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Blue_Tires's Journal
Blue_Tires's Journal
July 31, 2015

I refuse to believe this story...

Phone found in working condition after 9,300-foot fall

Wichita Falls, Texas - After falling 9,300 feet from a Beechcraft Bonanza airplane, a lost iPhone not only reported its location but laid out a map where owner Ben Wilson could find it.

“It was by the side of the road south of Jacksboro, under a mesquite tree,” said Wilson, chuckling. “The donkey pointed out where it was.”

It is a real Texas story. Monday afternoon Wilson, owner of Gas Corp. of America and pilot Will Warnock were on their way back from Houston to Kickapoo Airport when pressure change caused a door latch on the passenger side to give way by 3 inches.

“The pressure popped and a newspaper flew out but I didn’t see the phone go. After we got back I looked for it on the floor (of the plane) and in my briefcase but couldn’t find it,” Wilson said.

“I met Ben at the airport and we checked for the phone, even wondered if it might have been left in a rental car. We used his Find My iPhone app and learned it was still alive,” said John Kidwell, Gas Corp.’s vice president of sales. “Later I checked the iCloud and could see it was outside of Joplin (Texas).” Joplin is a wide spot in the road ain rural Jack County.

July 31, 2015

JOURNALISM! in Ukraine (twofer Friday)

Reportedly from freelance "journalist" Kitty Logan @1kittylogan -- Beyond words:

And the official response: https://twitter.com/yarko/status/627135954336268288

And here is the definitive, all-encompassing deconstruction of propaganda boy Graham Phillips: http://ukrainewarlog.blogspot.com/p/british-citixen-and-kremlin-reporter.html?spref=tw

July 31, 2015

1973 | Meet Donald Trump

They first met him, on the front page no less, on Oct. 16, 1973. Then 27 years old, Mr. Trump was the president of the Trump Management Corporation, at 600 Avenue Z in Brooklyn, which owned more than 14,000 apartments in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

“Major Landlord Accused of Antiblack Bias in City,” the headline stated. The Department of Justice had brought suit in federal court in Brooklyn against Mr. Trump and his father, Fred C. Trump, charging them with violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in the operation of 39 buildings.

“The government contended that Trump Management had refused to rent or negotiate rentals ‘because of race and color,’ ” The Times reported. “It also charged that the company had required different rental terms and conditions because of race and that it had misrepresented to blacks that apartments were not available.”

Two months later, Trump Management, represented by Roy M. Cohn, turned around and sued the United States government for $100 million (roughly $500 million in today’s terms), asserting that the charges were “irresponsible and baseless.”


July 31, 2015

Espionage Among Allies

It's expected that nations will collect intelligence. Much of it is open source, but other methods carry a certain weight because of sensitivity. Intelligence gathered from human sources are among the most sensitive of these collection methods. Some of this sensitive intelligence is shared among allies and the U.S. has intelligence sharing agreements on numerous levels with different nations. Frankly, it's quite complicated, but it's important to note that safeguards are put in place to protect sources and methods. What this means is that while intelligence may be shared the method by which it was acquired may not be. This is precisely why bigot lists - access rosters - are used. There is also professional courtesy among "friendly agencies." Here's the thing, though, intelligence that is shared is bound by agreements not to be shared with nations not party to the agreement. Though there is little in the way of protecting information once it's shared, professional courtesy to abide by intelligence sharing agreements is expected. If it's discovered that the trust of the agreement was violated, then relations can take a hit and sharing agreements can be revised. This is one of the many issues counterintelligence analysts look at when trying to understand why a nation not privy to certain information has something that they shouldn't. This was evident in the Wall Street Journal piece yesterday that described Israeli collection on the U.S. as being discovered by Washington's own intelligence collection on Israel.

The U.S. is generally concerned with Israeli espionage and many who work counterintelligence consider Israel to be the top collection threat in the Near East. Some in the media have taken this out of context and placed Israel as the top collection threat, but it's important to note that the threat is indeed regional. The high profile of U.S.-Israeli relations and the history of contentious espionage issues between the two nations often brings a lot of attention to any allegations of Israeli collection attempts. Israel and the U.S. do have an intelligence sharing agreement in place, but there are some things Israel may want or need that don't fall under that agreement. This is what often serves as the motivation for Israel to collect that information to fill intelligence gaps. For the U.S., this is unacceptable because Washington chose not to share information for a specific reason and now that it is in the hands of a foreign nation it becomes difficult to protect the sources and methods used to collect that intelligence in the first place. This was an element in the now infamous espionage case involving Jonathan Pollard. Pollard claimed that the intelligence he provided to Israel fell under the sharing agreement; however that was not his call to make. Furthermore, intelligence he provided to Israel wound up in the hands of the Soviet Union.

The Pollard affair was the breakpoint in how Israel collected intelligence on the U.S. and caused a low in U.S. - Israeli relations. Embarrassment followed, but eventually Israel made changes to its intelligence community and swore to never repeat the Pollard incident. Of course this didn't mean that Israel would stop spying. After all, intelligence collection is a necessary element of statecraft. What changed was targeting and methods of targeting. United States would remain an intelligence target, but the methods used to collect that information would change. From the U.S. perspective, Washington would continue to collect on Israel to ensure its interests and information were protected. It didn't take the Snowden leaks to demonstrate that the U.S. spies on its allies. Turn about is fair game so to speak, but the practicality of collecting intelligence on allies and adversaries alike is vital and not necessarily vindictive.

In looking at this Wall Street Journal article covering the United States and Israel spying on one another over the Iranian negotiations there are a few things of note. First, when an article covering intelligence appears in the news and quotes unnamed officials it's important to remember that these anonymous officials aren't always anonymous. Or at least not as anonymous as one would think. People who are truly in the know can be few and far between, and those who can speak with authority are fewer still. In other words, if this was not an authorized leak, then it would not be too difficult to narrow down the individual responsible for unauthorized disclosure of information. Naturally there are exceptions to this, but the leaked information appears deliberate. Second, the article appears at a politically sensitive time for both nations. The United States and Israel are at a politically contentious standoff over the Iranian negotiations because of the high stakes for all parties involved. This article appears to be another salvo in the battle between Pres. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Indeed, this seems to be a calculated release on the part of the White House. From an analytical standpoint much of the information presented in the article that was allegedly collected by the Israelis doesn't necessarily seem to have come from U.S. sources. Israel is widely known to be actively and aggressively collecting intelligence on Iran, thus it stands to reason that any details of the negotiations that the U.S. didn't disclose to its Middle Eastern allies could've been collected from an Iranian source. Furthermore, Israel has ties with other western nations that are involved in the negotiations and some of these nations have provided details of the negotiations to the Israelis. In those cases, diplomacy, not espionage, would likely have been a source of much of the information. In short, while it is known that Israel collects intelligence on the U.S., at times aggressively, there were plenty of other sources of information available for exploitation. In light of how few examples were provided in the Wall Street Journal article by the anonymous official on how Israel collected the information on the United States, it would suggest that any information collected by the Israelis would have been used to confirm something they already knew.


July 31, 2015

Greek Debt Crisis Adds to a Spike in Burglaries and Robberies

ATHENS — One evening three weeks ago in Kifissia, an affluent garden suburb of Athens, a retired financial adviser and his wife decided to take in one of the delights of summer here, an outdoor movie.

They pulled tight the shutters, set the alarm, locked the house and strolled off. Halfway through the movie the alarm company called, and they rushed home to find the alarm immersed in a bucket of water, the shutters jimmied and a safe emptied of jewelry. The speed and sophistication of the crime were astonishing, the financial adviser’s wife said, still feeling vulnerable and not willing to be identified by name.

At seemingly every dinner gathering in Athens this summer, the conversation turns to tales of break-ins, burglaries and robberies that have accompanied the government debt crisis. Even before the crisis shut down the banks and limited the availability of cash, crime of this sort was ticking upward. The economy has been in disarray. People have been out of work for years. The banks have been running out of money. It sounds a lot like the Great Depression in the United States. But it is Greece – and in some ways, the situation is worse.

But in the weeks before capital controls were imposed at the end of June, billions of euros fled the Greek banking system. Greeks feared that their euro deposits might be automatically converted to a new currency if Greece left the eurozone and would quickly lose value, or that they would face a “haircut” to their accounts if their bank failed amid the stresses of the crisis.

While the rich may have moved their money to Switzerland, Luxembourg or safe deposit boxes, the middle class has stashed not just cash but gold and jewelry, among other valuables, under the proverbial mattress.


July 31, 2015

Deals Flow to Contractor Tied to Mexican President

SAN FRANCISCO XOCHICUAUTLA, Mexico — Armando García has filed lawsuits, joined protests and gotten arrested trying to stop a highway from slicing through his hilly backyard in a nature reserve.

But even with a court order on his side, bright green pines have been stripped away and tree stumps dot the hillside. Parts of protected forest have been slashed, exposing the path of a 20-mile highway to the new airport in Mexico City that is demolishing swaths of Mr. García’s indigenous community in its wake.

Mr. García and his neighbors fighting it say they never really stood a chance. After all, they are not battling ordinary construction crews. They are taking on a businessman so well connected that Mexicans have long called him the president’s “favorite contractor.”

After years of demonstrations and court battles, President Enrique Peña Nieto signed an executive order this month expropriating 91 acres of what many here consider sacred land. And is it any wonder he did, residents argue. The same contractor carving through their land has held the title to the president’s family mansion, provided a house to the finance minister for zero profit and does billions of dollars in deals with the government.


July 30, 2015

Murder, Poisoning, Raids: Itís Election Season in Russia

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the only billionaire jailed by Vladimir Putin, is assembling an army of volunteers to challenge the electoral system that supports his nemesis. Accusations of murder and poisoning are already flying. Khodorkovsky, freed 18 months ago, has said he hopes to spark a palace coup from self-imposed exile in Switzerland, exploiting what he predicts will be rising discontent with a contracting economy. He’s starting with a project to hunt for violations in the first major elections Putin and his ruling United Russia party will face since the president returned to the Kremlin in 2012 after a four-year stint as prime minister.

The tycoon, who says his 10-year imprisonment for financial crimes was retribution for funding Putin’s opponents, is teaming up with Golos, a vote monitor whose reports of fraud in the 2011 contest for parliament helped trigger the biggest protests of the Russian leader’s 15-year rule.

“Monitoring elections will be seen as a provocation,” said Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the independent Center for Political Technologies in Moscow.

Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia foundation and Moscow-based Golos plan to dispatch 1,000 observers each to regional polls in September and thousands more for early legislative elections next year, as well as the presidential vote due in 2018 that may give Putin another six years in power. He’s funding his monitoring project with some of the $100 million he says is left from a fortune that once stood at $15 billion.


July 30, 2015

The academic universe is indifferent to WikiLeaks

As the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts continue its slow segue back from vacation, let’s focus on a relatively easy topic: the alleged hand-in-glove relationship between the U.S. State Department, the International Studies Association [ISA] and American academics.

Let me explain: Earlier this month WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave an interview to Germany’s Der Spiegel in which he lamented over the failure of academics to exploit WikiLeaks’ release of U.S. diplomatic cables to the fullest:

I worry most about academia and the particular part of academia that is dealing with international relations. WikiLeaks has published over 2 million diplomatic cables. It is the single largest repository for international relations of primary source materials, all searchable. It is the cannon for international relations. It is the biggest dog in the room. There has been some research published in Spanish and in Asian languages. But where are the American and English journals? There is a concrete explanation: They act as feeder schools for the US State Department. The US association that controls the big five international relations journals, the ISA, has a quiet, official policy of not accepting any paper that is derived from WikiLeaks’ materials.

Now this last allegation is a blatant falsehood. The executive director of the International Studies Association flatly denied Assange’s claims, as Ben Norton reported on his blog, Furthermore, Norton discovered at least a few articles in ISA journals that have cited the WikiLeaks cables.


July 29, 2015

(LOL WHUT) Giant panda accused of 'faking pregnancy' for better treatment

Anyone who follows Shanghaiist's extensive coverage of pandas is by now well-aware that we are more than a tad obsessed with the fluffy, adorable creatures. That's why we were as shocked as anyone to learn that they can sometimes act like total assholes. Maybe.

China Daily has reported that a panda named Yuan Yuan at the Taipei Zoo in Taiwan actually faked her own pregnancy in order to be relocated to fancier accommodations ahead of the summer.

When pandas become pregnant at the zoo, they are moved into single rooms with air-conditioners, where they receive extra helpings of food and around-the-clock attention.

Researchers believe Yuan Yuan, after observing the change in treatment, may have displayed behavior similar to that exhibited during pregnancy so that she could live in air-conditioned luxury during the scorching summer months.

How she managed to "fake" the thinning of her uterus, we cannot answer, but apparently this isn't the first case of its kind...


Yuanyuan, a female panda eats her "birthday cake" at Taipei Zoo.

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Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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About Blue_Tires

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