sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

White Privilege and Micro-Aggression


My grandson, nearly two years old, is flexing his candy hauling muscles for the upcoming harvest from the neighbors.

There is the eternal push and pull to determine which grandkids I go trick-or-treating with. Or do I stay home and hand out treats?

And before you strike, yes, he is culturally appropriating the people who lived on the now blown up planet, Krypton. Get over it. It is just another micro aggression, emblematic of white privilege and birth into a heterosexual nuclear family, and a member of the bourgeoisie. Even though age nearly two, he is exhibiting characteristics of the middle class, typically with reference to its perceived materialistic values and conventional attitudes. 

He will take candy as if it is due him but he will say 'thank you'. 

He got rid of his onesies when he turned one, last year. Progressives never get that far. But you all know that. 

Trained vs Untrained, etc.

In the Czech Republic

St. Charles Bridge, Prague, CZ
There are parts of Europe that are waking up to the reality that only slaves are unarmed. Free people should be free to own firearms. It's not a new concept in Switzerland - not new at all. Switzerland ONLY remained free from the Nazis and others because every house in Switzerland has it's rifle/machine gun that can be used by a trained person.

The element of training is an important one. As drivers need training to operate motor vehicles, so do firearms operators need to be trained. Starting with universal training in public and private schools is a great way to get things going. It's a move that the USA needs to consider as well. Better trained than untrained.
The move challenges EU gun control rules which restrict civilians from owning certain weapons. Czech move to legalise firearm ownership: "We don't want to disarm our citizens at a time when the security situation in Europe is getting worse," "Show me a single terrorist attack in Europe perpetrated using a legally-owned weapon."
The 'progressive doctrine' of disarmament does not make people safer, as government would have you believe. It only makes them weaker and more vulnerable to predators.

And since we're talking Train

The South Korean government still hopes to build a high-speed rail line with North Korea that will link to the high-speed Chinese rail link across from Sinuiju.

The South Korean city Gwangmyeong will enter into a memorandum of understanding with the French national railway company, SNCF, for a railway project planned to connect North and South Korea to Europe, according to Yonhap News Agency. The proposed project would connect Gwangmyeong Station — a high-speed railway station just south of Seoul — with the North Korean border city Kaesong. Gwangmyeong has been strengthening ties with gateway cities in China, Russia and Mongolia that are on the Eurasian railway.

Railway projects linking North and South Korea were agreed at the 2000 summit between North Korean leader Kim Chong-il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, but never materialized. The highpoint of cooperation was under Kim Chong-il. China and Russia supported the various rail projects. Tracks were laid into the Demilitarized Zone, but leaders in the North invariably found reasons to not permit the rail systems to be linked. 

An upgrade of the North Korean west coast line to handle high speed traffic would significantly reduce the time and expense of moving goods from Japan to Europe. Even the lure of high transit fees has not been enough to overcome North Korea’s security concerns about a direct rail link with South Korea.

The threat of 'cultural pollution' in which the North Korean people become aware that the rest of the world doesn't live under the misery that they do is disconcerting to the dictator and his elites.

Then there's the Train Wreck

A new report indicated that things aren’t getting any better for NBC’s newest morning host, Megyn Kelly.
Page Six reports that last week, “viewership slipped from 0.77 ratings points on Monday to 0.54 ratings points on Tuesday of last week.” 
A source told Page Six, “It’s a possible all-time low for ‘Today.’ It may even be lower than her [Fox] cable show.”
Kelly’s new NBC morning show has suffered from awkward moments from the jump. Her first week, she told a gay fan of the show Will & Grace that his “‘gay thing’ is gonna work out great!”

I give Megyn a pass for her comment. But her homosexual viewers seem to be vindictive and venal.


I think that she's headed for the unemployment lines. It's amazing that she lasted this long at NBC.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Men and Women


Long before Salome petitioned Herod* to behead John the Baptist after dancing particularly well for him, there has been this push and pull between men and women.
* The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus relates in his Antiquities of the Jews that Herod killed John.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal is only the latest, and while many felt that the story would die naturally, and quickly, it has not. It's not unlike the late pop singer Michael Jackson paying parents of the children who he molested...the hits kept coming.

(Washington Times) She didn’t name names, but when Monica Lewinsky joined the viral online campaign against sexual harassment Sunday by retweeting #MeToo, the first person who came to mind was President Bill Clinton. 
Therein lies the problem for the Clintons with the Harvey Weinstein sexual-harassment scandal: It hits perilously close to home. 
Not only was Mr. Weinstein a political ally and a major donor to the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation, but his alleged sexual misconduct has refocused attention on Mr. Clinton’s own checkered past as the tide turns against powerful men who take advantage of women.
Ashley Judd proclaims that she's a
"nasty woman" and who can argue
the point?
To me, it was not the trade of money for sex** that Ashley Judd, Madonna and other women engaged in with Harvey that will get him. It will be the stories of the no-name women who were lured to Harvey by famous and powerful women (many who wore their pink cat hats with pride more recently in hatred of the President). If those come out and I think that they will, it will be a far darker saga both for Harvey and for the Clintons, who one would think could not sink lower than they already have.
** Prostitution is the act of illegally exchanging sexual services for money, or anything of monetary value, often times drugs. California Penal Code 647(b) states that it is illegal to engage in prostitution, to solicit prostitution, and to agree to engage in prostitution. Prostitution, a misdemeanor is punishable by a sentence of up to six months in a county jail, up to $1,000 in fines, or both. 
In order for a defendant to be prosecuted of engaging in an act of prostitution the prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did in fact engage in sexual intercourse or sexual services in the exchange of money. Engaging in prostitution can either mean the act of sexual intercourse or lewd acts; lewd acts include anything that is intended to deliberately arouse another.
The women who did not prostitute themselves, but were lured by Weinstein and raped are a different class of victim and the sentences which may be paned down are far more severe and could put Harvey in prison for the remainder of his life. That also applies to the famous women who engaged in a conspiracy to commit rape by luring young women to Weinstein.

Monday, October 16, 2017

FBI Corruption

SHOCKER - The FBI is Corrupt

No, I'm not shocked at all. Then again, while I have worked in concert with the FBI at times, the record will show that by in large, our relationship was acrimonious. A lot of that had to do with unethical conduct on the part of agents that was covered up by management.
On Monday, the FBI confirmed former Bureau Head James Comey personally drafted a statement exonerating Hillary Clinton months before interviewing her.
The FBI cares about its public image. This is the face of the current FBI. Like it, don't like it, doesn't matter. That's what it is. 


Thoughts on Distant Lands and Friends

It's difficult for me to care about Somalia. I'm sure that God cares. Though some say that it's the land that God forgot.

Suicide truck bomb kills at least 276 people

The worst suicide bombing attack in the history of the fight against Al Shaba’ab occurred in Mogadishu on 14 October. News services reported at least 300 people were injured. 

Back to the truck bombing in a moment, but there is a back story as to how and why I feel about Somalia as I do.

John S. is a good, close, personal friend of mine. We worked together in Greece and Italy. His story appeared in the Washington Post. He was shot three times with an AK-47 during the whole Blackhawk Down debacle. The CIA refused his claim for medical retirement, largely because they didn't want to acknowledge that they had case officers in Mogadishu...typical. They'd rather that he rot without a pension than confess that they had a CIA Station (such as it was - read the article) in Somalia.
"...There to meet him was his deputy, Spinelli, 46, a former New York City police detective. He was a solid man with dark hair and a long, thin nose, a native Roman who had immigrated to Brooklyn with his family when he was 12. Only a week before, Spinelli had been torn from a plum assignment in the CIA's Rome station and sent to Somalia. He knew nothing about Africa, but he spoke Italian, and the Italians in the U.N. peacekeeping force weren't getting along with their American counterparts. 
"When Spinelli took Jones to the CIA station, the new chief's jaw dropped: It consisted of two windblown rooms in the vandalized former residence of the U.S. ambassador. Only one room had a door. Spinelli told him they had no business being in the middle of this war zone, trying to meet secretly with agents in a city where they couldn't drive down the street without getting shot at."
Back to the truck bomb...

The truck driver passed through at least five check points without getting stopped and searched at the sixth check point near a hotel down the street from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the truck was stopped, but sped away and detonated before it could be searched. The truck exploded near a fuel tanker that also exploded.

This bombing occurred in the most densely populated area of Mogadishu. This blast attests to major security failings and to the existence of significant support for al-Shaba’ab. 

The last suicide car/truck bomb in Mogadishu killed 10 people in July. After a lull, terrorist groups regularly stage a sensational attack to demonstrate their continued vitality. 

Some 20,000 soldiers from the African Union serve as peacekeepers in Somalia. Security has improved, but this attack shows that Al Shaba’ab retains significant support in the countryside among some Somali clans.

And in North Korea

South Korean and US intelligence agencies have published warnings that North Korea is preparing more long-range ballistic missile launches. 

According to an official source on Friday, 13 October, a US satellite detected North Korean ballistic missiles mounted on transporter-launchers as they moved to areas near Pyongyang and in North Pyongan Province. 

North Korea can track US imaging satellites and is aware of their window of access to North Korea. North Koreans also are experts at concealment.

If imaging satellites detect missiles during movement, it is because the North Korean leadership wants them to be seen to send a message to its enemies. The message is that North Korean opposition to Allied exercises (which will soon begin) is serious and that North Korea can launch missiles with little warning.


Mish-Mash

Cruising Newport (CA) harbor in 90+ degree heat
in October...global warming or just the weather?
Hats

My daughter, Emilie, is not obsessed, but she does wear quite a few hats as part of her ensembles, or get-ups or whatever you want to call them. 

I'm clearly not the most stylish guy on the planet, preferring to wear ripstop cotton or blue denim to other more chique options.

She doesn't need a hat...I've tried to tell her that. 

Of all my daughters, she's the most prone to making fashion statements. Maybe it's because she's the youngest, and still single.

Holding an HK Offensive handgun, which is
too much pistol for her.
Being in paramedic school, I thought that she'd calm down a bit with the whole passion for fashion/thing for bling motif. No, not hardly.

She told me that I destroyed her capacity to be politically correct, anti-gun and all of the progressive proclivities. At least I might have done something right.

But I don't get the hat thing.

Nuclear Iran

The problem with Iran producing nuclear weapons of its own revolves around their promise to use them to wipe out Israel. It's like a person with turrets syndrome.  They can't help but announce the they wish to wipe out (first) Israel and then (second) the United States.  And they are building the launch capacity to accomplish those goals.

Dominoes
They seem mystified when the US (under President Trump) and Israel refuse to come lowing to the knacker for destruction. That may be because President Obama had a different agenda. Then again, he closest and longest serving senior political advisor (Valerie Jarrett) was born in Iran and maintained a close affinity to the world of the not quite right.

Jarrett worked hard to convince her boss that steers can sign meaningful treaties with meat packers.

Naturally, the light-bringer bought it hook, line and sinker.

The worm has turned in terms of the US approach to the world and it's for the better. Ask ISIS - but you can't. Their homeland has been wiped out. No, you won't hear that on the corrupt, smug, lying, elite mainstream media.

Is your Halloween Costume P/C?

I'm guessing that it's not because a Halloween costume, by definition, reflects cultural appropriation. My granddaughters are going as: zombie (age 8), cheerleader (she's 5, she's never been an actual cheerleader) and a bee (age 1). It's the same story with the five grandsons. I can't find the white wolf mask that a friend sent me last year. It's packed somewhere, thus I will go as a grandpa, which reflects no cultural appropriation at all. I'm feeling very superior in that hard fought decision. 

h/t LSP
However if I was a younger version of myself, I might go as a negro in 'black face', Indian, wearing a Vietnamese coolie hat, and I'd drive to some Hollywood neighborhood to beg for candy. I'd have a girlfriend in tow (heterosexuality is not cultural appropriation when you are one) dressed as a witch to show the witches and satanists in Sin City that my heart is really in the right place...


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Geopolitical Observations

Cholera in Yemen

"War is Hell" - W. T. Sherman

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the cholera epidemic in Yemen has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern history.

The WHO has reported more than 815,000 suspected cases of the disease in Yemen and 2,156 deaths. It expects a million cases by the end of the year and at least 600,000 children likely to be affected.  About 4,000 suspected cases are being reported daily, more than half of which are among children under 18. Children under five account for a quarter of all cases. 

WHO commented that the spread of the outbreak, which has quickly surpassed Haiti as the biggest since modern records began in 1949, has been exacerbated by hunger and malnutrition. There were 815,000 cases of cholera in Haiti between 2010 and 2017. Yemen has exceeded that number in just six months.

This is arguably the worst effect of a stalemated and increasingly pointless conflict in one of the poorest countries in the world. 

Iraqi Kurdistan

On 12 October, Kurdish forces in Iraq installed barriers to block the two main roads that connect Irbil and Dohuk with Mosul. They reopened the roads after a few hours later. According to a Kurdish military official, the closure "was prompted by fears of a possible attack by Iraqi forces" on disputed areas held by Kurdish forces outside the Kurdistan Region. 

Two days ago Kurdish officials began to react to reports that Iraq was sending Iraq army units and Shiite militia to seize areas that the Kurds liberated from the Islamic State. In those reports, Kirkuk was the supposed government target.

Prime Minister Abadi denied any intention to attack Kurdish forces, but tension has remained high and distrust runs deep.

The action taken by the Kurds near Mosul looks deliberate because it sends the message that the Kurds are aware of the leverage they have gained by liberating territory from the Islamic State. It enables them to bargain over territory, if the situation deteriorates and Iraqi forces threaten Kirkuk. 

Turkey in Syria

Turkey's mission in Syria is to kill Kurds. Let there be no mistake about their intentions or their goals. Make of that what you will. The first Turkish Army convoy crossed into Syria on 12 October. The convoy included about 30 military vehicles, according to a commander in a Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group based in the area. The Turks entered via the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.
A Free Syrian Army officer told the press, “The Turkish army convoy is entering under the protection of Tahrir al-Sham to take positions on the front line with the YPG (Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units).” (Note: Tahrir al-Sham is the name of the coalition led by the former al-Qaida associate, the al-Nusra Front.)
Turkey’s Anadolu press service published images of Turkish Army vehicles near the border crossing, but still in Turkey at the time.

The Turks have made deals with the al-Nusra Front to permit Turkish soldiers to enter Syria without resistance. Several open source reporters confirmed that the Turks entered without a fight. Apparently, the Turkish proxy forces, the Free Syrian Army, did not have permission to pass and had to fight their way in earlier this week.

Open sources have not reported about the arrangements the Turks have made have with the still-undefeated rebel coalition based in Idlib. However, the public collusion between the Turkish Army and the al-Nusra Front has negative implications for the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds and portends a possible prolongation of the civil war.

For one thing, Idlib remains the strongest base for rebel forces determined to overthrow the Assad government. It contains thousands of rebel fighters relocated from other areas of Syria and their families. They have not been defeated and have not surrendered.

The al Nusra Front consistently has refused to join the Russian de-escalation zone arrangement and refused to agree to a ceasefire. Its refusals raise questions about the arrangements the Turks have made because Turkish President Erdogan also remains determined to overthrow the Assad government if another opportunity arises.

The effect of Turkish actions is to create and protect an entire Syrian province as an armed preserve for anti-government forces. 

The Turkish action also ensures that the Syrian Kurds will remain under threat from Turkish Army forces in Turkey and in Syria. One local witness said that Turkish forces have occupied a hill that overlooks the Syrian Kurdish town of Afrin. President Erdogan has not abandoned plans for a “Euphrates Sword” operation against the Syrian Kurds in Afrin. Turkish Army units have now outflanked the Kurds in that town.

Erdogan finally has a position in Syria from which he can pursue his goals of overthrowing the Assad government and containing the Syrian Kurds, under the umbrella of the Russian de-escalation arrangement. 

The Russians and the Iranians have not yet commented on Turkish movements, but both consider the al-Nusra Front and its coalition partners to be targets. With al Nusra Front cooperating with the Turks, it is impossible to determine who the enemy is.  Even if you have a spread sheet with pictures, you simply can't tell. 

Palestinian Authority

Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal on 12 October. Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza to the Palestinian national unity government.
“We in Hamas are determined and are serious this time and just like all other times...We have dissolved the administrative committee (shadow government) ...We have opened the door to reaching this reconciliation,” Saleh Arouri, the head of Hamas negotiators in Cairo, said after the signing ceremony. 
Hamas also agreed to surrender to the presidential guards of the Palestinian Authority control of the Rafah border crossing. 

Multiple commentators observed that this agreement is the most promising made between Fatah and Hamas, but it is still fragile. Placing control of the Rafah border crossing under the Palestinian Authority might be its most important provision because that might persuade Egypt and Israel to allow goods and services to enter the Gaza Strip in order to alleviate the poor economic conditions.

The agreement does not address Hamas’ positions on refusing to recognize Israel, possessing weapons and armed resistance. The negotiators said the agreement will be implemented in stages. More talks are certain to take place.

The reaction of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) which is notorious for firing rockets into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip during ceasefires, has not been reported.

Nothing in this agreement creates conditions or improves prospects for a broader peace settlement. 

Israel opposes the reconciliation deal. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Israel is opposed to any form of reconciliation in which the terrorist organization of Hamas does not disarm and does not stop fighting for the destruction of Israel.” 

He said Israel will never accept Hamas’ determination to destroy Israel and will not deal with an organization that “advocates genocide” and launches “thousands” of rockets and tunnel incursions into Israel.

The end of the Syrian civil war with an enhanced position for Iran, the return of Lebanese Hizballah forces to Lebanon and a durable Palestinian reconciliation add to a negative shift in Israel’s strategic environment and increases the likelihood of more instability.

A positive dimension to the agreement is Egypt’s role. Egypt, and, thus, the Saudis, have replaced Iran as backers of Hamas. Hamas is back in the Arab fold. The Egyptian role is an indicator that multiple powerful interests have helped Egypt create incentives and conditions for the Palestinians to make progress.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Freaky Friday-the-Thirteenth

Yes, they are on Sale



It is a politically correct onesie that your or your student (son/daughter) can wear at university while drinking $11.00 coffees & bad-mouthing the President or running to their safe spaces to sip coco. I hear that they're blowing off the shelves in Berkeley and Harvard. Maybe a Christmas gift to your liberal friends or relatives? What could possibly be more cherished?

It's an insult to Dear Leader to wear them as Halloween Rocketman costumes...but there's no law against it

Disgraced Hollywood mogul and Clinton friend/idol.
And while I'm on the topic of bizarre clothing, the new Harvey Weinstein fat suits are all the rage for Halloween. Hollywood directors will be wearing them on 10/31 in the high hopes of obtaining sex from the little children out trick-or-treating. 

The ORIGINAL Harvey is hanging out at a chateau in France (or a fat farm in Arizona), undergoing 'treatment' for his sexual addiction that is being administered by maids in fetish outfits.


Conjoined twins, separated at birth
Trick-or-Treat?

There has been yet another in an endless stream of rants from North Korea. This time, given by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, speaking to the Russian news agency, TASS. Ri quoted Kim Jong Un who said that North Korea’s strategic forces … will not let America, an aggressor state, go unpunished. Ri depicted North Korea’s nuclear program in eschatological terms.
“Now it is the United States’ turn to pay, and all of our military servicemen and our entire people insistently demand that final scores be settled with the Americans only with a hail of fire, and not with words.”

“We have nearly achieved the final point on the way to our ultimate goal, to achieving a real balance of force with the United States. Our nuclear weapons will never be a subject matter of negotiations as long as the United States’ policy of pressure on the DPRK has not been uprooted once and for all.”
Popular Halloween costume in the US. In North Korea
wearing it would bring a death sentence, instead of the
reward of a hand full of candy at each house visited.
Ri said, in effect, that there can only be talks with the US after America (and President Trump) surrender to the 'peace loving' Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), and after the Americans pay SUBSTANTIAL reparations to North Korea. 

The Esteemed Supreme Dear Leader said once again, ..."that it is a sacramental sword of justice, which allows for banishing the dark clouds of nuclear tyranny and ensuring an independent life of the whole of humanity under clear blue skies.”

Ri is well known to US diplomats and negotiators. He is courtly, soft-spoken and glib, speaking idiomatic American English. His recent rants against the US at the UN General Assembly session are judged to be out of character by those in the West and Australia who know him. 
On 7 October, Ri was promoted to full membership in the Politburo. That is a testament to his Party and family credentials plus a personal relationship with Kim Jong Un. One implication of his prominence is that there is almost no chance of misunderstanding because of translation problems from American English to Korean when the US makes statements about North Korea. Another implication is that the messages are going directly to Kim Jong UN. A third is that Ri is Kim’s personal envoy and spokesman.
Halloween costume
Mandarins in US intelligence circles are predicting that the next missile launch will demonstrate that North Korean missiles can reach cities on the US West Coast. They will not be aimed at the West Coast, but it's a ranging issue - and will demonstrate capacity.

Ri’s remarks to TASS were elegantly phrased pretense and exaggeration. North Korea is not a victim, except of its own mismanagement and the Faustian bargain between the army and the Kim family. Kim can rule so long as he buys army loyalty. It does not want to be just left alone to develop in peace and security. Kim wants to conquer South Korea and exceed the achievements of his father and grandfather.

North Korea is threatened because it threatens aggression against South Korea. No nations look to North Korea for protection or justice. North Korea cannot achieve a balance of force against the US. If Ri is Kim’s personal spokesman, then Kim is delusional...which may be a shock to this blog's readers.

China

The 19th Party Congress will convene in Beijing on 18 October. President Xi Jinping is expected to be re-elected to serve until 2022. Xi’s achievements, policies and the progress towards his “China Dream” of a moderately prosperous society by 2021 will be featured in leadership reports. 

The continuing North Korean nuclear and missile confrontation is probably the most important failure in Xi’s leadership record during the past five years. It is the most unstable hotspot in Asia and it directly affects China’s strategic, security and economic interests. 

North Korean nuclear and missile tests have damaged Chinese security interests in the past year by causing a strengthening of the US-South Korea-Japan alliance structure and by inducing South Korea to accept the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. President Xi and his cohorts have been unable to reduce tension and restore stability or otherwise handle the Korean problem. Chinese party leaders have been advising and instructing their North Korean counterparts to refrain from any action that would detract from President Xi’s Congress.

Saudi Arabia (and Russia)

Another Russian mediation initiative. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said his country is ready to establish dialogue or organize bilateral contacts between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Iran cut diplomatic ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran in response to the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has not commented on this Iranian news report. Prior to King Salman’s visit to Moscow, a Russian mediation offer had no chance of acceptance by Saudi Arabia. The timing of this initiative -- so soon after King Salman’s visit -- suggests exchanges during Salman’s visit encouraged the Russian Foreign Ministry to extend its good offices. 

Since the military intervention in Syria in September 2015, the Russia Foreign Ministry has been pro-active in consolidating relations with its Asian neighbors. In addition to the new Saudi initiatives and the Syrian intervention, Russia has improved ties with Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, longstanding US allies. It also has joined China in President Xi Jinping’s proposal for reducing tension on the Korean Peninsula. 

It already has good ties with Iran and India and maintains contact with North Korea. Under Foreign Minister Lavrov, Russia has stabilized its southern flank and the Far East at relatively little cost, except for Syria. It also has emerged as and has regained the stature of a world leader. 

Every advance in Russian interests has been at US expense. Russia is running a bluff most of the time because its resources are limited by low oil prices. Lavrov has leveraged those resources masterfully.

A Seismic Event in North Korea

The US Geological Survey reported that it detected a 2.9 magnitude earthquake near the North Korean nuclear testing site on 12 October.
“This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean nuclear tests. The event has earthquake-like characteristics; however, we cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event. The depth is poorly constrained and has been held to 5 km by the seismologist.” 
The event occurred 5 km deep and 23 km northwest of the test complex at Punggye-ri. Contacts with analysts indicate that there is no certainty the event is related to a nuclear test, but reported that it shared characteristics of past tests. 

One suggestion is that it was a failed nuclear test. Another is that the event is related to tunnel digging. A third is that it reflects a delayed collapse of a tunnel from the last test.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

Do androids really dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick's original novel) Trailer
[from trailer] Every civilization was built on the back of a disposable workforce, but I can only make so many.
If you never saw nor enjoyed the original Blade Runner, I don't know what your take on this sequel will be. The film is visually stunning, but that may not be enough to hold your interest.

The concept of the film revolves around the production of 'replicants', androids that are built on human DNA and are designed for off-world labor where the replicant humans die creating new worlds instead of risking human life. As with the original Blade Runner, this sequel takes place on Earth. 

The action plays out 30 years after “blade runner” Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) gave up chasing down androids and fell in love with one instead. Through this dystopian swamp, Ryan Gosling’s “K” walks in Deckard’s footsteps, tracking down wayward androids and “retiring” them. “How does it feel?” asks Dave Bautista’s Sapper Morton, taunting this deadpan hunter that he can only do his job because he’s “never seen a miracle” – an enigmatic phrase that will haunt K (and us) as he attempts to unravel its meaning.

After years of being an unflappable killer, the “Constant K” is experiencing doubts about his job, his memories and his nature. “I never retired something that was born,” he tells Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright), musing that “to be born is to have a soul”. Joshi is unimpressed, insisting that in this line of work, you can get along fine without one.
Such existential anxieties are at the heart of the film, which has the confidence to proceed at a sedately edited pace utterly at odds with today’s rapid-fire blockbusters. Mirroring and inverting the key themes of its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 swaps unicorns for wooden horses while retaining the visual grandeur that fired Scott’s film. From vast landscapes of grey rooftops and reflectors, through the rusted shells of post-industrial shelters, to the burned-ochre glow of radioactive wastelands, cinematographer the movie conjures a twilight world that seems to go on for ever. Bright candy colours are restricted to the artificial lights of advertising and entertainment. 
I like a plot that is difficult to read at first, that is revealed as the movie marches forward. This, to me, is the strength of Blade Runner 2049. I'm not going to engage in spoilers here because part of the fun of this movie is peeling the onion. As the layers come off, the revelations unfold right up to the last five minutes of the show.

Should you see it/will you enjoy it?

I suggest that you watch the original Blade Runner first if you haven't seen it in a long time because so much of this film draws itself from the original. 

If you don't enjoy science fiction, you won't like the movie. It is genre specific.

I personally enjoyed it. It's a long movie, but it held my interest even though the pace is slower than in the block busters that the movie going public has become accustomed to. Savoring the moment and trying to work on the plot and what is actually happening is important to enjoying the film.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Random Thoughts

A Viking Dog's Life

Being a dog under normal circumstances in the present is like being a small child that never grows up. Or if you live in Korea, you'll end up the main course in a BBQ meal. (different cultures, different customs)

However, if you were a Viking Dog, you fought in the shield wall and were turned loose on the enemy and tear them up with your fangs. (not unlike LSP's dog, Blue Avenger, who did that to the FEDEX man and was put into dog custody)

When your master died, you were dispatched to take out his enemies on the 'other side'.
Viking Dogs Followed Their Masters to Valhalla - Large amounts of animal bones have been found in Viking Age ship graves. For example, there were eight large sighthounds (Old Norse: mjór) buried on both sides outside the ship In the Gokstad burial mound (c. 900 AD). A small lapdog was also buried inside the longship. 
For some reason it would seem to me that a Viking Dog had a more meaningful life than most dogs these days. (to swipe a quote from Hollywood) Their masters crushed their enemies, saw them driven before their army, and heard the lamentation of the women. (sigh) Those days are gone for man and beast.

Freedom of Navigation

On 10 October, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG-90) conducted a freedom of navigation operation in international waters near the Paracel Islands. 

The news reports did not name the islands near which the US ship passed. This was the eighth such operation since October 2015 to challenge excessive Chinese maritime claims. It was the fourth during President Trump’s administration.

The last freedom of navigation operation was in August in the Spratly Islands. The last operation near the Paracels was in July near Triton Island.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not comment on this operation at the daily press session. Maybe China feels confident enough in their ownership of the South China Sea that they're not thumping their chests because an "imperialist warship" is exercising the right of innocent passage on 'their ocean'. It takes a lot of balls to claim an entire ocean. It's not as if they weren't fishing the place out already.

Syria Update

The Syrian Arab Army claimed to have made significant advances in Deir ez-Zor, after launching a large-scale assault inside the provincial capital. Supported by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army stormed the Islamic State’s positions and captured most of al-Arfi neighborhood. 

Russian military spokesman Major General Konashenkov said Russian aerospace forces flew 180 missions in the prior 24 hours. One Russian Su-24 crashed on takeoff.

West of Idlib, Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army forces reported heavy fighting and stiff resistance by the al-Nusra Front -led rebel coalition.

If you find it difficult telling the players apart, imagine if you were there on the ground...since a lot of these people turn-coat or are paid by different hosts (Turks, Russians, Americans, ISIS, Saudi/Al Qaeda, etc.) at the same time.

Multiple news services reported that Islamic State fighters are fleeing Deir ez-Zor by trying to cross the Euphrates River. Deir ez-Zor city is located on the west bank of the river. US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces had been located on the east bank of the river. The river was the informal boundary between the Syrian forces and US-backed fighters.

One thing is certain: War is a racket. That means that when this current war against ISIS is over, there will be another war. The military industrial complex demands it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Checking In


The Columbus Day festivities are over (sigh), and the empty pizza boxes are headed for the landfill. And while you all sit in the lap of luxury, I'm south of the Border, making the world safe for democracy. No need to thank me verbally, just send US currency (large denominations are fine) or gold. I'll accept silver bullion if you prefer. 

While I'm on the road, I leave you with a few observations.

Yet another California Landmark

California health care workers who “willfully and repeatedly” decline to use a senior transgender patient's “preferred name or pronouns” could face punishments ranging from a fine to jail time under a newly signed law. 

I can't think of a worse fate than being thrown into a rest home that smells of chlorine bleach and shit while I'm waiting to die.

And you know that I would NOT relinquish firearms without a gunfight. Better to inject me and leave to croak quickly.

However, this new law brings hope. The care workers would be forced to call me "Ming the Merciless" or "Your Majesty" since those are preferred names of mine. There is a long list, but this would be a place to start.
(Fox News) "It shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status."Among the unlawful actions are “willfully and repeatedly” failing to use a transgender person’s “preferred name or pronouns” after he or she is “clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns.”
The law states that if provisions are violated, the violator could be punished by a fine “not to exceed one thousand dollars” or “by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed one year,” or both.
I'd be a terror in a rest home. I have tradecraft skills that would amaze and dazzle the staff. It's remarkable how many different types of poison gas and bombs one can construct from cleaning supplies. And you know that I'd have old friends smuggle in ricin resin.  Best kill me first.

Firestorms

h/t Brig
The Western US has burned badly this past summer and has only underscored my plans to make the White Wolf Mine project (located in a ponderosa pine forrest) as fireproof as possible. I'm also putting in a fire suppression system that runs on a second well with a large capacity tank, designed and prepared for that very purpose. I understand that it won't stop a firestorm, but we get a lot of lightning strikes on the tall trees in the summer and I want the capacity to put out the fire quickly. I'm not saying that the system is cheap. But I think that it's necessary.  I'll run some fire mains that I can connect hose to.

The notion of a log home, while cool, and understanding that logs themselves tend to be fire-resistant, bothers me.

I have a lot of work ahead, clearing the pines, pinions, junipers and the oaks up to 5' off the ground and abating brush to the extend possible. That and the fire suppression system may save my place? Maybe. Eternal vigilance and preparation are the cornerstones of my philosophy...against fire, foes and famine.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Celebrating the Conquest

Happy Columbus Day

It's a day to celebrate the discovery of the New World if you're a regular person doing the regular thing. If you're Italian, you have the right to go semi-crazy (in much the same way as the Irish do on St. Patrick's Day) -- but you don't have green beer, and more's the pity.

If you're angry at everyone and everything it's the perfect day for a protest of whatever irks you - the discovery of the New World, Islamophobia, and a lot of trigger words that it may be politically incorrect if I use because they --- trigger you.

The Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were not racially integrated ships, and that is enough to make your heart flutter with rage, isn't it?

The Mandalay Bay Shooter may have gone insane because he wasn't Italian and always wanted to be. Or maybe he always wanted to be a cowboy growing up and the other kids made him an Indian/Indigenous Person? Fashion standards of the 1490's called for all men to wear tights, which would have pleased the trannies. Why doesn't Bruce Genner and friends come out in support for Columbus?

Maybe none of the items mentioned above have triggered liberals to hate Columbus, progressives blame everyone including the Cat-in-the-Hat. Maybe the progressives will host a book burning of all the books they don't like? Sort of a Fahrenheit 451 party (good any day but why not Columbus Day!
Maybe all of the Democrat hopefuls could go running through the Library of Congress with torches? Biden is getting old and so is Pelosi. They could drive those motorized carts.
We know that upon reaching the West Indies, Columbus and crew landed and the first thing that they did was to pray. That's not a very progressive thing to do, but they did it anyway. They thanked God for a safe journey over the great deep. Some people view the day as a day of thanksgiving (sort of a pre-Thanksgiving). Others in the US Federal Government take the day off work as possibly the last long weekend before the weather gets really rough in winter. I may cook spaghetti because Colombus' fellow explorers brought back the tomato from the New World - an essential ingredient in both spaghetti, the BLT sandwich and pizza. (heap cheese on the pizza and spaghetti, but not your BLT)

There will be Columbus Day Parades in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia (City of Brotherly Love). I can only hope that the progressives stay home and don't shoot up any of the parades. 

However you celebrate or protest, 
I hope you have a nice day.

If the Feds have taken the day off
so should you!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday Sermonette

Life is full of Choices. The Colts didn't disrespect the nation but the 49ers, did. (They're a San Francisco team from a sanctuary state. It's what they do.) Vice President Pence, his wife and his Secret Service detail left the game.
Washington Times Vice President Mike Pence walked out of Sunday’s NFL game in Indianapolis after several San Francisco 49ers players took a knee during the national anthem. 
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Pence said in a tweet that, “I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.” 
“At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem.” 
The former Indiana governor, Mr. Pence added, “I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.”
I applaud Vice President Pence for his integrity and for sticking to his values.


You'll note that everyone stood for the National Anthem except for a few a few multi-millionaires from San Francisco.

Life offers us only two things - time and the choice of how to spend it.

Choose Wisely

Friday, October 6, 2017

Progress Against ISIS - And AFRICOM Losses

Syria

Pro-Syrian press sources said on 4 October that the Syrian army and its allies reported on 4 October that they drove Islamic State fighters from their last positions in the central province of Hama after heavy fighting. 
The pro-Syrian government newspaper, Al-Watan, reported that "the army has taken complete control of eastern Hama province."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the Islamic State was no longer present anywhere in the province for the first time in three years. The monitor said more than 400 Islamic State fighters and nearly 190 Syrian soldiers and allied militiamen died in the Hama campaign against the Islamic State. 

If you haven't heard about this on corrupt, lying, smug mainstream media news, I'm not at all surprised.

As Syrian and allied forces expand the area under Syrian government control, the government’s positions in talks are getting more rigid and its willingness to compromise is decreasing.

Russians in Syria

The Russian government wants the US to coordinate its actions in Syria with the Syrian army and the Russian air force.
"We would like the US and the coalition it leads to feel free to coordinate its operations with the Syrian army and the Russian aerospace group," Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said on 4 October at an international conference of heads of secret and security services and law enforcement agencies.  
"It is necessary to ensure the coalition should fight not only against ISIL, but also against Jabhat al-Nusra, which for some reason remained untouchable back under the Obama administration." 
Lavrov said Russian President Putin’s initiative for creating a wide anti-terrorist front with the UN playing the central, coordinating role was still relevant. 

The Russians also are manifesting increased impatience with the US and the UN as the final defeat of the Islamic State nears. Foreign Minister Lavrov’s appeal for coordination by the US seems to contrast sharply with statements by the defense ministry’s spokesman, quoted below. 
On 3 October, the Syrian Foreign Ministry sent two letters to the Secretary General and the President of the Security Council, criticizing the international community’s silence towards the “US atrocities.” Syria called on the UNSC “to do its job” and halt the US-led coalition’s airstrikes in Syria.
This is a reaction to the death of 12 civilians in a US air strike. Syria has labeled the US military presence in Syria as illegal and has periodically called for international intervention to halt US air attacks that caused civilian casualties. It has petitioned the UN and the so-called international community to restrain the US in May 2017, after 35 Syrian civilians died in an air strike.

The Assad government senses that the US wants to limit the Syrian victory in the civil war. The Russians are encouraging that assessment.

The spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry, Major-General Konashenkov said on 4 October that attacks launched by the Islamic State in Syria on Syrian government forces had come from the area around the locality of al-Tanf. Al Tanf is the location near the Jordanian border where a US military mission was located. 
Konashenkov, said in a statement the attackers had the precise coordinates of the Syrian government forces, which could only have been obtained through aerial reconnaissance. “If the US views such operations as unforeseen ‘coincidences,’ then the Russian air force in Syria is prepared to begin the complete destruction of all such ‘coincidences’ in the zones under their control,” “The main obstacle to completing the defeat of ISIL in Syria is not the military capability of the terrorists but the support for them, and flirtation with them, by the US.” 
The Russians continue to insist that the US is trying to undermine the Syrian government, in addition to defeating the Islamic State. They perceive linkage in efforts to block Iranian activities in Syria with the overthrow of the Syrian government because of the critical support Iran has given to enable the survival of the Assad government

This is at least the third time a Russian defense spokesman accused the US of supporting Islamic State fighters. The Russians have never been persuaded that the opposition included moderate and extreme groups, which the US argued for six years. 

Unless a group has signed a ceasefire agreement, Russia considers all anti-government fighting groups to be enemies. As government control has expanded, Russian willingness to differentiate among non-signatory anti-government groups has diminished. 

The Russian accusations have not been effectively refuted. Konashenkov’s language contains a threat of Russian air attacks against US-supported rebel groups at al-Tanf.

Kurdistan

Rudaw reported on 5 October that following his visit to Tehran, Turkish President Erdogan said that Iran, Iraq and Turkey are unified against the Kurdistan Region and will form a tripartite mechanism to decide whether to shut down the region's oil exports.
Erdogan might be out in front of his counterparts. Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi and Iranian President Rouhani have not made statements as forward-leaning as has Erdogan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against any action to limit oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan. He said that Russia had good ties with Kurdish people in northern Iraq and advised that the controversy about the Kurdish region should be solved through discussions.

One week before the Kurdish independence referendum, the Russian company Rosneft agreed to build a $1 billion pipeline to the region.

Russia has significant leverage with Turkey and Iran stemming from Russian intervention in Syria and from arms sales, such as the S400 air defense system to Iran and Turkey. President Putin’s opposition to an oil cutoff from Kurdistan should moderate Turkish President Erdogan’s compulsion to punish the Iraqi Kurds.

Niger

As has been mentioned before on this blog, France derives 80% of its domestic power from nuclear energy. The source of French uranium is primarily in Niger. This gave impetus to President Obama's Africa First policy and the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) acted to support our French allies in the region by building a (no-so-secret) air base and sending troops to prop up the Niger Government.

On 5 October, AFRICOm confirmed that a joint patrol of eight to 10 US and Nigerien soldiers came under fire in the southwestern part of the country near the Mali border. The Command said the patrol was a training mission, not a combat mission. Make of that what you will.

Unidentified US officials said that three US Special Forces soldiers were killed and two were wounded. Officials from Niger said that five Nigerien soldiers also were killed.

French Foreign Legion
This tragedy is a failure of intelligence and operational security at least. These are the first US casualties in Niger since 2013 and the first confirmation that the US definition of training and advising Nigerien forces includes conducting joint patrols in a zone known to be infested with terrorists from Mali. (see our blog from Oct 4. on Mali)

Open source reports lack precision as to specific locations. However, in general terms, they indicated four years ago that the militants and terrorists whom the French did not kill in Operation Serval fled to eastern Mali. The border region with Niger along the Niger River specifically was identified as a refuge. Niger sent extra soldiers north from Niamey to try to prevent terrorists from crossing the border from Mali. 

Security has not improved since the French operation ended and most of the French forces departed in 2013. Because the US maintains an air base, the US remained and USSF/green berets took over from the French Foreign Legion (who also wear green berets).

Operation Serval was one of those military opportunities to send MANY different units to Mali for training in a 'real-world' combat environment. It worked for the French. It wasn't unlike the Russian opportunity in Syria to give its army some genuine trigger time.

The US Africa Command, prudently, is disclosing little information about the ambush. Its explanation for this loss of life should prove instructive.

My sense is that if the French want to keep the uranium flowing in Niger, they should up the ante and send troops back into the country. US treasure and blood serves very little purpose there (but it hosts a cool base for Predator and Reaper drones).

The French found that while Operation Serval was a useful training evolution and officers received medals, it was expensive. Better to let the US bare the yoke? Maybe it's become a tradition?


Thursday, October 5, 2017

NAFTA and Mexican Politics

NAFTA Negotiations

Round one of the NAFTA negations finished in August and round two began on September 1. Round two (which took place in Canada over 5 days) has ended and there will be more talks.

The media reported that the US wants to end NAFTA, but that's not true. The US has only stated that it wishes to renegotiate for a better and fairer deal.

NAFTA, which came into force in 1994, created what is now the world’s biggest free-trade bloc. The US contends that Mexico benefited at the expense of the US. As proof, the Trump administration has pointed to the trade deficit, with Americans buying more goods and services from Mexico and Canada than vice versa. Economists (who can't agree on anything) offer mixed and often worthless or even harmful opinions on what the trade deficit means. Conservative Americans prefer a balanced trade program.
NOTE: Illegal narcotics are not included in the trade deficit, but I contend that they should be since many/most Mexican officials are either partly or wholly owned by drug cartels - based on reports from reliable sources.
Canada wants NAFTA to include 'rights for Indians'. I am not sure how that plays in trade, but the First Nation people in Canada are a big lobby.



Three issues have come to the fore.

• Rules of origin

Right now, for example, a car assembled in Mexico is not subject to an import tax if a certain percentage of the vehicle was made in North America. The Trump administration wants to increase that figure, a move that is supported by the biggest automobile union in the United States. Carmakers, however, are wary, saying that such a move could raise their costs.

• Arbitration

Under NAFTA, companies in North America can use a system of independent arbitration to force a country to do away with measures that violate the trade deal. The system has been used mostly by Canadian and Mexican companies against the United States, and the White House wants to overhaul it.

• Modernization

One area in which the countries seem to agree is the need to modernize NAFTA, which predates the ubiquitousness of the internet. While the sides’ positions differ, updates could address e-commerce and newer workplace and environmental rules.
Mexican Politics
Mexico is scheduled to hold presidential elections next July. And a new deal may be tough to sell to the country’s politicians as they gear up for the campaign.

Partido Acción Nacional, PAN, is a center/right party and they don't have a prayer of winning.

Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI, is a left-leaning party, which has dominated Mexican politics for the past year and currently controls the Chamber of Deputies and the Presidency.

Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD is a leftist party which did surprisingly well in the last election and may do well in the one upcoming.

Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional, MORENA, is not communist in name, but if you read what they write, you'd think that they are. If the election was held today, MORENA would win. That says a lot for where Mexico is headed. MORENA began in 2014 and has a lot of support among the masses. The labor unions are shifting support from PRI to MORENA and that means a lot more in Mexico than it does in the US.

MORENA is likely to make a very big deal about any failure by PRI to get a good deal in the NAFTA renegotiation. This puts added pressure on the powers that be in Mexico. 
Based on sources of my own, most of the government leadership is anticipating that they will be forced to leave office after the next election.
The peso is in bad shape, the Mexican economy is limping along, drug cartel violence is unrestrained, corruption is endemic, and the Mexican people feel that the US is demeaning them.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mexico Tourism


This news is two weeks old so it's not really news anymore. I'm using the story to set up a point.

Carlos Muñoz Portal, age 37, was an experienced location scout for various film productions including “Sicario,” “Spectre,” “Fast & Furious” and “Apocalypto.”


He was scouting in Mexico for the fourth season of the Netflix series, "Narcos". 
Muñoz’s bullet-riddled body and car were found in a remote area  on a rustic road in San Bartolo, Actopan, near the borders of Hidalgo state, which is said to have the highest murder rate in Mexico. In July, 182 cases of homicide were reported in the densely populated state, a ratio of 12.2 for every 100,000 inhabitants.
Netflix issued the following statement: “We are aware of the passing of Carlos Muñoz Portal, a well-respected location scout, and send our condolences to his family. 

Muñoz’s murder raises doubts on whether the production will continue in Mexico or move back to Colombia where it began. Such a decision would imperil hundreds of jobs that the series’ production would have generated in Mexico.

Various leading narcos have what I refer to as 'black sites' (because no crime takes place there) where those people can hang out safely from the police, and the competition. All roads in and out are watched by halcones (falcons), who report suspicious movement. Enter Muñoz, who was running around taking photos.

And the narcos shot him to pieces. 

THIS is a lesson for tourists to Mexico. The country is controlled by cartels and Mexican journalists and spies (same thing) are slaughtered with disturbing regularity. Tourists look very much like a location scout, photographing points of interest. 

I'm repeatedly reassured by people who travel to Mexico that it's perfectly safe. That's simply not true. You could also make the case that attending a country-western concert outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas isn't safe. The truth is that nowhere is safe, but you're a lot more likely to be killed flat-hatting around Mexico than you are in the US.