Sunday, November 19, 2017
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
While researching ways to minimize unwanted catches in commercial fishing, Portuguese scientists unearthed something sinister: a real-life sea monster dubbed a “living fossil.”
The five-foot prehistoric shark, aptly named the frilled shark due to its set of 300 frilled, razor-sharp teeth, was captured last week by a trawler off the coast of Portugal, the BBC reported.
According to scientists, the shark is one of the few pre-historic creatures to still roam the earth. Its 80-million-year-old lineage has survived by living at ocean depths of 2,300 feet, where the lack of light and crushing pressure make for conditions uninhabitable for most living things.
The creature is presumed to roam the deep of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, where it preys on fish, squid and even other sharks. Any other information about the creature is a mystery to scientists due to its rarity, the Independent reported.
Sailor’s stories of sea serpents from the deep may have been influenced by this shark, which is recognizable by its eel-like body and serpentine movements.
It might not be the only creature in our midst: More than 90 percent of the Earth’s deep waters remain uncharted, possibly hiding other sea monsters, such as the recently discovered toothed snake-eel.
Divers be warned.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
The Long Arm of the Law
The International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol, extends the long arm of the law around the globe. But a few recent cases have revealed how dictators might use the organization to lengthen their reach, too.
Late last month, Greek police arrested Mirzorahim Kuzov, a Tajik dissident, as he was flying through Athens to attend a conference on human rights in Warsaw. Interpol had issued a so-called “red notice” to detain him at the request of Tajik authorities, Al Jazeera reported.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has accused Kuzov of supporting a 2015 coup and fomenting extremism as a member of a banned Islamic political party.
Kuzov denies the accusations. To escape prison, he has been in hiding outside of Tajikistan for years.
Is Kuzov a criminal? Nobody knows. But one thing is for sure: Rahmon is a tyrant who has built his oppressive regime on a foundation of human rights violations. Serving a warrant in his name is almost certainly not good police work.
The question arises: how should Interpol define a criminal?
The Index of Censorship recently noted that European countries have detained at least six journalists from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey due to red notices. Those journalists quite possibly ran afoul of their country’s laws. But those laws are also almost certainly unfair, say researchers.
“The use of the Interpol system to target journalists is a serious breach of media freedom,” said Hannah Machlin, project manager for Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom, in a statement. “Interpol’s own constitution bars it from interventions that are political in nature.”
Of course, Interpol gets things right, too.
Recently, for the fifth time, the agency rejected Moscow’s requests to put a red notice on William Browder, a US-born British financier whom Russian authorities have described as a national security threat, the Moscow Times reported.
Banned from Russia in 2005 after amassing a fortune in the country, Browder kicked a hornet’s nest when he raised alarms over the situation of his colleague, Sergei Magnitsky, who perished in Russian police custody in 2009.
Magnitsky was a whistleblower who exposed corruption, and the US imposed sanctions on Russians allegedly linked to his death. Russia retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.
Most recently, however, Moscow tried to get around Interpol by issuing a “diffusion,” reported Quartz. That’s an arrest request that Interpol does not vet. The move caused the United States immigration system last month to temporarily block Browder’s entrance into the country.
Things will get murkier, some predict.
Every country in the world except North Korea belongs to Interpol. Now Palestine could become a member soon. One can be sure the Palestinians have debatable views on who is and is not a criminal.
Friday, November 10, 2017
Yuri Milner is a billionaire from Russia. I was honored to be in a meeting with him yesterday. I heard him talk about life on other celestial bodies. He has a phenomenal knowledge of space as an astronomer or astrophysicist does. He also talked about allegations that he had improperly received investments from the Russian government. He gave a frank and honest defense. He pointed out that the investments were received in 2009 when the US and Russia still had good relations. He pointed out that Hillary Clinton blessed the deal and got Americans to invest in Russia at the same time. He pointed out that he returned the money to Russian investors in 2014 when relations soured. (His clients bought when share prices were low and made a big profit when share prices went up.) I believe him. Yuri is intelligent, charming, and really bright.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
I had a huge problem with the card in my camera. I took it to Camera West in Walnut Creek. They found massive photos and videos on the card.(Somehow things were not deleting when uploaded to the computer despite delete commands being given.) They sold me a card reader that fixed it.
I am the exception in the photography sphere. I have a Leica camera from Germany. It's a great optical instrument. Unknown to most people, in World War II Leica transferred all Jewish employees to countries far from Nazi Germany. They saved as many people as Oskar Shindler did. A company with a social conscience is very important to me.
Sunday, November 5, 2017
I read this earlier this morning. A full-scale Iraq-type invasion is impossible as China would see it as a threat and send troops to counter it. What is possible is special operations units targeting nuclear sites. There could be no advanced warnings or evacuations as Kim Jong Un would know what was in the works. It will have to be a surprise attack. While the special ops people are doing their work, you would have to have overwhelming and unrelenting strikes by cruise missiles and aircraft.
In "the fog of war" it would have to be made clear both to Kim Jong Un and the Chinese that this is not "a decapitation strike" to remove Kim Jong Un from power. Rather it is limited to removing his advanced military capabilities, especially nuclear weapons.
The big question here is how Kin Jong Un and his colleagues in power would react to such an attack. If they panicked or misunderstood it, then we will have a full-scale nuclear exchange on the Korean peninsula with a minimum of 1,000,000 casualties. Poison gas, artillery shells, and rockets will be flying everywhere. Japan could get hit. American bases could get hit. China could even get hit, if things get out of control.
I have warned everyone that Kim Jong Un is not just another paranoid dictator trying to secure his regime. His family has stayed in power over 70 years and absorbed bombings with more explosives dropped on North Korea than in World War II by the US (1950-1953). Kim Jong Un by bluff and guile wants to take over the whole Korean peninsula as his grandfather could not. MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT THIS!!!
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Friday, November 3, 2017
ROSARIO, Argentina — Their big trip to New York had been decades in the making.
Thirty years ago, when they were all still high school students in this industrial city in Argentina, 10 young men promised to celebrate their reunion somewhere in style.
“In 30 years, we have to go on a trip,” said Cristian Ciancia, a fellow graduate, recalling the pledge.
The friends eventually settled on New York, but the cost was too high. So Ariel Erlij — one of five Argentines killed in the terrorist attack on Tuesday in Lower Manhattan — did not think twice before helping to pay for flights, friends said.
“When any friend, any acquaintance, needed anything, he never hesitated to offer a hand,” said Mr. Ciancia, who was not on the trip.
Finally, the 30-year promise was coming true — until the unimaginable happened.
A motorist mowed down cyclists and pedestrians on a bike path along the Hudson River on Tuesday afternoon, killing eight people, including half of the group from Argentina.Continue reading the main story
“We don’t understand how there can be so much evil in the world,” said Alejandro Luca, a close friend and business partner of Mr. Erlij.
The Argentine friends had been inseparable in high school and had remained close over the years, even as two of them moved to the United States.
Last Saturday, eight of them set off to the United States from Rosario, which is northwest of Buenos Aires. Before boarding a flight, they looked giddy as they posed for a photograph wearing matching white T-shirts imprinted with “LIBRE,” or free, in large black letters.
The T-shirts were Mr. Erlij’s idea, borne out of a joke made in a group chat on WhatsApp about what it would be like for this gaggle of friends, now in their late 40s, to be inseparable again, for a few days, without their wives.
The other trip participants who died were: Hernán Ferrucchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Hernán Mendoza and Diego Angelini, all architects, according to the Argentine newspaper Clarín. The survivors were Martín Marro, who lives in Massachusetts; Guillermo Banchini, who lives in New York; Iván Brajkovic; Juan Pablo Trevisan; and Ariel Benvenuto.
Mr. Pagnucco’s son, Ornee Pagnucco, said in a brief interview conducted over social media that the reunion participants had “shared videos and photos with a lot of emotion.”
His father was “a great man and the best father in the world,” Ornee Pagnucco said. “I’m in a very ugly moment of my life.”
Officials at the three-story school, which has marble staircases and high ceilings, were devastated. Bibiana Vignaduzzo, a regent and physics teacher, shared memories of the men, who had taken her technical mechanics class in 1986.
“All 10 of them were great friends back then,” Ms. Vignaduzzo, 58, said in an interview. “If there’s something I remember about them it is that they were all big jokers. It wasn’t meanspirited, but they were always joking around with each other and their classmates.”
Alicia Oliva, a deputy director at the school, said groups of friends who graduate from the Politécnico in Rosario often remain close.
“This group wasn’t an exception,” Ms. Oliva said. “Lots of our students form bonds that last a lifetime and they still see each other, go on vacation together.”
On Tuesday, the school day began with a minute of silence at 7:30 a.m. “Everyone was very respectful,” Ms. Oliva said. “I told the students it was an opportunity to reflect on the importance of community and tolerance.”
That message resonated for Agustín Riccardi, 18, the student council president.
“There is a lot of consternation because when I stopped and thought about it, I would love to go on a trip with my classmates 30 years from now and for a reunion like that to end this way is just devastating,” he said. “Even if we don’t know the victims, we know they’re fathers, uncles, cousins of people we know. This is a small community.”
Mr. Erlij, the trip’s organizer, was a successful steel entrepreneur and real estate investor. Even as the father of three amassed considerable wealth, friends said, he remained simple in his manners and tact.
“He had a big heart,” said Mr. Luca, the friend and business partner. “There’s no one who’s not mourning him here.”
City officials on Wednesday declared three days of mourning. A candlelight vigil was held after sunset outside the school. Residents of Rosario, a riverside city of about 1 million people, described feeling an overbearing sense of loss.
“I couldn’t stop crying last night and I wasn’t alone,” said Nelida Riqué de Jordán, 84, as she drank a coffee downtown. “Rosario is mourning. These were our Rosario brothers.”
Jorge Casals, 59, a systems engineer, said the horror of the news dominated conversations at work and seemingly everywhere in Rosario on a hot spring day.
“I heard lots of people ask, where is it safe to travel now?” he said. “A friend told me this had convinced him not to go to the World Cup in Russia.”
Ana Luz Pailer, 20, an architecture student, said the attack made her feel vulnerable.
“Something like this really makes you think about how fragile life can be,” she said. “It really does feel like it could have happened to any one of us.”Continue reading the main story