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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 9,635

Journal Archives

The man behind Huawei

Standing on Huawei Technologies Co.’s sprawling new campus near Shenzhen, it’s hard to conceive that Ren Zhengfei, backed by five friends of friends, could have single-handedly turned his tiny start-up into a technology-driven colossus.

How could Ren, then in his 40s and possessing no intellectual property, have grown Huawei into the world’s biggest seller of telecommunications equipment and one of the largest makers of smartphones, with 188,000 employees in 170 countries?

In fact, it’s entirely unbelievable, according to the U.S. government.

Washington would have you believe Huawei’s official history is a sham — that Huawei is effectively a creation of the Chinese government and that its success is based on Ren’s close ties to intelligence units within the People’s Liberation Army.


A long and informative article. Huawei's and China's economic growth has been astounding over the past 30 years, and also a bit disturbing.

Navy Judge says SEAL charged with war crimes threatened to kill teammate who turned him in

A recently-obtained judge’s ruling reveals three Navy SEALs have claimed to have seen SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher fatally stab a non-combative, wounded ISIS fighter who had been brought to him for medical treatment during a 2017 deployment to Iraq.

That evening, one witness said he heard Gallagher threaten to kill anyone who spoke out about it, the judge’s ruling states.

Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh issued a ruling in January that lays out “findings of fact” which include previously undisclosed details in the case against Gallagher. Rugh wrote that these findings of fact support his decision to keep the SEAL confined. The Union-Tribune obtained the ruling this week.

The findings include accounts of three witnesses to the stabbing, the accounts of three more SEALs who say they saw Gallagher shoot two civilian non-combatants — an old man and a young girl — and other details alleging threats to potential witnesses by Gallagher.


Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger Posts Photo of Him on His Feet

Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger, after he underwent heart surgery earlier this month, posted a photo of him on his feet.

The 75-year-old wrote on April 11, saying, “A walk in the park!”

A week ago, Jagger wrote on Facebook that his heart-valve surgery was successful.

“Thank you everyone for all your messages of support, I’m feeling much better now and on the mend—and also a huge thank you to all the hospital staff for doing a superb job,” he stated.


I'm glad to hear that he's back up and about now, but the photo of him at the top of this article sure shows how he's aged.

400-Year-Old Sacrificed Guinea Pigs Wearing Colorful Earrings and Necklaces Discovered in Peru

An intriguing new discovery in Peru shows ritually sacrificed guinea pigs were decorated with colorful earrings and necklaces by 16th-century Incas—a finding that comes as a complete surprise to archaeologists.

New research published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology describes an extraordinary discovery at the Tambo Viejo site in southern Peru. The Incas constructed several administrative centers in the area, Tambo Viejo being one of them. Archaeologist Lidio Valdez from the Institute of Andean Studies, with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, uncovered 100 ritually sacrificed guinea pigs at two different locations at the site.

This is a big deal unto itself, in that it’s the first bona fide archaeological evidence to support observations recorded by early Spanish colonizers of the Americas, namely the mass killing of guinea pigs during rituals. As such, the 100 guinea pigs at Tambo Viejo “represent the single largest find known for the entire former [Inca] territory,” wrote Valdez in the study. The ritual killings happened around 400 years ago, some two centuries after the arrival of Europeans to the New World.

The more remarkable aspect of the discovery, however, has to do with something scholars of Inca history have never seen before. The guinea pigs found at the site were decorated with earrings and necklaces made from colorful string. Some were even wrapped in cotton rugs like a sushi roll.


The Biggest Lies We Heard About Net Neutrality This Week

“Consumer protection” isn’t a phrase you’ll find on the resume of a person who devises dishonest, meaningless soundbites like, “Net neutrality is about government takeover of the internet.” But most Washington lawmakers don’t really care what a soundbite means or whether it’s they’re true. It just needs to be catchy, maybe inspire a little fear and distrust in the other guy.

If they say it loud enough, whoever wrote it might even write them an extra fat check.

What we witnessed this week as Democrats advanced legislation to restore the 2015 Open Internet Order—rules that, for the first time, enacted real net neutrality protections across the U.S.—were some of the worst bad-faith arguments yet uttered by Republicans; among them, that if the rules were again the same as they were in 2016, “the government” would soon seize control of private networks and online businesses.

Despite it being totally against the law, it would also lead to a new federal tax on virtually everyone who owns a computer, Republicans claimed ahead of the bill’s passage in the House Chamber.


Scientists Could Soon Resurrect the Woolly Mammoth--but Should They?

Bringing an extinct species back to life was once firmly in the realm of science fiction, but as genetic engineering advances rapidly, the prospect of a woolly mammoth again breathing and walking on Earth seems almost within reach. Before fully resurrecting the mammoth, synthetic biologists at the Revive and Restore project are working to resuscitate pieces of ancient genomes with the goal of mixing them with the DNA of living species (Asian elephants—their closest living relatives) in an attempt to create “proxy species”—animals that display the traits of the ancient original.

The end goal, they say, is to populate the tundra region of Siberia known as the “mammoth steppe” with a herd of as-close-to-mammoth-as-possible animals, using them to bring the ecosystem back to its pre-extinction existence. This, naturally, has brought up some ethical dilemmas: Will science take this further and revive the entire woolly mammoth, not just portions of its genome? What is the motivation for doing any of this? And should we be doing it at all?

Woolly mammoths lived in Siberia (among other places) during Earth’s last ice age, also known as the Pleistocene Epoch. They were large mammals, essentially big furry elephants with very long tusks, and their population was quite large, which we know from the abundance of fossils that paleontologists have discovered. There are several theories about how they eventually went extinct about 10,000 years ago. Some scientists believe that humans may have hunted them to extinction, and other theories suggest that the end of the ice age and a warming climate actually caused them to die from heat and dehydration.

Reviving a dead species is a controversial idea. While the scientists undertaking the research see it as a way to restore a ruined ecosystem, detractors see the process as unnatural and even an unnecessary show of scientific hubris. Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary microbiologist at UC Santa Cruz and author of the book How To Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction, told Gizmodo that the act of bringing back an extinct creature could be seen as an extension of humanity’s long history of altering other species for our own benefit. She didn’t see such an experiment as unnatural. Shapiro noted that humans have been domesticating and engineering plants and animals for tens of thousands of years; this is what we’re good at and it’s part of our nature, which means it’s a part of the nature of our planet as well.


Turns Out, California's Famous Winter Fog Was Mostly Thanks to Air Pollution

Google “California tule fog accident,” and you’ll discover how the Golden State’s notoriously thick, ground-level fog has caused a flurry of deadly car accidents in the Central Valley. The silent killer in all this, however, appears to be poor air quality, which can fuel the fog’s creation.

A study recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres shows that air pollution is a key contributor to this seasonal phenomenon—and thanks to the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970, tule fog in this region has declined by about 75 percent since 1980.

That’s great news for the residents of cities like Bakersfield and Fresno who are subject to this air pollution and its accompanying wintertime fog, but, as the study points out, this fog reduction could impact the region’s agriculture industry. Some fruit and nut trees benefit from heavy fog because it keeps the crops cool.

The research team from the University of California at Berkeley looked at different data sets from 1930 to 2016 to reach its conclusions, including fog frequency data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, climate data from the National Climatic Data Center, and pollution data from the Environmental Protection Agency. The authors needed to factor in the role of weather and climate fluctuations, so historical records of the region’s temperature, dew point, and wind speeds were key.


Trump embraces another dictator. Congress has to do better.

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi is orchestrating constitutional changes that will make him a de facto dictator for life, while permanently enshrining military control over Egypt’s political system. He continues to hold tens of thousands of political prisoners, including at least a dozen U.S. citizens. He has reportedly agreed to spend $2 billion to buy 20 advanced Russian fighter jets, though Egypt receives $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid, and a purchase from Russia could incur sanctions.

So how did President Trump assess Mr. Sissi when he arrived at the White House for a visit Tuesday? “I think he’s doing a great job,” said Mr. Trump. “I think we’ve never had a better relationship — Egypt and the United States — than we do right now.”

The president’s judgment might be attributed in part to ignorance; he claimed he didn’t know about Mr. Sissi’s effort to extend his presidential mandate to 2034, when he would be 80. By now, too, it has become clear that Mr. Trump is easily impressed by strongmen, from Vladi­mir Putin to Kim Jong Un. But the endorsement of Mr. Sissi is also part of a calculated, if crude, strategy: to blindly back Sunni Arab autocrats as guarantors of “stability” and counters to the Islamic State and Iran.

As a number of senators tried to point out to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a Tuesday hearing and in a letter, there are big problems with that policy. First, it ignores the many ways Mr. Sissi is acting against important U.S. interests, including the unjust imprisonment of numerous Americans. Second, it is wrong about stability: Mr. Sissi’s repression and his misguided economic policies are setting up his country for future upheaval — much as did the previous regime of Hosni Mubarak.


A snapshot of where migrants go after release into the United States

Central American families are arriving at the U.S. southern border in record numbers, pushing unauthorized crossings to a 12-year high. Unlike past migration waves, when most migrants were Mexican laborers who typically headed for Texas, California and other western states, the latest newcomers are fanning out across the United States to reunite with family members.

The U.S. government has not released information on the whereabouts or U.S. destinations of recent migrants. But The Washington Post has obtained exclusive data on the nationality and U.S. destination of one small sample: 1,545 migrants who passed through a shelter run by the El Paso nonprofit Annunciation House in February, about 2 percent of the total number of migrants who crossed into the country that month.

Annunciation House arranges with U.S. authorities to take those released from custody into local shelters and then help them arrange travel to their destinations in the U.S. interior.

The White House has been floating plans to ship migrants to “sanctuary cities” — localities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities — and then release them there, trying to retaliate against Democratic lawmakers who have blocked funding for more immigration detention beds. Though authorities have said there is no operational plan in place to do so, President Trump tweeted Friday that such plans are under “strong consideration."


Exasperated Ecuador ends asylum for world's worst houseguest

Did Western media and government hypocrisy bring about Julian Assange's arrest, or was it his bad manners?

The dramatic end to Julian Assange's asylum has sparked curiosity about his 7-year stay inside Ecuador's embassy in London that was marked by his late-night skateboarding, the physical harassment of his caretakers and even the smearing of his own fecal matter on the walls of the diplomatic mission.

It would've tested the patience of any host. But for tiny Ecuador, which prides itself on its hospitality and spent almost $1 million a year protecting Assange, it was also seen as a national insult.

"We've ended the asylum of this spoiled brat," a visibly flustered President Lenin Moreno said Thursday in a fiery speech explaining his decision to withdraw protection of Assange and hand him over to British police. "From now on we'll be more careful in giving asylum to people who are really worth it, and not miserable hackers whose only goal is to destabilize governments."


Lesson for Julian: Don't bite the hand that grants you asylum. Also don't smear shit on embassy walls.
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