Friday, July 25, 2014

The Army’s Newest Drone Can Stay Airborne Forever .... provided there’s power down below. What other applications, especially civilian, might this have?

"Most military drones fall into two categories. There are long-range Air Force drones designed to orbit at medium to high altitudes for hours and hours. Global Hawk, Reaper and Predator fall into this category.
Small Army and Marine units out in the field have drones, too. But these Scan Eagles, Ravens and Shadows can only stay airborne for a few hours at most, depending on the particular machine.
PARC is something of a hybrid. That gives small infantry teams a cheap vehicle for long-term surveillance. The only downside is that the quadrotor isn’t maneuverable.
But the point is to send the automatan into the skies—roughly 1,000 feet up—and let it sit there scanning all day long with its electro-optical and infrared sensors. If someone cuts the microfilament, or it loses ground power, then the PARC’s battery kicks in and the drone lands automatically.
The lack of maneuverability might also not be a downside, given its role. An infantry unit doesn’t need to train how to fly the thing.
All they need to do is man the ground station, watching out for enemies."
How might weather forecasters use this? How might police in urban areas, on highways and elsewhere use it? What of scientist in wilderness areas? What of Park Rangers? The possibilities seem many and only limited by our inventiveness and ingenuity.
For the full article see:

A Simple and Non-violent Solution for the Seemingly Intractable Ukraine Interventions by Russia (and the Resulting Deaths and Violence)

"Let's give Putin a clear choice: Either he can (cease) subventing and enabling the bloodletting in eastern Ukraine, or we can expose the enormous global network of offshore bank accounts, dummy companies, and real estate holdings that belong to him and his criminal elite. A mafia state should be treated as such. And information should once again be weaponized as it was during the Cold War. Moscow has already gotten a head start, by leaking compromised telephone calls   between members of our State Department and between Eurocrats and NATO-allied state officials.
Investigative journalism has already yielded reams of copy on where some of the Putinist wealth is hidden, and how it got there. Much of it is in EU jurisdictions, which are subject to sanctions and/or concerted American diplomatic overtures. The U.S. Treasury Department, the CIA, and the FBI all know more about Putin's and his cronies' billions than they say publicly.
Indeed, the first suite of sanctions that the United States passed on Russia disclosed that Putin personally held assets in a Swiss commodities trader called Gunvor, in which, Treasury stated  , "Putin has investments" and "may have access to ... funds." This was newsworthy, as it was encouraging of even more thorough reporting on where therumored wealthiest man in Europe   stashes his cash. Barack Obama wouldn't have to try very hard to convince Putin that, if he so desired, he could feed the entire Western media industry enough scoops and exclusives to shake Russia's stock market and economy for months, if not years, not to mention set the cat among the pigeons of bickering Kremlin political factions.
It's simply a myth that Russians don't keep their money in the United States anymore. According to lame-duck Sen. Carl Levin, whom I heard give a press conference at Hotel Ukraina in Kiev last April, there are "billions" of dollars parked on American soil. So why haven't we frozen that money yet? It's an open secret to federal law enforcement that the Manhattan and Miami property markets now act as end points for magically transforming black or blood-soaked dollars into pristine portfolios for the kept beneficiaries of authoritarian regimes, including and especially Putin's. No less than the former head of the Duma's ethics committee, Vladimir Pekhtin, was shown by Russian dissident Alexey Navalny to have owned millions in real estate in Florida, including a1,530-square-foot apartment at 1500 Ocean Drive  . Pekhtin was also sued by U.S. contractors in the Sunshine State. Can he really be only one this easy to find?"

For the full article with details and more see:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A journalist trying to understand why Syrian deaths no longer seem to matter.

This is an interesting and quite disclosing article about journalism and the Gaza - Israeli conflict, the choices made by major media outlets and the public reactions. Whether his assumptions and conclusions are valid or not I can not say. However, the questions raised by Jeffrey Goldberg and insights offered are quite good. 

Here are some fundamental points.

"There is another question about media coverage that has been bothering me, however, one of proportionality. I was struck, over the weekend, by the lack of coverage of the Syrian civil war, in which the death count recently passed 170,000. By Sunday night, it had become clear that the weekend toll in Syria would stand at roughly 700 dead—a larger number, obviously, than the weekend toll in Gaza (and more than the total number of deaths in thislatest iteration of the Gaza war to date.) I tweeted the following in response to this news out of Syria: “I sincerely hope the @nytimes covers the slaughter in Syria – 700 dead in 48 hours – in tomorrow’s paper. Very important story as well.”

This was my sincere hope, and it was to my sincere surprise that Monday’s newspaper contained no information whatsoever about the weekend slaughter in Syria. The front page was devoted mainly to Gaza and Ukraine. But there was nothing inside either, and nothing on the website. As far as I can tell, the Times, as of this writing, has not addressed this most recent round of Syria carnage in an even semi-comprehensive way. It goes without saying that continuing violence in Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Yemen, and so on, has not received much attention from the Times in recent days. (I’m singling out the Times because it is America’s best, most thorough and most important newspaper. I suppose you could accuse me of having a double standard. So be it.)"


"Why is this so? I can spend all day speculating, but one explanation for this lack of coverage is a relative lack of interest in the Syria/Iraq theater by Arabs and Muslims, or at least relative lack of interest in comparison to the obvious interest in the Gaza crisis. The American media takes at least some of its cues on Syria from the intensity of coverage in the Arab world. The Washington bureau chief of Al-Hayat, Joyce Karam, was one of the few people to notice the weekend death toll in Syria. She tweeted, in reference to anti-Israel protests in Pakistan, “Syria is essentially Gaza x320 death toll, x30 number of refugees, but no protest in Pakistan…”  

I asked her why she thought this is so. Her answer: “Only reason I can think of is Muslim killing Muslim or Arab killing Arab seems more acceptable than Israel killing Arabs.”

See here for the article:

Beyond Words 7/20/14

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two important requests of Muslims

"Imagine if a fundamentalist Christian sect captured the French city of Lyon and began a systematic purge of Muslims. Their mosques were destroyed, their crescents defaced, the Koran burned and then all Muslims forced to flee or face execution. Such an event would be unthinkable today, and if it did occur Pope Francis and all other Christian leaders would denounce it and support efforts by governments to stop it.

Yet that is essentially what is happening in reverse now in Mosul, as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham drives all signs of Christianity from the ancient city. Christians have lived in Mosul for nearly 2,000 years, but today they are reliving the Muslim religious wars of the Middle Ages.
They have been given a choice either to convert to Islam or flee. They were warned before a weekend deadline that if they remained and didn't convert, they would be killed. Thousands—often entire families—have had to leave the city with nothing more than their clothes as militants robbed them of money or jewelry. Crosses have been destroyed across the city..."
"...While ISIS's purge may be the most brutal, Islamists in Egypt have driven thousands of Coptic Christians from homes they've occupied for centuries. The same is true across the Muslim parts of Africa. This does not mean that all Muslims are extremists, but it does mean that all Muslims have an obligation to denounce and resist the extremists who murder or subjugate in the name of Allah. Too few imams living in the tolerant West will speak up against it.
As for the post-Christian West, most elites may now be nonbelievers. But a culture that fails to protect believers may eventually find that it lacks the self-belief to protect itself."
For the full article The Islamist attacks on non-Muslims are a problem for Islam see:

And here is a second article by Tarek Fatah
"Israel's military operations have killed about 200 and displaced about 17,000 Palestinians from their homes in Gaza.
Pakistan's military operations, on the other hand, have killed over 400 and made over 900,000 Pashtun Pakistanis homeless and destitute in their own country.
While the 17,000 Palestinians are finding shelter in United Nations Relief and Works Agency structures, nearly one million Pakistanis are facing a catastrophe that has triggered neither media coverage, nor international aid or protest.
On Monday, a day after an Israeli missile killed 18 family members of the Hamas police chief in Gaza, Iraqi men in Baghdad slaughtered 28 Iraqi women.
There was plenty of fury over the dead family, almost none for the women, for they were alleged to be residents of a brothel, as if that mattered.
Allah's "best of peoples, evolved for mankind", clearly live by a double standard, the one that triggers mammoth support for Palestinians but absolutely none for Pashtuns.
Here's why. It is not the race or religion of the victim that counts, but the identity of their tormentor.
As long as it's an Arab army annihilating fellow Arabs or a Muslim military murdering fellow Muslims, too many Muslims simply shrug away our responsibility and say, "leave it to Allah" as the Qur'an supposedly commands.
However, if the Muslim falls victim to the "kuffar" — meaning the Jew, Christian or Hindu — then many of our clerics take to the pulpit and deliver fiery, end-of-times lectures, using the tragedy as a reason to ignite hatred against the other, in most cases "The Jew".
for the full article see:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Amazing Tax Authorities - Holocaust concentration camp survivors fined for missing property taxes in Amsterdam "while away"

Here is a most interesting story:
"It was all over the Dutch press this past spring—the revelation that in the years immediately following the Nazi occupation, Amsterdam authorities came after the small trickle of returning Dutch Jews who owned property and told them they owed outstanding leasehold fees from the time they were away – indeed, the authorities demanded that they not only pay those fees, but also fines for late payment.
The person who first discovered this mind-bogglingly absurd requirement was Charlotte van den Berg, a then 21-year-old mild-mannered intern working at the Amsterdam City Archives. Back in 2011, she happened upon letters, written by Jews who had been in concentration camps, or in hiding during the Occupation, and asking that the fees please be dropped, given the circumstances of their non-payment. Amsterdam-based reporter Jonathan Groubert wanted to meet her, to ask how she made the discovery, and what led her to go public with it. He also investigates how the city, and Amsterdam’s Jewish community, are handling the revelations."
An audio interview is on the website:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Interesting analysis of Gaza war

"Early in the current clash between Hamas and Israel, much of the drama was in the air. The Palestinian terrorist group launched hundreds of rockets at Israel, and Israel responded by knocking down rockets in the sky with its Iron Dome defense system and by bombing the rocket-launch sites in Gaza. But the real story has been underground. Hamas's tunnels into Israel are potentially much more dangerous than its random rocket barrages.
Israel started a ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza on Thursday, intending to destroy Hamas's tunnel network. The challenge became obvious on Saturday when eight Palestinian fighters wearing Israeli military uniforms emerged from a tunnel 300 yards inside Israel and killed two Israeli soldiers in a firefight. One of the Palestinian fighters was killed before the others fled through the tunnel back to Gaza...."
"....So on July 6, Hamas stood politically isolated and strategically vulnerable. It had lost the financial support of Egypt and could not get renewed support from Iran in the measure it needed. To some in the organization it appeared that Hamas had only one card to play—and on July 7 it played that card with rockets. As to the tunnels, last Thursday Israeli forces intercepted 13 armed terrorists as they emerged from a tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa in Israel.
There are other messages out there for the Palestinians instead of the violent one sent by Hamas. Writing in the London-based Arabic daily Al Hayat on July 12, Saudi intellectual Abdallah Hamid al-Din, no friend of Israel, urged Palestinians to abandon as unrealistic demands for a right of return, and to forgo as hypocritical calls to boycott Israel:
"The only way to stop Israel is peace. . . . Israel does not want peace, because it does not need it. But the Palestinians do. Therefore it is necessary to persist with efforts to impose peace. No other option exists. True resistance is resistance to illusions and false hopes, and no longer leaning on the past in building the future. Real resistance is to silently endure the handshake of your enemy so as to enable your people to learn and to live."
Plenty of others are sending the same message today. Whether Palestinians will listen is another matter."
Mr. Mukasey served as U.S. attorney general (2007-09) and as a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York (1988-2006).