Night ops

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fun with North Korea: Private Company Submits to Blackmail, Setting Stage for Other Demands

Current DPRK Kim-in-Charge. A/K/A "Chubby"
The really, really impressive DPRK hacks Sony Pictures Entertainment and threatens to use its mighty power to "create a sea of fire" (a standard NoRK threat) or its equivalent and kill every single person who decides to go watch a movie:
The Sony hacking saga took a sinister turn on Tuesday when hackers sent a message threatening to target theaters showing “The Interview” in a 9/11-type attack.
As we all now know, Sony has decided not to expose its customers to such a threat and pulled the movie.

From a corporate liability view, I get it.

On the other hand, who will line up next to threaten movie and television studios about the content of their shows? Russia? Iran? Pakistan? China? al Qaeda? The Taliban? Boko Haram? Hamas?

The list is almost endless.

So, I would guess includes pretty much anyone who doesn't like to be portrayed in a negative light.

Or, at least, in a light that they feel is negative.

Looks like Hollywood writers need to get working harder on more "space alien" movies where the bad guys come from very far away.

At least until the Gbaba show up.

On the other hand, we could, oh, I don't know, stand up to this sort of bullying effort. Otherwise, you can pretty much kiss freedom of speech good-bye because of a heckler's veto - which you might remember from the excuses rationale offered for the Benghazi attack.

Despite the way in which we seem to submit to threats, we really are not 98-pound weaklings. Just confused a little because we forget our values. "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute" expressing one of them.

By the way, I wonder if the current Kim-in-Charge would like us to -um- censor his often looney comments about the world by, oh, threatening the future existence of the worst regime on the planet if he opens his yap again? After all, we technically are still at war with the DPRK.

Just sayin' . . .

Meanwhile, I think Team America is available on Netflix and Amazon. On my list for tonight's film.

Or even in a theater in Texas.

Trust me, Chubby Kim, you do not want to mess with Texas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Another Plug for a Great Online News Source on the "Long War" Against Terror

If you aren't reading The Long War Journal on a daily basis, you are behind the knowledge curve on the "where and what" of the struggle against terrorism.

An excellent example is a report on the attack on the high school in Pakistan that took over 120 lives - "The Peshawar attack: sickening, but no surprise":
Today's attack seems especially heinous given that the Taliban intentionally targeted students, but it isn't particularly unique: in recent years the Taliban has executed numerous suicide operations against soft targets such as churches, shrines, markets, hotels, and even hospitals. Thousands of civilians have been killed in such attacks since the Pakistani Taliban was formed in late 2006.

Pakistani military and government officials were quick to condemn today's attack. And while the military and government have pursued the Taliban for waging war against the state, the Pakistani establishment is in many ways responsible for the group's survival.

While the Pakistani government views the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and other jihadist groups (such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) as "bad Taliban," it treats other Taliban groups, such as the al-Qaeda-allied Haqqani Network, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group, and Lashkar-e-Taiba as state assets. In the words of the chief adviser to the prime minister on national security and foreign affairs, such groups are "not our problem." These Taliban groups, the so-called "good Taliban," only seek to wage jihad in Afghanistan or India - not overthrow the Pakistani regime - and thus offer Islamabad "strategic depth."

This good-versus-evil view of the Taliban, however, is fatally flawed. The so-called good Taliban shelter and support the Pakistani Taliban as well as al Qaeda and other jihadist groups. Moreover, while the Pakistani military has launched an operation in the tribal North Waziristan area to root out the Taliban, the group would be unable to operate there without the assistance of the so-called good Taliban of the Haqqani Network.

Let me also commend the West Point Combating Terrorism Center, especially its resource section on ISIL, Syria and Iraq.

Along the way you might ponder why ISIL and AQ are encouraging "lone wolf" terror attacks and why it so hard for some people to see the danger.

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Help Your Neighbors and Let Your Neighbors Help You

A few years ago there was a storm that dumped a bunch of snow on the nice area where I live in the American South.

Now we don't usually get much snow down here and even the threat of a few inches has been known to bring the place to a full stop for a couple of days. This usually causes my friends and relatives who have, for reasons best known to them, decided to live in really cold places, to call me up and tell me what a place of wimps I have landed in.

Many of these relatives seem to have forgotten that I lived in Nebraska and Wyoming and in Michigan and have "enjoyed" the effects of snow and ice and grayness that lasts for months. I recall the sub-zero days and nights. I have trudged through snow over my boot tops to get to school and back home with the icy wind in my face both ways.

I settled where I am because we don't get much snow down here and that is just fine with me.

However, when do we get one of those 8 to 18 inch "dustings" I undertake all the things I learned as a teenager whose father decreed that the driveway and sidewalks must be cleared of snow as soon as possible after a storm and that the primary function of a teenage boy was to accomplish that task.

Imagine my surprise then following one "snow event" that people in one of our suburbs (a town whose name has be declared to be an acronym for "Containment Area for Relocated Yankees") were shown on television coverage of this disaster complaining they were trapped in their homes because their town, county and state hadn't come to clear out their cul de sacs. They were unable to get to the store for bread and milk and other essentials of life, like doughnuts and bagels. "Harrumph! Harumph!" they said, "Why back in New Connectimassjersey this would never happen."

So I sat there and thought, "Right - but you may have noticed that the address on your house indicates you are now in a whole different place - which, presumably, you chose because snow and ice 'events' occur somewhat less frequently here than in -say- Buffalo, NY. Those lower taxes you pay here? Because we don't spend a ton of money on snow removal equipment, we save tax dollars."

Later, as I was out shoveling snow off the driveways and walks of some of my elderly neighbors and even some of the streets by our houses, I thought, "Wait. What's stopping those folks from doing what I'm doing and getting off their duffs to shovel out some part or all of their precious cul de sacs? Why don't they get together with their neighbors and clear paths to the main roads?"

I don't know the answer to that question, but it dawned on me that we seem to have lost those "self help" and "help your neighbor" ideals somewhere if all you can do is whine about how slow the government is to get to you.

All you really need to do is to talk to your neighbors every now and then (heck invite them over for a get together on your front lawn - they probably won't bite) and mention a few things that have been known to happen in your neighborhood (trees falling down in the streets, snow, etc) and talk up a little cooperation in helping clear things up to make it better for everyone.

Hey, look at this as an example:
10 Simple Steps to Help With Snow Removal

1. Start a neighborhood team to help shovel snow for elderly and those unable to shovel.

2. Residents and businesses should ensure all accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities are cleared of snow and ice.

3. Don’t put trash cans and recycling bins out until after the plows have come.

4. If possible, remove parked cars from the road. Navigating around objects severely hampers a plow or heavy equipment driver’s ability to clear the roads and costs valuable time.

5. Clear snow away from fire hydrants in your neighborhood. Ask neighbors to adopt a fire hydrant and clear snow and ice away from all hydrants so that they are easily visible in the event of a fire.

6. Shovel snow into the yard instead of into the street to minimize the problem of the snowplow covering your driveway with snow after you've just shoveled it.

7. Keep the openings of storm drains clear of snow and debris to help alleviate potential flooding and to protect the environment. (At no time, however, should a resident attempt to enter a storm drain to remove debris.)

8. Remove all portable basketball hoops from the road when possible.

9. Volunteer to use equipment you may have such as small snow blowers for a community removal effort.

10. Driving on snow is dangerous and packs the snow into compact sheets that turn to ice, making it much harder and more expensive to remove. If possible, don’t attempt to drive before the plows come to your neighborhood.
Good ideas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mushy Return Fire: China's "Nine Dashed Line" Fantasy Get Pelted by Marshmallows by the U.S. Department of State

Scott Cheney-Peters guests at USNI News and writes about The Expanding Assault on China's South China Sea Claims, citing what, in my opinion, is a typically mushy U.S. State Department document:

If you want to cut to the chase, skip all the early stuff and head directly for the conclusion, which notes:
China has not clarified its maritime claims associated with the dashed-line maps in a manner consistent with international law. China’s laws, declarations, official acts, and official statements present conflicting evidence regarding the nature and scope of China’s claims. The available evidence suggests at least three different interpretations that China might intend, including that the dashes are (1) lines within which China claims sovereignty over the islands, along with the maritime zones those islands would generate under the LOS Convention; (2) national boundary lines; or (3) the limits of so-called historic maritime claims of varying types.
How nice of the State Department to suggest China's possible intent, instead of just noting that China lack of clarification is good cover for its attempted "land and sea grab."

Then there is this powerful concluding paragraph:
For these reasons, unless China clarifies that the dashed-line claim reflects only a claim to islands within that line and any maritime zones that are generated from those land features in accordance with the international law of the sea, as reflected in the LOS Convention, its dashed-line claim does not accord with the international law of the sea.
You have got to be kidding.

China's "grab" is not, as China well knows, covered by the law of the sea. It is, however, in  "accord" with the law of the "biggest dog" taking what it wants. The acts of a bully pushing around its weaker neighbors while attempting to provide cover for its actions with a fig leaf of "legal right" ("we once sailed through these waters, therefore they are ours" or some such baloney).

State should have written: "China's claims are unmitigated B.S. and serve only as a cover for its attempts to take over the bulk of the South China Sea with flimsiest of excuses, to the detriment both of its neighbors and the freedom of the seas."

Sorry, State, the clarification that is needed here is one that says, "If you try to take the territory and maritime rights of our allies, we will not stand idly by."

I don't think pelting aggressors with marshmallows has ever deterred anything. How many more disasters will it take for State to figure out that weakness in the face of such action just invites more aggression?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Thanks to my crack technical staff - is back online

After beating my head against it with no success, I called on the crack technical unit of EagleSpeak to fix the glitch that I created this morning .... well, really,  I sent a text to my younger daughter and ... lo and behold!

It's back!

It's good to have experts in the family.

Big gun salute!

Well, Sometimes Things Change

For those of you used to going to, I am working to get that to work again after a change that seems harder than it should be.

I own the domain name, but am having some trouble getting it to work right now and due to a time crunch, will need to fix it later. Just use use for now.


You might recall Mr. Murphy:
 If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop
Bear with me.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

On Midrats 14 Dec 14 - Episode 258: COIN, Cyber, and Lawfare: the continuity of war in to 2015

UPDATE2: Really, if you missed the live show, take the time to listen to this one from the archives or at iTunes. Links at the bottom.

UPDATE: Well, someone unwrapped the gift early so here's a modified plan:

As we near Christmas,it is a season of surprises - and Midrats presents Episode 258: COIN, Cyber, and Lawfare: the continuity of war in to 2015 on 14 Dec 14 at 5pm:
With the coming of the new year, some things have not changes and the old challenges are still with us; most waxing - only a few waning.

This Sunday we have returning guest Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., Major General, USAF (Ret.), Professor of the Practice of
Law, and Executive Director, Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University.

We will cover the board spectrum of the evolution of Counter Insurgency, warfare in the cyber domain, and the ever-present impact of law on the conduct of war.

General Dunlap's teaching and scholarly writing focus on national security, international law, civil-military relations, cyberwar, airpower, counter-insurgency, military justice, and ethical issues related to the practice of national security law.

Tune in at 5pm (EST) and find out. You can find the show here (live or unwrap it later). Or pick up the show later from our iTunes page here

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday Is Heinlein Quote Day

On deadlines and the dangers they pose:

NY Times quote:
"They didn't want it good, they wanted it Wednesday."

There is a reason why you take your time when, say, welding in a shipyard on components whose failure would have -um- negative results.