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

Monday, January 24, 2022

What's Going On In The World Today 220124




U.S. Naval Update Map: Jan. 20, 2022


How real is Russia’s threat to deploy missiles to Latin America?

... So, when Russia said on January 14 that it could “neither confirm nor exclude” the deployment of Russian missiles to Cuba and Venezuela, to many Russians, the news was not just a threat. ...This time, the threat aims at getting a pledge from US President Joe Biden to leave Ukraine – or even the entire former USSR except for the Baltic states – in Russia’s political orbit. “If they don’t deploy the missiles, then there will be an agreement, [Russia] will have to get something, get Ukraine at a bargain price or all the former Soviet republics,” Romanenko said. ... “To me, these ideas are beyond reasonable,” Pavel Luzin, a Russia-based defence analyst with the Jamestown Foundation, a think tank in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera. 










UK gives Ukraine anti-tank weapons as Canada sends special forces

The United Kingdom has begun supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons and Canada has reportedly deployed a small contingent of special forces to Kyiv amid concerns of a possible invasion by Russia. The developments came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov angrily rejected claims by the United States last week that Moscow was preparing a pretext to invade Ukraine if diplomacy failed to meet its objectives…


105 Mexican immigration agents linked to corruption

Mexico’s immigration agency said Thursday that 105 of its agents have been reported to the internal affairs office for allegedly corrupt behavior. The National Immigration Institute did not describe the purported wrongdoing, but said it was combatting extortion, as when border agents demand bribes to allow people to enter the country… 

In Chile’s Lithium Sector, the End of Pinera’s Privatization Era Nears

Chile’s incoming left-wing government and constitutional convention will attempt to limit private-sector investment in lithium production while bolstering a new state-owned mining company, which could drive up the cost of the element and make the global energy transition more costly. Almost a week after new lithium concessions were announced, a Chilean appeals court suspended the bidding process at the request of local Indigenous communities. Two companies — China’s electric car maker BYD Co. Ltd. and Chile’s Servicios y Operaciones Mineras del Norte — were previously awarded contracts to produce a combined 80,000 metric tons of lithium over the course of 20 years, accounting for 1.8% of Chile’s known lithium. The auction was a last-ditch effort by outgoing center-right President Sebastian Pinera to reverse Chile’s steadily declining share of global lithium production before his leftist successor, President-elect Gabriel Boric, takes office on March 11…







Security Flaws Seen in China’s Mandatory Olympics App for Athletes

Researchers said the app, which will store sensitive health data on participants at the Winter Games, has serious encryption vulnerabilities.


Saturday, January 22, 2022

Pigs and man. Closer than you know.


I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” 

 Winston Churchill

My late father had a heart valve replacement around twenty years ago. I was surprised that the valve came from a pig. We were talking about it, and he mentioned the valve cost 17K. My response was, "DAMN! I'd hate to see how much a ham sandwich cost from the animal."

Now I know this was not an animal from the ranch down the highway, but a specially bread animal. Hey, it saved his life, and gave him a few more good years. I've been a registered organ donor for ages, and encourage everyone to do the same. Hey, you don't need them after you pass.

Now I saw this article in the paper a few days ago, and I gotta say I'm happy this could be an option for people in the future. 

Pig kidneys implanted in a brain-dead patient

Surgeons at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported Thursday that they had for the first time successfully transplanted kidneys from a genetically modified pig into the abdomen of a 57-year-old brain-dead man.

The announcement was the latest in a series of remarkable feats in organ transplantation. Earlier this month, surgeons at the University of Maryland transplanted a heart from a genetically modified pig into a 57-year-old patient with heart failure. That patient is still alive and under observation.

In September, surgeons at NYU Langone Health attached a kidney from a genetically modified pig to a brain-dead individual who was being maintained on a ventilator. Although it remained outside the body, the kidney worked normally, making urine and creatinine, a waste product.

The UAB surgery was reported in the American Journal of Transplantation, the first time a pig-to-human organ transplantation has been described in a peer-reviewed medical journal...

That's nothing short of incredible. Replacement of the heart with a pig organ, and hopefully this eases the shortage of organs we have. 

More than 500,000 Americans have end-stage kidney disease and depend on dialysis. A transplant is the best treatment for kidney failure, but an acute shortage of donor organs leaves that option out of reach for the vast majority of patients.

More than 90,000 people were on waiting lists for a kidney as of last summer. The wait can be long: Fewer than 25,000 kidney transplants are done in the United States each year, and more than a dozen people on the waiting list die each day.

Well, if people could sell their organs, that will ease that shortage. If the family could sell the kidneys, livers, heart, eyes, etc of their their deceased loved one, it will help countless people. And the bureaucracy that manages organ transfers, etc, will not have a choke hold on the supply. Remember, telephone service was do much better with Ma Bell, right? 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Rock in Roll dreams came through...

It is a sad day for rock music. One of the greatest singers, or entertainers, of the rock era has passed. 

Marvin Lee Aday, better known as Meat Loaf, passed this morning with his wife and daughters next to him. I first remember him as a child listening to Two Out of Three Ain't Bad and Paradise by the Dashboard Light. His coloration with writer Jim Steinman produced multiple classic songs like It's All Coming Back to Me Now and Rock in Roll Dreams. 

Can't add more to this, Meat Loaf's music and body of work stands on it's own. I'll just sing off with three of his classics. The wife and I will enjoy The Rocky Horror Picture Show tonight. Enjoy, and have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The story of a prolific author...

And a serious pipe smoker. 

Ten years ago I bought my first Peterson pipe from Don Juan’s Cigar Company in Metairie LA. I’ve been smoking cigars for over a decade before, and now I love both. I subscribe to the Smoking Pipes Daily Reader, covering pipes and other tobacco items. I got this article and it’s very interesting on how much a famous writer also loved pipes. And while I knew of his most famous character, Jules Maigret, I never knew how prolific a writer the man was. 

A True Pipe Smoker: Georges Simenon

The inventor and chronicler of Jules Maigret, one of the most impressive detectives in literature and as inveterate a pipe smoker as his creator, Georges Simenon owned more than 300 pipes and smoked them constantly. He was an impressively productive author. His works have been translated into 50 languages and his novels number almost 500. But his most famous character is the French police detective Maigret, who puzzled through the mysteries presented to him in a fog of pipe tobacco.

I got five pipes, smoke them 3-7 times a week. This man had 300!

Simenon started his writing career in 1919 at age 15 when he became a newspaper reporter. At 17 he had his own column and had published his first book within a year. By the time he was 29, his enormous productivity had been noted. He said that he hadn't written very much: only 277 books by that time. He could write novels at a pace of two or three a month. It's said that the famous film director Alfred Hitchcock telephoned him one day and was told that Simenon was unavailable because he had just started a new novel. Well aware of the author's speed, Hitchcock said, "That's all right. I'll wait."

He could write novels at a pace of two or three a month.

I remember writing a thesis for my master’s degree. Sixty pages (Plus a bibliography at the end) took me months, and he wrote that every day. It looks like Mr. Simenon was a “method writer,” if you will. 

Learning About his Characters 

It was while working at the newspaper, Gazette de Liège in Belgium that Simenon became familiar with many of the types of people he would write about. He frequented bars in the run-down parts of the city and became familiar with politics, crime, police investigations, and prostitutes. .. 

 …When his father died in 1922, Simenon and his future wife, Régine Renchon, known as "Tigy," moved from Belgium to Paris.  

In Paris he became intimately familiar with the seedier side of the culture, hanging out in run-down hotels, bars, courthouses, and jails, drinking to excess, carousing with disreputable characters, and he even became acquainted with two individuals who would later become murderers who inspired characters in one of his novels, Les Trois Crimes de Mes Amis. His interests were in the working class rather than the elite.

I  consider myself an accomplished writer. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager (My first letter to the editor was published when I was 14 (?), and I was the editor of my squadron newspaper in Air Force Junior ROTC. And a bucket list item is to publish a book. But  looking at this man’s prolific writing, one can only be impressed. Hell, bedazzled.  

The linked article has more details on how Simenon managed to produce, even while living in Paris during the occupation. Enjoy.


Monday, January 17, 2022

What's Going On In The World Today 220117





U.S. Naval Update Map: Jan. 14, 2021



The U.S. Military Is a Helicopter Parent

Washington needs to trust partner forces to stand on their own feet.

Jerad I. HarperJanuary 13, 2022, 10:09 AM

An expert's point of view on a current event.

By , an active-duty Army colonel and assistant professor at the U.S. Army War College, and  John Nagl, a retired Army officer and a visiting professor at the U.S. Army War College. 

An Oct. 3, 2021, Foreign Policy article by Bret Devereaux argued the United States should change the way it builds partnered militaries and create them as “auxiliaries” along the lines of imperial Rome. Devereaux is a capable historian of ancient Rome, but the techniques of around 2,000 years ago no longer work. In fact, the United States has an unfortunate tendency to follow the Roman model when building host nation security forces, albeit unconsciously—with disappointing results.

In its most vital and heavily resourced overseas endeavors, the United States creates partner forces as appendages of its own military and intelligence services rather than as independent and capable structures able to stand on their own. Like the proverbial “helicopter parent”—and indeed, sometimes literally by using helicopters—the United States often sees situations as too important not to do the hard things itself and doesn’t allow its partners the opportunity to learn from failure. That produces partners that find themselves unable to stand on their own when the United States eventually pulls out. Instead, they become dependent on Washington—whether it’s for air support, logistics, communications, or other critical enablers—and incapable of achieving the autonomy they will inevitably need in the long run…







China, Bhutan, India: Beijing Ramps Up Construction in Disputed Border Areas

What Happened: Beijing has built more than 200 buildings and roads along Bhutan's disputed border near India's strategic Siliguri Corridor, Reuters reported Jan. 12. 

Why It Matters: China's construction activity directly threatens India's Siliguri Corridor, which links India's major landmass to its northeastern states. Chinese activity in Bhutan, along with Beijing's ongoing standoff with India on both eastern and western fronts, will further exacerbate China-Bhutan tensions. India would likely intervene in Bhutan if a military conflict with China grows more likely, as it did in the 2017 Doklam standoff.

Background: In October 2021, Bhutan and China signed a framework agreement to expedite border resolution talks, which have been ongoing since 1984. Reports during the same time also suggested that Bhutan and China reestablished diplomatic relations, but those relations have yet to materialize.



UK military chief warns of Russian threat to vital undersea cables


The head of the UK’s armed forces has warned that Russian submarine activity is threatening underwater cables that are crucial to communication systems around the world. Adm Tony Radakin said undersea cables that transmit internet data are “the world’s real information system”, and added that any attempt to damage them could be considered an “act of war”. Speaking to the Times in his first interview since assuming the role, Sir Tony – a former head of the Royal Navy – said there had been a “phenomenal increase in Russian submarine and underwater activity” over the past 20 years. He said that meant Moscow could “put at risk and potentially exploit the world’s real information system, which is undersea cables that go all around the world”.


Lithuania accelerates rocket artillery buy amid Russian military buildup

Jaroslaw AdamowskiJan 12, 11:48 AM

WARSAW, Poland — The Lithuanian government has decided to accelerate its planned purchase of a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) amid Russia’s military buildup on its border with Ukraine.

The decision to buy the system in 2026, two years earlier than Vilnius previously planned, was taken by the State Defence Council, a body that comprises Lithuania’s president, prime minister, defense minister, parliament speaker, and the chief of defense…

…Local observers say the ministry plans to order Lockheed Martin’s M270 MLRS…







Taliban Religious Police Issue Posters Ordering Women to Cover Up


The Taliban's religious police have put up posters around the Afghan capital, Kabul, ordering women to cover up... the latest in a string of creeping restrictions. The poster, which includes an image of the face-covering burqa, was placed on cafes and shops this week by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Since returning to power in August, the Taliban have increasingly curtailed freedoms, particularly those of women and girls. 


India, Iran, Afghanistan: New Aid Route May Help Alleviate Kabul's Crises

What Happened: Iran offered India the use of its Chabahar Port to transport humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Ariana News reported Jan. 10.

Why It Matters: There are no direct flights from India to Afghanistan, and Pakistan has blocked India's 50,000 ton wheat consignment to Afghanistan on the India-Pakistan border. India will thus explore Iranian options to deliver aid to Afghanistan, even though the Pakistan corridor is more cost-effective. By providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, India hopes to engage with the Taliban indirectly and open avenues of cooperation. 

Background: India has pledged humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, which is facing a harsh winter and an economic crisis. India recently sent medical supplies to Afghanistan via an aerial route through Dubai on Jan. 7 and previously supplied about 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines and other medicines to Afghanistan through Tehran on Jan. 1.



Biden Can No Longer Ignore Growing Iran-China Ties

Washington may be tired of the Middle East, but Beijing is just getting started.

Bradley BowmanJanuary 13, 2022, 3:48 PM

By , the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and  Zane Zovak, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian will visit China on Friday to deepen the “comprehensive strategic partnership” the two countries signed last year. Growing Sino-Iranian security cooperation represents a serious threat to core U.S., Israeli, and Gulf Arab security interests. To address them, the Biden administration needs to take several urgent steps now.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin confirmed Tuesday that Amir-Abdollahian will visit China on Friday, reiterating that “China is ready to work with Iran to further deepen the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership.”

The 25-year strategic partnership, which Beijing and Tehran signed in March 2021, offers major benefits for two U.S. adversaries united in their opposition to the United States and to the rule of law. By building relations with Iran, China strengthens its foothold in the Middle East, undermines the United States, and further secures access to Iranian oil and other important commodities. For its part, Iran will get billions of dollars in Chinese energy and infrastructure investment, undercutting the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions against the regime…



How Close Is Iran to Getting a Nuclear Weapon?

Why Tehran’s breakout time has shrunk—and the technological hurdles that remain.

The Biden administration has warned that Iran is on the brink of producing enough fuel for a nuclear bomb. But how close is Iran to actually having the ability to launch a nuclear weapon?

There are a number of critical technological hurdles Tehran must surmount first to acquire a fully functioning nuclear weapons program. Iran must develop enough highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium to fuel one or more nuclear bomb; construct a nuclear warhead capable of housing the fissile nuclear fuel; and develop a ballistic missile system capable of delivering a nuclear explosive to its target. Finally, it needs to conduct a test to see if the explosive actually works…

Middle East foreign ministers head to China for meetings

BEIJING (AP) — Foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern states are visiting China this week for meetings with officials from the world’s second largest economy, a leading consumer of oil and source of foreign investment. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday gave no details of the agendas for the visits, but said they were expected to “deepen relations between the two sides.” 

The meetings running through Friday will include the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain, along with the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council.



Iraq’s new parliament holds 1st session marked by disarray


Iraq’s new parliament reelected its speaker for a second term Sunday, the first step toward forming a new government after a general election whose results have been contested by powerful Iran-backed factions. In a reflection of tensions, the meeting was marked by disarray, with the eldest member of Parliament who was leading the session being evacuated to the hospital apparently due to the stress. The chaotic meeting ushers in what is likely to be a lengthy period of political wrangling among rival groups to choose a new president and prime minister. As leader of the biggest bloc, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr — a maverick leader remembered for leading an insurgency against U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion — has the upper hand in forming a new government. But he will have to manage tensions with rival Shiite groups who continue to reject the election results and are demanding to have a say in the government formation process.


Iraq's Sadr says 'no place for militias' in new government


Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr said today said that there will be no place for militias in the country's new government, Anadolu Agency reports. His statements came on the eve of the first session of Iraq's new parliament following the Oct. 10 parliamentary elections, in which his bloc emerged winner. "Today, there is no place for sectarianism or ethnicity, but a national majority government where the Shias will defend the rights of minorities, the Sunnis and Kurds," al-Sadr said on Twitter.


Iraq: Two protesters shot in bid 'to prevent' Soleimani memorial service


Two protesters were shot by gunmen as they attempted to disrupt a memorial service for assassinated Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq on Saturday. Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed on 3 January 2020 in a US drone strike in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. He was killed along with his Iraqi lieutenant, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy leader of the pro-Iran Hashd al-Shaabi, a coalition of former paramilitary groups now integrated into the Iraqi state security apparatus.


Iraqi Forces Capture 11 IS Members in Separate Operations


Iraqi security forces have captured 11 members of the Islamic State (IS) in separate operations, a military official said on Thursday. Major General Yehia Rasoul, a spokesperson for the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, confirmed in a statement that seven of the jihadists were captured in the province of Anbar during an operation by the Counter-Terrorism Service. According to Rasoul, two more insurgents in Kirkuk, one in Salahaddin, and another in Diyala provinces were also captured.





More Cracks Emerge in Israel’s Fragile Coalition Government

Israel’s government, one of the most politically diverse coalitions assembled in the country’s history, is engaging in policy disagreements that could weaken it to the point of collapse. 

On Dec. 28, right-wing members of Israel’s ruling coalition condemned Defense Minister Benny Gantz after he met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and announced a series of measures designed to boost the economy in the West Bank. Then, on Jan. 1, the Islamist Ra’am party threatened to leave the coalition over an otherwise popular tree-planting project in the Negev desert, where a large part of Israel’s Arab Bedouin population lives. In both cases, coalition members negotiated backroom deals, avoiding their seven-month-old government’s immediate demise. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett assured right-wing lawmakers that Gantz’s meeting with Abbas would not see a return to the peace talks with the Palestinians. And the forestry project has also been paused until there’s a plan in place to ensure Bedouin communities aren’t displaced. Both incidents, however, highlight how the diverse political make-up of the eight-party coalitionmakes policymaking difficult, and how fractures may eventually lead to the government’s dissolution…





North Korea fires possible missile into sea amid stalled talks


North Korea on Tuesday fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile into its eastern sea, its second weapons launch in a week, the militaries of South Korea and Japan said. ... South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea likely fired a single ballistic missile from an inland area to its eastern sea, and that the South Korean and U.S. militaries were analyzing the launch. It didn't immediately say how far the weapon flew.  




Putin’s Fixation With an Old-School U.S. Missile Launcher

Russia says the Pentagon’s European missile defense isn’t so defensive after all. Does it have a point?

Jack DetschJanuary 12, 2022, 5:53 PM

When top Russian officials huddled before whirlwind arms control talks with the United States this week, they weren’t preoccupied with fears of a state-of-the-art futuristic U.S. weapons system being developed in a clandestine Pentagon laboratory.

Instead, with Russian troops continuing to build up on the Ukrainian border, their minds were on a U.S. weapons system that was first deployed way back in the Reagan administration, on U.S. destroyers, to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles. 

The Mark 41 missile launcher, also known as the MK 41, has been fired more than 4,000 times since first entering service in the 1980s by the United States and its allies and over three decades has become the Defense Department’s weapon of choice for retaliatory strikes, used everywhere from Iraq and Syria to the former Yugoslavia. Now Russia is worried that it could be the next target…



Iran Navy Port Emerges as Key to Alleged Weapons Smuggling to Yemen, U.N. Report Says


Thousands of rocket launchers, machine guns, sniper rifles and other weapons seized in the Arabian Sea by the U.S. Navy in recent months likely originated from a single port in Iran, according to a confidential United Nations report that provides some of the most detailed evidence that Tehran is exporting to Yemen and elsewhere. The draft report prepared by a U.N. Security Council panel of experts on Yemen said small arms wooden boats and overland transport were used in attempts to smuggle weapons made in Russia, China and Iran along routes to Yemen that the U.S. has tried for years to shut down. .... Iran has diplomatically supported the Houthis in their conflict in Yemen and abroad against targets in Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea, but has long denied providing the group with arms.




U.S., China: Governments Push Forward With Technology Investment Plans

What Happened: The U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to progress on the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which devotes major funding to industrial development, Bloomberg reported Jan. 13. On Jan. 12, China’s State Council released a plan to develop China’s digital economy by 2025.

Why It Matters: Both countries are planning to reinvigorate their industrial policies amid ongoing competition over strategic technology. The United States will continue to expand its bans on supplying and investing in certain Chinese technology companies, as it did recently with world-leading Chinese drone maker DJI. China will have a light touch on technology bans, as it needs U.S. tech to fuel its industries, but Beijing will also emphasize self-sufficiency in tech companies by encouraging local Chinese suppliers to replace foreign ones when possible. China will also continue to invest tens of billions of dollars in its "strategic emerging industries" like artificial intelligence, next-generation 6G cellular networks and new energy vehicles. 

Background: The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act allocates $52 billion to bolster the U.S. chips industry. China plans to develop its digital economy by providing 60 million households with 1-gigabit internet speeds, connecting 45% of industrial enterprises to "industrial internet platforms," registering 800 million Chinese citizens for digital government services, and boosting supply chain security by producing more technology domestically.



Four Israeli Women Arrested For Providing Intelligence To Iran


Four Israeli women who sent pictures and other information to an Iranian operative have been accused of spying for Iran, Israel’s domestic intelligence service said. The women, who were all Jewish immigrants from Iran according to local media, were indicted for "serious crimes" over the past month, Shin Bet said in a statement on January 12. The Iranian operative, a man calling himself Rambod Namdar, originally contacted the women on Facebook posing as an Iranian Jew, Shin Bet said. Although the women suspected the man was an Iranian operative, they still provided him with intelligence in return for payment, according to the statement. In some cases, the contacts went on for several years.




Biden Administration Approves 5 More Guantánamo Releases


A U.S. government review panel has approved the release of five men who have been held for years without charge at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to a flurry of decisions released by the Pentagon on Tuesday, but they are unlikely to be freed soon as the Biden administration works to find nations to take them. The disclosure came on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the wartime prison, and President Barack Obama’s last special envoy on the task, Lee Wolosky, used the occasion to urge the White House to shut down the operation.




Roughly 18,000 Afghan refugees remain on US bases months after withdrawal


Five U.S. military bases are housing the roughly 18,000 Afghan refugees that have yet to be resettled within the United States, a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told the Washington Examiner Tuesday. The refugees who are still on bases are being housed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Fort McCoy, Fort Pickett, Camp Atterbury, and Holloman Air Force Base. While there are approximately 18,000 refugees still on bases, roughly 57,000 have already resettled into various communities across the country. “Operation Allies Welcome has made incredible progress over the last four and a half months, and we are thankful for the support that veterans, faith groups, and people across the country have shown our Afghan allies as they join their new communities," the spokesperson added…