sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Geopolitics - North Korea and China


Chilling relations between China and North Korea are becoming more evident. It's North Korea's game at this point and they can choose how it ends. 

The Korean People’s Army (KPA) celebrated its 85th anniversary today. Reuters reported that North Korean forces staged a massive live-fire artillery demonstration at a military base near Wonsan. The Party daily, Rodong Sinmun, reported, "There is no limit to the strike power of the People's Army, armed with our style of cutting-edge military equipment including various precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles." 

All open source news services reported that only conventional weapons systems participated in the display.

According to the Daily NK, North Koreans in the China border region were disappointed that China did not send a delegation to North Korea on Kim Il-sung’s birthday on 15 April. They interpreted that as a portent of difficult times ahead.

This is the first credible report that did not send a delegation to Pyongyang to honor Kim Il-sung. The Chinese Foreign Ministry press spokesperson has been asked on multiple occasions whether China sent a delegation to watch the North Korean military parade on the 15th. The spokesperson always replied that China and North Korea are friendly neighbors. The two sides always maintain friendly exchanges.

On 24 April, the spokesperson was asked whether China sent a delegation to watch the military parade. The spokesperson again replied that China and North Korea are friendly neighbors. The two sides always maintain friendly exchanges.

A Chinese official snub of Kim Il-sung’s birthday means that relations with North Korea are extremely strained. If the Chinese also boycotted the KPA anniversary, relations might be at an all-time low.

China Daily is an English language daily newspaper owned by the China Daily Information Company. The BBC describes it as state-owned, meaning that it carries official views. They published an editorial today on China’s assessment of the confrontation with North Korea. Excerpts follow:
“… the situation is still inflammable.” 
“For as the sanctions imposed by the United Nations begin to bite deeper, the possibility that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea might become reckless out of desperation has never been higher….” 
“Judging from their recent words and deeds, policymakers in Pyongyang have seriously misread the UN sanctions, which are aimed at its nuclear/missile provocations, not its system or leadership. They have unfairly misrepresented Beijing's role in the process, disregarding its preoccupation with peace, humanitarian concerns and non-interference in the DPRK's domestic affairs. And they have greatly underestimated the international community's-not just any individual stakeholder's political will to denuclearize the peninsula.” 
“They are at once perilously overestimating their own strength and underestimating the hazards they are brewing for themselves.” 
“They need to reassess the situation so they do not make any misjudgments.” 
“Likewise, Washington should continue to exercise restraint and pursue a peaceful resolution to the issue.” 
“There have already been enough shows of force and confrontation, it is time for Pyongyang and Washington to take a step back from their previous rhetoric and instead heed the voices of reason calling for peaceful denuclearization of the peninsula.”
The editorial praised the President Trump for using “impressive patience” after announcing the end of “strategic patience.” It also praised him for agreeing with “peace-minded China.” It said tension has eased, but the situation is still dangerous. (Don't expect the corrupt, lying, smug, elite mainstream media in the USA to report the praise.)

The editorial restated themes from an earlier Chinese commentary that the North Korean policymakers are misreading their situation and that they have overestimated their strength and underestimated their peril.

The message is that UN sanctions and Chinese enforcement actions are not directed at overthrowing the North Korean government and system. They are designed to persuade North Korea to halt specific programs that China opposes. 

Kim Jong Un personally identifies with the missile and nuclear programs. Chinese advice and wisdom probably are unwelcome and, thus far, unheeded. At the same time the Chinese are exerting more pressure during this confrontation – including sanctions enforcement and use of blunter, more critical language -- than in any past crisis.

Brief Summary

You can make of this what you will. This blog does not tell you how to think or what to think, but simply provides the information with a little analysis that may or may not be correct. I don't think that anyone can tell you how this will end. Doing that would require that we crawl into the muddy, mushy minds of the power elite who rule North Korea and into the mind of the fat, near-sighted Dear Leader, bad haircut and all.   

China likely has spies close to the throne. Their reaction tells us things that we may not have direct knowledge of. All that is disturbing.

China has repeated to the US that North Korea is their problem and that they will deal with it. President Trump said that North Korea is China's problem and that they should deal with it. China is praising President Trump for impressive patience and agreeing with China.

Things are coming to a head with the Norks.



Monday, April 24, 2017

Geopolitics - North Korea

Because of the general interest in North Korea that has been building for some time, I'll keep updating y'all on details. The mouse that roared is continuing to roar. It's what they do.

Kidnapping as a Signal

North Korea detained a Korean-American professor at Sunan international airport outside Pyongyang just before he was boarding an aircraft for China. The professor had just completed a month-long course at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. In my humble opinion, ANYONE who travels to North Korea essentially signs their own death warrant. If they come back out, they dodged a bullet. I don't think that the US should take extraordinary means to rescue/save them beyond the general humanitarian efforts that we always make to ease the suffering of US prisoners held by savage and uncivilized nations.

North Korea has not announced the arrest. The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which performs consular functions for the US, informed the press, but provided no information about the reason for the arrest.  Kidnapping is a tactic that the North Koreans sometimes use to invite talks with the US without appearing to be weak. However, President Trump is not his predecessors. Kidnapping may be something that the Norks like to use, but that is unlikely to bring the US to any sort of bargaining table during this administration.

Nuclear Weapon Test

North Korea has resumed activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Volleyball time has ended. The workers have placed more camouflage materials over trailers and equipment.

The imagery analysts at 38 North published an update of the status of the site based on the latest imagery. On 19 April, the site was judged to be in standby status. That has ended, though a volleyball court outline is still visible. The judgment still stands that the North Koreans can detonate a nuclear device at any time. 

North Korea issued more threats against the US and against the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. One threatened a "super mighty attack". The threats against the US are worth relating. The North Koreans have submarines that can be deployed against the carrier battle group. The carrier battle group also includes attack submarines that specialize in sinking enemy submarines.

The North's Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which serves as a liaison in inter-Korean affairs, issued a statement on Friday, 21 April. It warned that, "Anyone who threatens Pyongyang must be ready for South Korea to be turned into ashes, the sinking of the Japanese archipelago and nuclear hail to rain down on the US mainland.”

The North Koreans heavily rely on US press releases for locating US aircraft carriers beyond the Sea of Japan. They can be deceived and regularly miss US deployments that are made without accompanying press releases.

The anniversary of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) is 25 April. It is another occasion for a show of capabilities.

China-Russia

On 21 April, news services reported alerts and force movements by China and Russia towards the North Korean border.

Some units of the Chinese air force reportedly were placed on high alert. Specifically mentioned were Chinese bombers equipped with air launched cruise missiles. They reportedly conducted a major exercise in northeast China. China denied the aircraft alert.

Reports on Russian movements said that ground force units were moving to the North Korean border. The Russian government denied that it was reinforcing the border, but did not deny that troops moved into the border area. It said the troops were returning to base from deployments in other regions. 

The Russian border with North Korea is 17 kms long, just northeast of Sonbong. It is not an area where major Russian troop units can be concentrated. Vladivostok, however, is a major Russian port and military town. It is 170 miles northeast of the North Korean border.

This was an unusual convergence of reporting for nothing to be happening. Something North Korea did or was about to do seems to have got the attention of the Chinese and the Russians.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Really?

File this one under, "aren't you special!" (with a Southern, "bless your heart" thrown in for good measure)
Outraged Muslims are reportedly planning a May 1 demonstration at the Amazon headquarters in Seattle, Washington. The company is under fire after several Muslim security guards demanded time and space to pray five times a day, while on the job
The guards contend in a lawsuit filed this week that the subcontractor who employs them does not appropriately accommodate their faith and retaliates against those who speak out. 
There are a few things that stand out here. (1) Why would you want to hire a Muslim security guard? Think on that one for a while. (2) Can't they drop and pray at the lunch room? - The whole aloha snack bar thing seems appropriate in a place where people are nuking frozen burritos, slurping down vending machine coffee and pulling left-over spaghetti stuffed into tupperware out of the common refrigerator. (3) I'm sure that the broadcast of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer will offend somebody and we wouldn't want that, now, would we? (4) Why can't Amazon host a "draw Mohammed" competition? (5) Finally, there would be something terribly wrong going on if Muslims weren't outraged at something (a daily event for the religion of peace).

Amazon has dedicated prayer rooms for Mohammedans (note the linked article above) The Muzzies are mad because they don't have ENOUGH OF THEM. Amazon does not provide dedicated prayer rooms for Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Baptists, Mormons, Sikhs, Animists, Native Americans (sweat lodges), Pagans, Buddhists or Hindus - and a mini casino for the agnostics and atheists. I call that religious discrimination. 


Bullet Points


In Sweden and France, they're
Mohammedans
In the USA they're rich college kids.
Sunday Sermonette - The glories of the progressive agenda may be something that plays well with college professors and administrators, but it doesn't play well in Fly-Over-Country. You know, the place that elected Donald Trump to be President - and elected the legislature - and supported Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court.

I was at my grandson's flag football game yesterday and my daughter's mother-in-law was also there. She is reading Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign, and she may be the only person on the planet who dislikes Hillary more than I do. She gave the book high marks and is not surprised that Hillary spent good money to hire people to find out who leaked. The book paints Hillary Clinton as a nasty, mean, egotistical, shrewish, smug, lying, incompetent (bitch) candidate. No surprise there. We know that Bill wants nothing to do with her.

The surprise to Democrats was that America saw through the smoke screen, generated by the lying, smug, elitist mainstream media's white-wash of her.  Hillary out-spent President Trump well over two-to-one and felt that would be what she needed to win.

I can't recommend the book because I haven't read it yet, but if Nancy is enjoying reading how the authors are skewering Hillary, it's got to be good.

Chicago Homicide - numbers still lead the aggregate of Juarez and Tijuana, Mexico again this month in what has become a national disgrace. Anything from the elite mainstream media on the wholesale slaughter of black-on-black crime? Not a peep.

And while I'm discussing the media, you don't see any of their vaunted incisive reporting on Mohammedans engaging in female genital mutilation of pre-pubescent girls (I support the AHA foundation). The practice is SICK and the people doing it (often Islamic family members) need to be imprisoned at hard labor for life. When they die, bury a freshly killed pig in the grave with them. (The 8th Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment doesn't apply here because they're dead when you dump the freshly killed swine in the hole for the six foot drop to rest in peace next to them for all time.) And if you don't like my take on the situation, I offer you a heartfelt, aloha snack bar. I have no time for crimes against children. Public flogging is not enough (see suggested sentence, above).

The French Presidential Election - moves forward with the run-off today. The votes are not in as of this blog posting, but Le Pen stands a good chance of being in the final two. There are those who are upset that she has a philosophy that French people should come first in France and that France's interests are more important to French people than Europe's. If she should win, she proposes a FREXIT from the EU, following the British model. The EU leadership is a mixture of smug, pro-Islamists who wish to force France to accept more Mohammedan savages - not a good idea in a nation with at least documented 10,000 jihadis running around springing regular terrorist attacks and killing the innocent. The French should do what's right for them. The US elected President Trump to build a wall, drain the bureaucratic swamp and help make America great again. The Brits voted to leave the EU. Why should the French do otherwise?

Ann Coulter - pretty here
prettier in person
Has the World Gone Mad? - Bill Maher, a liberal whacko, is defending Ann Coulter, whose April 27 speech at Cal-Berkeley was canceled amid concerns of another attack by the Democrat Party faithful. She's showing up on April 27 anyway. It's a public school, funded at taxpayer expense. Free speech should be respected...should be.
Maher said this sort of thing goes on at campuses nationwide, calling it the liberals' version book burning. "They invite someone to speak whose not exactly what liberals want to hear and they want to shutter it," Maher said. "I feel like this is the liberal's version of book burning. And it's got to stop."
Bruce Jenner - is back in the news, having announced that he had his courting tackle removed. The 66 year old former Olympian is a lesbian. Tell me how that makes any sense and I'll buy you a (cheap) cigar. Jenner has a screw loose. He'll be on Fox News on Monday (Tucker Carlson show in Bill O'Reilly's old time slot) to discuss it. I have a feeling that I'll need to take a pass on that.

Benediction to the Sermonette: My take on Islam - may be different than you think it is. The peaceful exercise of religion is a protected activity in the US. Islam is a political system that masks itself as religious faith, thus the duality and the problem. I have no issue with Muslims who follow the law of the land, but we have seen time and time again where they set themselves above it. Wife beating, mutilating little girls, honor killing, etc. are barbaric and intolerable, savage practices embraced by Islam. They need to be prosecuted with extreme vigor* so that the savages can pack their $hit and flee back to the hell holes that they left if they can't live with that. The official stance of the USA should be "caution" when it comes to Islam - "tolerance with a BIG F-ing caveat".

*See suggestion above - imprisonment at hard labor for life. When death arrives, bury them with a freshly killed pig.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day

An Interesting Rant

Michelle Obama promoted "healthy"
school lunches that turned out to be
too foul for children to eat.
The Fox News website had an interesting piece on school nutrition. It seems that schools in the American South have banned grits. I'm not sure what a grit is. I've eaten them before, but not being from that part of the country, I don't eat them regularly. The Obama White House apparently banned them in schools along with biscuits and gravy. Naturally, as the article points out, biscuits should be made from buttermilk and Martha White Flour. 
The Obama administration also had a problem with traditional Southern buttermilk biscuits made from Martha White Flour. 
“Biscuits have to be 100 percent whole grain,” Ms. Dillard said. “It’s not the kind of biscuit you would see at a restaurant.” 
Nor is it the kind of biscuit you would see on your grandmother’s dining room table or a Wednesday night church supper. Why, no self-respecting Southerner would ever serve such an atrocity.
The people of Alabama are trying to restore the imbalance caused by the era of Obamanation and want both grits and genuine biscuits returned to the school menu. The Obama menu included the government sanctioned whole grain cathead biscuits but the kids just threw them in the trash...who wouldn't? I would think that the biscuits could be thrown by high school students, but if you hit somebody in the head with one, it could kill him. There's a lot of liability there.

What's Taught in School

Teachers in Great Britain must be insane. (Fox News) But I'm not going to say that it won't or isn't happening in the US, because our education system is twisted beyond all rationality at present. The British Teacher's Union wants to encourage sodomy as a lifestyle choice among daycare children.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) called on members this week at their annual conference in Wales to promote LGBTQ issues to children -- beginning in nursery school. NUT also urged ministers to make proposed sex and relationship education “inclusive” of lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues. 
“It is far better that children are provided with accurate information in the classroom rather than inaccurate information in the playground,” a NUT booklet on advice for teachers about LGBTQ equality and transgender issues said.
Happy Earth Day 

Predictions made around 1970 when the “green holy day” (aka Earth Day) started:

1. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.

3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”

6. Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”

7. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.

8. Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

9. In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”

10. Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”

11. Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.

12. Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.

13. Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).

14. Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.'”

15. Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

16. Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

17. In 1975, Paul Ehrlich predicted that “since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it.”

18. Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

Being a skeptic at settled science has some basis in reality. It's good to look at the past, even though the progressive thing to do is listen to your local Democratic Party apparatchik and take what they say as gospel.

Syria

US news sources reported that Syria has redeployed most of its operational combat aircraft near the Russian base of Khmeimim in northwestern Syria. The move is said to be a precaution to deter additional attacks by the US from destroying the Syrian air force.

The Syrian government denied the report. A spokesman said that some aircraft routinely moved to Khmeimim and others used it because of its proximity to terrorist targets.

Russian forces and the Russian government have been severely criticized for not shooting down any of the US cruise missiles used in the 7 April attack. When Russia deployed advanced air defense systems to Syria, military officials said that they were to help defend Syria from outside aggression. They later revised that mission statement, but Russian analysts commented that the US attack fell within the rules of engagement for any basic air defense mission.

Some writers suggested that the missiles were not used because they are not effective against US cruise missiles. They wrote that the government is doubly embarrassed by the US attack because it occurred and because it revealed the limits of the anti-missile system in which the Russian government has heavily invested.

The Russians are now under pressure to demonstrate the effectiveness of the air defense system. I don't think that they want the US to launch a cruise missile attack on Khmeimim Air Base to demonstrate its effectiveness (or lack thereof) all the same...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Follies

Racial Self-Identification

I had lunch on Wednesday with a friend who is a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council. The White Mountain Apache have a reservation in Arizona and the land that the White Wolf Mine is on, once belonged to the White Mountain Apache before the white soldiers came and stole it from 'us'. During lunch, I told him that I am self-identifying as a White Mountain Apache since race is fluidic. However, in the effort to remain on friendly terms, I wouldn't put a claim on federal (welfare) money due tribal members, and didn't intend to build a casino. 

He looked at me as if I'd just eaten a raw bass. I went on to explain that I would, however, claim the tribal right to hunt big game on Indian land whenever I felt like it (a tribal perquisite). 

He thought that I was joking, but I "educated him" (but he wasn't buying the BS) that since white men and women can claim negro status if it advances their personal agendas, and Elizabeth Warren, a senator, can claim to be an Indian in order to make $330,000 to teach one class at Harvard, it's only right that the tribe recognize me as a member in those moments when I want to go hunting. When I'm not hunting, I can remain an evil white man, occupying what once belonged to the Apache. 

The discussion wound around with some harsh words for Senator Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren (D-MA) from the Chief. It would be interesting to see Senator Warren come to the White Mountain, San Carlos or Ft. Apache reservations in Arizona. Her welcome would be one for the ages and we'd want to insure that there were plenty of cameras present to record her homecoming, the scalping, being stretched over an anthill, massacre of her bodyguards, etc. 

I'll cut to the chase. I can go hunting as his guest on Indian land, (Whatever game I kill will be left on the rez. to feed people in need. I'm fine with that.) but the White Mountain Apache don't recognize gender or racial fluidity. How can this be? (I hear you scream) Arn't Indians down for the progressive movement. I thought that after the Sioux and Standing Rock that they embraced the "new racial paradigm". Apparently not on the rez. 

Politics - Free Advice to the Donkeys


The Democrat Party is still slugging it out by trying to out-nasty itself in the hopes that swing voters will be swayed by the filth and invective. They need to put somebody in charge who is from outside of their inner circles and who is a decent human being if they want to reach the America that is represented on the map. It would also help to put the love of sexual perversion on hold while doing this. The Dems don't even have to bring it up. Simply by being decent human beings, they might recover some of their lost empire.

The amazing thing is that it doesn't seem to have occurred to any ranking Dems. Nastier is better has become their mantra. And if you think that they were upset with having Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch take the bench at the Supreme Court, they're REALLY not going to like it when President Trump appoints the next round. They're pinning their hopes on taking back the US Senate in 2018, and hoping that Justice Ginzburg and Justice Beyer can hold out that long. Justice Kennedy will almost surely step down this summer offering President Trump another nominee.

The Politics of Tampons

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is rolling out a new pilot program to provide free menstrual products in several of its campus bathrooms — including some men’s restrooms.

The public university will offer the women’s hygiene products in three campus buildings. In two of them, Helen C. White and Sterling halls, the products will be available in all of the women’s restrooms, said Steve Wagner, a spokesman for the school, in an email to The College Fix.

But in a third venue, the Red Gym, the products will be available in all of the building’s bathrooms, he said. Wagner said: “Menstrual products will be available in all of the bathrooms of the Red Gym so that they are available to any student who might need them.”

It appears the products are needed in men’s bathrooms to benefit transgender males (biological women who identify as male).

The three-level Red Gym houses the institution’s Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Campus Center, the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiative, Multicultural Student Center and a variety of other student and academic programs and divisions, according to its website.

United Airlines - the Beating Continues

...and they deserve it.




Thursday, April 20, 2017

What about Mali?

Islam on the move in Mali

French news services reported on 19 April that a wave of attacks and clashes with Islamic extremists is taking place.

Drapeau du Mali
On 18 April, French and Malian armed forces killed at least a dozen Islamic extremists who attacked an army camp in northern Mali, killing at least four soldiers and wounding another, according to a statement by the French Operation Barkhane.

The attack on the army camp in Gourma-Rharous, about 120km east of Timbuktu, also destroyed a half-dozen vehicles. French air forces, alerted by Mali's army, responded as the assailants fled in two pick-ups, according to the Operation Barkhane statement.

In a second action on 19 April, the recently formed extremist group Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen claimed responsibility for an attack on Malian forces in Tagharost, about 150km south of Timbuktu. 

French Foreign Legion troops in Mali
Also on the 19th, a United Nations peacekeeping mission vehicle was escorting a logistics convoy when it hit a land mine about 30km south of Tessalit in the Kidal region, the UN mission said. Two peacekeepers and one civilian were wounded, it said.

The Mali-based al-Qaeda affiliate Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen claimed responsibility for the attack and for another one on UN forces in the Kidal region. The extremist group said it destroyed two UN vehicles on the road between Aguelhok and Tessalit on Monday and hit the same convoy on Tuesday.

Security developments in Mali have not been front page news lately, but the terrorist and militant threat remains serious enough to tie down some French forces, four years after the French completed their operations against the Touaregs and al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. 

Islamic Consolidation

The surge in the past four days appears directly related to a merger of extremist groups. French media reported that Ansar Dine, Al-Mourabitoun and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in March declared they had merged into Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, which translates as, The Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims. The is the group that claimed responsibility for the recent attacks, as noted above.

Clashes and attacks in Mali pose no direct threat to important US interests. Nevertheless, the fight in Mali reveals the tenacity and resilience of the Islamic extremist groups. They have been suppressed heavily at least twice, including during US-supported French operations in 2013. The go to ground for a time; regroup; rearm; recruit and return to battle.

It's about Freedom...and uranium

The French-backed operations in Mali prevent the Islamic extremists from acquiring a secure base of operations, as they had in Yemen and Libya. They also keep the zealots from executing southern Mali Christians and animists by the hundreds.

AND...80% of the domestic power production in France is derived from nuclear plants.The French Uranium mining consortium was unable to come to an agreement to continue mining in Niger. At the moment, Mali is home to their only supply of uranium.  Once the uranium supply in Niger is re-established, the back-up supply in Mali will become less critical, but France still needs it.

Air Base 201
The US provides air support for French ground operations from its base at Agadez, Niger. The AFRICOM support hub (Air Base 201) was constructed at a cost of $100 million. The US dumped another $437 million Millennium Cha‎llenge Corporation Compact money into Niger in the form of financial support (a bribe) to keep AFRICOM's role in Forces Armées Nigériennes (FAN) both vibrant and "loving".

With half a billion dumped into Niger during the final years of Obamanation, the US remains poised to strike locations in neighboring Mali as required to aid our French (NATO) allies.

Secret US forces in Niger could have responded to the crisis at the US Embassy, Benghazi, Libya in 2012 with air support (it didn't just have to come from Italy), but utilizing those assets would have disclosed the now open secret.  


The DPRK Military as a Commercial Enterprise

In China, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is expected to be at least partially self-funded. It's also true of the Public Security Bureau (the Chinese Police). This has been true for a long time but became more of an issue since China opened up to the west. Hotels, brothels and entertainment top the properties owned by the PLA. The Public Security Bureau's holdings mirror those of the Army.

The PLA also owns vast tracts of land dedicated to farming ephedra (the essential ingredient in methamphetemine), and produces ketamine (which is often cocktailed with other drugs such as ecstasy - MDMA) that is sold outside of China. The corrupt, elite, smug, lying mainstream media  - and your government never discusses this open secret. Oh, well. Welcome to the machine.

Moving on, the Norks have copied the Chinese system. If you're in the Nork Army and you're a steady earner, you move up and get more medals. Loyalty is fine, but earning for the Fatherland and the the fat Un is right up there at the top of desirable traits. 

Did you ever wonder where the components came from to build advanced Nork weapons like the missiles that they parade? This answers that question. The Army needs to earn hard cash through scams and schemes to buy components that are smuggled into the Worker's Paradise. Thus, even though it doesn't square with communist ideals, aggressive capitalism pays in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. If you're an ambitious little Nork, you can get the best food, the best women and electric light - by earning it.

A number of North Korean officers made general (and were decorated for innovation) by running the US currency counterfeiting operation. They also counterfeit other currencies, but the state feels a particular joy in selling counterfeit US currency, usually at around .25 cents on the dollar at the source and in bulk. Largely $100 banknotes are counterfeited and are referred to by the US Secret Service as "super notes" because they can pass through US banks. 

Lacking the PLA's ability to host tourists and have them stay in hotels owned and operated by the Nork army, they make viagra, trade pharma drugs with Mexican drug cartels for cocaine at very attractive exchange arrangements for the cartels, etc. They'll do just about anything that earns foreign currency and the capacity to buy what they need outside of Norkland.

President Trump threatened to retaliate against the Fat Un if he launched more missiles or lighted off a nuke. Want to know what he'll do? Look at the the US Treasury and Justice and others working to seize vast financial holdings of the Kim family (meaning the Fat Un) overseas. He'll hit the power elite in North Korea where it REALLY hurts. If you want details as to how this will happen, I'm not going to tell you. But it will be fun to watch.

On 19 April, the imagery analysts at 38 North published an update on activities at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Activity is reduced. Most vehicles are out of sight. Water is no longer being pumped from the north portal/tunnel. The nuclear test is on stand-by.

                         

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Big Muddy Snowball

Ceres - not color enhanced.
It's as big as Texas, but scientists don't want to call Ceres a planet, but we never thought of it as a planet the way we did with Pluto (demoted to dwarf planet status like Ceres). Scientists are critical of Ceres because it's in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter but doesn't have the mass to clean up the other material in orbit with it. But science needs to take another look at the place and have a little more respect. It does represent 1/3 of the mass in the asteroid belt.

The robotic NASA spacecraft Dawn entered orbit around Ceres on 6 March 2015. Pictures with a resolution previously unattained were taken during imaging sessions starting in January 2015 as Dawn approached Ceres, showing a cratered surface. Two distinct bright spots are believed to represent cryovolcanic action (ice volcanoes). 

On 11 May 2015, NASA released a higher-resolution image showing that, instead of one or two spots, there are actually several. On 9 December 2015, NASA scientists reported that the bright spots on Ceres may be related to a type of salt, particularly a form of brine containing magnesium sulfate hexahydrite (MgSO4·6H2O). In October 2015, NASA released a true color portrait of Ceres made by Dawn. In February 2017, organics were reported to have been detected on Ceres in Ernutet crater.  Think of a big muddy ball with a thin crust of ice, in space. with the possibility of bugs slithering around in it and you have Ceres. Will those bugs develop a taste for human brains? It remains to be seen. If astronauts land, we need to have two or three of them (they need not have names) wearing red shirts (link)...for obvious reasons.

A study,  published in the journal Nature Geoscience used data from NASA's Dawn spacecraft to identify three different types of landslides, or flow features, on the Texas-sized asteroid. Georgia Tech Assistant Professor and Dawn Science Team Associate Britney Schmidt led the study. She believes it provides more proof that the asteroid's shallow subsurface is a mixture of rock and ice.
"Landslides cover more area in the poles than at the equator, but most surface processes generally don't care about latitude," said Schmidt, a faculty member in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. "That's one reason why we think it's ice affecting the flow processes. There's no other good way to explain why the poles have huge, thick landslides; mid-latitudes have a mixture of sheeted and thick landslides; and low latitudes have just a few."
The study's researchers were surprised at just how many landslides Ceres has in general. About 20 percent to 30 percent of craters greater than 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide have some type of landslide associated with them. Such widespread features formed by "ground ice" processes, made possible because of a mixture of rock and ice, have only been observed before on Earth and Mars.
Britney E. Schmidt, Kynan H. G. Hughson, Heather T. Chilton, Jennifer E. C. Scully, Thomas Platz, Andreas Nathues, Hanna Sizemore, Michael T. Bland, Shane Byrne, Simone Marchi, David P. O’Brien, Norbert Schorghofer, Harald Hiesinger, Ralf Jaumann, Jan Hendrik Pasckert, Justin D. Lawrence, Debra Buzckowski, Julie C. Castillo-Rogez, Mark V. Sykes, Paul M. Schenk, Maria-Cristina DeSanctis, Giuseppe Mitri, Michelangelo Formisano, Jian-Yang Li, Vishnu Reddy, Lucille LeCorre, Christopher T. Russell, Carol A. Raymond. Geomorphological evidence for ground ice on dwarf planet Ceres. Nature Geoscience, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2936
Based on the shape and distribution of landslides on Ceres, the authors estimate that the upper layers of Ceres may range from 10 percent to 50 percent ice by volume.

"These landslides offer us the opportunity to understand what's happening in the upper few kilometers of Ceres," said Georgia Tech Ph.D. student Heather Chilton, a co-author on the paper. "That's a sweet spot between information about the upper meter or so provided by the GRaND (Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND) and VIR (Visible and Infrared Spectrometer) instrument data, and the tens of kilometers-deep structure elucidated by crater studies."

"It's just kind of fun that we see features on this small planet that remind us of those on the big planets, like Earth and Mars," Schmidt said. "It seems more and more that Ceres is our innermost icy world."

What sort of rover would you put on an icy world? Likely tracks instead of wheels, though the gravity on series is much less than on Mars. I think that it's high time that we sent a machine to crawl around Ceres -- and return to Earth with what it finds.


THEN AGAIN: What if the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was a UFO and we're the aliens?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Few Thoughts

Trump Candidacy - Retrospective

As we approach the conclusion of President Trump's first hundred days in office, it may be a good time to look back and ask yourself why pundits are paid so well -- sometimes millions of dollars every year. Now, the look back - our retrospective:



The NRA Convention is Coming

Firearms dealers and manufacturers are mourning the loss of their champion, Barack Obama - the man who sold firearms and ammunition in a way that nobody else could. Clearly statues will be erected to him by Smith and Wesson.

With Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, Americans can finally rest easy in the knowledge that in the near future, the Constitutionality of the Second Amendment will remain intact. Thank you President Trump.

Now that the left is turning violent against anyone who exercises their First Amendment right to free speech, one can only wonder where all of this is going at the NRA Convention where the protestors are going to show those gun toting NRA types a thing or two.

Another Retrospective - From when United Airlines flew Zeppelins. 



Is CALEXIT Dead?

Here I was hoping for federal troops rolling down the streets to put down the secessionist progressives...but no. Nobody cares about my amusement anymore -- ok, but this is pretty amusing. The progressive communist who was leading the California secession movement moved out of town. I hope he likes chilly winters.

(HuffPo) The push for California secession just suffered a major setback. The colorful co-founder of the “Calexit” movement revealed that he’s withdrawing his petition for a California nationhood ballot and setting up home permanently in Russia. 
Louis Marinelli published a lengthy farewell statement on the website of the Yes California Independence Campaign announcing his move Monday. “I do not wish to live under the American flag,” he wrote. “I do not wish to live under the American political system or within the American economic system.”


Geopolitical View

Quick Overview

North Korea

North Korea did not detonate a nuclear device on Kim Il-sung’s birthday on the 15th. One North Korean official said they would detonate a device when they decide to do so. The threat from China is uncharacteristic and it bothers them. Over 80% of their food and all of their oil comes from China. I don't know that China would invade, but they could cut off food for a month to prove a point. When the Norks light off a nuke, expect that sort of response from China. If the Smart Un doesn't get it after that, the sanctions will be draconian and may even lead to regime change.

On the morning of 16 April, North Korea attempted to launch a KN-17 (modified SCUD) ballistic missile from Sinpo, on the east coast, but the missile exploded on launch. The KN-17 is a single-stage, liquid-fueled missile -- not the three-stage, solid-fuel missile that North Korea successfully tested back in February, which caused more concern among Pentagon officials.

The last launch from Sinpo occurred on 4 April. That ballistic missile flew 40 miles before exploding over the Sea of Japan. Prior to that, on 22 March, a ballistic missile launch attempt from Wonsan failed on ignition.

The attempt to launch the missile conveys the message of defiance, regardless of the failure. However, instead of a display of technological advancement in honor of the eternal President Kim Il-sung, the North displayed technological inadequacy. Under Kim Jong Un, North Koreans who fail the state usually are severely punished. However, public failure and loss of face will not deter Kim Jong Un from trying again.

My personal sense is that China will work with the US to create regime change in Korea at some point. Un can advance the timetable by testing nuclear weapons.

Yemen

The Houthis and the tribal militias that support them continue to threaten border towns in southeastern Saudi Arabia.  Houthi fighters and militias allied to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh attempted to capture the Saudi village of Tuwal on 14 April.

An Al Arabiya correspondent reported that “artillery fire from Saudi forces managed to destroy military vehicles belonging to the militias. Apache helicopters targeted the militants hiding behind sand barriers. The attack was defeated.

Saudi-led coalition spokesman Major General Asiri put the best face he could on Operation Decisive Storm, the Yemen campaign. He stressed that the Saudis began the campaign because Saudi intelligence had learned of an Iranian plot to destabilize the Saudi government, using Yemen as a springboard.  Most of Asiri’s comments are revisionist history. Two years ago, the Saudis and supporting Gulf Arab states judged that air power alone could defeat the Houthis in a matter of months. Today, the Houthis still control Sana’a, the national capital, and most of the populated areas of western Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition shows no ability to end this conflict by force of arms.

Syria

One effect of the US cruise missile attack on Shayrat air base has been to tighten the coordination among Russia, Syria and Iran. 

Syria: On 14 April, Russia, Syria and Iran strongly warned the United States against launching new strikes on Syria and called for an international investigation of the chemical weapons attack at Khan Shaykhun.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, said, "If our US colleagues and some European nations believe that their version is right, they have no reason to fear the creation of such an independent group…The investigation into this high-profile incident must be transparent and leave no doubt that someone is trying to hide something."
Lavrov said on 16 April that experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons should investigate not only Khan Shaykhun, but also Shayrat air base, for evidence of chemical weapons. The Syrian Foreign Minister supported this offer.

In the joint press conference, the three wondered why the US and the West resisted an independent investigation. They asked what is the US hiding. They agreed that the only reason the US attacked Syria was to help undermine the sovereignty of the Syrian government. 

The three are doubling down on the narrative that the gas attack was staged and the western nations were duped.

Keep in mind that there is a deep state game being played by Syria, Iran and Russia on one side and by Qatar (backing Al Qaeda), the US and Turkey on the other. The prize is a pipeline to Europe to supply them with natural gas.

The Russians and Iran want energy leverage over Europe and they want the profit. The US wants the same thing with the Turks along for the ride and Qatar making a killing on the profits.

Turkey

Turkey had the chance to remain secular and free from dictatorial rule - but they chose to have an Islamic Dictator. Bad move Turkey. REALLY STUPID.

On 16 April, the head of Turkey’s High Election Council confirmed that the national referendum approved the 18 constitutional amendments to strengthen the presidency.

President Erdogan declared victory in the referendum saying that "according to unofficial results, approximately 25 million people voted and constitutional changes were approved by a margin of 1.3 million votes.” Erdogan said one of his first acts under the new presidential system of government will be to reinstate the death penalty.

The amendments abolish the post of prime minister and transfer executive power to the president. They will allow the president to issue executive decrees and appoint some of the members of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors. The president no longer will be required to terminate his party membership. They will limit the president to two five-year terms, but allow for a reset if Parliament called for early elections.

The measures will come into effect after the general elections in 2019. If Erdogan is elected again, the new measures will allow him to run in the 2024 elections. He could be President until 2029, a term in office that would be longer than Ataturk’s,

By a narrow margin, the Turkish electorate has voted to limit democracy in Turkey and trust in a single man’s leadership: that of President Erdogan.



Monday, April 17, 2017

Has United Airlines Learned Anything?

Friendly Skies?

After the recent incident with Dr. David Dao, United Airlines should be able to find solutions amicably. But this more recent situation makes me wonder. 

Anyone who has worked with the public will know that it's no high school prom. People are mean and they are difficult. Not all of them, but there are people who are always trying to take advantage. That may be true of the honeymooning couple who changed seats --- and United called the Sky Marshal to throw them off the airplane.

At the same time, it makes me wonder if United Airlines' customer relation skills aren't being challenged more now. Sure, people who don't want to be beat up, will leave the airplane peacefully. BUT that Airline, which lost over $2 billion in stock value over the Dao problem is under a microscope now. I can't help but think that the honeymooners could have been seated on a 1/2 full flight in the cheap seats that they booked. 

What constitutes "disruption"? If it hadn't been for cell phone cameras, the Dao incident wouldn't have ended the way that it did. I'm getting ready to book a flight to Europe, and first class seats are expensive. Do I really want to fly United? Maybe Lufthansa - they have a great reputation for customer service.


Another Week Begins

Easter Aftermath (survival hint)


I'm an old man. I raised four daughters. And I am still unsure how to respond when a woman shows off a new outfit and asks for my opinion. Clearly the truth flies out the window from the moment the question is posited. My girls are thin and pretty, so "you look like a stuffed sausage" doesn't apply the way that it would have to some ladies at church on Easter Sunday ~ "Mutton dressed up like lamb."
Still, I walk through a minefield: "But "isn't that hem line just a bit high or isn't that neckline just a bit low", does pop into my mind. Then I think again and say, "That looks wonderful on you!"
A New Clothing Line



I'm Shocked (no, not really)


(Link) Senator and Mr. Dianne Feinstein won the billion dollar California High Speed Rail contract. She's planning on retiring from the US Senate and the couple will need something to do in their dotage.

Mr. Dianne Feinstein (Richard Blum) became several times a billionaire based on government contracts that he kept on winning. Who could have guessed?

Since California is a one-party state, there is no question of awarding the contract to somebody outside of the Democrat Party who might not understand how the money is supposed to trickle down into the Donkey Party's food chain.
"To the surprise of absolutely no one familiar with the ways of Corruptifornia, the one-party state completely in the hands of the Democrats, a consortium whose lead firm is controlled by Richard Blum, husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, was awarded a nearly billion-dollar contract for the construction of the first phase of the so-called high-speed rail line to link San Francisco and Los Angeles. Those paying attention to the project call it the “half-fast” rail line because it will share trackage with conventional commuter rail trains in the sprawling Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, lowering its average speed to levels achieved by American railways a century ago."
The High Speed Rail project has also been dubbed 'the train to nowhere' because the first billion will be spent going from one small town in California's Central Valley to another. The LA Times, who one would expect to be lauding praise on the boondoggle is skeptical as well. There are serious safety concerns - and the inevitable cost overruns. 
Because Union Pacific demanded stronger structures, the costs have grown to about $10 million per mile, said an official knowledgeable about the negotiations. 
But when Sylmar-based contractor Tutor Perini Corp. sent the rail authority a letter adding a proposed $140 million to its bill for building the barriers along 31 miles of track in the Central Valley, the officials balked.
San Francisco is about 440 rail miles from Los Angeles. Don't ask the government how it's going to recoup its $4.5 billion for track alone, because they're competing with $79 air fare - and the airplane will arrive in a quarter of the time (because the train will end up being kept to around 100 mph on the main line and 50 mph in the cities).  Sometimes you can get a super saver from Los Angeles to Oakland on Southwest Airlines for $49. The corruption and cost will be born on the backs of the taxpayers, as usual.

President Trump said that he would not release federal highway funds for the project into the Sanctuary State. That will not deter lawmakers from funding this porkbarrel project that was designed to prevent global warming/cooling/the weather.

Truth makes moral cripples feel unsafe...

A guy I know hit me up for lunch. I had to put him off for a week, but texted him to see if Monday would work for him. He texted back that it would work and that he needed to borrow $1,000 urgently. 

To put context to the situation he "borrowed" a few thousand dollars from me last autumn. After the first of the year, he raked in $150K from insurance settlements. Did he pay me back? Of course not. But he gambled away the $150K and he's broke - again.

I told him that I would not be forking over money to him, but suggested that he find a job.  (he's able bodied, but lazy) That suggestion was met with a bitter retort and because he is a person of color, he decided to mention that life is easy for me because I'm white, and it would be appropriate for me to redistribute the fruits of my white privilege...to him. Thus, there was some sort of unspoken nobles oblige which required me to fund his irresponsibility. He must be hanging out with a bad crowd these days because that was the wrong answer. He also whined that nobody who is white will hang out with him anymore...I wonder why. It has to be racism.

Sad When This Happens



A SHOCKING REVELATION (to Virtual Mirage from a friend in Norway)