sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Veteran's Administration (VA) and ObamaCare Revisited

This from CNN:
"The Arizona senator makes a poignant return to the Senate on Tuesday, less than a week after learning he has an aggressive form of brain cancer, just in time to boost tricky GOP vote math on the wobbling bid to replace Obamacare."
This from Virtual Mirage:
Can anyone explain why Senator McCain didn't go to a VA hospital for treatment?  Obviously CNN is missing THE STORY again, aren't they? That's a frigging shock.
It would have been emblematic of the changes that we've been hearing about (mostly in the "planning stages") at the VA if the famous veteran and US Senator had chosen the treatment options available to his fellow service members. 

Since ObamaCare's trumpeting the virtues of government run "free" healthcare, I haven't heard of one veteran serving in Congress checking into the VA hospitals to have their life-threatening illnesses managed. NOT ONE. I wonder why?

It's true that you could point to me (your illustrious blogger) and ask why I don't receive medical treatment at the VA. I haven't had the need for extensive medical treatment, but when I do need some care, I choose other options (that I personally pay for since I don't have government medical insurance). There will come a time in the near future when I will qualify for Medicare and I'm sure that I'll be enrolled in that entitlement. That sort of machine is rolling. Along with Social Security it accounts for over half of the federal budget. And in my humble opinion, it's part of why healthcare is so impossibly expensive.

"Standard of Care" is the buzz isn't it?

Senator McCain must not have been all that impressed with the Phoenix VA, where thousands of veterans were standing in line for care when they died. I'm sure that Sen. McCain would have been shoved in front of other veterans because he's more famous. Even at that, he didn't take the option.

It's telling.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Memes

He's Back

This is a subtle and sensitive look at the important issues in the news. You may have other favorites and while that's nice, this is my blog...so it begins with 'the Juice', so loved by the inner city that they gave him a walk. Yes, it was a jury of his peers.


If it had been a jury of my peers, it would have turned out differently for the rich and famous celebrity murderer who may end up marrying one of the Kardashian daughters. It would make me watch their show in hopes of seeing nature take its course. No, just kidding, I wouldn't waste my time.

When you take a moment to reflect, OJ is responsible for the rise of the Kardashians. Is he also responsible for tranny daddy? I don't know about that but I'm sure that he learned some neat tricks in prison.


The Funeral

Why does funeral food always taste as if they'd picked it up at the homeless kitchen down the street? 

I attended a funeral last week (briefly - showed my face during the snack portion and then left) to make sure that a person who I didn't like when alive was genuinely dead

Because I missed the viewing some aunt or old mistress showed me a photo of the deceased laying in his box and asked me, "Didn't they make him look lifelike?" 

I told the old bat that he never looked that good when he was alive. He had all of the virtues that I found annoying and none of the vices that I admire.

Should I spray Round-Up on the grass over his coffin? I'm just thinking about it at this point. Remember that this is the kinder and gentler LL now.

Maybe piss would be more appropriate - if less effective - unless it's a LOT of piss. Or perhaps a blend of urine and Round-Up, finding the best of both worlds and combining them in a spray bottle. When people remark on how the grass won't grow over his grave, I'm sure that I'll have some pithy comment about it - along the order of the Devil snatching his toxic soul and leaving the waste container behind.

Selling the House

I don't know why it's like that, but it is. 

Sand People are completely predictable, and they're moving into the neighborhood (in numbers). Everyone who has had to deal with the rug drivers has similar stories to tell. Mine is not the only Sand People drama.

Hillary wanted to import a lot more of them. Trump put the brakes on in a move to Make America Great Again. God bless President Trump.


The New Press Secretary

I keep wanting to ask Anthony Scaramucci if he can do the fandango.  I'll bet he gets that a lot.



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Everybody Wants to Rule the World


I know, it's a song. It's also true. 


The Russians have been scrupulous in their control over nuclear weapons, even when the Soviet Union fell.

Iran, like North Korea, promises to use them to wipe out their neighbors and everyone else who pisses them off. While I can appreciate that general sentiment, it's problematic. The US can turn Iran, the Norks and pretty much everywhere else into a sea of radioactive glass with the push of a button. We don't have to get close. We can do it with submarine launched ballistic missiles or land based weapons. So can the Russians. Which is why I'm so confused .

The threats to peace and stability come from Iran and North Korea. But the corrupt, wicked, elite, smug, lying, nasty, foolish mainstream media only have one story. Only one. (well, two if you count "IMPEACH TRUMP") They have only one concern for the US and the rest of the world and that's Russia. Dear readers, we have a lot more in common with the Russians than we do with Iran or North Korea. 

I haven't been watching TV at all. During the move I didn't have TV or Internet, which was a good thing. I didn't miss it. But eventually I relented and when the cable guy was plugging things in. He flipped it to Channel 2 and the first thing I saw was CBS News ranting about the Trump-Russia connection. I thought they would have moved on in the intervening week or so. Yeah, right.

So I turned the TV off.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

An Occasional Curmudgeon (Sunday Sermonette)


Yes, it's Sunday in some part of the world.

I've been very busy with several things in the life-changing department. Ok, not that life changing, but change and moving means that I couldn't find the toothpaste. And the work schedule tilted this way and that irritating me as I tried to stuff 30 hours into 24.
"LL, I need to move the meeting on Friday to Monday (Friday morning), that won't be a problem will it?"
"Not a problem at all, let me kidnap your children and hold them for ransom so the thing works out on Monday."
I sat down to write a blog and it turned out to be mean and possibly a little unfair to a Fox News contributor who made his way into my crosshairs. Mind you, I have no problem sniping from the hills when it's needed, but I always try and reflect on the fact that nobody (including me) likes a 'keyboard commando'. 

There are some truly contemptible people out there. Hillary Clinton comes to mind as do a number of spineless politicians in both parties. They are always fair game. They deserve far more than my puny words of derision.

The swamp is exceptionally deep and America knows that, which is why the nation thrust President Trump into office - to try and bring about needed reform. The government's gross and enduring dysfunction frustrates me and when that happens, I pull myself back from the edge and say "circle of influence, circle of concern". That cuts some of the curmudgeonliness because I focus on things that I can do something about rather than the myriad of things that I can't.

I'm trying to be nicer. Really, I am. Yes, it's true that I made a telephone call and it resulted in a person being put on the NO-FLY-LIST. Shit still happens. I can't go from jerk to saint in a single day.

(Saint) Augustine of Hippo is quoted as saying, "bring me purity, but not yet." AND -- That's as close to a polemic as this sermonette is going to get. And I'm sorry all this can't be more profound. At the same time, I'm trying to be more circumspect, more compassionate, and less critical. Is it working? 

Time will tell.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Local Flooding

A flash flood about 1,500 ft lower in elevation than the White Wolf Mine (WWM), but within about forty-five miles of the property hit national news because it wiped out a family who was swimming in one stretch of the upper Verde River.


National news picked up on it, and I've waited to share the footage until we knew the total body count. Ten people were killed, and a few more (including a dog named "Lucky", escaped with bruises.


The Central Arizona highlands are very wet during the late summer because of the annual monsoon. It's not uncommon for flat-landers to flee the summer heat and swim in some of the ponds and pools that exist in the slot canyon rivers that I and others like to fish in. There are number of waterfalls that you can ride over slick rock down into pools below that can be as deep as forty or fifty feet.

City people often walk up Fossil Creek and then drown in non-flash flood water because they can't swim. Don't ask me to explain it. Self-given Darwin Awards. The Gila County Sheriff's Department has go up and remove the bodies and 'rescue' the distraught relatives.

But no matter who you are, you need to watch the weather. Up stream cloud bursts can complicate your day.

A couple of days ago, this particular flash flood hit about 3 pm, which is typical in terms of time-of-day for cloud bursts. The rain pattern is very normal. The WWM gets between 8 and 12 inches of rain on an annual basis in July-August. This year it may be closer to 16 inches of rain as global warming has led us to cooler and wetter weather. Last year's snowfall set records.

The photo (above right) shows a cloudburst yesterday, about six miles south of Payson, AZ and illustrates how the volume of water can generate flooding. The photo (left) illustrates a rush of water down the WWM canyon that is about as large by volume as it's likely to get.

The WWM is on bedrock, in the pines, just down from a ridge line. Because we're just about as high as you can go in elevation in the area, the momentum of flooding is not as significant on the property (which extends from the ridge about a quarter mile into a canyon and up the other side), as it is in other areas. Fishing is from dawn to noon and after that, best head home for lunch and a nap while the rain falls on the hovel's metal roof. At night, the air, now cleared, shows the stars in all their glory in a region (Southern Colorado Plateau) that is not polluted by light from cities. 

However in an area that has been mined in the past, there are piles of tailings. Those will be planted upon next spring to mitigate everything. Then I have to post "Warning MINES" signs around to keep the hikers from trespassing. I realize that in the flat land people might think that signs like that are a joke, but in the remote high country, they don't. I don't define what sort of mines they are, but people tend to think in terms of worst case.

After the sand people built a mosque down the street from my house in my nice neighborhood - essentially forcing a move at some point because many people don't like their culture and have been moving out, I really don't want more sand people up in the area of the WWM.


Higher Education

“White heteromasculinism,” a new tag, is being defined by progressive freaks in academia as a “system of oppression” that benefits only those who are “white, male, able-bodied, economically privileged, heterosexual, and cisgendered*.” 
* "Cisgendered" describes people whose gender identity matches their birth sex.
I think that it's humorous that the progs send their offspring (who by the very circumstances of birth are the joining of a male and female) to university to learn this sort of thing. They pay upwards of $60K per head per year, to have their young filled with this sort of vile race-baiting hatred and then express surprise when those (now freaks) offspring move back into the basement with their four year degree in social justice studies (major) with a minor in art appreciation. 

Is it any wonder that visionary leaders are concerned about robots taking the jobs of future college grads

Monday, July 17, 2017

'Tis Passing Strange

Tomatoes

I don't read most of the studies on this or that curative for cancer. A balanced diet is usually a common sense approach to life. This time it's different because I really like tomatoes (hot/cold/fresh/cooked/in salsa/in just about everything) and it plays to my bias.

The new study of how nutritional interventions can alter the risk for skin cancers appeared online in the journal Scientific Reports.
Jessica L. Cooperstone, Kathleen L. Tober, Ken M. Riedl, Matthew D. Teegarden, Morgan J. Cichon, David M. Francis, Steven J. Schwartz, Tatiana M. Oberyszyn. Tomatoes protect against development of UV-induced keratinocyte carcinoma via metabolomic alterations. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-05568-7
It found that male mice fed a diet of 10 percent tomato powder daily for 35 weeks, then exposed to ultraviolet light, experienced, on average, a 50 percent decrease in skin cancer tumors compared to mice that ate no dehydrated tomato.

The theory behind the relationship between tomatoes and cancer is that dietary carotenoids, the pigmenting compounds that give tomatoes their color, may protect skin against UV light damage, said Jessica Cooperstone, co-author of the study and a research scientist in the Department of Food Science and Technology in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State.

There were no significant differences in tumor number for the female mice in the study. Previous research has shown that male mice develop tumors earlier after UV exposure and that their tumors are more numerous, larger and more aggressive.
"What works in men may not always work equally well in women and vice versa." It's sexist, misogynistic, and may also be homophobic to suggest this. But it doesn't mean that it's less true.
I'd write about the curative properties of bacon, combined with tomatoes (with lettuce) in a sandwich, but that would be Islamophobic and would send people scurrying for a safe space while howling that I need to check my white privilege. (Last time that I looked, it was fine in case you wanted to know. There's no reason to check it.)

The Russia Connection


The proud, elite, wealthy, lying, smug, evil, corrupt, wicked, nasty mainstream media thinks that Hillary's skulduggery with Russia is meaningless but Donald Trump's team's mild and innocent contact with the Russians constitutes a high crime. Such is the insanity that has gripped Manhattan Island and the Washington DC Beltway (while the rest of the country ignores them).

I now turn off Fox News when they want to talk about this or that stupidity. It may mean something to CNN or the progs, but it's bullshit in any normal part of the country. And nobody wants to step in that sort of thing, even though the people at CNN seem to bathe in it and love its perfume.

Instead of asking themselves why they lost people’s trust, the media instead asks why the people had lost trust in them. Those are two separate questions and we should not be surprised that the mendacious, filthy, smug, lying, corrupt, elite mainstream media asked the wrong one.

White Wolf Mine Project (an update)

A few of you are following this ordeal and process and have e-mailed. Coconino County has reviewed the plans twice, has found fault, has returned them and we are in the third review process. Maybe the third time's a charm. We can't begin excavation until that is complete, but my sense is that it's not that far off.

As expected, the day after Ramadan ended, I received a full offer on the house. There are a lot of sand people who want to live in the shadow of the mosque.

Three (of a total of 5) grandsons. All
want to play at the White Wolf Mine.
 My daughter, Emilie, is in school, which means that I had to stay in SoCal or I had to move to Phoenix. Because of the CALEXIT situation, it was more convenient for me to move locally and she was happy for that as well. The move to a really nice rental (more in the country) is in progress and I'll be out well before escrow closes. 

I tumbled from a ladder the day before yesterday, reminding me that I'm no longer 25 years old. I lay there, testing parts to see if something was broken or seriously out of alignment. Everything was where it needed to be, except that it hurt more. I still made it to my grandson's championship pony league (baseball) game.

The sort of unique, boutique consulting work that I do has been brisker this year than it has ever been before. Thank you President Trump. It's made the price tag creep of the project easier to swallow. Price tag creep was something that I anticipated, and I expect it to slow its momentum, but you (dear readers) and I know that it won't stop completely. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

China, Russia and North Korea

North Korean Soldier argues with girlfriends. The frustration shows...
There are elements to the ongoing conflict between North Korea and  US/South Korea. It's difficult to tell what the players are doing without a program. It's almost as difficult with a program, but I'll throw my cracker in the soup once again.

Russia  enjoys seeing the US trying to unwind the North Korean Gordian Knot, while China takes a more clinical approach to the issue. Both plan to remain in the bleachers and criticize the US.  One 'F-You' that the US could do to both China and Russia would be to sell nuclear weapons to Japan. They'd be very unhappy about that, as some of you readers have suggested.

Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force ship, Izumo
It might look like an aircraft carrier but it's s destroyer.
I'm still not sure that the Japanese public would applaud that turn of events. It's difficult enough for the Japanese leadership to build aircraft carriers and call them "destroyers".

China's hegemony is not confined to the mainland. It wants Japan to toe the line as well and at least at present, the Japs are disinclined to be absorbed into the NEW Chinese "Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere".

Japan has taken its self defense obligations seriously and while there are those in the US who have been critical of their efforts, I have not been.

China

At the 11 July daily press session, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang replied to a question about China’s role in controlling North Korea.
“It's time to stop the ‘China responsibility theory’ on the Peninsula nuclear issue.”
Geng said that China’s role is indispensable in solving the problem, but insisted that China has done its part, implying that other parties have not. Geng engaged in a short rant. 
“At the same time, to ease the situation and resolve issues, other parties should also go in the same direction. ‘Hands off policy’ won't work; ‘bridge burning’ won't do;’ much less ‘stabbing in the back.’”

“If the Chinese side is working hard to put out the fire while others are pouring oil; if the Chinese side is implementing the resolutions of the UN Security Council to the letter while others are infringing on China's just and legitimate rights and interests; if the Chinese side is working positively in the Peninsula non-nuclearization process while others are looking for pretexts and undermining China's security interests, how can the Chinese side's efforts reach expected effects, how can the situation be eased, and how can the Peninsula nuclear issue can be resolved?”
The salient inference from the past six months of Chinese interaction with the US and North Korea is that most of what North Korea has done does not threaten Chinese interests. 

The Chinese leaders see risk in instability, not necessarily a threat. Their diplomacy, negotiating tactics and preoccupation with stability suggest they are continuously engaged in risk management, a lot like financial managers...which is very "Chinese" in its approach.

The People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) actions, however, are about threats. During the period when tension peaked between 18 and 20 April, we received two reports of significant PLA movements, and activity just before the Chinese delivered their ultimatum to North Korea to not detonate a sixth nuclear device. 

The week of April 18th was the only time we are confident that the Chinese took unilateral action to modify North Korea behavior.

Geng made another point that the Chinese leaders consider important. The instability on the Korean Peninsula is not directed against China. It is the result of unfinished business from the Korean War and the Chinese leaders do not consider it their business. Their actions, especially since the 4 July missile flight, indicate Chinese leaders have concluded that they can live with the present situation indefinitely, provided it does not lead to war. They would blame a war on the contradiction between North Korea and the US, meaning they expect the US to start it.

North Korean missile launches, whose targets would be US forces and territory, do not cross China’s red lines for greater intervention. The communist mandarins in Beijing are more concerned about US reactions, than North Korean provocations. In any event, North Korea is not China’s responsibility, according to Geng Shuang.

Don't expect China to do anything meaningful until one of the Nork missiles goes out of control and hits something in China.

Russia

The first question to ask is whether or not Russia is cheating with the Norks. In a way they are in the oldest profession sense, because they supply high-end Russian hookers to the Nork elite, and have been doing that for decades. Sometimes the Russians sell the prostitutes as being 'Swedes'. The obvious question is whether or not the hookers are access agents (spies) that use their art to squeeze secrets from horny Nork generals. I'll let you, the readers, work that one out.

Trying to teach Dear Leader to use a machine gun.
South Korean news services reported that Russia shipped $2.3 million worth of oil products to North Korea between January and April 2017. They reported this amount represented a 200 percent increase. This report implies Russia is profiteering from the sanctions against North Korea. That charge does not seem supported. 

First, oil sales are not banned by UN sanctions. 

Secondly, some of the numbers don’t add up to exploitation. At the per barrel price of Brent crude on 10 July, $2.3 million could purchase a bit under 50,000 barrels of crude for the four months. At a conversion rate of 7.1 bbls to the ton, North Korea imported a little over 7,000 tons in that third of a year. 

The report does not mention crude, but specialty oil products would be more expensive per ton or barrel, so the volume would be less.

It is not clear from those numbers that North Korea increased its dependence on imports from Russia. Oil product imports from Russia in the range of 10,000 barrels per month are consistent with North Korea’s historic practice of importing specialty oil products from Russia, primarily aviation fuels. North Korea also has a practice of importing Russian crude for refining at its east coast refinery and returning the refined products to the Russians, retaining a portion as payment. 

The Singapore Game

North Korea can use cutouts, such as companies in Singapore, to bypass sanctions restrictions. Singapore is an important oil refining center, but its use as a cutout for North Korea is not confirmed in open sources. 


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bleeding Edge

President Trump spoke to the Polish people about the need to save Western Culture from the clash of civilizations that we in the West are now experiencing. Actually it's the leading (bleeding) edge. CDR Salamander did a good job identifying the problem on his blog and I encourage you to read it here. I couldn't do a better job than he did explaining the situation in a few words.

I've posted the gum ball video before but a revisit is never a bad idea.


As you'd expect, progressive heads exploded when President Trump spoke of a threat to Western Culture. CNN called his comments racist, homophobic, islamaphobic, and xenophobic. Then again, CNN is the apex of the corrupt, smug, elite, lying, filthy mainstream media and finding the truth is best defined by taking what they say and turning it 180 degrees.

The solution to the vast throngs of unwashed from the Third World, breeding like flies, is to educate them and to change them into people who are capable to cope with the reality of the 21st Century. Liberals don't think of it that way. They think of hand-outs to the ignorant who will be dependent and will vote for them.

Congressional Support for a Wall (LINK)

Building a wall is a good first step, but fixing the problem requires that societies based on ignorance (many of which are Islamic) need to be re-made. Culture is the most enduring thing in the human lexicon. It is the piece of us that defines us, and the wretched of the Earth are defined by a culture that is not compatible with Western Civilization. 

Missionary work to those blighted parts of the planet, bringing the capacity to be self-sufficient and to pull themselves out of poverty will never be well received. And if we can't do it with the velvet glove, we will have to do it with the mailed fist. Because their welfare and our survival is at stake.

While we're thinking about exploding liberal heads, this is my parting shot to CNN:


Monday, July 10, 2017

A Few Thoughts

Mr. TRUMP, BUILD -THAT-WALL

At the G-20 Summit, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto sat near President Trump as President Trump announced to the world that the wall would (still) be built and Mexico would (still) pay for it. The smug, elite, nasty, lying mainstream media that only discusses why the American President should be either assassinated or impeached, countered with facts that cross-border illegal immigration if off by 70% under the Trump Administration. They contend that a wall along the Mexican Border is no longer necessary, if indeed it ever was.
Yes, the liberal tears flow freely at the thought of all of those illegal aliens who won't be able to vote Democrat for them (illegally).
But there's another point that you should consider. The bulk of illegal narcotics (which liberals feel should be legal) that cross the US/Mexican border have suffered no significant price increases* due to increased border enforcement.  In a world of supply and demand, we should see that, but we haven't. Thus, the wall still needs to be built for oh, so many reasons that the left calls "racist".  Yes, there will always be drugs and addicts, but opiate addiction (from pills and heroin) has reached the crisis stage in many American cities. Will the WALL change the dynamics when it comes to narcotics smuggling? Most experts say that it will. But impacting the massive demand in the US is the only way to fix the problem.
There are no hard and fast rules for cocaine, heroin or methamphetemine prices. As with anything that is bought and sold, these prices can fluctuate and vary depending on various variables such as supply, demand, times, conditions, significant seizures and arrests that disrupt networks, etc; Typically, the price will increase the further it is from the original source. This price increase is largely due to the costs involved in transportation costs. Thus, this is why a kilogram of cocaine in Colombia can be purchased for around $1,800 (the price for kilo of cocaine paste from the cultivation farm is about $900) but in New York City can be purchased for around $30,000. Prices will typically be cheaper that are near cities that have major distribution network centers.
Having said all that, the wall is a good idea, and Mexico will pay for it by hook or by crook.

Bonaparte Before the Sphinx
Hidden Messages

The famous painting of Bonaparte astride a horse, seeing the Sphinx for the first time represents the literal, i.e. a head rising up from the desert, and the metaphor. There is usually more to be seen that we apprehend at first glance.

Hunters understand that there are clues left by prey. If you plan to cut for sign (successfully), you must understand what those clues are.

The Founding Fathers understood that the Second Amendment was not about hunting and it was not about protecting people in their homes (per se). It was about the right of the people to defend themselves from tyranny in the larger sense. Slaves NEVER have the right to own and carry firearms.  In a real sense, the historic repudiation of the repugnant Hillary Clinton and Jeb!, the creature of big government --- and the election of President Trump, was all about the future of the Supreme Court, shrinking the size of government and empowering people. No matter how the corrupt, smug, elite mainstream media spins it WE THE PEOPLE won for the first time in a long time. The message has been garbled by apologists, and the message that is obscured needs to be named. We are free because we are armed and capable of defending ourselves from the government.







Friday, July 7, 2017

Things Geopolitical

People's Republic of Kalifornia

I've had an education on the CALEXIT (pay attention Old NFO). As I mentioned, I sold the CA house to people who wanted to live near the newly constructed giant mosque-down-the-street. The plan was to move to AZ, rent in the Phoenix Valley while Emilie went to college in AZ and then move to the White Wolf Mine in the mountains when it was finished.

Without belaboring the issue, I learned that there were five 'fugitives' from California trying to rent every house that came on the market in AZ. It's insane. Apparently the sales market is equally nuts. Rentals are on the market for one day and people bid up the price. I offered to pay $3.3K+ per month on a house not worth that and to pay the whole year up front. Even that wasn't sufficient. So I'll rent in SoCal near the kids until the house is done and Emilie can stay in CA near her friends.

California has become a species of toxic environment for conservatives as the lunatic fringe, backed by the corrupt, elite, nasty, filthy, lying mainstream media cheers them on. As a result, people are leaving pre-California secession in droves.  I just never thought that it was as pervasive as it is in AZ. It's 115 degrees in the Phoenix valley and people are stacked up to be here just to get out of CA.

The White Wolf Mine project, though nowhere near ready, makes more and more sense.

Russia

The Russians blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning North Korea for the missile launch because it described it as an intercontinental ballistic missile. Russian intelligence assessed it was an intermediate range ballistic missile, not an intercontinental ballistic missile, so Russian refused to agree to the US-drafted statement.

The Russians and Chinese are protecting North Korea diplomatically. They are exploiting the missile launch to limit US options. 

India/China

The standoff between Indian and Chinese border troops in the China-India-Bhutan tri-border area continues. The Chinese claim that Indian soldiers continue to trespass on Chinese territory.

Bhutan said the Chinese are building a road on a plateau that belongs to Bhutan and requested Indian help. The Indians said they are acting as the protector of the Kingdom of Bhutan. 

India and China have reinforced their positions and tension is high, but no clashes have occurred. Border troops on both sides generally do not carry guns to prevent escalation to exchanges of gunfire.

The G20 summit in Hamburg would seem to be a convenient venue for a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Modi to resolve the standoff. However, the Chinese rejected an Indian proposal for such a meeting because "the atmosphere was not right". 

At the daily press session on 6 July, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said there will be no talks until India withdraws its forces from the “Chinese” plateau. To China - the world belongs to China. It's how they roll.
The standoff began on 16 June when Chinese border troops and construction teams began road construction on the Doklam plateau. That action prompted Bhutan to protest to China and to ask for Indian assistance. 
The area of the standoff is strategically important and highly sensitive. It lies just north of a territorial choke point known as the chicken’s neck. Loss of Indian control of this area would cut overland access to all of northeastern India.  
Indian strategists consider an increased national security threat any improvement to China’s capability to rapidly reinforce the tri-border area, such as by building a road. 
India’s China experts also see this dispute as part of a pattern of Chinese behavior. They accuse Chinese forces of quietly slicing off and converting small pieces of disputed territory along the border to provide tactical advantages for Chinese forces at the start of a war. They judge this to be the land version of Chinese military behavior in the South China Sea.
The Chinese will not back down because their leaders have determined the area to be Chinese sovereign territory. The Indians said they are looking for a solution, not a compromise. They also have indicated no willingness to back down.

Kurdistan

On 6 July, Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), said that there is no turning back on a bid to achieve an independent Kurdish state.

Barzani said in an interview he expected the referendum on independence, tentatively set for 25 September, to result in a strong vote for independence. He hoped to negotiate a peaceful separation with the authorities in Baghdad and neighboring countries.

In June, Barzani assured a universally disbelieving international community that the referendum was part of a political strategy to strengthen the KRG’s leverage in negotiations with Baghdad over land and oil rights and political issues. His explanation was not convincing. 

If it comes down to a fight, the US will back the Kurds.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Burros


Should I adopt a Burro for work at the White Wolf Mine? How can I be an old sourdough miner without a burro?

Yes, I'm up at the mine today, on walk-about, considering the options. Who'd have thought that I needed a kitchen design consultant for a hovel?




Is a little burro called a burrito? I have a photo guide for your use to help you discriminate between the two:

Two burros with a young burro - sometimes mistakenly called a burrito. You
should not eat this sort of burrito.
Conventional burrito, suitable for consumption.

The Sonora and Mojave Deserts are home to a legion of burros whose ancestors escaped the traditional burro life and are roaming wild. They are disarmingly friendly, and like to mooch snacks. I routinely have apples in my cooler in the truck and make fast friends, while depleting my lunch. On the heels of a very wet winter, babies are being born in large numbers.

In dry years when their watering holes dry up, they do die off due to thirst and it's an unpleasant thing to see - but it's part of nature's balance.

The problem with adopting a burro is that it becomes a pet that I can't ride. And they're too big to toss in the back of the Raptor, the way that you would with a dog.

You see burros in odd places as you drive along the road less traveled that leads to the White Wolf Mine.

Burros in the Oatman, AZ ghost town

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Geopolitical Maneuvering

Job Opportunity?

For all of you blog readers who have great espionage plans that have been denied implementation (screwing up your opportunity to have a chip in the big game), Israel's Mossad intelligence agency is offering grants up to 2 million shekels ($570, 000) per project as part of an investment fund to help develop new espionage techniques. (more here) You will not be denied "Old Whore" status any longer.
Mossad is seeking technologies in various fields that include robotics, miniaturization and encryption and automated methods of gleaning information from documents, according to a government statement released Tuesday. 
A statement by the new fund, called Libertad, said it would be willing to give grants of up to 2 million shekels per project in exchange for non-exclusive rights to the technology, according to Japan Times: "The Mossad wants to encourage innovation and creation of groundbreaking technology...the technology developed will be implemented by us, in cooperation between the parties."
Everything you Ever Wanted to Know about China's New Intelligence Law

(link) China's new spying law went into effect on June 28, after it was hastily passed by the legislature.
In a nutshell, the National Intelligence Law gives authorities sweeping powers to monitor and investigate foreign and domestic individuals and institutions. It allows Chinese intelligence agencies to search premises, seize property, and mobilize individuals or organizations to carry out espionage. It also gives intelligence agencies legal ground to carry out their work both in and outside China. Those violating the law will be subject to detention of up to 15 days, and can be charged with a crime.
This is China's effort to uniformly codify what the Ministry of National Security and the Internal Security Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security have been doing for years.  (it's just more of the same - no need for panic)

The Nork ICBM

North Korea launched a ballistic missile mid-morning local time on 4 July. In mid-afternoon, it declared that the missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The announcer identified the missile as the Hwasong-14 and said North Korea now possessed a missile capable of striking the US mainland.

The announcer said the missile flew for 39 minutes. It reached an altitude of 2802 kms/1731 miles and splashed down in the Sea of Japan 933 kms/579 miles down range. Allied monitors essentially agreed with the North Korean data.

Kim Jong Un did it all.

The Korean Central News Agency published a paean that attributed the success of the missile flight to Kim’s personal oversight. Major excerpts follow. 
“The scientists and technicians of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Academy of Defence Science on 4 July successfully carried out the test-launch of the inter-continental ballistic rocket Hwasong-14, newly developed by them under the personal guidance of Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army.”

“Respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test-launch on the spot. Over a few days ahead of the test-launch, he frequented the place where the general drive for assembling the rocket was underway and meticulously guided the scientists and technicians in their busy preparations for the test-launch.”

“Feasting his eyes on the newly made inter-continental ballistic rocket Hwasong-14, he stressed that the protracted showdown with the U.S. imperialists has reached its final phase and it is the time for the DPRK to demonstrate its mettle to the U.S. which is testing its will in defiance of its warning.”

“At dawn of the day of the test-launch, he again came out to the rocket test-launching ground to acquaint himself with the plan for the test-launch.”

“The test-launch was aimed to confirm the tactical and technological specifications and technological features of the newly developed inter-continental ballistic rocket capable of carrying large-sized heavy nuclear warhead and to finally verify all technical features of the payload of the rocket during its atmospheric reentry including the heat-resisting features and structural safety of the warhead tip of ICBM made of newly developed domestic carbon compound material, in particular.”

“…He (Kim) stressed that the DPRK would neither put its nukes and ballistic rockets on the table of negotiations in any case nor flinch even an inch from the road of bolstering the nuclear force chosen by itself unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated….”
The North Korean propagandists included technical details for the benefit of US and Allied missile experts. The description suggests that most of the major components of an ICBM weapons system have now been tested. This is the first time that the North Korean media were allowed to mention the development of the second stage of the Hwasong-14.

The experts agreed that in a normal trajectory the missile can travel the distance to Alaska. At the recent pace of North Korean improvements, the next iteration of a Hwasong missile will be able to travel farther. The North Koreans appear to have mastered the ICBM launch and flight technology.

What is striking is the leadership’s confidence in launching on the 4th of July. North Koreans know the date is special to its arch-enemy. They were undeterred by the potential for failure or the risk of a success that landed in Japan.

They launched a missile almost straight up. It reached an altitude of more than 1,700 miles and splashed down less than 600 miles away without hitting Japan. That takes hubris as well as confidence in flight control. North Korea never had the technology for such precision under the earlier Kims. The pace of development has been exceptionally rapid. That suggests North Korea has discovered a missile systems savant or two or is the beneficiary of significant outside technical assistance.

During the Clinton administration when US Department of Energy scientists were living in Yongbyon to monitor the frozen graphite-moderated reactor, the US did freeze the Yongbyon reactor and the long-range missile program. US Secretary of State Albright met Kim Chong-il in Pyongyang in October 2000. The US missed an opportunity to make those freezes permanent. That missed opportunity has had the long-range consequences witnessed on 4 July 2017.

Russia and China issued a joint statement. The following item was posted to the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The foreign ministries of Russia and China have issued a joint statement voicing concern over the latest missile launch by North Korea.”

They called it ‘unacceptable’ and urged Pyongyang to suspend nuclear and missile tests. The statement said Russia and China were ‘seriously concerned over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) statement of 4 July this year about the launch of a ballistic missile, and believe that this statement is unacceptable and that it runs counter to relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

The Chinese formula does not get better with repetition or from gaining Russian President Putin’s backing. North Korea gets rewarded for its violations of UN Security Council resolutions with a reduction in Allied combat readiness, while its missiles and conventional forces maintain their combat readiness. That is an invitation for a North Korean attack on South Korea.

In the Chinese formula, South Korea is penalized and is subjected to increased risk of war for abiding by UN Security Council Resolutions from the 1950s. 

Based on Kim Jong Un’s statement after the missile success, above, North Korea appears unlikely to suspend the missile and nuclear programs for any reason other than a South Korean and US surrender.

Expedition Retrospective (Part 2)

This is a continuation from this blog post (Part One)


In the San Juan Mountains of Colorado
I never want what I'm writing to turn into a polemic, but sometimes it does...almost on its own. 

The only way to get to the road less traveled is to get out and travel. It sounds trite, but it's true. I would like to tell you that I love setting up camp and sleeping in a tent, but I most often sleep in the rig. And while I am a fan of the Toyota FJ as a good 4x4 solution (when modified properly), it's not comfortable to sleep in.

However as a minimalist camper, I don't work as hard on personal comfort as some others do. I think that came from privations in the military which taught me that my ease was not a predicate of a successful mission. Don't get me wrong, I like luxury as much as the next person. I just have this thing about not needing it on expedition.

In the photo (left) I'm with a guy who is trying to explain how we're going to get up a waterfall that looks impossible. He was right, by the way. We made it. Which is to say that it's always important to listen to somebody who knows more about a particular obstacle than you do.

Short wheel base, high clearance 4x4's have very little room for banal comforts, so you need to pack what you need. The basic load out is carried in a species of endoskeleton that I built and still use. I often sleep under a heavy quilt, but if I'm bringing a sleeping bag, it will go on top of the Pelican cases. If I'm accompanied, luxury items such as a tent and other accoutrements are loaded in the back seat (forward of the cage), or I strap them on the roof. Firearms are most usually carried forward of the cage so that they're accessible. There's not much use in having firearms that are not at hand.

Near Rose Garden Hill, Moab, UT
Near the White Wolf Mine, Mogollon Rim, AZ
Kokopelli Trail


Near "Top of the World" on the Kokopelli Trail (from Fruita, CO to
Moab, UT
I've made the run down the Kokopelli Trail four times. It's one of my very favorite expedition style runs because each time I've found different obstacles on the same 142 mile route. Sometimes you can ford rivers and sometimes they are running too high and you have to take a different route to overcome the problem. I was the first rig along the trail one spring and had to do a lot of road building because of wash-outs that made the trail impassible. It wasn't out of a sense of altruism that I spent a day or two fixing roads - it's because I needed to in order to pass. 

The Kokopelli Trail is one that is best experienced with friends because it's one of those unique trips that you can still make and it's always an experience of discovery. I've done it in two days and I've done it in five. You are ROMPING to get through it in two days.

Kokopelli Trail - this was not a glory photo. There was a better line over
the rock in this case than around it.
My first run at the Kokopelli Trail was with the Toyota Trail Teams (Factory team for the FJ Cruiser). They were kind enough to invite me along. 

They ran out of fuel and ended up borrowing from me. In the West, you must always plan to bring more fuel than you think you'll ever need. You burn more in 4 Low than you usually expect to.

I'm very much looking forward to making this trip again once I've settled in Arizona. (the CA house has sold and I'm in the process of moving at the moment) At present, I'm thinking of doing it Spring 2018, as soon as the snow clears and the road is passable.

On the Kokopelli Trail, ENE of Moab, UT about fifty miles
Kokopelli Trail is but one of hundreds of interesting expeditions.

Beaty, Nevada, east of Death Valley
My son-in-law was with me on this trip to Death Valley (above) and encouraged me to pose for a shot in front of the closed brothel. There should be a rule about not being gullible enough to stand still for this sort of photo, but if there is that sort of rule, I've broken it too often.

With a Buggy going up a river bed with a friend, who brought his rock rig.
He ended up breaking an axel, and I avoided some serious trouble by having
an angel on my shoulder. Near Florence, AZ
Overlooking a portion of Death Valley, CA
In the San Juan Mountains, CO - well above timber line, nearly 13,000 ft
elevation, at California Pass.