Monday, August 21, 2017

Diplomats in Cuba injured by covert sonic device, a possible future terror threat?


There are disturbing reports of diplomats in Cuba being injured by covert “sonic attacks”, as in this CNN story

The associates showed symptoms of concussion and particularly hearing loss.  The device seems to have emitted a subsonic boom.


The incident is disturbing because it could be another way for a foreign agent to go after an enemy covertly in a western country or the US.  One thinks of Putin’s polonium incident.
  
In 1978, a man kidnapped by left wing radicals in Italy was deafened deliberately by being blasted with classical music through earphones.
  
There are other YouTube videos suggesting that Trump using sonic weapons against North Korea. 
By Jakub Szypulka - Own work, CC BY 4.0, Link

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Reslient Societies" twitter feed warns that Washington Post has broken media blackout on EMP


The Twitter handle Resilient Societies  “The Foundation for Resilient Societies” )  says that the Washington Post broke the unwritten media blackout on talking about EMP with a speculation that North Korea could cause a high altitude blast over Japan (high parabola) and cause temporary power disruption.  It might be more than temporary/    (Mark Fisher and David Nakamura). 

The twitter feed also noted a site “38North   saying Congress knows that a reentry survival is not essential to EMP.

By User:Photocopier - Wikipedia in english, page "High-altitude nuclear explosion", Public Domain, Link

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Terror attack in Spain comes to violent conclusion on in coastal town


NBC News has a detailed account so far of events in Barcelona, Spain and the town of Cambrils, to the south, link here

It appears that this was a complex and coordinated attack.  At least five attackers are dead as of now, as the coastal town was on lockdown.


The attack, like many others in Europe, shows the extreme nihilism of young men (and some women) radicalized into radical Islam and returning from ISIS.

It’s pretty obvious that, at a moral level, the KKK and ISIS are about on the same plane.  Trump could say that.

Wikipedia attribution link for Cambrls by Kuhn, CCSA 3.0 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Washington Post explains how Trump can use the nuclear football, and warns about August 15 particularly as North Korea's "Liberation Day"


The Washington Post has a speculative article, “Who Is Kin Jong Un, and What Will He Decide to Do?” There have been reports about his education in Switzerland, as a boy, where he looks more engaging.  His appearance now seems to be modeled after his grandfather, and does not appeal to me, and probably not to many westerners.  The Post piece by Anna Fifield discusses the speculations about his personality and apparent ruthlessness.  I have to admit that even an independent blogger making fun of him could start an incident.


The Post points out that Tuesday Aug. 15 is Liberation Day (from Japan).  This logically leads to speculation that Un could launch a missile over Japan two days from now.  Given the position of the International Date Line, that means that a volley could occur as early as perhaps 4 PM Monday Aug. 14 EDT. 

The other big date is Monday Aug. 21, when US military exercises start. 
  
It sounds likely that if there is an incident a missile(s) would land in the ocean much farther from Guam or any other populated location than North Korea warned.  There could be a risk that a nuclear detonation at sea could be attempted to make a statement, if the vehicle survives re-entry.  There could be a danger of an EMP strike over some areas, if an explosion at higher altitude was possible.  That idea has been mentioned “in passing” maybe twice on CNN by commentators, but former CIA director James Woolsey has warned that the DPRK can do this from a satellite now. 

Update: Aug 15

The Wall Street Journal reports Kim Jong Un has blinked, feeling pressure from China.  Trump, in NYC in his own suite now, can claim his tough talk worked.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Susan Rice: "It's not too late for North Korea"


Susan Rice, national security adviser from 2013 to 2017 under Obama, does have an op-ed in the New York Times, p. A21, “It’s not too late for North Korea”.  
But Bari Weiss retorts to this column with “Are We All Doomed?” and questions whether people on the East Coast need to be ready to house nuclear refugees (I asked that myself recently on Wordpress). 
  

Jimmy Kimmel keeps making fun of “Drunk Donald Trump’s” threats. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

DIA reports that North Korea has miniaturized nukes for ICBM's; Trump's threats; analysts mum on EMP


The cat’s away the mice play.  I got a bizarre message from a Facebook friend today as I pulled in to a gas station, and a half hour later in a restaurant I looked at the news. Here it is, from the Washington Post, by Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima, and Anna Fified, “North Korea now makingmissile-ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say.” 

President Trump later made this fire and brimstine statement from his summer home in New Jersey, in a meeting. He had his arms crossed as he spoke.

Some good questions arise.  Why did the DIA come up with this assessment so suddenly.  Two weeks ago, just before a major missile test, the DIA hinted that North Korea could launch miniaturized nukes at the US by maybe early 2018. But apparently it is right now.

There are two provisos. One of these is that the ICBM tests apparently have burned up on re-entry.  

We don’t know whether on a “line drive” path they would survive re-entry. 


The other idea is that North Korea could likely produce more devastation with a high altitude blast, causing an EMP effect, if in fact it was still high enough when entering North America.  James Woolsey has said that North Korea can do that with satellites now.  But there seems to be very little reliably reviewed information on how difficult this would be for an enemy to do. It's not clear how much power a weapon would need.  

One possible provocation that comes to mind is the idea that North Korea could prove its ability to survive reentry by launch a nuclear blast out in the middle of the north Pacific Ocean well away from any land.  Another is that it could launch an EMP blast in this unpopulated area, possibly disabling ships below and aircraft.  It could then demand that US completely withdraw from protecting South Korea.  Trump cannot let things get this far.  In fact, there are also reports that North Korea issued threats against Guam today. 
   
DIA says North Korea has about 60 nuclear devices.  Some of these are thought to be about twice the size of Hiroshima.  Still, the blast effects would be much smaller than from Soviet or Chinese hydrogen bombs.

US military commentators did express confidence in the ability of US systems to shoot down DPRK missiles today.

Kim had uttered threats right after the UN sanctions were applied this past weekend.

Update: Aug. 10

DPRK's "4 missile test" aimed at Guam seems silly.  When does an enemy give away its plans?  Is this a feint?  The missiles would get shot down. The latest.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The idea of "shared responsibility", homophobic purges in Chechnya (and Russia), and the dangers to free speech in democratic societies


Tara Isabella Burton has an important article in Vox, “HowRussia’s strongmen use homophobia to stay in power.” 

There is particular attention to Chechyan Republic president Ramson Kadyrov, with the purges of gays.

Burton goes on to explain how the idea of an “honor killing” is part of a larger political concept called “shared responsibility” which is more common in authoritarian cultures.  Every extended family member is considered responsible for the actions of one person.  The idea then invites the idea of “otherness” or exclusion which tends to connect to racism, anti-Semitism, or other ideas that we find in the US sometimes with the alt-right.

But the idea of “shared responsibility” (“I am my brother’s keeper”) can be politically dangerous in democratic societies, was with proposal in the US to gut laws relieving service providers of potential downstream liability for crimes committed by their users which they cannot know about in advance (the “Backpage” controversy, see my main blog, Aug. 2). 

A related essay is “A psychological assessment of Trumpsupporters has revealed 5 key traits about them”, on Raw Story by Bobby Azarian. Note the “authoritarian personality syndrome”, “social dominance orientation” and especially “relative deprivation.” 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Australian town bars construction of synagogue out of fear of targeting; an existential problem for any person or group that others dislike?


Milo Yiannopoulos reports a story from Australia where Bondi, a suburb of Sydney, denied permission for construction of a Jewish synagogue near a beach over fears that it would make the area a target for radical Islamic terrorism. 

It’s pretty easy to say that the terrorists win, that this is giving in.  Of course, when there is an actual incident, it is the victims who personally pay; in the end there are no victims. This is all basic existentialism. But it is also official cowardice. 

But following this example, it is too easy, for example, for a landlord to refuse to rent to an outspoken Jew or perhaps gay person on the fear that it could make a whole building a target.  I’ve wondered about this ever since 9/11 in the days of permissive self-publication.   

Even on AC360, it sometimes seems that Anderson Cooper is loose with the passive voice of the words “was targeted”.  

Milo has made some other provocative posts, criticizing the EU for requiring some countries to take more refugees and take their fair share of the supposed risk of more terror attack. 

By Adam.J.W.C. - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Trump's "Raise" Act and a bizarre confrontation at the White House press briefing


Today, President Donald Trump announced support for a “Raise”  Act that will reduce legal immigration by up to 50% over the next several years, and that would increase competitive requirements for getting most green cards.

  
The immigration system would shift more away from a family basis to one based on individual skill and merit, including job skills and especially speaking English.
   
White House policy wonk Stephen Miller got into a bizarre confrontation with Jim Acosta over a poem on the Statue of Liberty and on the English requirement.  Miller said that to suggest that immigrants from countries outside Britain and Australia were unlikely to speak English would be profoundly insulting to most immigrants.  Miller spoke of Acosta's "cosmopolitan bias" as if that were elitism.


Acosta himself is Cuban American, whose ancestors were taught English in the US.  Acosta's grandparents came to the US about the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Acosta has questioned the point system, which would, for example, discriminate against older immigrants. 

The CNN story is here
  
Trump insists that immigrants who come here be able to support themselves.  That is quite different from Canada, which has a program to allow individuals to sponsor and financially support refugees. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

North Korea's second ICBM launch could have reached well into continental US


Early Friday EDT time, North Korea launched an ICBM that stayed in the air over 40 minutes, seems to have longer range than the July 4, and has been reported by various sources as capable mathematically to reach Denver, Chicago, or conceivably New York.  Washington DC and Baltimore, maybe Philadelphia seem just beyond range by Great Circle routes.  The test came on the 64th anniversary of what North Korea claims is its victory day.  There have been firings from multiple land locations in North Korea and from a submarine, at various times of day, to make missile launches hard to predict and detect in advance. 

Here’s a New York Times op-ed on the “new normal” by the AP, link. 

Jay P. Lefkowitz argues that we need a “new approach” here

It sounds likely that the missile this time had no payload. A weapon would increase its mass and reduce its range on this particular test. However, the acceleration of the range of DPRK's weapons is striking, much more than what was expected, and the idea that a nuclear strike on the US from DPRK would be possible by mid 2018 sounds credible.

Any official talk (or even public "trash talk") of “regime change” could trigger a pre-emptive strike from Kim Jong Un, who may be less stabled and less tolerant of indignation than we want to believe.  But note that no tests so far have traveled as far as Japan, although they have landed in Japanese-controlled water 50 miles out.

  
We won’t be able to follow DPRK’s ability to put a nuclear warhead on a missile as well as we can calculate the parabolic ranges of his missile tests.  But it does sound like a sudden attempted attack, perhaps out of a temper tantrum after one of Trump’s outbursts or even over a private company’s actions (Sony case) on America by mid 2018 is possible, at least a “marginal” or even “slight” risk in SPC terminology.  It’s likely that any device would be crude and small.  But we don’t know for sure, and James Woolsey has repeated warned about the possibility of EMP attacks from satellite, so presumably that is possible from an ICBM, especially over northwestern North America, although not much has been written about the comparative engineering challenges an enemy faces in actually doing this.
There are conflicting reports about the readiness of US missile defenses and NORAD, and the capacity to improve defenses before 2018.  I worked for the Navy Department as a civilian computer programmer 1971-1972 on missile interception algorithms, so I presume there have been considerable advances since then.   If NORAD did intercept a missile approaching Alaska, for example, would Trump immediately retaliate?  If an EMP blackout happens over South Korea or Japan, it will be pretty clear who is guilty. But what if it happens over Alaska and Western Canada?  Have technology companies figured out how to protect their hardware and databanks? 

The Washington Post has an editorial today, "What if sanctions on North Korea don't work? "  Are we all "On the Beach" listening to "Waltzing Matilda"?



Update: July 30

Max Fisher has a balanced perspective on North Korea's intentions in the New York Times today, link.



Update: July 31

Presumably North Korea could prove it can mount a small nuclear payload with another blast that lands near its own coast after parabolic high altitude route. The reduction in height and distance would give a mathematical idea of how much the payload reduces range. Possibly DPRK could try a test like this from a Chinese-designed submarine in the open Pacific.  It's not clear how effectively the US Navy detects foreign submarines approaching its own territory.  Some "right-wing" pundits have suggested that a terrorist (with help of a rogue state like North Korea or maybe Iran) could launch a scud from a hijacked commercial ship with a small nuclear weapon to produce an EMP blast.  See Michael Maloof's "A Nation Forsaken" reviewed on Books blog April 13, 2013.

Logically, demands from DPRK for the US to withdraw from dedending South Korea (the "hostage") would seem justify a pre-emptive strike, but these might not be made until DPRK had launched a test like described above.  Diplomacy with China does not look promising right now, as Trump has previously said "China is not your friend."

Senator Diane Feinstein's remarks on CBS "Face the Nation" July 29 are here. Wall Street Journal is quite blunt about nuclear blackmail of American cities and urges "regime change" from within. That is exactly what could prompt a nuclear strike or EMP attack om us if we're too late. I llike the line "Thanks for letting us know.

And Trump, among all the Carnage in his White House (no one as vomited yet like in Roman Polanski's movie), says, "I'll take care of it,"  There may be some post-mortem comfort food in the fact that so far North Korea's ICBM's apparently burned up in re-entry, so they may not be advanced as quickly as DIA estimated. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Immigrant teens say Trump's crackdown makes them more vulnerable to gang recruitment


Dan Lieberman has a major report on CNN about the possible unintended consequences of Trump’s and Jeff Sessions’s policy on sanctuary cities and quick deportations for illegals.  

Teenagers immigrated from El Salvador, speaking from Long Island suburbs east of NYC, report that gang members try to force them to join, even with physical attacks, because the teens or their parents fear deportation if they talk to police.



Trump, on the other hand, claims he is cleaning up MS-13, Washington Post story by David Nakamura, link. Trump may have some leverage in talking about this problem in his own suburban back yard, not far from the expensive homes on the Hamptons. 

Here is the White House's own video of Trump's Suffolk County NY speech today on the issue. Yet Dara Lind of Vox called this "the most chilling speech of the Trump presidency." It's the "don't be too nice" stuff -- indeed, what if the cops are wrong and profile you.   

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

North Korea has its own elite, and does business with Qatar


The Washington Post and other sources report that North Korea has sent weapons through Qatar to terrorists for cash, and apparently supplies slave laborers also, story by Adam Taylor here. Does DPRK have similar contact with Iran and with terror groups? 

The Post also reports on the Internet access by North Korean elites, here (Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima).

This is all significant.  Communist countries have always had a ruling party elite, although this was more pronounced with the Soviet Union than Red China.  Soviet chess masters were in the elite, as the Soviets viewed chess the way the US viewed pro football. 


The possibility of an elite means that North Korea can get young men to be trained in cyberwar, and in designing and testing missiles and nuclear weapons, even satellite-based EMP. 

The New York Times is a little skeptical of Washington Post reports on DIA studies saying North Korea could be able to reach the continental US with a nuke in early 2018, but says that US missile defenses are way behind and the Pentagon is running out of time.  
  
Wikipedia attribution link for Qatar picture by Stellar under CCSA 4.0. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

North Korea said to be capable of hitting US with nuke on ICBM in 2018, much sooner than previously expected


Ellen Nakashima, Anna Fifield, and Joby Warrick produced a Washington Post story this afternoon that raises alarms that North Korea is making progress toward an ICBM that could reach most of the continental US much faster than expected.


The major link is here.  The Washington Post treated this as breaking news right before Trump's press conference today. 

The story implies that North Korea may well be capable of striking continental US with a nuclear weapon from an ICBM before the end of 2018, less than two years into Donald Trump’s presidency. It’s rather frightening to imagine the blackmail schemes Kim Jong Un could come up with, not to mention giving stuff to Iran or even rogue terror groups.   

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trump applies "Atlanta" to asylum seekers around the country; hosting of LGBTQ aslyees seems to pick up in some cities


A couple of big news stories that can affect refugees and asylum seekers today.
  
First, SCOTUS apparently let the Trump refugee ban stand for now but slightly expanded family exceptions on the country-based travel ban.


Jason Dzubow wrote an article in the Asylumist noting that Trump had placed judges from Atlanta, which has a very low asylum seeker approval rate, in higher positions in the immigration system. “We’re all in Atlanta now” he writes, here. 

And Slate has a long article by Oscar Lopez, “For LGBTQ refugees in the United States, visibility is still a two-edged sword”, link .
  
The article notes a few asylum seekers who were hosted privately from homeless shelters, and also says that undocumented LGTBQ people are not told they could try to apply for asylum when put into detention (in practice, parole is very difficult).  Being “out” could be seen as challenging the immutability aspect of the “particular social group” rule, an idea I don’t’ remember reading before.  There is a lot to study here. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Local DC pastor slams travel bans, and the automatic coupling of Islam with political motives


Today Amanda Taylor gave a sermon at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC centered on religious freedom.

The emphasis was on recognizing faith for what it is, and always separating faith from political precepts.

She talked about freedom as requiring more than just toleration, and pluralism as a much more inclusive concept than simple diversity.

She also was critical of both versions of Trump’s travel bans toward the end of the sermon, but recognized that the Supreme Court will rule on them this fall.

Also today, on the TV blog, I mentioned Fareed Zakaria’s covering of the idea that Putin wanted Trump to be elected in order to undo the Magnitsky Act, which could threaten Putin’s hold on power.  It would be a good question as to whether some of the human rights abuses in question are related to the 2013 anti-gay propaganda law.  Putin has banned American couples from adopting Russian children in retaliation, although Putin is also concerned about a Russian population bust. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Former CIA director James Woolsey reiterates North Korea's EMP threat from a current satellite, making the ICBM launch moot


On CNN’s Don Lemon show tonight, former CIA director James Woolsey reiterated a statement he had made in March, that North Korea can launch an EMP attack against the US from an orbiting satellite at any time.

He had said this in March.

That would presume that DPRK can place a nuclear warhead on the satellite and detonate it when it passes over the US.

Woolsey says that DPRK has had this capability for four years, since about mid 2013.  Ironically, that’s when I made my visit to Oak Ridge, TN.

Woolsey says that this threat makes the targeting of current or future ICBM’s a side show.  He said Trump is uninformed on this matter.

Here is Woolsey's original WSJ article.

The cable stalled a moment tonight, making me wonder if the EMP had happened.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

North Korea apparently has launched a "primitive" ICBM; a game-changer with Trump in office?


The very latest scuttlebutt today is that North Korea’s claimed ICBM missile test probably was a two-stage ICBM.  Some accounts claim that were the trajectory made less of an uppercut and more like a line drive, it could have reached parts of Alaska.  It seems to have landed just barely within the DPRK’s claimed international waters.



The latest CNN story and analysis is here.  The Washington Post has more recent analysis, and it's grim, here. Vox's Alex Ward writes that is is a test for Trump, and that China has little motivation to help destabilized the regime because it doesn't want a refugee crisis (ironic).

The Wall Street Journal has a gif warning about the possible range of North Korea’s missiles “launch pattern” here.

It is unclear how close North Korea is to putting an operable nuclear warhead on an ICBM and having it re-enter.  But the most dire threat of all could be an EMP blast, now over South Korea or Japan, and later over western US / Alaska/ Canada. The projected range of DPRK’s missiles keeps increasing.



Update: July 5

Most news analysts believe that Un is insisted on becoming a nuclear power (comparable to Russia and China) to protect himself from having the same fate as Saddam Hussein and Qadaffi.  But the US already is unwilling to let Iran become a nuclear state.

Fox calls North Korea "the Mob State" that, like a crime family, will do anything to the bloodline. But Un especially has shown a willingness to go beyond mere self preservation.  Consider the unusual ugliness of the Warmbier death, which might have been a set-up  (how did anyone get to the 5th Floor, anyway, in the first place?)  The extreme Left has been capable of horrific personalized crimes in the past -- consider Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974.  North Korea seems to be behind some of the recent malware attacks, and consider what happened to a private company, Sony Pictures, over a movie that portrayed Un unfavorably?  (He expects to be worshiped by his people when he looks like the antithesis of binary cis  manhood.) Could Un out of a temper tantrum, threaten to use nukes in the future over a public insult from an American company or even a private citizen online?

CNN has a video on why North Korea hates the US, even personally. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

"Countercultural hospitality"


Today, at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, youth pastor Alyssa Aldape gave a sermon “Countercultural hospitality”. 

The acoustics of the church made it a little hard to follow, but the sermon seemed to argue the need for openness among Americans to be of personal assistance to some immigrants, such as potential refugees and asylum seekers, beyond the observance of the law.  This might have been applicable to the recent law proposed attacking sanctuary cities, and might have defended some people who, out of commitment of faith, are willing to house some undocumented people, especially in the border states, as has been in the news sometimes.

 The scripture was Matthew 10:40-42 


Friday, June 30, 2017

Congress cracks down on sanctuary cities; Kate's law; MS-13 recruits unaccompanied minors from Central America


The Cato Institute has an important piece opposing the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” (H.R. 3003) by Dave Bier, link here.  It would appear from a reading that the Bill probably does require local police to ask immigrant status in routine arrests or traffic stops (“don’t ask, do tell”).  Police departments have said that his approach may sometimes hinder cooperation in immigrant communities.

I don’t see mention of enhancing penalties for people who host immigrants who turn out to be illegal (which is possible but unusual).  Nevertheless, in some border areas, some faith groups have tried to encourage the practice based on their personal moral beliefs.

Bier also writes against “Kate’s Law”, which doesn’t seem too effective.  Bier points out that there are serious questions about federalism with both laws.



The Epoch Times has a big article by Charlotte Culbertson about unaccompanied minors from Central America (not including Mexico) being recruited by MS-13 once in the U.S.  It also mentions “sponsors” for the children in some states, but I don’t have any details on how this exist. In some cases, it is possible to remove minor children from detention and place them in foster care (LGBT blog, April 1).

Last Sunday, I did drive by the jail in Snow Hill, MD (SW of Ocean City) where some ICE detainees are held. It is not said to be a desirable facility.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Supreme Court allows most of Trump revised travel ban to go into effect temporarily until it hears case in October


The Supreme Court has allowed a limited travel ban from six “Muslim” countries to go into effect temporarily, while saying it will take up the full case in October.

The Court has ruled that the Trump administration cannot ban travel for foreigners who have a legitimate relationship (probably familial) with someone in the United States (who can provide financial support through the I-864 mechanism)   It would not authorize some kind of de facto “private sponsorship” however for people not yet in the country.  It does seem that people with job offers, or work or study arrangements could be admitted.

The Court seems to buy the idea that security validation from countries with chaotic or very hostile governments is very difficult.

The CNN story is here.

The court was unanimous on the partial ban but 6-3 on allowing the exceptions (Gorsuch voted against allowing them).

The case is Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, link.

Jeffrey Toobin points out that the “90 day” period keeps moving forward.

Friday, June 23, 2017

EU rules Russian anti-gay propaganda law in violation of treaty


The European Court has ruled that the 203 law in Russia banning the discussion of LGBTQ issues in public in a way visible to minors violates articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, which apparently Russia had signed.  The law was said to be discriminatory and a bar to free speech.
 
Michael Lavers has a story in the Washington Blade.

The law seems to have been inspired by a concern over the low Russian birth rate.

The law seem also to have indirectly inspired vigilante violence against LGBT people and led to closing or bars.  Some people have sought asylum in the US and Canada.

The EU ruling could make it safer for LGBT people from western countries, who are visible as such online, to travel in Russia.

Wikipedia attribution link for Moscow House of Music, CCSA 3.0, by pxNick. . 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cato study compares European and US immigrant terror risks, and in the US it is very low


Alex Nowrasteh has authored a study comparing the relative risk of deaths from immigrant terror attacks in European countries to that in the United States, where it is much lower, link here.

But the article admittedly implies that the greater volume of emergency immigration into Europe (asylum seeking rather than refugee) has resulted in larger civilian fatalities in Europe.
 
Many perpetrators have been in these countries a long time and have varied and complicated criminal histories beyond mere immigration.  And in the U.S., many perpetrators obviously had disturbing behavior and difficulties assimilating for a long time, often as adult children of people who had come here.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

North Korea makes its treatment of civilian POW's as ugly as possible


Peter S. Kim in the Asian Review writes about how na├»ve behavior with North Korea (especially by the South) could mean that nuclear weapons or EMP devices wind up in the hands of terrorists as well as the “terror state” itself, link.

Kim Jong Un looks fat and foppish, even girlish.  And his people worship him as a god?  Clay feet?

Otto Warmbier’s family will not allow future updates on their son’s condition, apparently awake but not aware. That makes this easier to bear for members of the public.   The DPRK has deliberately provided a situation as ugly as it can make it.  But the responsibility for this will remain with government, state, and the Trump administration (though the legacy goes back to Obama) and won’t become a subject of personalized fund-raising campaigns.

North Korea is a real enemy.  And eventually enemies can become personal responsibilities.

Wikipedia attribution link for DPEK-China picture by Roman Harak, CCSA 2.0

Update: June 20

The young man passed away Monday June 19 at about 2:30 PM.

There was a viewpoint expressed (by La Sha, on Huffington) that westerners should not feel privileged and express any contempt when they are there.

Some sort of tourism travel ban to North Korea (a reverse of Trump's ban now) sounds likely (as with  Trump on Cuba), Washington Post story.

Update: June 21

On Don Lemon's show, there were warnings that North Korean could be capable of launching an EMP blast over South Korea now.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Indonesia shows a shocking and sudden hostility to LGBT people


There has been a shocking and sudden deterioration of the lot of LGBTQ people in Indonesia since the beginning of 2016, as explained in this CNN article.

Sodomy has been a crime previously only in Aceh (site of the tsunami in 2004), but it may become so nationwide.



Politicians have suddenly discovered that gays make a convenient scapegoat. The especially prey on parental fears of not having descendants, and this is about procreation, even beyond Islam
 
This could lead to more asylum cases.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Cato briefs and publications seem to influence circuit courts in holding off Trump travel bans; more on detention


The Cato Institute notes that the Fourth and Ninth circuits do seem to have read that think tank’s work in reaching opinions forestalling various versions of Donald Trump’s travel bans.

Dave Bier has a piece on May 27 here .  Cato’s amicus brief for the Ninth Circuit was here.

The uncertainty and delays regarding these EO’s seem to be putting off a permanent policy where the US can admit legitimate refugees safely, maybe with private help, the way Canada does.

The Afghanistan case I discussed in the post Sunday would sound to me like a case Canada might address, through LGBT private sponsorship, not legally possible in the US now.  That would be a lot better than blind GoFundMe campaigns.

Yesterday I drove past a prison and detention complex to the east of US-1 in Jessup, MD (15 miles south of downtown Baltimore) where I am told some ICE detainees (including asylum seekers) remain in detention.  It looks like the facility is in two adjacent campuses;  I’m not sure how the detention is set up.  I am told it is a much less comfortable place than Farmville or Reading PA.  There is another facility in York, PA, also.

Generally, facilities holding ICE detainees seem to be set up physically so that it is very difficult for member of the public to photograph them well, even externally.  Farmville's is hidden from the road by a hill and slope.  The government doesn't want the public to pay attention to their existence.

Update: Later today:

The New York Times has a detailed article on the arrest of asylum seekers by ICE in some certain circumstances, by Nicholas Kulish, p. A10, link. One of these cases involves a Russian HIV+ man, and apparently Customs applies when returning from territories like the Virgin Islands. You would wonder if in the cases covered here (as with the Venezuelan), the people were carrying their papers showing legal asylum seeker status allowing them to be here,  I don't know if it matters if they were passive or defensive applicants.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Venezuela leading now with asylum seekers in US; more material on LTBTQ asylees at DC Pride 2017


CNN is reporting that the country supplying the most asylum seekers is now Venezuela, link here.
 

It's ironic because Venezuela is said to have offered asylum to Edward Snowden.

It also gave the USCIS link, well to repeat.

The Pride 2017 Manual has a story and gofundme campaign for a gay man in Afghanistan.  The link is here.

 Flip to page 94 in the Pdf document. The article is by Nemat Sadal.  Generally with gofundme’s to undemocratic countries I would want to know what really happens to the money.  There needs to be some lawful plan to help the person leave the country.  Canada is much better at this than the U.S. since it has private sponsorship of refugees.

The Manual also has a guide for LGBT asylum seekers on p. 76.  By Matthew Corso and Eric Scharf of DV Center Global.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Washington Post Outlook offers booklet on Israeli West Bank settlements


The Washington Post has a long Outlook Section Sunday June 4, “The 50-Years War”, by Dan Ephron, tracing the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank since 1967, here.

Israel college students often don’t know the geography of the Green Line, and the legalities of the Occupied Zone under Oslo II don’t seem to have been always observed.  And the growth of settlements grows more rapidly than Israel itself.



Vox had explained the legalities some time back, covered.

Wikipedia attribution link for Elon Moreh by Shuki. CCSA 2.5.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Social media companies come under new fire as conduits of terrorist propaganda after UK attacks



The two recent attacks in England, including a second vehicle attack on London Bridge last night, will bring attention back onto social media companies as sharing moral responsibility for allowing terror recruiting on their networks.

Twitter and Facebook have removed content and closed accounts, and are trying to develop automated detection tools comparable to what happens with child pornography.  Apparently many of the tools will depend on digital watermarks of known images (which Google can scan for with Picasa and gMail).  And we know that there are various lawsuits against social media companies from families of victims of terror attacks, including Paris, Santa Barbara and Orlando/Pulse.   Both companies are also fighting the weaponization of fake news.  European governments have been much more vocal about this than the US, and I would have expected Trump to say a lot more about this than he has so far.  I guess I’m giving him ideas.



A slightly older article on IJR explains how ISIS recruits.  After initial contact on Twitter, the process moves to the Dark Web.

While the problem is much more serious in Europe, social media companies will come under unified pressure.  Again, user generated content could not exist if social media companies had to screen every input before publication.

But Theresa May, British Prime Minister, said that terrorists must be denied their "safe spaces" online.
 
A group at the University of Maryland has developed a video game to help people learn to recognize radicalization.

Another video about why ISIS social media recruiting works with some youthful populations is here, link..

It's really hard to say where May's "Enough Is Enough" will wind up.

Perps of  crimes like these look for a religious ideology to justify their own nihilistic or "mean streak" compulsions.

May says she will not let the UK Human Rights Act deter her in fighting terrorism or detaining suspicious people, putting them on curfews ad denying them use of the Internet, link

Monday, May 29, 2017

Zakaria on GPS slams Trump's perspective on where the real terror threats are


On Sunday, Fareed Zakaria criticized President Donald Trump’s behavior in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe, particularly for cozying up to Saudi Arabia when the kingdom has, out of self-preservation for the royal family, spread the most extreme form of Wahhabism throughout the Sunni Muslim World. Trump scathed the leadership of the Muslim world for policies that leave their peoples in “squalor”. But his characterization of a terror-supporting state seemed to be directed at Iran, not Saudi Arabia.

True, Iran could strike at Israel and could support WMD’s that could be delivered covertly to the U.S.  But North Korea is a much more immediate and dangerous threat.  And ISIS was born in extreme Sunni Islam and could get its hands on some kinds of WMD’s (like radioactive devices) at some point.

Zakaria also offers this perspective in his “What in the world?” segment on the lack of freedom of thought on college campuses, and the demand for conformity from both the Left and Right.

ISIS is making inroads into Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines, invited extra-judicial martial law from Rodrigo Duterte, already using vigilantism against drug users.  Here is the CNN story,  TWT has been warning readers about this.  Some of the print-on-demand book industry depends on plants in the Philippines, which may be in affected areas.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Trump ponders staying in Paris climate change agreement, with a dangerous caveat


John Sutter has an op-ed about the wording of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and whether Trump will allow the U.S. to stay in.

The Paris agreement apparently does not require a country’s contribution to reduction in climate change become more ambitious with time.  That wording may persuade Trump to allow the U.S. to stay in.



The article an video are really quite graphic in the dire consequences ahead. A most inconvenient truth indeed.

Update: Sunday May 28

A conservative source indicates that Trump has told insiders he still intends to pull out, but then it gets complicated.

Update: Monday, May 29

Ted Cruz argues that Trump should withdraw from the climate pact. Cruz notes job loss in the US, but claims it doesn't require other countries to do their part and that it will not reduce warming significant.y.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

British intelligence clamps down on sharing intelligence with US after apparent leak to New York Times, which went viral on blogosphere


Manchester police and British authorities have warned the US that they will not continue sharing intelligence on counter-terrorism. President Donald Trump was scolded in Brussels today about the leak.

Specifically, the problem concerns a New York Times article that I added a link to on the previous blog post last night before I went to bed.  Apparently the photos and other details were classified. I guess you could say bloggers are part of the problem, as we have every incentive to share "intelligence" that we find.  This time it wasn't Wikileaks, it was a major newspaper.  The article apparently released the name of the prime suspect before British authorities were ready to announce it, and also showed sensitive photos of the devices.

OAN correspondent Trey Yingst tweeted the issue early today at first without a supporting link, and I retweeted, adding a comment about Trump's apparent sharing of Israeli intelligence with Russia.  Very shortly thereafter I saw that this was a "new" problem and that the NYTimes was involved, and that the president had not directly caused the problem, although he is responsible for it.  Trump has ordered the DOJ to investigate the leak.  It seems very unlikely to me that the NYTimes (or any blogger who relinked) has any exposure to real legal liability.

The latest Washington Post story on Trump's "orders" is here.  This can be a serious problem, because US authorities need overseas intelligence about possible novel threats, especially WMD.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of incident site by Dixon, under CCSA 2.0.


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”.  Other commentators have said that Trump simply could have said that murdering civilians is prohibited by the Koran (but there are those who question this).

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.
Update: May 24:

Detailed New York Times analysis of the evidence in Manchester by C. J. Chivers.

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".