Oh Dear! Celebrities whinge at release of naked pictures

September 2, 2014

I am concerned that iCloud can be hacked – but only because my assessment of their security was clearly wrong. I’ll just have to give iCloud a lower rating for security than I have done.

But I cannot share the indignation of the celebrity “victims” at having their naked pictures publicised  and their “plight” leaves me largely unmoved.

The hackers may be despicable but those who upload naked pictures of themselves (or other compromising material) into the Cloud are just plain stupid. In fact I feel sure that the act in itself is some subconscious (or perhaps conscious) craving for the pictures to be leaked and for the resulting publicity. Stupid people can also be victims but my sympathy for stupidity is very heavily tempered.

What is much more upsetting is that I haven’t seen any of these pictures yet (but I shall not be spending any time looking for them either).

Ricky Gervais got it right first time.

Apparently he has now back-tracked somewhat in response to protest but I only think the less of him for that.

The comedian was criticised after posting this message on Twitter - blaming celebrities for taking the photos and storing them on their computers in the first place 

Counter protest

September 1, 2014

A plea for emancipation!

counter protest - image raju sharma

counter protest – image raju sharma

funnyindianpicza.blogspot.com

Just a conspiracy theory or did the US and Turkey create ISIS?

September 1, 2014

ISIS appeared apparently from nowhere in June this year. For a supposedly splinter group of Al Qaida they were remarkably well armed, generously funded, well trained, completely ruthless, took Mosul without resistance and swept through Iraq to the outskirts of Baghdad.

How could this possibly have happened without the knowledge of the intelligence services and their massive data collection activities?

When something is inexplicable, conspiracy theories come out of the woodwork. But some conspiracy theories do turn out to be true.

Certainly the US did install Saddam Hussain in the 1960s and support him in the 1980s against Iran. Certainly the US helped in drawing the Russians into Afghanistan and then in creating the Taliban. And now come the theories of the connections between the overthrow of Gadaffi, the channeling of weapons and rebels by the US and Turkey to Syria to bring down Assad, the funding of the rebels (later ISIS) by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Ambassador Chris Stevens who was killed in the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi was a key figure in setting up the agreement between the CIA, Turkey and the Syrian rebels to set up the “rat line”.

Even Haaretz wrote in February 2014 “Military option against Syria is alive. U.S., Saudi Arabia and Jordan are reportedly helping rebels plan attack starting in south and spreading to Damascus”. Front Line (PBS) reported in May on the training of jihadists by the US in Qatar on “how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush”.

A number of articles and a video came out last week on “The covert origins of ISIS” but more compelling is this article by Seymour Hersh from April this year. He exposed a classified agreement between the CIA, Turkey and the Syrian rebels to create what was referred to as a “rat line”. The “rat line” was a covert network used to channel weapons and ammunition from Libya, through southern Turkey and across the Syrian border. Funding was provided by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The Red Line and the Rat Line

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons. Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? …….. Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. ……

……. The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida…… 

In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. ……… A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.) ….. 

Read the whole article

ISIS did not come out of nothing and from nowhere. They were created and trained and armed and funded. Quite possibly the creators of ISIS did not fully realise the kind of monster they would spawn – just as they did not know what the Taliban and Al Qaida would become.

As SCG’s report puts it:

This is a tried and true geopolitical strategy.

Step 1: Build up a dictator or extremist group which can then be used to wage proxy wars against opponents. During this stage any crimes committed by these proxies are swept under the rug. [Problem]

Step 2: When these nasty characters have outlived their usefulness, that’s when it’s time to pull out all that dirt from under the rug and start publicizing it 24/7. This obviously works best when the public has no idea how these bad guys came to power.[Reaction]

Step 3: Finally, when the public practically begging for the government to do something, a solution is proposed. Usually the solution involves military intervention, the loss of certain liberties, or both. [Solution]

But under the big picture – conspiracy or not – we have the encouragement and nurturing of the vilest characteristics of gullible, degenerate, European Muslim youth who are enticed by jihadi cool.

And the weapons industry is still showing strong growth.

Novorossiya: Putin calculates that Obama will bark and show his teeth but will not bite

August 31, 2014

Putin did not cause the descent of Ukraine into anarchy. That was the EU and the US respectively trying to expand the boundaries of Europe and NATO. The EU sold the “benefits” of joining Europe very hard and raised expectations in the country which no President could live up to. In the process they supported the opposition to the elected (but disliked) President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. That included substantial support for Ukraine’s neo-Nazi, nationalist Right Sector. The EU bureaucrats in Brussels were elated at the potential for expanding the EU. Catherine Ashton and John Kerry were so full of themselves and their “success” in spreading democracy that they miscalculated the consequences. Yanukovych was toppled in February 2014 and the EU and the US celebrated. But the Right Sector lost no time in “pushing” and pressurising the Russian speakers especially in Eastern Ukraine. The push-back started and Crimea “voted” to join Russia. Russia ratified the decision and effected the transition on the ground. The EU and the US responded with sanctions. A missile fired by Russian separatists – perhaps aimed at a Ukraine military aircraft flying in the shadow of a commercial jet – brought down Malaysian flight 17. Sanctions were extended. The EU made noises. Obama demonstrated his risk aversion when even the atrocities by ISIS did not lead to any action by the US beyond a few drone attacks.

And so Putin has probably made his calculation that while Obama is by no means toothless, he will bark and show his teeth and foam at the mouth, but he will not bite. NATO will not start a war in Europe except as the tail of a belligerent US. The EU has 28 members and 28 strategies and no real leadership.

The US and EU have now established that regime-change of a government they disapprove of is a legitimate justification for the use of force. Vladimir Putin and Russia and China have taken notice. And the regime-change started by the US and the EU in February 2014 will probably be brought to some kind of conclusion (for the time being) as Putin establishes Novorossiya.

Novorossiya - graphic Washington Post

Novorossiya – graphic Washington Post

Whatever is left of Ukraine will be land-locked and Putin will again have control of the Black Sea.

“Poor” Indian monsoon so far unlikely to derail growth

August 30, 2014

With one month to go for the “official” 4 month-long monsoon season, rainfall has been 18% deficient so far. At the half-way mark most states were deficient in rainfall. However about half the states have now crept back to “normal” rainfall. With any El Nino only expected to be weak – if it even actually develops – a catastrophic monsoon can now be ruled out. Rainfall will be below normal but the last month of the monsoon holds some hope for further recovery. There is also some hope that the monsoon – which developed about 10 days late – may also be delayed in withdrawing giving some rainfall into the first two weeks of October. It will still be a “poor” monsoon but may not be labelled “bad” or “catastrophic”.

IMD’s chart covering the 3 months so far is below. Green is “normal”, red is “deficient”, yellow is “scanty” and blue is “excess”:

Monsoon 2014 75%

Monsoon 2014 75%

There is still some risk that a poor monsoon will hold back the industrial recovery somewhat. The growth in the last quarter has been the highest for 2 years as sentiment has turned positive, and is not likely to be reversed by this “poor” monsoon.

BBC: 

India’s economy grew by 5.7% in the three months to June, its fastest pace in two-and-a-half years, according to an official estimate. The economy was helped by strong growth in electricity, gas and water supply, and financial services, the Ministry of Statistics said.

The growth figure was higher than analysts had been expecting. …

….. Ever since the Narendra Modi government took charge, business sentiment has improved on the ground. Investors have started pumping in money again, capital markets have been roaring, consumer demand has revived & hiring has picked up.

But this euphoria is primarily driven by sentiment and more steps would be required to sustain this optimism.

Having an exit strategy is of no value if you don’t enter

August 29, 2014

Strategy quotes

Paralysis by analysis as Obama is stuck “without a strategy” and behind the times

August 29, 2014

If I rate my expectations of Barack Obama when he was first elected at 90, he has now sunk to a negative rating because the world is a more dangerous place today than it was when his high rhetoric captured my imagination.

Now in situation after situation he appears to be caught in the trap of “paralysis by analysis”. With regard to the quality of managers I wrote:

The Proper Exercise of Power

At one extreme in the exercise of power is paralysis of action. Such paralysis occurs when the manager in spite of having power and in spite of having made the appropriate analyses finds he is unable to make the final judgement and to make the required choices. To take no action is always a valid option but needs to be a conscious decision, in which case it is not paralysis. At the other extreme we have the manager who rushes to judgement. This can result in a surfeit of actions where all options are addressed simultaneously in the hope that some of the actions will be beneficial. In between these extremes lies the proper exercise of power, wholly dependent upon the manager’s judgements and the quality of his judgements.

Obama, it seems by his own admissions is suffering from “paralysis by analysis”. He certainly cannot be accused of rushing to judgement. (In fact he cannot be accused of rushing to anywhere except perhaps the golf course). He was talking about ISIS in this report, but it could apply to almost every domestic or international issue he is faced with.

The Hill:

  1. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said.
  2. Obama said “folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are.”
  3. “We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard,” Obama said.

Edmund Burke: “Do the thing and you will have the power. But they that do not the thing – had not the power”.

He is still talking about making sure that they are making plans!

Up s**t creek, behind the times, planning to plan, without a strategy and without a paddle. 

It has nothing to do with his intelligence but it is about his courage to take actions. He makes a poor manager. And it is not exactly the stuff of leadership. He does not the thing.

Bárðarbunga, Iceland: A small fissure eruption has started north of Dynjujökull

August 29, 2014

A flight over the glacier has discovered a row of 10-15 m deep cauldrons south of the Bárðarbunga caldera. They form a long line. The cauldrons have been formed as a result of melting, possibly sub-glacial eruption, uncertain when. There are three circular crevasse formations, about 5 km in total length. The ice thickness in the area is 400-600 m. No signs of flooding have been detected.

Now a small fissure eruption further north has been detected.

The Aviation Colour Code remains at the ‘orange’ level for Bárðarbunga.

Iceland Met Office reports:

A fissure eruption has started north of Dynjujökull.

29th August 2014 02:45 – An eruption north of Dyngjujökull

An eruption started in Holuhraun north of Dyngjujökull at around 00:02. Seismic tremor was observed on all seismic stations and the web camera installed in the area by Mila has showed some nice pictures of the eruption.  It is a small fissure eruption and at 02:40 AM the activity appears to have decreased.

28th August 2014 18:14 – from geoscientist on duty

Since midnight over 1100 earthquakes have been detected by the automatic system. The dyke does not appear to have migrated further north since noon. The main activity is in the dyke and at similar depth as before (8-12km). One earthquake of M5 occurred at 08:13 AM by the northern rim of the Bardarbunga caldera. Two minutes earlier (08:11) another event of M3.9 occurred at a similar location. A few earthquakes were detected near Askja, the biggest one of M2.7.

28th August 2014 12:35 – from of the Scientific Advisory Board

Scientists from the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the Institute of Earth Sciences, together with representatives of the Civil Protection in Iceland, met today to discuss the on-going unrest at the Bárðarbunga volcano.

Conclusions of the Scientific Advisory Board:

  • This morning, there was a flight over the Bárðarbunga area and the surface of the glacier was surveyed. No changes to the ice crevasses southeast of Bárðarbunga, that were seen yesterdayevening, were observed. These crevasses were likely formed due to melting at the ice bottom.
  • The depressions have been located southeast of the Bárðarbunga caldera, in all likelihood within the water divide of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. There are three circular crevasse formations, about 5 km in total length. The ice thickness in the area is 400-600 m.
  • The water level in Grímsvötn Lake has been surveyed and has likely risen by about 5-10 m in the last days, which corresponds to an addition of 10-30 million m³ of water in the lake. A slight increase in conductivity in Köldukvísl River was measured this morning, but the cause is yet unknown. No change has been measured in the Hágöngulón lagoon, Jökulsá River and Skjálfandi River. It is assumed, that the water from the cauldron has flowed into the Grímsvötn Lake or the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum.
  • The seismic activity is similar to that of the last days. Around midnight, three earthquakes of magnitude around 4 were recorded and one of magnitude 5 at 08:13 this morning, all located within the Bárðarbunga caldera.
  • Shortly before 08:00 this morning, there was a slight increase in seismic activity in the Askja volcano. Changes in the stress field due to expansion caused by the dyke have an effect on the Askja area.
  • Since yesterday, the length of the dyke under Dyngjujökull has increased by 1-1.5 km to the north, which is considerably less than in the last days. The dyke has now reached the fissure system of the Askja volcano and GPS measurements indicate that the area there is greatly affected.
  • The conclusions from the meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Icelandic Civil Protection will continue to be published at around noon, after the meeting, if necessary.
Iceland earthquake swarm 20140829

Iceland earthquake swarm 20140829

Soccer Moms want to outlaw heading – in California of course!

August 28, 2014

If these soccer Moms get their way, the number of headers per game will be restricted – say 5 per player per game? A goal scored by a 6th header would then have to be disallowed and the player sent off (substitution allowed). The case is being brought in California – and being California the judge will probably allow the case and – in a fit of excessive prudence – set a limit of 3 headers per player per game. Or he could insist that helmets be worn. And being California I expect some are going to make much money from this law-suit.

Why don’t the molly-coddling Moms just start a new game for their poor vulnerable dears — one without tackling perhaps? and preferably without a ball?

NYT:

A group of soccer parents and players filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday morning against FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, over its handling of concussions. Filed in United States District Court in California, the suit also names American soccer organizations, including U.S. Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization, charging that they and FIFA have been negligent in monitoring and treating head injuries.

The plaintiffs do not seek financial damages but ask for changes to the sport’s rules, such as limiting headers for children and altering FIFA’s substitution protocols. With the N.F.L., the N.H.L. and the N.C.A.A. involved in concussion litigation, soccer’s governing bodies are the latest to face a lawsuit over head injuries.

Panda accused of maternity benefits fraud

August 28, 2014

Probably proof that Pandas are evolving – or at least – learning.

Giant panda Ai Hin put on a 'phantom pregnancy', possibly because she wanted special treatment, her Chinese keepers say.

Panda Ai Hin accused of maternity benefits fraud Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian:

Hopes that tiny panda paws would be seen in the world’s first live-broadcast cub delivery have been dashed after Chinese experts suggested the “mother” may have been focusing more on extra bun rations than giving birth.

The slated star of the show, giant panda Ai Hin, had shown signs of pregnancy at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre, according to state news agency Xinhua.

A live broadcast of the event was planned but Xinhua said her “behaviours and physiological indexes returned to normal”, citing experts saying she experienced a “phantom pregnancy”.

The breeding centre, in China’s south-western province of Sichuan, commonly moves pandas that are thought to be pregnant into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care.

“They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life,” Wu Kongju, an expert at the base told Xinhua.


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