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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Song, Sound, and Polygraph Spectrum Analysis, Random Stuff, and More

- to help speed up algorithmic music/sound generation work (http://dtbnguyen.blogspot.com/2017/05/perl-algorithmic-music-midi-composer.html) you need to understand song and sound structure a bit better. That's where this next script comes in. Run it and it will scan the current directory, convert them to wav file format and then produce a spectrogram from them. This graph/picture effectively plots frequency versus time. Download it here:
# This script is help analyse music and video. Namely, convert
# them to wav format so that we can later extract a spectrogram
# from them for further analysis. It's obviously fairly basic 
# at this stage but it's good enough for the type of sound
# analysis that I intend to do. Further development based
# on need.
# As this is the very first version of the program it may be VERY 
# buggy). Please test prior to deployment in a production environment.
- basically, it's as I thought. Different classes/types of songs have different sonic signatures (frequency, amplitude, etc...). Different parts of the song often have different signatures as well
- the implications for music analysis are obvious. If you run it over a group of files I'm certain that certain notes (and therefore frequencies), keys, are going to be present in certain styles of music and successful songs (may require a bit of additional Artificial Intelligence (AI) work though)?
frequency analysis video files linux
sox sound.wav -n spectrogram
frequency analysis audio files linux
splitting wav files linux cli
How to split wav files
- some may say that getting the FFT is the most obvious solution but if you don't know what you're looking for I think graphing and looking for interesting clues may be easier?

- as an aside, I realise there are other possible applications for this software/script. I tried running it over a bunch of random news stories and other sound bites. When the people change behavioural state significantly their sonic signature/spectrogram seems to deviate significantly from their baseline (which is the basis for polygraph tests which if you read up about them sort of do but don't really entirely work reliably...). The interesting thing for me is that after a while you can simply look at a spectrogram and know where the most emotive points in an argument/video are
- it feels like you can easily turn this into an automated polygraph (would require a lot of tuning though?)? Was thinking about using my YouTube News Downloader Script and then running this script over all everything? After all, if image recognition effectively relies on a low level comparison of bits/bytes in particular positions in order ascertain whether they have found the same image a mass scale personal polygraph this should be more then possible/feasible? My guess is that the media would look really, really weird if everything were above board?
- obviously, there are plenty of ways to 'beat this'. Good examples of this include sound effects (compression, equalisation, delay, etc...), train the person in to remain stable or how to control their emotions (same method to beat beat polygraph tests), run white noise or music over the background, etc...

Random Stuff:
- funny look at the US military industrial complex...
Even The Media's Language Is Meant To Deceive
We’re at the Tipping Point on North Korea…and Who’s Lying About that Aircraft Carrier
- latest in defense
PAK FA and J-20/31 vs. NATO 4th Gens: how big is the edge?
Build a light stealth fighter
- latest in finance and politics
- have they gone too far or not far enough? LOL
- any news Russian/Chinese led world feels like USSR Mk2 at times. It's basically re-establishment (and then some) of what it was in a way that it was supposed to be originally built?
- if you read enough of foreign news you'll realise that those on the other side of the fence are trying to push the US from it's perch as quietly as possible... Did a random search via Google. Interesting the peaks and troughs where people believed that the US Empire was collapsing
CrossTalk - North Korea Saga
Is Afghanistan a new battlefield for two traditional rivals – Inside Story
‘Don’t know who used chemicals but it’s known’ - DEBATE on US strike against Syria
AMERICAN PERESTROIKA Ft. Jack Matlock, Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union
us empire collapsing thirties -> About 19,400,000 results
us empire collapsing forties -> About 18,800,000 results
us empire collapsing fifties -> About 28,700,000 results
us empire collapsing sixties -> About 44,700,000 results
us empire collapsing seventies -> About 54,900,000 results
us empire collapsing eighties -> About 30,800,000 results
us empire collapsing nineties -> About 37,500,000 results
- absolutely convinced that the Chinese can build a good 5th-Gen fighter jet. If you look across all of their variants you'll realise that they have experimented a lot across all of the required technologies
- for anyone who's slightly curious the obvious question are all the leaks coming from? The answer seems as though it's 'everywhere'? You dig through the contents of some of the leaks and it feels like a combination of insiders, people who have been on 'the other side' in the distant past as well as present, etc...
Vault 7 - ‘Marble’ tool could mask CIA hacks as work of foreign cyber-attackers - WikiLeaks
- pretty interesting to have McAfee's perspectives (security researcher)... Very curious to know how many security issues come down to the security services versus individuals?
News with Ed Schultz -  John McAfee, Wikileaks’ Vault 7`, 'Year Zero'
- at times, you wonder whether or not that's what governments want is right? If the system fails/collapses they still want to be able to maintain control of things? Wolff has some interesting ideas regarding capitalism. RedactedTonight programs has some ex-Occupy movement people behind it. Strong anti-capitalist message (can be de-moralising but funny at times as well)
The Real Point of Wikileaks Vault 7
[51] Rogue Economist Explains why Capitalism is Collapsing - WATCH
- if you understand US capitalism it is very different. They basically try and swamp the market and figure out a way to monetise later. It's been the same strategy with Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Apple, etc... Much of it feels like it's about pure hype? Moreover, they engage in all types of shenanigans to get their way. The irony is that the Chinese aren't that much different but it's also clear that the Chinese work this thing in reverse? They try to make a profit from the outset. Listen to Jack Ma (founder of Alibaba) in particular... I'm finding it difficult to believe that the US will be able to compete in a 'straight up' contest with the Chinese (and other countries...)
Keiser Report - Silicon Valley Destruction (E1062)
Keiser Report - Fed Balancing Sheet (E1063)
Keiser Report - America-China Financial Wars (E 1064)

Random Quotes:
- Lukashenko also mentioned the fact that Russia and Belarus had developed a joint defensive strategy and that in the event of war, the two nations would fight side by side, with the Belarusian army fighting a holding action against a NATO attack while the Russian army comes up from the rear.
"The Belarusian army forms part of this defensive group. In case of conflict, they will be the first to come into battle and for a short time [delay the enemy] until the other part concentrated in the west of the Russian Federation can come up. We do not hide it from our western colleagues. They are well aware of our arrangement with Russia."

Though Russia and Belarus have their disagreements from time to time, Lukashenko made it clear that when the chips are down, at least two parts of Ancient Rus (the third being Malorussia, now called Ukraine) will stand united. 
- On Thursday, a woman named Wenxia Man was convicted in a Florida court of conspiring to evade U.S. export laws by illegally acquiring and sending fighter jet engines and drones to China, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Prosecutors said Man was working with an associate in China to buy and export engines made by Pratt & Whitney and General Electric (GE), which are found in a range of top U.S. military aircraft, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-22 and the F-16 fighter jets. She was also found to have tried to export a General Atomics drone, and technical data for the different hardware items.

During the investigation, Man referred to her associate as a spy "who worked on behalf of the Chinese military to copy items obtained from other countries and stated that he was particularly interested in stealth technology," the Department of Justice said. 
- Washington may be forced to renege on its huge debt to Beijing under catastrophic circumstances, says the former head of the Bank of England Mervyn King. He suggests governments could mitigate risk by diversifying their assets.

“Who knows what the future holds, but China and other countries do not want to be in a situation where all their international assets are in effect dependent on the US,” said King, who was the Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013, in an article for Gold Investor magazine.

“Of course the US would not want to renege on its debts, but if some awful conflagration occurred, then all China’s assets in the US might be annulled,” said the former BoE chief, adding that China and other countries should diversify their portfolios, making them less dependent “on the goodwill of other countries.”
- Siberian scientists have created an artificial heart they claim will be up to five times cheaper than its western alternatives. Doctors hope to test the first implants on animals this autumn.

The new artificial heart design created by a team of cardiologists from the Novosibirsk State Research Institute of Circulation Pathology was unveiled at a medical forum in Novosibirsk on Thursday.

According to the scientists, the artificial heart will have a unique design that will be different from other hearts available or currently being developed in Russia and abroad. The new artificial heart will also be cheaper.

“The cost of European and Russian counterparts start from $150,000,” Dr Aleksey Fomichev from the Novosibirsk institute told TASS. “Ours will be much cheaper, the approximate price is 2-3 million rubles ($31,000- 47,000)."
- After a two-month investigation into the work of the ruling Communist party's Propaganda department, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) posted an article on its website on Thursday criticizing its work.

“[The propaganda department] lacks depth in its research into developing contemporary China's Marxism," the report read.

"The effect of guiding art and literature to serve socialism and the people was not obvious enough, and the news propaganda is not targeted and effective enough," Wang Haichen, the leader of the inspection team, was quoted as saying on the website.

“[The department] also needs to further strengthen its leadership in ideological work. There are also weak spots in implementing the principle of 'the party controls the media' in new media and it is not forceful enough in coordinating the ideological and political work at universities," Wang added.
- Malcolm Turnbull has compared Australia after the mining boom to oil states, saying that the country is in danger of being left behind.

In a warning against economic complacency, the Prime Minister said in an interview with Fairfax Media: "Resource-dependent countries, you only have to look at some of the oil states to see that having an enormous resource isn't always a blessing."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned of dark times without reforms.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned of dark times without reforms. Photo: Andrew Meares

Most oil states are economically backward dictatorships.

The comment is reminiscent of Paul Keating's 1986 warning that Australia risked becoming a "banana republic" unless it could rid itself of a resource dependency "cargo cult" mentality.

Mr Turnbull said: "We don't have, post-mining boom, a unique comparative advantage in some sort of physical asset. We have to make our greatest asset ourselves.

"So that means we've got to focus on enabling Australia's enterprise."

The message, designed to contrast the government's growth plan with Labor's policy, is a change of emphasis from Mr Turnbull's trademark emphasis on the positive.

"This is a time in which we could very easily be left behind," he said.

He described Labor's policy as "economic Micawberism, where you just hope that something turns up," a reference to a hapless Charles Dickens character, Mr Micawber.

In the Keating alarm, the then treasurer said: "We took the view in the 1970s – it's the old cargo cult mentality of Australia that she'll be right. This is the lucky country, we can dig up another mound of rock and someone will buy it from us, or we can sell a bit of wheat and bit of wool and we will just sort of muddle through."

Australia had "let the sophisticated industrial side fall apart" and become a third world economy that relies on selling raw materials. Without addressing "these fundamental problems", Mr Keating said, "you are a banana republic".

In a similar vein, Mr Turnbull prescribed this solution: "Clearly you have to be on the frontier of innovation, got to be more productive, more competitive, more open to the big new markets, you've got to be able to take advantage of them.

"You have to make sure you have technologically based industries where your higher labour cost is not a disadvantage because the labour cost is relatively low to the value of the product – you are essentially talking about advanced manufacturing."
- He worries that if Australia doesn't set a path for growth, "this is a time in which we could very easily be left behind. We don't have, post-mining boom, a unique comparative advantage in some sort of physical asset. We have to make our greatest asset ourselves.

"So that means we've got to focus on enabling Australia's enterprise."

A Reachtel poll this week found that Turnbull is the leader Australians most want to have a beer with. Australia has over 15 million voters.

That's a lot of beers. "I'm certainly a fairly convivial person so I do like a bit of company," chuckles Turnbull at the thought.

He's nowhere near as admired and liked as he was just six months ago, but he is not broadly disliked.

After losing millions of admirers in the last six months in disappointment at the disappearance of Turnbull the progressive reformer, Turnbull the Coalition leader is now trying to win as many as possible back, vote by vote, seat by seat
- Huge oak forests are in the process of dying in the area around Mount Zagros, in western Iran. The culprit isn’t drought or deforestation, it’s squirrel poaching. These animals are essential to the forest ecosystem because they bury the acorns that grow into trees. One man decided to take up the fight for these little rodents and the big forests they care for.

Once captured, squirrels are often sold as pets in markets across Iran for roughly 15-30 euros. In the forest, the animals make a habit of burying acorns and various seeds to save them for later. However, they often forget where they’ve buried these reserves and their hidden acorns can grow peacefully into trees. 
- The consequences in daily life of the ongoing information war between Russia and the United States-led West are often paradoxical if not downright confusing.  Confusion may indeed be the prime objective of both sides, following the old maxim:  if you cannot convince, confuse.
While the United States has sent American-made weapons to the Afghan military and Iraqi security forces, the presence of U.S. equipment in foreign hands can be problematic. Recently, U.S.-backed groups in Syria have been spotted with American equipment, including heavy machine guns and sniper rifles. Although likely more accurate than their Soviet-style counterparts, U.S. weapons can make the fighters carrying them targets for other factions.

Aside from standing out, U.S. weapons can also be difficult to maintain, prompting Special Operations Command and the CIA to procure and supply weapons that their allies are used to fighting with, such as Kalashnikovs. To do this, the U.S. government often contracts with smaller companies to buy and ship the weapons.

In 2015, Buzzfeed chronicled a $28 million contract given to a company called Purple Shovel to send weapons to U.S.-backed Syrian rebels. The contract ran into a myriad of problems after a Bulgarian company shipped faulty rocket-propelled grenades through Purple Shovel to SOCOM, Buzzfeed reported.

According to Allen, an American source for the weapons would be a “good use of taxpayer funds, while also delivering the weapons our partners not only need to fight extremists, but also the ones they know how to use, know how to fix and have the supplies to maintain.”

Producing the weapons in the United States would also allow the government to enforce greater control over their manufacture and distribution.

[Administration searches for new approach to aiding rebels in Syria]

“Building them here would normalize transfers, make oversight easier, and prevent ad-hoc type arrangements like we’ve seen in the past” said Matt Schroeder, a senior researcher with Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based research group that tracks weapons.

However, it still might be cheaper to buy them elsewhere. Weapons based on Mikhail Kalashnikov’s iconic design have been built and exported by dozens of countries during and after the Cold War. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rifle’s design was distributed to Eastern-bloc countries for manufacture, and only in recent years has Russia’s main arms exporter attempted to clamp down on copyright infringements.
...Even by day our colour vision degrades by 5% at 3500 feet [cabin altitude], 20% at 10,000 feet and 35% at 13,000 feet due to lack of oxygen...."
- According to a news report in the June 7th German Economic News (Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or DWN) headlined “Merkel entmachtet BND: USA kontrollieren Spionage in Deutschland” or “Merkel Ousts BND: US to Control German Espionage,” a new law will soon be passed in the German parliament and be approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which will make Germany’s version of the CIA, the Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND), nothing more than a branch of the CIA.

The BND is to be subordinated to the CIA to such an extreme degree that even U.S. corporate espionage against German companies will become part of that  nominally German operation. The independent capacities of the BND will become emasculated, no longer operational, under the new law.

“In practice, this means that the US intelligence services [NSA] will be allowed to continue to listen in on every company and every individual in Germany.”

That includes the Chancellor herself, whose phone-conversations were previously embarrassingly revealed to have been listened-in upon by the NSA.  Now it’ll be legal.
None of this information has been widely published — it’s virtually impossible to have it published in the West.  Though the potential audience for it might be vast (especially since the population of the Western countries involved pays much of the tab for this operation and yet receives none of the benefits from the resultant looting of Ukraine, all of which goes to the U.S. and allied economic and political elites), there is virtually zero willingness  to report it because the West’s news media have all (except for a few small, independent ones like this) been taken over by today’s equivalent of the feudal aristocracy, whom they serve — rather than the public (their audiences, whom they’re in business to deceive).  The companies owned by the oligarchic elite advertise in, and thereby fund, most of the corporate news media, and the governments they serve fund the rest.

Though the transfer of Crimea from Ukraine to Russia is treated by Western ‘news’ media as having been a ‘conquest’ by Russia, and as being Russia’s ‘seizure’ of Crimea, and Russia’s ‘stealing’ Crimea, nothing of the sort is true.  Crimeans had good reason to be terrified of the Obama-coup regime that had just been installed in Kiev, from which Russia saved Crimeans, but the lie needs to be promulgated so that the West’s invasion of Russia may be organized and carried out.

To make the facts about the 2014 coup in Kiev public to Westerners would jeopardize not only the Western economic sanctions against Russia but would also jeopardize the preparations by all of NATO for a war against Russia.  Both the sanctions and the planned war would have no support among the Western public if this history — and that fact that it all began with a violent U.S. coup in Ukraine — were to become known before the U.S. and NATO invasion occurs.  So the facts remain suppressed in the ‘democratic’West.
- God favors the side with the bigger battalions, says the old military proverb. The Soviet Union didn’t believe in God, but heaven knows, it did swear by the bigger battalions. So what if some of those numerous battalions had obsolete equipment, or soldiers and officers who didn’t speak the same language? As proclaimed by Stalin, himself a former Communist deity, “quantity has a quality all its own.”

While the Soviets worshiped quantity, NATO had a different theology. Their god was quality (the same as Hitler’s armies, the Soviets could rightly point out). According to NATO dogma, if the Soviets had invaded Western Europe during the Cold War, their superior numbers were supposed to be offset by superior Western flexibility and initiative. Quality was a jealous god that brooked no rivals. NATO’s alternatives were either to raise massive armies to match the Red Army, or have the Americans use nuclear weapons, which meant destroying Europe to save it.
- WASHINGTON  — The US Air Force is still pondering if and when it can replace the A-10 Warthog, but outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh has his own vision for the next close-air-support platform, which he wants to dispense different kinds of munitions as easily as a soda machine dispenses beverage cans.

Welsh, who is retiring in July, has admitted that the service currently lacks the funding necessary to buy a new close-air support (CAS) plane before the A-10 Warthog retires as early as 2022. Such a program would require more money than is currently expected over the next five years. However, the Air Force remains interested in a new aircraft, and officials are building a draft requirements document that could serve as a starting point for an A-10 replacement.

When asked about what improvements he’d like to see in a next-generation CAS plane, Welsh described a “flying Coke machine” that could distribute “firepower on demand.”

"You have a Coke machine overhead, you put in a quarter, and you get whatever kind of firepower you want when you want it. In a perfect world that's close-air support of the future,” he told reporters during a June 15 breakfast meeting.

Either a clean sheet or an existing design may be able to meet Air Force requirements, depending on the cost and schedule parameters, he said.

"We don't think this would take that long to do. We really don't think it is that complicated of a design problem,” he said. "We think we can optimize it for a low to medium threat environment, not a full threat environment. We need something that can keep doing, at much lower cost, the types of things we're doing in those encounters that we see today."

Welsh said he believes that a newer aircraft would cost less to operate than the A-10, which currently eats up about $20,000 per flying hour.

“Let's find something that's $4,000 to $5,000 a flying hour that brings more firepower, that is more responsive. We can do all that. We just don't have the money today to do it. It's not the highest priority for where we have to spend our money.”
- Regardless of politics, he is 100% correct – SMEs that don’t embrace digital disruption are an endangered species. At some point soon digital disruption will happen to your business and it is better to start the digital transformation now.

Digital transformation includes:

    A mobile strategy because that is where most of the sales will be made;
    A data-driven marketing strategy to find new customers;
    A new web strategy based on content and helpful "experiences" – not just an advertisement;
    A search strategy – clear definitions of what you do to get into the early results;
    A social strategy to build your community;
    A massive simplification of business process including throwing out legacy systems for cloud-based ones;
    A retraining strategy to focus staff on :what can be"; and
    Do what you do well – jettison what you don’t.
- The following are 15 facts about the imploding U.S. economy that the mainstream media doesn’t want you to see…
1. Industrial production has now declined for nine months in a row.  We have never seen this happen outside of a recession in all of U.S. history.
2. U.S. commercial bankruptcies have risen on a year over year basis for seven months in a row and are now up 51 percent since September.
3. The delinquency rate on commercial and industrial loans has been rising since January 2015.
4. Total business sales in the United States have been steadily dropping since the middle of 2014.  No, I did not say 2015.  Total business sales have been in decline for nearly two years now, and we just found out that they dropped again…
Total business sales in the US did in April what they’ve been doing since July 2014: they dropped: -2.9% from a year ago, to $1.28 trillion (not adjusted for seasonal differences and price changes), the Censuses Bureau reported on Tuesday. That’s where sales had been in April 2013!
5. U.S. factory orders have been dropping for 18 months in a row.
6. The Cass Shipping Index has been falling on a year over year basis for 14 consecutive months.
7. U.S. coal production has dropped to the lowest level in 35 years.
8. Goldman Sachs has its own internal tracker of the U.S. economy, and it has fallen to the lowest level since the last recession.
9. JPMorgan’s “recession indicators” have risen to the highest level that we have seen since the last recession.
10. Federal tax receipts and state tax receipts usually both start to fall as we enter a new recession, and that is precisely what is taking place right now.
11. The Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index has been falling for five months in a row.
12. The employment numbers that the government released for last month were the worst that we have seen in six years.
13. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, layoff announcements at major firms are running 24 percent higher this year than they were at this time last year.
14. Online job postings on the business networking site LinkedIn have been declining steadily since February after 73 months in a row of growth.
15. The number of temporary workers in the United States peaked and started falling precipitously before the recession of 2001 even started.  The exact same thing happened just prior to the beginning of the 2008 recession.  So would it surprise you to learn that the number of temporary workers in the United States peaked in December and has fallen dramatically since then?
- And the truth is that this is not the most exciting time for Australians to be alive. For many, it's one of the most concerning.  

Our per capita income has fallen by 6 per cent since September 2011, the proportion of total population in the workforce has not increased since 2008 and wages growth, that is hourly rates of pay, is now the lowest in at least 18 years. 

And neither of the two major parties who have formed governments in recent times can feel proud of this. Nor should they continue to automatically blame each other. It's a tiresome practice that is undermining their credibility with an electorate that is increasingly suspicious of the truthfulness of any of their claims.

As the first President Bill Clinton said, and the hopeful second one in the wings clearly believes, "It's the economy, stupid." 

I know we can fix this but right now I'm not convinced we are telling ourselves the truth clearly and often enough to move forward. Nevertheless, I think the Australian people are ready for the serious discussion the Prime Minister promised. 

As my trainer says to me at 6am, three mornings a week, "more the pain, more the gain". 

The people are ready for it, I wonder if our politicians are.
- Michelle Thompson wants to know when the leaders will start talking about axing politician pensions, “they should be treated the same as self-funded retirees”.

PM: Politicians are well paid, there is no question about that. Their pay is set by an independent remuneration tribunal. I’m probably the worst person to talk about it. I didn’t go into parliament to make more money .. but if they’re not paid then only wealthy people can afford to be members of parliament.
- I'm willing to believe there are people out there that find LinkedIn's offering less tedious than I do, but I very much doubt that there are enough of them to justify a US$26 billion valuation.

What's particularly galling about the inflated value of social media sites like LinkedIn is what those numbers mean for traditional media. As Media Watch pointed out this week, they're devouring the ad revenue that once went to media organisations that pay people to produce quality content. Instead, social sites cash in on the content that we users produce for free.

You could probably buy most of the major news publications in the English-speaking world for $26 billion these days. Sadly, though, our economy values the lily-gilding of LinkedIn's corporate narcissists more than the hard-won facts and informed analysis offered by traditional media.

I can understand why Microsoft bought LinkedIn. It produces the software that still powers most businesses, but free business applications produced by Google and Apple are cutting into its profits. If they can integrate LinkedIn into their increasingly cloud-based Office suite, they may be able to milk healthy profits from the corporate sector for a while yet before the cloud wipes out the market for expensive productivity apps.

But when I log onto Twitter or Facebook or even LinkedIn, the most popular things being shared are content from news websites. When they're dead and gone, will we be left with a world in which the only content consists of press releases and cat videos?

Yes, we definitely will, so I'm going to have to grit my teeth and embrace LinkedIn. "Writer" means nothing in that environment, so I'm going to rebrand myself an "Executive Content Generation Specialist". Would you mind logging on and endorsing my "Content Strategy" skills? In return, I'll gladly give a thumbs up to whatever you pretend you do.
- "What the Russian government needs to do is diversify the economy … make revenues more dependable and less dependent on oil," Kudrin said on Friday.

"Then the Russian ruble will be more stable and … be used more in international settlements," he added.

Kudrin said the U.S. dollar would remain the world's reserve currency – the one most widely used in international trade and held by global governments as part of their foreign exchange reserves – for at least another decade.

"The American economy is going to be stable for the next 10 to 15 years – I could not vouch for a longer period of time… So the American currency will maintain its position," he said on Friday.

The dollar's status gave the U.S. a responsibility to help ensure global financial stability, Kudrin added. 
- Russia's deputy prime minister offered a sporting explanation for the tensions between Russia and the U.S. at a panel discussion in St. Petersburg on Friday.

"The rivalry of the U.S. and Russia it is just like two top sportsmen in the same team … we belong to the same high civilization … but we are competing all the time," Igor Shuvalov, the first deputy prime minister of Russia, said at an event hosted by CNBC at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Shuvalov's comments were in a response to a tough-in-cheek question on free trade groups – specifically whether the U.S. could join Russia's Eurasian Economic Union if the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership failed to bear fruit.

The Eurasian Economic Union currently includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It is looking to establish a free trade agreement with Iran and is also in talks with China, Serbia, Malaysia, Israel, Indonesia and Thailand.

The U.S. is probably not welcome though.

"I think it is not possible … the Americans could not join our format," Shuvalov said.

The U.S. is engaged in lengthy talks regarding two major trade agreements. These are the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union (EU) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership with various countries across the Americas and Asia-Pacific – but not China or Russia. 
- There’s no doubt, Mrs. Clinton’s had trouble connecting with the people she’s trying to reach.

In the latest Quinnipiac poll in the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, more than half of the respondents said Mrs. Clinton doesn’t “care about the needs and problems of people like you.”

They also judged rival Donald Trump as more “honest and trustworthy.”

And there’s no wonder why.

In 2014, Mrs. Clinton famously said in an interview “we came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt.” That year, the Clinton’s reported a total income of $16.2 million, according to their public disclosure report.

Today, the Clinton’s net worth is as much as $52.7 million, which doesn’t even include the values of their homes in Washington and New York, which are estimated at $9.3 million.

And they’re used to this millionaire-style living.

In 2014 Mrs. Clinton collected a $225,000 speaking fee to address the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Among her requests was a private jet, first class airfare for one of her aides, business-class airfare for two of her aides, and a presidential hotel suite for her at the five-star Bellagio, plus “up to three adjoining rooms for her travel aides and up to two additional single rooms for the advance staff,” according to the leaked advance documents.

In April, she wore a $12,495 Armani jacket during a speech about income inequality. In an appearance on the View, she clutched a $1,645 Alexander McQueen handbag.

Mrs. Clinton is so out of touch, she’s had to hire a team of image experts that includes a former Michelle Obama aide who’s been tasked with “shaping her style and making her more relatable,” according to the New York Post.
- China has stepped up its rhetoric ahead of an expected ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague on the Philippine case. China refuses to recognize the case and says all disputes should be resolved through bilateral talks.

China says more than 40 countries have offered support for its position, the most recent being Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.

But only eight countries have come out in public support, including land-locked nations such as Niger and Afghanistan, says Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies.

On Wednesday, a senior U.S. official voiced scepticism at China's claim that dozens of countries were backing its position, saying it was not clear even about what those countries may have agreed to. 
- In recent public statements, the Chinese leadership has made explicit reference to zombie SOEs. And, unlike Japan, which remained in denial over this problem for close to a decade, the Chinese authorities have moved relatively quickly to rein in excesses in two key industries-steel and coal-while hinting of more to come in cement, glass and shipbuilding.

China's deteriorating loan quality is also reminiscent of Japan's experience. The official NPL ratio of 1.7 percent for listed banks is only the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface are "special mention loans"-where borrowers are in the early stages of repayment difficulties-along with bad credits in the shadow banking sector, both of which could raise China's fully-loaded NPL ratio to about 8 percent. In that case, the authorities will eventually need to inject capital into the Chinese banking system.

None of this is a dark secret in Beijing. On the contrary, an interview in early May with an "authoritative insider", published in China's flagship official newspaper, People's Daily, underscored an increasingly open and intense debate over how to avoid ending up like Japan. The insider highlighted the insidious connection between China's debt and zombie problems that might well culminate in a Japan-like "L-shaped" endgame.

This gets to the heart of the China-Japan comparison. Two and a half lost decades (and counting) is simply an unacceptable outcome for China. But knowing what it doesn't want is not enough to guarantee that China won't fall into a Japan-style trap of its own.

Reforms are the decisive differentiating factor. Japan's failure to embrace structural reforms was a hallmark of the 1990s, and it is an equally serious impediment to the current "Abenomics" recovery program. By contrast, China's strategy emphasizes the heavy lifting of structural change and rebalancing. In the end, success or failure will hinge on the willingness of the Chinese leadership to confront the powerful vested interests resisting reform.
- Seeking to lower borrowing costs they say are excessively high thanks to the assessments of S&P Global Ratings, Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service, the group - which consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - aims to create a competitor with a different fee structure.

The creation of a ratings company that doesn't rely on revenue from clients who want their debt assessed "is actively under discussion", Yaduvendra Mathur, chairman of the Export-Import Bank of India, said.

The government-backed lender is part of a working group studying the feasibility of a new credit-assessment company before the next Brics summit due in October.

The biggest hurdle for a Brics credit-assessment company would be convincing US and European investors the ratings are assigned without government pressure. Critics of S&P, Fitch and Moody's say they are beholden to the companies they rate because their revenue comes from these clients.

"It will take a while for the Brics' credit ratings agency to acquire that sort of credibility," said Rajrishi Singhal, senior fellow for geoeconomics studies at Gateway House. "Investors will be watching very closely how they rate and what are the processes they have undertaken."

UK-based Fitch said the ratings of emerging markets were limited by a reliance on external funding, which often left them with less flexibility to address economic and political volatility.

"Any rating agency must establish a reputation for independence, and the management of conflicts of interest," said Daniel Noonan, a Fitch spokesman. 
- The Culture Ministry is ready to spend 1.9 million robles, or about $30,000 on the study.

The explanatory note goes on to explain that increasingly anti-Russian attitudes and the reactions that stem from them should be dealt with as a genuine threat to national security. It says that Russia’s enemies are targeting not only the Russian people, but also Russia’s history, traditions, and cultural heritage.

Those who enter the competition must present plans to achieve the following objectives: research the phenomenon of phobias in mass consciousness, determine the place of Russophobia within the system of various phobias known to the world, and systemize the internal Russian manifestations of this phenomenon. Researchers must also propose some practical plan to counter Russophobia both inside and outside the country.

The deadline for applications is July 25 of this year.

Russian officials and politicians often blame organized anti-Russian campaigns for waves of criticism and clearly biased media coverage of various events. However, in recent years some Western politicians and the common public have also pointed out that reports on Russia’s affairs are often prejudiced or simply rigged.

In particular, after the “Panama files” scandal broke early this year, many commentators noticed that the Western media put Russia and President Vladimir Putin at the top of the headlines, despite the fact that the leaked documents contained no mention of the Russian leader whatsoever, and insinuations that he had connections to shady offshore schemes were nothing but the suppositions of reporters.
- In his final set-piece speech of the campaign, Turnbull promised an end of "division for division's sake", saying the public wanted the Parliament to offload ideology, end the juvenile theatrics and "gotcha" moments and drop personality politics.

He is right, of course. Had he made the commitment earlier on, it would have invited some fascinating questions and answers. Would, for instance, it include a commitment to take the politics out of the asylum debate and seek a bipartisan consensus on an approach that reconciles compassion and responsibility with border security? Would it have averted his disagreement with Shorten on whether the question of a treaty should be debated along with constitutional recognition of the first Australians?

Such a commitment at the start of the campaign might have also constrained some of the more bellicose declarations from his immigration minister, Peter Dutton, who maintained on Thursday that  the terrorist atrocities in Paris, Brussels and Istanbul had elevated national security as an issue in this campaign.

The final thing to say about the "it will be easier to do after" remark is that it is predicated on Turnbull delivering a victory speech on Saturday night, and, more importantly, on that victory being a foundation for what he has sought: strong and stable government.

A narrow win, a dead heat that results in a hung Parliament, or the least likely outcome of a loss and everything suddenly becomes much, much more difficult.
- WASHINGTON — The US Air Force has awarded a set of contracts to progress its Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) forward.

General Electric Aviation and Pratt & Whitney each received a contract following their work on the previous development program. Both companies received contracts worth $1.01 billion, with a period of performance ending in Sept. 2021.

AETP seeks to revolutionize performance in engines used by the Air Force by adding a third stream of air inside the engine. The program’s goal is to “demonstrate 25 percent improved fuel efficiency, 10 percent increased thrust, and significantly improved thermal management,” according to an Air Force release.

It is expected that AETP will help drive requirements and capabilities for the service’s next-generation air dominance platform. It is possible that developments from AETP could pour back into the F135 engine design, produced by Pratt, which powers the F-35 joint strike fighter fleet.
- MOSCOW — Russia's Defense Ministry on Wednesday launched an unprecedented purge of senior leadership from Russia's ailing Baltic Sea Fleet following a month-long inquiry into the fleet's command staff under the charge of Vice Adm. Viktor Kravchuk and his chief of staff, Vice Adm. Sergei Popov.

In total, some 50 senior naval officers were dismissed from military service for “dereliction of duty,” according to a Defense Ministry statement.

According to the statement, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the Baltic command showed “serious shortcomings in the organization of combat training, daily activities of their forces, failure to take all necessary measures to improve personnel accommodations, inattention to their subordinates, and also distorted reports on the real state of affairs [in the fleet].”

The Baltic Fleet is the smallest and most neglected of Russia's four primary naval groupings, which include the Northern, Pacific and Black Sea Fleets. Despite a steady flow of funding dedicated to revitalizing the Baltic grouping in recent years, the fleet's performance under Kravchuk reportedly raised flags in the Defense Ministry, according to St. Petersburg news site Fontanka.ru.
- 1 July 2016 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed China’s decision to join the International Organization for Migration (IOM), saying that the country will make a “valuable contribution” to IOM.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General noted that the timing is “crucial” given the urgent needs of migrants and refugees.

The announcement comes just one day before IOM member states decided to join the United Nations system as a related organization.

“Today [30 June] has been a watershed moment in the life of this organization, which is celebrating its 65th year,” IOM Director General William Lacy Swing told a meeting of its Special Council in Geneva on Thursday, in which “Member States approved the motion by which IOM will join the United Nations system.”

“We expect to soon have a seat and a voice at the UN table and the UN will soon have a dedicated migration agency,” he added.

The UN Secretary-General is expected to receive the official notification soon. The decision will then be submitted to the UN General Assembly for approval. It is expected to enter into force, upon signature of the agreement, during a UN Summit on migrants and refugees on 19 September.
- China is now one of the precious few countries that knows how to refuel satellites in space. The nation's Tianyuan-1 system (launched aboard the Long March 7) has successfully topped up at least one satellite in orbit. Officials aren't describing the process beyond likening it to that for airplanes, but the result is clear: the refueling should help satellites stay in orbit for longer, or make adjustments that would otherwise be impractical.

Refuelling systems could become a non-event in a few years thanks to robotic spacecraft. However, there's a strong incentive to get this technology into space as quickly as possible. If you can keep a satellite in orbit for even a year or two longer, you can save massive amounts of money by reducing the number of vehicles you need to deploy. The move could also help with the fight against space junk by slowing the proliferation of dead or useless satellites. The ultimate goal is to completely avoid fuel in the first place, but efforts like China's represent an important first step.

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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...