Saturday, January 21, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

Showing a peace sign with your hand could allow others to photograph your fingerprints and provide someone else with your key biometric measure. Even a phone camera with the right lighting might be enough. In the article, a group is working on fingertip obscurers to wear that would still let you use your prints for your own use but prevent others from taking your prints. You might want to read The Light of Other Days for a view on how people react to a complete lack of privacy. Tip to Instapundit.

Never mind: The government once said not to give peanuts to young children. "Now, 12 years later, health experts have reversed their advice on peanuts, urging parents to begin feeding foods containing peanut powder or extract during infancy in hopes of reducing a child’s risk for allergy." Both my children can eat peanut butter. I ignored the (old) advice.

Let's not forget the support that Putin (and the Soviets before him) has given to the far left here in America. It's nice to be able to bring this up without suffering derision from liberals, who are Born Again Cold Warriors.

More on the Ivory Coast unrest I noted in the last weekend data dump.

Strategypage looks at missile defenses.

I'm never really sure if Representative Pelosi is a partisan hack or just dumb as a rock. I suppose I could use the curing powers of "and."

Banning the burqa (the head-to-toe garment that prevents a sin-prone man from seeing even enticing ankle flesh on a woman) isn't just for raging Islamophobes, it seems. As a symbol of the faction of Islam most prone to producing and supporting jihadis, I guess Morocco doesn't want to take a chance. In an amusing editorial decision, the article says that Morocco is an "African" country. Yes, it is in Africa, but it is more accurately called an Arab country, like Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.

We've missed something in physics if the EM Drive really works, as it seems to do on a small scale anyway. Fascinating. Tip to Instapundit.

The Clintons are discontinuing the Clinton Global Initiative. Which makes sense. Nobody on the globe has any reason to donate now that Hillary Clinton isn't going to reside in the White House. No word on whether the Clinton Foundation will refund money paid for that influence the donors thought they would get with their money. I guess the prospects of Hillary being mayor of New York or of Chelsea becoming a junior minority representative in Congress doesn't cut it, influence-wise.

Why do people make up hate crimes? Sadly, there is some hate out there--on both sides. But precious little in our large country, really. And all the high-profile "hate" crimes by Trump backers against minorities that have been shown to be false harm the ability to rationally discuss the issue. The Left doesn't care that the cases are false because they "know' they are fake but accurate. Those on the right are prone to dismiss calls to do something about hate because it is easy to assume that most that hit the news are fake.

Just as the pre-election outrageously bigoted expressions of hate against Trump supporters got me to be much more accepting of the Trump candidacy--despite my longstanding disdain for Trump--the post-election Democratic tantrum has put off my transition from being relieved that Hillary lost (and that Obama would leave) to worried that Trump won. I'm not alone in this.

The Russians are "hacking" the California secession movement. The Russians are also involved in Texas. Californians should be more careful. You know that Russian River? Yeah, Russian colonists used to live there. So Russia would have a basis to claim California if it secedes.

I freely admit I lack nuance.  Could somebody explain why it is sexist to call a female actor an "actress" but it is okey dokey--nay, necessary--to call a female Latino a "Latina?"

Sure, Japan has reason to worry if the Philippines under Duterte is going wobbly on China and if America under Trump reduces our Pacific role. But I think it is too soon to think those potential reverses are going to come true. But if Japan wants to keep arming up just in case, I'm fine with that.

Lithuania is building a fence along their border with Russian Kaliningrad to keep out smugglers--and other undesirable little green men types. This is no type of defense against armed aggression, but if it comes to that NATO forces should be the ones going into Kaliningrad and not vice versa.

I know I am nuance-deficient. But if the Trump candidacy was a racist reaction to the President Obama era, as leftists assert, why didn't the racists vote against Obama when he was, you know, running for the office? Face it, a ham sandwich with a (D) after it should have been able to beat Trump. Sadly for the Democrats, they ran Hillary Clinton.

Taiwan is updating their Chaparral air defense missiles.

Not that I'm going to defend the corrupt (Democratic) Chicago political machine, but given that statistics are the third form of lies, why didn't the Obama administration even bother to twist statistics to prove a pattern or practice of violence in the Chicago police department?

The United States Army has brought back the Volcano instant minefield system now that conventional war is back on its plate.

The liberal notion that the Obama administration was scandal-free requires you to argue that only a sex or money scandal counts. Hillary's multi-faceted email scandal doesn't count--including why other government officials who knew she was off-the-books didn't blow the whistle doesn't count? Fast and Furious gun-running to Mexico and the IRS targeting scandals don't count? Lying about the Benghazi terror attack doesn't count? A bunch of dead veterans at the hands of the VA doesn't count? I discount the OPM hacking so-called scandal because if mere ineptitude counts, like mass water pollution by the friggin' EPA, the sky's the limit. Good Lord, look what lefties consider Bush 43 administration "scandals." If that's your standard for scandals, the Obama list will include the OPM failure and a whole lot more. Sure, President Obama was not guilty of any personal sex or financial scandal. Bravo. But there were scandals. And part of the scandal is that the media doesn't recognize them. So yeah, the only sucking up for the president was done by our press corps. Again, bravo.

Russian military modernization continues to focus on upgrading older weapons rather than buying new advanced designs unveiled with much publicity. Which works for a while, of course. Just when will Russia be able to afford new weapons when the older weapons reach the limits of updates?

Ukraine is suing Russia for operating in eastern Ukraine. I still think Ukraine should be sending Moscow a massive bill every month for rent for illegally squatting in the Crimean peninsula taken from Ukraine.

Obamacare killed 300,000 small business jobs? So what? As Pelosi said, having health insurance would free people to pursue their dreams--like subsidized cowboy poets, I suppose. So we have that going for us.

American B-2 stealth bombers--plural--struck ISIL targets in Libya. Here's our press release. Not that we needed stealth to safely reach the targets. But it is nice practice. The Russians--who would love bases in Libya (as they had back in the Soviet days) to support their position in the eastern Mediterranean--probably noticed. Heck, perhaps General Haftar who is thinking of aligning his Libyan faction with Russia noticed, too. Although maybe this is leverage to get into the UN-recognized government. Heck, perhaps Egypt noticed, given that Russian influence with Hiftar will affect Egypt which has an interest in stability in eastern Libya.

After Turkey complained about the lack of American air support for Turkey's fight inside Syria--not so subtlely threatening our base at Incirlik and getting Russian air support--American aircraft struck ISIL targets around al-Bab to help the Turks. Yet still Turkey and Russia carried out a joint air strike. What part of being a member of NATO is unclear to Turkey?

Europeans continue their effort to stabilize Mali, which is in need of it jihadi-wise, ever since the French overran the jihadi north in January 2013.

Duterte may want to reconsider his anti-charm offensive against America given that efforts to get China to make nice on their claims against the Philippines won't work. Manila has noticed.

Iraq has mostly taken eastern Mosul and the Iraqis claim that most ISIL commanders in Mosul have been killed. Certainly the most recent phase of the Iraqi offensive has seemed to go more smoothly. I eagerly await the offensive on western Mosul to see where the Iraqis attack.

The World Food Program stopped dropping food in the isolated Assad enclave at Deir Ezzor due to ISIL advances. Which is an interesting example of how private aid organizations participate in wars. Assad doesn't allow the WFP to drop food to Syrians in territory besieged by Assad's forces. Assad is calling up civilians inside the enclave to fight and is apparently flying in reinforcements. Despite success at Aleppo, losing another isolated city would be bad for the morale of Assad's supporters.

If the status of Russian-occupied Crimea is non-negotiable as Putin says, Ukraine needs to build up their capability to attack Russia's bases there with long-range missiles and minefields at sea around the Sevastopol port.

Please remember that as Iraqi forces rely on American (and Western) advisors, that the reason we can rely on advisors and combat support  to enable the Iraqis to attack is that the liberation of Iraq created an Iraqi state and security forces capable of fighting. Sure, our departure in 2011 heavily degraded what we created. And I don't understand why our two years of efforts have failed to create more Iraqi units capable of attacking. But because of the liberation of Iraq we do have the option of supporting Iraqi forces rather than committing American maneuver units.

Leftist masturbatory fantasies continued to the end. Keep it classy CNN. Worst come to worst, let's hope Ash Carter is the designated survivor.

American forces still sit in Kosovo, nearly 18 years after that war. Russian involvement with Serbia means we have to watch for another round of some sort. Please note that Bush 43 did not withdraw even though it was a war initiated by Bill Clinton (without UN or Congressional approval, I should add).

Annals from the "reality-based community" on health bankruptcies. Senator Elizabeth Warren has a starring role, so you know it is complete fantasy masquerading as fact. They just keep recycling their make-believe world where they are the heroes. Tip to Instapundit.

Jordan is beefing up their forces on their border with Syria. UPDATE: Strategypage looks at Jordan's security forces.

Strategypage has some good overviews of Syria (and rebels still hold out in western Aleppo--who knew?), Afghanistan (where they say the government is doing better than the rebels, despite my worries), and Yemen (where a stalemate due to efforts to minimize casualties endures for now).

The permanent federal bureaucracy leans to the Democratic side. Enough so that the IRS was weaponized against conservatives. This will be a problem for Trump, as it was for Reagan. Which is why I've long said it is a fool's game to focus on capturing the presidency and assuming that will allow a conservative to easily move the federal government. It is far better to reduce the scope and depth of federal power to make it less important to control the executive branch. Tip to Instapundit.

An Iranian "frigate" (really just a corvette) and a supply ship, grandiosely called the 44th Flotilla, has been stuck in South Africa since November while the supply ship is out of the water under repair.

Russia already announced this, but Syria and Russia have signed an agreement to expand Russia's naval facilities at Tartus. The deal is for free use for 49 years with an option to renew for 25. Russia will expand it to hold up to 11 warships. The deal is likely part of an effort to portray the civil war as won, when rebels still have a lot of strength and Syria's forces are pretty battered. Will the rebels buy the notion that the war is over? Will foreign backers of the rebels agree?

The Danes are still involved in Iraq War 2.0. So thanks for that.

An American B-52 strike killed 100 al Qaeda jihadis in Syria. On top of the B-2 strike on ISIL in Libya (noted somewhere above), I wonder if this is an effort to knock back ISIL during the transition period? I thought much the same thing in the last transition about the surge in drone strikes on jihadis in Pakistan under Bush 43 prior to Obama's inauguration. The drone campaign continued, contrary to my expectation. Will the big bomber strikes continue, too?

Turkey's post-coup purge continues. If there was that much support for the coup, the coup would have succeeded. This seems more like a push to make Turkey a better fit for friendship with Russia than NATO. This is not good.

Why is it a shock that nationalist leaders are gaining popularity in Europe?  The European Union stands as a multi-national imperial project that would turn European nations into quaint tourist attractions with their cute postage stamps and local cuisine--but no actual power to frame how those people will live.

If Republicans had beclowned themselves 8 years ago the way Democrats are now doing (and beyond, into far Left violence), the media would consider it a national crisis rather than just another day of normal, reasonable news.

Liberalism is killing science, too. As I've said, the federal government is too powerful. If it was less powerful, politics wouldn't pollute so much of our lives. In the 1980s, I recall a friend describing how the big names in archeology squelched dissent from their theories on the origins of humans in the Americas. So the idea of the powers that be in an area of scientific inquiry defining what "science" is pre-dated the global warming extreme political distortions that we experience now.

The French carrier is not a joke. It is a small carrier that is able to carry out very real aviation missions. And until the British start operating F-35s off of their two carriers, only American carriers are better. Look at me, defending the French what with my nuance deficiency and all that.