Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Manchester attack; Trump calls terrorists "losers"


There is no reason to belabor the details of terror attack in Manchester England Monday night at the concert of Ariana Grande, but Peter Bergen has a disturbing analysis on CNN of how the explosive was probably constructed, using hydrogen peroxide, a common bleach.

Trump made a point of calling terrorists “losers” (or "evil losers in life") in more than one speech abroad, not just “monsters”.

The Daily Telegraph opines on Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia here.
 
I passed a protest poster in Baltimore recently, claiming ordinary people shouldn’t be bothered with concerns about Syria and Korea.  I couldn’t disagree more.


Monday, May 15, 2017

North Korea launches intermediate range missile


North Korea fired a test of a medium range missile with a very high parabolic path, to 1200 miles altitude (highest enough for EMP) and 400 miles distance, toward eastern Russia and possibly Alaska.

CNN has the details today here

Charlie Rose tonight on PBS was rather cavalier on speculating that North Korea might already have the capability to hit the US, at least western Alaska or Guam.

North Korea might have been behind the ransomware attack, which so far had little effect on the US. The Guardian has a story to that effect.



Update: May 23

Media have posted more stories about North Korea's malware engines (training young adults in China).  There was another missile test, aimed toward Japan, about 300 miles, and indications that North Korea is getting "better" at this. And there seems to be a breaking interchange with the South right now,

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"Paul" explains the Arabic language and its many dialects


Paul, of Language Focus, has an interesting video “The Arabic Language and its Amazing History and Features”.



There are versions of the language for speech, writing and religious study.  It seems very logical, even if very alien to western people.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Militia activity leads to malnutrition in Congo due to plant that is poisonous without lengthy cooking


ABC News recently covered the famine in Somalia, South Sudan, northern Nigeria and Yemen, but the Pulitzer Report has an important story regarding famine in the Congo, associated with paralysis.



People in the area eat a staple root, cassava; but safe preparation requires hours of soaking in water to leech out certain cyanide compounds.  People living in insecure areas overrun by militias often do not have time to prepare the roots properly, and consume them when they still contain a cyanide, and become poisoned.

The Pulitzer story is here.

Wikipedia attribution link for Munusco image, CCSA 2.5,

Monday, May 1, 2017

Religious right in US seems to be building alliances with Putin supporters, partly over anti-gay attitudes


Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger have a front page story in the Washington Post linking some Christian conservatives in the U.S. to some elements in Putin’s Russia.  In print, it is “’Values’ tilt GOP right to Russia”, and online “Guns and Religion: How American conservatives grew closer to Putin’s Russia”.  The principals deny any connection to the hacks related to the election or to Donald Trump’s activities.

But the connection reminds me of some evangelical elements intervening in Africa, helping spawn anti-gay attitudes particularly in Uganda.

In Russia, Putin is concerned about the low birth rates and the idea that gay men in particular, if allowed to be public, can undermine family size and population for others.  Authoritarianism often reinforces an idea that “outlier” people need to be compelled to conform to fitting in to the social structures set up by others (conventional families), which becomes a self-reinforcing ideology that takes on personal importance for some people.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

In northern Nigeria, people return to villages to find their kids gone


The Washington Post has a frightening story on p. A13 of the Washington Post by Kevn Sieff, about people returning home to Damasak in northeast Nigeria, to find most of their children gone after Boko Haram left, apparently kidnapped into the sex trade.

Many refugees spill into Niger and then migrate north to Italy to flee to Europe  But very recently Italy has been working with Libya to stop the migration across the Mediterranean (to Lapedusa, as in the recent film “Fire at Sea”).

Wikipedia pd. Image of Michelle Obama sign related to the attacks.

Monday, April 24, 2017

North Korea takes hostages


So, the era of “strategic patience” is over.  And here’s the setup with the DPRK.

The robot kingdom with a god-king (who looks fat and foppish, “dressed to kill”) seems to be closer to having long range ICBM’s than we had thought.  The forecasts of their ranges keep creeping up, all the way to Washington now.  The time table seems compressing, conceivably before 2020.
Furthermore, North Korea wants to have several of these so it could keep fighting in case of a pre-emptive strike.  And it may be better able to bury the testing and locations than had been thought.

 (Although the recent blast in Afghanistan might well have been intended to send a message.)

The other component is a challenge to Trump’s “America First”.  For the time being, North Korea has taken the entire country of South Korea hostage, so to speak, as well as Japan.  So it can continue to build up its ICBMs and nukes, maybe even a hydrogen bomb.

Conservative Post commentator Charles Krauthammer says we have cards to play, mainly China, “not your friend, a currency manipulator”, here   Krauthammer also gives a link to Post coverage of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 (when I was a “patient” at NIH).

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said that this country could be at grave risk before the end of Trump’s term, to CNN, Sunday morning, here.

Update: April 27

Trey Yingst reports on Trump's briefing of the Senate at the Executive Office building Wednesday.

OANN reports that Trump warned that war on the Korean peninsula can happen.  Trump made an odd comment about young heads of state. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

NSA could stop North Korean missiles by hacking; Parade suggests DPRK could have longer range missiles than previously thought



There's another story suggesting that the US could hack into North Korea's missile systems and invoke malware if any missiles actually approached the IS.  Missiles toward Japan or South Korea (more likely) would allow much less time for detection.  The story appeared on Business Insider.


The speaker here still thinks that North Korea's cyber capabilities are limited and that China helped out a lot with the Sony Pictures hack.

Update: April 15

North Korea displayed ICBM canisters in a military parade today, suggesting it could have (or soon have) missiles capable of reaching some parts of the U,S., or that it might have submarine launch capabilities, CNN story. Yet today we did not see a nuclear weapons test.

A North Korean intermediate range missile test from NE North Korea failed and exploded seconds after launch, BBC story,   American NSA hackers could have been involved.  North Korea's plan seems to be to survive a pre-emptive strike, if it can build several nuclear ICBM's capable of reaching the US

Here is ABC's account on "what to know now". 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trump administration may pre-emptively attack North Korea now if there is a hint of another nuclear test; underground bunker buster in Afghanistan


NBC News has released an “exclusive” news story to the effect that the Trump Administration is preparing to launch a pre-emptive conventional strike against North Korea if intelligence shows that another major DPRK nuclear test is imminent.

But China, South Korea, and Japan would all be consulted.

A grave risk could be a blitzkrieg attack by the DPRK on the South, as Seoul is not far away.


There is a perhaps a slight risk that a DPRK missile could reach Japan, and that it could be armed with chemical weapons. We are not as sure as we would like to be that DPRK cannot put some sort of crude nuclear device or dirty bomb on a missile that could reach that far, and this would seem to be a marginal risk.  We cannot be absolutely sure that a missile could not reach as far as Alaska or Hawaii.  George Tenet had issued such warnings during the Bush administration.  Obviously DPRK could try some kind of cyber attack on American companies (like Sony), but that would have taken preparation.

About two weeks after Trump’s inauguration, I had tweeted “@realDonaldRrump” that North Korea was the single most dangerous enemy we have. I wonder if it was noticed.

Trump’s attitudes have changed in the past couple of weeks. There is speculation that the 11 ton GBU-43/B-MOAB bunker buster, the largest conventional weapon the US has, was dropped on an ISIS underground hideout in Afghanistan, near the border of Pakistan, to send a message to North Korea, not to count on hiding its nuclear tests underground.

Economic conditions in Afghanistan have deteriorated from the inability of westerners to come and work without being kidnapped.

Suddenly Trump admits relations with Russia are lousy. And Sean Spicer has to apologize for calling Assad the worst monster of all time, worse than Hitler. Stalin, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin (and Saddam Hussein, who also used chemical weapons on his own people in 1988).

Is it good to have an oil company executive as Secretary of State -- to "negotiate" Apprentice-style with China and Middle Eastern countries?

Is Trump starting to let Jared Kushner become shadow president instead of Steve Bannon?

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Seoul Plaza, CCSA 4.0. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Time Magazine reports ISIS trying to gather material for a dirty bomb from loose radioactive waste sites, mostly in the former USSR


Time Magazine for April 17 has a frightening cover story by “Simon Shuster”, “The Uranium Underworld: ISIS Wants a Dirty Bomb – and It Knows Where to Get One.”  The online article (paywall) is only a little less explicit, “Inside the Uranium Underworld: Dark Secrets, Dirty Bombs”, frpm Tblisii, Georgia (former USSR republic).

Former Senator Sam Nunn and the Nuclear Threat Initiative have long pressed for recovery of nuclear waste from the former USSR, much of it in the outlying republics. There was a film about this in 2005, “The Last Best Chance”.

The article points out that a contaminated truck bomb or pressure cooker device could produce victims who cannot be safely treated by emergency personnel.



Of course, a dirty bomb would make some areas unusable and destroy real estate wealth, so an urban target especially could be enticing to a politically motivated (especially left-wing) terrorist attacking the “rentier class”.  This idea has been known, if almost never discussed openly, since the 1970s.  Wealth that had been inherited probably would never be recovered, again a goal that used to be articulated by the extreme Left back in the early 1970s.

In late 2002, I received an unsolicited email with a pdf showing the location of nuclear waste sites in Russia.  I did sent it to the FBI.  

Time also has a story today reporting that the Stockholm truck attacker had been denied asylum, and also a story where Hillary Clinton says we should start accepting some Syrian refugees again.

Wikipedia image attribution: 
By Bill Ebbesen - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY 3.0, Link

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

There are no words


There are no words.

ABC timeline and story on chemical weapons in NW Syria, against civilians, even hospitals.  Not since Bosnia.  Or Pol Pot.  Or the Holocaust.

War crimes.  Obama did very little.  But, Trump gets support from Putin, and so does Assad.

And the DPRK did a medium range missile test today.

Wiki: p.d. ethnic map of Syria. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Belarus mentions the idea of "social parasite" in its official decrees, referring to past Communism and the extreme left


Note a Washington Post editorial Monday morning, “At the Barricades in Belarus”. The protests concern president Lukashenko’s 2015 decree that “freelancers” and housewives who work less than 183 days a year be fined as “social parasites”.

The idea of undeservedness is a variation of unearned privilege, something that the radical Left wants to do away with.  I remember that from the People’s Party of New Jersey back in 1972.  But we’re not reminded much about this as official policy often.  But in the US, some red states want able bodied Medicaid recipients to work, like migrant farm workers paid by piece work, if necessary.

Note is made on the terror attack on a Metro in St. Petersburg, Russia this morning, developing story.

Public domain picture of Victory Square in Minsk.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Single or childless adults may be more likely to be denied non-immigrant visas (even before Trump)


Dara Lind explains “The art of the denial” of visas, which was pretty pervasive even before Trump took office, in this article.


 
One remark is that young single people applying for non-immigrant visas (no green card) are more likely to be denied because they have less incentive to return to their home countries.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Nunes has a deep throat contact, just 70 days into Trump's administration, and Vladimir Putin's Mafia hits (Watergate II approaching?)


I’ve giving the most detailed Facebook post I’ve seen yet about the whole Devin Nunes Caper, link. Nunes certainly meets Wikipedia's notability standards (maybe notoriety).  I’ll call it “To Russia Without Love”.  Anthony Bourdain should review this.  I don’t think Josh Garcia will make a Vogager stop in St. Petersburg, but I could be wrong.  Notwithstanding, “Devin” or “Deven” (Irish spelling) has been the first name of some very good people  (whom Trump would hire).



Vladimir Kara-Murza says he feels much better now, so maybe he is OK, but here is the story on Putin’s hits.

Then there is “Source D”, a kind of Deep Throat, as the Washington Post writes, here.
 
And the Senate opens hearings on the meddling starting tomorrow.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sessions announces cutoff of funds for sanctuary cities; some states support travel bans; why some refugees are better employees than US candidates


Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new policy today at the White House briefing, to deny federal funds from cities, counties or states that maintain sanctuary for undocumented immigrants arrested (or at least previously convicted) for other crimes.

Milo Yiannopoulos reports the policy here on his own news blog.

The Washington Times had run the story 18 minutes after the announcement here.

Sessions mentioned a shooting on the harbor in San Francisco and a rape recently in Maryland.  He praised governor Hogan for not supporting a proposal to make Maryland a sanctuary state.
Social services organizations in major cities (including Washington) could lose funding, as for HIV services.

A Facebook friend posted a disturbing item about slave trafficking in the US, here.

CNN reports that refugees often can fill jobs that US employers have trouble staffing because US-born people are more likely to fail drug tests.

Also, 13 states have filed amicus briefs supporting Trump's second travel ban. To Trump's credit, his orders have noted that foreign radical Islam does specifically target non-Muslims civilians over sexual orientation and gender issues.