Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Trump's vision of national security seems naive to CIA; North Korea wants the rest of the world to denuclearize before it will

Intelligence and FBI chief briefed the Senate Intelligence committee Wednesday and, to put it mildly, disagreed with Donald Trump’s rosy assessment of US security. ABC News has a summary

Russia and China are both dangerous with their cyber campaigns, which may be able to cripple sectiosn of US infrastructure.  But most of all, Russia is able to exploit the divides among Americans that exist on personal levels, which keep them being able to accommodate the needs of others whom they feel are enemies or beneath them, without feeling personally slighted.

And intelligence is skeptical of Trump’s handling of North Korea, where Trump claims that missile development and testing has stopped even if it meant buttering up Kim Jong Un.  Trump has even said so publicly since the summit.

But Iran is not the threat to the US Trump claims it is, although it is a threat to Israel which could make it a threat to the US.

Remember how Turkey fit into resolving the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Trump’s claims about the southern border are seen as exaggerated, although even EFF now says that sometimes physical barriers are better than cyber surveillance. 

Brookings discusses the negotiations with the Taliban. And the CIA thinks ISIS can come back. 
Kamala Harris mentioned power grid security today, possibly thinking about the PSEG bankruptcy.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Venezuela: hyper-socialism fails; "I told you so".

The New York Times outlines the situation in Venezuela, “Between Maduro and a Hard Place”. 

Juan Guaido declared himself president, as if any engineer (like Nicholas Taleb) could.

The editorial supports Trump in this case. Various other editorials trace the inevitable collapse of socialism with falling oil prices, cronyism, the failure of the “collectives” and their corruption. And the collapse of the experiment with socialism, started under praise from Chomsky in 2009, seems never to teach the necessary lesson (Octavia-Cortez and Umair Haque).
By The Photographer - Own work, CC0, Link

Friday, January 25, 2019

Right wing populists make videos about demographic winter in Europe, blaming childless prime ministers

This little video from Red Ice plays the “demographic winter” card in Europe.

It notes that at least nine prime ministers or state heads in Europe don’t have children, so they don’t care as much about Europe’s future – that is, they don’t care about the supposed political threat from Muslim immigration of refugees and asylum seekers. Remember Bruce Bawer’s book “While Europe Slept.”
This is certainly feeding separatism and ethnic nationalism in Europe.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tensions between Israel and Iran grow, with threats: upcoming talks with North Korea; US "national security threat" idea

Israel has done air strikes against Iranian positions in Syria.

Trey Yingst does a major report for Fox News, including a threat that a war with Iran would wipe Israel off the map.

The hot talk is important because it could worm its way into Donald Trump’s desire to find an excuse for a national security emergency in the US so that he can grab more control, even as he is under possible impeachment or criminal prosecution threats.

In the meantime Pompeo is talking to South Korea and Japan about North Korea in preparation for another summit with North Korea at the end of February.  

Yet there are other reports of a newly discovered missile test site in North Korea. That’s closer to a real national security crisis.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Australian study on race and IQ in South Africa seems to have unwelcome conclusions

I’ll share a video post from “Australian Realist” that compares IQ’s by race in a college class in South Africa.  I won’t embed because it’s pretty scary.

The stuff about brain size and even women’s birth channel size sounds like the stuff from Nazi pseudo-science.  But the problem here, what if this data is correct?

You hope that it’s explainable by colonialism, and accumulated effects of poverty, disease, and bad environments.  Perhaps.
It’s also true that race is a very arbitrary category.  People in India who look “dark” are technically Caucasian, and within almost all “races” populations that evolved closer to the Equator have more skin pigment. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Japan stands out in not having polarization among its people; BigThink explains why ("Trump is a symptom")

BigThink offers a video explaining that “Trump is a symptom” not a cause.  It’s happening in all modern countries, except Japan. I believe this video was sponsored by the Koch Foundation.

The four big causes (this sounds like a test question) are (1) people falling behind indirectly as a result of free trade (2) resentment of immigration even though generally immigrants cause less crime of natives – we don’t take care of our own first (3) the military – foreign wars, especially in the middle east, fought by enlisted men with a “backdoor draft” (like the Paramount film “Stop-Loss”, Movies blog, March 29, 2008) and (4) social media, where companies sell more ads to people if they keep them in echo chambers seeing content they “like”.
Japan has a shrinking population and almost no immigration, and oddly it discourages the presence of political information on social media.  Actor Reid Ewing, when he had his twitter account, presented some material on multiple visits to Japan and Danganronpa manga comics a few years ago.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

China's Internet censorship by door-to-door

Gerry Shih describes how personal Internet censorship gets in China, with a Washington Post article today here. 

Twitter is officially banned, but people use it under the table.

But the government manually censors use and will pay home or office visits to users to demand removal of political material.

The state will even hack Twitter accounts.

Why is the state so unwilling to let citizens to talk about politics? Is it to hide corruption? 

You see the same attitude among the far Left in the US now.  If individuals can take it upon themselves to talk politics without the group, there is no solidarity, no loyalty, and inequality and “exploitation” persists.   Look at the recent scandals with Patreon and payment processors.  It will only get worse.
Of course, this all goes into the “social credit score” in China which the radicals want to bring here.

Update: Jan. 11

Paul Mozur has another article on draconian censorship in China, where a man is interrogated for using Twitter, even when out of the country.

In Maxist ideology, collective social order is a high priority and can be undermined by individual political speech. 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

NBA player won't travel to London because of fears of reprisals from Turkey; are controversial Americans safe overseas?

New York Knicks player Enes Kanter will not travel with the New York Knicks to London to play Washington January 17 out of fear of possible assassination attempt in the UK by spies from Turkey, after his criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Fox43 News reports 

Outspoken bloggers (even myself) could face danger if traveling to non-democratic countries like Russia, I suspect.  I’ve been critical publicly of Russia’s 2013 anti-gay propaganda law.
CNN discusses the arrest of Paul Whelan in Russia here

Friday, January 4, 2019

Do we need that Wall? Probably so, in many areas

OK, Tucker Carlson interviews Mike Pence, who insists there must be a wall.

There is a transcript with the YouTube video of the interview. 

Let’s now present the other side. The Washington Post analyzed Trump’s tweets on Jan. 1, here   Most salient points: more illegal aliens are here with overstayed visas than illegal entry. True.

 People can tunnel under walls to transport drugs. True.  You need other enforcement.

I’ve even tweeted “Economic Invincibility” to ask if he’ll do a video analyzing all of this – because quite a few people in the negotiations know him (especially on the Trump side).

My own take.  I’m familiar with arguments (Vox) that say that walls aren’t needed in all the rural areas (may be very difficult to build like in the Big Bend, for example). 

I lived in Texas in the 1980s.  I’ve driven in the border areas.  I’ve hiked and backpacked at least once.  In 1979 I crossed with a rental car when it was easy. 

Ranchers in the area say they leave out water for stragglers on their properties.  So negotiators should talk to the ranchers.

But it’s “manifestly observable” that it’s pretty easy to cross the river and come into the country in many areas.  You do need a physical wall, or high transparent fence with mesh on top, in many areas.
Democrats are silly when they say “walls are not who we are.”  We do need them in many areas.  It is now more likely that large caravans would try to cross in areas they know have no protection.
But the idea that Mexico would pay for it was, well, dumb.  

One person to ask about this is Taylor Wilson at the University of Nevada.  I know he has worked on high-tech border security and inspections of cargo. 

Update: Jan. 14 

There are small border towns where people have houses and yards right on the Rio Grande with no wall or barrier.  Homeowners say there is no crime, but they do see migrants swim across the river sometimes and traverse property.  Despite what they say, this could be a real security problem.  Eminent domain might mean purchasing the land and having to pay for new homes to be built on land some distance, like a mile or more, from the border, off the river.  Katie Zazema et al have a Washington Post article Jan. 10. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

China maintains factory-like working conditions for its proletarian censors

Li Yuan has a booklet-length article in the New York Times on Thursday, January 3, 2019, about how draconian China’s Internet censorship really is, link,Censoring China’s Internet for Stability and Profit”. 

The article describes the factory-like conditions under which the censors work, and even their academy-like training.

The censors must memorize a lot of facts about Chinese history to recognize the pseudonyms common in Internet memes.

China views censorship as essential to political and social political stability because it sees excessive speech as contradictory to the personal “rightsizing” in Marxist moral philosophy.

Censorship will be tied to China’s social credit score system.  
It seems odd that the US stock market should now be so tied to China, and Trump’s trade war has become reckless.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Proponents of Wall expose underground sex trafficking, and FOSTA won't stop it

Today I saw a post on a FB friend’s site that included a long discussion from someone (female) who had worked in border security in Texas.  She also said she had connections with the Honduran government and intimate knowledge of MS-13.

She argued for the Wall.  She also talked about trafficking and claimed that governments are facilitating it.  I shared it on my timeline  . It doesn’t seem that I can give it a more specific URL (pages you can). FOSTA won't stop this kind of pipeline. 

I suggested that ranchers, who actually put out food and water for undocumented stragglers on their property, give input to Congress on what will actually work. 
Matthew Yglesias of Vox argues why a wall in many areas is ineffective as security policy. Trump is simply unable to keep fooling his base with what he probably knows (by now) is an ineffective policy idea.