How Far Can He Go? How Long Will He Stay Free?
The videos of the massive explosion in Tianjin keep getting pulled from the internet. However, one brave reporter, a He Xiaoxin, DID get into the affected area and took some pictures. I don't expect this report to remain up much longer, but I'm linking to it. I'm also posting his pictures below the fold to save them from the inevitable purge. I don't normally nick more than one pic from a news article and clearly identify the source via hyperlink and I certainly don't make a habit of nicking all the picture from a photo essay because that is, frankly, WRONG.
However, the likelihood of his work being bering deemed triggering to the Chinese government and sent down the memory hole moves me to do this. Fortunately, He Xiaoxin has extensively watermarked his work. If one reposts any of these, PLEASE make sure to credit He Xiaoxin and The China Digital Times. Also do read his whole article, not only to give the paper hits but because his text provides valuable context.
However, if the article is gone then click on "more" and behold...the effects of a quarter kiloton blast....
Snowflakes Can Help Spread Ebola!?
Actually, they have to be precious, special ones.
The nurse who was quarantined after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa has given the State of Maine until Thursday to let her move freely, setting up what could be a test case of whether state quarantines are legal.
This is quite troubling. Ebola is not an unmanageable problem as Senegal and Nigeria have shown, but it is not to be trifled with.
It is said that doctors make the worst patients. Miss Hickox and her colleague in New York, (who lied to authorities about breaking quarantine ) are doing nothing to contradict that notion.
The reason we have coercive, non-voluntary quarantines is that we have learned through 4,000 years of recorded human history that people will not voluntarily self-quarantine, and will in fact act irrationally as willing agents of plague.
It bears repeating that Ebola spread to Nigeria, and very nearly Minnesota because an American named Patrick Sawyer decided that quarantine ought not to apply to his own special self. One of the problems America faces is a class of people who believe that they are above the laws they set for others. In the case of these doctors such aristocratic self indulgence could make a manageable problem a catastrophe. This would not be the first time political pressure screwed up a public health response, but it is far less excusable since this disease is far easier to screen for.
The thing I like MOST about the United States is that the hypocrisy and sense of entitlement that some of its doctors have are almost indistinguishable from negligence and stupidity!
In other news: It appears that Ebola Tan's pet skull is named Wilhelm. How this information might be of use is unclear to me at this time.
Foley seems to have been quite highly regarded. A brief excerpt of a 2011 interview with him can be seen from 00:33 to 01:58 here.
It should be noted that the executioner has a British accent, which is not entirely surprising, but is worrisome. Likewise, the fact that Sotloff was taken prisoner in Libya and transported to Iraq indicates an impressive reach and logistical capability by ISIS.
The situation in the Ukraine has taken a hopeful turn as Russian and Ukrainian leaders representatives are set to meet negotiations next week. This comes as Ukrainian forces seem to be getting the better of the secessionists. This is a conflict with some very nasty ethnic components, so a diplomatic solution would be most welcome.
In related news; Apparently there is a group of American volunteers/mercenaries fighting with the Ukrainians and one of them was just killed.
On the Ebola front, the experimental drug tested on the three missionaries from the US and Spain looks promising. While the Spanish patient died, the two American aid workers seem to be recovering. The few remaining samples have been sent to Liberia, but the drug takes a long time to make, and there are regulatory hurdles. However, accelerated testing is being done of this and other vaccines.
While all this is going on the military is downsizing. That's not necessarily a dreadful mistake as there is a good bit of waste in the Pentagon. Particularly in the Army, after 10 years of war, one might well consider it good to weed out the people who in that time avoided combat and promote those who displayed out of the box thinking in time of war. One might especially want to retain those with awards for valor. Well, if one thinks that, then one is not in charge of the current downsizing process....
This is terrifying:
The derogatory information didn't have to be recent. Got a GOMOR as a 2nd Lieutenant for Dumb LT Tricks, eight years ago? Kiss your ass goodbye. Got an Article 15 as a private before soldiering your way back into the Army's good graces, and then getting a ROTC scholarship? You're gone.
A non-GO Memorandum Of Reprimand was also a career killer, if you got it for something the Chief of Staff doesn't like - like carrying a personally owned weapon. That sent one combat-vet with a Purple Heart to the Dreaded Private Sector.
Being overweight, or looking overweight in your photo: killer.
A more trivial career killer, but one the board actually used: having your official DA photo in the old Army Green service uniform, not the new blue Army Service Uniform.
Purple hearts and bronze stars seem to have no effect on ones assessment. Having no combat experience is NOT a demerit. This is how you build an Army of bureaucratic wienies. It is how third world dictators set up their armies, with yes-men and those who fear above all taking a chance or trying new things.
As to Ferguson itself...it's probably good to withhold judgement until the facts of the shooting are made public later this week. Like so many recent news stories most of the initial reports were wrong, and that trend seems to continue nightly. The near nightly looting, is, of course, unacceptable and ( conversely) there are many concerns, not unfounded, regards the militarization of police forces. However, I urge you to read Tamara K's thoughts on the issue in full. It makes no judgments but provides important historical perspective.
Finally, it should be mentioned that there is another demonstration taking place by individuals who are fed up and seek respect from the police. For some reason, despite being in the media mecca of New York, this is not garnering a lot of coverage...
100 Years Ago Today
The whole situation in Europe had been deteriorating since the 28th, but there had been an ephemeral moment of hope on August first, whe King George V himself had intervened and was exchanging telegrams with his cousins the Kaiser and the Tsar. There appeared to be some conciliation possible but a report that Russian troops had crossed the Austrian frontier invoked a declaration of war by Germany, While all this was going on Belgium was being discretely asked if they would mind terribly if a million or so German troops were to just, kind of pass through their country...for some reason.
Over the next 24 hours, German troops entered Russia's Polish territory, a German cruiser squadron bombarded the baltic town of Libau and German troops just kind of showed up in Luxembourg Significantly, that night. there were reports of German troops as far as 10 miles inside France and French border guards being killed.
The next day, August 3rd, German aircraft bombed the French city of Lune'ville. Belgium responded to Germany's inquiries with an emphatic "NO!". They then invoked their treaty with the British Empire and requested that London help them preserve their sovereignty. The British responded with a n order for full mobilization.
Then as German and Russian troops engaged each other on the Polish/Prussian frontier Germany declared war upon France.
With that, Hell descended upon Europe, and a catastrophe that the world has never fully recovered from began in earnest, 100 years ago today.
Emperor Franz Joseph of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire was reasonably satisfied with the Serbian response to his governments demands and ordered the Serbian Chief of Staff to be released with apologies. On the same day and perhaps in response to this act, his Army Chief of Staff and Foreign Minister quietly exchanged letters
Berchtold: "We should like to deliver the declaration of war on Serbia as soon as possible so as to put an end to diverse influences. When do you want the declaration of war? Conrad: Only when we have progressed far enough for operations to begin immediately—on approximately August 12th. Berchtold: "The diplomatic situation will not hold as long as that.” [/quote]
....Meanwhile, the diplomatic heads of both Austria and Russia rejected an offer by Sir Edward Grey (the British Foreign Minister) to mediate the dispute.
In July of 1914, the British Royal Navy was conducting a reserve mobilization drill. This once in a decade endeavor involved calling up reservists and bringing old ships out of reserve, getting them seaworthy and conducting training maneuvers with the active navy which was largely recalled to home waters for the affair. This drill was scheduled to end on July 26th, however, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, ordered all hands to stand fast and the fleet to not disperse as planned. From this moment the RN was on a full war footing, something that would normally have taken months to achieve.
100 Years Ago Today
Austria-Hungary turned down a Russian proposal to extend the deadline on the terms previously presented to Serbia. Serbia, to everyone's astonishment, agreed to nearly all the humiliating demands by 5:58pm on the 25th. However they did not accede to the demand that Austria-Hungary be given legal jurisdiction and arrest powers inside Serbia's border. Their response was otherwise humble to the point of groveling. At 6:30pm, the Austrio-Hungarian consulate evacuated their embassy in Belgrade. The Serbian Chief of staff General Putnik, on his way back from consultations in Russia was arrested that evening in Budapest. Taking the hint, the Serbs voted on, and their monarch signed orders for a full emergency mobilization. Most of their government then abandoned the capital and relocated to the more defensible city of Nish.
It should be noted that Germany's Kaiser was on vacation during this time, golfing cruising on his yacht and was only gradually beginning to understand the gravity of the situation. Likewise, Franz Joseph returned from his retreat where he had been since the funeral of his nephew. He was 84...in 1914. Though he was aware of the negotiations with Germany and the seriousness of the Russian assurances of their Serb allies, he was reportedly quite surprised at the harsh language of the ultimatum sent to Serbia by his ministers.
Businessweek has an interesting overview of the situation that mentions briefly the CO of the Ukranian naval base in Crimea. Massively
outnumbered he was offered the option of a commission in the Russian
Navy. He lives in Crimea,, speaks Russian, is an ethnic Russian but took an oath to defend
Ukraine until his enlistment is up or he is defeated, so he's declined
the offer and is preparing to defend the base (and I imagine get his
flotilla ready to break for Odessa).
They skated on the peace dividend for a while. Selling those hulls for scrap bought quite a bit of free medicine and subsidized natural gas (some was stolen, too). Now it's the time to pay. Everyone seems to focus on the brazen aggression by Russia, but Ukraine is in worse condition than the country under Putinomics, and was like that for a while. It's really no wonder that they cannot afford armed forces.
The Wall Street Journal this morning in a lead editorial says flatly
that the Russian de facto annexation of the Crimea cannot be allowed to
stand. That is because they are crazy...
He goes on from there. It's short but has a good deal of historical perspective so I urge you to read the whole thing.
Brian Wang has an nice collection of links giving a good overview of the problems the U.S. President faces in making good on his threats. One of the biggest seems to be that the sort of divestment and sanctions policy threatened by SecState Kerry is likely to clobber European banks. I particularly note that China is quite vocally supporting Russia. The fact that after making grand pronouncements of red lines and consequences the US did nothing is a precedent that China is no doubt very pleased with as it looks at the territorial disputes it has with its neighbors.
I don't for a minute think that getting involved in any way is a good or wise. I certainly don't think that there is anything the President could have done to stop this, nor was it in our interest to poke the bear over it. I do think that the loud and empty bluster was supremely ill advised.
The Ukrainians suffered greatly under Stalin to the point that they aligned themselves with Hitler against him. There are reportedly still elements amongst the revolutionaries who look fondly at those who did so, though how influential they actually are is unclear.
The Russians are securing Sevastopol, which, being their only warm water European port is as vital to their economy as the pipelines that cross the Ukraine. The Crimea and western Ukraine are ethnically Russian (60% or more) and so the Russian claims of protecting their own are not entirely fatuous.
This is a nasty business and it apalls me that we are involved on any policy level beyond sending some aid.
I kinda wanna say "Let it burn" just so the world can see what it's like when the US cat is belled, when the World's Policeman has the Blue Flu. when they finally start begging us to intervene like we used to, only we can't because we've reduced our military to pre WWII levels (Back when they used to have to practice maneuvers with chunks of 2x4 instead of rifles and attack trucks with "tank" painted on the side.)
Posted by: Mauser at Tue Mar 4 07:51:26 2014 (TJ7ih)
You'd think we could at least manage a bit of quid pro quo about it.
It's not like we can stop them - they're in their own backyard and we're certainly not about to provoke nuclear war over the Crimea, which at least has a plausible claim to being Russian. That said, Russia gets up to plenty else that we're not necessarily happy about, concerning political support for the likes of Syria. You'd think that we could cut them slack here (where our national interest isn't really implicated) in exchange for some slack there (where their national interest isn't really implicated, other than some arms sales).
A more aggressive administration would do so while noting that gee, all those natural gas pipelines, protecting them running through hostile territory is awful difficult, isn't it? (For that matter, we're perfectly capable of blowing up pipelines anywhere we please, and could probably rig it so that it looked like Chechens or something...)
And to think the interested parties just secured a permission to export NK-33 again only a month ago in RF Security Council, and it was hard won against Russian hardliners who saw U.S. military might being propped by Russian companies (I'm not making that up - that was the primary argument against granting the export license). The implication was that if NK-33 is granted a license, the RD-180 will default to extension as well. Crimea threw all this maneuvering into question again. Interestingly in all that, Russia and its government is a collection of diverse interests, some are loonier than others.
Sadly the recently discussed F1B is much too big and expensive to be useful as a replacement for RD-180.
Yeah, well... We're well on our way to rectify the Soyuz problem, except for a small detail that everything save Dragon is designed to fly on Atlas. Also, no amount of money can move schedule left closer than 2016, so we're looking at a little gap even with Dragon.
BTW, I did not see it mentioned in the media, but Russia makes something like 80% of world's titanium and exports most of as pre-fabricated components (if I remember correctly). An embargo is going to hurt Boeing fiercely. It's something we might want to ask Mauser about.
Yeah, Titanium is very, very important in aviation, and yeah, as far as I know, pretty much all of it comes from Russia. (Titanium Dioxide is common as dirt, but getting the titanium metal out of it is a b*tch.).
For example, the vertical fin that I install on roughly every other airplane (I'm on the Surge line, and South Carolina barely counts) has massive titanium footings on it where it bolts on. And those bolts are Titanium too, all over an inch in diameter and a several hundred dollars each, since they have chips in them that tell you how tight they are.
One thing to remember though, Titanium is NOT stronger that steel, just lighter. Likewise, it's NOT lighter than aluminum, just stronger. That middle ground gives it significant advantage over the others.
It's just a real pain in the butt to work with. It's tougher to drill a hole in than either.
Posted by: Mauser at Wed Mar 5 05:48:46 2014 (TJ7ih)
8(For that matter, we're perfectly capable of blowing up pipelines
anywhere we please, and could probably rig it so that it looked like
Chechens or something...)
Apparently a huge refinery in Tatarstan was on fire overnight. Although that might credibly be an ethnic-solidarity thing with the Crimean Tatars. I dunno, I'm not exactly clear on the exact practical relation between the Volga Tatars and the Crimean Tatars - it may be less than the apparent commonalities.
Posted by: Mitch H. at Wed Mar 5 08:43:58 2014 (1F2S/)
As for the so-called "elements", they were not so elementary in past Ukrainian governments, as evidenced by bestowing the Hero of Ukraine award upon Stepan Bandera, subsequently cancelled. Can't wait to see if the current government is going to reinstall it. If a government of Norway acknowledged Quisling with the highest state order, it would be taken with a certain gravity, but here it's merely "elements".
Preparations for war are ongoing and they are taking grotesque shapes. Ukraine's government is asking businesses to supply fuel, because apparently the wartime reserves are found not there, and units are unable to reach deployment positions. Russians in Crimea were shooting at a Ukrainian recon plane from small arms and Youtube video demonstrates them digging in... quality WWII trenches! The leader of Ukrainian Navy, fregate U130 "Getman Sagaidachnyi" was redirected to Odessa (because Sebastopol harbor was blocked by a sunk ship), where it's stuck without support, while members of the crew are said to desert and arrive to Crimea one by one. All this is funny, but Ukraine is clearly preparing for all-out war to retake Crimea, according to their measure and abilities anyhow. This is nowhere near over yet.
Parts of Gen. Tenyukh (Defence minister) report to Rada leaked and paint rather sad picture. Results of full mobilization yielded 6,000 men ready to fight out of 41,000 table order. They seem to lack the strength to kick the paramilitaries out of Crimea and must focus on resisting further Russian aggression in eastern provinces, while hoping they have time to bring the armed forces into order. It's very sad, I had no idea it was this bad.
The air defence is especially poorly showing due to most of their equiplement being unusable. Fast replenishment is impossible with all of it being Russian-made. Measures taken after the 2001 shot-down of Russian airliners took their toll.
Second worst is aviation. Most of their kit is Russian as well, but they have some spares, flight-worthy aircraft, and ammo/bombs/missiles. They pulled their flight demo group into war posture and it formed the most fight-ready squadron. Still, their readiness is below 20%.
Army had the best showing men-wise, but they are plagued with broken equipment and a critical lack of fuel. Hopefuly they won't get caught with their pants down like their Crimea comrades at least.
All of the Philippine islands are pretty mountainous and with this much rain ( reports of at least ten inches in a few hours) means mudslides and inland flooding on top of a 20 foot storm surge.
Cyclones of this intensity are rare but not unheard of. However, they rarely hit land at anything like this strength.
The last one to do so was Hurricane Camille which hit the southern US
back in 1968 and there have been some slightly weaker storms that hit Asia.
The Phillipines gets hit with several typhoons a year, but this is in a category all its own. Worse, this storm comes on the heels of a major earthquake which softened up the infrastructure and meant many people were still in tents. This is looking to be an almost unreal calamity.
I work at a place where the founder and a number of the employees are meteo-trained, although we tend to do agricultural applications rather than extreme weather. The president and his cronies were bent over the radar reports for this typhoon on Thursday, marveling over its perfect, horrible profile. Pretty much the perfect cyclone, an unnatural circular flow that looked more like CGI than a real hurricane radar report. They were pretty sure that it would be a mega-casualty event, if there were such a thing as a Category Six, this would be it. "Tornado-force winds distributed across hundreds of miles of landfall" was predicted. The best that could be said was that it didn't look like it would hit Manila.
Posted by: Mitch H. at Sat Nov 9 21:18:45 2013 (p8djr)
The Root Cause of Our ProblemThe Anchoresshas found something deeply worrisome. It is all the more
so because, as someone who spends a fair amount of time on a college
campus, I find bonecrushing historical ignorance unnervingly unsurprising....and yet...
... even by the abysmal standards set by today's low expectations, a couple of the answers here are genuinely mortifying.
Questioner: What was the Holocaust?
American College Student: Um…I’m on the spot.
Questioner: Which country was Adolf Hitler the leader of?
American College Student: I think it’s Amsterdam?
Questioner: What was Auschwitz?
American College Student: I don’t know.
Questioner: What were the Nuremburg Trials?
American College Student: I don’t know.
Questioner: How many Jews were killed?
American College Student: Hundreds of thousands.
Q: What other groups were targeted besides Jewish people?
ACS: The African Americans? Here in the United States they used to discriminate because of skin color…
Q: Where is Normandy?
ACS: It’s over near like England and Germany and all that jazz. It’s not a peninsula, but…
Q: Where is Normandy?
ACS: It’s over by Germany. At least compared to the United States, it’s over by Germany.
Q: Who was Winston Churchill?
ACS: "He was a general, right?”
Q: What is genocide?
ACS: I don’t know.
Q: Is genocide taking place anywhere, today?
ACS: Not that I’m aware.
...For instance, while it would normally be somewhat heartening to hear a College Freshman know the name Franz Ferdinand, the context in which the name was invoked is rather dismaying.
I didn't watch it; I just read your transcript. I'm guessing they knew there was a famous dude because of the band named after him?
Posted by: Mikeski at Sun Oct 20 01:56:12 2013 (Zlc1W)
Some twenty years ago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and the topic of WWII came up. At one point, in all bright-eyed innocence, his 19-year-old boarder asked us, "Who's Auschwitz?"
Posted by: Mauser at Sun Oct 20 04:15:45 2013 (TJ7ih)
Students today don't learn about WWII because America was the good guys in that war. They are only taught about events that make America look bad.
My high school had a pretty good review of WW2 in my American history class...
...because I taught it. ;p
It's not entirely because teachers are all thralls of a liberal conspiracy. A lot of it is because the way history curricula in the US are usually structured.
Usually US history is taught as a pair of courses, split up more or less at the Civil War. This means that the start of the second course is generally going to cover Reconstruction, and then industrialization and the rise of pretty much all of the civil rights and labor movements. The curriculum is packed full of stuff here (and a lot of it has a pretty heavy lean to the left, to be sure - labor good, companies bad; women's suffrage; evil capitalism causing world depression; New Deal saves the nation...)
By the time teachers are coming up to WW2, they've burned up too much time, it's already April, and they're looking for things to cut. Can't cut the civil rights movement. Can't cut Vietnam (in the sense that you want to talk about the draft...) So a lot of them shave WW2 down to the bare essentials. No projects, no papers, just "here's the box score" and talking a little about the home front.
I get that WW2 is an awkward fit between the distinction between US history and world history (and most world history courses don't make it anywhere near WW2). Realistically, what needs to happen is a re-evaluation of the history curriculum - either it needs to be split into three lobes, colonial-Civil War-modern, or we need to spend a lot less time talking about early-century social movements and more time talking about any event since 1970. (And the former is more unlikely to happen, unless someone in Texas decides to do it, because all the schoolbooks are written with a two-section split in mind...)
Of course, having the time to address it doesn't mean they'll actually get a good education. Had a history professor in college assert that the US nuked Hiroshima purely to intimidate the Russians and that we knew from crypto intercepts that the Japanese wanted peace... (sigh)
I've been trying for years to get one of the Duck U history professors to let me lecture on the Battle of Midway. He's expressed interest, but doesn't have time during the traditional school year (too much to cover), and his summer "World War II" class spends most of the six week session on Europe.
This makes me sad.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Sun Oct 20 22:22:42 2013 (GE6XS)