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Monday, March 20, 2017

Life in Brazil, Random Stuff, and More

- history seems reminiscent of other Latin American nations. Mix of European colonisation and local tribes. Was obviously used for it's natural resources but it's clear that it's economy has diversified since then. That said, clear issues with corruption and wealth inequality
brazil history
Brazil export treemap by product (2014) from Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity

When the Portuguese explorers arrived in the 16th century, the native tribes of current-day Brazil, totaling about 2.5 million people, had lived virtually unchanged since the Stone Age. From Portugal's colonization of Brazil (1500–1822) until the late 1930s, the market elements of the Brazilian economy relied on the production of primary products for exports. Within the Portuguese Empire, Brazil was a colony subjected to an imperial mercantile policy, which had three main large-scale economic production cycles – sugar, gold and from the early 19th century on, coffee. The economy of Brazil was heavily dependent on African enslaved labour until the late 19th century (about 3 million imported African enslaved individuals in total). In that period Brazil was also the colony with the largest amount of European settlers, most of them being Portuguese (including Azoreans and Madeirans) but also some Dutch (see Dutch Brazil), Spaniards, English, French, Germans, Flemish, Danish, Scottish and sephardic Jews. Since then, Brazil experienced a period of strong economic and demographic growth accompanied by mass immigration from Europe, mainly from Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira), Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Switzerland, Austria and Russia. Smaller amounts of immigrants also came from the Netherlands, France, Finland, Iceland and the Scandinavian countries, Lithuania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Latvia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Malta, Macedonia and Luxembourg), the Middle East (mainly from Lebanon, Syria and Armenia), Japan, the United States and South Africa, until the 1930s. In the New World, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Uruguay, New Zealand, Chile, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Paraguay, Puerto Rico and Peru (in descending order) were the countries that received most immigrants. In Brazil's case, statistics show that 4.5 million people emigrated to the country between 1882 and 1934.
Economic activity in Brazil (1977).

Currently, with a population of over 204 million and abundant natural resources, Brazil is one of the ten largest markets in the world, producing tens of millions of tons of steel, 26 million tons of cement, 3.5 million television sets, and 3 million refrigerators. In addition, about 70 million cubic meters of petroleum were being processed annually into fuels, lubricants, propane gas, and a wide range of hundred petrochemicals. Furthermore, Brazil has at least 161,500 kilometers of paved roads and more than 93 Gigawatts of installed electric power capacity.

Its real per capita GDP has surpassed US$10,500 in 2008, due to the strong and continued appreciation of the real for the first time this decade. Its industrial sector accounts for three-fifths of the Latin American economy's industrial production.[19] The country's scientific and technological development is argued to be attractive to foreign direct investment, which has averaged US$30 billion per year the last years, compared to only US$2 billion per year last decade,[19] thus showing a remarkable growth. The agricultural sector, locally called the agronegócio (agrobusiness), has also been remarkably dynamic: for two decades this sector has kept Brazil amongst the most highly productive countries in areas related to the rural sector.[19] The agricultural sector and the mining sector also supported trade surpluses which allowed for massive currency gains (rebound) and external debt paydown. Due to a downturn in Western economies, Brazil found itself in 2010 trying to halt the appreciation of the real.[20]

Data from the Asian Development Bank and the Tax Justice Network show the untaxed "shadow" economy of GDP for Brazil is 39%.[21]
- simple yet complicated history...
Brasil, About this sound listen (help·info)[12]), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. As the world's fifth-largest country by both area and population, it is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas.[13][14] Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 kilometers (4,655 mi)[15] It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent's land area.[16] Its Amazon River basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats.[15] This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, and is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection.

Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing in 1500 of explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed the area for the Portuguese Empire. Brazil remained a Portuguese colony until 1808, when the capital of the empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. In 1815, the colony was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. Independence was achieved in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system. The ratification of the first constitution in 1824 led to the formation of a bicameral legislature, now called the National Congress. The country became a presidential republic in 1889 following a military coup d'état. An authoritarian military junta came to power in 1964 and ruled until 1985, after which civilian governance resumed. Brazil's current constitution, formulated in 1988, defines it as a democratic federal republic.[17] The federation is composed of the union of the Federal District, the 26 states, and the 5,570 municipalities.
- they trade all over the globe and despite what is said about their economy being dependent on oil revenue they seem to have diversity across a broad range of industries?
brazil economy
main traders are China, US, Germany, Argentina. Main industries, textiles, shoes, chemicals, cement, lumber, iron ore, tin, steel, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, other machinery and equipment. Breakdown is services (~70%), agriculture (~15%), and industry (~15%)
- visually great looking food. Lots of variety with clear distinctive Latin American flavor to it. Some European influence to it but no where near as strong as some Middle Eastern countries. Lot of information out there. Most interesting are probably the sweets, mains, and drinks
brazil food recipes
- life depends on language, wealth, where you live, profession... Stratified society. Free healthcare, do stuff locally because that's the way economics are. Quality of life generally not too great based on most metrics that I'm seeing (cost of living, polution, quality of local healthcare, housing affordability, etc...)
life in brazil
- we all know about the beach/party life in Brazil. Things are obviously very 'liberal' here. El Chio is a the equivalent of 'Hacky Sack'
Beach life in Brazil
- a bit of a time warp issue here. Still driving some extremely old vehicles in rural areas
Brazil - Life in rural Brazil
- Brazillians are just generally more liberal and less reserved then US. People in Brazil tend to eat, talk, and party more then in US. Men in US are more gallant. People more friendly in Brazil. Fruit, food tends to be fresher/better tasting in Brazil. More historic places in US then in Brazil. Fewer opportunities for social mobility in Brazil then compared to US
Life in the United States vs. Life in Brazil
- biggest difference is Portugese versus English language difference. Weather much better in Brazil obviously. Pictures of urban life not too much different. Crime and economic issues are a problem in Brazil when compared to Scotland. Infrastructure are a bit behind the times in Brazil. People generally friendlier in Brazil. Good food and natural resources in Brazil. Most homes tiled rather than carpeted in Brazil
QUALITY OF LIFE - BRAZIL OR SCOTLAND
Life in Brazil vs Life in the UK _ Liz Cole Vlogs
- these areas are basically where a lot of poor people moved to when poor people in rural areas moved in to the cities looking for better opportunities. Makeshift homes made in any way that they can. Often areas where crime and drugs are a problem. Government is trying to redevelop which involves mass evictions from time to time, police are trying to watch over them using cable cars, housing affordability becoming a bigger problem as Favela areas becoming better places to live, etc... Find it hard to believe that there a BRICS country has such a big divide between the rich and poor still? From time to time parts of the city look not too much different from Europe?
Before the Party - a documentary from Rio de Janeiro
Favela Wars - Life In Brazil's Urban Killzone
- the Favelas are obviously the area of Brazil that attract the most attention. The government said they'd take control of ~1000 favelas but have taken control of only ~40. Crime and safety constant concern in there. Issue isn't so much people who live there but what actually happens in there. Conditions in North Korea are probably better then in these areas?
FavelaLive. Rio’s Children, caught between football, drugs and police brutality
- life isn't that much different in urban areas and if you have enough money. Good night life. Corruption in government is a commonly acknowledged problem
My life in Brazil
My life in São Paulo, Brazil _ Minha vida em São Paulo, Brasil
- infidelity is normal part of Brazillian life? Rio is the place to be if you're single and want to have fun but not necessarily settle down
The Brutal Truth About What Dating Is Like In Brazil
- same theme over and over again. Great place to have fun and where the pace of life isn't so quick
Top 10 Things To Do In Brazil
What Is A Full Life In Brazil
- Brazilians want to move out of the country, others want to move in. Mostly because Brazilians haven't travelled? Brazilians are generally more relaxed, friendly, fun, and pace of life is better. They enjoy their lives as opposed in the US?
Why I Live in Brazil
- some of the more interesting looking animals are the Toco Toucan, mini monkeys such as the Finger Monkey, Three-toed sloth, Giant Anteater, Capybaras
brazil animals
Adorable Toucan vs. Tower of cups!
Our Toucan is basically a lap dog!
Toucan cuddles just like a PUPPY! (Ripley the Toucan)
Toucan falls in the sink
Toucan Playing in Bed Pillows
Birds of Paradise - Toucan _ National Geographic
- pretty much all of it is Portugese (and my Spanish/Portugese is lacking). Hence, it's very hard to get an idea of what they are thinking...
brazil media

Random Stuff:
- have been working on generative music software of late. A lot of libraries out there but the problem is how to get it to produce something worthwhile
python midi file generator
Ask an Expert: Python Midi File Generation
MIDI Sound Generator for Python
python windows software midi arpeggiator
beat creator ableton python
beat creator python github
beat creator perl github
- have been looking for ways to migrate off of Blogger/Google Services. If you spend enough time using them you'll realise that there are a lot of limitations that need to be overcome and the software is somewhat 'klunky'. First off have to be able to change file format though. Not as easy as you think. The Blogger/XML file format doesn't seem to comply with XML standards based on what a lot of tools are telling me. I'm guessing I'll have to build my own tools to get this done?
blogger to txt converter
grab all links from xml file
xml xsl linux cli transform
xml conversion to multiple text files linux cli
remove all html tags via bash cli
bash script split xml file into smaller ones
- latest in political world
- latest in science world
- surprised that they allow this?
send anonymous sms
- latest in ICT world
Google Unveils Guetzli, Open Source JPEG Encoder, to Speed Browsing
- latest in financial world
- this has also been slightly vexxing for me as well?
- latest in defense world

Random Quotes:
- “Let me let you in on a little secret,” said Rice, a Stanford Graduate School of Business professor. "There is no such thing as an international community. There are self-maximizing, self-interested states that will push their interests as far as possible.”
- “Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will … But US military action cannot be the only - or even primary - component of our leadership in every instance,” he said in a speech to the West Point graduating class of 2014 that included a pledge to aid Syrian opposition groups.
...
"Since President Obama took office, a series of foreign policy plans and visions have been put forward; assurances have been made. But too often, strong words have been followed by weak actions, or no actions," he said. "The result has been a general loss of US credibility, making successful foreign policy nearly impossible. President Obama's diplomatic efforts cannot work if our allies lack confidence in US commitments, and our opponents do not fear US warnings."
- When Russia launched a series of airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in late September — arguably done to bolster its longtime ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad — many American conservatives lauded Russian President Vladimir Putin's show of strength while deriding what they suggested was President Obama's lack of resolve in helping to end Syria's bloody civil war. Many of these same conservatives have lamented America's lack of leadership in helping to abate the refugee crisis that the war has created while blasting Obama's refusal to directly confront ISIS in the field.

But one could credibly argue that contrary to his critics' averments, the Obama administration — where Putin is concerned — is not weak; rather, it is arguably taking a page out of conservative icon President Reagan's playbook book by engaging the Russians in an arms race while simultaneously planning for hostilities in Eastern Europe should the need arise.

Since 1999, Russia's greatest growth industry has been bolstering its military industrial complex. This past June, Putin stated that, "It's clear that the efficiency of the military-industrial complex is the most important source of economic growth." Putin has also created a program in which military draftees can opt to serve in defense-related industries that employ approximately 2.5 million Russians.
- HONG KONG — For the past eight years, the Chinese government has showered its former enemies in Taiwan with economic gifts: direct flights, commercial deals, even an undersea water pipeline. Trade is up more than 50 percent, and mainland tourists, once barred from traveling to the island, now arrive in droves, nearly four million last year alone.

But Beijing has discovered, again, that money can’t buy love.
- The investment bank analysed 550 Australian M&A deals over two decades and found that on average, the acquiring company's share prices had underperformed the market by 1 per cent or more in the first 12 months. 
...
Finally, acquisitions of private companies fared better than takeovers of listed companies, the research found, which may be attributable to the fact that private companies are more likely to be mispriced, and therefore may be cheaper.  
- However much Japan reiterates its Nonproliferation Treaty pledge to abjure nuclear weapons, and complies with IAEA inspections, China worries about Japan’s nuclear weapons potential. If Japan goes forward with the Rokkasho operation when economic arguments are decidedly against it, China’s concerns will multiply many times over. Everyone is aware that if the plant were put to military use, it would be capable of producing more than a thousand bombs’ worth of plutonium per year. In these circumstances, international inspections cannot provide a “timely” warning of diversion to military use. Japan’s argument, that plutonium drawn from power reactors is not useful for bombs, conflicts with what weapon scientists say.
- A standard radar pointed at the surface receives large amounts of noise — junk reflections from the earth’s surface. This noise obscures any low-flying objects from radar scans at higher altitudes. A dedicated look-down/shoot-down radar filters out this noise and allows interceptors to detect and engage these lower-flying aircraft from above.
- For many in the West, it seems obvious which side is right: strongmen like Assad and Putin clearly are guilty of abject cynicism and ruthless pragmatism. Such rulers use the vocabulary of international rules only when it suits them; they pose as faithful devotees to the strictures of international law because they are desperate for any rationale that might excuse their brutal exercise of power. If these same rules stood in the way of their political ambitions then they would just as easily trample all over them. Who in their right mind would take a lesson on proper international conduct from Bashar al-Assad, a man whose government uses barrel bombs to terrorize civilian populations, or from Vladimir Putin, who brazenly used the language of national self-determination to justify the invasion and annexation of Crimea?

But charges of cynicism and outright hypocrisy can cut both ways. It is true, after all, that war is only justified under international law if waged in national self-defense or if authorized by the UN Security Council. Neither of these conditions would appear to be met with regard to U.S. bombing missions against targets in Syria (not to mention the 2003 invasion of Iraq). Nor is it uncommon for the West to turn its gaze from egregious violations of human rights, or to unevenly apply international rules, such as by backing Kosovo’s declaration of independence while opposing self-rule for other breakaway regions.
- But even today there is resistance to fully live test torpedoes, as obsolete ships used for sinkex commonly have a homing beacon, so nothing goes wrong for the cameras
- The truth is that international order is a messy, contested and often contradictory bundle of purported rules and expectations; it certainly does not provide a clean and clear-cut set of principles that can be applied in an objective fashion by world leaders. Instead, international order offers a variety of normative prescriptions that statesmen can and do use to justify vastly different policies, both liberal and decidedly non-liberal alike. International order is a repository of norms, but it is neither fixed nor agreed upon, and there is nothing inherently liberal about it.
- In 2009 then-General David H. Petraeus, the man who would become the commander of Obama’s second surge a year later, famously noted that leaders “have to promote reconciliation. You can’t kill or capture your way out of an industrial-strength insurgency.” Yet that is exactly what American leaders have done virtually every year of the war. I was deployed in Afghanistan during the height of the surge (2010–11) and observed firsthand how American policy was focused almost exclusively on militarily defeating the Taliban. Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid was even more direct. In a recent email message he sent me, he wrote, “The U.S. military was always against negotiations especially when Petraeus was in Afghanistan.”
- "We must improve our economic, technological and military prowess, otherwise we will be large but not powerful, appearing strong but actually being weak."
- It was during the cold war, when attempting to gauge Soviet military movements, that Binney discovered the virtue of trying to interpret the patterns between data, even when encrypted, concerned not with content but who was talking to whom, how often and when. Thus he became the metadata analyst par excellence, who came up with his own five “indicators” of aggression and later predicted the Soviet invasions of Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan.
- Despite an economy choked by fresh international sanctions and low oil prices, Russia is continuing to produce new combat aircraft, tanks, submarines and missiles.

Put against a Western military industrial complex that has a growing litany of failure, this is a major achievement.

In the past two decades the West has abandoned billions of dollars worth of failed or challenged programs: Seasprite helicopters, Zumwalt stealth destroyers, Crusader mobile artillery, expeditionary fighting vehicles, Future combat system tanks, airborne lasers, Comanche attack helicopters. Now the next generation of US super aircraft carriers seem set to continue that trend, with untested fundamental aircraft operating equipment producing dangerous results.

In that time Russia has quietly fielded a variety of new state-of-the-art types specifically designed to counter what the West has to offer.
- You don't get it.

The benefits of real "wealth creation" through industrialisation DID achieve vast improvements in lifestyle/longevity spreading to the multitudes through wealth being more widely distributed.

However, after 3 decades of neoliberalism all we are left with is false "wealth creation". Literally, the creation of money.

The post-industrial economy really just serves to sell debt through consumer credit creation for more consumption. But "growth" through debt expansion is finite.

All debt is demand brought forward and needs to be worked/paid off. However, more jobs than ever are becoming obsolete even as the amount of goods produced vastly increases through advances in robotics/automation.

We now face an oversupply of goods and a massive bubble in consumer credit which is the only thing maintaining the level of consumption which sustains our economic model. Australia now has the highest consumer debt on record, and will more than likely fall into recession in the next 12 months.

It's becoming a zero-sum game. We're told we'll move to a "services" economy that creates growth. But I refer you to economics 101: "you can't grow living standards by doing each others' laundry" (literally or metaphorically). Why? Because you are just exchanging services for other services without producing anything new.

We are told that encouraging "investment" will fill the void. Only it won't, because investment is employing fewer and fewer people. Investment is increasing flowing into automated mining trucks, automated factories, automated checkouts, automated ports etc. It will soon be possible to "invest" vast sums and employ virtually nobody as a result.

Wealth is no longer being "created" in the real sense. And that symbolic wealth is now just being shuffled around and ending up concentrated in the hands of the already wealthy anyway.

The age of growth is over.
- While the appetite among Americans for the haven of U.S. debt has kept the government’s financing costs low, what’s worrisome is what it suggests about the health of the economy, according to George Goncalves, the head of interest-rate strategy at Nomura Holdings Inc., one of 22 dealers that are obliged to bid at Treasury auctions.
Lower for longer?
Lower for longer?

Sure, the U.S. is creating jobs, but a raft of disappointing indicators, from retail sales to manufacturing, suggests consumers are scaling back just as overseas demand weakens.

And wages are stagnating for many Americans. Since the recession ended, average hourly earnings have increased less than in any expansion since the 1960s. Without higher wages to spur spending, inflation has remained stubbornly low.
- Emerging market governments are dumping US treasuries en masse, in the latest sign of the pressure their economies are under.

China, Brazil, Russia and Taiwan have all been sellers, accounting for some of the $123bn in foreign net sales of treasury debt maturing in a year. This figure is for the 12 months to July, according to Deutsche Bank, and marks a sea-change in the $12.8 trillion treasury market. 

All these countries had historically been big buyers of the assets, using the better times of the last decade to accumulate foreign exchange assets and helping to push yields down to record lows. 

Now both Russia and Brazil are facing a prolonged period of recession while Taiwan’s growth is slowing, and their central banks are liquidating those reserves to free up capital for their budgets. 
- Countries around the world are selling their U.S. government debt holdings this year by the largest amounts seen since at least 2000.

China has been selling U.S. debt but it's not alone. Lots of emerging markets like Brazil, India and Mexico are also selling U.S. Treasuries. Not that long ago all these countries were all huge buyers of U.S. debt, which is viewed as one of the safest places to park money.

"Five or six years ago, the big concern was that China was going to own the United States," says Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Bank. "Now the concern is that China is selling them." 
- In the past a balance of power among the major powers helped avert a major war. Now with nations pursuing hegemony all bets are off. Having a military second to none has ruined it for the US as it is compelled by its might to get involved in conflicts which have little bearing on its national security. The revolving door between its policy makers and the defense industry is a poisonous relationship that should be nipped in the bud. So while the social fabric of the nation is frayed along with its infrastructure the US is getting overstretched and losing the respect of the world as it tries to mold the world into its own image while extracting the maximum economic benefit. The ultimate victims are its own people.
- It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says. Last year, he bluntly denied that the C.I.A. had illegally hacked into the computers of Senate staff members conducting an investigation into the agency’s detention and torture programs when, in fact, it did. In 2011, when he was President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, he claimed that American drone strikes had not killed any civilians, despite clear evidence that they had. And his boss, James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has admitted lying to the Senate on the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of data. Even putting this lack of credibility aside, it’s not clear what extra powers Mr. Brennan is seeking.
- Depleted uranium (DU) is a waste product from the nuclear industry, formed when uranium is milled and enriched. It is cheap, and extraordinarily dense. It can pierce the hardest armor.

It remains in several places in Iraq and, though last used in 2004, it continues to claim victims to this day. A number of them are American soldiers. According to the International Action Center/Poison DUst Project,

Today, half of the 697,000 US Gulf War troops from the 1991 war have reported serious medical problems and a significant increase in birth defects among their newborn children.

The effects on the Iraqi population are far greater. Many other countries and US communities near DU weapons plants, testing facilities, bases and arsenals have also been exposed to this radioactive material which has a half-life of 4.4 billions years

Military doctors have been slow to admit the cause of their symptoms. Some have refused to test them, others have “lost” their test results, and still others seem skeptical of tests performed by outside doctors. Many of these victims have been told their problems are “psychosomatic.”
- Members of the Tor Project are calling for a 24-hour shutdown of the Tor network on 1 September to protest against the manner in which the sexual harassment against Jacob Appelbaum were dealt with and rumours that it is letting government agents into its ranks.

Appelbaum, a well-known privacy advocate and developer, left the project, a system enabling anonymous online communication, on 2 June after charges of sexual misconduct were raised against him.

Those calling for the strike want users to avoid the network, those running nodes to shut them down and are asking developers not to work on Tor software for the period of the strike.

Two Tor members, Stephan Seitz and Marie Gutbub, have already shut down the nodes they run. A third operator has said he is following suit.

The justification offered for the strike is: "Tor can no longer be trusted after #jakegate / #torgate and hire of CIA. Its sinking credibility is putting people at risk. We hope it can be healed and regain trust with mass action.
- Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has met with Cuba’s President Raul Castro while on the first leg of a six-nation tour of Latin American countries.

The meeting took place on Monday in the Cuban capital of Havana, where the top Iranian diplomat arrived on Sunday night at the head of a high-ranking politico-economic delegation.

The two statesmen discussed the development of bilateral ties, international and Middle East affairs, as well as the upcoming summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which is to be held in Venezuela later in the year.
- Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh says the new government in the country is ready to cooperate with Russia against terrorism by allowing Russian access to Yemeni military bases.

“Russia is the closest to us and we extend our hand to Russia to cooperate in the field of combating terrorism,” Saleh said in an interview with state-run Russia 24 TV channel on Sunday.

He said Yemen was ready to open the country’s military bases to Russia.

“We provide all the facilities in our bases, airports and sea ports. We are ready to provide all facilities to the Russian Federation,” he said.

He said, however, that such cooperation would not mean Russia would be fighting alongside Yemeni forces against Saudi forces waging war on Yemen.
- The scientists have performed a series of experiments, studying the response of nanoparticles, made of conventional silicone, to the intense and short laser pulse. They found that if affected by the laser the plasma inside the particles displays an ultrafast reaction. 

The silicon particle, thereby, acts as an nonlinear antenna at the speed of about 250 Gb/s processing optical data at the speed far exceeding the one that could be achieved by the means of conventional silicon electronics.

“Today’s optical fibers are able to transfer information at record speeds of hundreds of gigabytes per second. However, silicon electronics do not allow such fast information processing. The creation of a nonlinear optical antenna will allow us to solve this problem, and pave the way for ultrafast processing of optical information,” Denis Baranov, a researcher with MIPT, told RIA Novosti.
- Let’s start with an old Russian joke: Optimists learn English, pessimists – Chinese, and realists - how to use a Kalashnikov.
- Of about 100 F-35C arrested landings were completed on the carrier, he said, 80 percent engaged the No. 3 wire, meaning the aircraft had touched down at the ideal spot. As of Monday, there had been zero so-called bolters, when the aircraft misses an arresting wire and must circle the carrier for another attempt.

“I think that’s going to give us the ability to look at the way we work up and expand the number of sorties. I think it will change the way we operate around the ship … in terms of the number of tankers you have to have up, daytime and nighttime,” he said. “I think that will give us a lot of flexibility in the air wing in the way we use those strike fighters.”

Tankers, or in-air refueling aircraft, must be ready when aircraft make arrested landings in case they run low on fuel during landing attempts. Fewer bolters, therefore, means a reduced tanker requirement.

“Right now, we configure maybe six to eight tankers aboard the ship,” Shoemaker said. “I don’t think we need … that many. That will give us flexibility on our strike fighter numbers, increase the Growler numbers, which I know we’re going to do, and probably E-2D [Advanced Hawkeye carrier-launched radar aircraft] as well.”

The F-35C’s last developmental testing phase is set to wrap up Aug. 23. MAGIC CARPET is expected to be introduced to the fleet in 2019, officials have said.
- Chinese law prohibits employers from firing workers while they are receiving medical treatment. But the law is often ignored, legal experts said, especially in industries like mining and construction, where workers often fall ill or are injured on the job.
- The law would also order that internet exchange points in the Russian sector of the web could only be owned by Russian companies. However, the current edition of the bill allows for foreign ownership of up to 20 percent of these points in future – a system similar to the one used in the current Russian Law on Mass Media. The rules are even stricter for national domain registers – the owners of such companies can be only Russian entities founded by the Communications Ministry and financed from a special “Universal Service Reserve” fund which, in turn, will be formed with a 1.2 percent income excise levied on all telecom corporations operating in the country.
- The head of an Iraqi resistance group says the Middle East region’s woes have worsened ever since the onset of the United States “war on terror,” Press TV reports.

Akram al-Kabi, the Secretary General of the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba (HHN), which fights militancy throughout the war-scarred Iraq, made the remarks to Press TV in an exclusive interview, parts of which were broadcast on Wednesday.

“The United States has never played a positive role since its entry into the region. Problems and conflicts worsened with the US occupation of Iraq and, before that, Afghanistan,” he said.

The invasions, undertaken in 2001 and 2003, prompted far-and-wide anti-Washington sentiment and grass-roots intolerance of foreign meddling. The chaos that ensued provided for the proliferation of militant groups fighting central governments.

The US war on Iraq has been blamed for the emergence of the Takfiri terrorist group Daesh, which has been operating in Iraq and Syria since 2014 and has recently spread to Libya, Afghanistan, and Yemen, too.

Kabi further blasted the US-led campaign that purports to be fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria but has stopped well short of dismantling the group.
- Homework guru Harris Cooper of Duke University once said: “There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students.” Students around the globe are sure to be delighted that someone is finally listening to his advice.
- DNA circuits aren’t exactly new — they have previously been designed to solve problems like calculating square roots and playing games like tic-tac-toe — but they have almost always been digital, which is to say, information they process is translated into the binary code of zeroes and ones. But researchers from Duke University have made a nanoscale computer that uses synthetic DNA and is analog.

Think of it like the difference between a regular calculator and an abacus.

Unlike electrical circuits that rely on voltage as signals, “DNA circuits use the concentrations of specific DNA strands” to convey information, according to a statement on the Duke website. When performing a calculation, the digital DNA circuits require “special circuitry to convert” the “concentrations of specific DNA molecules” to a binary code. In contrast, the analog DNA circuit measures the varying concentrations directly.
- An impasse between the Republican governor and Democrats who control the legislature left Illinois as the only state without a complete 2016 budget, however a six-month fiscal 2017 spending plan was passed in June.

Still, Mahoney has cautioned that "unforeseen and unknown automatic cost increases would have a devastating impact" on Illinois' ability to fund social services and education.

What Rauner's senior advisor is essentially saying, is that if the TRS does what the Fed and other central banks are forcing it to do, our political careers may be over, and that could be just the beginning.

And here is the punchline: one of Rauner's top Republican legislative allies, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, urged the TRS board to delay a vote Friday to give the public time to weigh in on its possible actions. "This issue is important enough at the very least to put the TRS board on notice we don’t want them taking any action that could cost taxpayers $200 to $300 million without appropriate scrutiny,” she said. The action in question, Radogano is demanding the TRS not take, is to lower its return expectations from the ludicrous 7.5% to something realistic; instead she is suggesting the fund pretend all is well, and avoid the day of reckoning for at least a few more years, ideally until she has quit as Senate Minority Leader, at which point the TRS can by all means go ahead and admit just how terrible its underfunding truly is.

Translation: please keep your heads stuck in the sand, and dare not admit the reality of near-zero returns in the new normal, but instead keep the projected return rate at 7.5%, or else you will not only admit just how much bigger the underfunding hole truly is, but the resultant surge in public anger following the broad rise in taxes coupled with cut to pensioner benefits could lead to millions of furious voters sweeping all of Illinois' current career politicians right into the unemployment office.

Incidentally, this is precisely the fight that countless ponzi schemes, pardon pension funds, across the US will be forced to go through in the coming months, unless somehow the Fed funds a way to guarantee 8% returns every year, or else sending inflation soaring, and wiping out the fund's liabilities.

Since neither is likely to happen for a while, the biggest losers will once again be taxpayers and pensions recipients, who this time will be forced to pay - literally - because their public fiduciaries lied to them, and because other fiduciaries are hoping the lies will continue for at least a few more years.
- Tensions have been mounting in the region ever since Moscow accused Kiev of attempting to stage a terrorist attack in Crimea.

Video has emerged of trains and ferries packed with Russian weapons hurtling towards the front.

Ukrainian president Petro Prososhenkod to warned they could not rule out a "full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine along all fronts".
- How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet, Joel Stein … Troll Culture of Hate, Time … They’re turning the web into a cesspool of aggression and violence. What watching them is doing to the rest of us may be even worse  …  This story is not a good idea. Not for society and certainly not for me. Because what trolls feed on is attention. And this little bit–these several thousand words–is like leaving bears a pan of baklava.  It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet’s personality has changed. – TIME

TIME magazine has written yet another horrible article, this one basically calling for the Internet to be controlled and censored because of too many “trolls.”

It’s not clear why there are more of them now than before. The only reason the article gives is that “mores” are being stripped away by anonymity and “aggression and violence” are “seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.”

This doesn’t make much sense but TIME often doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense. Smartphones have been around for years but TIME has only decided now, apparently, that trolling is a big enough problem to warrant a major article.

And it’s one, eventually, that TIME suggests ought to be dealt with by civilian policing. You’d think the Internet itself provides enough ways, for the most part, to deal with all but the most persistent harassment. But TIME doesn’t see it that way.

TIME is actually a little late to the party. The article actually builds on reports (here) that London’s Metropolitan Police are setting up a £1.7 million “Twitter squad” to fight social media trolling. Some £500,000 is funding a Home Office Online Hate Crime “hub” as well.
- (CNN)A US Navy official told CNN four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels conducted a "high-speed intercept" of the USS Nitze in waters near the Strait of Hormuz Tuesday, deeming the incident "unsafe and unprofessional."

The official said two of the vessels slowed and turned away only after coming within 300 yards of the US guided-missile destroyer as it transited international waters near the Strait of Hormuz, and only after the destroyer had sent multiple visual and audio warnings.
- The U.S. is stepping up its effort to convince the European Commission to refrain from hitting Apple Inc. and other companies with demands for possibly billions of euros in underpaid taxes.

In a white paper released Wednesday, the Treasury Department in Washington said the Brussels-based commission is taking on the role of a “supra-national tax authority” that has the scope to threaten global tax reform deals.

“This shift in approach appears to expand the role of the commission’s Directorate-General for Competition” that goes “beyond enforcement of competition and state aid law,” the Treasury wrote in the paper. “The cases cited by the commission do not give taxpayers prior notice that the commission would interpret its powers in this way or that selectivity would no longer be a meaningful precondition to a finding of state aid.”

Rules that bar European Union states from giving tax benefits “to selected companies that are not available to others” have been “in place for a long time,” the commission said in an e-mailed statement. When such benefits have nonetheless been granted, “the member state concerned must recover the unfair advantage,” according to the statement.
- A couple of NBN employees may have to walk the plank and join the Centrelink queue if the AFP succeeds – and one is not placing any sizeable bet that they will. They have bungled so many operations — remember the affair of the Bali Nine? — that anyone who has confidence in this force would also be willing to trust their money to Wall Street hedge funds.

Further, if Turnbull really expects people to believe that his government had no hand in instigating the raids, then he must be thinking that we are a bunch who believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and that the stork is the one who delivers babies.

Turnbull has repeatedly shown himself to be politically naive. Seven years ago, the Godwin Grech affair cost him his post as opposition leader. His recent decision to take the country to a double-dissolution election has left him clinging precariously to power and facing a Senate that one would only encounter in a nightmare and a particularly bad one at that.

The only thing that the AFP raids can engender is fear. There is no point in threatening whistleblowers – someone else will emerge who will blow the whistle much louder, longer and with more devastating impact. The AFP might like to ponder the fact that it's taken just one Edward Snowden to give the NSA, a body with influence and power that the AFP can only dream of, serious nightmares.

Raids will change nothing. They will only mark the AFP out as an organisation that tries to bully the public, one that is willing to dance to the tune of politicians, one that could well spend its time better in trying to sort out its internal problems. Like that sexual harassment issue, for example.

But Turnbull may end up as collateral damage as a result of this. The silver-haired one may well have to go back to his Point Piper mansion and ponder his mistakes over a glass of port. And probably muse on the title of his autobiography, "How to lose the prime ministership in a year."
- The Federal Reserve, for example, has already warned that financial technology could pose stability risks to the US financial system.

And they’re right.

If foreign banks are able to transact directly with one another without having to go through the US banking system, then why would they need to park trillions of dollars in the United States?

They wouldn’t.

Adoption of this technology could cause a gigantic vacuum of deposits out of the US banking system.

US banks would take a big hit. And the US government would have far fewer foreign buyers to sell its ever-expanding piles of debt.

Make no mistake, the adoption of this technology is a game-changing development with far-reaching implications. And it’s happening very quickly.

If these mega-banks can hit their milestones, they’ll launch commercially in eighteen months.

Mark it on your calendar– that may be the end of peak US financial dominance
- Yemeni army forces have launched a locally designed and manufactured ballistic missile towards an area deep inside Saudi Arabia in response to Riyadh’s atrocious aerial bombardment against the crisis-stricken Arab country.

On Friday, the media bureau of the operations command in Yemen released footage showing the missile attack against a stationary target in the Saudi city of Ta'if, located more than 700 kilometers (434 miles) southeast of the capital, Riyadh.

The video shows the Borkan-1 (Volcano-1) blasting off from a launcher deployed in an unknown location in Yemen. The voice of a man can be clearly heard as he chants slogans against the United States and Israel.

The solid propellant and Scud-type Borkan-1 missile reportedly has a range of more than 800 kilometers (497 miles).
- The US Air Force has started a $12 billion program to upgrade its aging fleet of F-15 warplanes, in an attempt to keep the three-decade old jet on par with Russian and Chinese models.

 Under the new program, a total of 435 aircraft will receive new radars, more modern mission computers, upgraded communication tools, advanced infrared search and track capabilities and electronic warfare systems, the US media reported Friday.

The upgrades will allow the F-15 to carry out missions in concert with more advanced warplanes while extending its lifespan until at least 2040.

The so-called Strike Eagle aircraft were first slated to be replaced with F-22 Raptor stealth jets, but the fifth-generation warplane’s production was ceased in 2009 due to high cost. Only 188 of the planned 749 F-22s were ever produced.

“Our potential adversaries are keenly aware of the importance of air superiority to our nation's way of war,” CNN quoted Air Force spokesman Major Robert Leese as saying. “This is why they continue to seek ways to contest our advantage in the air through the development and proliferation of new weapon systems.”

“To maintain this advantage, the Air Force must not only develop new systems of our own, but continue to upgrade the capabilities of our legacy systems like the F-15,” he said.

Boeing spokesman Randy Jackson said his company was going modify some of the F-15s to carry 16 missiles, two times the standard eight.

Despite getting all the advanced equipment, the F-15 would still lack the F-22’s stealth capability, which means the aircraft would have a hard time evading radars.
- As we wound up the interview, I asked for some key points.

    It is still too easy to breach security. You don’t have to be super sophisticated to get into a company and use cyber-crime tools as a service

    Cloud is one of the biggest challenges, but it will be solved

    We want to trust employees – the human factor – but that takes proactive education programs and changes in attitudes

    Social media is a new attack vector as is highly sophisticated social engineering

    Every business is likely to suffer a data breach at some point so you need to prepare to respond quickly and effectively to limit the damage, and you practice that response, all the time. So when the real deal happens, you're ready.

    Businesses that are hacked need to stop blaming the bogeyman and saying “It was a highly sophisticated attack -well beyond anything we could have predicted or protected against” – that’s plain rubbish. Mea Culpa – get over it and fix the issues

    And at the end of the day security – physical and cyber – is a serious job
    It needs to be resourced and part of the Board discussions – it is risk management

The two hours passed in a flash – and every bullet point above probably deserves companion articles.
- What I found is one of the clearest illustrations of how the pace of journalism has changed in the past 25 years: Even as newsrooms are smaller than ever, they’re producing far more journalism—at least in the realm of presidential campaign coverage. And that’s largely because of how technology has upended the journalism industry as it once operated. In the mobile internet age, the appetite for round-the-clock, real-time news is insatiable. Between 1994 and 2014, the industry cut over 20,000 jobs, representing a 39 percent decline, according to a Pew report earlier this year. And yet, among the newspapers I looked at, there were more than double the amount of articles written about Hillary Clinton over a 13-month period in 2015 and 2016 than there were written about her husband over the same time period when he ran for president in 1992.  (The coverage from this year includes online-only stories produced by newspapers, whereas the coverage from 1992 only comes from print stories.)

If Only Hiring Were So Simple, Random Stuff, and More

- you read some of the articles out there about recruitment practices and things sound so simple... I've watched the recruitment proces...