Jan 10

Today’s News 10th January 2018

  • Highly Classified Satellite Plummeted Into Indian Ocean After SpaceX Launch, Official Confirms

    After the launch of the secretive Zuma satellite into outer space aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, reports circulated that the new eye in the sky, which is worth billions, “is presumed to be a total loss after it failed to reach orbit.”

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    Then, as we reported this morning, in the absence of any official statement from either the government or SpaceX itself – understandable since the cargo was so “secret” nobody was willing to make any statements on the record – the mystery around the launch and the payload continued, as in an emailed statement, company President and COO Gwynne Shotwell, said that the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Sunday “did everything correctly.”

    For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.  Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.

    Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible.

    Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule. Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight. We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks.

    Which is odd as Bloomberg reported that the second-stage booster section of the Falcon 9 failed, although again there was no official statement. It didn’t help that Tim Paynter, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman which was commissioned by the Defense Department to choose the launch contractor, said “we cannot comment on classified missions.”

    Further, as we discussed last night, the mystery grew due to the secretive nature of the mission, and SpaceX did not show the entire Zuma mission during its livestream. Typically for its commercial flights, the company will show the launch all the way through to the payload’s deployment into orbit. However, the Zuma webcast did not broadcast the separation of the nose cone, which surrounds the satellite during launch, nor did it show the satellite being deployed. SpaceX has censored its livestreams like this before with other classified government payloads that the company has launched. But usually SpaceX or the government agency its working with will confirm a successful mission afterward. So doubts started circulating late Sunday night when neither SpaceX nor Northrop Grumman — the manufacturer of the Zuma satellite — confirmed if the launch was successful.

    Of course, Northrop Grumman wouldn’t comment on the launch. “This is a classified mission. We cannot comment on classified missions,” Lon Rains, communications director for Northrop, said in a statement to The Verge. But a payload adapter failure would explain a lot: it would mean the spacecraft and the rocket’s upper stage made it to orbit still attached, where they were picked up by Strategic Command’s tracking. Then the two somehow de-orbited, on accident or maybe even on purpose — it’s possible SpaceX used the rocket to send the pair careening toward Earth, since Zuma was not designed to live in orbit with a rocket strapped to its back.

    Meanwhile, Army Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis, the Pentagon spokesman for space policy, referred questions to SpaceX.

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    SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Zuma satellite into orbit

    In short: i) nobody wants to talk and ii) nobody wants to take the blame. The confusion prompted The Verge to actually post “Did SpaceX’s secret Zuma mission actually fail?”

    We now have the answer to at least one of the questions, because as ABC reports, a US official confirmed that the highly classified satellite launched by SpaceX this weekend ended up plummeting into the Indian Ocean.

    Here is what we now know:

    Following its launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Sunday night, the satellite failed to remain in orbit, the official said.

    Northrop Grumman, the defense contractor that manufactured the payload — reportedly a billion-dollar spy satellite — told ABC News its mission is classified and declined to comment on the loss of the satellite.

    But SpaceX suggested that it was not at fault, telling ABC News its rocket, named Falcon 9, “did everything correctly.”

    And yet, the confusion remains: as noted above, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell denied the company was at fault: “The data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational, or other changes are needed.” Furthermore, the Zuma indent won’t impact the schedule of SpaceX’s upcoming launches, including the maiden flight of Falcon Heavy, the company said.

    So what really happened? As the Verge notes, until someone speaks on the record, it’s hard to know for sure. Meanwhile, SpaceX is pretty pleased with the launch. The company has been tweeting pictures from the mission, indicating that all went well. Plus, SpaceX rolled out its new Falcon Heavy rocket to its primary launchpad for an upcoming test, which probably wouldn’t have happened if there was a major issue with the company’s rocket hardware. “Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule,” Shotwell added in her statement. “Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight.”

    But since Zuma is a classified mission, it seems doubtful we’ll get a straight answer. It’s possible that there’s a dead government satellite in orbit right now, but it seems likely it succumbed to Earth’s atmosphere over the weekend.

  • Former Reagan Economic Adviser: "Are Whites Being Setup For Genocide?!"

    Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

    Identity Politics has responded with outrage against People Magazine’s choice of white male country singer Blake Shelton as “sexiest man in the world.”

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    According to adherents of Identity Politics, the choice indicates that People Magazine is itself racist and part of the white supremacy movement to elevate white people above people of color.

    The choice is doubly outrageous because, according to a writer in Salon, it reinforces and celebrates toxic white male sexuality and elevates a white man to a position of popular acclaim.

    Every white person needs to read this article to understand how they are being demonized and marginalized to the point of oblivion.

     

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    By focusing primarily on white heterosexual males, Identity Politics tries to split white women off from white men by the use of the pejorative “misogynist”, but, as the article reports, white women, such as Taylor Swift, are also publicly demonized for their whiteness.

    Reading this article in The Unz Review reminded me of an article I read last November in a Texas university newspaper that declared white DNA to be an abomination

    Think about this for a minute. Suppose the writer had said “homosexual DNA is an abomination,” or “black DNA is an abomination,” or, heaven forbid, “Jewish DNA is an abomination.” Anyone who declared homosexuals, blacks, or Jews to be an abomination would be instantly fired, sued, charged with hate crimes and driven so deep into the ground that they would never reemerge.

    The article in the student newspaper was a bit too much for Texas and produced a furor of its own. Lost in the furor was the realization that the writer was correctly interpreting the Identity Politics that today defines the liberal/progressive/left.

    Hillary Clinton herself expressed Identity Politics when she declared Americans who rejected her as president to be “deplorables.” CounterPunch printed an essay by its radio host that concluded Trump’s election was not legitimate because he was elected by racist, sexist, homophobic white male Trump deplorables.

    In other words, Identity Politics cannot be dismissed as some sort of idiocy on the part of a few kooks. It is institutionalized in American politics and culture and is becoming a habitual way of thinking. The growing demonization of white people parallels the demonization of the Jews and can result in marginalization and physical destruction.

    The immigration policies of white countries have created a diversity basis for ganging up on whites. If we put together a diverse population with the anti-white ideology of Identity Politics, we have a political and cultural trap for white people.

    It seems paradoxical that Identity Politics is led by white/liberal/progressive/leftists advocating their own marginalization.

    However, as it is a correct conclusion from Identity Politics that white DNA is an abomination, white adherants of the ideology can logically see their demise as a benefit to humanity. But why should they be allowed to condemn whites who do not see themselves as an abomination?

    What we are seeing unfold with Identity Politics was foretold by Jean Raspail in his futuristic novel The Camp of the Saints. Perhaps white people should read it as an indication of their possible fate.

  • "A Strange Coincidence": US Spy Plane Circled Near Russian Base During Massive Drone Attack

    On Tuesday, we reported  that the Russian military in Syria thwarted a massive drone attack at the Khmeimim air base and Russian Naval point in the city of Tartus on January 6, intercepting 13 heavily armed UAVs launched by terrorists.

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    Shortly after, the Russian Ministry of Defense  released new information, noting “strange coincidences” surrounding the terrorist attack: these included a US spy plane spotted in the area, namely a US Navy’s Boeing P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft on patrol between the Khmeimim airbase and Tartus naval base in Syria during the time of the attack.

     

     

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    Boeing P-8 Poseidon

    While the Russian Ministry of Defense consciously didn’t point any fingers when talking about the January 6 attack, it demonstratively pointed out that the technology used in the attack was telling. Advanced training in engineering in “one of the developed countries” would be necessary to program the principal controllers and bomb-release systems of an aircraft-type combat drone, the Russian statement stressed and added that “not everyone is also able to get exact [attack] coordinates from the space surveillance data.”

    “This forces us to take a fresh look at the strange coincidence that, during the attack of UAV terrorists on Russian military facilities in Syria, the Navy reconnaissance aircraft Poseidon was on patrol over the Mediterranean Sea for more than 4 hours at an altitude of 7 thousand meters, between Tartus and Hmeimim.

    The Russian Ministry of Defense also declared that this is the “first time that terrorists massively used unmanned combat aerial vehicles of an aircraft type that were launched from a distance of more than 50 kilometers, and operated using GPS satellite navigation coordinates.”

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    The statement said the drones “carried explosive devices with foreign detonating fuses,” adding that the “usage of strike aircraft-type drones by terrorists is the evidence that militants have received technologies to carry out terrorist attacks.”

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    Which is why the presence of the Navy Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft, a high-tech spy plane with electronic warfare components, in the region during the drone attack, does appear rather suspicious.

    The Pentagon countered that while the US was “concerned” over the incident, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankin-Galloway, however, claimed that “those devices and technologies can easily be obtained in the open market.” He later also told Sputnik that the US already saw what it called “this type of commercial UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] technology” being used in Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) missions.

    Russia has repeatedly warned that US military supplies aimed at supporting “moderate” Syrian militants eventually end up in the hands of terrorists.

    Meanwhile, as we noted earlier, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial withdraw of troops from Syria back in December, militants have been eager to gain an edge with swarming high-tech drones that have remarkable long-range capabilities. However, in light of these latest development, the one latent question we -and others are asking in this incident – seem even more pressing: who is supplying the militants with these high-tech, long-range drones, and in  – light of the above – who is supervising their proper deployment?

  • Venezuelan President Lashes Out At Trump In Rare Interview

    A day after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the issuance of the first 100 million Petros – the mysterious oil-backed cryptocurrency issued by the Venezuelan government to help compensate for US Treasury Department sanctions – the New Yorker published what it described as a “rare” interview with the leader of Latin America’s favorite socialist paradise.

    While the transcript of the interview has yet to be released, New Yorker staff writer Jon Lee Anderson discussed his meeting with Maduro with New Yorker Executive Editor Dorothy Wickendon on the magazine’s “Politics and More” podcast.

    Anderson has a long history of writing about Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez – whom he first met around the beginning of his presidency in 1999. The reporter said Trump’s threats of military intervention, made back in August.

    “When the mistakes of Trump’s government are reckoned with, the military threat against Venezuela will be noted. It will stay with him all his life,” Maduro said.

    Maduro’s view, according to Anderson, is that he has no problem with Donald Trump – instead, he sees Trump as the inevitable result of America’s hyper-capitalist system.

    Maduro added that he is willing to sit down and talk with Trump.

    “From a personality and leadership standpoint, Chavez was the strongest, most powerful and greatest leader Venezuela had since the liberators. Thanks to his military background and values, he knew how to embody and rediscover the ideals of Simon Bolivar,” Maduro said, in another clip shared by the New Yorker.

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    Anderson recounted how Chavez won many Democratic victories, including being elected by overwhelming majorities, while also winning a referendum to rewrite the constitution. Maduro didn’t inherit this political capital, despite being the anointed heir of Chavismo. Instead, he took power in 2013 after winning an election with a razor-thin majority.

    Maduro was an awkward fit, Anderson said. At one point, he said that Chavez’s spirit had spoken to him in the form of a little bird – earning widespread ridicule.

    After oil prices collapsed and Venezuela’s economy was thrown into disarray, opposition parties made gains in the Venezuelan Congress for the first time since Chavez took power. Unwilling to give up his grip on power, Maduro decided to disband Congress and replace it with a constituent assembly stocked with ruling party loyalists.

    Over the summer, Maduro pushed through the vote on the constituent assembly in an election that was found to be fundamentally anti-democratic by foreign monitors and the political opposition.

    When asked if this is a transition from a democracy to a dictatorship, Anderson said it’s a little more complicated. He described the contemporary political system in Venezuela as an “authoritarian democracy” (which to us sounds like an oxymoron).

    “If in the US, the political opposition launched a campaign like the opposition did in Venezuela this year, all would be sent to the electric chair. Nobody would be saved. All nations have laws and all nations have a right to defend themselves,” he said.

    Street violence in Venezuela between March and July lead to hundreds of deaths. If the opposition tries to create these types of disturbances, Maduro said, the crackdown will be much more severe.

    Moving on to the discussion of sanctions, Anderson said that while Maduro is worried about the sanctions, he pointed out that there are still many powerful countries that want to do business with Venezuela.

    According to Anderson, US officials begrudgingly acknowledge this state of affairs: The US doesn’t have the tools to deal with Maduro’s government because Russia and China have shown a willingness to come to Venezuela’s rescue.

    The US is now allowing Russia and China to “pick up the slack” as its own influence wanes.

    Anderson adds that we should be engaging with Venezuela because it’s “going through the sewer” on our watch. The US is still buying Venezuelan oil – in a sense, the US is “keeping [the country] alive.” Meanwhile, Maduro insists he wants a powerful opposition in Venezuela – but one that’s not controlled by Washington.

    Of course, with inflation set to reach 3,000% this year and mobs of starving Venezuelans still taking to the streets in Caracas, the future of Maduro’s rule looks as uncertain as ever.

    Listen to the discussion between Wickendon and Anderson below:

     

  • Meritocracy Is A "Tool Of Whiteness", Math Professor Claims

    Authored by Toni Airaksinen via CampusReform.org,

    A math education professor at Brooklyn College contends in a recent academic article that “meritocracy” in math classes is a “tool of whiteness.”

     

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    Laurie Rubel implicates both meritocracy and “color-blindness” as ideological precepts that hold back racial minorities from succeeding in math classes in an article for the peer-reviewed Journal of Urban Mathematics Education.

    Rubel, who taught high school math for nine years before becoming a professor, argues that while meritocracy is commonly linked to hard work and talent, it also “functions as a tool of whiteness” because it “ignores systemic barriers and institutional structures that prevent opportunity and success.”

    Color-blindness, too, can be an issue for math teachers, according to Rubel, who asserts that “Teachers who claim color-blindness—that is, they claim to not notice the race of their students—are, in effect, refusing to acknowledge the impact of enduring racial stratification on students and their families.

    “By claiming not to notice, the teacher is saying that she is dismissing one of the most salient features of the child’s identity and that she does not account for it in her curricular planning and instruction,” Rubel adds, citing education theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings.

    Even math teachers who acknowledge race, such as those who indicate that they “can’t relate” in certain ways to students who are of a different race, are called out in Rubel’s paper.

    If math teachers notice racial differences between themselves and their students, Rubel elaborates, “those differences are typically cast in terms of deficit constructions about students, their places, and their families.”

    To mediate this, Rubel recommends that math teachers incorporate more social justice issues into math lessons, but warns that even “teaching for social justice” can be a “tool of whiteness” if teachers are not sufficiently attuned to the experiences of minority students.  

    This is because even social justice-minded professors may inadvertently hold the “belief that effort is always rewarded, [which corresponds] to various tools of whiteness, like the myths of meritocracy and colorblindness,” Rubel writes.

    Campus Reform reached out to Rubel for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

  • Top 10 Revelations From Leaked Fusion GPS Testimony

    After Senator Dianne Feinstein leaked the transcripts of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s Congressional testimony – tainting every single witness from here on out who can now corroborate their testimony, some interesting findings have come to light after parsing through the 312-page document

     

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    Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, Christopher Steele

    While analysis of the transcript is ongoing, here are the top-10 revelations to come out of Simpson’s testimony so far: 

    1) As we reported earlier, somebody’s already been killed” as a result of Buzzfeed publishing the dossier, according to Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson’s attorney: 

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    2) The FBI had a “human source” within the Trump campaign:

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    This “human source” is thought by many to be former Trump advisor George Papadopoulos, who reportedly told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer at a London bar in May, 2016 that “Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.” When DNC emails began to leak, Australia apparently contacted US intelligence to report the drunken admission by Papadopoulos – igniting the Russia probe. 

    Except, this was already public information…

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    3) Christopher Steele, who assembled the Trump-Russia dossier for Fusion, went to the FBI with concerns that Trump could be blackmailed, then reported back to Fusion GPS that the FBI found his information credible because it had corroborated information from a Trump source

    Glenn Simpson also told Congressional investigators that the FBI already had a relationship with Steele due to his role as an MI6 agent, which may have boosted his credibility with the agency: 

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    4) Steele stopped dealing with the FBI after becoming concerned that the agency “was being manipulated” by “Trump people.” 

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    5) The first dossier memo containing the “pee pee tape” claims was unprovable and not unusable

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    6) Simpson denied employing any other Russian-speaking individuals, while having hired Nellie Ohr – the wife of demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr who is fluent in Russian.

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    7) Fusion gave information to Bloomberg, New York Times, Wall St. Journal, “probably” Reuters, and Legal 360:

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    8) Senator John McCain allegedly became involved with #Fusion after the election:

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    9) Fusion agreed to discuss questions “5 through 13” from Sen. Grassley’s March 24 letter:

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    Of note, questions 1-4 have to do with the identities of Fusion GPS clients

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    10) After being denied a copy of the transcript, Fusion GPS attorney Mr. Levy requested it be kept confidential. Months later Simpson asked that they be released in a NYT op-ed:

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    Commentary for further consideration: 

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  • Ripple Now Red For 2018 As Crypto-World Rotates Into Ethereum

    Well that de-escalated quickly…

    Having soared over 50% in the first few days of 2018, Ripple is now down 2% for the year as the entire cryto-space appears to be rotating into Ethereum.

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    At the start of the year we suggested…

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    And now, up almost 75% for the year, ETH topped $1300 ($1301 record high) for the first time today…

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    Additionally, Ethereum has regained its place behind Bitcoin as the second-biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.

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    As CoinTelegraph’s Gareth Jenkinson details, Ethereum’s flagship smart contract system sets it apart from Bitcoin and has led to it becoming the leading platform for ICOs, allowing developers to use the underlying code for their own applications – commonly known as decentralized applications (dapp).

    This is in essence Ethereum’s raison d’étre, providing a monetized Blockchain solution for developers to create applications as described by Investopedia.

    Speaking to CNBC this week, Ethereum advisor Steven Nerayoff says the open-source functionality of Ethereum’s protocol could well lead to mass adoption for a wide variety of Blockchain applications.

    “You’re seeing a tremendous amount of growth across a wide variety of industries. Fintech is actually the natural area, but now you’re seeing it becoming increasingly more creative — you find projects in the oil and gas industry, you’re finding government using it in their applications, you’re seeing it in gaming, all kinds of different areas.”

    The success of CryptoKitties is a prime example of how developers can use the Ethereum software to create innovative applications. The popular online game was so successful that it placed a massive strain on the Ethereum network in 2017 as it became the biggest dapp.

    Inevitably, the increasing use of Ethereum will see it’s price soar, according to Nerayoff.

    “What you’re seeing with Ethereum is an exponential increase in the number of projects. There are billions of dollars being poured into the ecosystem right now, maybe 10 times more projects this year than last year, which could easily lead to a doubling, probably a tripling in price by the end of the year.”

     

    And as money pours into Ethereum, it is rotating out of many of the other major cryptos, which we pointed out earlier, some have suggested the broad selling in Bitcoin (and LTC and XRP) is driven by comments from early Bitcoin investor and well-known venture capitalist Fred Wilson. As CoinTelegraph reports, Wilson insists that investors with a large amount of Bitcoin would be wise to practice profit taking, as reported by CNBC this week.

    “If you are sitting on 20x, 50x, 100x your money on a crypto investment, it would not be a mistake to sell 10 percent, 20 percent or even 30 percent of your position. Selling 25 percent of your position on an investment that is up 50x is booking a 12.5x on the entire investment while allowing you to keep 75 percent of it going. I know that many crypto holders think that selling anything is a mistake. And it might be. Or it might not be. You just don’t know.”

    Wilson posted the advice on his personal blog, in a post grappling with the difficulties of managing a venture capitalist portfolio.

  • North Korea: "All Our Atomic Bombs And ICBMs Are Aimed At U.S., Not At Southern Brethren, China Or Russia"

    While there were some tentative signs of a diplomatic detente and mending of relations between North and South Korea after today’s summit between the two nations, the first in more than two years, it appears any attempts to ameliorate tensions hit a sudden hurdle when the United States is brought into the equation. Case in point, as Reuters reports, North Korea said that it would not discuss its nuclear weapons with Seoul because they were aimed only at the United States, not its “brethren” in South Korea.

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    Head of the North Korean delegation, Ri Son Gwon shakes hands with his
    South Korean counterpart Cho Myoung-gyon

    Officials from the two nations sides said they agreed to meet again to resolve problems and avert accidental conflict, amid high tension over North Korea’s programme to develop nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States, but Pyongyang said disarmament would not be part of the discussions.

    “All our weapons including atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs and ballistic missiles are only aimed at the United States, not our brethren, nor China and Russia,” Pyongyang’s chief negotiator, Ri Son Gwon, said.

    While disarmament was not on the agenda, more diplomacy was: in a joint statement after 11 hours of talks North Korea pledged to send a large delegation to next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea but made a “strong complaint” after Seoul proposed talks to denuclearise the Korean peninsula

    Meanwhile, North Korea was clear that its beef is not with South Korea, but with just one person: Donald Trump.

    “This is not a matter between North and South Korea, and to bring up this issue would cause negative consequences and risks turning all of today’s good achievement into nothing,” Ri, chairman of the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, warned in closing remarks.

    * * *

    Today’s meeting between the Korean neighbors comes just hours after the WSJ strategically leaked that the Trump administration, and especially the generals in it, were advocating a “bloody nose” approach to a military conflict with North Korea, effectively a surgical strike which would most likely take out Kim himself.

    Desperate to stay relevant, and part of the process, a spokesperson for the White House’s national Security Council said North Korean participation in the Olympics would be “an opportunity for the regime to see the value of ending its international isolation by denuclearising.” Not surprisingly, the US initially responded coolly to the idea of inter-Korean meetings, but Trump later called them “a good thing” and said he would be willing to speak to Kim.

    “At the appropriate time, we’ll get involved,” Trump said on Saturday, although U.S.-North Korean talks appear unlikely, given entrenched positions on both sides. Also, in keeping with the party line, the US insists that any future talks must have the aim of denuclearization, and the North-South thaw has not altered the U.S. intelligence assessment of North Korea’s weapons programs.

    From a game theoretical standpoint, the Nash (dys)equilibrium between the US and N.Korea looks roughly as follows (via Reuters):

    The consensus, according to five U.S. officials familiar with the classified analysis, is that Kim remains convinced the United States is determined to overthrow him and that only a nuclear arsenal that threatens America can deter that.

    One of the officials said the North-South talks were likely to follow the pattern of past diplomatic efforts, in which the North has benefited from additional food and other aid without making any concessions on the weapons front.

    The additional danger now, said a second official, was that Kim would seek to use the talks to take advantage of Trump’s sometimes bellicose rhetoric to try to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul.

    For now, South Korea is much more receptive to the North’s overtures. Still, in spite of the North Korean negotiator’s remarks, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it believed Tuesday’s talks could lead to discussion of a “fundamental resolution” of the nuclear issue.

    “We will closely coordinate with the United States, China, Japan and other neighbours in this process,” it said, adding that Seoul had asked North Korea to halt acts that stoke tension.

    Tuesday’s meeting followed a year of ramped-up North Korean missile launches and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, which have prompted a stepped-up U.S.-led campaign to toughen U.N. sanctions, which Pyongyang has called an act of war.

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    As we reported this morning, in an act of concession, Seoul said it was prepared to lift some unilateral sanctions temporarily so North Koreans could visit for the Winter Olympics. North Korea said its delegation would include athletes, high-ranking officials, a cheering squad, art performers, reporters and spectators. Talks to work out details would be held soon, the South’s unification ministry said.

    “We came to this meeting with the thought of giving our brethren, who have high hopes for this dialogue, invaluable results as the first present of the year,” Ri said at the start of the meeting.

    The talks were the first between the two Koreas since 2015 and were held at the Peace House on the South Korean side of Panmunjom truce village. North Korea cut communications in February 2016, following South Korea’s decision to shut down a jointly run industrial park.

  • Robo-Strippers "R2-Double D" And "Triple CPU" Battle Humans At Sapphire Las Vegas

    The annual CES gadget show kicks off in Las Vegas this week, as over 4,000 technology companies from around the world converge to showcase their wares to over 170,000 people during a week of of drinking, gambling and hardcore nerding out.

    And while some attendees surely plan to indulge in any one of Vegas’s many strip clubs to blow off some steam thinking about Intel’s hot new 8th generation Core processors, CES participants (with badge) can take a free Tesla ride over to Saphire and partition their hard-drives to the gyrations of “R2 Double D” and “Triple CPU,” a pair of non-judgmental “fully animated electronic twins” who hope you don’t mind silicon implants.

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    The pair was unveiled with much pump and circumstance the night before CES officially kicks off – showcasing their sexy CCTV camera heads and moves to match.

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    And in case anyone is vacillating between silicon or silicone, R2-DD and Triple-CPU were pitted against human strippers during a Monday night preview party.

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    UK artist Giles Walker created the robot pair in 2008, explaining to The Verge that they were created as a commentary on government surveillance, a decidedly unsexy thing. That said, they could just as easily draw attention to the growing trend of automation replacing human labor. 

    On second thought, they may have a long way to go…

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