The Syrian Situation from Russia’s Eyes as interpreted by the Chinese

MOSCOW, June 9 (Xinhua) — Russia was completing its air defense contracts with Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday. The contracts were signed and paid for long ago, and the systems could be used “only if” Syria faced foreign attacks, Lavrov told reporters.

Russia would not ship anything to Syria outside of these contracts, the minister said, adding it was not providing the Syrian government with any weapons against “peaceful demonstrators.”

The minister slammed what he said were outside forces who were fueling the violence in Syria by “openly providing” support to the armed groups and the opposition in Syria. He warned the country was on the brink of a “full-scale civil war”. Russia had decided at the very beginning of the Syria turmoil not to provide it with arms that could be used to “suppress domestic unrest,” Lavrov said.

For those that haven’t been watching, it is Russia and China who are holding back the U.N. from greenlighting a mission much like the one in Libya. There is also a much greater chance of arming an opposition group that is far more hardline against U.S. interests and still fully aligned with Iran’s interests as well.

Hopefully the formal end of this contract will help push Russia to allow some intervention.

China is a tougher nut to crack, as they are cracking down on a Tibetan resurgence fueled by multiple self-immolations…I.e. how true warriors of peace fight). The recent incontrovertible evidence of Syrian atrocities is also slowly moving the world to action. Election season worldwide doesn’t help.

Russia completes air defense contracts with Syria
Xinhua | English.news.cn http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-06/09/c_123259276.htm

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Hump Day Link Dump (Romney’s KKK Logo and Gay Rights Bashing, Dodd on China, Carrier Low IQ, Gingrich’s Latest Lie, Robert Reich Explains, Trump Fails Again, and Newt’s Class War)

Romney uses KKK tagline for his campaign, “Keeping America American”.

Romney tells vet his marriage should be illegal.

MPAA head Chris Dodd (yes, that one) is envious of China’s Great Firewall, and think the U.S. should have one here.   Curious note… part of the point of the Chinese firewall is to avoid paying outrageous copyright fees to U.S. companies.   The point of the U.S. Great Firewall would be to force U.S. citizens to continue to pay outrageous copyright fees to U.S. companies.

Your phone company is spying on you.   This shouldn’t be news to anyone.    Most of the Republicans candidates want todstrengthen Patriot Act rules that allow this, and then claim to be supporting your freedom by doing so.

Another example of a Tea Party group walking all over that racism line.

Gingrich, obviously, does the exact same kind of thing with the Palestinians, echoing insanely racist rhetoric.

Trump’s debate strategy goes bankrupt, one of Trump’s specialties.

Gingrich tax plan: Give it all to the 1% (not the taxes…the money).

Robert Reich on how math works (and why Republicans don’t seem to care about that).

China has it’s own “occupy” movement happening.

Giving Newt the business on his “poor people, especially poor kids,  are worthless and lazy” kick he’s been off on.

UPDATE:  Larry Wilmore absolutely smashing Newt’s outrageous statements and racist supposition.

The Latest Bit of Evidence To Be Dismissed by 40% of the American populace….

….

Scientists from the Beijing Genomics Institute last month discovered another striking instance of human genetic change. Among Tibetans, they found, a set of genes evolved to cope with low oxygen levels as recently as 3,000 years ago. This, if confirmed, would be the most recent known instance of human evolution.

[full story]

The difficulty of identifying these shifts is also covered in the article (and the reason this is dismissed by so many…it’s hard).

One of the signatures of natural selection is that it disturbs the undergrowth of mutations that are always accumulating along the genome. As a favored version of a gene becomes more common in a population, genomes will look increasingly alike in and around the gene. Because variation is brushed away, the favored gene’s rise in popularity is called a sweep. Geneticists have developed several statistical methods for detecting sweeps, and hence of natural selection in action.

About 21 genome-wide scans for natural selection had been completed by last year, providing evidence that 4,243 genes — 23 percent of the human total — were under natural selection. This is a surprisingly high proportion, since the scans often miss various genes that are known for other reasons to be under selection. Also, the scans can see only recent episodes of selection — probably just those that occurred within the last 5,000 to 25,000 years or so. The reason is that after a favored version of a gene has swept through the population, mutations start building up in its DNA, eroding the uniformity that is evidence of a sweep.

So as soon as an “upgrade” is available in the gene pool, it changes the color of the pool, so to speak, and immediately new dyes start seeping in, searching for that next true hue. 

The theory also makes predictions that have also been observed, such as….

The fewest signals of selection were seen among people who live in the humid tropics, the ecoregion where the ancestral human population evolved. “One could argue that we are adapted to that and that most signals are seen when people adapt to new environments,” Dr. Di Rienzo said in an interview.

 To continue the pool analogy, those born in the the deep blue of the tropics and stayed, were good with that color.  But you start getting to more extreme environment (cold, altitude) that same color doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

The second page is a basic discussion on skin color and how there is enough adaptability in the human genome for light skin to have evolved in at least two ways.

The difficulty in comprehending the theory (much less applying it) also lies in the complexity of the systems themselves.

Most variation in the human genome is neutral, meaning that it arose not by natural selection but by processes like harmless mutations and the random shuffling of the genome between generations. The amount of this genetic diversity is highest in African populations. Diversity decreases steadily the further a population has migrated from the African homeland, since each group that moved onward carried away only some of the diversity of its parent population. This steady decline in diversity shows no discontinuity between one population and the next, and has offered no clear explanation as to why one population should differ much from another. But selected genes show a different pattern: Evidence from the new genome-wide tests for selection show that most selective pressures are focused on specific populations.

However, within that complexity, one can expose new insights (again, in keeping with the theory).

One aspect of this pattern is that there seem to be more genes under recent selection in East Asians and Europeans than in Africans, possibly because the people who left Africa were then forced to adapt to different environments. “It’s a reasonable inference that non-Africans were becoming exposed to a wide variety of novel climates,” says Dr. Stoneking of the Max Planck Institute.

The final bit is about the “soft sweet” which continues to occur regardless of outside pressure.  

But the new evidence that humans have adapted rapidly and extensively suggests that natural selection must have other options for changing a trait besides waiting for the right mutation to show up. In an article in Current Biology in February, Dr. Pritchard suggested that a lot of natural selection may take place through what he called soft sweeps.

Soft sweeps work on traits affected by many genes, like height. Suppose there are a hundred genes that affect height (about 50 are known already, and many more remain to be found). Each gene exists in a version that enhances height and a version that does not. The average person might inherit the height-enhancing version of 50 of these genes, say, and be of average height as a result.

The article uses a primitive example of this, but I could just link here…and then draw the pictures….taller = more money, more money = more health/breeding partners, = taller species.  Although this last  (the money/height connection) has only been going on for 20-30 generations and only a couple generations for all people of all genomic heritage (in my country).  It will be interesting to see how these studies move forward in the future, as genome databases grow and more cross-testing is available.

It would be quite a thing to get a six-month gene therapy treatment before that next stint on Everest/in the Arctic.  Or at least it would be if that kind of stuff isn’t outlawed by people who don’t believe in evolution [search : Gene Manufacturing]

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The World This Week, March 22, 2009

[videos forthcoming]

US NEWS

People thieving the electrons.

Obama: Economy hurts.  Duh.

Obama Budget Strategy raises questions.

New home construction gets a lift (month-to-month).

Small business help on the way.

Fed prints money like mad.

A couple economists agree that printing money is a good idea…today.

China wants a new global currency standard.

Palin to preach to choir.

McCain Twitterview a joke, a stilted lagging joke.

Feel the outrage….

….oh wait, we did that?

Probe into AIG bonuses launched.

Gassley suggest suicide for AIG execs, then back off to resignation and public flogging.

Laid off worked parades in front of AIG mansion.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Pakistan moves closer to rule of law.

Iraqi government wants heads to roll.

Dead Sea Scrolls authors existence questioned.

Georgia v. stem cells.

Pope v. witchcraft and tribalism.

Everyone of the Book (Christian, Muslim, Jew) vs teh Gays.

Stop-Loss phasing out.

Obama talks to Iran.

Iran wants more than talk.

SCIENCE/TECH

The Frogopalypse.

Veggie garden makes a return to White House lawn.

Obama gets schooled on Special Olympics and bowling.  NOTE: Bowling not a particularly intellectual pursuit.

The Great Unkowns and the Unknowables.

U.S. Power/Prestige Set to Decline Over Next 20 Years (It will Be O.k.)

This is something of a follow-up to my post the other day regarding World War II and the Great Depression.  In that post I made the point that a significant portion of the economic success the U.S. enjoyed from World War II to, well, now, was due to the fact that after WW2 the U.S. still had an economy and functioning  (i.e. not bombed) industry.

We then doubled down in the 80’s [note: this is a great article on how we got to where we are] to keep things going for a while, and again in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq. 

And now the fruits of our labors, or more directly, the fruits of the labors of the other 6,700,000,000 humans on the planet, are being harvested.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A government report released Thursday paints an alarming picture of an unstable future for international relations defined by waning American influence, a fragmentation of political power and intensifying struggles for increasingly scarce natural resources.

The report, “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World,” was drafted by the National Intelligence Council to better inform U.S. policymakers — starting with the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama — about the factors most likely to shape major international trends and conflicts through the year 2025.

“Although the United States is likely to remain the single most powerful actor, the United States’ relative strength — even in the military realm — will decline and U.S. leverage will become more constrained,” says the report, which is the fourth in a series from the Intelligence Council.

The report argues that the “international system — as constructed following the second World War — will be almost unrecognizable by 2025 owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalizing economy, an historic transfer of relative wealth and economic power from West to East, and the growing influence of nonstate actors.”

 This is precisely what I was getting at in the previous post. 

[The Entire Report Is Available for Download Here…that page is the summary, the report itself is 120 pages long.  Fun reading.]

There are also some good points here, as some of the data the report was relying on has chaged.  For example…

It argues that the world is in the midst of an unprecedented “transfer of global wealth and power” — from West to East — that is being fueled by long-term “increases in oil and commodity prices” along with a gradual shift of manufacturing and certain service industries to Asia.

While the manufacturing aspects haven’t change, the recent global meltdown has absolutely gutted oil prices, which is the single largest factor in this transfer of wealth.

“Despite the recent rise in anti-Americanism, the U.S. probably will continue to be seen as a much-needed regional balancer in the Middle East and Asia,” the report notes.

Luckily, since we acted in a way that the rest of the world endorsed whole-heartedly, the “anti-Americanism” will fade.  Recall folks, after 9/11 everyone loved us.  It was only when we invaded an oil-rich country that hadn’t attacked us and wasn’t a threat to us….and then told everyone they were pussies because they wouldn’t come with us…that the “anti-Americanism” really took off.

Curious how that works, eh?  Actions matter. 

The report predicts that, the recent economic downturn aside, “unprecedented global economic growth” will mean that the demand for basic resources such as food, water and oil “will outstrip easily available supplies” over the next decade.

As an estimated 1.2 billion people are added to the world population over the next 20 years, the demand for food will rise by 50 percent, the report projects.

Umm, I don’t think you can so easily dismiss the “recent economic downturn.”  Part of the reason things like the recent collapse happen is because everything gets too overheated.  When you extrapolate from overheated systems, as this reports most likely does, then the extrapolations are that much more wild.

And if the demand for food goes up, maybe we can stop paying our farming congomerates to not farm.   Making food is something humans, and particularly Americans, have no problems with.

I find it very unikely that such a wide-ranging report would be altered to take into account the current economic crisis.  After having a look at the summary of the 2008 economic crisis on page 10…and how it does’t seem to even affect bullet points underneath it…they just added that section in and haven’t really factored it into the rest of the report.

The section of the crisis does end with something I mentioned in my taped rant…

The crisis has increased calls for a new “Bretton Woods” to better regulate the global economy.  World leaders, however, will be challenged to renovate the IMF and devise a globally transparent and effective set of rules that apply to differing capitalisms and levels of financial institutional development. Failure to construct a new all-embracing architecture could lead countries to seek security through competitive monetary policies and new investment barriers, increasing the potential for market segmentation.

 

 

There was recently a large meeting in Washington, D.C. to talk about doing exactly this.  Not much can be done with a lame-duck leading the free world and beggin people not to give up on cowboy-capitalism.

They re-scheduled the meeting for March, after Obama takes over and the adults are in charge of the U.S. economy again.  Sorry, kids, but cutting taxes and declaring war are two great conservative tastes that taste like shit together.

One quick note….the other RISING powers of the world all have one thing in common…

For the most part, China, India, and Russia are not following the Western liberal model for self-development but instead are using a different model, “state capitalism.”  State capitalism is a loose term used to describe a system of economic management that gives a prominent role to the state. 

Not that I am endorsing such a thing, as both China and India are in a different place developmentally that the U.S.  They are in need of massive infrastructure projects that only a government can provide.  Our interstate highway system and “The Internet” are the kinds of stuff I’m talking about here.

Overall it makes for sober reading, and really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  If you are surprised, now would be a good time to get over it.  Otherwise, a whole bunch of things that happen over the next 20 years are not going to make sense to you.

It’s time to tighten the belts, my fellow ‘Merkins.  Which is a good thing, as belly fat can give you cancer.

I updated the title to mention something that I forgot to talk about in the above article, and that the “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World” total missed, and it’s going to change the world more than anything else in history.

It’s why I’m not worried…per se…about many of these issues.  That thing, which the CIA/DOD/NIE/Etc. higher-ups hopefully edited out (I can’t imagine with all the brainpower they got there no one brought up the concept) is called “The Singularity”.

Right now we’re on target for about 2020.  That’s 5 years, or roughly 8-fold, before 2025. 

Why do I say “8-fold?”  Because the computers of 2025 are going to be roughly 8 times as powerful as those of 2020, for the same price, and an eighth the size.

In 2020 the computers will have pretty much the same processing power, information-wise, as our own brains.  That may seem fancifcul now, but have you noticed that it is getting harder and harder to prove you are human on the Internet?

All it used to take was using a service.  Then you had to start jumping through easy hops.  Then the hoops got more difficult.

Sometimes, they are even flaming.

Those little “captchas” and other such tools are basic versions of a “Turing Test.”

There will come a day (probably around 2020), and that day is already called the Singularity, when the robots that roam the internet, and try to use and abuse services, will have the same “intelligence” as your average human being.  The same ability to be witty and sad.  To process and contextualize and remember. 

By 2025, they will have roughly 8 times the capacity of a normal human.

When you consider how very much entwined our world will be with the internet at that time, I think you can see why I began this section with the teaser “, and it’s going to change the world more than anything else in history.”

So the final question becomes, how or why did all those agencies miss it?

[that’s a trick question….guess who has access to the best minds and best tech?  That’s right.  It’ll be coming from our government.  Deep inside, probably.  Or on a lefty-fringe, like the Net itself did.  My hope is that we have made our government, and others, completely transparent by then.   So we can watch it happen.]

2008 Summer Paralympic Games in Pictures

From September 6th to September 17th, Beijing is once again hosting athletes from around the world. Over 4,200 athletes – from six different disability groups – from 148 countries are taking part in the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games. Not only are the sports divided into events, but the events are divided into different disability categories, to even out the playing field as much as possible. The slogan for this years Paralympic Games is the same as the one for the Olympics held just last month: “One World, One Dream”. (36 photos total)

2008 Summer Paralympic Games – The Big Picture – Boston.com.

Some amazing pictures here. Make sure to read the captions on some of these.

[via kottke]

Christiane via Brazil Amazing in HD 2 Goals in 1 Minute (3 in half)

Just a couple quick comments on the Olympics. I’ve been watching pretty much non-stop since the absolutely amazing opening ceremonies.  Today I’ve gone to the old stand-by, the 24-hour soccer channel.   The only other thing going right now is boxing, and the U.S.’s best hope for a medal just lost because he didn’t know he was behind in the bizarre Olympic boxing score-system.   Really, he got knocked down earlier in the bout and got a point.

Regardless, I was just watching the Brazil and Niger, women’s soccer match.  Niger was up 1-nil when Christiane first had a header and then a bicycle kick for goals back to back in under a minute.

I also want to throw out some props to the U.S. Men’s Gymnastic (Bronze, from nowhere) and Swimming teams (Gold, from behind).  Good work fellas.  Now you can stop shaving yourselves everywhere.  Hat’s off to the Chinese and French gymnastic and swimming teams, respectively, as well.

I’ve probably seen about 20 or 30 sports so far, and have to commend GE for their coverage.  They are making a windfall off this thing, and the 24-hour HD programming is much appreciated.  I’ll try and throw up posts when something else cool happens on my TV, but the play of Christiane amazed me, so I thought I’d catch you up to what my TV is playing and what the world is watching.

UPDATE: OMG!! Hat trick!!

Black Market Olympics: Running from the Beijing Police

Mt. SAC professor on the run in Beijing after protest – DailyBulletin.com

Edward Romero is on the run in the Olympics host city of Beijing.

According to friends and colleagues of the La Puente pastor and philosophy professor at Mt. San Antonio College, Romero is being sought by Chinese authorities for painting two upscale Beijing hotel rooms with anti-oppression slogans like, “Speak out for those who have no voice,” and “Beijing 2008 Our world Our nightmare.”

The incidents have caught the interest of news outlets and Internet users worldwide, who have flocked to Romero’s YouTube page – “Diary of a Gadfly” – where the La Puente resident videotaped his antics and uploaded them online.

“It’s going all over the world at a furious pace,” said Tony Thomas, a longtime friend of Romero who has been appointed Romero’s unofficial spokesman. “He has had the vision to do this (for years), but I think most people didn’t really know exactly what he was going to do until he actually did it.”

You can follow the action here

Hypocrisy vs Irony via CNN

Sometimes it’s a tough call to judge whether someone is being Hypocritical or Ironic.

The same can often be said of situations.   What we have below is one such situation.  A simple confluence of world events that illustrates the absudity of….well….those same events and sometimes, the lack thereof (see #3).

cnn_cover

The storyline goes as follows….

Continue reading

China to Declare War on Terra

Officials in China rush to evacuate 80,000 – Yahoo News

The Tangjiashan lake in northern Sichuan province, formed when a massive landslide blocked a river, is one of dozens of fragile dams created during the earthquake that pose a new destructive threat in the disaster zone.

Soldiers hauled explosives through the mountains to reach the area, and the official Chinese Daily said Tuesday on its Web site they were “preparing to dynamite the barrier.” State television showed live footage of heavy earth-moving equipment being used to carve out a 200-yard channel to drain the water.

“We are prepared to get rid of the trees by chopping and explosion. After that, the second batch of equipment will be moved in,” Liu Ning, chief engineer at the Ministry of Water Resources, was quoted as saying on CCTV.

The lake is swelling behind a landslide near Beichuan, one of the towns hit hardest by the May 12 tremor that devastated Sichuan.

The number of deaths from the quake has climbed further toward an expected toll of 80,000 or more. The Cabinet said Tuesday that 67,183 people were confirmed killed — up by about 2,000 from a day earlier — and 20,790 were still missing.

When something kills 20x as many of your citizens as a terrorist attack, the only possible option is to invade and destroy. Expect China to follow Bush’s logic and invade Mars before the year is out.

How China Could Leverage Tibetans

This is one of the better of a series of articles I’ve been following on China’s idiotic response to the Tibet situation.  The author does a good job in pointing out how China could get a whole lot of whuffie for dealing fairly with Tibet, and it would make a huge move to quell the disquiet surrounding China’s rise to a world power.

Why Beijing Needs Tibet’s Help | Newsweek International Edition | Newsweek.com

Recent events in Tibet have underscored the fact that more than a Half Century of Chinese occupation—and forcible attempts to change Tibetans into Han Chinese—aren’t working and never will. Resistance to Beijing’s imperialism hasn’t come just from the “Dalai Lama clique,” as Chinese officials put it, but from all 6 million Tibetans.

Thus Beijing’s problems won’t simply go away when the 14th Dalai Lama dies; he’s now 72 and very durable. But that’s a good thing, for China’s leaders are going to need his help to peacefully resolve the crisis. The Dalai Lama remains committed to nonviolence and a solution that would benefit both sides. And he’s the only person capable of persuading his people to accept such a deal.

As a ninja who wouldn’t mind seeing my monkish friends enjoying their lives instead of being arrested and/or executed, I’m all for this one.

This idea, on the other hand, is retarded.

Far from heeding international calls for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, China has accused Tibet’s exiled god-king of colluding with Muslim terrorists to destabilise the country before the Olympic Games.

State-run newspapers have issued prominent leading articles that are part of a campaign to portray the Dalai Lama as the mastermind of the deadly riots that have rippled through Tibet and ethnic Tibetan communities.

In Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, yesterday local TV issued the No 7 list of those most wanted in connection with the riots on March 10 in which Chinese officials say 22 people were killed, including a baby boy burnt to death in a garage and one paramilitary police officer.

[full story]

C’mon China, “goodwill” is bankable.  The U.S. has proved that without a doubt in the 21st Century (albeit in the negative).  See chart, weep.