Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Use of force. One a woman.

I recall trying to take a man in a wheelchair into custody. My partner and I were at it for almost five minutes and damned I was exhausted.

Notice this officer is much larger than the woman he is trying to take into custody and it still takes over 4 minutes and the assistance of another officer to get her under control. And the driver could have gotten into the fight, where it might have elevated from there.

Good work on this and I'm glad you're ok:



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Some people just don't get it....

One of the questions I have when I pull someone over is, "Do they get a ticket or warning." With people like this, the question answered itself.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ouch.....

I've had my feet run over twice and it's no fun. In this short video a Saudi prince seems to not like getting a ticket and tries to drive off. Mistake.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The threat of cyber attack to our energy industry.....

Last year I finished my master's degree (Again, thank you God that's over!) in Intelligence Studies, with a focus in Homeland Security. I got interested in the threat of cyber warfare to our critical infrastructure. One of the books I read was Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon, documenting the development and deployment of the Student virus against the Iranian nuclear program. It also reviewed how control of large infrastructure systems (power generation, dam control, etc) started to be automated in the 1970s. But back then there was no Internet and few software companies, so the operating systems were proprietary. In the 1990s we started to standardize them to a Windows or Lynux system, which made them more functionals, but also gave adversaries a "in" to the system.

In 2007, the Department of Energy wanted to test this threat. They purchased an old 30mw generator and paid a contractor to build a virus to destroy it. The contractor put thirty lines of code into the operating system and within three minutes this generator was a pile of scrap metal. He blocked the liberation system while having the motor go at full speed, all the while having the monitoring stations reading normal reading. A sobering sight.

From the Sunday Houston Chronicle, a good article on the threat of the this type of attack on a critic asset.
Hackers prove oil networks are vulnerable to attack

By Collin Eaton

Refineries, such as this one along Texas 225 in Deer Park, can be vulnerable to
cyberattacks, even with fencing, high-tech sensors and security teams.

The computer hacker crouched low in thick brush on a cold December night, just beyond the fence line of his target — a massive U.S. oil refinery.

Wearing night-vision goggles and dressed in black, he swung a rubber mallet into the dirt, trying to produce vibrations to distract the plant’s ground-penetrating radar system. He swung again and again. Flashlights emerged from adistant building, then disappeared.


Soon a train roared by, providing the cover his team needed. Quickly, two more men appeared from the shadows. They threw a wool blanket over a 16-foot barbed wire fence, climbed over and rushed to a small building housing the facility’s vital computer controls.

The door had an electronic lock, a badge reader and a plate to thwart lock picking. But the intruders caught a break. The door didn’t sit properly in its frame, leaving just enough space to shimmy it open.

Within moments, they had planted a small device, about the size of a credit card, designed to begin penetrating the refinery’s controls systems.

“Bingo!” crackled from the radio inside a white SUV adorned with a phony logo of the refining company, some 200 yards away. From there, Jeremiah Talamantes gave the signal to leave — “Rabbit!”

As the other hackers hopped in the van, the driver’s nerves calmed. Then a stark reality set in.

“We’ve used a couple hundred dollars in gear, and we were able to break into a refinery without anyone knowing,” said Talamantes, president and managing partner of RedTeam Security in Minnesota. “The implication is pretty devastating.”

Talamantes was hired by the refinery to test its defenses against cyberattacks, and, like so many others, the mission was way too easy. Despite the refinery’s remote location, fencing, high-tech sensors and security team, his team was able to infiltrate its network and potentially wreak havoc.

In recent years, a growing cottage industry of boutique security companies has emerged as oil and gas companies seek outside help to protect their networks. In test after test, private specialists reveal what federal authorities say is a growing national security threat —control systems for valves, pumps, pipelines and refineries are among the most vulnerable targets to cyberattacks.

Often, security firms find that drillers, refiners and pipeline operators run facilities with outdated software and aging automated devices without built-in security. Some companies lack internal detection systems that would allow them to spot cyber intruders.

“We almost always get in,” said Jason Larsen, who leads a team at security firm IOActive that has operations in more than 30 countries. “Most of the time we’re not detected.”

Many energy companies are turning to security specialists to determine whether protocols and defensive software can withstand the creativity and determination of global hackers, said Larry Dannemiller, a cyber insurance broker for major U.S. insurance firms.

“Are all the dollars they’re spending actually making them more secure?” he said. “You have to test it.”

Talamantes shared a detailed account of his firm’s efforts to penetrate the refinery, located in the southeastern United States, so long as the company’s name wasn’t published. Executives were stunned by the intrusion, he said, believing a successful break-in would have taken a much larger team with more time, resources and expensive gear.

“We proved them wrong,” Talamantes said bluntly.

Global problem

From the mines of Chile to offshore platforms in the Indian Ocean to refineries in the United States, Jim Guinn has hacked just about every kind of energy facility.

“There’s not a refinery, power generation facility, oil terminal or platform that doesn’t have technology on it that we haven’t been able to infiltrate,” said Guinn, global cybersecurity leader for energy at Accenture Security consulting in Houston.

This grim assessment comes in spite of the industry’s hard-won progress in cybersecurity over the past few years. Before 2010, energy executives largely ignored the threat such attacks posed to their operations, said Gary Leibowitz, a board member of the Houston chapter of InfraGard, a group that works on cybersecurity issues with the FBI and private companies.

That year, the Stuxnet virus damaged thousands of centrifuges within Iranian nuclear facilities, demonstrating how computer viruses could be so destructive in the real world. Since then, many oil companies have made progress in hardening firewalls, bolstering anti-virus software and other defenses and improving cybersecurity practices.

“Companies are spending time and money on cybersecurity, and it’s across the board,” Leibowitz said.

Exxon Mobil, for example, bans its employees from using personal email and USB flash drives that can carry computer viruses and regularly sends simulated phishing emails to test whether workers will click on alluring links or open attachments, executives said at industry conferences. The company, like many other oil and gas companies contacted for this story, declined comment.

The oil and gas industry, however, remains at a disadvantage against sophisticated hackers, cybersecurity specialists said. The sheer size of the industry alone makes it difficult to secure thousands of devices in vast networks of pipelines, refineries and other facilities stretching across the continent.

In contrast, hackers have to look for only a small number of security flaws to exploit these systems, said Philip Quade, who recently retired as chief of the National Security Agency’s cyber task force.

“Just about anything,” he said, “can be penetrated by someone sophisticated and determined.”

Open to the public

In many cases, the resourceful hacker doesn’t need to develop new malware to get access to industrial controls — asimple internet search can do the trick.

A few years ago, Eireann Leverett, a cybersecurity researcher in the United Kingdom, used a public search engine to find more than 7,500 industrial devices that were linked to the internet. Fewer than 1 in 5 required any kind of authentication, such as passwords, to get inside.

Among the devices hackers have attacked through the internet are the lightweight sensors that run along thousands of miles of pipeline across the nation.

“We should be worried,” Leverett said.

Compromising a sensor on a pipeline could allow a hacker to alter readings of how much oil and gas is running through the pipeline, which could cause the systems to begin pumping more hydrocarbons, said Alvaro Cardenas, an assistant professor and cybersecurity expert at the University of Texas at Dallas.

“It might cause a pressure blast,” Cardenas said.

A few years ago, hackers succeeded in hijacking the modems attached to remote sensors owned by two North American pipeline and utilities companies, after finding them on a public search engine, said Guinn, one of the cybersecurity consultants that investigated the incident.

A power outage had caused the sensors to reset — effectively, turn off — their security settings, leaving them vulnerable to attack from the internet. In this case, the hackers used these devices to launch cyberattacks against other groups. If they had more nefarious ends, they could have crippled the pipelines, Guinn said.

“It’s possible to demonstrate catastrophic disruption in energy company assets,” he said. “We know it can be done.”

Wireless woes

Beyond the internet, industrial controls, sensors and other devices with wireless capabilities or radio transmitters are open to attack by hackers using long-range antennas.

In fact, an off-the-shelf drone attached with a wireless receiver could fly within range of a facility and intercept its wireless signals, according to cybersecurity specialists.

Jeff Melrose, principal security manager at industrial control vendor Yokagowa, piloted three white drones simultaneously over a parking lot in Stafford, demonstrating their maneuverability and potential for extending a hacker’s reach to capture wireless signals.

“Drones are coming into their own, and the things people can do with them will only increase,” said Melrose, noting that energy companies have reported drones buzzing by facilities or crashed with dead batteries nearby.

Security personnel at energy companies are more used to dealing with activists handcuffing themselves to valves, Melrose added. They rarely look up to see the threat from above.

“The question is,” he said, “are you thinking about the deviousness of your adversary?”

The Department of Homeland Security said network scanning and probing accounted for 79 cyber incidents involving industrial controls in 2014 and 2015, but it would not disclose additional details, citing security concerns.

Many companies have adopted advanced encryptions. Still, the most common security setting for wireless networks in energy and other industrial facilities remains the password-protected WPA-2 protocol, used for household wireless networks.

Skilled hackers could break into them in about two hours, said Kevin Dunn, senior vice president at the Austin offices of NCC Group, a security firm based in the United Kingdom.

“If this were a targeted attack,” Dunn said, “whether it be ‘hactivism’ or a nation-state, all they need is time and money and opportunity.”

Employee mishaps

Simple mistakes by workers can lead to devastating consequences.

Two years ago, Steve Mustard, a cybersecurity specialist for the nonprofit group Automation Federation, was delivering a lecture at a Western oil company’s office in Tunisia when the event came to an abrupt halt. The company’s anti-virus program had detected the destructive Stuxnet virus.

IT workers rushed to phones and computers, discovering an employee had accidentally uploaded the virus by plugging an infected thumb drive into his computer. They quickly tracked down and contained the virus.

Had the employee plugged that drive into a computer at a nearby oil production facility, chances are the company would never have caught the virus. It had no detection systems in place for the computer network controlling operations, Mustard said.

“Spills, potential worker injuries, explosions, fires — all of those things could happen,” Mustard said. “What you’ve got are very vulnerable systems that aren’t managed very well, and on the other side, an exponentially increasing number of threats.”

Physical threats

As Talamantes’ refinery caper shows, hackers don’t have to limit themselves to the internet to break into computer networks.

With long-range cameras, they can spend days watching workers entering front doors, so they can mimic their behavior and exploit weak spots to get inside, Talamantes said.

Before Talamantes and his team raided the oil refinery in December, they staked out the company’s corporate offices. They watched employees at nearby coffee shops and restaurants, managing to steal and clone badges.

Talamantes said he tries to stay within the bounds of what real hackers can do with a modest investment. In the refinery raid, his team carried only a small amount of gear, including a laptop, lock-pick set and a $35 device to tap the computer systems, all available on Amazon.

They used two 16-foot ladders, which they returned to Home Depot for a full refund, a set of four two-way radios and lock picks. Over the course of his career, Talamantes said, such tests have found plenty of security weaknesses, cyber and otherwise, that should worry the energy industry.

But the scariest part, he said, is that so much of hacking is low-tech, requiring little expertise.

“Anyone can do these types of things.”

Monday, March 13, 2017

STRATFOR: Russia's Evolving Borderlands, February 28, 2017


Stratfor Vice President of Global Analysis Reva Goujon and Senior Eurasia Analyst Eugene Chausovsky discuss the shifting political dynamics in Russia's periphery.

"Russia's Evolving Borderlands is republished with permission of Stratfor."

More detailed analysis on this issue can be found here:
In Europe's Borderlands, the Winds of Change Blow in Every Direction

February 28, 2017 | 08:00 GMT

By Eugene Chausovsky

Europe's borderlands are in flux. From the shores of the Baltic to the Black seas, and from the peaks of the Carpathians to the Caucasus mountains, each country in the borderlands between Europe and Russia is re-evaluating its foreign policy position in response to major geopolitical changes.

On the west of this group, the European Union is roiled by divisions in the wake of the Brexit vote and intensifying nationalist sentiments, as crucial elections take shape this year in France, Germany and possibly Italy. On the east, Russia has the ear of the new U.S. administration, which is seeking to improve ties with Moscow as it focuses more on the homefront. Though a major reconciliation is a stretch, even the possibility of an understanding or realignment with the United States has enabled Russia to grow more assertive in its periphery...

STRATFOR: The Marketplace in Space, November 18, 2016

I've been meaning to post this for the last few months. It's amazing what imagery is available now. In years past, getting a few pictures of large formations of troops or ships was a major effort. Now we apps for it. God knows we could not mount another Operation Overlord again. An interesting look at how satellite imagey has moved from the domain of governments to the commodity of the free market.

A satellite image shows an oil field burning near Iraq's Qayyarah
air base on Sept. 4. (DigitalGloba/AllSource Analysis)

Forecast

Though commercial satellite imagery is now available to every corner of the economy, the industry will largely stay focused on its original customers: government intelligence agencies.

Thanks to a number of novel concepts and technologies, imagery collection satellites will continue to evolve and proliferate at a faster and faster pace.

As companies try to keep up with the ever-expanding volume of imagery available, they will have to find better ways to store, analyze and manage it.

Analysis

DigitalGlobe, one of the largest commercial providers of satellite imagery, launched its WorldView-4 satellite into orbit last week, adding to the growing constellation of satellites circling the Earth. Thanks to these satellites, we have gotten accustomed to having vast amounts of imagery at our fingertips. From online mapping services like Google Maps to browsable databases like Microsoft's TerraServer, the widespread availability of aerial photographs has become the new norm.

But commercial satellite imagery was never intended to serve media outlets or households alone. Instead, the industry was largely built with one set of customers in mind: government intelligence agencies. Even now, the imagery that frequently makes its way to consumers in the private sector is still gathered with an eye toward intelligence requirements. In all likelihood this emphasis will not change much in the coming years, even as states' own collection capabilities continue to improve....

...Complete and Detailed Coverage

Since 1960, when the United States took its first photograph from space, nearly a dozen other countries have launched their own reconnaissance satellites. Over time, the capabilities of those satellites have evolved. At first, early models such as the Corona KH-1 took images with an equivalent resolution of 12 meters (39 feet). (In other words, the surface represented by a single pixel measured about 12 meters by 12 meters.) At this resolution, analysts could make out only large infrastructure, such as runways. But after a series of rapid innovations, satellites were able to take pictures at an equivalent resolution of 1.5 meters. By 1967, analysts could detect individual aircraft, ships and buildings from the images satellites produced. Of course, they still paled in comparison to today's photographs, whose 30-centimeter resolution allows analysts to identify specific weapons systems or even locate human silhouettes.

Modern satellites can deliver images more quickly now, too. The satellites belonging to the United States' initial Corona program carried film cassettes that were then dropped and recovered as they fell toward the Earth. Unsurprisingly, this method led to substantial delays in the photographs' arrival on the desks of analysts and policymakers. It wasn't until 1976, when Washington launched the first KH-11 Kennan spy satellite, equipped with a digital sensor, that images could be immediately transmitted to bases on the ground. Now the United States has 15 of these satellites — which are believed to be able to achieve resolutions as high as 15 centimeters — in orbit. Though much of Washington's satellite program since the KH-11's development remains classified, many believe the newer KH-13 series is operational as well. Regardless, the spread of cutting-edge satellites in space has dramatically increased the ability of the world's great powers to observe one another's actions — a change some have even credited with stabilizing the world by making it more difficult for countries to hide wrongdoing or secretly amass military power.

In Search of New Markets

Governments have not been the only ones pursuing better satellite abilities, either. In 1993, the first private satellite imagery company — WorldView Inc., which later became DigitalGlobe — burst onto the scene when it secured a U.S. license to sell its photographs. Since then, the market has grown exponentially as other giants such as Airbus and myriad smaller competitors followed in DigitalGlobe's footsteps. Thanks in part to increasing internet access and bandwidth worldwide, the industry has taken off, reaching corporations and publishing companies around the globe.

Nevertheless, the bulk of commercial satellite firms still receive most of their revenue from governments. The burgeoning businesses have given countries that are unable or unwilling to field their own satellites access to imagery they otherwise would not have had. Selling photographs to multiple clients has also made imagery far more affordable for consumers, and prices on most products are still falling. The cost of sending satellites into space is dropping quickly as well, reducing the amount of upfront investment required to develop private satellite fleets.

Plunging costs and rising demand have encouraged the sector to seek out new customers. Nongovernmental organizations have been of particular interest to commercial satellite companies, though beyond a small segment that cover conflict zones, nuclear proliferation and humanitarian crises, they have proved a difficult market to break into. The industry has had more success selling its goods to media outlets, but even then it faces tight restrictions on the sale of photographs that contain information on certain government activities, including the movement of troops....

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Arteries getting cleaner....

I spend a few hours this afternoon with my wife and 17 year old at the Bodyworlds exhibit at the Houston Health Museum. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and spend some time there if you can. Even for a non-medical nerd like me it is fascinating, seeing the parts of the human anatomy and how they interact. Here is the "Split Lady" exhibit:


I was just surfing Facebook and I found this interesting took being worked on for treating blocked arteries. It is nothing short of incredibly in how we can treat ailments these days. Take a look at this. It's still in development, but damn, it look promising.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Officer Down


Officer Lucas F. Chellew
California Highway Patrol, California
End of Watch: Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Age: 31
Tour: 8 years
Badge # 19402

Officer Lucas Chellew was killed in a motorcycle crash near the intersection of Stockton Boulevard and Fruitridge Road, in Sacramento, while pursuing another motorcycle.

Officer Chellew's motorcycle crashed during the pursuit. The motorcyclist he was pursuing fled the scene and remains at large.

Officer Chellew was a U.S. Army veteran. He had served with the California Highway Patrol for eight years and was assigned to the South Sacramento Area Office. He is survived by his wife, daughter, son, parents and sister. His father was a retired CHP officer and his sister also serves with the agency.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Officer Down


Police Officer Keith Boyer
Whittier Police Department, California
End of Watch: Monday, February 20, 2017
Age: 52
Tour: 27 years
Badge # 247

Police Officer Keith Boyer was shot and killed as he and another officer investigated an accident near the intersection of Colima Road and Mar Vista Street.

Unbeknownst to the officers, the vehicle that caused the crash was stolen and being driven by a gang member who had just been paroled. The parolee had just committed another murder hours earlier. As Officer Boyer attempted to conduct a pat down on the subject, the man suddenly pulled a handgun from his waistband and opened fire. Officer Boyer was killed and a second officer was wounded. Despite the wounds, the officers returned fire and wounded the subject.

Officer Boyer was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

Officer Boyer had served with the Whittier Police Department for 27 years and was preparing to retire. He is survived by three adult children and his parents.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

My contribution to the "Day without Women"

Let's just say I'm not exactly impressed with the "Day without Women," more accurately with the "Day without some women working." Personally I've met with several personnel working today and they generally don't have time for this bulls@#$, they have jobs, families to support, etc.

But seeing there are females out there protesting something, here is my contribution. One of Norman Lear's greatest shows, Maude, the cousin of Edith Bunker (if I have to explain this, you're too young for this blog) conducting a bicentennial play, commenting the women of the American Revolution.

As I haven't figured out how to cut the video, I recommend you just go to 20:00. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

San Diego Sheriff's K-9s Get Body Armor

A few weeks back a Houston Police K9 was shot by a Houston Police Officer during the pursuit of a robbery suspect. Thankfully Jake is recovering but he may need to take an early medical retirement.

Jake at the emergency room.


Knowing our K9s are fellow officers and family members, it's good to know more departments are equipping them with body armor.
San Diego Sheriff's K-9s Get Body Armor
The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has a brand new tool for its K-9 unit. All 30 dogs now have bullet-resistant vests.

"It offers an extra level of protection for the dogs to keep them from getting hurt out there in the field," says San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Jacob Pavlenko.

"When a handler knows they’re going into a situation where they could be confronting an armed subject, that’s where they’ll put the vest on the dog before they deploy," Pavlenko adds.

Since the vest won’t be on the dog all the time, it takes about 10 to 15 seconds to put on. The vests are lightweight, so the K-9 doesn’t get tired while wearing it. Similar to a bullet-resistant vest for a human, it also protects the dog's body and chest.

"These are ballistic vests, they are to defeat bullets. However, they will defeat slashing moves as well," says Georg Olsen from U.S. Armor.

Money for the vests was provided by the Deputy Sheriff’s Association. The organization paid $16,000 for all 30 of the vests, CW6 reports.

A little over 500 bucks to protect an animal costing almost ten times as much. Good investment.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Officer Down


Special Agent Rickey O'Donald
United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Government
End of Watch: Friday, February 17, 2017
Age: 54
Tour: 29 years

Special Agent Rickey O'Donald suffered a fatal heart attack immediately following the FBI's annual mandatory fitness assessment at the Miami Field Office.

After completing the test, he mentioned to other agents that he wasn't feeling well and left. He drove himself to a local hospital where he collapsed in the parking lot.

Special Agent O'Donald had served with the FBI for 29 years and was assigned to the Miami Field Office. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Police, rioters, and social media

One of the points I've made over and over is that cops, like any other human being, have no right to privacy in the public. If I'm on the street,


The Switch: Police are spending millions of dollars to monitor the social media of protesters and suspects

Hundreds of local police departments across the United States have collectively spent about $4.75 million on software tools that can monitor the locations of activists at protests or social media hashtags used by suspects, according to new research.

The research, by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit organization focusing on criminal justice issues, aims to take a comprehensive look at the fast-growing phenomenon of social media-monitoring by law enforcement. Using public records, the Brennan Center tracked spending by 151 local law enforcement agencies that have contracted with start-ups that siphon data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sites, largely out of the public eye.

“The numbers we have are massively understated,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the organization’s liberty and national security program, pointing out that agencies don’t always have any obligation to report their use of the software. “But it gives an indication of a phenomenon that is growing rapidly and flying under the radar.”

Top spenders were the City of Los Angeles, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the County of Sacramento, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the County of Macomb, which is a large county in Michigan. Each spent roughly $70,000 over the past three years, Brennan found.

Good to know Texas is in this group!
In recent years, a crop of start-ups — with names like Geofeedia, SnapTrends and Dataminr — has sprung up to analyze data posted publicly on popular social media sites. These start-ups buy information from the social sites and analyze the data to look for trends or monitor events taking place at a certain location. Corporations buy the analysis, along with nonprofits, financial firms and, increasingly, law enforcement. The law enforcement trend has exploded in the past two years, Patel said.

Law enforcement officials say the tools can be useful because sometimes people who commit crimes brag about them on social media. Witnesses also may offer up clues, such as posting that they heard gunshots or posting video of events.

But advocates worry that the tools are being increasingly used to monitor protests and other public gatherings, and to target individual activists. The Oregon Department of Justice, for example, used software called Digital Stakeout to monitor people who used more than 30 hashtags on social media including #BlackLivesMatter, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and a lawsuit filed by one of the people who claimed to have been monitored.

Last month, thousands of people used a location-based tool called "Facebook Check-In" at a protest against an oil pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Many who “checked-in” on Facebook were not physically at Standing Rock but wanted to thwart police who were reportedly monitoring people who were there. Police have denied using such tools at Standing Rock.

Brennan and other advocates say they fear that tracking could increase under President-elect Donald Trump. “Today the main way protesters organize is online,” Patel said. “This is a new administration that has been frankly threatening to the act of political protest.”

Brennan’s data, which tracked local law enforcement and did not examine the much larger spending by federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was largely obtained from public records requests. The International Association of Police Chiefs has reported that at least 550 law enforcement agencies across 44 states use such tools to gather intelligence.

The rise of social media for law enforcement has become an increasingly perilous issue for technology companies. The companies do not bar law enforcement agencies from buying their data. The companies prohibit its misuse but don’t aggressively track how third parties use it. Last month, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter cut ties with Geofeedia, a software company whose tools have been used by law enforcement to track racially charged protests in Baltimore and in Ferguson, Mo.

And again, what is the problem. You put out a threat to riot in a city, are officers supposed to be blind this warning? If anything, they should be open about this possible riot and be prepared.

A few months ago I was part of the response to a threat in Houston. Originally the rioters (BLM, No My President, etc) were supposed to number around 700. Less than 40 showed up and they were outnumbered more than three to one by the cops (damn near matched by the number of horses.) But according to the American Criminal Lovers Union and this author, the issue is not the threat to the general population by a riot, but the fact police are using public data for being prepared. Thank God these departments are using these assets to know when and where to be deploy. The public expects us to keep them safe from rioters. As Sun Tzu said, thousands of years ago, "Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster."

STRATFOR: Ukraine gauges US support, February 22, 2017



Stratfor Senior Eurasia Analyst Eugene Chausovsky examines the uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine as Kiev measures Washington's support.

We have another R2-FU on the market....

In the days after the Dallas police shooting last summer, where five officers were murdered by a radical anti-cop extremist, the Dallas police used a robot to eliminate this waste of sperm from the human gene pool, I had heated discussions with many people of the use of this technique. Some called it out right murder and I said it wasn't, it was a different version of a sniper. As Dallas PD could not approach the shooter without exposing their officers to fire, the Chief of Police made the call to use this robot. I have no doubt if the sniper had a shot at him, the same call would have made.


Now with some good old American ingenuity, we now have an upgraded version of the R2-FU.
SHOT Show 2017: Med-Eng Introduces New ‘Avenger’ Robot to Help Bomb Technicians Defeat Terrorist Threats

Med-Eng announced the launch of the Avenger Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) at the 2017 SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show, Booth #12762. This bomb disposal and tactical robot has been engineered to provide police and military response teams with enhanced capabilities to manage ongoing and emerging threats posed by terrorists, particularly in urban environments where Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDS, or ‘car bombs’) are of concern.

The Avenger, designed and manufactured by ICP NewTech, is a mid-sized ROV with most of the operational capabilities typically found only in much larger and more expensive robots. Its performance-to-size ratio is outstanding and reflects the advanced electro-mechanical engineering that guided its development. The Avenger’s highly dextrous arm and claw can easily reach inside, above and below cars, pick-up trucks and delivery vans, to remotely investigate suspicious devices, such as Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).

The system includes an on-board computer that fuses data from multiple Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) sensors and cameras, and relays it to a command post. This integrated sensor suite provides a mission-critical tool for managing CBRNE and Hazmat threats, such as a terrorist’s ‘dirty bomb’, and mitigating risks to the surrounding public. The numerous sensor ports are compatible with many specialized sensors that bomb squads already have, so they can make use of their existing equipment and attach new tools in the future.

In announcing this new urban response tool, The Safariland Group President Scott O’Brien remarked, “We are very excited to present the men and women on the front lines with a sophisticated robot that will allow them to remotely engage hazardous threats with great effect.” He continued, “The safety of first responders, elite military EOD teams and local citizens is of utmost importance to Safariland and this new system will prove to be an integral part of securing densely populated areas across the United States and the international community.”

Rob Reynolds, general manager of Med-Eng, described the Avenger as, “a robot platform that has real potential to change the landscape of the mid-sized ROV market for the betterment of end users.” He elaborated, “The Avenger combines the mobility and ease of deployment advantages of a mid-sized robot with the reach, lift and sensor-fusion capabilities of bigger platforms. We have been extremely impressed by its performance, technology integration and reliability, and firmly believe it will be readily embraced by bomb squads and EOD teams worldwide looking for a highly effective and affordable robot in a smaller size.”

Eamon Jackson, CEO of ICP NewTech, commented, “We listened very carefully to the needs of end users and recognized the operational challenges they’re facing now and in the foreseeable future. It became clear that response teams needed a robotic platform that could be easily transported through congested urban centers, which meant keeping the robot at a smaller scale. We then applied our engineering expertise to develop a system that could attack a range of VBIED-type threats, overcome obstacles, and give users the freedom to deploy and leverage many of their existing sensors and EOD tools.” He concluded, “The Avenger sets a new high mark that will benefit police and military agencies for years to come....”

Better and better....

Sunday, March 5, 2017

So he "wasn't having an old friend for dinner."

But he did enjoy his petty torments.

Arguable everyone's favorite line from The Silence of the Lambs, Lector's final words to Starling, "I'm having an old friend for dinner," as he hangs the phone up.



In his interview with Barbara Walters just before the Academy Awards in 1992, Barbara had him say it again, at 4:55:



Awesome!

Last week I was looking for a quote from the movie and I accidentally found an earlier version of the screen play. While it is pretty much the same as before, the ending is different. I still prefer the movie one (which is different than the book), but this is great, set up at the beginning of the graduation party. Enjoy!

DIRECTOR BURKE (V.O.)

(over loudspeaker)

Congratulations! You are now officers o the Federal Bureau of Investigation...

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. GROUNDS OF THE FBI ACADEMY - WEEKS LATER - DAY

The forty member of Clarice's class, resplendent in their best dark suits and and dresses, rise, cheering themselves, then turn happily to wave to their audience, as APPLAUSE mounts. Beyond them, on a gaily tented platform, the Director stands behind his podium.

CLARICE AND ARDELIA

look at one another solemnly. Ardelis holds up both fists, in a power shake, and Clarice taps them with her own. She is radiantly beautiful in a navy dress and pearls., the thin scar on her cheek almost healed. Ardelia turns, waving toward the crowd, the Clarice's thoughts are elsewhere. The turns, searching among the dignitaries on the platform, till she locates. \

CRAWFORD

who smiles back at her with quiet pride, and offers a little salute.

CLARICE

grins - more happy than we've ever seen her - then turns to wave towards the crowd with the others.

MOVING ANGLE

over the admiring sea of spectators, several hundred of them, still rising from their folding chairs, APPLAUDING in celebration of these special young people, this perfect, sunlit day. SOUND UPCUT - rock music, laughter - as we...

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. ACADEMY DORM - RED ROOM - THAT NIGHT

A LOUD party is underway - food, beer, dancing -as the new grads celebrate ferociously. Ardelia weaves her way thorough the crowed room, reaches Clarice, who is flanked by her special guest - Pitcher and Roden, the two ardent scientists. Adrelia as to shout at Clarice over the din.

ARDELIA:
Agent Starling! Telephone!

CLARICE
(surprised)
Agent Mapp! Thank you!...

INT. DORM HALLWAY - NIGHT

Clarice picks up the dangling pay phone.

CLARICE

Starling

DR. LECTOR (V.O.)

Well, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming…?

She freezes, stunned by the familiar voice. Then she turns, waving frantically toward

ARDELIA

who is just inside the rec room door, at the end of the hall, lost in conversation with Pilchaer and Roden. Ardelia glances at her briefly but misunderstand, waves cheerfully back.

DR. LECTOR (V.O.)

Don’t bother with a trace, I won’t be on long enough.

CLARICE:

turns back, gripping the phone more tightly.

CLARICE

Where are you Dr. Lector

CUT TO:

EXT. A CLEAR NIGHT SKY

Very beautiful, glittering with countless stars.

DR. LECTOR (V.O.)

Where I have a view, Clarice…

MOVING DOWN

we see a rolling lawn, a curving bay. Boars ride at anchor, lights shimmering…

DR. LECTOR (V.O.)

Orion is looking splendid tonight, and Arcturus, the Herdsman, with his flock…

DR. LECTOR

smiles into his mobile phone. He is stretched out on a lounger, on a tiled patio, languidly paring an orange with a penknife. His appearance is quite altered - a beard, glasses, lighter hair. He’s had some cosmetic surgery, as well.

DR. LECTOR

(into phone)

Your lambs are still for now, Clarice, but not forever…You’ll have to earn it again and again, this blessed silence. Because it’s the plight that drives your, and the plight will never end.

CLARICE

Dr. Lector -

DR. LECTOR

I have no plans to call on you, Clarice, the world being more interesting with you in it. Be sure you extend me the same courtesy.

CLARICE (V.O.)

You know I can’t make that promise.

DR. LECTOR

Goodbye, Clarice…
(and then, softly)
You looked - so very lovely today, in your blue suit.

Cut to:

INT. DORM HALLWAY - NIGHT

As Clarice reacts, the full weight of his words sinking in.

CLARICE

Dr. Lector…Dr. Lector…!

But only a dial tone comes from the phone. She is still staring at her received, in shock, as we -

Cut back to:

EXT. THE MOONLIT PATIO

Dr. Lecter sighs, sets his phone down, then rises. Popping an orange section into his mouth, he turns towards the brightly lit house. Stepping delicately over the sprawled body of a uniformed security guard, he walks in through open french doors.

CUT TO:

INT. A BOOKLINE STUDY:

In a swivel chair, amidst the wreckage of his papers and books, is the witching figure of Dr. Frederick Chilton. The extreme intricacy of his bindings recalls Dr. Lecter’s own former restraint. His screams are muffled by the tape over his mouth: he stairs at Dr. Lecter like a rabbit trapped in headlights.

DR. LECTOR

Considers him for a genial moment, then raises the little pen-knife. His eyes are twinkling.

DR. LECTOR

Well, Dr. Chilton. Shall we begin?

FADE OUT



Saturday, March 4, 2017

Officer Down


Major Jay R. Memmelaar, Jr.
Goldsboro Police Department, North Carolina
End of Watch: Thursday, February 16, 2017
Age: 49
Tour: 25 years
Badge # 4502
Cause: Heart attack

Major Jay Memmelaar suffered a fatal heart attack while participating in his department's physical fitness program at approximately 7:00 pm.

He was working out in the department's gym when he began to experience discomfort in his chest. He returned to his office where he collapsed a short time later. He was transported to a local hospital where he passed away.

Major Memmelaar had served with the Goldsboro Police Department for 25 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

This young man does think out of the box.....

Hey, gotta say, he is thinking a way around a problem!

Friday, March 3, 2017

K9 Lasso calls it a night....

Good to see it when a fellow officer makes it to retirement. And with almost 500 apprehensions under his belt, Lasso has earned some time off.

















Wash. K-9, who helped catch nearly 500 suspects, retires

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — One evening in April 2014, a police dog named Laslo was pursuing a burglary suspect through a mobile home park in Spokane Valley.

The suspect got away, largely because a pit bull chained up nearby broke free and clamped its jaws onto Laslo’s hind leg, leaving a deep gash that required six staples. A veterinarian thought Laslo would need surgery, too.

But the energetic German shepherd recovered faster than expected and a few weeks later, he was back to fighting crime. One night in June 2014, he chased another burglary suspect up a tree at the Avista substation in north Spokane, and tracked down a second suspect from an unrelated crime at a nearby business.

“He’s been a great dog,” said Laslo’s handler, Jeff Thurman of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. “He’s really a force multiplier.”

Sunday is Laslo’s last day on the force and Thurman’s last day as a corporal and K-9 handler. Thurman is being promoted to detective and adopting Laslo as a family pet.

The pair have spent four years as law enforcement partners, with Laslo assisting in more than 470 apprehensions.

Deputies say Laslo is unusually talented at sniffing out crime, and that he “contacts” suspects with just the right amount of force. A key player in countless news stories, his name has regularly appeared in The Spokesman-Review and on local TV stations.

“I’ve been around a ton of dogs, but that dog right there, and Thurman, that team is just incredible,” said Deputy Mark Gregory, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman. “It’s a recipe for greatness.”

At 7, Laslo is retiring a year or two younger than most police dogs. He’s still eager to work, but Thurman said he’s been through enough.

In July 2013, Laslo was sent to apprehend an assault suspect hiding in a camper in Liberty Lake. The man struck Laslo in the face with his arm, which was wrapped in a hard cast, several times until the dog’s nose bled.

Several months later, Laslo was attacked again during a SWAT raid on the South Hill. And in January 2016, Laslo and Thurman encountered two more pit bulls in Spokane Valley. Laslo, who was wearing a ballistic vest, was uninjured after one dog tried to bite his neck, while Thurman received a puncture wound on his leg...

...Thurman said the dogs are indispensable partners in the effort to keep Spokane County safe.

In many cases where a suspect runs away, “had it not been for the K-9, we might never have known who they were,” Thurman said. “It’s a lot safer for the community, a lot safer for the deputies out here searching.”

Thurman, a 21-year law enforcement veteran, will be one of the first detectives on Spokane Valley’s new Burglary Task Force. The job will be a little easier, he said, with Laslo waiting for him at home.

“He’s a real social dog,” Thurman said. “He knows the difference between work and home life.”

Don't knock it Lasso, too many times a cop dies early into retirement. Enjoy yourself, and remember the bitches will love a working stud like you! :<)

An alternative look at China/North Korea

Last week I posted a STRATFOR article on China moving to "put North Korea in its place." The regular readers and my friends know I've been intersted in North Korea for decades and their ability to survive in spite of incredible isolation. Also, if ever there was a 1984 nation on earth, this is it. I remember reading an interview with Europeans who visited the nation and the population is unaware that man arrived on the moon. One doctor who spent a year there determined the average North Korean was three inches shorter than the average South Korean because of malnutrition.

Now this is interesting. I remember writing a paper on North Korean cyber-warfare and how their facilities are housed in China. China is very interested in keeping the West, particular the United States, off balance and NK cyber attacks help in that effort. And obviously China will allow North Korea to keep operating in China, as long as they serve a purpose.

From Foreign Policy, an interesting article:
Confidential U.N. Report Details North Korea’s Front Companies in China

A maze of shadowy businesses allows Kim Jong-un to evade sanctions and experts say there's no way Beijing doesn't know.

When China announced last week plans to cut off imports of coal from North Korea, a vital source of revenue for the cash-starved Hermit Kingdom, it fueled optimism that Beijing may be getting serious about reining in its erratic neighbor.

But an unpublished U.N. report obtained by Foreign Policy that documents sophisticated North Korean efforts to evade sanctions shows that China has proved a fickle partner at best in Washington’s effort to stymie Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions...

...North Korea “is flouting sanctions through trade in prohibited goods, with evasion techniques that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication,” according to the report compiled by an eight-member panel, which is chaired by a British national and includes experts from China, Russia, and the United States. The North Korean schemes are “combining to significantly negate the impact” of international sanctions.

China, despite its apparent cooperation of late with international efforts to sanction North Korea, has instead served as Pyongyang’s economic lifeline, purchasing the vast majority of its coal, gold, and iron ore and serving as the primary hub for illicit trade that undermines a raft of U.N. sanctions that China nominally supports, the report’s findings suggest.

As early as December 2016, China had blown past a U.N.-imposed ceiling of 1 million metric tons on coal imports, purchasing twice that amount. China then shrugged off a requirement to report its North Korean coal imports to the U.N. Security Council sanctions committee. When U.S. and Japanese diplomats pressed their Chinese counterpart for an explanation in a closed-door meeting this month, the Chinese diplomat said nothing, according to a U.N.-based official.


North Korean banks and firms, meanwhile, have maintained access to international financial markets through a vast network of Chinese-based front companies, enabling Pyongyang to evade sanctions. That includes trades in cash and gold bullion and concealing financial transactions behind a network of foreign countries and individuals, allowing North Korea to gain ready access to the international financial system, as well as to banks in China and New York. North Korea’s business “networks are adapting by using greater ingenuity in accessing formal banking channels as well as bulk cash and gold transfers,” the report found.

There is no direct evidence that the Chinese government is actively supporting North Korea’s sanctions busters.

But William Newcomb, a former member of the U.N. sanctions panel on North Korea, said it is hard to believe China is unaware of the illicit trade.

“You have designated entities that have continued to operate in China,” he told FP. “It’s not an accident. China’s security services are good enough to know who is doing what” inside their country...

Interesting read all in all. Open source I've read is that the Chinese leadership told the South Korean government, indirectly, that when North Korea collapses they will huff and puff, but they will not invade again if the Americans stay on the south side of the peninsula. We'll see how that works out as North Korea is dying. And it will be a great day when the Kims are hanged from the capital in Pyongyang.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

Officer Down



Sergeant Greg Meagher
Richmond County Sheriff's Office, Georgia
End of Watch: Sunday, February 5, 2017
Age: 57
Tour: 33 years

Sergeant Greg Meagher died after being exposed to liquid nitrogen while attempting to rescue a woman at a medical facility at 1100 Emmett Street in Augusta.

He and several other deputies had responded to the facility and were told that a woman was unconscious inside. The deputies entered the facility to rescue the woman and were overcome by the fumes. Fire department personnel arrived on the scene and were able to remove Sergeant Meagher and the employee. They were both transported to Augusta University Hospital where Sergeant Meagher passed away.

The other three deputies were treated for their exposure to the toxins.

Sergeant Meagher had served with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office for 33 years. In 2004 he was shot in the face while assigned to a federal narcotics task force.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I thought the Soviet Union was a bad joke....

As I've said before, I used to read the propaganda of America's enemies, including Pravda (meaning "truth") and Isveseda (meaning "news"). There was an old joke that there was not Pravda in Isveseda and no Isveseda in Pravda.

Now the Soviets were not known for their sense of humor, but here are some good ones. Enjoy.
The CIA just declassified these 11 Russian jokes about the Soviet Union

In January 2017, the CIA release a large number of newly-declassified documents about information collected on the Soviet Union. One of those documents included two pages of Russian jokes about the Soviet Union.

Headed “Soviet Jokes for the DDCI” (Deputy Director of Central Intelligence), the jokes make reference to Mikhail Gorbachev, so they date from at least as late as the 1980s. The jokes are surprisingly directed at all Soviet leaders, from Lenin to Brezhnev.

It’s good to know there were chances for levity behind the Iron Curtain. One thing’s for sure, people didn’t love Communism as much as the Russians led us to believe.

A worker standing in a liquor line says, “I have had enough, save my place, I am going to shoot Gorbachev.” Two hours later he returns to claim his place in line. His friends ask, “Did you get him?” “No,” he replied. “The line there was even longer than the line here.”

Q: What’s the difference between Gorbachev and Dubcek*?
A: Nothing, but Gorbachev doesn’t know it yet.

*(Alexander Dubcek led the Czech resistance to the Warsaw Pact during the Prague Spring of 1968, but was forced to resign)

Sentence from a schoolboy’s weekly composition class essay: “My cat just had seven kittens. They are all communists.” Sentence from the same boy’s composition the following week: “My cat’s seven kittens are all capitalists.” Teacher reminds the boy that the previous week he had said the kittens were communists. “But now they’ve opened their eyes,” replies the child.

A Chukchi (a tribe of Eskimo-like people on Russia’s northwest coast) is asked what he would do if the Soviet borders were opened. “I’d climb the highest tree,” he replies. Asked why, he responds: “So I wouldn’t get trampled in the stampede out!” Then he is asked what he would do if the U.S. border is opened. “I’d climb the highest tree,” he says, “so I can see the first person crazy enough to come here.”

A joke heard in Arkhangelsk has it that someone happened to call the KGB headquarters just after a major fire. “We cannot do anything. The KGB has just burned down!” he was told. Five minutes later, he called back and was told again the KGB had burned. When he called a third time, the telephone operator recognized his voice and asked “why do you keep calling back? I just told you the KGB has burned down.” “I know,” the man said. “I just like to hear it.”

A train bearing Stalin, Lenin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev stops suddenly when the tracks run out. Each leader applies his own, unique solution. Lenin gathers workers and peasants from miles around and exhorts them to build more track. Stalin shoots the train crew when the train still doesn’t move. Khrushchev rehabilitates the dead crew and orders the tracks behind the train ripped up and relaid in front. Brezhnev pulls down the curtains and rocks back and forth, pretending the train is moving. And Gorbachev calls a rally in front of the locomotive, where he leads a chant: “No tracks! No tracks! No tracks!”

Ivanov: Give me an example of perestroika*.
Sidorov: (Thinks) How about menopause?

* The literal meaning of perestroika is “restructuring” – usually referring to economic liberalization by Gorbachev.

An old lady goes to the Gorispolkom* with a question, but by the time she gets to the official’s office she has forgotten the purpose of her visit. “Was it about your pension?” the official asks. “No, I get 20 Rubles a month, that’s fine,” she replies. “About your apartment?” “No, I live with three people in one room of a communal apartment, I’m fine,” she replies. She suddenly remembers: “Who invented Communism? –– the Communists or scientists?” The official responds proudly, “Why the Communists of course!” “That’s what I thought,” the babushka** says. “If the scientists had invented it, they would have tested it first on dogs!”

* Gorispolkom is the local political authority of a Soviet city.
** A babushka is another term for older woman or grandmother.

An American tells a Russian that the United States is so free he can stand in front of the White House and yell “To hell with Ronald Reagan.” The Russian replies: “That’s nothing. I can stand in front of the Kremlin and yell, ‘to hell with Ronald Reagan’ too.”

A man goes into a shop and asks “You don’t have any meat?” “No,” replies the sales lady. “We don’t have any fish. It’s the store across the street that doesn’t have any meat.”

A man is driving with his wife and small child. A militiaman pulls them over and makes the man take a breathalyzer test. “See,” the militiaman says, “you’re drunk.” The man protests that the breathalyzer must be broken and invites the cop to test his wife. She also registers as drunk. Exasperated, the man invites the cop to test his child. When the child registers drunk as well, the cop shrugs and says “Yes, perhaps it is broken,” and sends them on their way. Out of earshot the man tells his wife, “See, I told you is wouldn’t hurt to give the kid five grams of vodka.”

STRATFOR Geopolitical Weekly: China Moves to Put North Korea in Its Place, February 21, 2017

China Moves to Put North Korea in Its PlaceBy Rodger Baker 
In response to North Korea's latest missile test, and perhaps to the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, China has declared it will cease coal imports from North Korea for the entirety of the year. Beijing's threat to North Korea could significantly impact Pyongyang's finances, already stretched as the North continually seeks ways around international sanctions. But it also shows the limits of Beijing's actions toward North Korea. Even as China takes a more assertive role internationally, in finance, politics and even militarily, it views its global role — and potential responsibilities — far differently than the United States or earlier European empires. 
The lens of China's latest actions on North Korea is a useful prism to understand how China throughout history has dealt with its periphery and beyond — and how it is likely to do so in the future. 
For on a nearly daily basis, there are reports suggesting the decline of U.S. global power, and the attendant rise of China. This despite the slowing pace of Chinese economic growth, high levels of domestic bad loans and the massive undertaking of a shift from an export-led economic model to one based on domestic consumption, with the attendant structural shift in political and social patterns. China is seen as the next major global power, overshadowing the former Soviet Union and giving the United States a run for its money. 
This view of China contrasts with how the country has been viewed for much of the past century: as the passed-by Asian power, the country that was most upended from its former glory by European colonialism and imperial competition, a Middle Kingdom carved into spheres of influence, forced to capitulate to Western concepts of trade and access, and left vulnerable to Japanese aggression at the turn of the last century. China is now seen as awakening, as consolidating political power domestically, building a strong and outwardly focused military, and spreading its economic reach across the globe, most recently with the network of infrastructure and trading routes characterizing the One Belt, One Road initiative
In short, although China had some setbacks because of the fallout from the 2009 global financial crisis, it was perhaps affected less politically and socially compared with Europe and the United States, and this has presented the opportunity for the 4,000-year-old-plus country to take its turn at global leadership. And as I noted a few weeks ago, we may be seeing a shift in the willingness of the United States to play the role of global hegemon. From military expansion in the South China Sea to economic expansion with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China is on the rise. Again. 
A Sole Challenger Emerges 
The rising China narrative is not new. A decade ago, the iconic May 17, 2007, Economist cover showed a panda atop the Empire State Building, a la King Kong. Nearly a decade earlier, in December 1998, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher was flown in a Philippine military aircraft over a Chinese installation on Mischief Reef, raising an early concern of Chinese military expansion in the South China Sea. While these are but two anecdotes, a decade apart, it would be easy to list hundreds of others. And it isn't difficult to understand why. 
With the end of the Cold War, aside from the multinational European Union, there was little potential for any nation alone to rise to power on such a scale as to challenge the United States as a peer power, much less as a single global hegemon. No country, that is, except perhaps China. China's population, its rapid rise into the central position of global supply chains, its economic expansion, its strategic location linking Eurasia to the Pacific, and its unitary government allowing centralized decision-making and long-term strategic planning all pointed to a country that could emerge as a real challenger. And China seemed at times interested in doing so.But there is a difference between the potential to, the capability to, or even the desire to. China certainly wants to have a greater say in the structure of the global system that is now emerging, a system that from China's perspective should be multilateral, without a single dominant global power. China's drive toward "big power" status is not the same as seeking the central role of a global system. The reality is that the cost to maintain a central global role is just too high. The British, the French, the Spanish and Portuguese, the Americans, even more regional powers like Japan, Germany and the various guises of Russia, all showed that maintaining central power over a vast empire is simply exhausting. A hegemony must respond to challenges, no matter how small, or risk losing its power and influence. China may be a big country, but it is far from ready to take on the role of global balancer. 
The Center of a Regional System 
Which is why it may be useful to look back into history to see how China has managed power in the past. For some 2,000 years, prior to European imperial advancements in the early 19th century, China sat at the center of a regional imperial system of its own, where China was clearly seen as first among unequals. Imperial China developed a system of maintaining influence while limiting the need for direct action. China, in many respects, retained passive influence rather than direct positive control. Power moved out in rings from the core. There was China proper, protected by an integrated shell of buffer states. For some of these, from Xinjiang to Tibet to Manchuria, China was not always dominant, but when outside powers swept across the buffers to change Chinese empires, they at times found themselves ultimately integrated into the Chinese system.Beyond that were tributary powers, kingdoms that nominally respected China's role at the center of a Sinacized region. These included areas such as Korea, the Shan state of Burma or even what is now Vietnam — areas where China attempted to expand but reached the limits of its power. Beyond these were so-called barbarian powers, ones that required minimal contact and were generally regarded as inferior (and thus not needing integration). These not only included places like the Ryukyu Islands, parts of the Malay Peninsula and some of the Central Asian ethnic tribes, but also the more distant European civilizations at times. 
China could influence the behavior of its neighbors, but it did so as often as possible through passive means, demonstrating power but rarely using it. Instead, so long as the neighbors did not fundamentally counter China's core interests, they were largely left to their own devices. In this manner, China could remain central to a regional system while expending little in time, effort or resources to enforce its will — particularly when imperial expansion proved unachievable. Neighbors including Korea and Vietnam paid tribute and adopted the written language, governing systems and social structures from the Middle Kingdom. This cultural and political influence reduced the need for military action by either side of the arrangement. 
In short, most countries, most of the time, largely accepted the arrangement, both for cultural reasons and because the cost of direct challenge was often too high. This did not prevent various challenges — the Mongols and Manchu, for example, or Japan's attempted usurpation of the Chinese imperial throne in the late 16th century. But these invaders more often sought to insert themselves at the center of the Sinitic order, rather than completely overturn it. Even the failed invasion by Japan's Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the last decade of the 1500s, which devastated Korea but failed to reach China proper, was an attempt to move Hideyoshi to China, allowing him to place his young son on the throne in Japan, linking the two empires but leaving China the physical and political center. 
China's crisis with Western imperialism through the 1800s occurred at a time of dynastic and imperial weakness, and China was further weakened by Japanese occupation beginning in the 1930s and then by civil war from 1945 to 1949. The early Mao years were about reconstituting Chinese unity, but also showed the stirrings of Chinese foreign interest in a modern era. Although China under Mao played a role in the overall international Communist drive, providing money, manpower and materiel to various insurgencies, this was paired with a longer-term and more passive strategy. China made friends. Not necessarily with leaders, but with individuals who could ultimately prove influential, and perhaps nudge them to victory. 
In part in keeping with its historical management strategy, China retained influence through its backing of leaders, from the king of Cambodia to the Nepalese monarchy to the Kim family in North Korea. But China also acted by retaining relations with many alternatives in and out of governments. The idea was that, no matter who came to power, China would have at least some existing relationship to draw on. Where China was drawn into regional conflict — with Vietnam and in Korea — it saw a potential threat to its buffer, and acted out of self-interest. 
An Alternate Vision for the World 
As we move into the current era, China is seeking to re-establish itself at the center of the region, politically, economically and strategically. The One Belt, One Road initiative is a key component of China's foreign strategy, to link itself into the emerging economic patterns around the region, placing China in the center of an integrated regional trading system. It also reflects a broader ambition — one where China takes hold of the so-called strategic pivot of the European landmass. China's establishment of the AIIB in late 2015 is part of a broader initiative intended to place China at the center of a regional financial system, one that breaks free from what Beijing sees as the economic hegemony of the Bretton Woods system that established the U.S. dollar as the global reserve. 
Politically, China is continuing to offer a counter to the United States, positioning itself as a country that does not try to assert a specific political system upon others, but that rather is willing to work with whatever government a country may have. Militarily, China has asserted itself as the central power in the Western Pacific and argues that Japan is an imperial threat because of history, and the United States is a foreign interloper. China can provide regional security for all, so long as all accept China's central role. 
At a time when Russia is working to reassert its influence around its periphery, when Europe is struggling to define its own future (greater integration, or disassociation into its constituent parts), and when the United States, at least temporarily, appears ready to step back from the role of global hegemon, the global system is in flux. What China is seeking on a global level is to fill an opening, to reshape the global system into one where spheres of influence among the dominant powers are recognized and respected. This is neither globalism nor hegemony. It is perhaps more akin to the period of European empires, though more regionally arranged. It is a world divided among great powers, each the relatively benign center of its own region. 
China's curtailment of coal imports from North Korea is thus a reminder to an increasingly defiant semi-ally that it must behave against the contours of regional power. It should not be seen as the ultimatum of a would-be global hegemon.

"China Moves to Put North Korea in Its Place is republished with permission of Stratfor."