Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Fox News ups the ante on North Korean EMP threat; will "non-conservative" news sites follow suit?

Anthony Furey of Fox News has posted a challenging story whose title ends with “We need to be prepared”. The previous words are “North Korea might be able to knock out power to millions of Americans”, link here

This is the first time I have seen a major story from a major broadcast network admitting that this is a real possibility.  I have seen stories from Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns TV stations, and Vox.  

I tweeted this and got a reply from “REAL Human Rights”, here
I’ve contacted OAN and CNN reporters on this story so far.  Let’s see if the coverage spreads. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"Remembering Vietnam" exhibit at the National Archives in Washington

Today, I visited the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibition in the O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives Museum in Washington DC.  The exhibit runs until Jan 6 (hope for no government shutdown).  While I was there, North Korea launched its longest ICBM test yet, which I found out on my phone after I left out. 
The exhibit follows the PBS film “The Vietnam War” by Ken Burns and is divided into the same twelve segments (“critical episodes”), and has film booths with segments from Burns.

The exhibits do not allow photography, out of concern for preservation of fading documents.

There is a top secret CIA cable after the TET offensive that seems naïve about Communist durability (there were followup attacks in April and August, 1968).

An early episode suggests that LBJ lied in complaining a second attack on the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. 

There is also material on LBJ’s spying on Anna Chennault during the 1968 election.

The panels demonstrate the constant loyalty in North Vietnam to the “socialist state”.

Public domain photos are available at the archives website. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Defector's escape could help undermine Kim Jong Un's regime; North Korea might be able to undermine American dollar as reserve currency; also big ICBM test

CNN has offered a video showing the defector’s escape from North Korea, here (Joshua Berlinger story)

Analysts have suggested that the Kin Jong Un regime might destroy two or three generations of the defector’s family, as well as remove the other soldiers who “let it happen”.

The defector was found to have tapeworm infestation, indicative of the poor sanitation of North Korea’s military.

And news of the defection is likely to leak into North Korea and weaken the regime.

But Vox and MSN have also suggested that Kim Jong Un’s suspension of missile tests seems related to the harshness of the Korean winter and might resume during the winter Olympics in South Korea.

And a Facebook friend sent me a Huffington article suggesting that North Korea could benefit from the tendency for Iran and Russia to avoid the “Petrodollar” (story by Alastair Crooke), and escape sanctions. This idea comports with Porter Stansberry’s theory that the entire financial system can implode if the dollar is abandoned as a reserve currency (cf blog Sept. 1, 2013).

Update: Nov. 28

On the 56th Anniversary of my own William and Mary expulsion, Kim Jong Un launches the longest hanging ICBM test yet, capable of traveling 8000 miles, including the entire US East Coast, if fired on a low trajectory. Trump says, "We'l take care of it."  Anna Fifield describes it in the Washington Post, saying experts are backing off on the likelihood that DPRK really can detonate a thermonculear weapon on re-entry (would add to weight).  CNN waffled on the state of US missile defenses.  What about an EMP device at high altitude (at least E1, which would not require much weight)?  There were some reports that the missile broke up.

It sounds like Trump could be tempted into pre-emption before DPRK really can detonate a nuke from an ICBM in flight (which DIA thought it might have already as far back as August). Is that "taking care of it"?

DPRK still has yet to detonate a weapon of any kind from a missile not over its own space.  That would be a game-changer.  US could have tried to shoot down today's launch.

Have noticed more people in uniform around Ballston (Arlington VA) the last few days (a lot of military intelligence agencies have office space there).

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Scattered news stories point to Putin's threat to Balkans, even to Finland, while politicians sleep

Recently, foreign  publications have been noting mounting tension not only in the Baltics (like Estonia) but also Finland, over the possibility that Vladimir Putin could make an aggressive move in all of northern Europe.

A brutal, seemingly random shooting of two female journalists and one other woman in Imatra, Finland, about two miles from the Russian border in early 2016, seems maybe not so random now (Guardian). The pundits at the time did get into the subject of Finnish gun ownership for reindeer hunts.  The town of Svetogorsk (“Fountain Park”) Russia is just four miles away, across the border. The whole area looks curious on Google maps, that you can follow to Lake Ladoga and then down to St. Petersburg.  The area was transferred from Karelia to the Leningrad oblask in 1948, apparently for political clarity. 

  In July, the UK express described the tunnels under Helsinki to deal with a possible Russian counter-NATO activity.  

And Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge explained about the same time how Finland was quietly preparing for possible Russian aggression. 

The Washington Examiner (a conservative paper), on Aug. 31, described how Russian exercises could form a prelude to an attack in Europe. 

And Russia has long term intentions of helping North Korea with a natural gas line, despite the tensions now.

We see a new model of aggression: post-Communist, sometimes secular and sometimes religious, statist capitalism and dictatorship precluded on “rightsizing” its individual citizens to keep a country “stable”.

The complicated backdrop from the past comes from the Russo-Finnish-wars early during WWII, which take a college history course to explain (later). 

The wars were covered in the 1999 Finnish film “Ambush” (“Tar Rukiejarven”) which I saw at the University of Minnesota when I lived in Minneapolis, and at least hinted at in the 2003 Russian film “The Return”, set around Lake Ladoga.   Maybe the world politicians are asleep on this one.

The Washington Diplomat has a piece on Oct. 31 by Larry Luxner, "From Digital Realm to Physical Terrain, Estonia Keeps Wary Eye on Russia", link.
By IKit - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Trump administration gives temporary Haitian immigrants the boot (18 more months)

The Trump administration is ending a temporary residency program for about 60,000 “refugees” from Haiti, many displaced by the January 2010 earthquake. The ABC News story is here

The action does not affect Haitians who went to Brazil or other countries in South America and then came here.

The immigration benefit will be extended one last time, until May 2019 (to 18 months).

I have never heard anything about what individual Americans could do about this, compared to other issues (for example LGBT asylum seekers).  I am not aware of any specific sponsorship programs, or of discussion that it should be expected.  But some churches have targeted projects for specific countries in Central America and in the Caribbean, which would then include Haiti.

Early in the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s, “Haitians” were considered one of the “4 H’s”.  

Sunday, November 19, 2017

China's obsession with personal rightsizing

Helen Gao has a disturbing article in the New York Times Nov. 15, “The Chinese Communist Party's Guide to Moral Living”.   China seems to be trying to make it credible that a country can seem advanced in interaction with the outside world and still demand moral rightsizing of its citizens at the individual level.  That keeps the well-off from having to watch their backs due to instability where the less well-off have nothing to lose. It also funds individualized dissent as a form of speech that adds to that instability among those who really get “exploited.”

Update: Nov. 28

Ian Bremmer, in a Time Magazine article Nov. 13, 2017, p. 41, "Advantage China: China's state-dominated economy is built to win the future", described China's "social credit system".  Imagine if your web or social media behavior and even your community engagement (or lack of it) were folded into a credit score or "karma". 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Extortion, blackmail against LGBTQ people common in many African countries, especially Nigeria

A Wordpress posting by Mike Daemon today points to the practice of extortion and blackmail in African countries with strict anti-gay laws, especially after robberies.  The link is here
Right now Nigeria seems to be one of the worst countries for this.  All of that is disturbing, in contradiction to the entrepreneurial aspect of business in Nigeria in a recent report on “Parts Unknown” by Anthony Bourdain. (TV blog, Oct. 15, 2017). 

Wikipedia attribution link by Benji Robinson, CCSA 4.0 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ethiopian communism results in a society of prying eyes

The New York Times has a rather striking article Kimikno de Freytus-Ramura, “We are everywhere: How Ethiopia became the land of prying eyes.”

Communism was presented to me when I was younger as a system where everything you say is watched, and this sounds like it is the case in Ethiopia as the government recruits nested legions on spies on each other in all the villages.  And there seems to be a party system that provides some privilege.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture by Senay of capital Addis Ababab. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pentagon admits it can't take out "Un" threat without ground war in North Korea

NBCNews is reporting that South Korea has said “War with Kim Jong Un must not happen”, story by F. Brinley Bruton, two days after NBC particularly had made a point of reporting Pentagon findings that it would take a ground invasion to remove all of North Korea’s hidden nuclear test sites and missile launchers. 

Of course, air strikes (maybe 4G tactical nuclear weapons based on new laser triggers) from the US could destroy maybe most of these capabilities, but not all, to prevent retaliation, possibly against the US.

This morning the Cato Institute in Washington held a 3 hour forum on what to do about North Korea. I’ll have a detailed posting about it on Wordpress soon, along with complete videos. There was concern that the US does not really have reliable missile defense, and that it may not make sense to defend South Korea forever (that is, in time the old Domino Theory of the LBJ era could kick in).

North Korea has been “warning” Trump not to do or say anything rash on his Asia trip (he will not visit the DMZ).  Fat-shaming chance, as per Milo. ("Fat little rocket man”??) 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Presbyterian group sponsors benefit concert and dance for Syrian and Iraqi refugees

Three Presbyterian churches in northern Virginia (Trinity Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, and Immanuel Presbyterian Church of McLean VA, held a benefit Saturday night “Hope Rising:Refugees Rebuilding Lives” for Syrian and Iraq refugees.

The benefit was in part sponsored by Rev. Elmarie Parker and Rev, Scott Parker, from the Associates for Ecumenical Partnerships.  They sponsor a program called “Strong Kids, Strong Emotions”.

The music was provided by a group called “Collective a’Chord”.  

Thursday, November 2, 2017

CNN interviews military family stationed in South Korea living under threat and possible evacuation order

Brooke Baldwin on CNN interviews a US family living under threat of a “retaliation” from Kim Jong Un from the North.

This is a military family in a “house”. Home is back in the states. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Latest NYC attack invokes the problem of "gratuitous" social media

Certainly this tragedy is going to illustrate how the many in any social group can be punished for the sins of a few. 

Trump says he is eliminating the “diversity lottery” and changing to a “merit-based” system but Congress has little appetite for anything now.  

And what seems particularly disburbing Sayfullo Saipov, from Uzbekistan, not only reportedly bragged to police and seemed well off economically, but that he followed “gratuitous” social media recruiting methods to a tee.   He seems to be radicalized in the US since 2010. 

But he also acted like a self-appointed soldier, who looks at civilians as enemy combatants.

The Boston Tsarnaev brothers had come from part of Russia, and this terrorist comes from a former Soviet republic.  Does a history of communism also play into the mindset?  It should be noted that the only "communist" or post-communist country on any Trump list is North Korea.