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.