PARIS — French yellow vest protesters set fires Saturday along a march through Paris to drive home their message to a government they believe is ignoring the poor: that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem France needs to solve.
Like the high-visibility vests the protesters wear, the scattered small fires in Paris appeared to be a collective plea to French President Emmanuel Macron’s government to “look at me — I need help too!”
Police fired water cannon and sprayed tear gas to try to control radical elements rampaging on the margins of the largely peaceful march, one of several actions around Paris and other French cities.
The protests marked the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions against Macron’s centrist government, which they see as favoring the wealthy and big business. Protesters view themselves as standing up for beleaguered French workers , students and retirees who have been battered by high unemployment, high taxes and shrinking purchasing power.
But violence and divisions have marred the movement.
Associated Press reporters saw a car, motorbikes and barricades set ablaze around the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris. The smell of tear gas mixed with the smoke, choking the air.
Paris firefighters — who struggled earlier this week to prevent the 12th-century Notre Dame from collapsing — quickly responded to extinguish the flames at Saturday’s protest. Read the rest of this entry »
For nearly 40 years, Bill Burhans has steadfastly maintained he wasn’t drunk when, as an Air Force lieutenant colonel driving fellow U.S. military liaisons home from a holiday party with their Soviet counterparts in East Germany, he lost control of the car, careened up an embankment and slammed into a bus.
Matthew M. Burke and Marcus Kloeckner report: When the car came to a stop on Dec. 29, 1979, Air Force Lt. Col. James Tonge, his passenger, called to him to move the car to the shoulder. But Burhans sat frozen, except for his trembling hands.
It was as if he’d been “hit in the head with an ax at the slaughterhouse,” Tonge would later tell U.S. investigators in a sworn statement.
“He didn’t respond at all,” Tonge said of Burhans, who at the time was set to replace him as deputy of the U.S. Military Liaison Mission.
Based in Potsdam, near Berlin, the USMLM’s official mission was to serve as a liaison between the U.S. military command and its Soviet counterpart in post-war Germany, but its personnel also gathered intelligence, monitored Soviet forces and reported on readiness throughout the Cold War era. French, British and Soviet liaison missions did similar work.
After helping Burhans into the back seat, Tonge moved the car himself.
Police arrived in minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
Source: New York Post
World War II-style Manhattan Project needed for electric infrastructure protection.
Bill Gertz reports:The United States is vulnerable to a devastating electromagnetic pulse event caused by a high-altitude nuclear blast or solar superstorm, according to a recently published book.
Peter Pry, a former CIA analyst and author of the book EMP Manhattan Project, is urging the government to rapidly harden the U.S. electric power system against EMP similar to the three-year crash program to build the first atomic bomb in 1942.”Today the United States and the world faces another existential threat—from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) catastrophe that can be caused by nature or man, and topple the technological pillars of modern electronic civilization,” said Pry, who served on a congressional EMP commission in the early 2000s.
The book contains fresh assessments of the EMP threat produced by a more recent congressional commission last year that concluded the United States would suffer millions of deaths from a major EMP incident.
EMP was discovered in the 1960s during above-ground nuclear tests. The tests showed a nuclear blast created a pulse capable of disrupting or destroying electronic devices over large areas, in some cases over 1,000 miles away.
The latest EMP commission found the United States is confronted with “a present and continuing existential threat from naturally occurring and manmade electromagnetic pulse assault and related attacks on military and critical national infrastructures.”
An EMP event would produce an electric power outage over large areas of the country that could last for a year or longer.
Emergency systems, such as generators, also are vulnerable to damage from EMP.
EMP events would disable critical supply chains and plunge the entire country into living conditions similar to those of centuries ago prior the use of electric power.
“An extended blackout today could result in the death of a large fraction of the American people through the effects of societal collapse, disease, and starvation,” the commission stated in its July 2017 report. “While national planning and preparation for such events could help mitigate the damage, few such actions are currently underway or even being contemplated.”
William R. Graham, former head of the EMP commission, stated in a preface to the book that a nationwide electrical blackout of one year “could kill millions, perhaps prove fatal to most Americans, by starvation, disease, and societal collapse.”
“EMP is a civilization killer,” Graham said.
The book warns that China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran are preparing to use EMP attacks combined with traditional military strikes and new cyber attacks in future conflicts.
The threat was highlighted by North Korea’s announcement in state-run media in September 2017 that the country’s thermonuclear device could be detonated at high altitude and produce “great destructive power … for superpowerful EMP attack.” Read the rest of this entry »
The number of informants executed in the debacle is higher than initially thought.
Zach Dorfman reports: It was considered one of the CIA’s worst failures in decades: Over a two-year period starting in late 2010, Chinese authorities systematically dismantled the agency’s network of agents across the country, executing dozens of suspected U.S. spies. But since then, a question has loomed over the entire debacle.
How were the Chinese able to roll up the network?
Now, nearly eight years later, it appears that the agency botched the communication system it used to interact with its sources, according to five current and former intelligence officials. The CIA had imported the system from its Middle East operations, where the online environment was considerably less hazardous, and apparently underestimated China’s ability to penetrate it.
“The attitude was that we’ve got this, we’re untouchable,” said one of the officials who, like the others, declined to be named discussing sensitive information. The former official described the attitude of those in the agency who worked on China at the time as “invincible.”
Other factors played a role as well, including China’s alleged recruitment of former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee around the same time. Federal prosecutors indicted Lee earlier this year in connection with the affair.
But the penetration of the communication system seems to account for the speed and accuracy with which Chinese authorities moved against the CIA’s China-based assets.
“You could tell the Chinese weren’t guessing. The Ministry of State Security [which handles both foreign intelligence and domestic security] were always pulling in the right people,” one of the officials said.
“When things started going bad, they went bad fast.” Read the rest of this entry »
Dozens of cars burned in several cities in Sweden on Monday evening.
Gothenburg police and fire services were alerted to the first blaze after 9pm, after which several more calls came in from the city as well as Trollhättan, Lysekil and Falkenberg some 100 kilometres away.
“We have been to around 20 places in Gothenburg. It’s mainly vehicles that have burned – cars, some truck, caravans – but also some buried waste disposal site,” Johan Eklund, emergency control room officer in the greater Gothenburg area, told Swedish news agency TT shortly after midnight.
To summarize what has happened in Sweden tonight.
– Unrest in 8 different areas / cities
– Some 90 cars destroyed / damaged with fire
– Around 60 youths involved in total
– Police and fire services attacked with rocks
– Streets barricaded by the youths
– Possibly co-ordinated
— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) August 13, 2018
Swedish media reported that groups of up to ten youths had been seen throwing stones and lighting cars on fire in Gothenburg districts Gårdsten, Hjällbo and Frölunda, among other locations. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Cultural Appropriation Tastes Damn Good: How Immigrants, Commerce, and Fusion Keep Food DeliciousPosted: August 7, 2018
Writer Gustavo Arellano talks about food slurs, the late Jonathan Gold, and why Donald Trump’s taco salad is a step in the right direction.
The late Jonathan Gold wrote about food in Southern California with an intimacy that brought readers closer to the people that made it. The Pulitzer Prize–winning critic visited high-end brick-and-mortar restaurants as well as low-end strip malls and food trucks in search of good food wherever he found it. Gold died of pancreatic cancer last month, but he still influences writers like Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times columnist and author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.
Arellano sat down with Reason’s Nick Gillespie to talk about Gold’s legacy, political correctness in cuisine, and why Donald Trump’s love of taco salad gives him hope in the midst of all of the president’s anti-Mexican rhetoric. Read the rest of this entry »
The West Coast is a growing target of foreign espionage. And it’s not ready to fight back.
Jack Shafer writes: Russian intelligence has had an intensive interest in San Francisco stretching back to the beginning of the Cold War. In those days, the Russians were primarily gathering information on local military installations, said former officials, including the Presidio, the strategically located former military base set on a wind-swept northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.
Since then, Russian operations have become bolder, with one notable exception: the immediate post-Cold War period. “The only time there was a collective sigh regarding Russia, like maybe things have changed, was under Gorbachev,” said LaRae Quy, who worked on Russian and Chinese counterintelligence in the Bay Area from 1985 to 2002. “We even put in a big ‘Going Out Of Business’ sign in the Palo Alto squad room.”
But this optimism quickly faded when Putin was elected in 2000, recalled Quy, who retired in 2006. “Russia has been steadily escalating since then.”
As the Bay Area transformed itself into a tech hub, Russia adapted its efforts accordingly, with Russian spies increasingly focused on obtaining information on valuable, sensitive or potentially dual-use technologies—those with both civilian and military applications—being developed or financed by companies or venture-capital firms based in the region. Russia’s espionage activities have traditionally been centered on its San Francisco Consulate, which was forcibly closed by the Trump administration in early September 2017.
But even with the consulate shuttered, there are alternative vehicles for Russian intelligence-gathering in Silicon Valley. One potential mechanism, said three former intelligence officials, is Rusnano USA, the sole U.S. subsidiary of Rusnano, a Russian government-owned venture capital firm primarily focused on nanotechnology. Rusnano USA, which was founded in 2011, is located in Menlo Park, near Stanford University. Read the rest of this entry »
The two countries are vying to create an exascale computer that could lead to significant advances in many scientific fields.
Martin Giles writes:
… The race to hit the exascale milestone is part of a burgeoning competition for technological leadership between China and the US. (Japan and Europe are also working on their own computers; the Japanese hope to have a machine running in 2021 and the Europeans in 2023.)
In 2015, China unveiled a plan to produce an exascale machine by the end of 2020, and multiple reports over the past year or so have suggested it’s on track to achieve its ambitious goal. But in an interview with MIT Technology Review, Depei Qian, a professor at Beihang University in Beijing who helps manage the country’s exascale effort, explained it could fall behind schedule. “I don’t know if we can still make it by the end of 2020,” he said. “There may be a year or half a year’s delay.”
Teams in China have been working on three prototype exascale machines, two of which use homegrown chips derived from work on existing supercomputers the country has developed. The third uses licensed processor technology. Qian says that the pros and cons of each approach are still being evaluated, and that a call for proposals to build a fully functioning exascale computer has been pushed back.
Given the huge challenges involved in creating such a powerful computer, timetables can easily slip, which could make an opening for the US. China’s initial goal forced the American government to accelerate its own road map and commit to delivering its first exascale computer in 2021, two years ahead of its original target. The American machine, called Aurora, is being developed for the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Supercomputing company Cray is building the system for Argonne, and Intel is making chips for the machine. Read the rest of this entry »
Deadly protests in the southern Iranian city of Kazerun continued for a second day following the deaths of two protesters Wednesday.
Ben Evansky reports: Former State Department official David Tafuri on President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and Trump’s efforts to help protect jobs at Chinese company ZTE.
Deadly protests in the southern Iranian city of Kazerun continued for a second day following the deaths of two protesters Wednesday. Protesters aimed their wrath at the Iranian regime following a decision to split the city of nearly 150,000 into two townships.
“After anti-riot forces were dispatched to the city from Shiraz, the people charged at them and hand-to-hand clashes ensued,” a press release from the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said. NCRI is a coalition of influential Iranian opposition groups.
The protests have left at least two people dead and six others injured.
The NCRI press release said that protesters had set fire to a trailer belonging to regime security forces and that four police vehicles had also been set ablaze. It said that parts of the city looked “war-torn.” It said smoke had filled the air close to the main square following the burning of tires by protesters. It also noted the Internet and mobile phones have been cut off.
Heshmat Alavi an Iranian political and rights activist who has been following the protests since they started last December, told Fox News that “the scene we are witnessing in Kazerun is merely one of the many flashpoints in Iran, a powder keg state considered ready to explode at any moment.”
Alavi said more protests have been occurring across the country.
“Reports from a variety of sources are indicating anti-regime rallies and protests throughout the country, staged by people from all walks of life,” he said. “This includes teachers, college students, store-owners and bazaar merchants, credit firm clients seeking their stolen savings.” Read the rest of this entry »
PAJU, South Korea, May 12 (Yonhap) — A group of North Korea defectors scattered leaflets critical of the North Korean regime across the border to the North on Saturday despite the government’s recommendation not to.
the border to the North Korean side were carrying 150,000 leaflets criticizing North Korea, as well as other gifts like United States dollar bills and USBs, Park Sang-hak, the head of the defectors’ group said.
Banners were also tied to the balloons, reading “Do not be fooled by Kim Jong-un‘s fake dialogue offer, disguised peace offensive.”
“Defectors’ leaflets to North Korea, which are intended to tell the facts and truth to some 20 million North Korean people, will never by stopped by any form of blockade or physical means,” Park noted.
The defectors group tried to fly the anti-North leaflets a week earlier but failed to do so when they were stopped by police and local residents.
The government has repeatedly advised the Fighters for a Free North Korea, as well as other groups that send leaflets to North Korea, against such activity.
“Spreading of anti-North leaflets runs against the spirit of the inter-Korean agreements under the Panmunjom Declaration agreed upon between the leaders of the two countries,” the Unification Ministry has told the groups, urging them to stop the activities. Read the rest of this entry »
Elon Musk’s SpaceX Will Be the Third Most Valuable Private Company in the Country After a $500 Million Fundraising RoundPosted: April 15, 2018
Elon told you so.
SpaceX filed paperwork in Delaware to raise an additional $500 million in capital, according to Equidate, a stock market for private technology companies that tracks such filings. Once the fundraising round is completed, the company’s value will have increased by approximately 25% in the last nine months, according to Equidate COO Hari Raghavan. It has more than doubled since 2015.
It’s not clear yet which investors will provide the cash, but the company has preferred to retain old investors than add new ones. Fidelity is rumored to be leading the round, and Musk is supposedly set to put up more equity in the company he founded out of his own pocket in 2002.
SpaceX confirmed the fundraising round, but did not share any details about how the capital will be used. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping struck a strongly nationalistic tone in his closing address Tuesday to the annual session of the ceremonial parliament, saying China would never allow “one inch” of territory to be separated from it.
Speaking before the nearly 3,000 members of the National People’s Congress who had earlier abolished term limits on his rule, Xi declared that the Chinese people were now “closer now than at any time in history to realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
“Maintaining national sovereignty, territorial integrity and complete unification of the motherland is the common aspiration of all Chinese,” Xi said.
“In the face of national righteousness and the tide of history, all attempts or tricks aimed at dividing the motherland are doomed to failure,” Xi said to loud applause. “All will receive the condemnation of the people and the punishment of history.”
China to Ban Citizens with Bad ‘Social Credit’ Rating from Raking Flights or Using Trains for Up to a YearPosted: March 19, 2018
President Xi Jinping’s plan based on principle ‘once untrustworthy, always restricted’ to come into effect on 1 May.
China said it will begin applying its so-called social credit system to flights and trains and stop people who have committed misdeeds from taking such transport for up to a year.
People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.
Those found to have committed financial wrongdoings, such as employers who failed to pay social insurance or people who have failed to pay fines, would also face these restrictions, said the statements which were dated 2 March.
It added that the rules would come into effect on 1 May.
Rumbling into a mostly sunny sky, SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy rocket — the world’s most powerful present-day launcher — soared into orbit Tuesday, and its two strap-on boosters came back to Cape Canaveral for an electrifying double-landing punctuated by quadruple sonic booms.
The dramatic test flight took off at 3:45 p.m. EST (2045 GMT) Tuesday from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the same facility used by the Apollo 11 lunar landing crew and numerous space shuttle missions.
Standing nearly 230 feet (70 meters) tall, the Falcon Heavy’s 27 main engines put out nearly 5 million pounds of thrust, one-and-a-half times more than any other rocket flying today, and around two-thirds the power output of the space shuttle at liftoff. Read the rest of this entry »
Authorities in Mexico say that six people were killed and another 14 wounded during underground cockfighting match on the southern edge of Chihuahua city.
- Masked attackers fired at people gathered at the ‘Santa Maria’ cockfight club
- Four victims were killed at the scene and two died while receiving treatment
- Cockfighting is popular in the country and particularly in western Mexico
- The cock fights are a big draw for the narcos attend high stakes games
Associated Press and Alasdair Baverstock report: Authorities in northern Mexico say gunmen opened fire at a clandestine cockfight arena in the Chihuahua s tate capital, killing six people and wounding 14.
The state prosecutor’s office says in a statement that several masked attackers fired at people gathered at the ‘Santa Maria’ cockfight club late Saturday off a highway on the southern edge of Chihuahua city.
Prosecutors said Sunday that four victims were killed at the scene and two more died while receiving medical treatment.
Prosecutors said Sunday that four victims were killed at the scene and two more died while receiving medical treatment.
Cockfighting is popular in the country and particularly in western Mexico, where every town has a cockfighting ring
Two children ages 7 and 10 were among the wounded. There were no immediate arrests.
Cockfighting is popular in the country and particularly in western Mexico, where every town in the states of Jalisco, Michoacan and Guerrero has a Palenque, or cockfighting ring.
Gambling is a major aspect of the event, and as much as $40,000 can be placed on a single bout. Bookkeepers patrol the stands and take bets. Spectators gamble only on the overall outcome, and all odds are set at 2:1. Read the rest of this entry »
31 paintings stolen from Jewish families during World War II are put on permanent display in Louvre as it searches for its owners.
The Louvre Museum in Paris has put 31 Nazi-looted paintings on permanent display in an attempt to find their rightful owners.The works were installed in two showrooms last month, The Associated Press reported.
Some 296 Nazi-looted paintings are stored at the Louvre and remain unclaimed.
“Beneficiaries can see these artworks, declare that these artworks belong to them and officially ask for their return,” he said.
Ways to prove ownership include old family photos, receipts or testimonies.
The Louvre initiative is the latest effort by French authorities to find heirs of families who lost their artwork during World War II. The French Culture Ministry has formed a committee in charge of locating the original owners of the paintings. Only about 50 artworks have been returned since 1951. Read the rest of this entry »
Eddie Scarry reports: Liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is reporting from North Korea and sharing photos on social media of school children, food and the “fun” he is witnessing in the rogue country.
“North Koreans like to have fun, too.”
— Nicholas Kristof
Kristof began tweeting and posting photos to Instagram on Tuesday and he said he has interviewed government officials and toured “a side of the country that doesn’t always come through.”
One photo showed what appeared to be an amusement park. “North Koreans like to have fun, too,” Kristof wrote in the caption of one photo that showed a park ride. “People were shouting happily on this ride on an amusement park.”
In another photo from North Korea, a country that has long faced food shortages resulting in a largely starved population, Kristof showed a meal he was having.
“Lunch in Pyongyang, North Korea, at a pizza restaurant with live music,” the caption said. Read the rest of this entry »
Every decade the Islamist regime has been in power, an uprising has cost it an element of its legitimacy.
Mark Dubowitz and Ray Takeyh report: Iran has a peculiar habit of surprising Americans. It has done so again with the protests engulfing its major cities. The demonstrations began over economic grievances and quickly transformed into a rejection of theocracy.
“As with the Soviet Union in its last days, the Islamic Republic can no longer appeal to its ideals; it relies only on its security services for survival.”
The slogans must have unsettled the mullahs: “Death to Khamenei!” “Death to Rouhani!” “We will die to get our Iran back!” Imperialism has not revived the regime’s legitimacy, as the protesting Persians pointedly reject expending their meager resources on Arab wars: “Death to Hezbollah!” “No to Gaza, not Lebanon! Our life only for Iran!”
However the events on the streets unfold, their most immediate casualty will be the presidency of Hassan Rouhani and its false claim of pragmatic governance. In the aftermath of the Green Revolution of 2009, which rocked the foundations of the Islamic Republic, a sinister argument gradually pervaded Western salons and chancelleries. The convulsions of that summer, the claim went, were over no more than electoral irregularity. With the election of the so-called moderate Mr. Rouhani in 2013, the system rebalanced itself. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his allies supposedly learned some hard lessons on the need to yield to popular mandates. Iranians want gradual change, we have been told, and believe that the system’s own constitutional provisions and plebiscites can be used to nudge it toward moderation.
Then, last week, Iranians took to the streets.
Every decade of the Islamist regime’s rule has seen one of its political factions lose its legitimacy through national uprisings. In the 1980s, the Islamic Republic waged a determined civil war against liberals and secularists who sought to redeem the revolution’s pledge of a democratic order. The student riots of 1999 ended the reformist interlude and Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, which had promised that the expansion of civil society and elections would harmonize faith and freedom. The reformists lingered as discredited enablers of a repressive regime, but no one believed in their promises of change from within. The hard-liners offered their own national compact, one that privileged economic justice over political emancipation. But the tumultuous presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad produced only corruption and bellicosity.
Then came Mr. Rouhani and his centrist disciples with their pledge to revive the economy, primarily through foreign investment. Mr. Rouhani needed a nuclear agreement to lift debilitating sanctions and stimulate commerce. The Obama administration was happy to deliver, and Iran received tens of billions of dollars in financial dividends, including $1.7 billion in paper currency. Read the rest of this entry »
Corporations could repatriate as much as $400 billion in earnings and cash from abroad.
Companies could bring back as much as $400 billion, according to one estimate, as they take advantage of a one-time cut for repatriation of earnings and cash held overseas written into the GOP tax overhaul. That typically requires them to sell foreign holdings and buy assets denominated in dollars, which could boost the U.S. currency.
Gauging the dollar’s trajectory is crucial to both investors and corporations. The currency’s climb over the past several years has been blamed for pressuring profits among U.S. multinational companies and making exporters’ goods less competitive abroad.
Its trajectory also influences prices for raw materials like oil, copper and gold, which are denominated in dollars and become more expensive to foreign investors when the dollar rises.
Many investors expected the dollar to strengthen in 2017, boosted by the Trump administration’s fiscal-stimulus and infrastructure-spending pledges. Instead, the currency as of Friday had fallen nearly 7% against its peers, as key White House initiatives stalled.
North Korea Readying for Another Nuclear Test? Satellite Images Show Heightened Activity at Punggye-riPosted: December 13, 2017
Over the weekend, Radio Pyongyang broadcast secret coded messages hinting at a possible impending weapons test.
Experts say that after North Korea’s last nuclear test, minor tremors were detected near Mt Mantap, located close to the nuclear site. However, Pyongyang is now engaged in additional tunnel work at the site.
According to experts at 38North, a US-based think tank, the fresh activities were detected at the West Portal of the site – indicating that the site may be undergoing an expansion. Meanwhile, the North Portal, where the previous five tests were conducted, appears to have been temporarily abandoned.
“At the West Portal, there has been a consistently high level of activity since North Korea’s last nuclear test. This includes a routine presence of vehicles and personnel around the portal, movement of mining carts from the portal to the adjacent spoil pile and signs of fresh spoil being dumped onto the pile,” 38North experts said in a blog. “These activities suggest that tunnel excavation is underway at the West Portal, as the North Koreans expand the site’s potential for future nuclear testing.”
Ryan Barenklau, CEO and founder of Strategic Sentinel, a Washington-based nonpartisan geostrategic consulting agency, told IBTimes UK, “The tunneling is occurring at the West Portal and activity near that area has been relatively high for the last month. They are most likely digging deeper and expanding the complex underneath so they can continue their normal operations.” Read the rest of this entry »
Tom DiChristopher reports: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday appeared to threaten to disrupt Chinese crude oil shipments to North Korea following the hermit kingdom’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday.
China’s refusal to completely cut off energy exports to North Korea have been a sticking point as the United States leads the charge to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
Haley revealed during a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York City that President Donald Trump called Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday morning to tell him the time has come for China to cut off crude oil supplies to North Korea.
“We now turn to President Xi to also take that stand. We believe he has an opportunity to do the right thing for the benefit of all countries. China must show leadership and follow through. China can do this on its own, or we can take the oil situation into our own hands,” she said.
Authoritarian regimes like Russia and China are outspending the United States in the realm of soft power, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told the National Democratic Institute’s annual Democracy Dinner at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. last night.
“Our budget is $650 million—a fraction of what our adversaries spend,” he said “Today, Russia is spending over a billion dollars on covert propaganda operations,” he added. “Russian TV, radio, and internet bots continue to push misinformation without almost no pushback from the US.”
The authoritarian threat required greater investment in non-kinetic resources for exerting influence abroad, Murphy added.
“We have more people working at military grocery stores than diplomats deployed abroad,” he said.
Facebook estimates that 10 million people saw the [Kremlin’s] paid ads and up to 150 million people saw other content from the fake accounts, which Facebook has traced to the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed troll farm, WIRED reports:
Psychologists and students of advertising say the ads were cleverly designed to look like other internet memes, and to appeal to readers’ emotions. Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor of psychology at NYU, says he was surprised at the sophistication of the campaign. “It wasn’t transparent lies. It was just pushing our buttons,” says Van Bavel. “To me, this is more pernicious. It’s not a matter of fiction that we can root out with fact-checking. It’s more about turning Americans against each other.”
“The IRA are not amateurs, they’re clearly familiarizing themselves with the kind of content that resonates with the target audiences,” says Renee DiResta, researcher with Data for Democracy, a nonprofit group that has been digging into the data on Russian-linked accounts.
The threat of disinformation and other active measures employed by the Kremlin requires adaptation and innovation from the advanced democracies, according to NATO’s Secretary General.
“Defense is no longer about just looking at a map and deciding where to place armies,” Jens Stoltenberg said this week. “It’s also about countering misinformation. Protecting infrastructure. Making our societies resilient to attack.”
“The geography of danger has shifted,” he added.
The NDI dinner honored three civil society groups on the front lines of confronting disinformation and false news – . Rappler from the Philippines, the Ukraine-based StopFake and the Oxford Internet Institute.
“When a lie is repeated 1 million times it becomes truth, especially when it’s state-sponsored hate,” said Rapplerdotcom‘s Maria Ressa. “A sock puppet network of 26 fake accounts can reach 3 million.”
Disinformation “exploits the fracture lines of society,” she said, adding that she received an average of 90 hate messages per hour.” Read the rest of this entry »
Jonathan David Haidt (born October 19, 1963) is an American social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His academic specialization is the psychology of morality and the moral emotions. Haidt is the author of two books: The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006) and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012). Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON (AP) — It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to undulate, even writhe. Listen closely: There are multiple, distinct tones that sound to some like they’re colliding in a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect.
The Associated Press has obtained a recording of what some U.S. Embassy workers heard in Havana in a series of unnerving incidents later deemed to be deliberate attacks. The recording, released Thursday by the AP, is the first disseminated publicly of the many taken in Cuba of mysterious sounds that led investigators initially to suspect a sonic weapon.
The recordings themselves are not believed to be dangerous to those who listen. Sound experts and physicians say they know of no sound that can cause physical damage when played for short durations at normal levels through standard equipment like a cellphone or computer.
What device produced the original sound remains unknown. Americans affected in Havana reported the sounds hit them at extreme volumes.
Whether there’s a direct relationship between the sound and the physical damage suffered by the victims is also unclear. The U.S. says that in general the attacks caused hearing, cognitive, visual, balance, sleep and other problems.
The recordings from Havana have been sent for analysis to the U.S. Navy, which has advanced capabilities for analyzing acoustic signals, and to the intelligence services, the AP has learned. But the recordings have not significantly advanced U.S. knowledge about what is harming diplomats.
The Navy did not respond to requests for comment on the recording. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert wouldn’t comment on the tape’s authenticity.
Cuba has denied involvement or knowledge of the attacks. The U.S. hasn’t blamed anyone and says it still doesn’t know what or who is responsible. But the government has faulted President Raul Castro’s government for failing to protect American personnel, and Nauert said Thursday that Cuba “may have more information than we are aware of right now.”
“We believe that the Cuban government could stop the attacks on our diplomats,” said White House chief of staff John Kelly.
Not all Americans injured in Cuba heard sounds. Of those who did, it’s not clear they heard precisely the same thing.
Yet the AP has reviewed several recordings from Havana taken under different circumstances, and all have variations of the same high-pitched sound. Individuals who have heard the noise in Havana confirm the recordings are generally consistent with what they heard.
“That’s the sound,” one of them said.
The recording being released by the AP has been digitally enhanced to increase volume and reduce background noise, but has not been otherwise altered.
The sound seemed to manifest in pulses of varying lengths — seven seconds, 12 seconds, two seconds — with some sustained periods of several minutes or more. Then there would be silence for a second, or 13 seconds, or four seconds, before the sound abruptly started again. Read the rest of this entry »
A Danish inventor is accused of murdering and mutilating the body of the Swedish journalist.
She was last seen embarking on a trip off the Copenhagen coast in a homemade submarine built by Danish inventor Peter Madsen.
Her mutilated torso was found by a passing cyclist on 21 August. Her head, legs and clothing were found in weighted-down bags by police divers on 6 October.
Mr Madsen has said she died after being accidently hit on the head by the submarine’s heavy hatch, and has denied charges of murder and mutilating a corpse.
The unfolding details of Mr Madsen’s case are being closely followed in Scandinavia.
What do we know about Kim Wall’s disappearance?
A respected freelance journalist, Ms Wall was researching a feature about Peter Madsen, an inventor who built his private 40-tonne submarine, UC3 Nautilus, through crowdfunding in 2008.
She had previously reported from North Korea, the South Pacific, Uganda and Haiti, writing for the New York Times, Guardian, Vice and the South China Morning Post.
She met Mr Madsen at around 19:00 local time on Thursday 10 August at Refshaleoen, a harbour area in Copenhagen, and she boarded the Nautilus. The last picture of the pair in the sub’s conning tower was taken at 20:30 by a man on a cruise ship, a short time before sunset.
Ms Wall did not return and was reported missing by her boyfriend at 02:30 on Friday.
The sub was not equipped with satellite tracking so after the alarm was raised in the early hours of Friday, rescue services searched for the vessel for hours.
It was not until 10:30 on 11 August that the first sighting of the vessel was confirmed from a lighthouse in the Oresund, a strait between Sweden and Denmark.
A merchant ship later reported coming within 30m (98ft) of the unlit sub to the north-west of the Oresund bridge at about midnight on 10 August. Police say at that point, the submarine crossed the channel from Denmark towards Sweden in the southern part of the Oresund.
Contact with Mr Madsen was finally established. But half an hour after the first reported sighting, the submarine sank and Mr Madsen was taken to safety by rescue services.
After analysing the wreck, Copenhagen police said on 14 August that “the sinking of the submarine was allegedly a consequence of a deliberate act”.
What happened to Kim Wall?
What happened to the Swedish journalist on the submarine is unclear and it was 13 days before she was confirmed dead.
According to Mr Madsen’s account, Ms Wall died after a 70kg (154 lb) hatch fell on her head and he “buried” her at sea somewhere in Koge Bay, about 50km (30 miles) south of Copenhagen.
But a number of macabre facts have since emerged. Read the rest of this entry »
Many Americans believe that JFK was assassinated as the result of some sort of conspiracy, perhaps even by the CIA—the direct result of a KGB influence operation.
Max Holland writes: Helping defeat Hillary Clinton is not the most successful influence operation Moscow has ever mounted against the United States. The most momentous, yes. But any covert activity that is exposed so rapidly and incites a backlash cannot be deemed an unalloyed accomplishment.
Moscow’s single most effective influence operation remains the one induced 50 years ago this month, when the now-defunct New Orleans States-Item published a front-page story on April 25, 1967, entitled “Mounting Evidence Links CIA to ‘Plot’ Probe.” It was an operation that culminated in an unimaginable achievement—inclusion in a Hollywood blockbuster by Oliver Stone that contends the CIA was instrumental in JFK’s assassination.
That probe, as every conscious American knew, was district attorney Jim Garrison’s re-investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination amid a pronounced erosion of public confidence in the Warren Report. On March 1, 1967, Garrison had ostentatiously announced the arrest of Clay Shaw, a respected businessman, and charged him with complicity in JFK’s death. It was an outlandish and baseless accusation, yet Shaw would prove far from the only victim. The miscarriage of justice that unfolded over the next two years would have vast, if largely unappreciated, consequences for America’s political culture.
It would take a separate article (or even book) to explain why Garrison ordered Clay Shaw’s arrest in the first place (and some very good ones have been written, including Patricia Lambert’s False Witness). Suffice it to say that at the time of the arrest and until later in March, Garrison’s theory of the case was that JFK’s assassination was actually a “homosexual thrill-killing.” The president had been murdered in broad daylight because he was everything the conspirators were not: “a successful, handsome, popular, wealthy, virile man.” Under this scenario, Shaw, who was gay but closeted, also went by the name of Clay Bertrand, a mysterious person linked to the assassination. “Bertrand” had supposedly tried to arrange a defense counsel for Lee Harvey Oswald during the weekend following his capture on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963. The Warren Commission and FBI thoroughly investigated the “Bertrand” allegation in 1964, and had concluded (correctly) that it was a fabrication concocted by a publicity-seeking New Orleans attorney named Dean Andrews. “Bertrand” was not even a real person.
Nonetheless, Shaw’s surprise arrest in 1967 naturally precipitated a media firestorm the likes of which had not been seen since the assassination itself. As reporters from near and far flocked to New Orleans—the universal reaction being that Garrison “must have something”—headlines appeared around the globe, including in Paese Sera, a small-circulation newspaper published in Rome. The story that ran in its pages on March 4, however, was unlike any other. Clay Shaw, Paese Sera alleged, had been involved in “pseudo-commercial” activities in Italy while serving on the board of the defunct Centro Mondiale Commerciale. Ostensibly devoted to making Rome a commerce hub, the CMC had actually been “a creature of the CIA… set up as a cover for the transfer to Italy of CIA-FBI funds [sic] for illegal political-espionage activities.” Read the rest of this entry »
Are some cultures better than others? Or are all cultures and their values equal? Bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza, who was born in India and moved to America, explains.
Michael Barone writes: “The habits of progressive social and political discourse almost seem calculated to alienate and aggravate lower class whites.” That sounds like something an American might say, but actually it was written by an Australian.
Shannon Burns, who is now an academic but grew up in what he describes as a lumpen neighborhood, grew up with working class whites and Asian immigrants in Adelaide, the largest city in South Australia and, incidentally, the home town of media baron Rupert Murdoch. His work appeared in the literary magazine Meanjin Quarterly, headlined “In Defence of the Bad, White Working Class,” and came to my attention thanks to Glenn Reynolds‘s invaluable Instapundit.
“I confess,” Burns goes on, “that if a well-dressed, university-educated middle-class person of any gender or ethnicity so much as hinted at my ‘white privilege’ while I was a lumpen child, or my ‘male privilege’ while I was an unskilled labourer who couldn’t afford basic necessities, or my ‘hetero-privilege’ while I was a homeless solitary, I’d have taken special pleasure in voting for their nightmare. And I would have been right to do so.” Read the rest of this entry »
Regime uses sanctions relief to beef up weaponry, leading their neighbors to do the same.
When a speedboat manned by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel approached American vessels operating in open water, the U.S. Navy patrol craft USS Thunderbolt issued a series of warnings, all translating as “stay away, keep safe distance.” The Revolutionary Guards kept coming, as they often do, probing until the USN reacts.
A fanatic’s boat weaving among American warships could disrupt the U.S. formation and cause a collision. Tehran propagandists would tout that as a victory at sea. Worse, an Iranian boat might be a water-borne bomb capable of sinking a big ship. The deadly October 2000 terror attack on the USS Cole is very much on the minds of Navy sailors when Iran’s small boats appear. Read the rest of this entry »
Beijing has been increasingly clamping down on use of VPNs in recent weeks. This has prompted concerns among various groups that it will stifle academic research and international trade.