Showing posts from March, 2017

US Stock markets declines as Trump rally slumps

March 22-- In the past the Trump administration has boasted of the performance of the stock market as evidence of the success of its policies. Now that the market has begun to drop, White House secretary Sean Spicer has changed his tune.
Spicer now says that it is unfair to judge the Trump administration's economic policy on the basis of the performance of the stock market. However, the market has done very well since the election and inauguration of Trump resulting in what has been termed the Trump rally. Just back on January 25th this year the Dow Jones Index broke through the 20,000 level. On March 1 the DJIbroke throughthe 21,000 level and the Nasdaq and S&P indices also slashed records. Earlier at the beginning of February, Nouriel Roubinihad predicted that the Trump honeymoon with the stock markets would soon be over. Perhaps his prediction is coming true now. Yesterday, the DJI, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq each fell roughly one percentage point.Spicer said: “You can’t lo…

Islamic State captures police colonel and 8 officers in Mosul

(March 21) During fierce clashes in the Old City of Mosul early Monday Islamic State (IS) fighters captured an Iraqi police colonel and eight other officers as they ran out of ammunition according to an Iraqi Interior Ministry official.
The officerswere captured about 3 in the morning in the Bab Jadid district in Mosul. The whereabouts of the officers is not known. The eastern half of the city has already been liberated but they are now battling in the Old City in western Mosul. The offensive on Mosul began about the middle of October last year and on western Mosul this February.The recent battleshave been described in a Digital Journal article. Many thousands of civilians remain trapped in the area under IS control. The center of Old Mosul is home to the Al-Nuri mosque where IS leader Abu al_Baghdadi had declared a caliphate in territory controlled by the IS, in July of 2014. There are many narrow alleys in the area that military vehicles cannot enter. An extensive account of the Mos…

Ban on electronic devices on flights has nothing to do with security

The United States is barring passengers on direct flights from eight Muslim-majority countries from carrying any electronic devices larger than a mobile phone according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Senior U.S. officials told reporters that nine airlines from the Middle East countries and North Africa have been given 96 hours to ban the devices from the cabin. They can still be checked and stored in baggage compartment. The airports involved are in Egypt. Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE. The devices banned include laptops, e-readers, cameras, tablets, electronic games and portable DVD players. The DHS claimed that the ban was necessary as "terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer devices". The DHS issued a statement saying: "Based on this information, Secretary of Homeland Securit…

Saudi-led coalition blamed for massacre of over 40 migrants on boat

Foreign Affairs Minister Abdusalam Omer speaking to the Somalia news agency SONNA on state TV demanded answers to the attack on a refugee boat off the coast of Yemen that killed 42 Somali migrants.
Omersaid: "We hold the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the coalition responsible for the killing of 42 refugees in Yemen They must give dignified burial to the dead treat the wounded and contact their relatives". Omer claimed that the boat that carried over 140 migrants suffered 21 wounded as well as those killed. He said that the an Apache helicopter attacked the boat near the port of Al Hudeibiyah that is controlled by Houthi Shiite rebels who are at war with the Hadi government that is supported by a Saudi-led coalition. An account in the Independent claims that the attack was not just by an Apache helicopter but a military vessel as well. The Somailia government has urged the U.S.-supported Saudi-led coalition to investigate. The vessel was more than 30 miles off the…

US ranks 14th in World Happiness Report, Norway first

The World Happiness Report, was released today the International Day of Happiness. The report is by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network funded by the Ernesto Illy Foundation.
The survey ranks 155 countries by their happiness levels. The report for 2017 is the fifth one to come out since 2012. The first report was in support of the UN High Level meeting on happiness and well-being. Happiness and well-being measures have since become important measures of human progress. The survey isof one thousand people in each country and asks them rank on a scale of 0 to 10 whether they are living their best life: "Researchers then use six measures to try to understand the results: gross domestic product per capita, life expectancy, support from relatives or friends, charitable giving, freedom to make life choices, and perceived levels of government and corporate corruption." The rankings use averages of the last three years of surveys. The U.S. continued to fall in the rankings…

Recent Global Wealth Report shows US most unequal

Figures released by the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Reports for November 2016 show that the US remains the fourth highest in mean wealth per adult at $344,692 after Switzerland, Iceland and Australia.
However, theUnited States dropped from 25th to 27th in median wealth per adult since the 2014 figures. The median now per adult is $44,977. While the figures show that the US is getting wealthier it is also increasing in inequality. One measure of inequality is the ratio between the mean and median wealth per adult. The 2017 Credit Suisse report can be found here. The relatively low level of the median wealth shows that many Americans simply do not have adequate resources for retirement. Many will be particularly hard hit when their income drops precipitously when they retire. As many as 49% of private sector workers in the US have no retirement plan at all. If Social Security is cut as many Republicans want, there could be a great deal of poverty among seniors. Ranked according to inequ…

Islamist leader's body exhumed and displayed in Benghazi Libya

The Libyan National Commission for Human RIghts (LNCHR) has condemned the exhumation and apparent mutilation of the Islamist leader Jamal Makhzoum in Benghazi as a heinous war crime.
According to the Libya Herald there is a widely shared social media video showing the decomposing body of Makhzoum strapped to the front of a car. It was kicked and then paraded by LNA fighters. They also shoot guns in the air in celebration. The LNA just recently captured a 12-building apartment complex from Islamist opponents as shown on the appended video. Article 15 of the 1949 first Geneva Convention says that parties to a conflict must prevent dead bodies from being despoiled. The LNCHR claimed the treatment of Makhzoum's body was a "despicable and heinous crime incompatible with human values". Makhzoum was the former leader of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC). He had been killed last week in the Ganfouda area which has just recently been completely taken by the Libyan…

The theremin an early untouchable unique electronic instrument

The Theremin named after the Russian physicist Leon Theremin ( Lev Termin in Russian) is an early electronic musical instrument somewhat unique in that it is played without physical contact.

As Wikipedia describes the theremin's control: The instrument's controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas that sense the relative position of the thereminist's hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude (volume) with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker.Here is an early clip of Theremin demonstrating the instrument:
Theremin was an inventive genius and was working on wireless TV between 1925 to 1927: "During this time Theremin was also working on a wireless television with 16 scan lines in 1925, improving to 32 scan lines and then 64 using interlacing in 1926, and he demonstrated moving, if blurry, images on 7 June 1927.[19]"
Theremin's invention of the Theremin was virtuall…

Mass demonstration in Tripoli against militias in the city

Thousands of Libyans have mounted a mass demonstration against the powerful militias that dominate Tripoli. The demonstration was in the Martyr's Square.
The demonstratorsshouted slogans against the militias and demanded a unified army and police. The city has been rocked by clashes the last few days. Khalifa Ghwell who was attempting a coup lost his headquarters at the Rixos hotel complex.A ceasefire was reached yesterday but some key militia rejected it and there have been further clashes since. There were some who shouted support for Khalifa Haftar commander of the rival Libyan National Army linked to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR). Haftar is opposed not only to the Tripoli militias but the UN-brokered Government of National Accord as well. Mohamed Zein, a 27-year-old protestor said: "We won't go home until our demands are met. We ask for all militias that have come from outside of Tripoli to leave immediately." The protesters marched peacefully d…

An early electronic instrument the Trautonium

The Trautonium is an early electronic musical instrument invented about 1929 by Friedrich Trautwein in Berlin at his Musikhochschule' music and radio lab, the Rundfunkversuschstelle. The instrument is named after Trautwein.

Soon Trautwein was joined by Oskar Sala who helped develop the Trautonium until his death in 2002. Sala was a German physicist, composer, and a pioneer of electronic music. In 1948 Sala further developed the Trautonium into the Mixtur-Trautonum: The Mixtur-Trautonium allowed for the first time in music history the execution of sounds which had only been known in theory since the Middle Ages, but were never actually playable[example needed]. Sala's invention opened the field of subharmonics, the symmetric counterpart to overtones, so that a thoroughly distinct tuning evolved.[6]
During the 40's and 50's Sala worked on numerous film scores perhaps the best known the non-musical soundtrack for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Click the You Tube icon to…

Tripoli ceasefire among militias fails to hold

(March 16) The Presidency Council(PC) of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) was able to broker an agreement among many brigades to stop fighting in Tripoli after many clashes the previous night.
For some reason Faiez Serraj the PM and head of the PC was not in attendance. PC member Ahmed Hamza and the Defense Minister Mihid al-Barghati chaired the meeting. The meeting was held in the Abu Sittah Naval Base one of the few secure areas to meet in Tripoli no doubt. The municipal councils of Misrata, Souq Al-Jonaa and Central Tripoli also took part. Commanders of loyal armed brigades from Misrata and Tripoli also participated. The agreement requires all armed brigades "rival ones" to withdraw from Tripoli as set out in the Libya Political Agreement (LPA). The Tripoli Revolutionaries' Brigade(TRB) and Ghaniewa of the UN PC launched an offensive again other groups several days ago and drove them out of several areas of the capital. However under the agreement c…

US deployment of missile system in South Korea angers China and Russia

While the sped-up deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to South Korea increased tension with North Korea, it also led to angry responses from Russia and China particularly China.
Early reports indicated thatTHAAD missiles would have a relatively short range that would reach throughout North Korea.The system will actually have a much longer range able to penetrate deep into Chinese and Russian territory: According to China’s Xinhua news outlet, South Korea earlier had claimed that the THAAD would be deployed with a detection range of some 600 kilometers, sufficient to cover its North Korean foe. Now though it appears that the US Pentagon is upgrading the radar working range of the system to reach 2,000 kms. With that much greater additional scope, the American missile system on the Korean Peninsula will be able to penetrate deep into Chinese and Russian territory. Beijing and Vladivostok are less that 1,000 kms from South Korea’s capital Seoul. There have bee…

PM of Libyan Salvation government driven from his headquarters in Tripoli

There were many different clashes taking place in Tripoli last night but one involved the Rixos hotel and adjacent buildings that are the headquarters of the Salvation Government and Khalifa Ghwell its leader.
Khalifa Ghwell attempted a coupagainst the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) last October. While he did not succeed, he and his supporters were able to take over the Rixos hotel and adjacent residences. They have even been involved in opening a power plant and of part of the repaired Tripoli International Airport. A summary of the situation in Tripoli as of today is given by the Libya Observer. After clashes last night, the Rixos hotel is now said to be under control of the Ghaniewa armed brigade loyal to the Presidential Council (PC) of the GNA. There is no traffic and several roads are blocked and there are several security checkpoints. The Libya Herald reports that the pro-Ghwell were driven out by the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade of Haytem Tajouri who joined…

Turkish military claims to have killed more than 70 Kurdish fighters in Syria in one week.

A statement by the Turkish military claimed that Turkish troops have killed at least 71 fighters from Kurdish YPG during the past week in Syria. They also claimed that since invading Syria they have killed 425 Kurds.  Add ImageWikipedia, describes the YPG as follows: The People's Protection Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel‎, یەکینەکانی پاراستنی گەل pronounced [jɑkinæjen pɑrɑstinɑ gæl]; YPG) is the militia of the Democratic Union Party, the primary component of Rojava's Syrian Democratic Forces, and the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) according to the Turkish government. The Turkish government considers the YPG as a terrorist group but not the Americans who support the YPG. The YPG are part of the umbrella group Syrian Democratic Forces(SDF) that includes more than Kurds. The U.S. has been attempting to try to prevent clashes between the YPG and Turkish troops as discussed in a recent Digital Journal article. The US already has embedded a number…