Sunday, August 30, 2009

300 or more seats...

It is just not working out to get more information posted for folks on this, so here's the summary:

This election was all about emotion, not reason, and the results reflect that.

DPJ (the so-called "Democrats") wins the day. they may well have over 300 seats out of the Lower House's 480.

This is likely 'what we are getting' come tomorrow: The world as seen by a Hatoyama Premiership.

"We are so screwed" does not even begin to cover what is about to be.


h/t to M. Goldfarb over at The Weekly Standard for pointing out Y. Hatoyama's Op-Ed piece.

Friday, August 21, 2009

No Sleep 'till Brooklyn

Three projects running at once *and* playing the election game here at the same time...

On the plus side, there will be a detailed two-part N&C posted here covering the Opposition and Coalition camps prior to election day.

On the down side, the rest of the world gets to go hang for a few more days while I figure out what to do with the recent (internal) polling that is showing Tochigi Prefecture and our district here in particular as a 50-50 split (LDP vs. DPJ)... in what is conventionally considered a "pocket borough" for the LDP.

Stay tuned.


note to self: Do not kill the crews of the loudspeaker trucks. They are only doing their job. Even if they are the Oppos. Even at 0700 hours. Consider the fact that they are likely driving away as many voters as they are reaching out to.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Massive accident at RusHydro

A terrible industrial accident, costing perhaps 70 lives, has disabled the largest hydroelectric plant in Russia. Astoundingly, two survivors have been rescued. An explosion in the turbine space breached the structure and the resulting flooding combined with the damage from the explosion to lay waste to the facility:
Federal investigators said an explosion destroyed walls and the ceiling in an engine room where turbines are located and caused the room to flood. One of the plant's 10 turbines was destroyed, two were partly destroyed while three others were damaged, officials said.
This goes beyond the material and human losses, however. (*not* to downplay the deaths, please)

The Sayano-Shushenskaya plant is the primary electricity provider for the region *and* is the source-by-design for the four Aluminum smelters run by Rusal, the world's largest Aluminum producer. Losing the RusHydro power source means those smelters (which took 70% of the hydro plant's enormous output) those smelters are operating on borrowed power... and time. There is simply no way that reserve power can be kept on for very much longer, and it is going to be a long time:
RusHydro said replacing the damaged equipment at the plant may take up to two years but the undamaged turbines could be put back into operation in as soon as a month.

(Russia's Emergency Situations Minister Sergei) Shoigu said the repairs would be difficult.

"We're probably talking about years rather than months to restore three of the 10 turbines," he said on state-run television.
Given that the primary metals markets are all headed toward a turn up as the manufacturing economies of the world pull out of recession, this is going to play hob with supplies.

Expect the price-point to reflect this.

Real IRA gunrunner trial to open


The Lithuanian police nabbed Michael Campbell quite while back (January 2008) and that was just the latest of matters that have involved the brother of Real IRA subfaction leader Liam Campbell. M. Campbell has already got a conviction in the Netherlands (2004) related to his running a cigarette smuggling racket... one of the usual ways to fund terror schemes, by the way.

The Lithuanian Prosecutor's Office got the case underway today. The report contained no word about the second Irish national detained at the same time as M. Campbell, and she was not identified in original arrest notice, but the period of remand to custody for the two of them was different (M. Campbell held for 3 months, which was repeatedly extended; the woman was to be held for for only a fortnight pending investigation).

Between this, and the judgements in favor of the Omagh bombing victims, the Real IRA is certainly in a pinch... and deservedly so.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Evening Push

Here's your place to start something of your own interest. This thread is left open to comments for folks to make their own fun or leave messages for me about breaking news events. The usual rules still apply: play nice.

It was a bit of a pleasant coincidence that the pace of news slowed a bit this last week, as it was also a holiday week here in Japan (o-Bon) and having the time to take care of other matters was a needed thing. With the spirits of the dead now shown the lantern-way back to their rest and the Buddhists content that they've done their obligation, things can be expected to pick up again. We'll be picking up the pace again here at CompHyp as well.

...after all, we've got an election to rig, er, participate in, at least by voice.

Thank you to All for coming here!

Operation Nanook 09

The Government of Canada has taken a proper and invigorated interest in maintaining sovereignty and territory in the Arctic in recent years, even more so during the Harper administration. The latest exercises are getting some attention in the media outside Canada including this less-than-flattering BBC News comment:
Canada is launching a series of military exercises in the Arctic far-north region of the country.

The so-called sovereignty operation is designed to show a visible presence in the resource-rich area, amid competing claims among other nations.
Nothing "so-called" about it. It *is* an exercise of sovereignty, and a worthy one.

What does that really entail? Here's the official workup on the Operation from Canada's National Defense.

Note the exercise is in the Eastern Arctic, focused on Baffin Island.

It is one of three such operations run annually, alongside Operation Nunakput in the Western Arctic and Operation Nunalivut in the High Arctic.

Given the rapacious tone of certain claimants to Arctic territory and transit rights, such exercises are a most proper thing.

CNN seizes islands; UK does something else

That was the link line on the CNN piece: "Britain seizes control of islands" ...sounds impressive, doesn't it?

1) Turks and Caicos Islands are a Dependency of the United Kingdom.
Turks and Caicos is a UK overseas territory and residents there have British citizenship.


Once a dependency of Jamaica, the islands become a crown colony when Jamaica gained its independence in 1962.

2) What really happened was an imposition of Direct Rule:
The UK government has been threatening action for several months after an inquiry commissioned by the Foreign Office returned a damning verdict.

It examined the actions of the Turks' Cabinet and Assembly and found "information in abundance pointing to a high probability of systematic corruption or serious dishonesty".

It also concluded there were "clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and of a general administrative incompetence".

3) We've been here before:
It is extremely rare for the UK to impose direct rule on an overseas territory.

The last similar move also involved Turks and Caicos, in July 1986, when an inquiry found ministers had "indulged in unconstitutional behaviour, political discrimination and administrative malpractices".
The only thing different this time is the names named and the directions of finger-pointing.

It is the responsibility of any sovereign to see to the administration of any dependencies held in their name. Her Majesty's Government did the right thing this time. Here's hoping 2 years of the oversight of direct rule can root out some of the corrupt practices and set things back on course. A few trials of those accused of stealing Crown Property for sale would be a good place to start.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Webb visits Myanmar (Burma)

Either *this* is one heck of a case of harebrained Parliamentary Diplomacy... that's when elected representatives take it upon themselves to go play Ambassador... or (far more likely) a massive shift in American policy toward Myanmar (Burma), which could not possibly come at a less appropriate time.

The Than Shwe Junta has just taken the opportunity to further repress the party of Ang San Suu Kyi and extend her house arrest further for a matter she had no responsibity in...

The latest round of North Korean gamesmanship was focused on further arms exports to the Junta...

The Myanmar Army has been on the offensive against the Karen ethnic group, driving more of those people over into refuge in Thailand...

...and this is a good time to send over a sitting U.S. Senator to have a chat with Than Shwe?

Then again, we are talking of the current American administration; Between creative interpretations of other democratic countries' Constitutions and banishing the Secretary of State on repeated journeys to outlying corners of the world, this might well be right along the course of action one should expect from the Obama regime.


Open invitation: anyone who sees a plausible explanation for all this, please do feel free to inform me... but do keep it to the foreign affairs part of the issue, thanks. There's a reason why this weblog is not a American domestic political 'blog.

More Hostage-taking in Yemen

This time it appears to be for a different reason, but none the less 15 Red Crescent aid workers are reported kidnapped. The Government of Yemen rolled out this claim:
Followers of rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi took Red Crescent doctors, nurses, officials and administrators from a refugee camp on Thursday, said Hassan al-Manna, governor of Saada province.
First off, the Government and the al-Houthi rebels have been locked in a death-struggle for years. The rebel's main aim is to restore the rights and system of a tribal-based loose form of theocracy that was the norm in northern Yemen until the 1960's. The government however is the product of Arab Nationalism in the fashion of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Then comes word that just Thursday the rebels received and rejected an offered ceasefire.
Friday's kidnappings came the day after Yemen issued the rebels with the terms of a ceasefire to end a government offensive against them in the north of the mainly Sunni Muslim Arab country.

The rebels rejected Thursday's truce offer and denied holding any kidnapped civilians.


The government ceasefire conditions included a rebel withdrawal, the removal of their checkpoints and the clarification of the fate of kidnapped foreigners.

They also required rebels to return captured military and civilian equipment, hand over those behind the June kidnapping of nine foreigners and refrain from intervening in local authority affairs.
There is more here than meets the eye, so far. The terms of the ceasefire ask the rebels to give up their gains, for nothing, and require an act ("hand over those...") that may well not be possible (as the kidnappers in *that* case are more likely al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, not part of the al-Houthi rebellion).


I'd normally have some more information, either from regional sources or from the superb Jane Novak, but Ms. Novak has been away from her efforts for about a week (on holiday?) and so this will take a bit more careful watching on our part here at CompHyp until more facts become available.

As a reminder, Red Crescent is the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) element of the Movement that also includes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Bemba to be bailed out

Former-Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba of the D.R. Congo, indicted and in custody on three counts of war crimes and two of crimes against humanity for the conduct of his Movement for the Liberation of Congo troops in an intervention into the Central African Republic in 2002, is eligible for conditional release... if a country can be found for him to bailed out to.

That may well be fair procedure, but it is a heck of a risk. The presumption is that he will neither flee nor "hamper court proceedings". Terms of his release are yet to be resolved:
The court said hearings to decide which country would take Mr Bemba and to decide on the conditions of his release would be held in the second week of September.

For those not familiar with the mess that has been left in the C.A.R. after the Patasse government ran things into the ground, here's a recent report from IRIN about the continuing troubles in that country. Note that in addition to reporting the continuing internal strife there, IRIN cites the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) militancy (discussed here on several previous occasions) as also a threat to the people of the C.A.R.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hard fight on Basilan

The Armed Forces of the Philippines went into action against an Abu Sayyaf base camp on Basilan Island yesterday, specifically pursuing Khair Mundus and Furuji Indama, two leaders of the al-Qaeda-linked terrorists. What they got was a nasty closequarters brawl of a battle... 23 soldiers and 20 militants dead...
The army's losses were the highest in a single day's combat for some years.

The fighting was a "slugfest", said Maj Gen Dolorfino. "It was really close-quarter fighting so we couldn't use our artillery," he told AP.
With the understanding that 400 Philippines troops were on the attack against a force of roughly 150 terrs, those kind of losses are an almost Pyrrhic victory. But considering the amount of explosives taken or destroyed, and the fact that the militants are on the run again back into the interior of the island, *maybe* it was worth it.

Hard work, fellows. Keep at it, and plan for better results next time you corner them.

The Jews of Venice of the Americas

The history of two words one would likely be surprised to find intertwined:

Ghetto: From the Venetian geti, meaning the foundry district of the city, to which the Jewish community was confined by decree in 1516 A.D. (C.E.).

Venezuela: the name of the country comes from the Spanish "little Venice" given to the Gulf of Venezuela based on an imagined similarity to the Lagoon of Venice.

How do they fit together?

Todd Bensman of the San Antonio Express-News (U.S.A.), writing on the situation of the Jews of Venezuela as the Chavistas turn on the propaganda-hate machine again: The world's oldest hate finds new life in Venezuela.

Please take the time to read it.

2Q rebound... but not for all

It doesn't quite count as an "I told you so", but the economic downturn of the last 4 quarters seems to have run its course right on schedule in those economies that haven't the reliance on the financial sector that Great Britain and the U.S. of A. have... or the degree of singleminded interventionism on the part of the government in "doing something" about the economy.

France and Germany exited the recession in the 2nd Quarter.

There is the concern that, even in those countries, the banking sector in particular is dependent on government protections and much of the rise in consumer activity is tied to some degree of stimulus spending... terms like "very fragile" are still being used to describe the recovery.

No such love is being shown to Gordon Brown's extravagant effort to mortgage the nation to "save" the economy, and there should still be alarms sounding over both the pace of new government spending in the U.S. *and* the need to sell an extraordinary volume of bonds before September 30th to pay for what is committed already... that bond sale succeeds, things may hold together for a while longer... *if it fails*, though, the Americans can expect a currency exchange collapse of epic proportions. Think 70 en (Yen) to the US$. Remember that the current ~95 to the dollar is almost 20 percent below nominal par for the currencies.

Yes, that last is a nightmare scenario.

Yes, if the Obama administration does not learn some economics very very quickly, that is where things are headed. Running the printing presses will do that to even the world's strongest economy.

All the petro-economies and the East Asian trading nations are not going to be happy if (when?) their foreign exchange holding devalue by another 20%.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Black August?

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has always had an uncomfortable relationship with the common population of the Jordan River region. Being a foreign line of nobility that was placed atop one part of the partition of the former Ottoman Empire after World War I, and being functionally exiled from Peninsular Arabia by their rivals the House of Saud, it is no wonder that domestic politics in Jordan are still based as much on the fears of insecure rulers as anything else.

How insecure? How about the fact that over 70% of the population of Jordan self-identifies as "Palestinian"? How about the uncomfortable historical fact that the land itself has been promised, and claimed, thrice over in the aftermath of the defeat of the Ottoman overlords? (Syria certainly hasn't forgotten that, and has acted upon their claim in the recent enough past.) How about the fact that the last time the Palestine Liberation Organization tried to take over the country (in 1970), the result was a war *inside Jordan*... General Information Only, but to explain the full horror of that: Black September.

So when rumors get going, the conspiracy theories circulate, and when those rumors are that Israel is supposedly going to evict all the Palestinians from the West Bank area... panic ensues in the highest reaches of the Jordanian government.
(Israeli) Defense officials said this week that despite Israeli assurances that the Netanyahu government was not planning on evicting Palestinians to Jordan, Amman's anxiety was still high, likely an indication that "the Jordanians are still concerned that Israel is considering Jordan as an alternative for a Palestinian state," one official said. "The visit was aimed at assuaging those fears and ensuring that strategic relations between the countries stay on track."
Reasonable fear, though. The original division of the region into the Palestine Mandate and the Trans-Jordan was in part an intentional effort by the British to make Trans-Jordan (now the Kingdom of Jordan) an Arab-ruled Palestinian nation. No organized forcible relocations happened until the British were out of the picture though (but a lot happened from 1948 on... mostly exiling the Jewish residents of the Arab-ruled states surrounding Israel. There were removals of Palestinians from land in the Mandate as well, and then the massive self-exile of the Arab population from the Mandate at the time of Israeli Independence).

Well, here we go again:
Alarmed by rumors regarding a US-backed scheme to turn Jordan into a homeland for Palestinians, Abdullah is planning a series of steps to foil any attempt to resettle Palestinian refugees in the kingdom.

The rumors were triggered by talks about a plan to establish a decentralized government in Jordan, where local communities would enjoy some form of autonomy.

The Jordanian authorities' decision to revoke the citizenship of Palestinians in Jordan - who make up more than 70 percent of the kingdom's population - added fuel to the fire by giving substance to the rumors.
Not the best move, that. Let's hope it wasn't a fatal mistake.

Chavez's Imperial Game

This is a recommended read for anyone who is trying to follow the Empire-By-Franchise schemes of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez:

Alvaro Vargas Llosa, writing at RealClearPolitics (for the WaPo Writers Group): Hugo Chavez's Imperial Chess Game.

It lays it all out, from the role of the ALBA front organization to the next move on the chess board... Peru.

The only thing left unmentioned is the Honduran situation, which is best described as a taken piece.

Please take the time to read it.

Gregoire Ndahimana arrested in D.R.Congo

A most wanted man, this Ndahimana was. Genocide. 1994. He was the local administrator in Rwanda's Kivumu, during the massacres of Rwandan Tutsi and moderate Hutu. the indictment from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) cites him as responsible for the deaths of at least 2,000 Tutsi. He is now under arrest.
Gregoire Ndahimana was arrested by Congolese soldiers on Sunday during U.N.-backed operations to stamp out Hutu rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), in the violence ravaged North Kivu eastern border province.

"He was discovered by our units operating in North Kivu ... He was hiding among the FDLR," Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende said.
In Nord-Kivu... With the FDLR...

No surprises there. The pleasant surprise is that the Congolese authorities went in and made the arrest *and* are willing to extradite him to custody of the ICTR.

A very good surprise. Bravo.

Treasury lists another North Korean banking front

The U.S. Department of the Treasury acted on August 11th to list Korea Kwangson Banking Corp. (KKBC) under Executive Order 13382.
E.O. 13382 freezes the assets of proliferators of WMD and their supporters and prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with them, thereby isolating them from the U.S. financial and commercial systems.

"North Korea's use of a little-known bank, KKBC, to mask the international financial business of sanctioned proliferators demonstrates the lengths to which the regime will go to continue its proliferation activities and the high risk that any business with North Korea may well be illicit," said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.
The listing was also pursuant to UNSC Resolution 1718, sanctioning North Korean activities related to proliferation.

KKBC is another of the tangled mass of financial routes used to bring hard currency payments for weapons back to North Korea. A clear case of this was the movement of funds from Myanmar (Burma) to the People's Republic of China earlier this year, evading sanctions on both North Korea and Myanmar.

See? He's half way to Acapulco...

...or more likely, one of the thousand or so small islands of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines region.

For those behind on their reading here, this is in reference to the thread topic Still trying to confirm the kills, specifically in reference to the supposed demise of one Noordin Muhammad Top.

Supposed, that was, until now. Indonesian Police now say the man killed was an accomplice, not Noordin.
DNA tests identified the man as one of Noordin's accomplices in the attacks on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta on 17 July, police said.
The hunt is still on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bout has *almost* slipped the charges

Read it and weep: The lower court ruling is in on extraditing Viktor Bout to the U.S.A. to face charges...
"The U.S. charges are not applicable under Thai law. This is a political case," said judge Jittakorn Wattanasin in delivering the verdict at Bangkok's Criminal Court.

"The FARC is fighting for a political cause and is not a criminal gang. Thailand does not recognise the FARC as a terrorist group."
Besides the obvious misapprehension on the part of the presiding judge as to the character of the FARC, His Honor seems to have overlooked the nature of the threat to civil aviation worldwide posed by anyone selling "700 to 800 surface-to-air missiles" on the black market.

There is still one last opportunity to land the fish. The Thai prosecutors can file an appeal up to 72 hours after the lower court rules, and that would bump the request to a higher court, but it almost requires that the prosecutors show that the lower court judge made a mistake or failed to address all the evidence presented in the extradition request.

Better make it a good try, fellows. The Russians already have the vodka on ice for the celebration party.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Madagascar Transition Deal Signed

We'll have to see if this is a step toward a resolution or just another Unity Government to Nowhere (Cf. Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)), but a deal has been done on a transition in the governance of Madagascar.
Madagascan leaders, including ousted president Marc Ravalomanana and strongman Andry Rajoelina, "agreed that the transition will last no longer 15 months from the signature of the accord," said UN mediator Tiebile Drame.

During that period legislative and presidential elections will be held under international supervision "which will lead to the re-establishment of stable democratic institutions in Madagascar," he added.
All well and good, and more power to them all if it works. Marc Ravalomanana has even stated he will personally not be part of the transition and that removes one road block to progress (his political party will be a part of the transition, however). The junta-backed A. Rajoelina government is in on the deal. Former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy were also invited to participate in the talks. This last is problematic as D. Ratsiraka has been a fugitive from a 2003 conviction on "misusing public funds and threatening state security" that has 10 years of forced labor and five years in prison as the sentence, but an amnesty for him was resolved as part of the negotiations.

The composition of the transition government has yet to be decided, however, said former Mozambican leader Joaquim Chissano, who led the talks which began on Wednesday.

"They will reflect on it and make a decision later," he told journalists.

The transition government is include a president, vice president, prime minister and three deputy prime ministers.
There is going to be a heck of fight over who gets what out of that. Here's hoping T. Drame is up for handling some contentious negotiations.

Still trying to confirm the kills

Two major GWOT high-value targets may well have been taken this week:

As widely reported, Baitullah Mehsud, a major Pakistani Taliban warlord of South Waziristan, may have been killed by a targeted missile strike... Here is the Washington Post article on the apparent power vacuum and struggle between potential new Taliban leaders. If he is indeed dead (his demise has been reported before), the world is a better place without the presumed master of terror attacks that have killed dozens, including twice-Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

In Indonesia, the Police special detachment believes that they cornered and killed Noordin Muhammad Top, a Malaysian national and chief bomb-plotter of the J.I. (al-Qaeda affiliated) terrorist movement, in a 16 hour gunbattle in Central Java. the raid and a similar one that shot dead two would be suicide-bombers, likely prevented an attack on Indonesia's President Yudhoyono's residence planned to coincide with Indonesian Independence Day celebrations. But... doubts are now emerging as to his demise.

Both cases highlight the difficulties in determining the results of strikes against terror organizations, and in confirming the death of the shadowy figures at the center of such organizations.

Besides, the old rule still applies:
"If you don't see the body, he's probably halfway to Acapulco..."

Great analysis and sourcing by the Long War Journal on both stories:

Bill Roggio on Baitullah Mehsud

Nick Grace on Noordin Top

Friday, August 7, 2009

One year ago...

A very good plan... by the Russians...

Set in motion a less-than-good-but-necessary plan... by the Georgians...

Which resulted in The Russo-Georgian War of 2008.

You know who I think was "right", and you also know how it came out. If you don't, look under the Caucasia label here at CompHyp. I also stand by my quote of *three days before the war*:
“It isn’t aggression if you are fighting on your own damn land.”
Life and Victory to a Re-united Republic of Georgia, one day.

Kenya-Tanzania Embassies Bombing Anniversary

It has been 11 years and, as of yet, justice is not done.

But it will be. Their names are known. There are 21 names on the list. Wadih El-Hage, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh are all in custody, serving Life-Without-the-Possiblity-of-Parole. Four others have been killed, and one other died in British prison last year. The U.K. holds two more in custody, and there are two more under Enemy Combatant detention by the U.S. military. The rest (8) are believed to be still at large.

Here's the open indictment: U. S. of A. vs. Usama Bin Laden, et al., S(9) 98 Cr. 1023 (LBS).

Maybe this time next year, the number outstanding will be lower... Here's hoping for zero.


Last year's 10th Anniversary Memorial, Some Anniversaries are of bad things...

Note: Some sources cite Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah as being targeted in the naval gunfire following up the Bargal Raid in Somalia, 2007. That may be so, but there is *no open confirmation* that he caught a 5"/62 shell or met an untimely accident. I'll believe he is dead when I see the body.

KP Department Closed

In the clean-up after the Sri Lankan victory over the LTTE ("Tamil Tigers") terrorist separatist movement, one major issue left open was the LTTE weapons smuggling network. As it mostly existed outside Sri Lanka, getting to the players and shutting them down was known to be a hard challenge.

Well, it looks like they've run one of the worst to ground. Selvarajah Pathmanathan, better known as "KP" ("KP Department" was the LTTE name for their arms smugglers), has been arrested and transported back to Sri Lanka for interrogation.

It has been a long chase to get him, too:
Sri Lankan officials said diplomatic necessities precluded naming the exact location where he was arrested.

"It is a sensitive issue and the government wants to respect the wishes of all parties involved," a senior Sri Lankan official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Thai authorities arrested Pathmanathan in 2007 and were ready to hand him over on condition their involvement was not known.

But he escaped after Sri Lanka publicised his arrest there, and Thailand denied he was ever in custody, diplomats with knowledge of the incident say. Earlier this year, Sri Lanka was infuriated when a European diplomat met KP in Kuala Lumpur.
Apparently, however, he had to show his face to claim leadership of the LTTE-in-exile and that led to the opportunity for the black-bag job that brought him in.

Caucasian Region 'Net War

The internet privateers of the Russian Federation are at it again:

Attacks targeting a specific individual took down Twitter and did some damage to capabilities of Facebook, LiveJournal, Blogger (our host, btw) and YouTube.
The (targeted) blogger, who uses the account name "Cyxymu," (the name of a town in the Republic of Georgia) had accounts on all of the different sites that were attacked at the same time, Max Kelly, chief security officer at Facebook, told CNET News.

"It was a simultaneous attack across a number of properties targeting him to keep his voice from being heard," Kelly said. "We're actively investigating the source of the attacks and we hope to be able to find out the individuals involved in the back end and to take action against them if we can."

Kelly declined to speculate on whether Russian nationalists were behind the attack, but said: "You have to ask who would benefit the most from doing this and think about what those people are doing and the disregard for the rest of the users and the Internet."
The attack was likely originated in Abkhazia, the Russian-occupied coastal region of the northwest of the Republic of Georgia. But in addition to tracking the perpetrator, the countermeasures available also did do some good:
Facebook and Google were able to minimize any impact to their sites. Facebook even managed to keep the Cyxymu account accessible to Web surfers from that region, Kelly said, although it was inaccessible to people in other geographic areas, including San Francisco.
Yay, team. Now to deliver a little "payback"...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Weekly N&C for August 3rd, 2009

Read this Book

(Note: I'm unavailable for lengthy project work some days this week. But thanks to the assistance of CompHyp-friend Adam Housley over at FOXNews, here's a matter of some interest to those who have been following the Kimberley Process matters regarding the Marange Diamond Field. I've not met Douglas Rogers, but given his insight and family relation to the matter, here's hoping I do meet him.)

Mr. Douglas Rogers, late of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) via South Africa and London, is a New York based journalist who has gained a superb repute as a travel and adventure writer. But when his byline shows up on some hard news reports on the Zimbabwe Cholera Outbreak (December 3rd, 2008) and then the Marange Diamond Field Massacres, that sort of draws one's attention. It turns out that the gentleman is son of the soil of Rhodesia, born in Mutare (Umtali) and... still has family there. This allows for primary-source reporting of the situation *in context*, and he doesn't miss his chance.

Here's a link to an interview he gave at FOX Business (with David Asman) on the whole matter of Marange, the Human Rights Watch report on how the ZANU-PF -run army took over the mines, and the abomination of how they did and still do run the place at gunpoint. The interview also promotes his soon-to-be available book on the experiences of his family and the people of the area... very fine timing there, sir.

The book is called The Last Resort and can be preordered at Amazon by that link, should one care to do so. It is a memoir, and by what can be seen of it in previews / reviews, a most valuable one.

His personal promotional web site is linked *here*, and includes a biography of the gentleman as well as information on his writings.

Thank you, Douglas Rogers, for telling your family's story.

W. J. Clinton to North Korea

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is on a visit "as a private citizen" to North Korea. Yonhap News (South Korea) has this report as of now, and can be generally followed in English at this web site.

Oddly, sources like NPR (American) have this as, to paraphrase, 'Al Gore asked to go, before, but the State Department wouldn't sign off on it'.

Hm. At least this gets eyes-on Kim Jong-Il. Maybe some value to that. Maybe, maybe *maybe* this is the showpiece kowtow required to get Laura Ling and Euna Lee out of there.

Any bets?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Morning Push

It is Sunday, 'blog time at least, so...

Here's your place to start something of your own interest. This thread is left open to comments for folks to make their own fun or leave messages for me about breaking news events. The usual rules still apply: play nice.


In the odd event that you'd rather read news than just discuss something, here are Three Things You Should Know from the latest news cycle:

Wild fires on a modest, water-short island are a very bad thing indeed. Besides having to evacuate 4,000 residents (so far)...
Officials were worried the fire could spread north toward Caldera de Taburiente national park, home to several endangered native species such as the Canary Islands Juniper.

Environment counselor Vladimiro Rodriguez said several fires started almost simultaneously, usually a sign they could be man-made. Around 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) had been destroyed by fire by midday Sunday.

A fire on the nearby island of La Gomera—the second in two days—was brought under control.
Then there is the latest from Cuba, where President Raul Castro a rousing speech to one-party "parliament" about not changing the system. Well... ((wry laugh)) Why ever would he want to change a system that has so rewarded him, his brother, and their extended family for decades? Something to think about, that.

Lastly, a moment of closure comes for the family of an American Naval Aviator missing in action since the First Gulf War: The remains of CPT Michael "Scott" Speicher have been positively identified. The recovery was made in July, and the news of the official identification just broke this day. May his family rest easier now, somehow.


Again, thanks to All for coming here!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ready for Round 2?

The open issue at the time of the suspension of open warfare last summer in the Republic of Georgia was, and remains, how long will Russia wait before they engineer a chance to finish what they set out to do?

Well, summer is here again, and with the season comes Russian claims of Georgian "aggressive intent". Their servile frontmen in South Ossetia are accusing Georgia of firing two mortar rounds on a military outpost along the defacto line-of-control, and the Russian Defense Ministry hauled out the usual threats:
"In the event of further acts of provocation threatening the population of the republic and the Russian military contingent based in the territory of South Ossetia, the Russian Defense Ministry reserves the right to use all available force and means to defend the citizens of the republic of South Ossetia and Russian servicemen," the ministry said in a statement, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.
To no great surprise, the Georgian Interior Ministry said there was no firing:
The Georgian Interior Ministry said there had been no shooting from either side of the boundary. The Russian statement "clearly shows very aggressive intent," said ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili. He urged the West to pay attention.
I'll echo that last part loudly.

The West should pay attention to what is happening. There are international inspectors and observers to be asked about this, even though they are only able to see things from the Georgian-controlled areas (the Russians got the OSCE observer mission on the Russian side of the line shut down early this year).

The truth can be known.

Let's let it be known far and wide, *before* things reach the point where the Russians feel confident enough to try for another bite of Georgian territory.

Goodbye, "Cory".

The finest example of her time in the power of faith and liberty to overturn an autocracy...

Former President Corazon Aquino of the Philippines

...has passed away.

May we all remember what she has done.

Happy Blogday to You!

Anniversary day here at CompHyp: One year's effort in the can.

Thank you, All!


It seems the tradition on weblog anniversaries is to mention the host's favorite thread topics of the previous year. Very well... here's a couple of mine:

Yes, as a matter of fact, I *am*...


There is no World News.

But the best part, by far, of doing this is when an informed commentator joins in, *whether he agrees with my premise or not* and has a spirited and civil discussion of the matter. Those have been an absolute joy.

Let's keep doing this!