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British 3D App Game Features Forgotten Black History

Black history in cyberspace

 

With apps for smart phones and tablets being the rage worldwide it is not surprising that someone would devise an app based on Black History themes.

But a Black History-themed app for the near ubiquitous smart phones and tablets originating from Britain –- really!

Isn’t Britain the land best known to Americans as the home of "The Queen," fish-&-chips and fans with a near religious-reverence for soccer?

The history of blacks in Britain is a subject little known either among citizens of that nation or around the world. Few Brits even know that Black History in their nation dates from the occupation of that island by the Roman Empire two thousand years ago.

And what about the fact that this game app focuses on Black History in the United States not history primarily centered in England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland, the four countries that comprise the United Kingdom commonly known as Britain.

Nubian Jak 3D appNubian Jak 3D app
 

But Britain is the birthplace of the recently released Nubian Jak 3D Black History U.S. 2017 Edition app.

Poet's Notebook: My poem, "True story of a one-legged duck" followed by comments

True story about a one-legged duck, a parable
 

I was walking down the bike path
between Poultney and Castleton on a hot summer day.
It used to be a railroad track,
passing through fields, forest and bog.
 
There behind an old derelict farm,
right up against the raised path,
was an old beaver pond.
And in the middle of the pond
 
There was a small island
that used to be the beaver lodge.
And on the island
stood a white, one-legged duck.
 
I stopped and looked at the duck, which held my gaze,
it was so beautiful!
I wished it a good day.
 
I stopped again on the way back to my car.
It hadn’t moved perceptibly.
 

Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice

Resume inflation at the NSC

 

In the annals of human conflict, the Gulf War of 1991, when the US dispatched half a million troops and a huge armada of ships, planes and tanks into the desert south of Iraq and Kuwait and then crushed Iraqi forces in both those countries in a six-week blitz from Jan. 17-Feb. 28, surely has to rank as one of the most one-sided wars since Hitler’s Wehrmacht marched through Holland in four days in 1940.

That war, called Operation Desert Storm by the Pentagon, was really just a massive live-fire exercise for US forces, which suffered only 146 casualties, 35 of them in “friendly-fire” incidents and 111 to enemy fire. Iraqi losses were estimated at 35,000, most of them killed in US air strikes as they were trapped trying to retreat to Iraq up a Kuwaiti highway that became known as the “Highway of Death,” where fleeing Iraqi troops -- most of them hapless draftees -- were bombed and strafed mercilessly and nonstop as they sat trapped in an epic traffic jam caused by strategically destroyed vehicles along the route.

It was also the “war” in which President Trump’s new National Security Adviser pick, Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster, “earned” his much touted Silver Star. Then a young captain in charge of a unit of nine Abrams battle tanks, he stumbled onto a dug-in group of some 80 Iraqi tanks which he then succeeded in completely destroying without losing a single one of his own tanks or men.

It sounds at first blush like something out of Gen. Erwin Rommel’s autobiography, but this “heroic action” on Gen. McMaster’s part was actually nothing more than a case of having much better equipment. The Abrams tanks he was leading were a couple of generations advanced over the antique Iraqi Russian-built T-62 and T-72 tanks and a few Chinese Type 69 tanks that he was confronting. For one thing, the Abrams tanks are constructed with depleted uranium armor -- especially on the front-facing part of the vehicle -- a dense metal which is virtually impenetrable to conventional Iraqi tank shells, rockets and RPGs. For another, the Abrams tanks were firing anti-tank shells that were also tipped with depleted uranium penetrators, which can puncture through normal tank armor as if it were cardboard, igniting the interiors and turning them into infernos, exploding the ordnance inside and incinerating a tank crew instantly. Furthermore, the significantly longer range of their primary cannons meant McMasters and his men could stand off in complete safety and fire at the Iraqi tanks, while the Iraqi tank shells all fell short of their targets, making the whole idea of a “battle” a joke.

McMaster’s tank action was later glorified with a name: the “Battle of 73 Easting,” and is featured in a number of books about the war, including one by novelist Tom Clancey. This is no surprise, given the limited number of actual firefights in the Gulf War that could remotely be characterized as combat, much less qualify as a “battle” worthy of immortalizing with a name. The war was really just a much larger version of the Reagan invasion of Grenada, where a US naval armada and swarming ground troops bravely battled a handful of Grenadian soldiers and a crew of Cuban airport construction workers while garnering a total of 7000 battle awards for their efforts.

 Capt. McMaster's vastly superior Abrams tanks were able to destroy Iraqi tanks at a distance, out of range of any Iraqi returning fire, makinTurkey shoot: Capt. McMaster's vastly superior Abrams tanks were able to destroy Iraqi tanks at a distance, out of range of any Iraqi returning fire
 

Signs of an Unusually Early Spring in Southeastern Pennsylvania Should Not Be a Cause for Celebration

Uh-Oh! Violets in late February?

 

This whole winter has been anomalously warm in southeastern Pennsylvania where I live. My oil guy, Hans, is complaining that the demand for home heating oil is so low this winter that it's killing his business, causing him to lay off workers that he had already trained.

Like everything about climate change, and this is about climate change, as numerous scientific studies like this one are demonstrating, there are short-term benefits to some of what's happening, of course. Han's problems aside, on my end, my heating bill this winter is the lowest it's been in the 20 years we've lived here, even factoring in the relatively low cost of oil. It is, for example, even lower than it was last year when the price of oil was lower than today. And who's going to complain about this week, when our temperatures, for a five-day stretch, have been in the mid 60 degrees to the low 70s? T-shirt weather! And no sign of a night-time frost looking out as far as 10 days from now.

I went outside yesterday, when the thermometer hit 68 in the afternoon, and pulled the pile of clear plastic that some six weeks ago I had tossed over a patch of swiss chard in my little fenced-in raised-bed vegetable garden during a stretch of colder weather when we had some nights drop into the teens, and the chard, which I had been able to nurse through this mild winter up until that colder period by just covering it lightly with one sheet of plastic at night, and exposing it during the daytime, was a lush green, with leaves rising about four inches above the ground. At this point, I don't think I'll have to cover the plants at night anymore as they can handle a mild frost, so at least one crop left from my last year's garden will be up and running this year as of February.

Over-wintered swiss chard plants in the author's garden, ready to start growing again in late FebruaryOver-wintered swiss chard plants in the author's garden, ready to start growing again in late February
 

On my way out of the house, my eyes were drawn to a few spots of bright blue on the ground, and looking down at a patch of overgrown weeds in a garden island in our sidewalk, I saw several blooming birds eye speedwell plants -- an early flower I would still not expect to see around this region for another month.

Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

From WIPP with love

 

There is a place in the United States, almost half-a-mile underground, in a salt mine, where radioactive waste leftover from the production of tens of thousands of nuclear bombs was to be held separate from all contact with humanity for 10,000 years, equivalent to the entire history of civilization. This separation of civilization from the byproduct of its folly had lasted one-tenth of one percent of that immense time when on Valentine’s Day, three years ago, an explosion sent the deadly contamination back to the world of humans.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise because there were already two other failed geological repositories for nuclear waste, both in Germany and designed for civilian not military waste, that have also leaked within a short time of operation. But despite the signs of potential failure the United States in an leap of technological faith spent billions to hollow out a salt cavern in south eastern New Mexico, near the small town of Carlsbad, not far from the Texas border called the Waste Isolation pilot Plant or WIPP.

That faith wasn’t justified as events unfolded.

Supposedly safe for storage for 10,000 years, WIPP's nuke waste repository failed epically in just three yearsSupposedly safe for storage for 10,000 years, WIPP's nuke waste repository failed catastrophically in just three years
 

What happened on August 14, 2014 was that at least one of 683 barrels, about three feet tall and a little under two feet in diameter each and filled with plutonium contaminated waste burst into flames contaminating 8000 feet of tunnels and 22 workers who were either on the surface or arrived at the scene soon afterward.

The still unfinished clean up has cost taxpayers $2 billion since then.

On Killers and Bullshitters*

In search of Trumpian reality

 

* NOTE: The term bullshit is used here in the sense established by Harvard philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt in his little gem of a book titled On Bullshit, which opens with: "One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit."
 

We’re living in a very weird and convoluted moment in the annals of truth and bullshit. For some reason Americans saddled themselves with a rich and obnoxious reality TV star significantly unmoored from reality. A George W. Bush aide famously told a reporter: We’re an empire now and we make our own reality. Maybe it’s an axiom of our age: The wealthy and powerful have the right to make their own reality. As for the poor and the powerless, the same condition of being unmoored from reality is generally linked with what we call “mental illness,” which leads to marginalization, institutionalization or incarceration.

The same corrupt double standard works in the realm of violence. I‘ve been writing for decades about the killing our government has officially undertaken in places like Vietnam and Iraq and in smaller venues. I’ve always liked the bumper sticker that says: Kill One Person It’s Murder; Kill 100,000 It’s Foreign Policy. In my thinking, it isn’t a joke; it’s more like the Rules Of Engagement.

For me, the exemplary culprit in this equation is Henry Kissinger and the cold-blooded slaughter of millions of Vietnamese in a war that really makes no sense at all. (I challenge anyone to tell me what the Vietnamese ever did to us other than work as our ally against the Japanese in World War Two.) The most truthful narrative is that the Vietnamese were betrayed and attacked by the United States, one, to support French re-colonization after WWII, and, two, because US leaders felt compelled to dominate the wrecked post-WWII world. To recognize Vietnamese nationalism and the Vietnamese urge for freedom was too complicated for our fearful and reductive Cold War mindset. Rich and powerful, we ended up killing millions of Vietnamese in an ultimately failed effort to impose our reality -- although in the end the Vietnamese developed excellent capitalistic instincts.

President Trump and Bill O'Reilly before the Super Bowl talking about killers in the US governmentPresident Trump and Bill O'Reilly before the Super Bowl talking about killers in the US government
 
In a very weird turn of events, our new president seems to agree with the idea that killing is very American and that there are killers in our government. President Trump revealed this in an interview with his old pal Bill O’Reilly. The interview was appropriately run just before the Super Bowl, our culture’s pre-eminent gladiatorial extravaganza, an annual event of such masculine escapist power that it defines Bread & Circus for our media-addled, couch-potato age. Here's O'Reilly and Trump:

NSC Head Flynn Was Brought Down By the Very Spying Machine He Helped to Build

Hoist with his own petard

 

There’s a delicious irony in the downfall of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Advisor, who resigned his post just 24 days after his appointment.

A retired three-star Lt. General, Flynn had previously been director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration. In that role since 2012, he was a key player in the leadership of the sprawling $50-billion US intelligence apparatus that has increasingly been spying not just on Americans but on US allies and, to the extent possible, on the entire world. Flynn, as DIA director, was the top guy in charge of the so-called “Five Eyes” group of intelligence agencies-- all English-speaking nations including the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada -- which has coordinated spying on citizens of those nations as well as on the citizens and leaders of such supposed NATO allies as Germany, France, Italy, Spain etc.

Knowing all this, it’s simply astounding to learn that Flynn himself was using apparently unencrypted email, phones and texting to communicate with, of all people, the Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, discussing such issues as potentially lifting sanctions imposed on Russia by the sitting president of the United States, Barack Obama.

Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was brought down by the intel monster he helped to createTrump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was brought down by the intel monster he helped to create
 

His political implosion is doubly ironic because Flynn was one of those during the election campaign who was loudly condemning Trump’s presidential opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private server for her official State Department business, and for her general lax security standards (he actually led a “Lock her up!” chant at one Trump rally!). However, it turns out Flynn himself was not using secure communications in his own conversations with the Russian ambassador -- communications that are now widely circulating in embarrassingly complete transcript form courtesy of US spy agencies like the National Security Agency.

Talk about someone being hoist with his own petard!

You’d think that seeing the kind of trouble the NSA’s “collect it all” motto can wreak even for the powerful and seemingly invincible, Washington’s elite might rethink what the NSA is doing?

But nah, I wouldn’t count on that happening. There’s more likely to be a lot of schadenfreude among those, both Democrats and traditional Cold War Republicans, who want to see Trump and his band of bozos go down, but hubristic to a fault, they’re not going to go so far as to think, “Hey, this could as easily happen to me!”

A Rapidly Warming Arctic Could Loose a Methane Climate Bomb Causing Mass Extinction in Nine Years

Looming climate catastrophe?

A methane hydrate deposit erupts suddenly from the sea floor off the northern coast of NorwayA methane hydrate deposit erupts suddenly from the sea floor off the northern coast of Norway
 

Reports from the Arctic are getting pretty grim.

The latest, from a blog called Arctic News, warns that by 2026 -- that’s just nine years from now -- warming above the Arctic Circle could be so extreme that a massively disrupted and weakened jet stream could lead to global temperature rises so severe that a massive extinction event, including humans, could result.

This latest blog post, written by Arctic News editor Sam Carana, draws on research by a number of scientists (linked in his article), who report on various feedback loops that will result from a dramatically warmer north polar region, even in winter. But the critical concern, he says, is methane already starting to be released in huge quantities from the shallow sea floor of the continental shelves north of Siberia and North America. That methane, produced by bacteria acting on biological material that sinks to the sea floor, for the most part, is currently lying frozen in a form of ice that is naturally created over millions of years by a mixing of methane and water, called a methane hydrate. Methane hydrate is a type of molecular structure called a clathrate. Clathrates are a kind of cage, in this case made of water ice, which traps another chemical, in this case methane. At normal temperatures, above the freezing temperature of water, these clathrates can only form under high pressures, such as a 500 meters or more under the ocean, and indeed such clathrates can be found under the sea floor even in places like the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, where the temperature is 8-10 degrees above freezing. But in colder waters, they can exist and remain stable at much shallower levels, such as a in a few hundred feet of water off the coast of Alaska or Siberia.

The concern is that if the Arctic Ocean waters, particularly nearer to shore, were to warm even slightly, as they will do as the ice cap vanishes in summer and becomes much thinner in winter, at some point the clathrates there will suddenly dissolve releasing tens of thousands of gigatons of methane in huge bursts. Already, scientists are reporting that portions of the ocean, as well as shallow lakes in the far north, look as though they are boiling, as released methane bubbles to the surface, sometimes in such concentrations that they can be lit on fire with a match as they surface.

As Carana writes:
 

“As the temperature of the Arctic Ocean keeps rising, it seems inevitable that more and more methane will rise from its seafloor and enter the atmosphere, at first strongly warming up the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean itself -- thus causing further methane eruptions -- and eventually warming up the atmosphere across the globe.”
 

US Media Limit Speculation about Leaders’ Roles in Journalist Killings to Putin

They shoot reporters don’t they (in Russia and US)?

 

It’s amazing to watch how shallow and self-censoring our corporate media can be. Take the remarkable interchange between President Donald Trump and Fox right-wing talkshow host Bill O’Reilly. In an interview that aired before the Super Bowl, Trump had responded to O’Reilly’s question about how he could respect Russian President Putin, whom O’Reilly called “a killer,” by saying, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent? You think our country’s so innocent?”

Most news organizations reporting on this included the response of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to Trump’s comment, in which the Senate Majority Leader said, “Putin’s a former KGB agent. He’s a thug. “

Left unsaid was the fact that this country also once had a former intelligence agency “thug” as its president: George H.W. Bush. Bush was named CIA director in 1976 by then President Gerald Ford, and during one-year tenure as head of the Agency, he reportedly worked assiduously to protect it from post-Watergate investigations and reforms of its past dirty behavior by shipping agency operatives abroad and out of reach of investigators. Furthermore, as investigative reporter Russ Baker, author of a book on Bush called Family of Secrets, reports, Bush’s connection to the CIA, kept secret for years, stretches way back to the days of its precursor agency, the OSS, and lasts at least through 1963 and the Kennedy assassination.

CIA Director/thug and later President George H.W. Bush, and KGB officer/thug and later Russian President Vladimir Putin: Both killers?CIA Director/thug and later President George H.W. Bush, and KGB officer/thug and later Russian President Vladimir Putin: Both killers?
 

It was during Bush’s tenure as CIA director that agents of Chile’s intelligence service, the DINA, planted a bomb in the car of former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier, then living and working in exile in Washington, DC. The bomb killed Letelier and an American assistant, Ronnie Moffet. DINA was very closely coordinated with the CIA, which had orchestrated the 1973 military coup that overthrew the elected Socialist government and murdered Chilean President Salvador Allende, for whom Letelier had worked, later becoming a chief critic of the subsequent military dictatorship. At a minimum, Bush’s CIA appears to have known about the plot to kill Letelier, and he subsequently worked to cover up any links to either DINA or the CIA. Bush’s CIA also helped coordinate a continent-side Murder Inc. project against leftists in Latin America called Operation Condor.

In any event one could even more properly refer to President Obama as a thug, courtesy not of any nefarious background as a former CIA operative, but in his role as murderer-in-chief with his Tuesday morning “kill list” sessions, where he would decide whom to target next for a drone attack. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, during his eight years in office, President Obama ordered 563 strikes at specific alleged terrorist targets. While it is unclear how many of those actual targets were successfully killed (many are known to have escaped), the BIJ claims that by its count between 384 and 807 civilians, including children, were also killed in the attacks. Other sources say the number of those “collateral damage” killings is actually considerably higher.

The Whatsapp Scandal

The house with the built-in backdoor

Since adding the feature in April, 2016, the Whatsapp app (or really its parent, Facebook) has paraded its "end to end encryption" as the reason to use it above all other smartphone message applications. It can handle calls, messages, video, files and just about everything any computer can and, because it's encrypted end to end, nobody can read, see or hear any of it unless you want them to.

The pitch has worked; over a billion people now use the app and it is particularly prominent among people who need encryption -- the computer protocol that makes reading your message impossible for anyone but the person you're sending it to.

Activists, particularly, use Whatsapp to communicate everything from places for emergency demonstrations to important announcements to the latest information about their personal lives. Whatsapp is, in effect, a universe of communications for a billion people. It does everything and everything it does is encrypted. With Whatsapp, they've been saying, you are safe from intrusion and spying.

 safety or vulnerability?Whatsapp: safety or vulnerability?

The problem is, you're not safe at all; the encryption can easily be broken. That news, first made public in the Guardian, has provoked a public gasp and a joust between developers and activists covered by journalists who, anxious to provide both "sides", cloud the issue more than clarify.

Unlike many other debates, there aren't two sides to this story. Whatsapp is not safe because its encryption has a huge exploit (or weakness): a product of what the company says is an attempt to make life a lot simpler for its users. Basically, it rewrites the keys used for encryption without telling you and that means a third party (like the government) can decrypt what you've written.

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Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

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