Wednesday, November 25, 2015

inconceivable that humans are the most intelligent animals on the planet

upliftconnect |  Mammals like us, who have been on the planet a whole lot longer than us, who also have larger brains than us, is interesting to reflect on. We humans pride ourselves on technology, on creating tools, gadgets and machines. Of course it is easy to consider that intelligence is based on technology. Then there is the idea of emotional intelligence which acknowledges a form of intelligence which is internal, can not be easily measured empirically but plays a major role in the success of an individual. Intuition, compassion, empathy are usually considered feelings, but these are skills, non-physical tools that we can use to ascend the social ladder. Meditation could also be considered a non-physical tool that changes our biology, reduces stress and opens the mind. We may be at the very beginning of understanding that tools do not need to be physical or easily measurable by traditional science in order to be valuable.

We willingly accept the idea of intelligence in a life-form only if the intelligence displayed is on the same evolutionary wavelength as our own. Technology automatically indicates intelligence. An absence of technology translates into an absence of intelligence.Dolphins and whales do not display intelligence in a fashion recognizable to this conditioned perception of what intelligence is, and thus for the most part, we are blind to a broader definition of what intelligence can be.Evolution molds our projection of intelligence. Humans evolved as tool-makers, obsessed with danger and group aggression. This makes it very difficult for us to comprehend intelligent non-manipulative beings whose evolutionary history featured ample food supplies and an absence of fear from external dangers.  – Paul Watson

Again it is important to recognize how this attitude has not only been applied to animals, but also to indigenous people historically. How we define intelligence is restricted to our definition of intelligence. Are we willing to broaden our definition of intelligence?

Intelligence can also be measured by the ability to live within the bounds of the laws of ecology — to live in harmony with one’s own ecology and to recognize the limitations placed on each species by the needs of an ecosystem. Is the species that dwells peacefully within its habitat with respect for the rights of other species the one that is inferior? Or is it the species that wages a holy war against its habitat, destroying all species that irritate it? What can be said of a species that reproduces beyond the ability of its habitat to support it? What do we make of a species that destroys the diversity that sustains the ecosystem that nourishes it? How is a species to be judged that fouls its water and poisons its own food? On the other hand, how is a species that has lived harmoniously within the boundaries of its ecology to be judged?  – Paul Watson

Watson gets very in-depth and cites the research which compares cranial capacity, and brain complexity between humans and sea mammals. At the very least this information is humbling. Paul Watson has given us a lot to think about, but probably the greatest gift in his essay can be summarized by this quote:

It’s not enough to understand the natural world, the point is to defend and preserve it. – Edward Abbey

Watson is not merely a philosopher, he puts his words and beliefs into action. For 35 years, Captain Paul Watson has been at the helm of the world’s most active marine non-profit organization – the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I highly recommend reading the entire essay which is available here.

ubiquitous indestructible cryptobiotic tards....,

theatlantic |  The toughest animals in the world aren't bulky elephants, or cold-tolerant penguins, or even the famously durable cockroach. Instead, the champions of durability are endearing microscopic creatures called tardigrades, or water bears.

They live everywhere, from the tallest mountains to the deepest oceans, and from hot springs to Antarctic ice. They can even tolerate New York. They cope with these inhospitable environments by transforming into a nigh-indestructible state. Their adorable shuffling gaits cease. Their eight legs curl inwards. Their rotund bodies shrivel up, expelling almost all of their water and becoming a dried barrel called a “tun.” Their metabolism dwindles to near-nothingness—they are practically dead. And in skirting the edge of death, they become incredibly hard to kill.

In the tun state, tardigrades don't need food or water. They can shrug off temperatures close to absolute zero and as high as 151 degrees Celsius. They can withstand the intense pressures of the deep ocean, doses of radiation that would kill other animals, and baths of toxic solvents. And they are, to date, the only animals that have been exposed to the naked vacuum of space and lived to tell the tale—or, at least, lay viable eggs. (Their only weakness, as a researcher once told me, is “vulnerability to mechanical damage;” in other words, you can squish ‘em.)

Scientists have known for centuries about the tardigrades’ ability to dry themselves out. But a new study suggests that this ability might have contributed to their superlative endurance in a strange and roundabout way. It makes them uniquely suited to absorbing foreign genes from bacteria and other organisms—genes that now pepper their genomes to a degree unheard of for animals.

Thomas Boothby from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made this discovery after sequencing the first ever tardigrade genome, to better understand how they have evolved. Of the 700 species, his team focused on Hypsibius dujardini, one of the few tardigrades that’s easy to grow and breed in a lab.

At first, Boothby thought his team had done a poor job of assembling the tardigrade’s genome. The resulting data was full of genes that seemed to belong to bacteria and other organisms, not animals. “All of us thought that these were contaminants,” he says. Perhaps microbes had snuck into the samples and their DNA was intermingled with the tardigrade’s own.

But the team soon realized that these sequences are bona fide parts of the tardigrade’s genome.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

control of fractal unfolding - impressive, most impressive...

Science | The war against malaria has a new ally: a controversial technology for spreading genes throughout a population of animals. Researchers report today that they have harnessed a so-called gene drive to efficiently endow mosquitoes with genes that should make them immune to the malaria parasite—and unable to spread it. On its own, gene drive won’t get rid of malaria, but if successfully applied in the wild the method could help wipe out the disease, at least in some corners of the world. The approach “can bring us to zero [cases],” says Nora Besansky, a geneticist at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, who specializes in malaria-carrying mosquitoes. “The mosquitos do their own work [and] reach places we can’t afford to go or get to.”

But testing that promise in the field may have to wait until a wider debate over gene drives is resolved. The essence of this long-discussed strategy for spreading a genetic trait, such as disease resistance, is to bias inheritance so that more than the expected half of a subsequent generation inherits it. The gene drive concept attracted new attention earlier this year, when geneticists studying fruit flies adapted a gene editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9 to help spread a mutation—and were startled to find it worked so well that the mutation reached almost all fly progeny. Their report, published this spring in Science (20 March, p. 1300) came out less than a year after an eLife paper discussed the feasibility of a CRISPR-Cas9 gene drive system but warned that it could disrupt ecosystems and wipe out populations of entire species.

A firestorm quickly erupted over the risks of experimenting with gene drives, nevermind applying them in the field. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has convened a committee to weigh the risks and propose safeguards, and the authors of the eLife andScience papers have laid out guidelines for experiments (Science, 28 August, p. 927).

intelligence is obviously built up from really primitive perceptual stream I/O...,

 a16z |  What is A.I. or artificial intelligence but the ‘space of possible minds’, argues Murray Shanahan, scientific advisor on the movie Ex Machina and Professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial College London.
In this special episode of the a16z Podcast brought to you on the ground from London, Shanahan — along with journalist-turned-entrepreneur Azeem Azhar (who also curates The Exponential View newsletter on AI and more) and The Economist Deputy Editor Tom Standage (the author of several tech history books) — we discuss the past, present, and future of A.I. … as well as how it fits (or doesn’t fit) with machine learning and deep learning.
But where are we now in the A.I. evolution? What players do we think will lead, if not win, the current race? And how should we think about issues such as ethics and automation of jobs without descending into obvious extremes? All this and more, including a surprise easter egg in Ex Machina shared by Shanahan, whose work influenced the movie.

isis now behind us, let's return our attention to important isht - Deep Mind's very basic parameters

wikidpedia |  DeepMind Technologies's goal is to "solve intelligence",[22] which they are trying to achieve by combining "the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purposelearning algorithms". [22] They are trying to formalize intelligence[23] in order to not only implement it into machines, but also understand the human brain, as Demis Hassabis explains:
[...] Attempting to distil intelligence into an algorithmic construct may prove to be the best path to understanding some of the enduring mysteries of our minds.
— Demis Hassabis, Nature (journal), 23 February 2012[24]
Currently the company's focus is on publishing research on computer systems that are able to play games, and developing these systems, ranging from strategy games such as Go[25] to arcade games. According to Shane Legg human-level machine intelligence can be achieved "when a machine can learn to play a really wide range of games from perceptual stream input and output, and transfer understanding across games[...]."[26] Research describing an AI playing seven different Atari video games (Pong,Breakout, Space Invaders, Seaquest, Beamrider, Enduro, and Q*bert) reportedly led to their acquisition by Google.[11]

Deep reinforcement learning[edit]

As opposed to other AI's, such as IBM's Deep Blue or Watson, which were developed for a pre-defined purpose and only function within its merit, DeepMind claims that their system is not pre-programmed: it learns from experience, using only raw pixels as data input. Technically it uses deep learning on aconvolutional neural network, with a novel form of Q-learning, a form of model-free reinforcement learning.[1][27] They test the system on video games, notably early arcade games, such as Space Invadersor Breakout.[27][28] Without altering the code, the AI begins to understand how to play the game, and after some time plays, for a few games (most notably Breakout), a more efficient game than any human ever could.[28] For most games though (Space Invaders, Ms Pacman, Q*Bert for example), DeepMind plays well below the current World Record. The application of DeepMind's AI to video games is currently for games made in the 1970s and 1980s, with work being done on more complex 3D games such as Doom, which first appeared in the early 1990s.[28]

Monday, November 23, 2015

khmer rouge and isis methodically manufactured using the same methods...,

counterpunch |  In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”.  As Barack Obama wages his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and Francois Hollande promises a “merciless” attack on that the rubble of Syria, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.

According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of “fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders”. Once Nixon’s and Kissinger’s B-52 bombers had gone to work as part of “Operation Menu”, the west’s ultimate demon could not believe his luck. The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They leveled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left giant necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors “froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told… That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over.” A Finnish Government Commission of Inquiry estimated that 600,000 Cambodians died in the ensuing civil war and described the bombing as the “first stage in a decade of genocide”. What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot, their beneficiary, completed. Under their bombs, the Khmer Rouge grew to a formidable army of 200,000.

ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of at least 700,000 people – in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.

Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda – like Pol Pot’s “jihadists” – seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of Shock and Awe and the civil war that followed. “Rebel” Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote, “The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy – and in particular our Middle East wars – had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here.”

ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington, London and Paris who, in conspiring to destroy Iraq, Syria and Libya, committed an epic crime against humanity. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, ISIS are the mutations of a western state terror dispensed by a venal imperial elite undeterred by the consequences of actions taken at great remove in distance and culture. Their culpability is unmentionable in “our” societies, making accomplices of those who suppress this critical truth.

hon.bro.preznit drawing a line in the sand again, now pretending to call a tune to which valodya must dance...,

bloomberg |  U.S. President Barack Obama said Russia must make a strategic decision about Syria and the next several weeks will show whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will give up backing the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to join in a broad campaign against Islamic State.
The U.S. won’t in any circumstances agree to a political settlement for the civil war in Syria that leaves Assad in power because he’s lost all legitimacy, Obama said. As long as Assad remains, there is no way to unite the country’s various factions for the fight against Islamic State.
“It is not conceivable that Mr. Assad can regain legitimacy in a country in which a large majority of that country despises Assad, and will not stop fighting so long as he’s in power,” Obama said Sunday at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.
There is an increasing awareness on Putin’s part that the extremist group is a much bigger threat to Russia than losing an embattled ally in Assad or anything else in the region, Obama said. The downing of a Russian passenger jet last month drove that point home to Putin, he said.

Pressing Ahead

The U.S. and its allies will press ahead with their battle against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq with or without Russia’s cooperation, he said. Discussions will continue in Vienna searching for a political solution.
“Russia has not officially committed to a transition of Assad moving out but they did agree to a political transition process,” Obama said. “And I think we’ll find out over the next several weeks whether or not we can bring about that change in perspective with the Russians.”
French President Francois Hollande will visit Obama at the White House on Tuesday before visiting Moscow on Thursday, part of the French leader’s efforts to unify the U.S. and Russia in the fight against Islamic State. In the days since the group claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, Hollande has called for the U.S. and Russia to begin coordinating efforts in Iraq and Syria.
Like France, Russia has been a target of Islamic State terrorism. The group claimed responsibility for blowing a Russian passenger jet out of the sky over Egypt, killing 224 people.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"isis" wants you to hate all muslims

thenation |  Fourteen years ago, immediately after the Al Qaeda terror attacks in the United States on September 11, the French daily Le Monde published a headline that perfectly expressed the sentiments of grief, shock, and solidarity that so many around the world felt at the time: Nous sommes tous Américains
 (We are all Americans). In the wake of the Islamic State’s terror attacks on Paris, many of those same feelings flooded the world media, this time for the City of Light (a wave soon followed by rueful acknowledgment that earlier ISIS atrocities, from Beirut to Baghdad and Aden to Ankara, had elicited far less sympathy in the Global North). Adding to the shock this time was the horrifying realization that these terrorists, in targeting random civilians at a sports event, concert, cafes, and restaurants, were attacking not simply a city or a country but the very idea of pleasure, diversity, conviviality—an assault on so much of what makes life worth living.

But just as in the United States in the weeks after 9/11, all too many politicians and pundits on both sides of the Atlantic cried out for war and vengeance, demanded draconian new policing and surveillance powers, and insisted on an end to accepting more refugees. French President François Hollande, vowing that “France will be pitiless against the barbarians” of ISIS, went so far as to invoke Article 42.7 of the European Union treaty, which stipulates that all EU nations are obliged to come to the aid of a fellow member who is the “victim of armed aggression.”

Republicans and other critics in the United States used the tragedy to attack the Obama administration’s Syria policy, without offering coherent alternatives. Perhaps most despicable was the backlash against those fleeing the civil war, with more than two dozen Republican governors announcing that their states would no longer accept Syrian refugees. Several GOP presidential candidates, echoing the neoconservative pundits, seemed to be in a competition to see who could be the most Islamophobic. There’s plenty to criticize regarding President Obama’s Syria policy, but in his press conference in Turkey, the president was scathing, and admirable, on this point: “When I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims; when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted…that’s shameful. That’s not American…. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

The Islamophobia is racist, of course, but it also plays right into the hands of ISIS, as does the war fever. The terror group has been quite clear that its strategy is to eliminate what it calls the “grayzone” where Muslims and non-Muslims live in harmony. It aims to provoke Western governments into clamping down on their own Muslim populations, the better to drive them into ISIS’s arms. In its magazine Dabiq, ISIS applauded George W. Bush’s post-9/11 language: “Bush spoke the truth when he said, ‘Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.’ I.e. either you are with the crusade or you are with Islam.” Les extrêmes se touchent.

aging white population of Europe/North America vs youth of Central/Western Asia and Afrika

pbs |  WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The scenes of the children and the education, if you can call it that, that they’re getting are really quite terrifying.

And I was wondering if you could just tell us a little bit more about the men who think that this is a good thing to teach children, to teach children so young to learn how to kill.

NAJIBULLAH QURAISHI: I have never seen this in my journalism life before.

At the beginning, I didn’t know when they mentioned me they have a school, they are children, if I want to go and film. I was thinking maybe there is a proper lesson, they maybe learn some mathematics, some grammar or some language or something or maybe proper Koran. I was thinking like this.

But, suddenly, I come across with jihad for 3 years old, or 4- or 5-year-old children. You’re telling what is jihad and how to kill. So then I was shocked.

MAN (through interpreter): What is this word? Jihad. What is jihad?

NAJIBULLAH QURAISHI: These guys mainly come from Pakistan.

They were telling me that this is the time they should teach the children, and they should learn from now and they should be prepared.

MAN (through interpreter): Fire it from a standing position, like this.

NAJIBULLAH QURAISHI: For them, they should be ready for fighting, for everything at the age of 12 or 13 for something like this.

They were asking the children about the weapons, for example, how many bullets it takes, where this pistol made from, where is Kalashnikov made from, why we should use this, and who should we — against with this, and lots of different things which the children knew from this age.

Then, on the film, you can see the second generation, which is all the teenagers, like 13 or 17. And they’re ready to blow themselves up or to do a suicide attack.

I came to the conclusion about Afghanistan’s future and Afghanistan’s next generation. Still, we have over 90 percent uneducated people. We don’t have security. Day by day, all the terrorists come into Afghanistan, all the farmers.

Right now in Afghanistan, we have Haqqani Network. We have Hezb-e-Islami or Hekmatyar. We have the Taliban. And now we have this crazy group, the most — worst group ever I have seen in my life. And I cannot see any bright future about that country, and I don’t think if there is any — any power to defeat them.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

our staunch ally is ISIS that made it...,

NYTimes |  One has to live in the Muslim world to understand the immense transformative influence of religious television channels on society by accessing its weak links: households, women, rural areas. Islamist culture is widespread in many countries — Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mali, Mauritania. There are thousands of Islamist newspapers and clergies that impose a unitary vision of the world, tradition and clothing on the public space, on the wording of the government’s laws and on the rituals of a society they deem to be contaminated.

It is worth reading certain Islamist newspapers to see their reactions to the attacks in Paris. The West is cast as a land of “infidels.” The attacks were the result of the onslaught against Islam. Muslims and Arabs have become the enemies of the secular and the Jews. The Palestinian question is invoked along with the rape of Iraq and the memory of colonial trauma, and packaged into a messianic discourse meant to seduce the masses. Such talk spreads in the social spaces below, while up above, political leaders send their condolences to France and denounce a crime against humanity. This totally schizophrenic situation parallels the West’s denial regarding Saudi Arabia.

All of which leaves one skeptical of Western democracies’ thunderous declarations regarding the necessity of fighting terrorism. Their war can only be myopic, for it targets the effect rather than the cause. Since ISIS is first and foremost a culture, not a militia, how do you prevent future generations from turning to jihadism when the influence of Fatwa Valley and its clerics and its culture and its immense editorial industry remains intact? Fist tap Arnach.

full-throttle big-lie

democracynow |  In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, media coverage has seen familiar patterns: uncritically repeat government claims, defend expansive state power, and blame the Muslim community for the acts of a few. We discuss media fearmongering, anti-Muslim scapegoating, ISIL’s roots, and war profiteering with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-founder of The Intercept. "Every time there’s a terrorist attack, Western leaders exploit that attack to do more wars," Greenwald says. "Which in turn means they transfer huge amounts of taxpayer money to these corporations that sell arms. And so investors are fully aware that the main people who are going to benefit from this escalation as a result of Paris are not the American people or the people of the West — and certainly not the people of Syria — it is essentially the military-industrial complex."

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Our guest for the hour is the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, as we turn to comments made by former CIA Director James Woolsey on Sunday. Speaking to NPR, Woolsey said Edward Snowden "has blood on his hands" following the Paris attacks.

JAMES WOOLSEY: I am no fan of the changes that were made after Snowden’s leaks of classified information. I don’t think they have improved our ability to collect and use intelligence, and I think they’ve seriously reduced our abilities. I think Snowden has blood on his hands from these killings in France.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to the former director of central intelligence, Glenn Greenwald, James Woolsey?

GLENN GREENWALD: First of all, it’s absolutely remarkable that James Woolsey, of all people, is the person who has been plucked to be the authoritative figure on the Paris attacks by leading media outlets such as CNN and MSNBC news, when he is by far one of the most extremist and radical neoconservatives ever to be puked up by the intelligence world. He not only was one of the leading advocates of attacking Iraq, he was one of the leading proponents of all of the lies that led to that invasion, and has been calling for war and other sorts of really extremist policies, and disseminating lies to the American people for decades. And so, to hold him out as some sort of authority figure, some kind of like respected elder intelligence statesman, on these attacks is just exactly the sort of thing we’ve been talking about, which is the state of the American media. Not one person has challenged anything that he said.

I should also note that what this really is about is this really shameless effort on the part of the CIA and other government officials to exploit the emotions that have been generated by watching the carnage in Paris for all sorts of long-standing policies. If you go back to 2013, the very same James Woolsey went on Fox News, and he said—this was two years before the Paris attacks—"Not only do I think Edward Snowden is a traitor, I think he should be hung by the neck until he’s dead." That’s the mentality of the kinds of people who the media is holding out as our leading experts.

Friday, November 20, 2015

syraq's speed freaks, jihad junkies, and captagon cartels...,

foreignpolicy |  In a dank garage in a poor neighborhood in south Beirut, young men are hard at work. Industrial equipment hums in the background as they put on their surgical masks and form assembly lines, unpacking boxes of caffeine and quinine, in powder and liquid form. They have turned the garage into a makeshift illegal drug factory, where they produce the Middle East’s most popular illicit drug: an amphetamine called Captagon

For at least a decade, the multimillion-dollar Captagon trade has been a fixture of the Middle East’s black markets. It involves everyone from and  gangs, to Hezbollah, to members of the Saudi royal family. On Oct. 26, Lebanese police arrested Saudi prince Abdel Mohsen Bin Walid Bin Abdulaziz at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport for allegedly trying to smuggle 40 suitcases full of Captagon (along with some cocaine) to Riyadh aboard a private jet.

The past  have seen the global trade in illegal Captagon skyrocket, as authorities across the region have observed a major spike in police seizures of the drug. Local law enforcement, Interpol, and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) all agree on the catalyst: the conflict in Syria. Captagon now links addicts in the Gulf to Syrian drug lords and to brigades fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who are funded by the profits, and, after years of fighting, are now hooked on the product.

Captagon began as a pharmaceutical-grade amphetamine called. Patented by German pharmaceutical giant  in the 1960s, doctors used it to treat a range of disorders, from narcolepsy to depression. But the drug fell out of favor in the 1970s, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deemed it too addictive to justify its use, with the World Health Organization following suit and recommending a worldwide ban in the 1980's. 

This is where the free market history of Captagon ends and the hazier black market story — one told by drug lords, smugglers, and law enforcement — begins.

enemy of enemies the rise of isil

aljazeera |  Al Jazeera explores the origins and evolution of the world's most feared and powerful insurgent group - ISIL.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been a devastating force against those it battles as well as those it purportedly governs.

Its sudden rise and expansion in 2014 has perplexed many. It has humiliated its enemies, including those in Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran and Washington. Armed with extensive weaponry, boasting an international fighting force and adept in the art of digital media propaganda, ISIL has become the de facto authority across an area the size of Jordan.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

video makes sense if you know the exchange between youngblood priest and dept. commissioner reardon

atimes |  The heart of the matter is the drive-by team. Or “teams”. The investigation seems to be clueless about them. The killers at La Belle Équipe arrived on a black Mercedes, according to witnesses. There is no mention of this Mercedes anywhere. The killers were ultra-pro, muscular, methodical – and white.

These are the non-expendables. The high-priced mercenaries. While the whole media circus spreads from Grenoble and Toulouse to Brussels and even Raqqa, they have simply vanished without a trace. No one knows who they are. No one knows who hired them. Hardly social network jihadi al-Baljiki.

So what does Daesh want?

A case can be made for whether it makes sense for Daesh to provoke a refugee backlash and have the gates of Fortress Europe hermetically closed. That seems to be the road map ahead. France’s borders are closed until further notice. Schengen is already dissolving. The rabid, right-wing anti-immigration political front across Europe cannot but rejoice. Yet at the same time it’s the EU establishment who’s pre-empting the anti-immigration platform. A “blame the refugees” narrative is insidiously being developed – personified by the (fake) Syrian passport found at the Stade de France.
Daesh is all about the strategy of fear and chaos. They want key Western capitals – Paris, London, New York – living in fear. And they want to lure Western boots on the ground to Syria. That would be a gift from heaven: the “crusaders” are invading us, again. One can imagine Jihad Inc. recruiting going through the roof.
The only feasible way to smash Daesh, slowly but surely, is via close collaboration between the “4+1” – the SAA and Iranian and Hezbollah fighters with Russian air cover – the Kurds (PKK, YPG, even Peshmerga) and, if they really mean it this time, responsible members of the US-led Coalition of the Dodgy Opportunists (CDO).
A “comprehensive international coalition” to fight Daesh is fine. But with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the table in the Vienna charade, that’s a bit rich, coupled with Paris subservient coddling of the Salafi-jihadi enablers, sponsors, financiers and weaponizers in Riyadh and Doha.
The fake “Caliphate” goons warned this is just the “beginning of a storm”. To be the riders on the storm against this very small, extremely mobile and “invisible” army, one would need another concept of federal Europe, with a radically different common defense and foreign policy. Not gonna happen, anytime soon.
What’s left is the mandatory fight against the “Caliphate” on the spot. Air strikes won’t do; only a true, wide-ranging political alliance (this is what Putin tried to impress to Obama in Antalya). How to get Sultan Erdogan and King Salman on board – there’s the rub.
So let’s see how long it takes for NATO boots on the ground. THIS is what Daesh is aiming at.

a most convenient massacre?

cluborlov |  I deplore all the deaths from terrorist attacks in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, and in all the other countries whose populations did absolutely nothing to deserve such treatment. I only feel half as bad about the French, who stood by quietly as their military helped destroy Libya (which did nothing to deserve it).

Note that after the Russian jet crashed in the Sinai there weren't all that many Facebook avatars with the Russian flag pasted over them, and hardly any candlelight vigils or piles of wreaths and flowers in various Western capitals. I even detected a whiff of smug satisfaction that the Russians got their comeuppance for stepping out of line in Syria.

Why the difference in reaction? Simple: you were told to grieve for the French, so you did. You were not told to grieve for the Russians, and so you didn't. Don't feel bad; you are just following orders. The reasoning behind these orders is transparent: the French, along with the rest of the EU, are Washington's willing puppets; therefore, they are innocent, and when they get killed, it's a tragedy. But the Russians are not Washington's willing puppet, and are not innocent, and so when they get killed by terrorists, it's punishment. And when Iraqis, or Syrians, or Nigerians get killed by terrorists, that's not a tragedy either, for a different reason: they are too poor to matter. In order to qualify as a victim of a tragedy, you have to be each of these three things: 1. a US-puppet, 2. rich and 3. dead.

Also, you probably believe that the terrorist attacks in Paris were the genuine article—nobody knew it would happen, and it couldn't have been stopped, because these terrorists are just too clever for the ubiquitous state surveillance to detect. Don't feel bad about that either; you are just believing what you are told to believe. You probably also believe that jet fuel can melt steel girders and that skyscrapers collapse into their own footprints (whether they've been hit by airplanes or not). You can certainly believe whatever you like, but here are a couple of easy-to-understand tips on telling what's real from what's fake:

1. If it's fake, the perpetrators are known immediately (and sometimes beforehand). If it's real, then the truth is uncovered as a result of a thorough investigation. So, for instance, on 9/11 the guilty party were a bunch of Saudis armed with box cutters (some of whom are, paradoxically, still alive). And in Paris we knew right away that this was done by ISIS—even before we knew who the perpetrators were. And when that Malaysian jet got shot down over Ukraine, we knew right away that it was the Russians' fault (never mind that on that day the Ukrainians deployed an air defense system, and also scrambled a couple of jets armed with air-to-air missiles— against an enemy that doesn't have an air force). Note, however, how we still don't know what happened with the Russian jet over Sinai. That case is still under investigation—as it should be. If it's real, officials stall for time and urge caution while scrambling to find out what happened. When it's fake, the officials are ready to go with the Big Lie, and then do everything they can to make it stick, suppressing what shreds of evidence can be independently gathered.

2. If it's fake, than you should also expect cute little touches: designer logos for publicity campaigns ready to launch at a moment's notice, be it “Je suis Charlie” or that cute little Eiffel Tower inscribed in a peace symbol. There weren't any props to go with the Russian jet disaster—unless you count that tasteful Charlie Hebdo cartoon of a jihadi rocket having anal sex with an airliner. There might also be a few traditional titbits designed to feed a media frenzy, such as a fake passport found lying next to one of the perpetrators—because when terrorists go on suicide missions they always take their fake passports with them. The people who are charged with designing these events lack imagination and usually just go with whatever worked before.

the gulf between what Toynbee called the "dominant minority" and the "internal proletariat" is widening...,

HuffPo |  Here's a brief, non-exhaustive list of things that a new poll says Americans don't have much faith in: the government, businesses, the economy, the power of their vote and the future of the United States.
The overall mood of the country is one of "anxiety, nostalgia and mistrust," according to the 2015 American Values Survey, which was released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute.
"Fear is not an emotion that you see often in public opinion polls, but it was clearly there in the fall of 2008 and early 2009" after the economic collapse, said Karlyn Bowman, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, during a Tuesday panel discussion of the survey. "Americans aren't confident that we've fixed what went wrong."
Many, in fact, see the country as on the decline. The poll found that 53 percent of Americans say the nation's culture and way of life have changed for the worse since the 1950s. Forty-nine percent now say America's best days are behind it, up from 38 percent who said the same in 2012. Democrats remain more bullish, while Republicans and tea party members are the most pessimistic. 
A sense of nostalgia isn't unique to the present day: Back in 1939, most Americans thought "the horse-and-buggy" days were happier than their era. (Granted, those people had just lived through the Great Depression and were heading into World War II.)
But Americans today are deeply worried about their economic prospects. Nearly three-quarters believe the country is still in a recession, unchanged since last year. An increasing majority -- now nearly 80 percent -- say the economic system unfairly favors the wealthy, with even more agreeing that corporations do not share enough of their success with their employees. A rising number also say they're troubled that not everyone in the U.S. gets an equal chance in life. 
There's also a growing antipathy toward people perceived as outsiders. In the survey, which was taken well before the Paris terror attacks, 56 percent say that the values of Islam are at odds with American values, up 9 points in the past four years. Forty-eight percent say they're bothered when encountering immigrants who speak little or no English, up 8 points since 2012.
And many Americans feel personally disenfranchised. Nearly two-thirds say their vote doesn't matter because of the influence that wealthy individuals and big corporations have. Fifty-seven percent say the federal government doesn't really look out for people like them.
The pessimism, though, isn't equally shared across demographic lines.

"net energy decline cues" = impossibility of status gain - impel low-ranking members to seek status elsewhere...,

marketwatch |   Islamic State’s coordinated assault in Paris last week has brought even more attention to the terror group’s frighteningly rapid global growth, and where around the world it has found traction — not just in terms of territory gained, but in support.

A study out of the Brookings Institution used Twitter to shine some light on this, comparing the countries where tweets from ISIS supporters originate. The study dealt with a sample size of 20,000 and found that Saudi Arabia is the top location claimed by Twitter users supporting ISIS in 2015. Syria follows, Iraq rounds off the top three and the U.S. takes fourth place.

The number of foreigners joining the conflict in Syria and Iraq has continued to rise in 2015, though this data doesn’t track these fighters to Islamic State, specifically. Nonetheless, the data paints a rough picture of where around the world ISIS is finding success in recruitment.

The number of fighters joining from Saudi Arabia is between 2,000-2,500, the largest total number, according to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence. Per capita, that represents 107 fighters per million people. On a per capita basis, Jordan tops the list, with an estimated 315 fighters per million people.

Belgium has the highest number of fighters per capita of any Western nation. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian-born senior Islamic State operative, is suspected to be the key mastermind behind the Paris attacks. He was killed in a raid Wednesday, according to published reports.

France is the biggest source of fighters in Europe, contributing 1,200, or 18 per capita. Government figures have put the number of fighters closer to 1,600.

The U.S. is very low on this list — only about 100 fighters have come from the U.S.

An estimated 1,700 fighters have come from Russia, most of whom are thought to be from Chechnya and Dagestan, according to Russia’s Federal Security Service.