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Ghost Dog

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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 16,678

About Me

A Brit many years in Spain, Catalunya, Baleares, Canarias. Cooperative member. Geography. Ecology. Cartography. Software. Sound Recording. Music Production. Languages & Literature. History.

Journal Archives

US to use more aggressive cyber to strike back at enemies


WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Pentagon cyber leaders have told a congressional committee that the U.S. is prepared to use cyber operations more aggressively...

Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, head of U.S. Cyber Command... says cyberattacks from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are increasingly sophisticated and until recently were done with little concern for consequences.

His comments Wednesday come on the heels of a Navy review that described significant breaches of naval systems and concluded that the service is losing the cyber war.

Who Ordered The CIA To Assault North Korea's Embassy In Spain?

Who Ordered The CIA To Assault North Korea's Embassy In Spain?

... El País reports (English):

Investigators from the Spanish police and National Intelligence Center (CNI) have linked an attack on the North Korean embassy in Madrid on February 22 to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

At least two of the 10 assailants who broke into the embassy and interrogated diplomatic staff have been identified and have connections to the US secret service. The CIA has denied any involvement but government sources say their response was “unconvincing.”
Investigators from the General Information Office (CGI) and CNI ruled out the idea that the attack was the work of common criminals. The operation was perfectly planned as if it were carried out by a “military cell,” said sources close to the investigation. The assailants knew what they were looking for, taking only computers and mobile phones.
Sources believe that the goal of the attack on the North Korean embassy was to get information on Kim Hyok Chol, the former North Korean ambassador to Spain.

The Spanish language version of the El País report has additional details (machine translated):

After analyzing the recordings of the security cameras in the area, questioning the hostages and analyzing the diplomatic vehicles used in the flight, it has been possible to identify some of the assailants. Although the majority were Koreans, at least two of them have been recognized by the Spanish information services for their links with the American CIA.

The indications that point to the US espionage service, in probable cooperation with that of South Korea, are so strong that Spanish interlocutors have contacted the CIA to ask for explanations. The response was negative, but "unconvincing", according to Government sources.

The Spanish version also includes a side-box with further details of the raid...

Original El País report (Spanish):

Policía y CNI vinculan con la CIA a dos asaltantes a la Embajada norcoreana en Madrid

Los responsables policiales y del Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI) que investigan el asalto a la Embajada de Corea del Norte en Madrid el pasado 22 de febrero implican a la Agencia Central de Inteligencia (CIA) en ese oscuro episodio. Al menos dos de los 10 asaltantes, que golpearon e interrogaron a las ocho personas que estaban en la legación, han sido identificados y tienen vínculos con los servicios secretos estadounidenses. Interlocutores españoles han preguntado a la CIA por su implicación en el caso. La respuesta ha sido negativa, pero “poco convincente”... El asalto a la Embajada norcoreana puede acabar provocando roces diplomáticos entre Madrid y Washington. Fuentes gubernamentales admiten que, si la autoría de la CIA se confirma, se trataría de una actuación “inadmisible” por parte de un país aliado. No solo los servicios de inteligencia estadounidenses habrían operado en suelo español sin pedir autorización ni informar a sus anfitriones, sino que habrían violado las convenciones internacionales que protegen las legaciones diplomáticas...

US withdrawing last of its embassy personnel from Venezuela

Source: Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The United States announced late Monday that it is pulling the remaining staff from its embassy in Venezuela, citing the deteriorating situation in the South American nation.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the decision... Pompeo said the remaining diplomats would be out of Venezuela by the end of the week...

... President Nicolas Maduro said on national television Monday night that progress had been made in restoring power in Venezuela. He also said two people who were allegedly trying to sabotage power facilities were captured and were providing information to authorities, though he gave no details.

Guaido, who heads the opposition-controlled congress, and the United States say Maduro’s claims that the U.S. sabotaged the power grid with a “cyberattack” are an attempt to divert attention from the government’s own failings...

Read more: https://apnews.com/07e2f8abb3a64506a91d11dfd69e86cc

Reuters simultaneously reports:

... Much of Venezuela remained without power on Monday, although electricity had largely returned to the capital of Caracas following an outage that began on Thursday and which President Nicolas Maduro has called an act of U.S.-backed sabotage...

... Guaido called for a halt in shipments of oil to Maduro’s political ally Cuba, which has received discounted crude from Venezuela for nearly two decades. The deals have drawn scrutiny from the opposition and its allies abroad as Venezuela’s economic crisis worsened.

“We ask for the international community’s cooperation to make this measure effective, so that the oil the Venezuelan people urgently need to attend to this national emergency is not given away,” Guaido said.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton backed the measure, writing on Twitter that, “insurance companies and flag carriers that facilitate these give-away shipments to Cuba are now on notice.” He did not specify any measures the U.S. government may take...


And Agence France Presse also this morning in Europe informs us that:

... President Nicolas Maduro meanwhile called for grassroots groups to hit back against what he called attacks encouraged by the US against the country's electrical grid...

... Guaido, in a speech to the National Assembly which he leads, said "tomorrow at three o'clock in the afternoon, all of Venezuela will be on the streets" to protest against Maduro...

... US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Washington is withdrawing all its remaining personnel from the US embassy in Caracas. All non-emergency staff were ordered to leave on January 24.

"This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in #Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of US diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on US policy," Pompeo wrote on Twitter...


For background on the three Agency newswires quoted above, see here:

It is one of the most important aspects of our media system – and yet hardly known to the public: most of the international news coverage in Western media is provided by only three global news agencies based in New York, London and Paris.

The key role played by these agencies means that Western media often report on the same topics, even using the same wording. In addition, governments, military and intelligence services use these global news agencies as multipliers to spread their messages around the world.

A study of the Syria war coverage by nine leading European newspapers clearly illustrates these issues: 78% of all articles were based in whole or in part on agency reports, yet 0% on investigative research. Moreover, 82% of all opinion pieces and interviews were in favor of the US and NATO intervention, while propaganda was attributed exclusively to the opposite side...

May secures 'legally binding changes' in Strasbourg to Brexit deal

The package negotiated by Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to be in three parts:

A joint interpretative instrument – a legal add-on to the withdrawal agreement. It will give legal force to a letter from Juncker and Donald Tusk, the presidents of the commission and council, given to May in January which stated the EU’s intention to negotiate an alternative to the backstop so it would not be triggered or get out of it as swiftly as possible, if it was.

A unilateral statement from the UK. That is likely to seek to explain the British position that, if the backstop was to become permanent and talks were going nowhere on an alternative, the UK would seek to exit the arrangement.

Additional language in the political declaration to emphasise the urgency on both sides to negotiate an alternative to the backstop, and flesh out what a technological fix would look like. It is hoped this will be enough to persuade the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, to change his initial legal advice that the backstop could be in place indefinitely.

The problem: Very, very little of this is significantly new. The most substantive element is the joint interpretative instrument. But it falls well short of Cox’s demands over the last week for what amounted to a unilateral exit mechanism from the backstop...


Russian envoy vested with power to answer letter from Amesbury victim's son sent to Putin

MOSCOW, March 11. /TASS/. Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko had the authority to reply to a letter Amesbury poisoning victim Dawn Sturgess’ son had sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"Our diplomatic mission in Great Britain earlier informed Mr. Hope [the son of Dawn Sturgess who died in the Amesbury incident - TASS] - and you heard its statement on the matter - of our readiness to provide all necessary explanations that stems from the fact that from the very beginning, Russia has been calling for full cooperation that would make it possible to shed some light on the incident," Peskov said. He pointed out that "British authorities did not reciprocate to that initiative." "Perhaps, this is the main thing Mr. Hope should know," the Russian presidential spokesman emphasized.

When asked whether Putin would respond to Hope’s letter, Peskov said that "it is not necessary." "The matter is that Russian ambassadors are appointed by the president, an ambassador is an official who has the authority to speak on behalf of the Russian Federation," he added.

The Russian embassy in London said on March 6 that Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko "sent Mr. Hope a reply, in which he has expressed his condolences on the tragic death of Ms. Sturgess and proposed a meeting to answer in person to any questions that Mr. Hope might have." "The letter was accompanied by the report ‘Salisbury: Unanswered Questions’ on the key elements of the events one year ago, published by the Embassy on March 3, 2019," the embassy noted...


Power station blast adds to sense of chaos in Venezuela

Source: Associated Press

... Critical conductors had overheated at the hydroelectric station at the Guri Dam, the cornerstone of Venezuela’s electrical grid, said Winston Cabas, the head of Venezuela’s electrical engineers union, which opposes the government. He disputed government allegations that the dam was the target of sabotage and blamed the problem on a lack of maintenance as well as the departure of skilled workers from the troubled country over the years.

“The system is vulnerable, fragile and unstable,” he said.

President Nicolas Maduro has accused Guaido and the United States of staging a “cyberattack” on Venezuela’s power grid. Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez earlier described it as a cyberattack on the dam’s operating system, which signals to machines whether to boost or diminish power based on capacity and demand.

The U.S. dismisses the allegation...

Read more: https://apnews.com/07e2f8abb3a64506a91d11dfd69e86cc

AP either does not ask, for some reason, why in Sr. Cabas's opinion or according to his information did these critical conductors overheat at the hydroelectric station at the Guri Dam, the proximate cause, or for some reason fails to report the answer other than to dispute the idea that there could have been sabotage - by members of his union, for example, which opposes the government... Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez does, on the other hand, point to a credible alleged proximate cause: a cyberattack causing machines to boost power regardless of capacity or demand.

Edit: There is some further discussion on this subject at the Latin America group here.

Brexit and the First Rule of Streetfighting (Tom Peck in the Independent + 'Shantaram')

... Insanity is to think the vapour trails behind aeroplanes are spraying the human population with mind-controlling chemicals. To do the same thing over and over again and expect different results is not insane. It’s just crushingly stupid.

Still, here she was, again, warning Remainer MPs that if they didn’t vote for her deal they risked the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. Here she was again, in her next breath, warning Brexiteers if they didn’t vote for her deal they risked no Brexit at all. The only vaguely new note to add to this ongoing cacaphonic ballet was to tell the EU directly that they too faced difficult choices in the coming days. That if they didn’t give her what they didn’t vote for and don’t want, they too would be blamed for this crisis that is precisely zero per cent of their making.

When she first tried this gambit, months ago, I likened her to the heroin addict turned armed robber from the novel Shantaram. “The first rule of streetfighting,” he says, “is to always get madder than the other guy.” When three Indian prison guards are about to set on him, he warns them that, sure, they’ll win, “But one of you will lose an eye.” And then, for an added rhetorical flourish, he punches himself in the face.

The guards, certain of victory, nevertheless back down. But it’s not working for Theresa May. It’s been obvious for months that the hard Brexiteers, the Remainers and indeed everybody else will take the risk that it’s the other guy, not them, that will lose...


From 'Shantaram' (Khaderbhai Khan's philosophy):

... If the circumstances are right, bits of matter will always come together to make more complex arrangements. And this fact about the way that our universe works, this moving towards order, and towards combinations of these ordered things, has a name. In the western science it is called the tendency toward complexity, and it is the way the universe works... To continue this point, the universe, as we know it, and from everything that we can learn about it, has been getting always more complex since it began. It does this because that is its nature. The tendency toward complexity has carried the universe from almost perfect simplicity to the kind of complexity that we see around us, everywhere we look. The universe is always doing this. It is always moving from the simple to the complex... this universe that we know, began in almost absolute simplicity, and it has been getting more complex for about fifteen billion years. In another billion years it will be still more complex than it is now. In five billion, in ten billion— it is always getting more complex. It is moving toward …something... And that final complexity, that thing we are all moving to, is what I choose to call God. If you don’t like that word, God, call it the Ultimate Complexity. Whatever you call it, the whole universe is moving toward it..

... Our planet may be smashed, it is true, and one day our beautiful sun will die. And we are, to the best of our knowledge, the most developed expression of the complexity in our bit of the universe. It would certainly be a major loss if we were to be annihilated. It would be a terrible waste of all that development. But the process would continue. We are, ourselves, expressions of that process. Our bodies are the children of all the suns and other stars that died, before us, making the atoms that we are made of. And if we were destroyed, by an asteroid, or by our own hand, well, somewhere else in the universe, our level of complexity, this level of complexity, with a consciousness capable of understanding the process, would be duplicated. I do not mean people exactly like us. I mean that thinking beings, that are as complex as we are, would develop, somewhere else in the universe. We would cease to exist, but the process would go on. Perhaps this is happening in millions of worlds, even as we speak. In fact, it is very likely that it is happening, all over the universe, because that is what the universe does...

... Anything that enhances, promotes, or accelerates this movement toward the Ultimate Complexity is good... Anything that inhibits, impedes, or prevents this movement toward the Ultimate Complexity is evil. The wonderful thing about this definition of good and evil is that it is both objective and universally acceptable... When we say that this definition of good and evil is objective, what we mean is that it is as objective as we can be at this time, and to the best of our knowledge about the universe. This definition is based on what we know about how the universe works. It is not based on the revealed wisdom of any one faith or political movement. It is common to the best principles of all of them, but it is based on what we know rather than what we believe. In that sense, it is objective. Of course, what we know about the universe, and our place in it, is constantly changing as we add more information and gain new insights. We are never perfectly objective about anything, that is true, but we can be less objective, or we can be more objective. And when we define good and evil on the basis of what we know— to the best of our knowledge at the present time— we are being as objective as possible within the imperfect limits of our understanding... When we say that this definition of good and evil is universally acceptable, what we mean is that any rational and reasonable person— any rational and reasonable Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist or Christian or Jew or any atheist, for that matter— can accept that this is a reasonable definition of good and evil, because it is based on what we know about how the universe works...

... (W)e can only avoid chaos in the world of human affairs by having an agreed standard for the measure of a unit of morality... At the moment, most of our ways of defining the unit of morality are similar in their intentions, but they differ in their details. So the priests of one nation bless their soldiers as they march to war, and the imams of another country bless their soldiers as they march out to meet them. And everybody who is involved in the killing, says that he has God on his side. There is no objective and universally acceptable definition of good and evil. And until we have one, we will go on justifying our own actions, while condemning the actions of the others... (W)hen we look for an objective way to measure good and evil, a way that all people can accept as reasonable, we can do no better than to study the way that the universe works, and its nature— the quality that defines the entire history of it — the fact that it is constantly moving towards greater complexity. We can do no better than to use the nature of the universe itself. And all the holy texts, from all the great religions, tell us to do this...


Guaido, man of the people, responded to the blackout:

... In the upscale Caracas neighbourhood of Los Palos Grandes, several hundred people gathered for an opposition rally where Guaido spoke.

“Everyone is hoping that with Guaido, the country will go back to being normal,” said Yamila Oliveros, a 53-year-old architect. “That’s all a person wants, to live normally. That when I open the tap, water comes out. That when I flip the light switch, the lights come on.”...


Los Palos Grandes is a residential, tourist and financial district located in the Chacao Municipality in east Caracas, served by the Caracas Metro through the Miranda station of line 1.

This neighborhood constitutes a touristic spot of the city thanks to its large number of restaurants, cafés and recreational places, standing out, the East Park and the Los Palos Grandes square with its reading room. This neighborhood also is part of the Financial District of Caracas, hosting several office buildings like Parque Cristal complex. This part of Caracas hosts the embassys of the United Nations, Uruguay, Ecuador and Dominican Republic.


Los Palos Grandes:

Elsewhere in Caracas (where Guaidó is unlikely to make any appearances):

Helms-Burton Act Title III; Venezuela: Destroying Cuba?


Havana, Mar 3 (Prensa Latina) In the next few days, the United States will decide whether or not it will enforce Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, an initiative that evokes the darkest elements of the Monroe Doctrine to destroy the Cuban Revolution. That title had been (repeatedly) suspended by all US administrations for six months since 1996, but the current government, headed by President Donald Trump, has decided to postpone its approval for 45 days only, a stance that Cuba has described as political blackmail and irresponsible hostility.

With the possible activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the United States bets again on the domino effect to destroy the Cuban Revolution, the researcher Olga Rosa Gonzalez said. The deputy director of the Center for Hemispheric Studies and on the United States (CEHSEU), attached to the University of Havana, said in an interview with Prensa Latina that Washington is trying to step up the blockade of Cuba to achieve its long-awaited goal of a regime change. She noted that Venezuela plays a key role in that political scheme by the White House, because as an added effect from its coup attempt in that South American nation, the US seeks to finish off the social(ist) system in Cuba...

... Donald Trump is threatening to activate its Title III which, if approved in the next few days, would authorize lawsuits in US courts to demand compensations for properties nationalized in Cuba in 1960. Even though that process (the nationalization) was carried out on the basis of international laws, the United States did not want to negotiate with Cuba as other countries did, Gonzalez ratified...


Cubans voted in Referendum to approve new Constitution

So... Take your pick:

Cuba snubs Trump’s anti-socialist crusade with massive constitution vote
By Pablo Vivanco, former director of Telesur English. Published time: 1 Mar, 2019 15:03

Cuba’s new Magna Carta reinforces the island’s revolutionary model, even as Washington ramps up its efforts against leftist governments in Latin America...

--- The ‘yes’ campaign obtained 90.6 percent, or roughly 6.8 million votes, compared to just over 700,000 who rejected the proposal... Over 130,000 meetings were held at job sites, neighborhoods, schools and universities, hospitals, and any other place people gather in order to discuss the draft and give feedback. Upwards of 800,000 proposals were then sent up to the National Assembly of People’s Power for consideration and review... All told, 63 percent of the original draft’s articles were changed based on feedback from the Cuban people.

“All Cubans had the opportunity to give our opinions on this constitution, which comes at a very important time for our country, and which will be very important for our present and our future,“ said Nereyda Lopez Labrada, a member of the National Assembly and Secretary General of the National Union of Cultural Workers. ..“This has been a total success and in total democracy.”

To characterize these changes as important is surely an understatement... As optimistic as Cubans are about the steps taken with a new constitution, many are aware that they may have to rely on their past in order to secure their future.


The Post's View Opinion
Cubans are losing their patience — and their fear
By Editorial Board March 1 at 6:32 PM

MORE THAN 86 percent of the votes cast Sunday favored approval of Cuba’s new constitution, which barely tweaks the system of single-party rule established by Fidel Castro six decades ago. But far more telling was the surprising share of eligible voters who cast “no” ballots or stayed home. In the last constitutional vote in 1976, when Castro had established a totalitarian state, 99.02 percent voted yes. What’s notable in Cuba is not the lame maneuverings of the Communist Party but the unmistakable signs that hundreds of thousands of people have lost their fear of the authorities and lost their patience with a decaying economic and political system.

The new constitution is the handiwork of the authoritarian clique that stumbles on after Castro’s death. The key decisions were made by a commission appointed by former president Raúl Castro, who still leads the Communist Party, and has amendments by the rubber-stamp parliament. Genuine political competition — the essence of democracy — was absent. The state-run news media ignored those who would advocate a “no” vote, and in the final day, nervous about the outcome, the authorites blacked out the digital newspaper 14ymedio, run by the dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez, who had openly called for a “no” vote on social media. José Daniel Ferrer García, a tough-minded activist and regime opponent, was detained after sitting in a park in Santiago de Cuba with a hand-lettered sign that proclaimed, “No.”

The new constitution is hardly earth-shattering. It recognizes private property for a “complementary role in the economy,” but continues to enshrine a “socialist economic system based on ownership by all people of the fundamental means of production as the primary form of property as well as the planned direction of the economy.” For most Cubans, this reality is a dystopia reminiscent of the Soviet Union, with shortages of eggs, butter and other basics...


Explainer: What is old and new in Cuba's proposed constitution
Marc Frank. FEBRUARY 21, 2019 / 4:12 PM

The new version keeps the Communist Party as the only legal party and maintains its role as the guide of the nation, stating that this is irrevocable. At the same time, it eliminates a ban on the use of private property to exploit the labor of others.

The new version reinforces the state’s dominance over the means of production and land, as well as the role of centralized planning. This too is deemed irrevocable. However, for the first time it recognizes the market as a fact of economic life, though it can be countermanded at will by the government.

Private businesses and non-farm cooperatives are included for the first time in the new version as legitimate economic actors. The role of joint ventures and other forms of foreign investment is upgraded from secondary to “important” or “fundamental.”

The president of the nation, who is elected every five years by the national assembly, may serve only two consecutive terms and must be under 60 years of age when first taking office...

(much more...)


Cuba constitution referendum is 'first chance for open dissent' | Al Jazeera English
Published on Feb 24, 2019

Cubans will vote on a new constitution for the first time in decades. It could mean more freedom in trade, property and foreign investment. And for the eight million registered voters, it will be a rare chance to voice opposition to the government. David Ariosto in New York, an executive producer of Eurasia Group's G-Zero Media and author of the book "This is Cuba", talks to Al Jazeera about the significance of the referendum.


Cuban Electoral Commission Informs Final Results of Referendum
Havana, Mar 1 (Prensa Latina)

Alina Balseiro, president of the National Electoral Commission (CEN), stated that about 6,816,169 people voted in favor of the new Cuban Constitution for a 78.3 percent of the voter registration lists, while reporting the final results of the national referendum.

During the Sunday elections, 'votes against reached 706,400 for an 8.1 percent of the list and nine percent of those who voted, Balseiro informed on Friday night during the daily radio and TV Round Table program... The results that are disclosed are part of an arduous, serious work, in accordance with the law of the electoral authorities and I congratulate them for their previous performance and the February 24 consultation to ratify the law of laws, Balseiro said .


Edit: So around 72% of eligible voters voted to approve the constitution while 28% did not.
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