sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

History Reviewed

Eight Miserable Years for America


I'm pleased that Barack has faded from the public scene - even though he still wants to be somebody, that ship has sailed and all that is left is for him to build a monument (Presidential library) to himself.

A Recurring Theme

There is a lot of chatter from the progs, supported by the corrupt, elite, lying, nasty, sexually ambiguous, filthy mainstream media about Islam and jihadis. In the wake of the slaughter of young girls in Manchester, the wanton murder of Coptic Christians on a bus in Egypt, etc. etc., the plea of the media and the Hollywood elite is that we must learn to coexist with the savages. However a review of American history teaches us a different lesson -- except in universities today, "history" takes the form of 'lesbian studies' and 'social justice', so one can not expect the twenty-somethings who populate the elite media to have read anything of value on the subject. Therefore, this blog will provide one (of many) historical examples of what worked. We have many examples of what does not work...

   Overview: On May 10, 1801, Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha of Tripoli, announced his intention to commence hostilities against the United States and then formally declared war on May 14 when his men chopped down the consulate’s flagpole. Tripoli, along with the other North African (Barbary) states of Tunis and Algiers, was demanding tribute for the passage of American ships. This war ended in 1805 with a U.S. military victory over Tripoli, but without removing any of the Barbary states’ pretensions regarding the United States. By 1807, these states’ depredations resumed until, in 1815-16, a joint European-American naval coalition crushed them utterly. The reasons for the Barbary states’ pretensions, the first Barbary War’s failure to extinguish them, and the manner in which the military actions of the second war extinguished them are worth keeping in mind.

   Summary: The Muslim rulers of the southern Mediterranean had long preyed on Christian nations’ commerce, plundered people and property on southern Europe’s coasts, and run markets for Christian slaves. They demanded tribute and ransom. In 1786 Thomas Jefferson and John Adams having asked these states’ representatives why they were harming people who had not harmed them, heard words that are all too familiar today: “It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.” Lacking a navy, the U.S. paid them some 10% of its revenues as tribute.

By 1801, President Thomas Jefferson’s refusal to pay tribute was backed by a small but efficient navy, including the Constitution, Constellation, Enterprise, Chesapeake, and Philadelphia. Having secured command of the seas, the Americans blockaded the Barbary coast. Then, backed by local mercenaries, U.S. Marines secured the city of Derna, opening the back door to Tripoli. Thus threatened with regime change, Pasha Karamanli agreed never again to demand tribute from U.S ships. But mere defeat was not enough to absolve him and his from the religious duty to plunder as best they could. As the Western world became embroiled in the Napoleonic wars, the Barbary states reverted to kind.

No sooner had the War of 1812 ended than Commodore Steven Decatur took his squadron’s 206 guns to the Barbary coast. He did not have to use them. The Dey of Algiers, impressed, paid damages for past depredations, freed Christian slaves, and signed a treaty of peace. No sooner had Decatur returned to America, however, then the Dey reneged. This led to the intervention of an even larger British-led squadron that used vastly greater firepower utterly to devastate Algiers. That proved enough to convince the Muslims that, perhaps, the prospect of martyrdom was not so alluring after all.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Stellar Death

I took the Ducati (She-Devil) out for a spin today on the highway, had breakfast at a road house overlooking a spectacular scene and started thinking about everything that was going on around us while I sat there eating over-medium eggs and a split English muffin. The Internet allows us to share more (good and bad) and thereby to see more.  You can't see a black hole because it sucks in light photons, but you can see the swirling, super heated gas that it's getting ready to eat (white dot in the center of what used to be a star, below). 

In the failed supernova of a red supergiant, the envelope of the star is ejected 
and expands, producing a cold, red transient source surrounding the newly 
formed black hole, as illustrated by the expanding shell (left to right). Some 
residual material may fall onto the black hole, as illustrated by the stream and 
the disk, potentially powering some optical and infrared emissions years 
after the collapse. Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Jeffries (STScI)
Are there 'white holes' in some distant dimension where matter is spewing out? I don't think that it works like that even though Sci-Fi writers like to ponder over such potential mysteries. 

In any event it's not just babies being born and people dying, people happy/people sad, but stellar birth and death that was going on while I slurped down the eggs, bacon and a couple slices of cantaloupe. For the first time in history, astronomers have been able to watch as a dying star was reborn as a black hole. The process happens quickly as the star loses cohesion. The photo sequence above took place over seven years. And while it's true that I'm not a slow eater. stuff does happen.
S. M. Adams, C. S. Kochanek, J. R. Gerke, K. Z. Stanek. The search for failed supernovae with the Large Binocular Telescope: constraints from 7 yr of data. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2017; 469 (2): 1445 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx898
The star, which was 25 times as massive as our sun, should have exploded in a very bright supernova. Instead, it fizzled out -- and then left behind a black hole.

"Massive fails" like this one in a nearby galaxy could explain why astronomers rarely see supernovae from the most massive stars, said Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Observational Cosmology.

As many as 30 percent of such stars, it seems, may quietly collapse into black holes -- no supernova required.

"The typical view is that a star can form a black hole only after it goes supernova," Kochanek explained. "If a star can fall short of a supernova and still make a black hole, that would help to explain why we don't see supernovae from the most massive stars."

He leads a team of astronomers who have been using the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) to look for failed supernovae in other galaxies. They published their latest results in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Among the galaxies they've been watching is NGC 6946, a galaxy 22 million light-years away that is nicknamed the "Fireworks Galaxy" because supernovae frequently happen there -- indeed, SN 2017eaw, discovered on May 14th, is shining near maximum brightness now. Starting in 2009, one particular star in the Fireworks Galaxy, named N6946-BH1, began to brighten weakly. By 2015, it appeared to have winked out of existence.

The astronomers aimed the Hubble Space Telescope at the star's location to see if it was still there but merely dimmed. They also used the Spitzer Space Telescope to search for any infrared radiation emanating from the spot. That would have been a sign that the star was still present, but perhaps just hidden behind a dust cloud.

All the tests came up negative. The star was no longer there. By a careful process of elimination, the researchers eventually concluded that the star must have become a black hole. It's too early in the project to know for sure how often stars experience massive fails, but Scott Adams, a former Ohio State student who recently earned his Ph.D. doing this work, was able to make a preliminary estimate.

"N6946-BH1 is the only likely failed supernova that we found in the first seven years of our survey. During this period, six normal supernovae have occurred within the galaxies we've been monitoring, suggesting that 10 to 30 percent of massive stars die as failed supernovae," he said.

"This is just the fraction that would explain the very problem that motivated us to start the survey."

To study co-author Krzystof Stanek, the really interesting part of the discovery is the implications it holds for the origins of very massive black holes -- the kind that the LIGO experiment detected via gravitational waves. (LIGO is the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.)

It doesn't necessarily make sense, said Stanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State, that a massive star could undergo a supernova -- a process which entails blowing off much of its outer layers -- and still have enough mass left over to form a massive black hole on the scale of those that LIGO detected.

"I suspect it's much easier to make a very massive black hole if there is no supernova," he concluded.

They Guard the Streets

I love the Marines. I served in the Navy, but there is something special about the Marine Corps. Yes, they are naval infantry - but the sum is even greater than its parts. I was deployed to Ras Al Mishab (just across the border with Kwait not that far south of Qasr) during the First Gulf War with SEAL Team Five, Alpha Platoon and also worked with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One, Delta Platoon (embarked on the USS Curts FFG 38). While there, I we used to take chow with the Third BTN, First MarDiv, and it drove them nuts because none of us wore any identification at all beyond the standard camo uniform, and non-standard weapons and gear that we carried. I favored Lima Company because they liked L and I liked it twice as much as they did... We pranked the Marines mercilessly and they took it with stoicism -- usually.

Eventually they became accustomed to the Navy and tolerated us. Three or so months later, we set up our own galley ashore (better food). Sometimes Marines would join us for chow then, but they still never were sure who to salute. 

I have a thousand Marine stories. Almost all of them are testaments to the young men (and some women) who served honorably, and many of whom gave the last full measure of their devotion.

My commemoration of bravery, honor, sacrifice and duty on Memorial Day goes out to those brave souls of the Naval Service who guard the streets of heaven.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Americana

Memorial Day

And Remembrance 

A lot of beef (steaks and burgers mostly) is consumed on this weekend of BBQ's when we celebrate the arrival of summer & while we also recall those who made it possible for us to celebrate. The honored dead are remembered with flags on the breeze and red-white-and blue bunting. We who survived carry the guilt of living while others did not. It's there no matter what anyone says. One takes a bullet and the other walks out without a scratch. That my friends are the fortunes of war.

Then there are the soldiers who do not wear  uniforms and fight in conventional ways. Perhaps I can doff my hat to them as well. This is an excerpt from White Powder: A Novel of the CIA and the Secret War in Laos:
Sam Willoughby continued, “I’m jealous of dead soldiers. Dead soldiers have friends to avenge them and family to mourn them. They lie peacefully in neat graves, their bravery and sacrifice noted; buried in smart uniform, medals in velvet boxes, citations to hang on the walls and a folded flag in a cupboard somewhere. They said what they had done and where they had been, and when they died, their friends told how they died, and, from time to time, why they died.” 
Sam motioned toward the glass of pénard Burton held. He handed it to Willoughby, who sloshed it in his mouth and then downed it in a single gulp.

“In the parlance of dead soldiers there is the front line. In the cant of my strange craft we call that place ‘the end of line.’ People in my business die alone. Our deaths are unsung, our motives unclear. So we die slowly. Every challenged moment of each belabored day is barbed and thorned with memory of the things we cannot tell. We die defenseless with naught to avenge us but the mute records of what we observed in the strange lands that swallowed us.”
Barbers

I've been going to the same barber for the past twenty or so years. I don't know how many men have the same experience. There have been gaps when I've been abroad, but I go back out of habit and because there's something comforting about familiarity. In a world of hair stylists and coiffeurs, barbers have been shoved aside by the metro-sexualization of the male of the species.

I don't care. I like to sit down and read automotive and hunting magazines while I await my turn at the chair. While you wait, there is always a shot of sipping whiskey if you are so inclined -- single malt (12+ years old). Cigars too are available. (Kipling said, "A woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke"...)

To me a shave is part of the experience, and not one with a safety razor. It's got to be a genuine razor cut with a stropped blade. But before that, there's the hot towel, the soap that always smells the same - and don't ask me to describe it. A haircut must take place after a shave so close that it skins off the very top layer of epidermis. 

The move to the White Wolf Mine means that I will need to find a replacement barber. That's not easy. I found THIS YouTube video on barber shops by skimming the net to try and describe the "experience".

Not All Americans buy off on the mainstream media BS



Friday, May 26, 2017

Trouble in the Philippines


Today marks the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims across the globe will fast from sunrise to sunset, to celebrate the month the Koran was first presented to the Prophet Muhammed. It's being celebrated in the Philippines in the usual way - by jihadis blowing things up and killing Christians. The religion of peace celebrates the same way in England -- by murdering little girls, and in Egypt, by slaughtering Christians on a bus.

The Islamic State posted a statement about the fighting in the southern Philippines:
“Dozens Dead Among the Crusader Army in Marawi and in an Ambush on the Island of Jolo Sulu in the Southwestern Philippines" 
"East Asia -- 29 Sha'ban 1438” (25 May 2017) -- By the grace of God alone, more than 70 Philippine Army Crusaders were struck down, with others left wounded, and numerous armored vehicles destroyed in wide-scale attacks carried out by caliphate soldiers against Philippine Army headquarters, checkpoints, and positions in the city of Marawi, in the southern Philippines.” 
“The city is still witnessing clashes, and we ask God to facilitate for his monotheist worshipers. Meanwhile, 10 Army Crusaders are dead, among them four officers, and two military vehicles are destroyed in an attack by caliphate soldiers on the island of Jolo, Sulu, in the southwestern Philippines. May all praise be to God, Lord of all Creation.”
Official government sources reported 21 casualties on this second day of martial law.

The Islamic State claims that attacks also occurred on Jolo Island. This is the only source of this information. Jolo Island is a Philippine Muslim enclave.

An army spokesman said that the army was still fighting with 30 or 40 militants in Marawi City. 

It's not Islamophobic to point out what's going on. Well, not to me, the corrupt, lying, elite, smug mainstream media takes a different approach to the situation.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Is it Time for a Change?

Favoritism Before Integrity?

There are always malcontents - and the FBI is no different than any other organization. Today I hear more discontent from within DOJ and the FBI in particular. The organization was always partisan to a degree, but there's a lot of Obama/Clinton rot in the place now. Favors are now purchased for cash by people with cash to spend inside of the Washington DC Beltway. The FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility does not seem to be capable (or willing?) to competently crush this. There has been a shifting cultural change within the FBI. Former Director Comey is emblematic of this change - but it's also a generational cultural paradigm shift.

I'm not suggesting that the FBI be disbanded. They still need to maintain their counterintelligence role and need to hunt down bank robbers. We need untouchables now more than ever, and they aren't it.

Is it time for a "clean" law enforcement agency to investigate leaking and misconduct - an Inspector General's Office to operate at a higher level than IG's usually operate at? The Federal Bureau of Investigation would fight that with every fiber of their being, but can we trust the FBI to be honest? The most recent situations when the FBI became 'political' and even Acting Director McCabe's wife's receipt of what many feel to be a $600K bribe while he ran the Clinton investigation pulls into question whether the fish has rotted from the head down to the extent that they're incapable of cleaning out leakers and sneakers who are trying to undermine the government. (see the aftermath of the UK/Manchester bombing)

President Trump will appoint a new FBI director, but the organization is larger than the person, no matter who it is - and cultural change is resisted with a vengeance. 




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Aviation

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of the F-35 Lightning II. I could list my gripes with the whole program (late, over budget and not the best choice) in detail, but that's not the purpose of this blog post.

Japan openly acquired US made (Japanese assembled) F-35A stealth fighter aircraft. Their acquisition of F-35B (short/vertical take off and landing) stealth fighter aircraft for their "Destroyer Helicopter Carriers" is another matter. I've heard that it's 'classified' but it's one of those open secrets that is only restricted to people in government.

Elsewhere, it's talked about.

The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant is the world's first supersonic STOVL stealth aircraft. It's seen in the video below taking off from and landing on the USS America, a 'helicopter carrier'.


The addition of a squadron of F-35B supersonic stealth fighters to their four Destroyer Helicopter Carriers is a game changer.

In the video below, it shows F-35B aircraft depicted on a graphic of the JS Izumo, on the deck as part of the ship's compliment of aircraft. As I suggest above, it's not a well kept secret.


The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has a number of weapons/configuration options:



One thing that the aircraft (and the US inventory) currently lacks is an effective stand-off anti-shipping missile that can be carried for use against enemy surface craft. The Harpoon and Penguin have outlived their normal lifespans. The smart bombs have the capacity, and stealth may get you close enough to use them - maybe? 

But wait!

The Norwegian's new stand-off anti-shipping missile is being designed with the F-35 in mind. There is also the AGM-158C LRASM (Long Range [stealth] Anti-Ship Missile) currently undergoing testing. That too was designed with the F-35 and the F-18 in mind. Will the addition of those systems give the Chinese pause?  Likely not. The Chinese are full of hubris these days.

Manchester Suicide Bomber

British Prime Minister May confirmed that the explosion was the work of the Muslim, Salman Abedi, a lone suicide bomber. The Prime Minister’s confirmation of a lone wolf attack was crafted to reassure the public that the threat is under control.

"remain calm"

Bomb makers generally do not execute suicide attacks and detonate their knowledge and expertise with their bomb. 

The suicide bomb maker required support for the 20 separate functions that process information, material and energy to operate and manufacture bomb(s).

Some source had to finance the operation, including the purchase of explosives and materials. The explosives had to reach the bomb maker. Alternatively, the suicide bomber had to be instructed by someone in making his own bomb. He lived somewhere and required daily necessities. The timing and location of the blast indicate a pre-meditated and well-planned attack.

British security services are aware of these systemic components of terrorist attacks. Four arrests have been made (including Abedi’s 23-year-old brother, Ismail, according to the BBC)  and there will be more arrests, though the British will not report details of a terrorist cell or cells in Manchester.
(The Guardian) The British army is to deploy about 800 troops around the UK to support police in the aftermath of the Manchester attack. 
The troops will be stationed from later today, replacing police guards at No 10 Downing Street, parliament and Buckingham Palace, and elsewhere around London.
The British Army does have the troops to deploy in and around the UK to support the police, but they are at the lowest staffing point since the 19th Century, and their resources are limited. 

Theresa May said troops would be deployed to provide static guards in England under the government’s Operation Temperer plan to free up armed police officers from guarding duties. Those sites included Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and foreign embassies in London.

MI-5 (domestic intelligence) was aware that Salman Abedi was part of a Muslim terror cell before the bombing, and they may have been aware of the interlinkage between his cell and others. They now know that there is an active bomb-making system at work. Whether that will translate into action against those cells on a broad basis has yet to be seen, but since the alert status was raised to "critical" in the UK, my sense is that they are taking this seriously.

Political will requires that the UK acknowledge that the enemy consists of Muslim terrorists. The problem that Britain has is that it's allowed millions of Muslims to settle in the UK - and as with elsewhere in the world, the general rule of thumb is that 25% have jihadist sympathies. Of those who sympathize with the jihadists, maybe 10% are willing to carry out attacks and be personally involved. My rough rule of thumb is that means that the British Police have somewhere between 25,000 and 50,000 radical jihadis to worry about in the country, most of whom will carry British passports.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Election Tampering in 2016 (a review)

There is a lot of chatter within the lying, mendacious, puerile, corrupt, smug, elite mainstream media about Russian 'hacking'. It's time to take a look at the facts - where are we now - without the 'blame Trump' rant by shrill, nasty commentators and WAPO reporters.

There’s no standing allegation by U.S. officials that the Russians (or anyone else) “hacked” into our elections system or altered vote counts despite what the mainstream media would have you believe. Their effort is to delegitimize the election of President Trump - and the mainstream media behaves as if they were in the pay of the Russian Government, but I digress.

The FBI and DHS released a brief joint report at the first of the year describing “Russian Malicious Cyber Activity.”  You can read it for yourself or you can read my summary, below. All I'm reporting is what the FBI/DHS reported last December 29.
  • The U.S. believes two hacking groups tied to the Russian government are involved.
  • The U.S. has nicknamed the hacking groups “APT28” or “Fancy Bear,” and “APT29” or “Cozy Bear.” APT stands for “Advanced Persistent Threat.”
  • The U.S. believes the GRU, Russia’s military service, is behind APT28.
  • The U.S. believes the FSB, Russia’s counterintelligence agency headquartered in the building of the former KGB, is behind APT29.
  • The U.S. believes the groups accessed “a political party” by sending emails that tricked users into clicking links that planted malware or directed them to Russian servers.
  • The U.S. believes APT29 entered into “the party’s systems” in summer 2015, and APT28 in spring 2016.
  • The U.S. believes APT28 provided the stolen emails to WikiLeaks, which WikiLeaks denies.
U.S. officials allege that hackers employed by the Russian government, stole internal emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary campaign chairman John Podesta and provided them to WikiLeaks. (The U.S. joint report cited above doesn’t mention the DNC, Podesta or WikiLeaks by name.) Essentially, the Russians asked Podesta for his e-mail password, which was "password" and he gave it to them. I realize that this sounds all too simple - but Podesta rolls that way.

Podesta Emails on WikiLeaks
DNC Emails on WikiLeaks

U.S. officials have not alleged that anyone falsified the emails provided to WikiLeaks. The Russians just handed over (allegedly) what they found. Since I'm sure they were certain that "you can't make this stuff up", there was no need to.

U.S. intel officials have named the Russian hacking campaign “Grizzly Steppe.” No mention in the report is made of Seth Rich, the Clinton campaign staffer who was murdered under suspicious circumstances outside of his home at night (and not robbed). We also know that Rich was in contact with WikiLeaks. Apparently Team Clinton found that out too... Is Seth Rich comparing notes with Vince Foster in heaven? You be the judge.

There has been no effort on the part of USGOV to date (in open sources), to attach the theft of e-mail to Rich. It doesn't square with the Russian theory. Make what you will of that. WikiLeaks disputes the U.S. assessment blaming Russia for the DNC leaks. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says: “Our source is not the Russian government… We have U.S. intelligence saying that say they know how we got our stuff and when we got it, and us saying we didn’t get it from a state.” Former British ambassador Craig Murray backs up Assange’s version: “I know who leaked them. I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.”

The private cyber firm Crowd Strike had determined in June 2016 that Russian agencies were behind the DNC cyberattacks. That doesn't rule out that Seth Rich also provided information tangentially to the Russians. 

And the mainstream media blames Donald Trump.

Geopolitical Thoughts

How is Turkey like North Korea?

On 21 May, Turkish President Erdogan announced that the state of emergency would continue until the country achieved “welfare and peace.” The state of emergency allows President Erdogan and his cabinet to issue decrees without parliamentary oversight or review by the constitutional court.

Erdogan is instituting a perpetual state of emergency. It would seem to make the constitutional referendum in April unnecessary because Erdogan decides when welfare and peace have been achieved.

The North Korean regime justifies its authoritarian restrictions in a similar manner.

As with North Korea, Turkey will begin rewriting its text books to reflect the "new history".

Meanwhile, in the USA, the progressives are busily trying to rewrite the history of the nation to reflect how they would prefer that it reads. Because university professors (elites) are beyond reproach, they are given a free hand in their interpretations.

China's Browbeaten Neighbors

China is causing some interesting changes in the Asian-Pacific geopolitical landscape as small nations are banding together to stand against the hegemon of Asia.

     Japan and Vietnam

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers, JS Izumo and JS Sazanami, arrived at Cam Ranh Bay on 20 May. (See map below)

JS Izumo
The destroyers will join other ships, including the US Navy’s high-speed transport ship Fall River, in joint exercises for humanitarian support and disaster responses. 

The commander of the Izumo flotilla, Rear Admiral Yoshihiro Goka, said the port call shows Japan's determination to make further contributions to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. He also said Japan will improve security cooperation with the member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This is the first time that the JS Izumo has docked at Cam Ran Bay. It is a "helicopter destroyer" that looks like a pocket aircraft carrier and the largest ship in the Maritime Self-Defense Force. It is Japan’s first show of naval force in Southeast Asia since World War II.

On 1 May, the Izumo task group left Japan on a 100-day voyage to Southeast Asian and Indian Ocean countries. In July, it will join the Indian Navy and the US Navy in this year’s Malabar naval exercises in the Indian Ocean.**

     The Philippines

Foreign Secretary Cayetano walked back President Duterte’s words about Chinese President Xi threatening war over the Spratly Islands. Foreign Secretary Cayetano said the meeting between the two Presidents was frank and friendly and the discussion was largely about preventing conflict, not threatening it.
"The conversation was very frank. There was mutual respect, there was mutual trust," Cayetano told reporters. "The context was not threatening each other, that we will go to war. The context is how do we stabilize the region and how do we prevent conflict." 
He said, "I will not contradict the president's words. I am just telling you ... my interpretation: there was no bullying or pushing around, it was not a threat."
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Philippines was "very clear that we are not giving up our claim of sovereignty and sovereign rights." (sorry, Ernesto, the Spratleys are gone to China - that might not have happened if you'd kept the US as an ally - but that ship has sailed and all of those drilling rights went with it)

Philippine President Duterte was pandering to his audience, the coast guard auxiliary. Many Philippine veterans and Duterte’s political opposition criticize the President for compromising Philippine claims to sovereignty to some of the Spratly Islands. Some have called for his impeachment because of his failure to press Philippine rights, as supported by the findings of the International Arbitral Tribunal.

     Chinese Assertions

In an act of imperialism, China annexed the Spratley Islands,  built man-made islands, laid runways and fortified the islands. Now they 'belong to China' despite (toothless) findings by the UN to the contrary. China will now defend that territory in the South China Sea as if it was mainland China as a matter of law.
We don't know what the Chinese told President Duarte. Chinese President Xi might have said as a statement of law and fact that China will go to war in the sense of use military force to stop a Philippine attempt to drill for oil in the Spratlys. 
Chinese leaders are required by the Anti-Secession Law of March 2005 to prevent by all means, including force, the alienation of any land over which China claims sovereignty. Thus, Taiwan cannot declare itself an independent republic without the certainty of a Chinese invasion attempt. The Uighurs cannot secede from western China without incurring a Chinese ground force invasion. Any attempt by any Spratly Islands claimants to engage in new exploitation of sea and seabed resources without Chinese permission can expect a Chinese sabotage or an attack to prevent it.

NOTES

** A Comparison in fleet size between the UK and Japan. Both are industrialized island nations that depend on trade for their existence.

Japan
4 Helicopter Carriers/DDH
36 Destroyers and Guided Missile Destroyers
17 Attack Submarines

UK
3 Landing ships/Helicopter platforms
19 Destroyers and Frigates
7 Attack Submarines
4 Ballistic Missile Submarines

Monday, May 22, 2017

Geopolitical Commentary


Saudi Arabia

The Burkan (Volcano) 1 missile was launched
towards Riyadh, but was destroyed 180kms/111
miles south of Riyadh.
President Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia has been an unqualified success as the Arab nations in the Middle East look to American leadership as key to beating back the Persians/Iranians/Shiia. Barack Obama favored Iran, obviously, and Iran had incremental success throughout the Middle East during his presidency. 

Look to the proxy war in Yemen as a bellwether. The Houthi rebellion is backed by, funded by, and equipped by Iran. In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the Saudi-led coalition said it intercepted a Houthi-launched ballistic missile and destroyed it above an unpopulated area in a place called Al-Rin. (Missile attacks have become fewer, but the Houthis still have missiles to launch.)
“Coalition Air Forces retaliated immediately, hitting the sites of the missile's launching pads,” said the SPA report.
Conditions in Yemen are worsening because of the war and its destruction of national infrastructure. Official sources reported the number of deaths from cholera is now 315. That number will be much higher before this conflict is brought under control.

 There is no significant change in the situation, except for the worsening cholera epidemic.

The Saudis look to the US to help them bring stability to the area. The situation and the fragmentation of Yemen may have gone too far for that scenario to play out anytime soon.

Venezuela

Protesters demanding President Maduro step down and hold elections staged street demonstrations across the country on 20 May to mark the 50th day of protests. Protests turned violent in Caracas when demonstrators and police clashed in a mix of tear gas and exploding Molotov cocktails. One government supporter was stabbed and set on fire. One opposition supporter also was killed.

Since the demonstrations began, 48 Venezuelans have died in clashes, nearly one every day. More than 900 have been injured. Expect the demonstrations to become more violent. 

Venezuela, one of the most prosperous nations in South America with vast national resources, has been turned into a trash heap by the socialists who bungled everything that they touched...as is the way with ever nation that tries to make central government control work. "Food" is one thing that Venezuela should never lack. The place is as rich in agriculture as it is in oil. But they're still starving.

North Korea

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) confirmed that the missile North Korea launched on the morning of 21 May was a Pukguksong (Polaris) 2, land-based version of the submarine-launched ballistic missile, Pukguksong-1. What follows is in distilled version of the article:

“Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), chairman of the Democratic PRK State Affairs Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, supervised a test-fire of the ground-to-ground medium-to-long range strategic ballistic missile Pukguksong-2.” 
“The test-fire of Pukguksong-2 was aimed to finally verify all the technical indexes of the weapon system and thoroughly examine its adaptability under various battle conditions, before its deployment at military units for action….” 
“Saying with pride that the missile's rate of hits is very accurate and Pukguksong-2 is a successful strategic weapon, he approved the deployment of this weapon system for action.” 
“Now that its tactical and technical data met the requirements of the Party, this type of missile should be rapidly mass-produced in a serial way to arm the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Strategic Force, he said.”
Map shows the launch trajectory in February and May 21
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that the missile flew about 560kms (350 miles) from a launch site in Pukchang towards the Sea of Japan. 

This Pukguksong-2 missile was launched from the same location as that on 12 February, which was the first successful launch of this missile model. It also was the first ballistic missile test of 2017.

Kim’s remarks indicate that this launch was a pre-production test. North Korea has a missile that its leaders trust. Considering the failures of the other medium range ballistic missile test launches in the past two years, the Pukguksong-2 would seem to be their likely replacement. 

If so, the replacement program would indicate that, for all of this year, the North Koreans have boasted about the strength of their missile capability to cover their lack of a reliable medium range ballistic missile. They will remain in that window of vulnerability until the Musudan’s and other less capable missiles are replaced.

Politically, for South Korean President Moon, the two launches so soon after his election seem to convey North Korea’s rejection of his public overtures for a reduction in tension. They do not necessarily rule out contacts, but they mean that South Korea is the party that must compromise by accepting North Korea as a nuclear armed state with ballistic missile delivery systems.

Deputy North Korean Ambassador to the UN Kim In Ryong said that North Korea welcomes the idea of US talks, but “what is important is not words, but actions,” and that the US needs to back off its hostile policy toward North Korea for the talks to have any value.

 “Ending US hostile policy” means that the US must: 
  • Acknowledge North Korea as a nuclear armed state; 
  • Must terminate annual war exercises with the South Koreans; 
  • Must withdraw US soldiers from Korea; 
  • Must end naval and aircraft deployments; 
  • Must stop its reconnaissance flights along the North Korean periphery; 
  • Must apologize for the Korean War;
  • Must not interfere when North Korea invades South Korea.
Ending the US hostile policy and all the measures that North Korea finds offensive are the pre-conditions for the privilege of North Korea agreeing to talks. When the North’s condition for talks is “ending US hostile policy”, the North Koreans are deliberately proposing a condition that they know is unacceptable to the US. That phrase means they are not serious about talks because they do not want them.

The signal is that the Norks have reached an agreement with China and China will continue its policies as before. It doesn't bode well.

The US response to the situation is very dependent on what the South Korean politicians want. At the moment, it's still a march toward inevitable war. I don't know what will trigger the war, but it's difficult to see a scenario where the North doesn't start one on their terms and at a place and time of their choosing. That doesn't mean that war is imminent. It simply means that they will continue to be bad actors and one day a line will be crossed.

Afghanistan 

Over the weekend, multiple Taliban forces executed the largest wave of attacks this year. They attacked at least six provinces including Kabul. At least 64 policemen died and at least 25 were wounded.

In Kabul, gunmen attacked a guesthouse, killing a German woman and beheading an Afghan guard. They also kidnapped a Finnish woman who worked at the Swedish-run guesthouse.

In Nangarhar Province on the 18th, a policeman shot and killed five of his colleagues as they slept at an outpost. This will ring a bell of familiarity with any US service personnel who served with Afghan troops in-country. It was always useful to keep guns trained in both your allies and on the enemy in Afghanistan.

In eastern Kapisa Province on 19 May, five Afghan policemen were killed in a gun fight with the Taliban. 

In Logar Province, a roadside bombing killed 11 people on the 19th as they were traveling to a wedding. The victims were family members.

In Zabul Province, a Taliban group shot and killed 20 police officers at multiple checkpoints on 20 May. At least 10 others were injured in ambushes.

In Ghazni Province, Taliban fighters launched a coordinated, three-pronged attack on districts in Ghazni overnight on 20 May. One Talib drove a Humvee packed with explosives into the entrance of a district governor's compound during the assault. The objective of this attack was the seizure of a district headquarters. The Taliban failed to take that objective, but two policemen died.

In Zabul on the 21st, a Taliban group attacked multiple security outposts and killed at least 20 Afghan policemen, according to the provincial governor, Bismillah Afghanmal. Fifteen policemen were wounded.

This was a concentrated effort to terrorize the police and to undermine confidence in the local symbols of the national government. These attacks were the first major wave of attacks since the Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive on 28 April. In one sense, the attacks failed because the Taliban gained no ground that they could hold. In another sense, the attacks demonstrated their ability to coordinate attacks over broad areas.

Elections in Iran

President Hassan Rouhani was elected decisively to a second term as president. He obtained 23 million of the 41 million votes cast or 57% of the popular vote. Rouhani is considered to be a 'reformer' in the Iranian political context. The Iranian sense of reform does not signify opposition to the Iranian theocracy. It does signify widespread support for a more relaxed interpretation and application of the restrictive rules of the theocracy

Iranians indicated they want more freedom of expression, a relaxation of the dress code and other restrictions on women, greater economic prosperity and release of prisoners accused of violating harsh religious strictures.

Several analysts suggested that the vote for moderation reflected the impact and influence of modern information systems. They cited television, the internet, freer permission to travel, the spread of higher education and the growth and spread of more secular values, especially in the cities. 

The strong urban turnout for Rouhani, however, means that the conservative people in the countryside risk underrepresentation in a reformist administration. The electoral system has no mechanism for correcting that imbalance. That is one of the guidance tasks of the conservative clerisy, headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

There is no reporting that the election outcome means that Iranians voted for a change in foreign policy. Foreign policy issues were not central to the election campaign. 

The Russian media judged that Rouhani’s election ensures continuity and predictability in Iranian foreign policy.


The Last

The Last Man

There can only be ONE NARRATIVE - and the one put out by Last Man Standing wasn't it.

It's not surprising that ABC's situation comedy Last Man Standing was canceled. The show's star, Tim Allen compared being a conservative in Hollywood to being a Jew in Nazi Germany. You know that didn't fly well with ABC (and the liberal Jews who run the outfit).

To be fair, I never watched an episode on TV - only clips on YouTube. But you can look at this and get the gist of the show:


I find that words like "Hillary" and "CNN" are so-called trigger words. The liberal elite doesn't feel the same way. They only want people to run with THEIR trigger words. Isn't that precious?

The Last Robot 
(this will only make sense if you see the film)

I saw Alien - Covenant this past weekend. If you like science fiction and the Alien franchise, I predict that you'll like it. If you don't, then you might want to take a pass. 

Alien Series Lesson: If you're on your way from here to there in space, don't respond to a message that takes you off task...


The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape. BUT in space, nobody can hear you scream.

trailer


extended trailer




The next film in the Alien series will be Alien Awakening. Alien Awakening has already been written and is in pre-production. Ridley Scott has hinted at one or two beyond that in the prequel series to the original movie Alien.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Sermonette (Dragging the Sack)


A Plea for Social Justice

Our Annual Drive

A lot of blogs out there have "tip jars" or advertising that is placed to allow you to contribute to the blog to 'keep it going'. I don't really need the money - myself - but I thought that since this is the Sunday Sermonette, I could 'drag the sack' for some charities that you could believe in. Sometimes you just don't know where to send your money. I'm going to solve that for you here and now because that's what the staff at Virtual Mirage does. We say that income redistribution should begin here.

A New Cause

For progressives, there is always a new cause, something absurd to become concerned with. It was global cooling, it changed over a decade of hand wringing to global warming, and when that didn't work, it morphed into a war on the weather. It was income redistribution, re-stated. Now there is another crisis of intolerable cruelty. 
There is a horrible truth behind marshmallow ranches. When they are fat from grazing all summer, they will be slaughtered to make smaller ones, bagged and sold in stores. Some are cut up and held over a fire while still alive!
Something can and should be done. To fight this abominable practice, send your nondeductible donation to this blog in my name and I will see to it that the money ends up in a good place. 

You can make a difference. Give generously.

Invest in America's Future Segregation

needy student
Negro students at the University of California - Los Angeles want segregated areas where only they are allowed to congregate. They want $40 million (as set forth below). If you want to contribute the best place to do that is this blog, but I'm talking cash, not four whole fried chickens and a Coke. I will see that the money ends up in a good place.
(Heat Street) The Afrikan [sic] Student Union at the University of California has issued a list of demands– which include a $40 million endowment, their own “safe spaces” on campus, and mandatory “cultural awareness training” for all students — as compensation for what they call racially insensitive incidents. The demands, listed in an open letter, cite different “racial attacks” on campus.

One such attack was made in the form of stickers that listed the criminal rap sheet of Freddie Gray, the black man who died in Baltimore police custody in 2015. Another sticker said “If only Freddie Gray had followed the damn law, he’d still be alive,” and another said “Stop whining and start following the goddamn law”. 
Another example of racism given by the ASU was a “Kanye Western” theme party held in 2015 during which attendees dressed in baggy clothes or wore padded bottoms to look like Kim Kardashian. The outrage was tempered when Kanye West was outed as a Trump supporter, but it's still considered to be racist.
“Since nothing has been done in recent years, the Afrikan Student Union is DEMANDING that UCLA administrators work with black students towards the development of a more positive campus climate,” the group’s open letter says.
Among its demands is a $40 million endowment, which according to the letter would fund “a comprehensive effort to address the underrepresentation of African-American students, faculty, and staff at our university”.
free housing demands
In addition ASU wants university to establish the position of Black Student Financial Aid Officer that would “advocate for financial aid for previously dismissed/expelled students” and also ensure four years of guaranteed free housing for black students.
The list of grievances and demands is nearly endless and I'm not going to list the outrages all here. I can only encourage you to give generously here on this blog. We will work behind the scenes with your hard earned money. (Where is that donation from George Soros when this blog needs it to stay open?)

(Photos in this posting are taken from booking photos at the Los Angeles County Jail and may or may not actually be members of the Afrikan Student Union at UCLA)

Our Last Cash Drive...

...Focused on saving the habitat for the endangered jackalope. I'd like to tell you that it met with noteworthy success but it didn't. The ability for these noble creatures to run free on America's plains continues to be diminished because of interstate highways - that must be closed NOW. 

If you need to go somewhere, take an airplane. Allow free range jackanapes to remain unimpeded as they prowl America's heartland.

We also take money to preserve the jackalope here at Virtual Mirage.



Friday, May 19, 2017

Ending the Week

From E-Mail

Q - What are you reading these days, LL? 


I just downloaded two books on Kindle: Fields of Fire by James Webb and G-Man by Stephen Hunter. 

A - I recently finished The Malocchio Of Bodie by Jules Smith and Rimworld - Into the Green by Jim Curtis (both of whom comment on this blog from time to time).

Proof of Collusion (finally)


in other Domestic News

The Deep State has a narrative that they want us to swallow. Despite the shrill, hysterical, absurdities spouted by the corrupt, elite, lying mainstream media, I think that they're being ignored. They think so too and it bothers them.

The great and near great are lining up for the 2020 general election. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and other greats within the Democrat Party are making the circuit to try and get their names out there so you'll put them in charge. The mainstream media will support their efforts. There's even talk of Hillary (reset and improved Hillary) running in 2020 to win what she feels that Donald Trump stole from her.

There are theories that people who aren't attractive or talented enough to be Hollywood actors are drawn to politics. Many are lawyers who can't make it in that profession. Some like Al Franken (D-MN) are failed comedians.  Congressman Hank Johnson (below) is a lawyer. Watch and listen as he explains his concerns about US troop deployments to Guam that might cause it to capsize. He'd make a great talking head on MSNBC or CNN once he completes his term in the House of Representatives. But I don't think that he'll be leaving soon. In 2014, Johnson was named the 18th most effective Democrat in the 112th Congress [out of 204 Democratic members] according to a study by Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia (UVA). Yes, he's among the brightest.


The amazing thing about America is that we do so well despite our leadership.


Expanding the Celestial Empire of China

Is it "imperialism"?

Analysis of imagery obtained in March by the Center for Strategic and International Studies shows that construction on Fiery Cross Reef is nearly complete. The island now features a radar/sensor array; enough hangar space to accommodate 24 combat aircraft and four larger planes, and mobile missile shelters. The 3,000-meter (10,000-feet) runway is operational. 

The aircraft accommodations indicate this is the key Chinese air facility in the Spratlys.

Moving on to Thailand...

The construction of the Thailand-China railway project from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima will begin in 2017, according to the Thai Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport. The line also is to be extended to the Thai-Lao border in the future. 

The project is the Thai part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road project. Construction was to have begun in 2015, but contract negotiations caused the delay.

According to the Malaysian news service, China and Thailand still need to agree on materials for the construction, consulting fees and whether it is necessary for Chinese engineers to get Thai engineering certifications before they come to work in the Kingdom.

China has a 50 year plan and a 100 year plan. Their long term ambitions may not come to fruition. Stephen Hawking -- who survives with the aid of machines -- has predicted that we has a species have 100 years to live before evolved machines take human imperfection as justification for wiping us all out.




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fox News Ratings Slip - ANALYSIS

Nobody asked me, but I'm going to comment on this and maybe somebody at Fox will read it. Maybe they won't and I've wasted all of these perfectly good electrons.
(CNN) So far this week, Fox has ranked No. 3 in prime time behind both CNN and MSNBC, which almost never happens.
Fox News has led the cable ratings for as long as most people can recall. Why the slip to #3 behind two channels which pride themselves on making the news rather than reporting the news, partisanship and outright lies?

1. Bill O'Reilly anchored the Fox News line-up. There are people who read this blog who didn't like him. It's not about liking or not liking, he provided the sort of input that many viewers wanted. Now he's gone, Fox threw him under the bus and that's reason one for the decline.
I hope that ratings notwithstanding, it's worth it to get your progressive advertisers back now that O'Reilly is gone.
2. I've watched the new line-up. The new producers for all of the evening shows have the very same stories being told (a little news, a lot of whining) over-and-over-and-over again. Viewers are not tuning into CNN. They're tuning out. Who can blame them?

3. Fox has shifted from telling an unbiased story (fair and balanced) to a hard lean toward the so-called "Deep State Message". Fox - you need to put me or somebody like me on your commentary line up. I'd provide some entertainment - wait for the call-in lines to light up. And I'd only tell the truth.

There are a lot of stories that could be told if you had genuine investigative journalism going on. HINT: Hire Sharyl Attkisson, give her a staff and an open budget. Have her as your lead-off hitter in the O'Reilly slot. Let her bring in people like herself who tell the truth. Allow them to tell the truth, and don't cave into the progressive lobby this time.

But first, get rid of the people who are purveying bad advice to you -- that put you in as #3 and caused your loyal viewers to turn off their televisions - or tune into the cooking channel because they'll get more out of it.

RPG-7's - A Changing Role

US Variant - Carl Gustaf M3A1

Some of you prefer the Carl Gustaf M3A1 (M3A1 is the US version of the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle) to the RPG-7. I'm with you. I've always liked the Carl Gustaf, but were heavy to haul around with you (about the same weight as a .50 Barrett with much heavier ammo).

The new, US demand for a lighter version works brilliantly and only weighs about 8 lbs. The load-out for a SEAL platoon used to require distributed weight of at least 2 and often 4 AT-4 anti-tank launchers (disposable) for missions in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. That gave you one shot per launcher. Depending on the mission that was enough, but the ammunition was not flexible to give you different options with each round. This is the new way forward for light infantry and SPECWAR troops. One launcher and the distributed weight of ammunition.

OR

There is the RPG-7, now made by AirTronic in the USA. There are very few weapons that are as iconic as the venerable RPG-7, and you can resupply yourself with rockets on any third world battlefield - or on the mean streets of Guadalajara, Tijuana or Juarez, Mexico, if you're so disposed.

US Variant of the RPG-7
The RPG-7 (РПГ-7) is a portable, reusable, unguided, shoulder-launched weapon with a variety of rounds available.  The RPG-7 (Ручной Противотанковый Гранатомёт – Ruchnoy Protivotankoviy Granatomyot – Hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher) is used by drug cartels in Mexico, revolutionaries in Africa and is still being produced in very large numbers by the Main Missile and Artillery Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (GRAU).

In the news: RPG-7's are being used to halt urban renewal in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Interior Ministry said that a Saudi special forces soldier was killed in a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack in the Qatif area of Eastern Province late on 16 May. Five soldiers were injured.

The details of the attack have not been released to the public, but this is the second violent incident in Qatif in a week. Last week one child and one adult were killed and 10 people were injured at the redevelopment site. 

The most important threat element in this story is the use of an RPG to disrupt an urban renewal project. RPGs are weapons of war, not instruments of political protest. They are common enough among the Taliban in Afghanistan and in other countries at war. They are not common in Qatif or anywhere in Saudi Arabia. 

This probably was the first time this type of weapon has been used by anti-government elements in Qatif or anywhere in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. The use of this weapon represents an escalation in the outside support for the Shiites activists/terrorists in Qatif. Conversely, it means Saudi security has lapsed badly.

From the Saudi Press: Violence between Saudi security forces and Shiite militants in Eastern Province is commonplace. Authorities are now redeveloping some of the neighborhoods in the area as part of a major development push. The work includes the demolition of nearly 500 structures, including residential buildings, and could be a reason for the recent increase in violence. 

According to the Interior Ministry, suspected terrorists used rockets, explosive devices and land mines to obstruct work at the development project, attacking security personnel and construction workers.

Additional Background: Qatif is predominantly Shiite Muslim and is perennially restive. Iran presumes to act as the protector of the Shiites there. The Saudi government accuses Iran of fomenting unrest, supplying military-grade weapons to and infiltrating agents among Shiite communities in Saudi Arabia.

The disruption caused by the redevelopment project focuses Shiite grievances against the Sunni government. More attacks at the renewal project are likely. More attacks by RPGs mean that Iran has escalated its support for the local terrorists.