NSA using facial recognition software to steal your images. Russia beating the West at Propaganda war in Ukraine.

I think it safe to assume nothing is sacred in terms of the NSA. They are snagging any information they can and can afford to let technology catch up to what they have. They steal your phone calls… Web searches.. Your texts… They use your phone to see where you are going and how often… They are stealing your friends lists and finding out who you talk to and how often. The New York Times is now reporting they are stealing your photos off Facebook..Instagram or any other service they want. Let’s not forget this is all against the 4th amendment of the US Constitution..

 

 

 

The implications of this are devious and mind numbing. Let’s not forget they have not stopped any attacks anywhere for any reason. They are data mining for their own nefarious illegal plans which the NSA thinks you have zero right to actually know.

 

 

 

The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.

The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show. The agency’s ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its effort have not previously been disclosed.

The agency intercepts “millions of images per day” — including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images” — which translate into “tremendous untapped potential,” according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. While once focused on written and oral communications, the N.S.A. now considers facial images, fingerprints and other identifiers just as important to its mission of tracking suspected terrorists and other intelligence targets, the documents show.

The implications of this are devious as well as mind numbing. They have yet to stop a single attack anywhere for any reason. Th continue Data mining for their own nefarious illegal plans.

The documents themselves can be found here.

 

Russia and Propaganda.

I have been interested in Propaganda for awhile and the various ways it is used both know and in our past. Propaganda has been around for hundreds of years now and has been almost perfected in WW2 and since the Cold War. The US and Russia are in a bitter propaganda war for the hearts and minds of the World concerning Ukraine.

Russia appears to be winning.

Rodionov says that, since its founding, Ruptly has attracted 14 subscribers and over 200 customers, including German broadcasters “both public and private.” Subsidies from Moscow enable Ruptly to offer professionally produced videos at prices cheaper than those of the private competition.

The battle over Ukraine is being fought with diverse means — with harsh words and soft diplomacy, with natural gas, weapons and intelligence services. But perhaps the most important instruments being deployed by Moscow are the Internet, newspapers and television, including allegedly neutral journalists and pundits dispatched around the world to propagate the Kremlin position.

“We’re in the middle of a relentless propaganda war,” says Andrew Weiss, vice president of studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an influential Washington think tank. Weiss describes this propaganda as a crucial tool used by Russia to conduct its foreign policy.

Moscow is looking beyond the short-term, seeking to influence opinion in the long-run to create “an alternative discourse in Western countries as well,” says Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of Kremlin foreign broadcaster RT, formerly known as Russia Today, which owns Ruptly.

The Kremlin invests around €100 million ($136 million) a year in Russian media abroad in order to influence public opinion in the West. This effort also helps explain why Putin addressed Germans directly in his speech on the annexation of Crimea. Noting the Kremlin had supported Germany’s reunification process, he called on Germans to back Russia’s reunification with Crimea. Putin’s popularity in Germany has declined steadily over the years, but his worldview remains quite popular.

A Triumphant Media Advance

Sources within the Kremlin express satisfaction these days when talking about Moscow’s information policies. “We may have won the war in Georgia in 2008, but we lost the propaganda battle against America and the West by a mile,” says one. “Thanks to RT and the Internet, though, we are now closing the gap.”

Whereas Ruptly is seeking to establish itself as an alternative to Reuters and the Associated Press in providing video footage, RT has already successfully established itself in the nine years since its creation, recently surpassing even CNN when it comes to clips viewed on YouTube. With close to 1.2 billion views, the BBC is the only media outlet ahead of RT. In Britain, RT has more viewers than the Europe-wide news station Euronews and in some major US cities, the channel is the most-viewed of all foreign broadcasters. RT’s 2,500 employees report and broadcast in Russian, English, Spanish and Arabic with German to be added soon.

The triumphant advance of Putin’s broadcaster began in a former factory in northeast Moscow. Founding RT editor Simonyan was just 25 at the time Putin appointed her in 2005. Her assignment from the Russian president: to “break the monopoly of the Anglo-Saxon mass media.”

It’s a mandate she has been pursuing successfully ever since. “There’s large demand for media that doesn’t just parrot the uniform pulp from the Western press,” says Simonyan. “Even in Western countries.” RT gives pro-Russian representatives from Eastern Ukraine far more air time than supporters of the government in Kiev, and not even Simonyan disputes this fact. “We’re something along the lines of Russia’s Information Defense Ministry,” her co-workers say, not without pride.

Ruptly and RT are only the most visible instruments being used by the Kremlin. Other propaganda methods being exploited can be less obvious.

For example, when German talk shows invite Russian journalists to speak about the Ukraine crisis, they are almost always pundits who could have been taken directly out of the Kremlin propaganda department. Programmers, of course, like to book these guests because they generate heated and provocative discussion. But it’s also a function of the fact that experts critical of the government either don’t want to talk or are kept from doing so. Take the example of Sergej Sumlenny, who served until January as the German correspondent for the Russian business magazineExpert. Early on, he appeared often on German talk shows, intelligently and pointedly criticizing Putin’s policies. He has since been driven out at the magazine.

In his stead, the Russian perspective is now represented on German talk shows by people like Anna Rose, who is generally introduced as a correspondent for Rossiyskaya Gazeta, or Russian Gazette. The name sounds innocuous enough, but eyebrows should be raised immediately when this “serious” Russian journalist begins claiming that the Ukrainian army could be shooting “at women and children” and that Russian soldiers need to provide them with protection. Her positions suddenly become more understandable with the knowledge that Rossiyskaya Gazeta is the Russian government’s official newspaper.

Manipulating Comments and Social Media

Those who read comments posted under articles about Ukraine on news websites will have noticed in recent months that they have been filled with missives that always seem to follow the same line of argumentation. Moscow’s independent business daily Vedomosti reported recently that, since the start of the Ukraine crisis, the presidential administration in Moscow has been testing how public opinion in the United States and Europe can be manipulated using the Internet and social networks. The paper reported that most of the professional comment posters active in Germany are Russian immigrants who submit their pro-Russian comments on Facebook and on news websites.

In addition, journalists and editors at German websites and publications report receiving letters and emails offering “explosive information about the Ukraine crisis” on an almost daily basis. The “sources” often mention they have evidence about the right-wing nature of the Kiev government that they would like to supply to journalists. The letters are written in German, but appear to include direct translations of Russian phrases. They would seem to have been written by mother-tongue Russian speakers.Other forms of propaganda have also been deployed in recent months. For example, there have been frequent incidences of intercepted conversations of Western diplomats or Kiev politicians getting published in ways that serve Russia’s interests. From the “Fuck the EU” statement by Victoria Nuland, the top US diplomat to Europe, right up to statements made by Estonia’s foreign minister that were apparently supposed to prove who was responsible for the deaths of protesters on Maidan Square. The Russian media also seemed to take pleasure in reporting in mid-April that CIA head John Brennan had traveled to Kiev.

There’s a high likelihood that this confidential information and the content of intercepted communications is being strewn by Russian intelligence. Officials at Western intelligence agencies assume that even communications encrypted by the Ukrainian army are being intercepted by the Russians.

 propa

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/russia-uses-state-television-to-sway-opinion-at-home-and-abroad-a-971971.html

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Map shows what losing Crimea means to Ukraine

This map from the Washington Post does a good job in general in showing what Ukraine is losing in respect to Crimea.

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map

Ukraine signs EU trade Pact

The whole fiasco started in the Ukraine because a vast majority of Ukrainians wanted tighter relationship and trade with the EU. Yanukovych ignored what the people wanted and signed a deal with Moscow for trade. The protests started almost immediately after.

updated 2:52 PM EDT 03.21.14
Ukraine signs EU trade pact amid crisis
By Laura Smith-Spark. Nina Dos Santos and Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
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Brussels (CNN) – Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk signed the political elements of a trade pact with the European Union on Friday, even as Russian lawmakers finalized annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

The signing in Brussels signals Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine — and carries additional symbolic force because it was the decision by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in November to ditch the trade pact in favor of closer ties with Russia that triggered the protests that led to his ouster in February and spiraled into the current crisis.

It also comes a day after the European Union and the United States slapped sanctions on Russian lawmakers and businessmen; Russia responded with its own list of sanctions against a number of U.S. lawmakers and officials.

In another sign of defiance, Russian President Vladimir Putin, flanked by the speakers of both houses of Parliament, signed a treaty Friday finalizing the accession to Russia of the Crimea region and its port city of Sevastopol.

The upper house unanimously approved ratification of the treaty a day after Russia’s lower house of Parliament, the State Duma, passed it by an overwhelming margin.

Russia’s moves to annex Crimea, following a contested referendum last weekend in the Black Sea peninsula, have turned a confrontation with Europe and the United States into the biggest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War.

In a sign that Western sanctions are already weighing on Russian authorities, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Friday in Moscow that the government will have to pay more to borrow money, state news agency ITAR-Tass said.

Russia “will look at our oil and gas revenues. If the situation is like it is now, we will probably have to give up external borrowings and cut domestic ones,” Siluanov said.

Yatsenyuk: EU speaking in one voice

Moscow has doggedly pursued its own course even as Western leaders have denounced its actions as violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and a breach of international law.

CNN article discussing EU deal

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715 New Planets announced by NASA. Russian plans for Ukraine. Importance of Black Sea fleet

Breaking News

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Simferopol, Ukraine (CNN) – Men in military uniforms patrolled the main airport in Ukraine’s Russian-majority Crimea region Friday, a move that Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called part of an “armed invasion” by Russian forces.

NASA announces 715 new Planets discovered by Kepler Telescope

I love Astronomy. Wish I was smart enough to really study it. The title of my blog is somewhat related. Drake equation was formulated basically meaning in its simplest form that if the Universe if infinitely big the odds of there not being other life out there is infinitely small.

Yesterday NASA announced it had located 715 new Planets with the help of Kepler Space Telescope.

The Drake equation is a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. The equation was written in 1961 by Frank Drake not for purposes of quantifying the number of civilizations,[1] but intended as a way to stimulate scientific dialogue at the world’s first SETI meeting, in Green Bank, West Virginia. The equation summarizes the main concepts which scientists must contemplate when considering the question of other radio-communicative life.[1] The Drake equation has proved controversial since several of its factors are currently unknown, and estimates of their values span a very wide range. This has led critics to label the equation a guesstimate, or even meaningless.

Drake Equation

Kepler

Kepler is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.[4] The spacecraft, named after the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler,[5] was launched on March 7, 2009.[6]

Designed to survey a portion of our region of the Milky Way to discover dozens of Earth-size extrasolar planets in or near the habitable zone and estimate how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets,[7] Kepler’s sole instrument is a photometer that continually monitors the brightness of over 145,000 main sequence stars in a fixed field of view.[8] This data is transmitted to Earth, then analyzed to detect periodic dimming caused by extrasolar planets that cross in front of their host star.

Kepler is part of NASA’s Discovery Program of relatively low-cost, focused primary science missions. The telescope’s construction and initial operation were managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with Ball Aerospace responsible for developing the Kepler flight system. The Ames Research Center is responsible for the ground system development, mission operations since December 2009, and science data analysis. The initial planned lifetime was 3.5 years,[9] but greater than expected noise in the data, from both the stars and the spacecraft, meant additional time was needed to fulfill all mission goals. Initially, in 2012, the mission was expected to last until 2016,[10] but this would only be possible if all remaining reaction wheels used for pointing the spacecraft remained reliable.[11] On May 11, 2013, a second of four reaction wheels failed, disabling the collection of science data[12] and threatening the continuation of the mission.[13]

As of February 2014, Kepler had found 961 confirmed exoplanets in more than 76 stellar systems, along with a further 3,601 unconfirmed planet candidates.[14][15] In November 2013, astronomers reported, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of sun-like stars and red dwarf stars within the Milky Way Galaxy.[16][17][18] 11 billion of these estimated planets may be orbiting sun-like stars.[19] The nearest such planet may be 12 light-years away, according to the scientists.[16][17].

Kepler

The NASA announcement

A huge new haul of planets has joined the tally of alien worlds discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, scientists announced today. All of the new planets are members of multiplanet systems—stars with more than one orbiting satellite. Researchers used a new method for weeding out false signals from among the candidate planets found by Kepler, allowing them to add hundreds of “validated” planets to the count of Kepler’s finds. “We studied just over 1,200 systems, and from there we were able to validate 719 planets,” says Jason Rowe of NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., who led the research. “This is the biggest haul ever.”*

Kepler launched in 2009 and stopped taking data last year after two of its stabilizing reaction wheels failed. Its relatively short lifetime, however, has already offered up a wealth of discovery, including more than 3,500 planetary candidates as well as 246 worlds confirmed by follow-up observations. The new harvest brings its tally of true planets to over 1,000.

Kepler searches for planets by measuring stellar brightness dips caused when a planet passes in front of a star, briefly dimming the star’s light. This technique, called the transiting method, is more than 90 percent accurate, but sometimes a nonplanet can fool the telescope. One of the most common reasons for a “false positive” is an eclipsing binary—a pair of orbiting stars that sometimes cross in front of one another from our perspective—lying along the same line of sight as the foreground star Kepler is studying. Eclipsing binaries dim when one star passes in front of the other, mimicking the dimming effect a planet would have.

Stars with a single planet can be hard to distinguish from eclipsing binaries. But multiplanet systems are far less likely to be frauds. “It happens, but it’s unlikely that you have two eclipsing binaries in the background of the same star,” says Francois Fressin of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass., who was not involved in the study. “That simple fact tremendously increases the odds that they are bona fide planets.” It is also possible to have an eclipsing binary and a star with a planet lying right on top of one another, albeit extremely unlikely. “Based on that argument we started to get into the statistics to see if we can quantify that and see how many we can pull out and say with very good confidence they are validated planets,” Rowe says.

Scientific American article on NASA announcement

http://live.wsj.com/video/nasa-discovers-a-planet-bonanza/86DDFF4A-52F0-45DB-A054-0C9F10F4FFA5.html#!86DDFF4A-52F0-45DB-A054-0C9F10F4FFA5

Further reading in Time

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Russian plans

This is somewhat alarming to me. I am getting the sense Russia is not gonna let this resolve without a fight. One of the biggest Naval Stations in the World is located in the Crimean region of the Ukraine. It is a Russian naval station.

Russia’s order for 150,000 troops to test their combat readiness near Ukraine’s border has prompted a blunt warning from the United States that any military intervention in the crisis-torn nation would be a “grave mistake”.
Vladimir Putin’s announcement of huge new war games came as Ukraine’s protest leaders named a millionaire former banker to head its new government after the country’s pro-Russian president went into hiding.
The new government, which is expected to be formally approved by parliament today, will face the hugely complicated task of restoring stability in a country that is not only deeply divided politically but on the verge of financial collapse. Its fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital last week.
In Kiev’s Independence Square, the heart of the protest movement against Mr Yanukovych, the interim leaders who seized control after he disappeared proposed Arseniy Yatsenyuk, 39, as the country’s new prime minister. He served as economy minister, foreign minister and parliamentary speaker before Mr Yanukovych took office in 2010 and is widely viewed as a technocratic reformer who enjoys the support of the US.
Across Ukraine, the divided allegiances between Russia and the West were on full display as fistfights broke out between pro and anti-Russia protesters in the strategic Crimea peninsula.
Amid the tensions, President Putin put the military on alert for massive exercises involving most of the military units in western Russia and announced measures to tighten security at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
The manoeuvres will involve some 150,000 troops, 880 tanks, 90 aircraft and 80 navy ships and are intended to ��check the troops’ readiness for action in crisis situations that threaten the nation’s military security”, defence minister Sergei Shoigu said.
But the move prompted a sharp rebuke from US secretary of state John Kerry. “Any kind of military intervention that would violate the sovereign territorial integrity of Ukraine would be a huge, a grave mistake,” he said. “The territorial integrity of Ukraine needs to be respected.”

Russian Wargames on border with Ukraine. 150,000 troops

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Russia on Thursday that it must be transparent about military exercises on its border with Ukraine.

The popular uprising in Kiev has reignited Cold War rivalries between East and West, with Russia announcing emergency drills of combat troops and the United States pledging a $1 billion loan deal to the West-leaning interim government.

“I am closely watching Russia’s military exercises along the Ukrainian border,” Hagel told a NATO press conference on Thursday.

“I expect Russia to be transparent about these activities and I urge them not to take any steps that could be misinterpreted, or lead to miscalculation during a very delicate time, a time of great tension.”

Hagel watching developments closely

Today’s developments

Just when you think it won’t get more serious

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Russia sent fighter jets to patrol the border with Ukraine, reportedly gave shelter to the country’s fugitive president and stood by as pro-Russian gunmen stormed offices of a strategic region, deepening the crisis for Ukraine’s new government even as it was being formed.

The moves pose an immediate challenge to Ukraine’s new authorities as they seek to set up an interim government for the country, whose population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West. Some 150,000 Russian soldiers carried out military exercises and fighter jets patrolled the border.

A respected Russian news organization reported that President Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven out of Kiev by a three-month protest movement, was staying in a Kremlin sanatorium just outside Moscow.

“I have to ask Russia to ensure my personal safety from extremists,” Yanukovych said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies on Thursday. He said he still considers himself president.

Shortly after, the same three Russian news agencies quoted an unnamed Russian official saying that Yanukovych’s request for protection “was satisfied on the territory of Russia.”

Oleksandr Turchynov, who stepped in as acting president after Yanukovych’s flight, condemned the takeover of government buildings in Crimea as a “crime against the government of Ukraine.” He warned that any move by Russian troops off of their base in Crimea “will be considered a military aggression.”

“Unidentified people with automatic weapons, explosives and grenades have taken over the governmental buildings and the Parliament building in the autonomous region of Crimea,” he said. “I have given orders to the military to use all methods necessary to protect the citizens, punish the criminals, and to free the buildings.”

In Kiev, lawmakers were expected to approve the new government that will face the hugely complicated task of restoring stability in a country that is not only deeply divided politically but on the verge of financial collapse.

Protest leaders said Wednesday that they would propose Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the country’s new prime minister. The 39-year-old served as economy minister, foreign minister and parliamentary speaker before Yanukovych took office in 2010, and is widely viewed as a technocratic reformer who enjoys the support of the U.S.

Yanukovych fled after riot police attacked protesters in Kiev’s central square, killing more than 80 people, and European and Russian officials intervened. He has not been seen publicly since Saturday, when he said he remained the legitimately elected president — a position that has been backed by Russia.

Russia’s respected RBK news organization reported Wednesday evening that Yanukovych was staying at the Barvikha sanatorium, which is run by the presidential administration’s property department. The spokesman for this department, Viktor Khrekov, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he has no information about this.

The RBK report was impossible to confirm, but security at the Ukraina Hotel was unusually heavy late Wednesday, with police watching from parked vehicles outside and guards posted throughout the lobby. Some of Yanukovych’s allies, also reported to have been at the hotel, may have still been there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman also said he had no information about Yanukovych’s reported arrival in Moscow.

In a clear warning to Ukraine, Putin on Wednesday ordered massive military exercises involving most of the military units in western Russia. On Thursday, as part of the exercises, 90 fighter jets were put on combat alert and were patrolling the border with Ukraine, Russian news agencies quoted the Defense Ministry as saying.

The military also announced measures to tighten security at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean peninsula in southeastern Ukraine.

The military maneuvers prompted a sharp rebuke from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who warned Russiathat any military intervention in Ukraine would be a “grave mistake.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concern Thursday about the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine and vowed to protect their interests. State-owned ITAR-Tass news agency quoted a statement read at a session of the ministry’s board on Thursday, saying that Russia “will have a firm and uncompromising response to violations of the rights of compatriots by foreign states.”

Russian jet fighters deploy at border of Ukraine

Very concerning. Very. I was going to post about GCHQ storing billions of images taken from Yahoo users over the last 8 years without warrant but this news dwarfs it to some degree.

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Importance of Russian Black Sea Fleet

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This is one of if not the major reason this area of the Ukraine is so vital to Russian strategic interests. Location, Location, Location

With recent protests in Ukraine’s Crimea demanding secession or reunification with Russia, much attention has been focused on Moscow’s naval base on the peninsula. What happens to the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol after the fall of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych is part of a bigger Crimean picture. There are certainly political and ethno-cultural reasons for Moscow to desire continued influence in the Crimea, but the purely military-strategic importance of Sevastopol to Russia’s broader military strategy has in fact weakened in recent years.

Founded by imperial Russia 230 years ago, the base has always been a crucial outlet for the Russian navy. Headquartered here and travelling through the Bosporus Strait, the Black Sea Fleet has access to the Mediterranean within a day’s sailing, as opposed to the weeks it would take from the Northern Fleet’s bases on the Kola peninsula.

For this reason, the base at Sevastopol has allowed Moscow to exert influence over the Eastern Mediterranean, Balkans and Middle East. The importance of the Mediterranean to Russia was highlighted in 2013, when amid the civil war in Syria Moscow declared the creation of a ‘permanent task force’ for the sea and bolstered its presence to ten vessels. In August 2008, it was the Black Sea Fleet that provided the 13 vessels used to defeat the small Georgian navy and land troops in Abkhazia and Poti during the brief war.

This flotilla was likely the maximum deployable force for the fleet at the time; many of the fleet’s vessels are ageing and in need of maintenance. Handheld photos taken by intrepid Institute staff confirm that while the minesweepers and Kilo-class submarine based in Sevastopol appear, at first glance, to be in good order, some of the auxiliary craft have visible signs of ageing. Some of the largest vessels in the fleet, such as the cruiser Kerch and the destroyer Smetlivy, are now at least four decades old. Perhaps for this reason, the Black Sea fleet is set to benefit from significant investment in coming years. Six advanced Kilo-class submarines are on order to be delivered to the BSF, and the second of the two Mistral-class amphibious assault vessels will be part of this fleet.

However, there are also reasons to question the unique importance of Sevastopol specifically to Russia’s broad military strategy.

Firstly, there is the size of the Black Sea Fleet, which is only the second smallest fleet in Russia’s five naval organisations (only the Caspian Sea Flotilla is smaller in terms of combat vessels).

Secondly, and more importantly, options exist for Russia to base the vessels on its own Black Sea coast. For this reason, the port of Novorossiysk has seen considerable investment since 2008 to construct an artificial peninsula and breakwater and dredge areas of the port to enable the basing of more and larger vessels there. In fact, the six new submarines and the Mistral (ironically, to be named Sevastopol) will all be based in Novorossiysk. The Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, Moskva, may also be transferred there.

The expansion of Novorossiysk has been under way for more than five years, as the 20-year deadline for the 1997 Russia-Ukraine agreement on the use of Sevastopol began to loom larger. Even though a new agreement was reached in 2010 to allow for Russian leasing of Sevastopol until 2042, the completion of Novorossiysk’s expansion indicates that Moscow is already hedging its bets on the use of the Crimea as its BSF headquarters. The Ukrainian government had already placed restrictions and costs on Russian vessels based or transiting through the port, such as the fact that transferral of new ships to or upgrading of current vessels in Sevastopol requires Ukrainian consent. Such restrictions obviously do not exist on Russian territory.

Importance of Black Sea fleet

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Yanukovych refuses to step down. Dirty Wars documentary. True Detective literary reference.

I cannot imagine this will end well.. I cannot imagine far more blood will not be spilled. Given my knowledge of History and Foreign Policy… I cannot imagine Russia is not seriously considering its options even now.

“””””””””Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) – Embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych insisted in an interview aired on Ukrainian TV Saturday that he is not resigning and not leaving the country.

Around the same time, an opposition leader and former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, was freed from prison.

Ukraine’s Parliament voted unanimously to remove Yanukovych from office. It’s not clear if this is binding.

The Parliament also voted to hold new elections on May 25, a key opposition demand.

Yanukovych recorded his defiant statement in Kharkiv, a pro-Russian stronghold in the eastern part of Ukraine.

He said he would continue to work to stop the bloodshed and prevent further division within the country.

It came after his absence from the capital, Kiev — a day after he signed a landmark peace deal with the opposition to end days of bloody protests — fueled speculation he might heed opposition calls for him to stand down.

At the presidential residence in a Kiev suburb, groundskeepers and gate personnel kept watch over living quarters that were vacant.

Gone were the Ukrainian President’s guards. And opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said Yanukovych had left town, a day after European Union leaders helped broker the peace agreement.

“Unfortunately, President Yanukovych who did not hear the people has withdrawn from his constitutional duties himself. And today he has already left the capital. Millions of citizens see only one option in the current situation — it is calling the early presidential election,” Klitschko said Saturday.””””””””””

CNN report

How the revolt has escalated

“””””””””””When the Euromaidan protests began in Kiev in late November, few people would have predicted exactly how devastating they would become. What began as a small, peaceful protest quickly turned violent. The protests, which began after a shift away from the European Union toward Russia, slowly became a broader denunciation of President Viktor Yanukovych’s government. The events ebbed and flowed until reaching a new peak of violence this week, with the latest figures suggesting that at least 60 people have died in the past few days.

The images coming out of Ukraine have understandably been described as “apocalyptic,” almost as if they were something out of a film. But Euromaidan is a real event, taking place in a real city, where millions of people with homes and businesses are also trying to live their daily life.

One person who has been keeping track of all this is Kiev resident Dmytro Vortman. Since Dec. 9, Vortman has been using his own footwork and media report to map the progression of the protests in the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev’s Independence Square, and then painstakingly plotting their progress on maps using Adobe Illustrator. The maps, which were first picked up by KnowMore’s Max Ehrenfreund, have been widely shared by Euromaidan-linked social media accounts. While we can’t vouch for every detail of the maps, they provide a fascinating glimpse into how the Kiev protests developed.

This is the first map that Vortman created showing the scene on Dec. 8, the third weekend of protests in Kiev, and when the protests began to gain international attention””””””””””””

Washington Post maps of escalation of protests

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At some point you would think you would realize you are in defiance of hundreds of thousands of protestors as well as Parliament. You might realize in the best interest of your Country it is best to step down… Maybe just maybe you can spare your life as well as many other people.

Dirty Wars the documentary

So you think you understand US Foreign Policy. This movie will shake your beliefs. It was made by the journalist Jeremy Scahill and provides a truly un nerving account of the dirty wars that American Special Forces and Intelligence have been involved in during the years since 9/11 from Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia and on to present day.

True Detective Literary Reference.

If you like the show . Most of the plot ideas or basis are from a book written over a hundred years ago. The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers has influenced many many writers. HP Lovecraft being one of them. The book is actually in the public domain and can be read for free. You can read it online or you can download it to IBooks or Kindle for no cost. I will post the link in a second.

This poem to start the book reminds me of virtually all of HP Lovecrafts worlds.

“”””””””Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink beneath the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.

Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead;
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.”””””””””””

The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers

I was able to download it via Dropbox and then open the file with IBooks and can read it just as any other book in my library.

Russian influence. “Russian pipelines of empire”

There are various methods that Countries expand their influence and make other Countries somewhat dependent on them. Russia as well as other use Oil and Natural Gas pipelines to wield the foreign policy sword.

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Russian Pipelines of Empire

At this juncture in history, the fate of Europe is wound up not in ideas but in geopolitics. For millennia, eruptions from Asia have determined the fate of Europe, including invasions and migrations by Russians, Turkic tribes and Byzantine Greeks. Central and Eastern Europe, with their geographical proximity to the Asian steppe and the Anatolian land bridge, have borne the brunt of these cataclysms. Today is no different, only it is far subtler. Armies are not marching; rather, hydrocarbons are flowing. For that is the modern face of Russian influence in Europe. To understand the current pressures upon Europe from the east it is necessary to draw a map of energy pipelines.

One-quarter of all energy for Europe comes from Russia, but that statistic is an average for the whole continent; thus, as one moves successively from Western Europe to Central Europe to Eastern Europe that percentage rises dramatically. Natural gas is more important than oil in this story, but let us consider oil first.

Russia is among the top oil producers worldwide and has among the largest reserves, with vast deposits in both western and eastern Siberia. Crucially, Russia is now investing in the technology necessary to preserve its position as a major energy hub for years and decades to come, though it is an open question whether current production levels can be maintained in the long term. Russia’s primary gateway to Europe for oil (and natural gas) is Belarus in the north and Ukraine in the south. The Druzhba pipeline network takes Russian oil through Belarus to Poland and Germany in the north and in the south through Ukraine to Central Europe and the Balkans, as well as to Italy. Russia certainly has influence in Europe on account of its oil, and has occasionally used its oil as a means of political pressure on Belarus and Ukraine. But moving westward into Europe, negotiations over Russian oil are generally about supply and pricing, not political factors. It is really with natural gas that energy becomes a useful political tool for Russia.

Russian oil and natural gas pipelines

Consider now the moves the US has made in the last 15 years in the Middle East and consider the implications.

Most amazing space photo I have ever seen

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Full size NASA image

Concentration Camps being used in Russia? •••••New NSA details•••••

I read this article this morning and am shocked. I had no idea something like this was going on. I personally find it to be very disturbing. I hope Russia rethinks its policy or finds a different way to deal with its immigration problem. I am sure Russia would object to the term Concentration camps and prefer the use of Detainment Center or something a bit less of a political bombshell. It is what it is however. I am very busy today and wish I had more time to look into this. I just wanted to bring it to your attention.

Russian authorities have detained hundreds of migrant workers in a makeshift camp in Moscow as part of a widespread crackdown on illegal immigration.

Human rights campaigners have decried conditions in the camp, which is part of a planned national network of detainment centres to hold foreign nationals facing deportation.

More than 600 people were initially held in tents in the camp in an industrial area of Moscow, although there were reports that 200 were moved to formal detention centres yesterday. Opponents say the centres are illegal, comparing them to concentration camps or gulags.

“The paradox of a concentration camp for illegals is that the concentration camp itself is illegal,” writer and activist Oleg Kozyrev tweeted to more than 32,000 followers.

Russia currently has 21 detention centres for immigrants facing deportation, but authorities have prepared a bill that would create 83 special centres across the country’s 81 regions.

The immigrant crackdown began after a fight on 27 July at a Moscow market between natives of Russia’s Dagestan region and police who had come to arrest one of them on charges of rape. A relative of the wanted man struck an officer with brass knuckles, injuring his forehead. Much of the incident was captured on video in a clip widely circulated on the internet.

On 29 July, police began raiding markets around the city and arresting immigrants whose documents were not in order, most of them from the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Of the 11 million immigrants in Russia, about three million have exceeded their allowed stay and most of these are thought to be working illegally, according to the head of the migration service.

On 31 July, law enforcement agents closed an illegal garment factory in an industrial area on the city outskirts, detaining at least 1,200 people, most of them from Vietnam. The next day police announced the creation of a temporary camp near the site of the illegal factory to hold some of the detained immigrants, who have 10 days to appeal against a deportation decision. Reporters who were allowed to visit the tents, pitched in a paved area that once held a market, described appalling conditions.

Modern Concentration Camps?

Map of Russia and Asia

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Link of the Day•••Physics•••Higgs

I thought this was a very interesting article and look at Higgs and the Unified Field Theory. I wish I could pretend I actually understood it.

A little over a year ago, physicists put the finishing touches to the most successful scientific theory of all time: the Standard Model of particle physics. When the Higgs boson was found at the Large Hadron Collider in July 2012, it was the final piece in our picture of the universe at the smallest, subatomic scales.

Champagne corks flew in physics labs around the world at this vindication of quantum field theory, which had been more than 80 years and dozens of Nobel prizes in the making.

Inevitably, a hangover followed. The leading idea for how to push physics beyond the Standard Model – and explain the many remaining mysteries of the universe – is looking shaky. Thousands of physicists have spent their career carefully constructing the theory, called supersymmetry. It has taken almost four decades. But, so far, the most powerful particle accelerator ever built – the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Cern, near Geneva – has not found any hard evidence to back up the theory.

Higgs Boson

Quantum Field Theory

v t e
In theoretical physics, quantum field theory (QFT) is a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of subatomic particles in particle physics and quasiparticles in condensed matter physics, by treating a particle as an excited state of an underlying physical field. These excited states are called field quanta. For example, quantum electrodynamics (QED) has one electron field and one photon field, quantum chromodynamics (QCD) has one field for each type of quark, and in condensed matter there is an atomic displacement field that gives rise to phonon particles. Ed Witten describes QFT as “by far” the most difficult theory in modern physics.[1]

In QFT, interactions between particles in quantum mechanics are represented by interaction terms between the underlying fields. QFT interaction terms are similar in spirit to those between electric and magnetic fields in Maxwell’s equations. However unlike the classical fields of Maxwell’s theory, fields in QFT generally exist in quantum superpositions of states and obey the laws of quantum mechanics.

Quantum Field Theory

Fukishima

It would be a mistake to assume this is not a problem any longer. This may well be the biggest crisis facing mankind at this very moment. The Radioactive damage cannot be undone. This is incredibly scary.

TOKYO (Reuters) – Highly radioactive water from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is pouring out at a rate of 300 tons a day, officials said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the government to step in and help in the clean-up.

The revelation amounted to an acknowledgement that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has yet to come to grips with the scale of the catastrophe, 2 1/2 years after the plant was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami. Tepco only recently admitted water had leaked at all.

Calling water containment at the Fukushima Daiichi station an “urgent issue,” Abe ordered the government for the first time to get involved to help struggling Tepco handle the crisis.

The leak from the plant 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in a week. The water is spilling into the Pacific Ocean, but it was not immediately clear how much of a threat it poses.

As early as January this year, Tepco found fish contaminated with high levels of radiation inside a port at the plant. Local fishermen and independent researchers had already suspected a leak of radioactive water, but Tepco denied the claims.

Tetsu Nozaki, the chairman of the Fukushima fisheries federation said he had only heard of the latest estimates of the magnitude of the seepage from media reports.

Environmental group Greenpeace said Tepco had “anxiously hid the leaks” and urged Japan to seek international expertise.

“Greenpeace calls for the Japanese authorities to do all in their power to solve this situation, and that includes increased transparency…and getting international expertise in to help find solutions,” Dr. Rianne Teule of Greenpeace International said in an e-mailed statement.

Fukishima

NSA again

Members of Congress denied basic information by the NSA.

Members of Congress have been repeatedly thwarted when attempting to learn basic information about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the secret FISA court which authorizes its activities, documents provided by two House members demonstrate.

From the beginning of the NSA controversy, the agency’s defenders have insisted that Congress is aware of the disclosed programs and exercises robust supervision over them. “These programs are subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate,” President Obama said the day after the first story on NSA bulk collection of phone records was published in this space. “And if there are members of Congress who feel differently, then they should speak up.”

But members of Congress, including those in Obama’s party, have flatly denied knowing about them. On MSNBC on Wednesday night, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct) was asked by host Chris Hayes: “How much are you learning about what the government that you are charged with overseeing and holding accountable is doing from the newspaper and how much of this do you know?”

Congress denied basic information

NY Times article about surveillance of Americans

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.

The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.

While it has long been known that the agency conducts extensive computer searches of data it vacuums up overseas, that it is systematically searching — without warrants — through the contents of Americans’ communications that cross the border reveals more about the scale of its secret operations.

It also adds another element to the unfolding debate, provoked by the disclosures of Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, about whether the agency has infringed on Americans’ privacy as it scoops up e-mails and phone data in its quest to ferret out foreign intelligence.

Government officials say the cross-border surveillance was authorized by a 2008 law, the FISA Amendments Act, in which Congress approved eavesdropping on domestic soil without warrants as long as the “target” was a noncitizen abroad. Voice communications are not included in that surveillance, the senior official said.

NY Times article