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Anonymous 06/01/2018 (Fri) 09:54:12 Id: 06b27d [Preview] No. 111 [Reply] [Last 50 Posts]
Over the last two weeks, every household in Sweden received a booklet of instructions on how to prepare for war. Issued by the government and including instructions for every Swedish resident to resist an invader by all means necessary, it was a dramatic sign of just how quickly the recently unthinkable has become something Europe’s Nordic governments in particular feel they must address.

“For many years, the preparations made in Sweden for the threat of war and war have been very limited,” says the Swedish brochure. “However, as the world around us has changed, the Government has decided to strengthen Sweden’s total defense. … The level of preparedness for peacetime emergencies is an important basis of our resilience in the event of war.”

For most of the continent, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and war in Ukraine four years ago was seen as a wake-up call, but not a potentially existential threat. Countries like Germany, Britain and France have reconsidered their defense postures, often also lightly increasing military spending. By and large, however, even within their security establishments, few see a genuine imminent risk of overwhelming Russian conventional military attack on their homelands. Moscow’s military might be at its most active since the Cold War, but its tanks and troops remain a comfortingly long way away.

That clearly isn’t the case in the Nordics, much closer geographically to Russia. Norway has appointed a senior special forces officer to lead its Home Guard, a territorial defense force separate from the mainstream military and specifically intended to fight any invader. Finland has reorganized its military, forming its troops into larger companies to allow them to better handle the large number of casualties expected in any attack. Both countries have long had conscription for able-bodied young men — and now theoretically neutral Sweden is also reintroducing national service for both men and women.

It’s a dramatic change from only a handful of years ago, when Nordic militaries were much more focused on humanitarian and counterterrorism interventions overseas, including U.N. peacekeeping.

Neither Norway, Sweden nor Finland could hold a Russian invasion at the border. To varying degrees, their strategy presumably would be to cede much of the country to invaders — then fight back with hit-and-run attacks, and gradually bleed them to death.

It is not that any of those countries think war is truly imminent — although one of Norway’s most popular recent TV shows, “Occupied,” revolves around a Russian invasion, a clear sign of how perceived risks have changed. Rather than launching an overwhelming military strike, most European security analysts expect Moscow to continue its current more asymmetric tactics, supporting extremist political parties, conducting periodic cyberattacks and other forms of disruption.



Anonymous 06/01/2018 (Fri) 09:54:38 Id: 06b27d [Preview] No.112 del

For NATO, a much greater focus is on defending the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, once part of the Soviet Union and seen as much more likely targets of Russian aggression, not least because of their geographic proximity and significant Russian-speaking populations. German, Canadian and British-led battle groups are now based in those countries, joined this month by a hefty U.S. and wider European military presence as part of major military exercises.

The Nordic states, too, hope they would not be facing any assault alone. Norway is a long-standing member of NATO, and while Sweden and Finland are not they are now discussing membership and have dramatically increased military and other ties to the alliance. All three nations are also members of the Joint Expeditionary Force, a U.K.-led group of Nordic, Baltic and northern European nations that could operate militarily separate to the NATO alliance.

What their preparations at home point to, however, is the largely unspoken nervousness amongst the Nordic and Baltic nations that those arrangements might not prove reliable. Such worries inevitably intensified with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as the rise of far-right parties in Germany, France and elsewhere. The Nordics’ real fear is that sometime in the not-too-distant future — perhaps in the next decade — the European and trans-Atlantic structures they have long relied on could collapse.

“The purpose of a military is simply national survival,” one senior Nordic officer told me last year, making it clear that while it relies on allies, it will fight for itself alone if it has to.

Russia clearly isn’t the only danger to be worried about — the Swedish leaflet also explicitly refers to terror attacks as a danger, and refers throughout to the risks of unspecified “crisis” as well as war. But it’s apparent from the document what worries the Swedish authorities most — an overwhelming attack, coupled with a powerful foreign misinformation campaign that tells the populace the war is over and lost before it even starts.

The Swedish leaflet states explicitly that any messages of surrender after any invasion should be ignored. “If Sweden is attacked by another country, we will never give up,” says the brochure. “All information to the effect that resistance is to cease is false.” For all the criticism of the leaflet and accusations of scaremongering, that is clearly a message the Swedish authorities want to get through. The leaflet has been translated into Arabic, Somali and a host of other languages to reach recently arrived migrants, and those communities will also find their young men and women conscripted into the armed forces.

While much of the leaflet’s tone is reassuringly bland, the underlying message is unmistakable. In the event of attack, everyone in the country is expected to do exactly as they are told — whether that’s helping provide medical and other support, or fighting and dying.

It’s an unexpected throwback to the dark days of the 1940s, when Finnish and Norwegian resistance fighters battled Soviet and Nazi occupations and neutral Sweden feared both. But it’s also an alarming reminder that in this most liberal, progressive and peaceful corner of Europe, those in charge now fear an era of gloom could return.

Cardinal George Pell To Face Sexual Assault Charges In Australia Anonymous 05/01/2018 (Tue) 06:41:46 Id: 831ab1 [Preview] No. 110 [Reply] [Last 50 Posts]
A magistrate in Australia has ordered Cardinal George Pell, one of the Vatican's senior-most officials, to stand trial on sexual abuse charges involving allegations from multiple individuals dating back decades.

Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged in the church's long-standing sex abuse scandal.

Although Melbourne Magistrate Belinda Wallington dismissed many of the charges against Pell, who was appointed archbishop of Sydney in 2001 and later oversaw the Vatican's finances under Pope Francis, she said that the prosecution's case was strong enough to warrant a jury trial on the remaining charges.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Wallington, following a month-long hearing committed the 76-year-old cleric "on charges against multiple complainants, involving alleged sexual offending at a swimming pool in the 1970s in Ballarat [near Melbourne], where the accused man was then working as a priest; and at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne in 1990s, when he was the then Archbishop of Melbourne."

Asked for a plea, a seated Pell – who has consistently denied wrongdoing — clearly announced, "Not guilty."

Last year, Pell stated publicly, "I am innocent of these charges, they are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."

Lawyers for Pell had argued that all the allegations were untrue and should be dismissed.
Australian Police Bring Sexual Assault Charges Against Catholic Cardinal
The Two-Way
Australian Police Bring Sexual Assault Charges Against Catholic Cardinal
Vatican Cardinal Charged With 'Historic Sexual Offenses' In Australia

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Anonymous 04/30/2018 (Mon) 16:19:24 Id: 6d1b30 [Preview] No. 109 [Reply] [Last 50 Posts]
A man was killed in Philadelphia when the SUV in which he was traveling was hit by watermelons, which were spilled by a truck when it crashed on a nearby off-ramp.

According to local media, the tractor-trailer was traveling on the ramp from the northbound I-95 near the Walt Whitman Bridge when it overturned, spilling its cargo onto the southbound lanes below.

The flying fruit hit the Honda HR-V, causing it to lose control and hit a guard rail, reported local TV station WCAU.

The driver and passenger, identified as Thanh Tam Nguyen, 61, of Glenolden, Pa., had to be cut free by the Philadelphia Fire Department in the Saturday afternoon incident.

According to local TV station WPVI, Nguyen and the driver were taken to a local hospital where Nguyen was pronounced dead. Officials have not yet released the driver's condition. Police said the driver of the truck suffered minor injuries.

South Korea to shut off computers to stop people working late Anonymous 03/23/2018 (Fri) 05:37:08 Id: 89d9f1 [Preview] No. 108 [Reply] [Last 50 Posts]
The government in South Korea's capital is introducing a new initiative to force its employees to leave work on time - by powering down all their computers at 20:00 on Fridays.

It says it is trying to stop a "culture of working overtime".

South Korea has some of the longest working hours in the world.

Government employees there work an average of 2,739 hours a year - about 1,000 hours more than workers in other developed countries.

The shutdown initiative in the Seoul Metropolitan Government is set to roll out across three phases over the next three months.

The programme will begin on 30 March, with all computers switched off by 20:00.

The second phase starts in April, with employees having their computers turned off by 19:30 on the second and fourth Friday that month.

From May on, the programme will be in full-swing, with computers shut off by 19:00 every Friday.

According to a SMG statement, all employees will be subjected to the shutdown, though exemptions may be provided in special circumstances.

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PLA website confirms sea trial of shipborne railgun Anonymous 03/16/2018 (Fri) 07:29:29 Id: 3137e1 [Preview] No. 107 [Reply] [Last 50 Posts]
Recent reports by Chinese media confirm previous rumors that the PLA had mounted a railgun on a landing ship

Sea tests of China’s indigenous electromagnetic railguns are under way, Chinese papers have revealed, quoting delegates of the People’s Liberation Army who are attending the annual parliamentary session in Beijing.

This has been further confirmed by a feature on the PLA-run news portal 81.cn bout a female lead engineer who was the brains behind a repeating pulsating direct current power system that could charge the railgun.

Zhang Xiao, associate research fellow at the Wuhan-based PLA Naval University of Engineering, said the breakthrough was a hard-won result after hundreds of failures and more than 50,000 tests.

She also led a team that scaled the technical hurdles of installing shipborne electromagnetic launching systems, believed to be planned for use in future Chinese aircraft carriers.

The Global Times quoted commentators as saying that the United States used to maintain a lead in developing such state-of-the-art power systems, but the breakthrough could bring the PLA Navy into the same league as the US in railgun development and trials.

Railguns use electricity to generate strong electromagnetic fields between two rails. A conductive metal device, called an armature, picks up a projectile and accelerates down the path between the rails, slinging the projectile downrange at hypervelocity.

China is also set to be the first country to mount a railgun on a warship. The PLA landing ship Haiyang Shan, carrying what appeared to be a shipborne railgun, was seen undergoing tests at a dock in Wuhan before its reported sea trail this year.

The test was a massive project, involving more than 200 staffers from 20 different units, according to the website.

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America Is Giving Away the $30 Billion Medical Marijuana Industry Anonymous 03/08/2018 (Thu) 08:10:27 Id: b7f306 [Preview] No. 106 [Reply] [Last 50 Posts]
Lyle Craker is an unlikely advocate for any political cause, let alone one as touchy as marijuana law, and that’s precisely why Rick Doblin sought him out almost two decades ago. Craker, Doblin likes to say, is the perfect flag bearer for the cause of medical marijuana production—not remotely controversial and thus the ideal partner in a long and frustrating effort to loosen the Drug Enforcement Administration’s chokehold on cannabis research. There are no counterculture skeletons in Craker’s closet; only dirty boots and botany books. He’s never smoked pot in his life, nor has he tasted liquor. “I have Coca-Cola every once in a while,” says the quiet, white-haired Craker, from a rolling chair in his basement office at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he’s served as a professor in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture since 1967, specializing in medicinal and aromatic plants. He and his students do things such as subject basil plants to high temperatures to study the effects of climate change on what plant people call the constituents, or active elements.

Craker first applied for a license to grow marijuana for medicinal research in 2001, at the urging of Doblin, the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit that advocates for research on therapeutic uses for LSD, MDMA (aka Ecstasy), marijuana, and other psychedelic drugs. Doblin, who has a doctorate in public policy, makes no secret of his own prior drug use. He’s been lobbying since the 1980s for federal approval for clinical research trials on various psychedelics, and he saw marijuana as both a promising potential medicine and an important front in the public-relations war. Since 1970 marijuana has been a DEA Schedule I substance, meaning that in the view of the federal government, it’s as dangerous as LSD, heroin, and Ecstasy, and has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

By that definition, pot—now legal for medicinal use by prescription in 29 states and for recreational use in eight—is more dangerous and less efficacious in the federal government’s estimation than cocaine, oxycodone, or methamphetamine, all of which are classified Schedule II. Scientists and physicians are free to apply to the Food and Drug Administration and DEA for trials on Schedule I substances, and there are labs with licenses to produce LSD and Ecstasy for that purpose, but anyone who seeks to do FDA-approved research with marijuana is forced to obtain the plants from a single source: Uncle Sam. Specifically, since 1968 the DEA has allowed only one facility to legally cultivate marijuana for research studies, on a 10-acre plot at the University of Mississippi, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and managed by the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy.

The NIDA license, Doblin says, is a “monopoly” on the supply and has starved legitimate research toward understanding cannabinoids, terpenes, and other constituents of marijuana that seem to quell pain, stimulate hunger, and perhaps even fight cancer. Twice in the late 1990s, Doblin provided funding, PR, and lobbying support for physicians who wanted to study marijuana—one sought a treatment for AIDS-related wasting syndrome, the other wanted to see if it helped migraines—and was so frustrated by the experience that he vowed to break the monopoly. That’s what led him to Craker.

In June 2001, Craker filed an application for a license to cultivate “research-grade” marijuana at UMass, with the goal of staging FDA-approved studies. Six months later he was told his application had been lost. He reapplied in 2002 and then, after an additional two years of no action, sued the DEA, backed by MAPS. By this point, both U.S. senators from Massachusetts had publicly supported his application, and a federal court of appeals ordered the DEA to respond, which it finally did, denying the application in 2004.

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Google Employees “Outraged” Their Tech Is Being Used to Build Better Killing Machines Anonymous 03/08/2018 (Thu) 07:20:02 Id: 918902 [Preview] No. 105 [Reply] [Last 50 Posts]
Last fall, onetime Google C.E.O. and current Alphabet board member Eric Schmidt neatly summed up the ethical concerns of those in Silicon Valley about contributing to military initiatives. “There’s a general concern in the tech community of somehow the military-industrial complex using their stuff to kill people incorrectly,” he said, but added that despite being a member of the Defense Innovation Board, where he’s advised the Defense Department on matters relating to tech, there remained a clear line in the sand: “I can’t suggest Alphabet things inside the military,” he said, ”nor would I ever do that.”

It seems that Google, however, has made no such distinction. Though the company claimed back in 2013 to have no ambitions to become a military contractor in its own right, according to Gizmodo, the tech giant has quietly partnered with the Department of Defense to help the federal agency develop artificial intelligence to analyze footage from drones. When news of the pilot project, which is the company’s first with the Defense Department’s Project Maven, was circulated on an internal mailing list, some Google employees were reportedly “outraged” and “concerned” that the company would offer its services for drone-related surveillance technology.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the partnership to Gizmodo, but said that it does not pertain to military combat. Google, the spokesperson said, is providing the Defense Department with TensorFlow A.P.I.s, to help with machine-learning applications. “We have long worked with government agencies to provide technology solutions. This specific project is a pilot with the Department of Defense, to provide open source TensorFlow A.P.I.s that can assist in object recognition on unclassified data,” the spokesperson said. “The technology flags images for human review, and is for non-offensive uses only. Military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns. We’re actively discussing this important topic internally and with others as we continue to develop policies and safeguards around the development and use of our machine-learning technologies.”

The partnership is not without precedent; In 2017, the Defense Department spent $7.4 billion on A.I.-related initiatives; Project Maven, also known as the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team, was founded last year to “accelerate DoD’s integration of big data and machine learning.” Months after Project Maven was announced, its leader, Col. Drew Cukor, said the Pentagon would be looking for “commercial partners” to work on its tech. For Google, the collaboration could come with an added boon: a chance to position its cloud business as a viable competitor to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure as it eyes the federal government as a client. For employees nostalgic for the days of “Don’t Be Evil”, however, the partnership could prove a bitter pill.


Asia-Pacific Stocks Lower on Gary Cohn Resignation Anonymous 03/07/2018 (Wed) 07:44:38 Id: 935c78 [Preview] No. 103 [Reply] [Last 50 Posts]
Asia-Pacific stocks were broadly lower Wednesday with investors spooked by news that Gary Cohn would resign as President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser after he lost a fight over tariffs.

There was a lot of confusion in the morning session, said Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Bank. He expects further volatility once European traders arrive at their desks.

“I’ve gone from being a little bit relaxed about the trade-war thing to being quite a lot more nervous,” he added. “People are not giving it as much weight as they should be…I don’t think people are really thinking this through.”

Highlighting the back-and-forth in markets, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average briefly turned positive after an early 1% drop. But Tokyo stocks were recently lower, falling along with many Asian equities benchmarks. The Japanese index was off 0.5% with commodities-related stocks, banks and auto makers sagging.

The commodities-heavy S&P/ASX 200 in Australia was 0.9% lower ahead of the close amid a similar-sized drop in oil futures.

S&P 500 futures were down 1% while the ICE Dollar Index eased 0.1%.

Mr. Cohn’s resignation is bad news for markets, said Robert Gillam, chief executive at McKinley Capital. “Gary Cohn is well-regarded in the investment community and we are likely to see some short-term negative sentiment” from his departure, he noted.

But the move might help to “strike a balance” between trade hawks and doves, said Jane Fu, sales trader at CMC Markets. “Trump may want to appoint someone more hawkish, but that will not eliminate the opposition within the White House,” she said.

Mr. Cohn was one of several White House voices arguing against the planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. But the trade measures face opposition, even from Mr. Trump’s fellow Republicans.

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U.S. Sues California to Void Immigrant Protection Laws Anonymous Board owner 03/07/2018 (Wed) 06:13:25 Id: 7199b6 [Preview] No. 102 [Reply] [Last 50 Posts]
The U.S. Justice Department sued California, escalating a war over the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigration.

The lawsuit targets three state laws that interfere with federal immigration enforcement and violate the Constitution, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento.

Specifically, the statutes at issue restrict state and local law enforcement entities, as well as private employers, from sharing information about undocumented immigrants with federal agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Justice Department said in the lawsuit.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is scheduled to visit Sacramento Wednesday, and Homeland Security officials have threatened for months to take punitive action against the largest U.S. state over its refusal to help ramp up deportations. Just last week, a top administration official accused the mayor of Oakland, one of California’s largest cities, of sabotaging a federal raid targeting undocumented
immigrants after she issued a public warning about the enforcement action.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra -- named individually as a defendant in the lawsuit -- said local police will continue to work “in concert” with federal agents on issues related to drug enforcement and sex trafficking, but the Trump administration remains misguided in its attempts to encumber enforcement of California laws aimed at protecting its undocumented residents.
‘Track Record’

“We’re in the business of public safety, not deportation, and we’ll continue to uphold all of the laws, including AB450 and SB54,” he said at a press briefing in San Francisco shortly after the case was made public. “Our track record so far with this administration in court has been pretty good. We’ve proven that California is doing things the way it should, and also proven that it’s the Trump administration that has acted outside of the law.”

Sessions plans to discuss the lawsuit during a speech he is scheduled to give on Wednesday at a law enforcement conference in Sacramento.

“The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed,” Sessions wrote in his prepared remarks. “We are fighting to make your jobs safer and to help you reduce crime in America.”

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Italy Election Gives Big Lift to Far Right and Populists Anonymous 03/05/2018 (Mon) 07:48:23 Id: 10b0ad [Preview] No. 101 [Reply] [Last 50 Posts]
ROME — Italians registered their dismay with the European political establishment on Sunday, handing a majority of votes in a national election to hard-right and populist forces that ran a campaign fueled by anti-immigrant anger.
The election, the first in five years, was widely seen as a bellwether of the strength of populists on the continent and how far they might advance into the mainstream. The answer was far, very far.
After Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France beat back populist and far-right insurgencies, Europe seemed to enjoy a reprieve from the forces threatening its unity and values.
In Sunday’s vote, early results showed, the parties that did well all shared varying degrees of euroskepticism, with laments about Brussels treating Italians like slaves, agitation to abandon the euro and promises to put Italy before Europe.
The most likely result will be a government in Italy — a founding European Union nation and the major economy of the Mediterranean — that is significantly less invested in the project of a united Europe. All the while, geopolitical competitors from Russia to China are seeking to divide and weaken the bloc.
The results were not just a disconcerting measure of Italy’s mood but also a harbinger of the troubles that may yet lay ahead for Europe. Far-right and populist forces appeared to gain more than 50 percent of the vote in Italy, where the economy has lagged, migration has surged and many are seething at those in power.
But with no one party or coalition appearing to win enough support to form a government, the election offered up an outcome familiar in Italy: a muddle. It may take weeks of haggling to sort out who will lead the next government, and who will be in it.
One thing seemed clear, however: Any government will be difficult to form without the insurgent Five Star Movement, a web-based, populist party less than a decade old. The party was poised to become the country’s biggest vote-getter, winning about a third of the votes cast — its best showing ever.
“A triumph of the Five Star Movement,” Alessandro Di Battista, a leader of the party, said on Sunday night. “Everybody has to come talk to us.”
Roberto D’Alimonte, a political scientist at Luiss University in Rome, said that if the results held, the Five Star Movement would find itself in “a pivotal position.” With previously solid-seeming coalitions now fluid, he said, Five Star is in the driver’s seat.
The question will be who is in the passenger seat with it.
The projections also showed big gains for the far-right League, a formerly northern-based secessionist party run by Matteo Salvini. He has been unapologetic about his use of inflammatory language about migrants, calling for their expulsion.
Mr. Salvini’s party gained about 17 percent of votes, according to early projections. That was more, remarkably, than the party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, his coalition partner and the personification of the conservative mainstream.
For years, migrants who survived the perilous crossing of the sea arrived by the hundreds of thousands on Italy’s southern coasts. Italy’s center-left government sought to strike a balance between a humane response and enforcement of its borders.
Italy pleaded with other countries in Europe to help share the burden, both by patrolling the waters and accepting a portion of the migrants sheltered in reception centers. But its neighbors, including France, locked their doors and the migrants, many of whom felt stuck in Italy, became an open political nerve.
The center-left government eventually reduced the arrivals through deals in Libya and further south. But by then the damage was done, and Europe, which is deeply wary of the Five Star Movement and the League, may now be about to pay the consequences.
The newly formed Parliament will meet for the first time on March 23.

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