on the sciences and social sciences which Veruscript has been founded to support.

"In these circumstances, because of the unwarranted suspicions generated by the UK media reports, we believe that we have no alternative but to close the publication.

"We remain committed to open access academic research and debate and will continue to publish in less contentious areas next year."
- If Russia finally gets a foothold in the Philippines arms market, it must avoid making the mistakes the U.S. made. For instance, the silver bullets strategy won't work in a country that cannot afford them, and where the defense brass has strong ties to the Pentagon.

Like in other countries that are nominal U.S. allies, including Egypt and Pakistan, in the Philippines too a hefty portion of defense kickbacks end up in the pockets of the generals.

Not only will Moscow have to supply weapons that suit local requirements, it will have to sidestep corruption. According to Neri Colmenares, party list representative for the leftist Bayan Muna movement, efforts to make the Philippines defense 'credible' are in vain and will only serve to increase dependence on the U.S.

'We can spend a hundred years' budget on the armed forces of the Philippines and it will not make our defense credible against China,' he says. 'An increase in budget or capabilities is not the way forward hellip; because the armed forces itself has not been reformed. It's still a corrupt and politicized body."
- Our gullible politicians were originally told that the Joint Strike Fighter would cost $US40 million ($55.7m) per aircraft. At the time the estimate was obviously flawed.

Now our gullible politicians are being told that each Joint Strike Fighter would cost $US90m per ­aircraft. While it is more than ­double the first estimate it is just as silly. Both these estimates ignore the total cost of making the Joint Strike Fighter battle ready.

Treasury discovered real outlays would be much bigger than what was being told to the politicians and are now going for a total cost of about $US190m per aircraft in the forward estimates. But that’s still way off the mark. The Trump Joint Strike Fighter cost estimates appear be above $US290m per aircraft and rising — seven times the original floored estimates. We’ve ordered 72 aircraft so the bill is about $300bn but likely to be much higher.
- Almost anyone with basic computer skills can change online bookings and steal flights, German cyber experts warned after a remarkable hacking experiment. The issue lies with booking systems being too archaic, they said.

Online booking often provides more convenience for passengers, but ageing computer systems used for the purpose are vulnerable to fairly primitive hacks, according to German cyber security experts.

Flight bookings worldwide are managed by the so-called Global Distributed Systems (GDS) that connect travel agencies, online booking websites, airlines and passengers. Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport, the three largest GDS networks, administer more than 90 percent of the bookings as well as numerous hotel, car, and other travel reservations, according to Security Research Labs (SR Labs), a Berlin-based hacking research collective.

Karsten Nohl, founder and head of SR Labs, told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and broadcaster WDR that intruders are able to hack into six-character booking codes used by customers for identification, online check-in and selecting seats. 

In a hacking experiment, Nohl demonstrated a computer program cracking the six-letter booking codes within minutes. He said breaking the codes is easy as they use only capital letters and digits. Hackers can employ the code to gain access to the actual passenger’s account and change the departure time and email address.

“Today’s GDSs go back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, built around mainframe computers and leased lines. The systems have since been interwoven with web services, but still lack several web security best practices,” the SR Labs website wrote. 
- Asked whether the U.S. should sanction Russia over computer hacking on Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump cast doubt on the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies and said, “We ought to get on with our lives.”

But it was his next lines that had an oddly familiar ring to them: “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly,” Trump told reporters in Florida, according to multiple media reports. “The whole age of [the] computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”

It isn’t the first time a U.S. leader has appeared uncomfortable with technology.

When George W. Bush discussed “the Internets” in a 2000 presidential debate against democratic opponent Al Gore, it quickly became a “Bushism” — a neologism for folksy colloquialisms attributed to the then President.

And Bush was still at it in 2006, as evidenced by this CNBC interview in which he famously talked about using “the Google” to view his ranch.
- An investigation by newspaper "Süddeutsche Zeitung" and broadcasters "NDR" and "WDR" found the Scania R 450 semi-trailer stopped after between 70 and 80 meters (250 feet). The system was reportedly engaged after sensing a collision.

Previous reports speculated that the truck had driven erratically and stopped due to the heroic actions of the truck's Polish driver, who lay fatally wounded in the cabin. 

More than 80 people were killed in a similar attack on Bastille Day in Nice last July, when a 19-ton Renault Midlum truck was deliberately and repeatedly driven into crowds.

In 2012, the European Union adopted mandatory regulations requiring all new trucks exceeding 3,500 kilograms be fitted with advanced emergency braking systems. The systems initially alert drivers and then take evasive action.

The regulation was adopted to reduce the number of rear-end collisions by trucks.
- Siberian scientists have developed a system to extract cells from a male's penile foreskin in order to grow artificial human skin. This research was made possible thanks to a $537,000 grant from Russia's Ministry of Education and Science.

“We use skin that [cosmetic surgery] patients do not need and which is removed for cosmetic considerations or urological reasons,” said Alexander Rusanov, deputy director at Perspektiva, a non-commercial research organization in Novosibirsk.
Why foreskin?

Foreskin cells divide faster and more actively than cells from other parts of the body. “Thanks to this, we can produce cell material at a faster pace and in greater amounts,” Rusanov said.

On the day of cosmetic surgery researchers provide surgeons with special shipment containers, and the biological material is promptly delivered to the laboratory where it will grow cells over a period of 14 days.

The resulting pieces of artificial skin measure one-third of a square millimeter in area. While scientists say they can grow a larger piece, this size is enough for testing perfumes, creams, and ointments.

Artificial skin is nearly identical to human skin but does not contain any imperfections and it duplicates a completely even layer. Perspektiva said it can grow 100 to 200 samples per week, and the process only requires a team of two specialists. A single sample is priced at around $16. 
- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte derided U.S. ambassadors as "spies" on Thursday, responding to a media report of an alleged American plot to destabilize his government, a job he said some envoys were appointed solely to do.

The volatile former mayor said though had received no intelligence reports of any U.S. plan to undermine his presidency, he believed most ambassadors were in cahoots with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which had a track record of meddling in other countries' affairs.

The Manila Times newspaper on Tuesday reported a former U.S. ambassador to the Philippines had prepared a "blueprint to undermine Duterte", citing a document it had received from a what it described as a "highly placed source". (bit.ly/2hhzEGk)

The U.S. State Department has described the allegations as "false".

"Most of the ambassadors of the United States, but not all, are not really professional ambassadors. At the same time they are spying, they are connected with the CIA," Duterte said in a television interview.

"The ambassador of a country is the number one spy. But there are ambassador of the U.S., their forte is really to undermine governments."

Duterte has made no secret of his grudge against the United States and has a particular disdain for President Barack Obama, who he has told to "go to hell", mostly over Obama's concern s about Duterte's deadly drugs war.

He has made repeated threats to abrogate security treaties with the United States and vented almost daily about U.S. "hypocrisy" and "bullying".

On Thursday, Duterte said he would honor those treaties and that he liked U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and was keenly waiting for him to take office.

The Manila Times said Philip Goldberg, who recently ended his term as ambassador in Manila, had outlined various strategies over an 18-month period to destabilize Duterte.

That would include supporting the opposition and co-opting the media, the military, neighboring countries and senior government officials to turn against Duterte and isolate him economically.

Duterte has a dislike for Goldberg and has previously called him a "gay son of a bitch". He referred to him in three successive live television interviews on Thursday, calling him Washington's "superstar" with a track record of trying to undermine governments.

Goldberg was expelled as ambassador to Bolivia in 2008 by then President Evo Morales, who accused him of siding with his rightist opponents and of orchestrating street protests.

The United States rejected that and said his expulsion was a "grave error".

"Maybe he will deny it but it's not good," Duterte said of Goldberg's alleged blueprint, which he said was plausible because of Goldberg's history.

He added: "You might be able to oust me, but I will give you a bloody nose."

Attempts by Reuters to reach Goldberg this week were unsuccessful.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russel dismissed the Manila Times report.

"No such blueprint exists," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The United States respects the sovereignty of the Philippines and the democratic choices made by the Philippine people."

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