Friday, January 31, 2020

China's Loose Arms Still Fuel Myanmar's Civil Wars

China's newest assault rifle QBZ-03 is the standard
weapon for Burma's ethnic rebel armies.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping met Myanmar’s military commander-in-chief Senior General Ming Aung Hlaing in Naypyidaw earlier this month, it was not clear which of the two raised the issue first. But side-stepping the 800 pound gorilla in the room — new Chinese weaponry fueling Myanmar’s civil wars — was never going to be an option.

Over the past year, those Chinese weapons have cost the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, hundreds of lives. And as the fighting season gathers pace in western Rakhine state, the likelihood of another high death toll in 2020 will cast a long shadow in army circles over the triumphant hailing of a “new era” in Sino-Myanmar amity and cooperation that attended Xi’s historic state visit.

Almost certainly not by coincidence, the day before the January 18 meeting – the sixth meeting between Xi and Min Aung Hlaing — the Tatmadaw’s public relations wing ensured that the “discovery” of a rebel cache of Chinese munitions made on January 15 in Hsenwi township in northern Shan state received wide media publicity.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Aussie Breakthrough On CoronaVirus

Monkey kidneys and old-school science: Inside Melbourne's coronavirus breakthrough: An old-school science technique allowed Melbourne’s Doherty Institute to grow coronavirus in a flask, the first lab outside China to do so.

The important breakthrough allows scientists to immediately develop much better tests for the virus. And it is a crucial first step towards developing treatments or a vaccine. Most diagnostic labs around the world use cutting-edge genetic sequencing techniques to test for viruses.

The Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, based in Parkville, is one of the few to maintain extensive cell lines, which allows it not only to test for but also to grow a wide variety of viruses. "It’s costly, and it needs skills that are not generally available these days," says Dr Mike Catton, the institute's deputy director. "We have a mix of the old and the new, the classical and the cutting edge. I’d say we’re the first among equals – although my colleagues might not like that."

Saturday, January 25, 2020

US Large Air Tanker Crashes Fighting Fires In Australia

Three dead after large air tanker crashes while fighting NSW fires: Officials in New South Wales have confirmed three people are dead after a large air tanker crashed while fighting a blaze in the Snowy Mountains.

Contact with the C-130 Hercules was lost when the aircraft was near Cooma around 1.30pm before the plane disappeared off radar. A major search was launched with helicopters spotting the wreckage a couple of hours later. It’s understood the plane burst into flames upon impact with reports fire crews on the ground witnessed the crash.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says there were no survivors from the crash. “It’s impacted heavily with the ground and initial reports are that there was a large fireball associated with the impact of the plane as it hit the ground,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

China Locks Down Ten Cities As Death Toll Rises

Coronavirus spreading with new cases reported around the world as death toll rises to 25: China has moved to lock down multiple cities with a combined population of more than 25 million people to halt the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus.

Health authorities in Hebei, just south of Beijing, said on Thursday an 80-year-old man infected with the coronavirus had died there, marking the first confirmed death outside Hubei. He died on Wednesday but was not confirmed to have been infected with the virus until Thursday. All of the deceased are said to have been elderly and beset with other chronic health issues.

Chinese authorities have locked down eight cities in Hubei province including Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi, Qianjiang, Zhijiang, Jingmen and Xiantao. However, there are mixed reports on the number of cities with imposed travel bans, as the South China Morning Post reports eight cities are now subject to travel bans.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

CoronaVirus Killing Many: Wu Han Locked Down

Wuhan Hospitals are being overwhelmed by Coronavirus cases.
Coronavirus infections in China feared to be more widespread than officially reported, Wuhan closes transport networks: The Chinese city of Wuhan, the source of an outbreak of a new flu-like virus, is closing its transport networks and has advised citizens not to leave the city as the death toll rose steeply overnight.

Officials have confirmed 544 cases of the virus and 17 deaths and medical staff in Wuhan say they are overwhelmed with sick patients as one hospital alone is treating about 300 patients. Hospitals in Wuhan are reportedly dealing with huge numbers of sick patients, raising fears the new coronavirus is spreading faster than official reports suggest.

Bus, subway, ferry and long-distance passenger transportation networks will be suspended from 10am (local time), and the airport and train stations will be closed to outgoing passengers, state TV said.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Chinese President Xi Jinping Visits Myanmar

China’s President Xi Jinping visited Myanmar and made a push to rev up big infrastructure projects under his Belt and Road initiative, seeking to cement Beijing’s role as the country’s closest international partner while Western governments hold back over human-rights violations.

Mr. Xi’s two-day visit—the first by a Chinese head of state in almost two decades—comes as Myanmar is facing allegations at the International Court of Justice that its security forces committed genocide against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. Last month, Washington imposed sanctions against four military officials, including the commander-in-chief.

China has backed Myanmar through the crisis and is now stepping up efforts to secure the strategically located nation as a major partner in the region. Mr. Xi held talks with Myanmar’s main civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in the country’s capital Naypyitaw on Saturday.

Friday, January 17, 2020

ICC's Fatou Bensouda: Accomplice To Rapes & Tortures

During her watch as Gambia's Chief Prosecutor thousands
were kidnapped, raped, and tortured in Gambia.
(She is now prosecuting Burma of Muslim genocide, WTF.)
Before speaking on behalf of the victims of serious crimes as prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda faithfully served, in the highest judicial offices, a military dictatorship in her country, the Gambia.

Two witnesses (themselves the victims of kidnap & torture during her watch as Gambia's Chief Prosecutor) have already publicly challenged her before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC). Will the Commission call the prosecutor to answer the charges? On the day of the inauguration of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) in The Gambia, on 15 October 2018, Fatou Bensouda's speech seemed clear.

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a Gambian national, first underlined how the work of this Commission – charged with shedding light on the military dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh, between July 1994 and January 2017, and the serious human rights violations committed under this regime – will be "so critical to the future of this country and to the strengthening of the rule of law on which this future can be secured."

Why Was Monsoon's Withdrawal Delayed In India?

A few days ago, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the withdrawal of the southwest monsoon is expected to begin after October 10th.

This makes it the most delayed monsoon withdrawal of all time. The last time something similar occurred was in 1961, when the monsoon began withdrawing from October 1.

So why did the monsoon's retreat get so delayed and what does it mean for the upcoming Northeast Monsoon season, whose arrival is being eagerly awaited by Tamil Nadu and other states? The Weather Channel answers some common questions.

 The withdrawal of the monsoon begins with the development of a high-pressure area over northwest India. High-pressure zones represent settled weather and low wind movement, whereas intense low-pressure zones attract moisture-bearing winds and therefore host weather disturbances like rains, thunderstorms or lightning.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Late Monsoons In India: Wild Bush Fires In Australia

Wild Fires in NSW partly caused by delayed monsoons in India, experts say: NSW's fire boss said the state had never seen anything like it before. And, a weather system thousands of kilometres away is at least partly responsible, experts say.

NSW's bushfire emergency began on Friday morning and escalated quickly — at its peak the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) issued emergency warnings for 17 separate blazes. Although emergency services were bracing for an intense fire season — which started earlier than predicted — a bushfire expert said climate change had created the "fairly extraordinary circumstances" seen this week.

Trent Penman is an associate professor at the University of Melbourne who studies the behaviour and formation of bushfires using real depictions of fuel, weather and topography. He said the bushfires could be partly explained by monsoon season ending late in India.

Dark Energy & Dark Matter In Our Universe: Heaven?

In the early 1990s, one thing was fairly certain about the expansion of the universe. It might have enough energy density to stop its expansion and recollapse, it might have so little energy density that it would never stop expanding, but gravity was certain to slow the expansion as time went on. Granted, the slowing had not been observed, but, theoretically, the universe had to slow. The universe is full of matter and the attractive force of gravity pulls all matter together.

Then came 1998 and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations of very distant supernovae that showed that, a long time ago, the universe was actually expanding more slowly than it is today. So the expansion of the universe has not been slowing due to gravity, as everyone thought, it has been accelerating. No one expected this, no one knew how to explain it. But something was causing it.

Eventually theorists came up with three sorts of explanations. Maybe it was a result of a long-discarded version of Einstein's theory of gravity, one that contained what was called a "cosmological constant." Maybe there was some strange kind of energy-fluid that filled space. Maybe there is something wrong with Einstein's theory of gravity and a new theory could include some kind of field that creates this cosmic acceleration. Theorists still don't know what the correct explanation is, but they have given the solution a name. It is called dark energy.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Protesters In Iran Refusing To Trample US Flags

A video clip highlighted on Sunday by U.N. Watch, a non-governmental organization based in Switzerland, showed students at Iran’s Tehran University refusing to trample on American and Israeli flags as directed by agents of the Basij, a paramilitary force controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

UN Watch tweeted: "Students in Tehran University take pains to avoid walking on the flags of U.S. & Israel—as the regime forces people to do—and when two Basiji regime agents then make a point of trampling the flags, the crowds shout "Besharaf!" — the regime is shameless, dishonorable."

In the video, only a handful of Iranian regime agents were willing to walk on the flags. The students responded by heckling them as “dishonorable” and “shameless.” Other video clips of the incident illustrated how much care the students took to avoid stepping on the flags.

Soro's Son Visiting Myanmar Just Before President Xi

Alexander Soros in Myanmar a week before Xi's visit: Alexander Soros, son of the the American Billionaire George Soros, had paid a visit to Myanmar's capital Nay Pyi Taw - a week before the Chinese President Xi Jinping makes his official visit at the behest of President Win Myint on January 17 and 18.

Alexander, as stated on his social media account, is "back to work" in Nay Pyi Taw before Xi makes his first ever trip to Myanmar in 19 years. George Soros, an influential billionaire that have been criticised as having his hands in many countries' politics, had blasted Xi as an enemy to 'Open Society' at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, January 2019.

Similar to the "coincidence" of the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Myanmar before State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi's trip to defend against the ICJ lawsuit, Alexander Soros is here in Myanmar before the Chinese chief gets here.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Game Over: Pelosi To Release Impeachment Articles

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats Friday that she was prepared to send the articles of impeachment passed by the House to the Senate for trial, despite a month-long delay to the process. The Speaker revealed her intentions in a letter to her Democrat colleagues and obtained by reporters.

“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” Pelosi wrote in the letter. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting.”

Pelosi’s announcement marked a sudden reversal of her decision to delay the trial and try to force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to commit to calling additional witnesses and evidence in the trial.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

World Is Running Out Of Seemingly Abundant Sand

Large scale sand dredging from rivers in China.
It may be little more than grains of weathered rock, and can be found in deserts and on beaches around the world, but sand is also the world’s second most consumed natural resource. A South African entrepreneur shot dead in September. Two Indian villagers killed in a gun battle in August. A Mexican environmental activist murdered in June.

Though separated by thousands of miles, these killings share an unlikely cause. They are some of the latest casualties in a growing wave of violence sparked by the struggle for one of the 21st Century’s most important, but least appreciated, commodities: ordinary sand.

Trivial though it may seem, sand is a critical ingredient of our lives. It is the primary raw material that modern cities are made from. The concrete used to construct shopping malls, offices, and apartment blocks, along with the asphalt we use to build roads connecting them, are largely just sand and gravel glued together.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Trump: Iran Standing Down After Missile Strikes

US President Donald Trump has said Iran "appears to be standing down" after it fired missiles at air bases housing US forces in Iraq. Mr Trump, in a televised address from the White House, said no US or Iraqi lives were lost in the attacks and the bases suffered only minimal damage.

The Irbil and Al Asad bases were attacked early on Wednesday local time. Iran said it acted in retaliation after the assassination of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani last week. The US drone strike targeting him and Iran-backed militia figures in the Iraqi capital Baghdad was a major escalation amid already deteriorating relations between Iran and the US.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei described the missile attacks as a "slap in the face" for the US and called for an end to the American presence in the Middle East. On Wednesday evening at least two rockets fell in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, where the US embassy is located. There were no reports of any damage or casualties.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Iran Retaliates: Missiled Two US Bases In Iraq

Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at Iraqi bases hosting US and coalition troops overnight, declaring the strikes to be retaliation for the killing last week of the senior Iranian general Qassem Suleimani.

Al-Asad airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province was hit 17 times, including by two ballistic missiles that failed to detonate, according to the Iraqi government. A further five missiles were targeted at a base in the northern city of Erbil in the assault, which began at about 1.30am local time on Wednesday (10.30pm GMT).

In what appeared to be an attempt to lessen the diplomatic fallout from bombing its neighbour, Iran notified Iraq shortly after midnight that an attack had begun and clarified that any strikes would be limited to locations where the US military was present, the Iraqi prime minister’s office said. Adel Abdul Mahdi’s office said in a statement on Wednesday that at the same time, the Americans informed Iraq that military bases in Ain al-Asad and Erbil were under missile attack.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Appeaser Pelosi Surrenders To Iranian Mullahs

Nancy Pelosi to Introduce Resolution Implying Pre-emptive Surrender to Iran: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wrote a letter to her Democrat colleagues in the House on Sunday to reveal a new “War Powers Resolution” that amounts to a pre-emptive surrender to Iran in ongoing hostilities.

Pelosi’s letter begins with the declaration that President Donald Trump’s airstrike last week targeting Iranian General Qasem Suleimani, leader of the terrorist Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) Quds Force, responsible for the murders of hundreds of Americans and for recent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, was “provocative and disproportionate,” terms suggesting the attack was illegal under international law and could constitute a war crime.

Harvard Law School professor emeritus (and Democrat) Alan Dershowitz argued in Monday’s Wall Street Journal that the strike was not only lawful, but an “easy call”: “The president has the constitutional authority to take military actions, short of declaring war, that he and his advisers deem necessary to protect American citizens. This authority is extremely broad, especially when the actions must, by their nature, be kept secret from the intended target.”

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Trump Threatens 52 Iranian Sites If Iran Retaliates

President Donald Trump on Saturday warned Iran that if it retaliates for the killing of one of its top leaders, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, it will face U.S. attacks on 52 targets, a number he said was symbolic. The president tweeted that the number of targets matched the number of hostages held by Iran in 1979, when 52 American diplomats and citizens were held for 444 days.

"Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have.........targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD," he said. "The USA wants no more threats!"

Trump's tweet was vaguely worded, but the United Nations Security Council appears to suggest the targeting of cultural heritage sites is prohibited. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded early Sunday, accusing Trump of threatening a "war crime" and breaching the norms of international law. "That is, a big(ly) "no no"," he said.

Friday, January 3, 2020

US Killed Badass Iranian General At Baghdad Airport

Trump ordered General Soleimani''s assassination.
Qassem Soleimani, leader of Iran's Quds Force, killed in US air strike on Baghdad airport: The United States killed Iran's most powerful general in an air strike at Baghdad's international airport on Friday, on the direct orders of President Donald Trump.

The Pentagon confirmed the death of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force and the architect of Tehran's proxy wars in the Middle East. Three missiles hit the Baghdad airport, killing five members of Iraqi paramilitary groups and two "guests", Iraqi paramilitary groups said. The rockets landed near the air cargo terminal, burning two vehicles.

Major-General Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in the strike on their convoy near the Baghdad airport, an Iraqi militia spokesman told Reuters. "The American and Israeli enemy is responsible for killing the mujahideen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani," said Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces umbrella grouping of Iran-backed militias.