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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Washington state, for half my life
Home country: USA
Current location: SW Alabama. for the rest of my life
Member since: Wed Feb 27, 2008, 02:09 PM
Number of posts: 59,693

About Me

Long time political activist, working to tint my lil "Mayberry" more blue. Collector of strays of various species and minds.

Journal Archives

To understand today's global conflicts....take a hard look at a map

Worth the read, it is not long.
Just found it, it was written in 2012, now seems very prescient.
I would also add that geography AND history provide the lens thru which we observe global conflict.

Geography Strikes Back
To understand today's global conflicts, forget economics and technology and take a hard look at a map, writes Robert D. Kaplan

If you want to know what Russia, China or Iran will do next, don't read their newspapers or ask what our spies have dug up—consult a map. Geography can reveal as much about a government's aims as its secret councils. More than ideology or domestic politics, what fundamentally defines a state is its place on the globe. Maps capture the key facts of history, culture and natural resources. With upheaval in the Middle East and a tumultuous political transition in China, look to geography to make sense of it all.

Snip......Why, for example, are headlines screaming about the islands of the South China Sea?
As the Pacific antechamber to the Indian Ocean, this sea connects the energy-rich Middle East and the emerging middle-class fleshpots of East Asia. It is also thought to contain significant stores of hydrocarbons. China thinks of the South China Sea much as the U.S. thinks of the Caribbean: as a blue-water extension of its mainland. Vietnam and the Philippines also abut this crucial body of water, which is why we are seeing maritime brinkmanship on all sides. It is a battle not of ideas but of physical space. The same can be said of the continuing dispute between Japan and Russia over the South Kuril Islands.

snip.....Why does President Vladimir Putin covet buffer zones in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, just as the czars and commissars did before him?

and what about Europe, and the Balkans, and Greece, and..........lots of good info. at the link.


Pipeline politics in Syria

Much of the media coverage suggests that the conflict in Syria is a civil war, in which the Alawite (Shia) Bashar al Assad regime is defending itself (and committing atrocities) against Sunni rebel factions (who are also committing atrocities). The real explanation is simpler: it is about money.

In 2009, Qatar proposed to run a natural gas pipeline through Syria and Turkey to Europe. Instead, Assad forged a pact with Iraq and Iran to run a pipeline eastward, allowing those Shia-dominated countries access to the European natural gas market while denying access to Sunni Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The latter states, it appears, are now attempting to remove Assad so they can control Syria and run their own pipeline through Turkey.

The standard Shia-Sunni conflict is little different from many other socio-ethnic-economic-political-religious (SEEPR) conflicts that originate in competition for resources, but in Syria it has a lucrative twist. The pattern of SEEPR control in Syria is similar to that in many other Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan Africa countries (and is arguably common in every country, but more so in traditional societies): Who controls the government controls the state’s resources, and by extension, the wealth derived from them. In Syria, the Sunnis have tried to unseat the Alawites ever since France installed them during the French mandate that ended in 1943. But now the stakes are higher, thanks to natural gas.

Any review of the current conflict in Syria that neglects the geopolitical economics of the region is incomplete. (Nearly all media reports fit this description.)
Take “The Geopolitics of the Syrian Civil War,” published in January by STRATFOR’s Reva Bhalla, which provides an effective Syria-specific revision of Robert Kaplan’s “Geography Strikes Back,” complete with historical acuity, but without mentioning the pipeline. Reports such as these shed little light on current geopolitical economic developments that are at the heart of the issue. Oil and natural gas pipelines bring large amounts of wealth to states which control them, thus attracting international attention, intrigue, and in many instances, terrorist activity.

We are now bombing TWO groups in Syria, for TWO different reasons.

We are bombing both ISIL AND a "new" Al-Quada "affiliated" group in Syria.
That was the happy headline that greeted me this am.

Just to be clear...here is the WH reasons for bombing ISIL in Syria:
Senior Obama administration officials: Airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria are legal because they were done in defense of Iraq


and here is the WH reason for bombing another group in Syria:
The White House this morning is confirming that airstrikes against the al-Qaida-affiliated Khorasan Group in Syria were carried out due to its plotting of an 'imminent' attack against the US. This information was also confirmed earlier today by the US Central Command.

same source as above

[font style=color:#FF0000;]"Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.
And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on." [/font]
Kurt Vonnegut

Virginia sues 13 big banks, claiming mortgage securities fraud

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring on Tuesday announced a $1.15 billion lawsuit against 13 of the nation’s biggest banks, accusing them of misleading a state retirement fund about the quality of bonds made up of residential mortgages.

The lawsuit, unsealed in Richmond Circuit Court, is the largest financial fraud action ever brought by the state of Virginia.
It mirrors legal actions being taken across the country by attorneys general seeking redress for state pension funds that were ravaged by the financial crisis.
“These securities were financial time bombs that a lot of banks tried to get off their books as soon as possible,” Herring said during a news conference.
“And some of them provided . . . investors with information they knew or should have known was false in order to lure them into buying these new investments.”

Herring said the banks — including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Credit Suisse — knowingly packaged faulty home loans into securities they sold to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS). The pension fund, which counts 600,000 members on its rolls, purchased 220 residential-mortgage-backed securities starting in 2004. When the financial markets tanked and the value of those bonds took a nose dive, the fund was forced to sell the vast majority of the securities and lost $383 million

I am really surprised it is taking the states this long to figure out the scam.
But, states need money now, and banks have it.

Free pdf download of The National Intelligence Strategy of the United States of America

For those who like to hear info from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

Document: The 2014 National Intelligence Strategy of the United States, unveiled by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper today.

" law enforcement is concerned the post will give people a chance to..*self-radicalize*. "

Heads up, DU.......do NOT attempt to "self radicalize"......

Here's a little non news item which appears to be propaganda for The Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism center:

LAS VEGAS -- Metro Police announced Wednesday it was aware of an online post by a group sympathetic to the militant group ISIS that suggests tourist destinations in the United States as potential attack locations.

The post named Las Vegas as one of the cities.

According to police, the post has been taken down. Police also say they have no information of planning or operational phases to carry out any attack.

However, law enforcement is concerned the post will give people a chance to self-radicalize.

The Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism center works 24-hours a day seven days a week to stay ahead of threats. Metro also works with federal, state and local governments, along with hotels and casinos to keep locals and tourists safe.
Metro is asking people to remember to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

Need dates for a Syria timeline, DU.

Pres. Obama wanted to go after Assad, tried to get the country/Congress behind the idea, but it did not work.( except for McCain, of course)
When was this, exactly?

ISIS popped up in Iraq ...when?

Facebook Messenger appears to have more spyware code in it than commercial spyware products...."

tweeted Jonathan Zdziarski, a noted author and expert in iOS related digital forensics and security on Tuesday.

The story:
In August, Facebook announced that it would no longer be allowing its users to communicate via private message on mobile phones without first downloading its proprietary "Messenger" app.

Some of those who downloaded the app may be thinking twice this week about keeping the app around, however, in light of one iOS forensics and security researcher's recent assertions that Messenger is tracking more data than most people realize.

"Messenger appears to have more spyware type code in it than I've seen in products intended specifically for enterprise surveillance," tweeted Jonathan Zdziarski, a noted author and expert in iOS related digital forensics and security on Tuesday.

Several of his tweets previous to this shed light upon what he found while disassembling Facebook Messenger's iOS binary.

Messenger has so many analytics running (even in the background), it would not surprise me if your battery life noticeably suffered.
-- Jonathan Zdziarski (@JZdziarski) September 9, 2014

Messenger performs analytics on everything - windows you view, everything you tap, icon badge number, application state, everything you do.
-- Jonathan Zdziarski (@JZdziarski) September 9, 2014

Messenger even gathers data on how much time you spend using it in the foreground, vs. background time. So glad I don't use Facebook.
-- Jonathan Zdziarski (@JZdziarski) September 9, 2014

Messenger even gathers data on what orientation you're holding your phone in most often.

NM city plans to auction excavated vintage video games

At first I thought WTF
but THEN I wanted to grab a shovel and head to our landfill..

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - A city in New Mexico where 1,300 unwanted vintage video games were discovered buried in a landfill has voted to auction off more than half of the cartridges in the run-up to Christmas.

Members of the Alamogordo City Council voted 7-0 late on Tuesday to offer some 800 of the Atari games found earlier this year for sale on eBay and the council's own website.

Snip......The find included hundreds of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" cartridges, considered by some the worst video game ever made.
It flopped after being rushed out to coincide with the release of Steven Spielberg's 1982 hit movie, and it contributed to a collapse of the video game industry in its early years.
Atari is believed to have been saddled with most of the 5 million E.T. cartridges produced. The New York Times reported at the time that the game manufacturer buried the games in the New Mexico desert in the middle of the night.

Pope Francis: Pope says world's many conflicts amount to piecemeal World War Three

REDIPUGLIA, Italy, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Pope Francis said on Saturday the spate of conflicts around the globe today were effectively a "piecemeal" Third World War, condemning the arms trade and "plotters of terrorism" sowing death and destruction.

"Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep," Francis said in the homily of a Mass during a visit to Italy's largest war memorial,
large, Fascist-era monument where more than 100,000 soldiers who died in World War One are buried.


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