Monday, January 22, 2018

Genocide, wars, and gangs, and those who flee

It wasn't just in Nazi genocide:


part of the scandal was that both sides included nominal Christians, and unlike previous massacres, those hiding in churches were killed.


and when the Abus/ISIS types took over a city in the southern Philippines last year, a lot of Muslims hid their Christian neighbors when the invaders started killing the Christians who weren't able to get out in time.

UKIndependent article.

NYTimes article.


in Yemen, the Saudi bombings killed many people, but the many massacres by the Houthi militia get less publicity (because the left can't blame the west like they can for the Saudi bombings, and of course, because the press can't get in there to report what is actually going on).


civilian deaths in Syria as a side effect of being bombed, from artillery fire, from disease, or being starved out by blockades are too many to list. But Wikipedia (duh) has a list of actual massacres.

I say "duh" because although some of those listed are actual massacres of the innocent, sometimes when an army goes in to liberate an area, they round up all the suspicious men and kill them, figuring they probably are soldiers hiding out among civilians, and they don't have the time or logistics to capture them as POWs.

I wrote about the Karen and Rohingye in previous posts.


and the genocide that no body wants to know about: the many dead from disease and hunger related problems among the refugees from the various wars in Central Africa: the Congo, Nigeria, Sudan, and of course Somalia.

Sigh. The dirty little secret is that nobody wants to get in the middle of that fight, or accept some of the five million uneducated refugees from that area of the world. ;-(

in contrast, for the US, the problem behind the flow of Mexican and Central American refugees is the love of drugs by too many in the USA (where are the bishops and pastors on this? Anyone? Anyone?)

This results in narco terror.

Once locals get tired of it, they can elect a government that gets rid of the murderers (a couple million Colombians demonstrated against FARC, and this was the point the war against their terrorist narco gangs actually turned around).

and one could say that the deplorables voting for Trumpie boy was a similar populist outcry.

Too bad a lot of very nice hard working people are being caught in the crossfire of politicians who play memes and games against each other than discussing the real problem that worry ordinary folks.

I add Central America to all of this, because despite drug violence, Mexico's economy is getting better and a lot of folks are going home...So a lot of those crossing the US border in recent years illegally are from other countries.

FYI: President Obama deported 2.4 million people during his time in office, a fact that is usually ignored by the MSM and by Trumpie boy's supporters.

the murders in Mexico and Central America are bad, but not quite the same thing as war level violence.

Of course, these countries could decide to get rid of their gangs, but given the bad press against Duterte who is actually trying to clean up the criminal elements "dirty Harry" style, you can see why maybe the politicians might chose the silver over the bullet, as the saying goes.

But you are just as dead if you are killed by a murderous drug gang or by a robber hopped up on meth as you are if you are killed in a war: and in his last months, President Obama made it easier for them to do so.

so why deport those fleeing violence? Because some of the violence comes with them.

Dirty little secret: one reason Trumpie boy might win the war to stop the flow of illegal immigrants is because middle America is being infiltrated with drugs and gang violence, and they are saying stop them.

The bad news: If things don't clear up, the next step is Dirty Harry or worse.


So shut down the government and shout memes? Well it worked for Clinton's propaganda machine in the 1990's, but this time we have an alternative media for different points of view, and of course most  folks are saying a pox on both your houses.


From Physorg:

China's waste import ban upends global recycling industry

much of the recycled stuff, mainly plastic, went to China in the past.

The Chinese government says it is concerned about hazardous materials mixed with the waste the country imports to recycle

interesting article.

Here, plastic bags are thown and and clog the sewers (getting better now that there are waste containers on the street and the drainage ditches are covered).

But poor people collect the pastic bottles (and glass ones) to sell to recylers.

You can drop lithium batteries off at the mall (don't know about regular ones).

But my main worry is those flourescent light bulbs, which contain mercury. I haven't seen a place to recycle them, but they are dangerous to the environment. The EPA insists it is a minor problem in contrast to the mercury released by coal burning plants, but that is not comforting to us.

You see, rice is notorious for it's ability to absorb heavy metals, (NYTimes article). Much of the problems discussed here is cadmium from mining run off in China, but it has lessons for most of rice eating Asia.

it is dawning on scientists like her that rice, one of the most widely consumed foods in the world, is also one of nature’s great scavengers of metallic compounds.... 
it’s not just arsenic and cadmium...Recent studies have shown that rice is custom-built to pull a number of metals from the soil, among them mercury and even tungsten...
The highest levels often occur in brown rice, because elements like arsenic accumulate in bran and husk, which are polished off in the processing of white rice.

and we grow organic brown rice. UhOh.

It is hard to find the old fashioned type of light bulbs here, and although we are busy replacing our flourescent type light bulbs with LED types, they cost too much for the poor. And the poor tend to throw trash in the irrigation ditches or the vacant lots.

so where are the light bulbs being discarded?

Unlike plastic bags, I don't usually see them in our trash bins or in the vacant lots, but I do wonder if this might be a problem in the near future in poor rice eating countries.

Podcast of the week

The Prancing Pony podcast this week has an interview with Michael Drout.


Michael Drout's SciFi lecture series is at internet archives.

he has several lecture series at the Modern scholar, and some of them can be found posted on line (until the copyright cops find it), as can individual lectures at Youtube.

his lectures on modern fantasy books is here:


---and then there is his lecture series on the Anglo Saxon world.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Child porn vs humanitarian: Justice or EJK?

A Boston native who was a cameraman who traveled all over the world "killed himself" in jail after being accused of child pornography in Cebu.

He was a "humanitarian" and a victim of "extra judicial killing" cries his family (!).

and because he is a Yank, and because some people knew his work, he will be assumed to be a victim of the Evil Duterte's extra judicial killings here.

I should also note that certain people are not above threatening foreigners for arrest for fake crimes (so that they can be given a gift to have the cops/officials let them go).

In this case, however, there was some evidence he was involved in filming cyberporn involving kids:

 From a local paper (PhilStar):

The  NBI arrested Phinney following a report from the Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC).
Authorities rescued an eight-year-old girl at his apartment in Talisay City and found dolls and teddy bears clad in bikinis. They also confiscated mobile phones, a tablet, laptop, hard drive, a high-end camera, and lenses.
Among the pieces of evidence NBI holds is a photograph of a men’s room, which has a cabinet filled with clothes for little girls.
The Provincial Women's Commission is a local human rights group who helps abused women and children. So it's not like the local cops just targeted him as a possible source of being blackmailed because he was a Yank: they were following up on complaints.

Reality check please:

The dirty little secret is the Philippines sex industry. (one reason the leftists wanted to get rid of American military bases). There was a kerfuffle a few years back when the US Ambassador was quoted in a Wikileaks leak that 40% of male tourists came here for sex.

Inquirer article (2014) on cyber pornography here.

The PhilInquirer: Jan 2018 article about an Australian pedophile arrest.

Deakin’s arrest on April 20 shows one of the darkest corners of the internet, where pedophiles in the United States, Europe and elsewhere pay facilitators in the Philippines to sexually abuse children, even babies, directing their moves through online livestreaming services.
This relatively new crime, webcam sex tourism, is spreading rapidly. The United Nations describes “alarming growth of new forms of child sexual exploitation online.”
The FBI says it’s epidemic, and that at any given moment, 750,000 child predators are online. Almost every case stems from the Philippines, where good English speakers, increased internet connections and widespread international cash transfer systems combine with widespread poverty and easy access to vulnerable kids.
There have been as many as three busts a week in the Philippines this spring. The youngest victim ever, rescued a few weeks ago, was an infant, 2 months old. Most are under 12. 
and Cebu is one of the centers of this crime.

so you see the problem.

one answer might be to figure out what was he doing in Cebu? Working for a legitimate film company? How long had he been in Cebu: visitor visa (3 weeks) or long term visa? Living there while his family resides in the USA?

What about his bank account? Follow the money.

And in a country where a little gift will lead to the cops/authorities to look the other way, and the legal system might take years to convict you (if you don't flee the country while out on bail), you can see why certain criminals are vulnerable to "EJK", if not by off duty cops, then by their fellow prisoners.

the bible notes certain crimes that cry to heaven for justice, and most folks figure abusing a child (especially sexually abuse of a child) is one of them.

It's a dirty little secret that similar killings of child molesters is common in US Jails. (often they are kept in solitary confinement for their own protection).

But here in the Philippines, there is another problem: The ability of the rich and powerful to subvert justice via repeated delays and then get the case thrown out of court.

for example, the country is still awaiting justice for the killers of the Manguindano massacre eight years later.

and our family knows from experience about justice: The killers behind the political hit that killed our nephew in the crossfire were arrested fairly quickly, but the politician behind the hit died ten years later (under indictment) in his bed, and was buried in a Catholic funeral, complete with the KofC honor guard.

so when Duterte started the drug war, a lot of folks sought justice the old fashioned way. (we were offered this but like DelToro's family, we declined).


no, I am not approving of EJK's, but I understand why 70 percent of Filipinos still support Duterte despite all the murders going on.

Factoid of the day: Bagpipes

in the previous post, one of the musicians played the traditional bagpipes.

 WTF? Bagpipes in Iran? Yup. and not just in Iran. Wikipedia article.

and here is a from a popular musician there:

Headlines below the fold

It's the corruption stupid. Gambia's expresident is fighting extradition for his crimes.

  Follow the money. when he fled, he took the government's money with him, along with all of his Bentlys and Rolls Royces.

Aides of Mr Barrow (the new president who threw him out) said at least GBP 8.8 million was missing, a considerable sum for a country of just 1.9 million people.
nor was he the only dictator to do so:

Mr Jammeh is the latest in a series of dictators to flee abroad with suitcases of state treasure. Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and his wife allegedly flew out of Tunisia in 2011 with 1.5 tonnes of gold bars purloined from the central bank, while Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos left the Philippines with 24 suitcases of gold bricks and 22 crates of cash.
the Philippines has been suing to get that money back, but of course, Marcos' family claims it was not stolen from the Philippine people, but Yamashita's gold (i.e. stolen by the Japanese from Malaysia etc. and hidden and found by a gentleman named Roxas and then stolen from him by Marcos).

Here is a list of ten similar dictators who looted their countries to get rich... hmm. they left out Hugo Chavez and a lot of other guys.

But you can see why I am sarcastic when the Pope condemns ordinary folks who try to live quietly and follow the rules while staying silent on corruption, be it sexual or money, especially if these bozos are PC.


Speaking of the Philippines: StrategyPage has an article on our lovely country, including a lot of stuff about China's sea grab of the west Philippines sea.

The Chinese first tried to buy (bribe Gloria via the ZTE scandal) to get the Spratlys, then they simply moved into the area while Aquino was president, and President Obama told him not to oppose their aggression but take it to court. Now they are dug in (litereally: They destroyed the reef and ecology to build artificial islands which are now armed) and then Duterte is criticized for making nice with China.

n late 2017 China appeared to have succeeded in buying cooperation from the Philippines. The Filipino government is willing to accept all the legal gifts (aid, investment, loans) China offers in return for the Philippines not resisting Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
President Duterte pointed out earlier in 2017 that China threatened war if the Philippines went ahead with plans to drill for oil in offshore areas that international law recognizes as Filipino but that China claims actually belongs to them.
Duterte openly criticizes other nations for not confronting China and sees no point in the Philippines trying to take on China by itself or at least not without a massive amount of support.
Obama talked about stopping this, but actually did nothing. Has anyone followed the money here to explain why the US didn't help the Philippines? or was he just a naive pacifist?

and now, nothing short of a shooting war will get China out of the Spratlys. And in the long term, they are aiming at Luzon: something sometimes discussed in their media but ignored in the western media...


SPage also has a discussion of Russia in the world. Bookmarked for later reading.

Fajr music festival (in Iran)
The annual Fajr International Music Festival held in Tehran dedicated some of its musical selections to the November quake victims of Iranian Kurdistan as well as some 30 Iranian seafarers who went missing when their oil tanker collided with a cargo ship off of the coast of China earlier this month..
A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the Iraq-Iran border in November killing 620 people and wounding another 12,000 in Iranian Kurdistan. It also left many homeless due to collapsed or damaged infrastructure. The November 11 earthquake was the world’s deadliest in 2017..

I knew about the tanker accident which caused a huge oil spill, but that earthquake didn't get a lot of publicity.

Sigh. In our prayers.

Lost history of Russia's explorers

Right now I have been slogging through a book (on Scribd) about Russia's expansion into Central Asia, which was seen as needed due to the history of the Asian destruction of the Russia via the Mongols, Golden Hoarde etc. and their push back in the early modern period. In other words, while western Europe was pushing into the Americas, Russia was pushing past the Urals with exploration and settlement.

This expansion resulted in their takeover of Siberia, and ultimately to take over Alaska.

John Bachelor has a podcast series about the new book on Bering's exploration party.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Reversing deforestation

in Iceland (?!).


here in Asia, the problem is illegal logging of our hard wood forests, especially in hilly/mountainous area: the result is landslides.

Right now it is illegal to buy new hardwood unless it is certified: most of what we used here is "used" hardwood.

Accept Refugees, says the Pope

 the Pope tells Chile to welcome refugees. 

Fine and dandy. And in fact, the article notes that they indeed have allowed in a lot of refugees: From (socialist) Venezuela and also from Haiti, but locals are starting to say "NO"...

Chile has accepted waves of immigrants in recent years, including tens of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing their troubled country and Haitians seeking better lives. The policy has created political controversy. A recent poll by CEP, a think tank in Santiago, indicated that 2 of every 5 Chileans believe the newcomers are the source of rising crime, a thesis that police say has no basis in fact.
Many Chileans favor opening their borders, especially to Venezuelans, an indication of the debt many feel to the country that accepted thousands of Chileans exiled in the 1970s by the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
But President-elect Sebastian Pinera, who takes office in March, ran a campaign promising to take a tougher line on immigration than current President Michelle Bachelet.

The UKGuardian has an article on Venezuelan refugees who have fled to Colombia. And again, the rolls are reversed as Colombia is now at peace and the economy is booming, whereas in Venezuela, the government's policies (and low oil prices) have collapsed their economy.

The current wave reverses a previous wave of movement between the two countries: millions of Colombians headed to Venezuela in the 1970s and 80s. At the time, Venezuela was rich with oil dollars and Colombia wracked the civil war and cartel violence. Nowadays, a cratering economy and rampant crime have made daily life untenable for many ordinary Venezuelans.
A lot of the refugees are the result of corruption: you know the stuff that the old testament prophets tended to be a bit critical about? So
if I am cynical about the Pope, it is because ethics is in the Pope's job description last time I looked, but he prefers to emphasize trendier than thou memes of the world.

"who am I to judge" was a green light to sexual sociopaths of all sexual orientation.. (his remark, contrary to the press meme, was about a repentant pedophile who he let go back to work, not about all gays)... and that is why all those folks in Chile who are demonstrating against his hypocrisy.

 (guess he hasn't noticed the #metoo memes of women who were harmed by sexual predators either).

Investment tip of the week

Zimbabwe's new president says they are now "open for business" and your money/investments will be safe there. (i.e. not in danger of being confiscated by the government for redistribution to the president's political cronies, as happened under Mugabe).

and he is going to Davos to make friends with the money people.

if he actually does this, the country could boom: like the Philippines, the educated often have left to work overseas, but could come back to help run things if they were recruited. And of course, the mines and agribusinesses could thrive again.

Outlander factoid of the day

The fictional Jamie supposedly had a real grandfather who was beheaded and his body stolen to bury back home in Scotland.

But when they opened the tomb, they found the body was that of a young woman, not an old man

Story HERE.

Why women like to shop

For all the men who sit and wait while their wives spend what seems to be hours shopping for something simple, there is a scientific explanation:

It's in our genes. 100 thousand years of hunter/gatherer living made the sexes evolve this way.

the men hunted (mainly large animals) but women, who often were either pregnant or had a babe at the bosom, gathered stuff... 

From Improbable Research:

Along with Dreyson Lee Byker, Dr. Kruger published a paper in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 2009, 3(4): 328-342. ‘Evolved foraging psychology underlies sex differences in shoping [sic] experiences and behaviors’ which explained that :

“For the most part, contemporary stereotypes of women in modern industrial countries perceive women as enjoying shopping more than men. Our research provides evidence that this popular stereotype exists because most shopping activities have a greater similarity to women’s traditional activities of foraging and gathering than they do to men’s traditional activity of hunting. The results of our study show that shopping has significantly more in common with gathering than it does with hunting.”

Thursday, January 18, 2018

First they came for the cars

Then they came for our airconditioners,

and now: OH NO: Not my microwave! from

Microwaves usage across the EU alone emits as much carbon dioxide as nearly seven million cars according to a new study by The University of Manchester...
The study found: Microwaves emit 7.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year in the EU. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 6.8 million cars.

but then they will come for your meat and eggs: because cattle produce methane, a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2..

so what should you eat? Go Vegan: eat organically grown brown rice.

Uh OH: rice paddies produce CO2 and methane too. (and will be worse from that nasty global warming.

More HERE: and the methane emissions can be cut by dry cultivation, but the dirty little secret is that to get a good crop you end up using herbicides instead of using water to keep the weeds down.

Economics lesson for today: Why do CEO's get paid so much?

From Freakonomics:

They’re paid a fortune — but for what, exactly? What makes a good C.E.O. — and how can you even tell? Is “leadership science” a real thing — or just airport-bookstore mumbo jumbo? We put these questions to Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Indra Nooyi, Satya Nadella, Jack Welch, Ray Dalio, Carol Bartz, David Rubenstein, and Ellen Pao. (Part 1 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

The Great Escape

audiobook on line:

audiobook behind the classic film. and no, the famous Steve McQueen motorcycle chase never happened: They made it up for the movie... but much of the rest of the movie was true.

Move over Chuck Norris

Leng Feng to the rescue.

and yes it has some political commentary: the reason he is in Africa? It starts with a real estate company tearing down his house in China after he got back from Wolf Warrior I. He fought them, and ended up in jail so now he is working in the private sector.

In China, one reason for rioting (that the western media doesn't notice) is because people's ancestral land or houses are confiscated by bullies/corrupt businessmen who bribe local officials, to build new stuff. (one reason why Avatar was banned in China).

But the rest of it is pure one man against the world, as in Rambo or in DieHard.

the story is rescuing Chinese civilians from a civil war in Africa.

Yes, another story ignored by the US MSM: The presence of Chinese in Africa.

no, not "do gooders keeping people in their (primitive) traditional ways" (no GM food for you guys: Starve;. And no decent factories either: hoe the maize like your ancestors, instead of learning about computers and cellphones) or do gooders who protect the environment (what do you mean the elephants were ruining the crops and the lions killed your kids? That's no reason to kill the poor animals so beloved of western yuppies).

it's a lot easier to join the trolls against Trump for calling these places hell holes than recognizing that they are, and one reason is because of corruption: Local politicians steal everything in site.

As for the piracy:in the film it is off the east coast of Africa, (think Somalia) but nowadays there is also a lot of piracy off the coast of Nigeria: not only our Filipino sailers on oil tankers or supply ships are the victims, but there has been Chinese kidnapped there too, and China is friendly with Nigeria, because of all that oil there.


For better or for worse, they are there and building a new Africa, whereas American films tend to be about animal, or about poverty, without seeing how Africa, like Asia, is changing.

Many African countries are thriving; other not so much... and as for "hellholes": It's the corruption, stupid.

that was a 2006 article, but this 2016 article at the Guardian shows not much has changed.

The sums are not small: recently a former Nigerian state governor pleaded guilty to a £50m fraud. In 2001, it emerged that a former Nigerian dictator laundered $1.3bn through London banks. Nigeria ranks 136 out of 167 in Transparency International’s corruption index. Its current president asked Britain to return assets held by dishonest Nigerians, shrugging off David Cameron’s suggestion that his nation was “fantastically corrupt”.
Not just from Nigeria, of course: Zimbabwe similarly has been looted by their corrupt political leaders... and all this is done with the help of multinational banks, of course.(2005 article). More recent article here:Africa's wealth floods offshore as corrupt leaders, corporations use banks to hide fortunes (2015)

China, of course, is also very corrupt, but is used to working with corrupt politicians. The danger? If they prop up the corrupt governments they might end up being thrown out.

Or if a "nationalist" government takes over, they could be deported and their businesses confiscated.

Lecture series of the week

The lessons of history. From the Durant's book:

check it out before the copyright trolls find it is there.

stories behind the news

Austin Bay analyzes the problems that caused the Hawaii alert, including the complicated drop down computer program that was probably the cause, and then goes on to discuss missile and defense issues.

Point 3: the incident demonstrates computer and digital device vulnerability to cyber warfare attacks, especially computers linked to alert networks.
it's not just missile attacks, of course: Also tornadoes, typhoons, flood warnings, and tsunamis. We have these alerts for cellphones in Manila, for example, and here everyone has cellphones, even the tricycle drivers and the maids. But since we live outside of Manila, the warnings are not always about our area, alas.

In the past, "weather radios", or local sirens  would alert us of tornadoes in Oklahoma (but since we were off the grid, usually the warnings came after the tornadoes went by. Which is why Okies stand OUTSIDE when there are storms, while sending the kids into the shelter).

the danger of what happened in Hawaii is that the next time, folks will ignore the alert.

and for the military it points out an even more ominous danger:

Point 3, hackers have grown more sophisticated in techniques and technology. The Pentagon is worried about the cyber attacks on U.S. sensor systems (like those detecting missile launches) and on some offensive weapons (to include nuclear weapons). The Hawaii fiasco shows how much chaos an enemy hacker can create by generating a false attack alert. The enemy then follows the cyber fake with a genuine ICBM attack.


Dr Deming's quality control theories are supposed to be used by the US Navy, and this article discusses how they should have been implemented so that recent ship accidents would have been avoided.

For later reading. But here is a short video of Dr. Deming himself:


David Reneke asks and tries to answer the questions you really want to know about outer space, such as: What's on the other side of a black hole.

includes this factoid: No, you can't see the Great Wall of China from the space station, but you can see the pyramids of Giza.


a meteor almost took out Detroit. 

the meteor broke up before it hit the earth, but reminds one that missiles aren't the only danger coming out of the sky.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Duterte vs the press ( or is it vs the CIA?)

the WSJ article says Duterte shut down Rappler for being critical of him.

Not Duterte, of course, but the government office that regulates the press.

The nation’s Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement published on its website Monday that it had found Rappler Inc. liable for violating constitutional requirements on foreign-ownership limits and revoked the company’s certificate of incorporation.
the Philippines doesn't like foreigners to own businesses or properties here. I can't even own my own house or inherit my husband's rice farm.

the real question: Is Rappler owned illegally by non citizens? And behind that question is this one: did those foreign investors influence the stories covered by Rappler? Did they want to manipulate the news for their own nefarious purposes. (/s)

Rappler, which is run under respected journalist Maria Ressa is well known for their in depth exposes of problems in the Philippines. One doesn't need a bribe to investigate corruption, be it Duterte's murderous wars or the severe problems with corruption ignored by the previous president, who was seen by much of the MSM as being Mr Clean.

Rappler has been very critical on Duterte's "war on drugs" that has led to so many deaths directly (by cops in raids) or indirectly (i.e. vigilante/pay back murders that won't be prosecuted, and drug pushers killing snitches). But so has everyone else. So why shut only them down?

Because they are good at getting the details? Maybe.

but the story is a bit more complicated, as this Inquirer (a center left paper) editorial discusses. Because Rappler is not only accused of being funded by (illegal) foreign money, but there was a real question if foreign money influenced reporting.

Rappler denies both outside influence and outside funding for their site:

Rappler explained: “Our foreign investors, Omidyar Network and North Base do not own Rappler. They invest, but they don’t own. …
Read more: 

But it is interesting that the Inquirer headline is:   Does the CIA own Rappler? because that was the charge that really upset everyone.

here is the backstory:

As I have mentioned before, even Mariam noted that the last election was between the communist candidate (Duterte is sympathetic to them, both the local NPA and China) and the CIA Candidate aka the American girl.

And it didn't help that for the election, the US sent in an Ambassador who had been thrown out of Bolivia for interfering with their elections, and who, after the election was won by Duterte, left behind a blueprint to undermine Duterte.

The Manila Times October 2017 has a story on how this is done, and the similarities on how it was done by the same folks in the Ukraine a couple years ago.

The NED initially extended modest funds to Ukrainian opposition groups, and increased them substantially as the political crisis in that country broke out that led to the overthrow in 2014 of pro-Russia Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, to be replaced by pro-US leaders.
NED president Carl Gershman, who has been openly rabidly anti-Russian would boast after Yanukovych’s fall: “Ukraine is the biggest prize“. (Another US outfit that has funded NGOs in Ukraine that helped topple Yanukovych is Omidyar Network, owned by tycoon Pierre Omdiyar. It is one of the two foreign financiers of another anti-Duterte media outfit, Rappler.)

connect the dots... follow the money...

is it fake news, or is it just smoke and mirrors by Duterte's minions to destroy an honest press?

Hmm.. a lot of this story resembles the American fake news manipulations, such as Hillary's post election plan to undermine Trumpie boy with the Russia Russia RUSSIA claims, and now that that is fading, with bimbo eruption rumors. (This last won't dent Duterte's popularity: having bimbos on the side just makes him look macho, and Filipinos admire macho)..

Shutting down an opposition paper is not a good thing.

On the other hand, as the Inquirer editorial points out: the laws regulating foreign ownership need to be reformed, but until the law is fixed, Rappler's denials look more like smoke screens than the way an honest person would respond to charges.

Rappler quoted Mocha Uson claiming it “is allegedly funded by the (US Central Intelligence Agency),” then replied, “LOL!” Bashers spread memes of its GIS saying it does “property and investment development” and “SPO4 Pia RaƱada-Robles.”
One hopes the spat continues to amuse using more accurate legal terminology. 

In summary, the errors in it's financial papers make Rappler suspect for foreign interference.

And the irony?

in a land where corruption/bribes and kickbacks are the way things work, they got caught.

Guess they didn't know enough to fix the books, or maybe they were just too honest and naive.

Heck, even in the US, it's easy to hide bribes/influence peddling by masking them as something else; for example, making contributions to the politician's charitable foundation.

How to get hacked

I don't know if this story will be found to be accurate, but the (right wing) Boston Herald reports: (updated link) that Hawaii was prepared for a possible missile attack last summer and had a big article about it, including photos of the personnel, that included their computers with the pass word on post-it notes in the background.

Gateway pundit has the screen captures.

But it's not like they made the password hard to guess:

The system password is “Password Warningpoint2”.

of course, this photo was from July 2017, so as one comment remarked, maybe it was changed since then, but one does wonder if  it was incompetence, or if there was a hack.

Burmese ethnic cleansing

I have written about the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingye in the past, even before their plight hit the headlines.

But now things are worse: There is an outbreak of both cholera and diphtheria in the refugee camps in Bangladesh.

NatGeo short film on the refugees

more about the UN and others working to fight this epidemic on my medical blog.

but while checking out articles for my medical blog, I found that they are not the only refugees from Burma who have fled to nearby countries: a lot of tribal ethnic minorities have fled also, mainly to Thailand:

Around 400,000 Karen people are without housing, and 128,000 are living in camps on the Thailand-Burma border. According to BMC, "79% of refugees living in these camps are Karen ethnicity."[31] 

So here in SEAsia, we not only have the problem of legal and non legal economic migrants, but have to cope with repeated episodes of huge number of refugees.

This article is about the Philippines accepting refugees from various wars over the last century.

and as this article points out, the tribal Burmese refugeesare the largest group of refugees being settled in the USA: and they now face another obstacle: An anti refugee president.

In Trump-speak, “refugee” is often used as a byword for conniving Muslims who might be sleeper agents of ISIS. But this indicates profound confusion — or deception — about the origins of US-bound refugees. The No. 1 group of modern refugees in America is neither Syrian nor Iraqi nor Muslim nor Arab. They’re Christians from Myanmar, also called Burma. In the past 10 years, roughly one in four US-bound refugees have come from Myanmar.

this sappy film is about these refugees,(many of whom settled in Iowa).

ok Trumpie boy: Who is my brother?

Podcast of the week

Mythgard movie club podcast this week is the Last Jedi.

MP3 link.

Superheroes 2.0

So the Marvel universe is making a movie about the Black Panther, and AICN comments:

First of all: HOLY HECK, FOREST WHITAKER! Looking pretty cool! Second, it looks like one of the locations this movie is taking place in is South Korea, I wonder what will bring our hero there? Haven’t read the comics, maybe one of you geeks out there know something about that in the comics? But don’t post any spoilers! Not knowing much about Black Panther other than his role in “Captain America: Civil War” leaves this movie in so much mystery for me, and it’s great! I’m excited to learn more about the hero and Wakanda. I love the idea of advanced technology in a country on Earth that isn’t the United States, not that I’m anti-US, but it changes things up from what we’ve seen before more often than not in movies.

I'm not into the Marvel universe (too much action, too little plot).

But Marvel is not the only one with a superhero: Here, we have Captain Barbell:

Captain Barbell is a fictional Filipino comics superhero, similar to, the American SupermanCaptain Marvel or Shazam, and Thor created by writer, Mars Ravelo and artist Jim Fernandez. He first appeared in Pinoy Komiks #5 (May 23, 1963). Like Darna, he also had an alter-ego named Tengteng, a thin, weakling and asthmatic person whose only dream was to become strong and muscular. He also appeared in Kampeon Komiks (Champion Comics).[1]

 and he even has his own TV show:

and forget Wonder Woman: We have Darna:

Darna is a fictional superhero appearing in Filipino comics. The character was created for Pilipino Komiks by writer Mars Ravelo and artist Nestor Redondo in 1950. She first appeared in Pilipino Komiks (Ace Publications, Inc.) #77 (May 13, 1950).

Pencil 2.0

The NYTimes had a photo essay last week about the last pencil factory in the USA.

A pencil is a little wonder-wand: a stick of wood that traces the tiniest motions of your hand as it moves across a surface. I am using one now, making weird little loops and slashes to write these words. As a tool, it is admirably sensitive. The lines it makes can be fat or thin, screams or whispers, blocks of concrete or blades of grass, all depending on changes of pressure so subtle that we would hardly notice them in any other context. (The difference in force between a bold line and nothing at all would hardly tip a domino.) And while a pencil is sophisticated enough to track every gradation of the human hand, it is also simple enough for a toddler to use. 

archeoblog links to that article and notes:

I believe I may have written before on this topic in the context of this book by Henry Petroski:
 Petroski ranges widely in time, discussing the writing technologies of antiquity. But his story really begins in the early modern period, when, in 1565, a Swiss naturalist first described the properties of the mineral that became known as graphite. Petroski traces the evolution of the pencil through the Industrial Revolution, when machine manufacture replaced earlier handwork. Along the way, he looks at some of pencil making’s great innovators–including Henry David Thoreau, the famed writer, who worked in his father’s pencil factory, inventing techniques for grinding graphite and experimenting with blends of lead, clay, and other ingredients to yield pencils of varying hardness and darkness. Petroski closes with a look at how pencils are made today–a still-imperfect technology that may yet evolve with new advances in materials and design.

so who invented the pencil?

Although the exact inventor of the pencil is unknown, Conrad Gesner is often credited with the invention. In 1565, Gesner was the first to document the use of graphite placed in a wooden shaft, which was the predecessor to modern pencils

or maybe not: the pencil as we know it came later:

Pencils were invented in 1795 by a French scientist named Nicolas-Jacques Conte. He used a mixture of graphite, clay and water baked in a kiln to create the "lead" of the pencil. He then housed this mixture in a wooden frame for writing
another reference to the evolution of pencils LINK includes this information on the eraser:

In 1770, the noted scientist Sir Joseph Priestley (discoverer of oxygen) recorded the following, "I have seen a substance excellently adapted to the purpose of wiping from paper the mark of black lead pencil." ...
English engineer, Edward Naime is also credited with the creation of the first eraser in 1770. Before rubber, breadcrumbs had been used to erase pencil marks. Naime claims he accidentally picked up a piece of rubber instead of his lump of bread and discovered the possibilities. He went on to sell the new rubbing out devices or rubbers.
and then there was the pencil sharpener: Wikipedia notes:

Before the development of dedicated pencil sharpeners, a pencil was sharpened by whittling it with a knife...French mathematician Bernard Lassimonne applied for the first patent (French patent #2444) on pencil sharpeners in 1828, but it was not until 1847 that the pencil sharpener in its recognizable modern form was invented by fellow Frenchman Thierry Des Estivaux

There is an old urban legend that NASA spent thousands of dollars designing a space pen that worked in zero gravity, while the Russians just used a cheap pencil.

That joke was meant to show how inefficient the government was.

However, as Scientific American pointed out:

Pencils may not have been the best choice anyway. The tips could flake or break off, drifting in microgravity where they might harm an astronaut or equipment. And pencils are flammable—a characteristic NASA wanted to avoid in onboard objects after the Apollo 1 fire.

Why the lights are still out in PuertoRico

from the Intercept:


without the parts, the linemen were unable to fix things. So who was hiding the parts, who paid for them, and who benefits from this?

sounds familiar. We saw this  after the typhoons, when relief supplies were put in the wrong places and didn't get to where they were needed. Of course, here some of it went missing because politicians diverted funds, food, and construction material to sell for private profit on the side, and others hoarded/hid needed supplies so they could release them in photo ops before the elections.

Or maybe it's just Mismanagement. On a huge scale. By a local utility. Who just didn't know what was stored there, where it was stored, or what the equipment was supposed to be used for.

as the saying goes: Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.

Mismanagement is not a new phenomenon for PREPA, which for decades has been Puerto Rico’s sole power provider. For most of that time, it had been self-regulated, with a board comprised largely of political appointees with little to no background in the electricity sector. The lack of oversight created conditions for corruption and disinvestment, with its generation and transmission capacity falling into severe disrepair over many years.

lots of questionable stuff going on.

How bad is it? well, some mayors used local funding and local talent to fix their electric grid. So there are competent people trying to fix things.

headsup Instapundit.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Foul mouthed president

No, not Trumpieboy, but our beloved Rody:

“My mouth is really foul especially when you piss me off,” he added.
Mr. Duterte said he was never a statesman because “the mind-set that I have, that of a mayor, I brought it to the presidency.”
“And I realized that being President, you cannot say ‘son of a whore,’” he said.
Mr. Duterte said the people should just accept him for what he was as it was “too late” for him to change.

Read more: 

and in the comments, the trolls are out in full force: namecalling and echoing the memes, not posting anything thoughtful.

But he remains popular with working folks who are too busy to troll political sites, which is why even without facebook and twitter and google censorship, such trolls are already censoring "public opinion" by driving some of us off the "social media"...


update: Instapundit:
AN IDEA SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK: Treating People Well: The Extraordinary Power of Civility at Work and in Life.

Reality vs hysteria

The hysteria over Trumpie boy's blunt obscenity pointing out people in poor countries continue to see America as a place of hope, is destroying DACA.

In other words, the Democrats prefer to play the politics of hatred instead of the art of the deal. Duh.

Instead of pointing out that our ancestors came from similar circumstances, including Trumpieboy's mom, and that the reason immigrants find work is that they are willing to work.

The problem: when they are illegal, their illegal status makes them vulnerable to being exploited by their employers, and so they work for low wages often without benefits.

So yes, a wall is needed, and control of illegal immigration is the first step.

And no one is going to throw out a couple million people already in the USA: didn't anyone bother to read "the art of the deal"?

...and stop acting as if deporting those guilty of felonies is wrong. Every time you do this, you get ordinary people who play by the rules rolling up their eyes, agreeing with you in the opinion polls because they fear ostracism, but voting differently when they are in the polling booth that counts.

so one can see how a compromise could be reached here.

But no, instead of discussing reality, the Democrats and the MSM prefer to get the vapors and faint like a Victorian lady.

Reality check:

The up and coming construction industry for new housing will need a lot of people wanting to do "dirty jobs": and if the effete yuppies with degrees in Art History or gender studies don't want to get their hands dirty, well, a lot of immigrants will do it for them.

and a lot of the despair leading to the drug problem among proud workers who can't find jobs will decrease too... a lot of these guys (and gals) will promptly sober up and get a job, if they aren't physically addicted, so expect the Overdose deaths from Chinese fentanyl via Mexico to go down in the future.

Instead, the media is on the "legalize marijuana" bandwagon. Uh, long halflife will result in a lot of accidents and shoddy work, but again no one is discussing this problem, nor the problem that this is a gateway drug into using something stronger...

FYI: The problem of economic migrants is not an American or even a European one. We see it here in Asia: both as people migrating here for jobs and our people migrating to work elsewhere.

The middle east is run by such willing migrant workers, often Pakistani, Indian, Indonesian, Filipino, and in more recent years, African. You know: from countries that are hellholes, and where family members are willing to migrate and work hard, dirty jobs to pull their families out of poverty.

Our family is in half a dozen countries, either as legal immigrants (US, Australia, Canada, UK, Italy) or as temporary workers (Saudi, Kuwait).

MigrantRights blog has lots of stories from Asian and the Middle East about illegal migrants: about how they are often exploited, or how they found jobs and overstayed their visas illegally, or how countries are finding them and sending them home.

One way to discourage this is to make immigration safe and legal, and then enforce the laws.

but hysteria to get votes and to feel self righteous is more satisfying than actually working something out.

a pox on both their houses.


Speaking of exploiting the poor: I ran across this review of a new film about sex trafficking:

I stumbled into this film knowing nothing about it upfront, but bought a ticket because it was playing "next" when I walked up to the theater. I was only able to sit through the first half of the film before I walked out. I could not stomach the sick nature that some of the characters did a great job of portraying. It's hard to imagine that people can be so sickening in real life, but apparently that is what this movie is based on. I lost sleep over it last night after watching it.

why, yes. Reality sucks.

cops know these things, as do we docs who work in the ****holes of America... but too often films and TV shows make the exploiters the heroes and the girls as happy hookers. So why is anyone surprised that these Putanginas in Hollywood etc. actually don't think it's wrong to exploit actresses (or boys)?

Ditto for how Hollywood portrays the drug world, as if drugs were fun and didn't destroy lives. In the USA, a million kids are in foster care or are cared for by their relatives because mom is too high to care for them...

Family news

Joy arrived back from Canada yesterday.