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11 February 2018


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Well, best wishes for a happy carnival from Cologne.

Costume and celebrate, play music and sing (or try to), drink beer or lemonade - what you like. If you don't, well, don't do it. But, it is a thing for all ages, from 2 to 102.

Koelle Alaaf!



It reminds me in school having to translate a letter from a roman officer, stationed in Cologne, who wrote to iirc family that these unruly colognian locals ruined his valiant troops with gambling and drinking all the time.

What a 'Spaßbremse'. So, cheers (with a cup of black tea).


This could be useful for designing vision systems for robots...
Researchers who made praying mantises wear glasses discover a new type of vision https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/02/08/researchers-who-made-praying-mantises-wear-glasses-see-a-new-type-of-vision/

Who knew there was a preying mantis that looks like an orchid? (~2 min)
Deadly Disguised Orchids https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VU_T41x-xA

On the theme of nature's disguises...
This Rainforest Caterpillar Looks Like Donald Trump https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTUCTT6I1TU (~5 min)
Amazingly there is a type of bird whose chick mimics it! Video also includes lots of other fascinating examples of mimicry. (this is part of PBS It's Okay to Be Smart YouTube series)


Domestic Terrorism Bill Targets Patriot Groups and Citizen Militias


" To authorize dedicated domestic terrorism offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to analyze and monitor domestic terrorist activity and require the Federal Government to take steps to prevent domestic terrorism. "

That’s the text of a bill introduced in Congress on February 2nd called the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2018.

This legislation is one more encroachment on the Bill of Rights and the protections of the U.S. Constitution. The Government VS the Citizenry.

ex-PFC Chuck

Learned something this morning that I never knew before from a Real News Network interview with historian Peter Kuznick that was reposted with a transcript at Naked Capitalism. It seems that 65 years ago we blew a golden opportunity to tamp down the Cold War in the immediate wake of Stalin's death in March, 1953. From the transcript:

PETER KUZNICK: Yes. The world had a great opportunity in March of 1953 to reverse course rather than this insane military spending that was beginning. On March 5th, 1953, Stalin died. The Soviet leaders reached out to the United States. They offered the Americans an olive branch. They talked about changing the direction of our relations. They talked about, basically, ending the Cold War. We could’ve ended the Cold War as early as March 5, 1953, taken a different route. Eisenhower and the others in his administration debate what to do, how to respond. Churchill, who was now re-elected and back in office in England, begged the United States to hold a summit with the Soviet leaders and move toward peace, rather than belligerence and hostility. Eisenhower doesn’t say anything publicly in response for six weeks. Then he makes a speech. It’s a visionary speech. It’s the kind of vision that Eisenhower represented at his best, and he says there

PRESIDENT EISENHOWER: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

PETER KUZNICK: “This is not a way of life at all. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” What a great speech and the Soviets were thrilled. They republished this. They reprinted it. They broadcast it over and over, and then two days later, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, makes a speech reversing the whole thing. Instead of an olive branch, he gives the Soviets a middle finger and he accuses the Soviet Union of trying to overthrow every Democratic government in the world. The exact wrong message.

Kuznick doesn't venture an opinion about why SoS Dulles undercut his boss just two days later so I'll venture an hypothesis. The Eisenhower administration was less than two months old at the time, and the battles to establish the pecking order of influence over the new and politically inexperienced president were fierce. The Dulles brothers had been carrying Wall Street's water into Washington for decades and as Stephen Kinzer makes clear in his joint biography of them The Brothers, that didn't stop at noon on January 20, 1953. My guess is that the denizens of lower Manhattan didn't want the Cold War to end and made clear to their ambassador in Washington that this initiative had to be stopped forthwith, and he dutifully passed on the message without thinking about the consequences. As Kinzer quotes Harold MacMillan, “His speech was slow, but it easily kept pace with his thoughts.”

Kinzer makes a good case that the Dulles brothers were among the most malevolent influences on USA foreign policy in the 20th century.


Keep in mind that the authoring of this article is a Russian think tank.



Re the recently published stories that the CIA attempted to “buy back” the NSA’s purloined (or perhaps lost) custom-built spyware from a “shadowy Russian operator” —

It struck me that the (leaked?) text messages between Senator Warner of the Intelligence Committee and Adam Waldman of Endeavor Group might be connected. The messages dovetail with the buyback story at several factual junctures and seem to fit the time frame.

The texts explicitly mention Assange and Wikileaks release of Vault 7. A deal of some sort was being floated. That’s what caught my attention. Is Waldman “the American intermediary”? In his texts he mentions being in “Deutschland.”

Waldman is an interesting character http://www.businessinsider.com/american-executives-working-for-putin-2014-3 with Deripaska as a client and working closely with DOJ, as he openly says in the texts: “I have had lots of other dealings with DOJ relating to my Rus client.” I knew nothing about Deripaska until I read the testimonies of Glenn Simpson from FusionGPS. Deripaska figures prominently.

Waldman seems like a significant “vector” as they say in epidemiology. Looks to me like the dirty ‘dossier’ info was being stovepiped ‘into the system’ from several directions. Each being presented (and seen - perhaps sometimes purposefully) as corroboration for the others.

Has any other member of the Committee read these text messages and compared them to the published stories? If so, I would be interested in your thoughts.

Link to Se. Warner/Waldman text messages: https://www.scribd.com/document/371101285/TEXTS-Mark-Warner-texted-with-Russian-oligarch-lobbyist-in-effort-to-contact-Christopher-Steele

Link to The Intercept “version” of the story:



How does one "buy back" software that has been in the hands of an adversary? pl


LOL. Yes, one wonders.

The Beaver


From Elijah Magnier


The speed of the Syrian reaction was due to a prior decision taken at highest level among all allies operating on Syrian territory. These consider a possible confrontation may be inevitable if Israel has decided to respond and declare war. The violation of Syrian sovereignty is no longer an option open to Israel and the Israeli jets will no longer be able to carry out their usual promenades over the Levant without consequences.

All of this took place one day after the liberation of the entire area from the “Islamic State” (ISIS) group in rural Aleppo, Homs and Idlib, with over 1200 square kilometres returned to government control. This freed over fifteen thousand officers and soldiers from the Syrian army and special units which were engaged there to move to another front, the one against Israel if necessary, with al-Qaeda as the only remaining threat to the Syrian state.



Elijah Magnier's blog describes him thusly:

"Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 35 years' experience covering the Middle East and acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Specialised in terrorism and counter-terrorism, intelligence, political assessments, strategic planning and thorough insight in political networks in the region. Covered on the ground the Israeli invasion to Lebanon (1st war 1982), the Iraq-Iran war, the Lebanese civil war, the Gulf war (1991), the war in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1996), the US invasion to Iraq (2003 to date), the second war in Lebanon (2006), the war in Libya and Syria (2011 to date). Lived for many years in Lebanon, Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria." Is there a verified bio on this man? Who is he, really? pl


Intelligence for profit (privatizing intelligence gathering and processing): https://consortiumnews.com/2018/02/11/u-s-intelligence-crisis-poses-a-threat-to-the-world/
"... it becomes clear that to be a star in the new Intel community, the only qualification is knowing how to network. One of the biggest stars of intelligence over the last decade is a former gift shop cashier that had no intelligence experience or training. ... Because their jobs depend on contracts being won or lost, there is no longer a commitment to public service. “More than 70 percent of the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) unit is staffed by contractors, known as ‘green badgers,’ who also represent the majority of personnel in the DIA, the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, and the National Counterterrorism Center..." Private companies have been utilized to carry out torture and the misuse of sensitive information collected by intelligence agencies... “Over the last 15 years, thousands of former high-ranking intelligence officials and operatives have left their government posts and taken up senior positions at military contractors, consultancies, law firms, and private-equity firms. In their new jobs, they replicate what they did in government—often for the same agencies they left. But this time, their mission is strictly for-profit..."


Are you still not feeling good Pat?

I've had the flu this year, it kicked my keester which it usually doesn't. Couldn't because I'm now an old fart, do you think? My mind still thinks I'm 16, the rest of me want's to argue the case. Oh well, as long as I'm vertical I guess it counts for something.



No worse than usual. pl


Are the observations and conclusions incorrect or wrong, one might ask? For what reasons? Whatever the provenance. Not a very convincing impeachment.


How does one "buy back" software that has been in the hands of an adversary? pl

Initially, when I saw your question, I assumed you were asking rhetorically. In case you were asking seriously, I will answer seriously.

I am not an intelligence professional but it seems to me just common sense that you can't "buy back" software from an adversary. It seems ridiculous on its face. They have it, have copied it and whatever you "buy back" would be cherry-picked to give you a specific view of what they want you to think they have. So even the assertion that they were trying to figure out what tools were out there in the wild makes no sense.

I think maybe the spytools were actually dangled, but I would hope the IC is smarter than to jump at that fly. Warner may not be that smart -- as he is a politician and deeply embedded in the Putin Panic.

I don't fully believe all the aspects of the stories in the NYT and Intercept. I think the Warner/Waldman texts "came out" (I'm unclear as to how they came out) and exposed behind the scenes dealing by Warner for the spytools..alongside secret dealings with Steele.

So IMHO, the stories are unbelievable and have all the hallmarks of being CYA attempts for the IC involved, basically asserting that the $100k was for spytools, not dirt on Trump.

And in the end, perhaps that part's true...someone not blinded by TDS said hey guys, looks like we're getting played. I sure hope so, because these appearances of unacceptable partisanship and malfeasance combined with incompetency are really starting to worry me.


Anyone out there in SST know of any great books or stories on Leadership. Always looking for insights. Much gratitude for any response big or small.

Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang, SST;
Yesterday, in day/night operations TSK regulars had more than 10 KIA and more than 10 wounded. We also lost a helicopter. TSK will keep enduring tactical losses but will keep moving forward; we will finish this issue unless ordered to stop. The Afrin operation is progressing on multiple fronts and the kurds are withdrawing back due to high attrition.

While facts are being changed on the ground, we are awaiting what will transpire when Tillerson visits Turkey (https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/rex-tillerson-to-visit-middle-east-as-conflicts-heats-up-1.5806882 )
If he cannot control his generals, he will not get much traction w/ the regime unless he can promise and deliver a lot of cash for the thief-in-chief:

Ishmael Zechariah


Feel better, sir.



Eric Topol on the Power of Patients in a Digital World

"...And so this is just part of the--really whole different look. Up until now these things weren't even questioned. But because this information flow that patients are going to be generating more information themselves--it's now--for example, it was, up until very recently, you had to get a doctor's order to be able to get a lab result. To go to a lab. And now, just last week, Labcorp, one of the two largest central labs in the country, has re-fit the whole thing by saying, 'You can order your own labs.' And that's a big deal. But again: you have your labs; you can not only go to a Labcorp facility to do that, but very soon you'll be able to do it yourself, in the comfort of your home with a little kit that goes, pop into your smartphone. That ability to do your own labs, to do your physical exam of yourself or your family member or you child--this is really valuable information that's being generated, outside of the usual hallowed halls of medicine."



see bio on ledin

Peter AU

"thorough insight in political networks in the region."
Though not always right, he is the best I have found in this field.
I first run onto his twitter account and site when looking for more information on the area when Australia joined the war in the middle east with the 40 thousand refugees on a mountain bullshit.
A year or two back he wrote a couple of articles, describing the beliefs/motivations of many of the rebel and jihadist groups operating in Syria. I have not seen this attempted anywhere else.
Often off the internet for a week or two while traveling through Syria/Iraq talking to people on the ground.
Journalist for a news organisation in Kuwait and often had to wait for permission to repost his articles in English at his own site.
Other than that I know little about him


Assad is quietly aiding the SDF against Erdogan's attempted occupation of Afrin. At least according to al-Jazeera:


I am wondering where the YPG in Afrin got the Russian Kornet AT guided missiles that they have been using against Turkish tanks and ACVs. Or are those the 'Dehlavie' version of the Kornet made in Iran? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9M133_Kornet

They also have been seen with Iranian made Safir jeeps mounted with Iranian made copies of the M40 106mm recoilless rifle.

Plus correspondent 'b' in a comment on a previous post hinted that the Turkish attack helicopter shot down in Afrin was done by a Russian MANPADS.

Babak Makkinejad

I find this difficult to credit. Consider that the ostensible justification for the overthrow of the nationalist government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq was the fear its replacement with a pro-Russian


ex-PFC Chuck

I've read a bunch of books by Kinzer. I only recently found out that he was booked on Cubana de Aviación Flight 455. Quite a coincidence. Kinzer on the trial of the terrorist who almost killed him:

I am not implying that it was more than coincidence. Kinzer changed his flight two days before. But if a Russian journalist who was critical of the FSB came that close to being blown up by a terrorist linked to the FSB, I can just imagine how that would get reported.

Babak Makkinejad

The Prince is still the best.

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