Monday, December 30, 2013

Pictures from Stalingard

This is a second bombing in two days in Volgograd
Specialists at the intelligence organization succeeded years ago in penetrating the company's digital firewalls. A document viewed by SPIEGEL resembling a product catalog reveals that an NSA division called ANT has burrowed its way into nearly all the security architecture made by the major players in the industry -- including American global market leader Cisco and its Chinese competitor Huawei, but also producers of mass-market goods, such as US computer-maker Dell. Spiegel
Spiegel pretty much confirms that the NSA has backdoor access to many, if not all, networking and security products.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The details of the graft scandals that rocks Turkey's political establishment

Man, these guys think big in their corruptions
The grounds of Etiler Police School, the only empty plot in Etiler, with a value of $1 billion, was sold to a company for $460 million with no public bidding. The state sustained a financial loss of $600 million in this sale. Including planned construction on the site, the financial loss to the state may have reached several billion dollars.

The same company waited only one month for a mining license in a forested area of Sultanbeyli Paşaköy although the Forestry Ministry had denied all such permission in that area for some time previously. In return for the mining license, which had a value of $10 billion, one of the suspects became a 50 percent partner in the business without paying the company's owner. After some time, the owner left the partnership and the company was taken over by the other partner, who had paid nothing.

In order to purchase newspapers and TV channels owned by a media group, some businessmen paid $100 million each to certain suspects in the investigation.

A piece of land in the Üçağaç neighborhood of İstanbul's Pendik district was sold by the Kadıköy 3rd Enforcement and Bankruptcy Directorate at a discount. Before the land was offered up to bidding, bogus companies were created and only they were allowed to compete for the tender.

A plot found in the Zeytinli neighborhood of İzmir's Urla district, a first-degree protected area at the time, had its status unlawfully demoted to that of a third-degree area. However, construction began on the land even before it was opened up to such development.

Rigging was involved in the tender of the Mecidiyeköy-Mahmutbey Metro Line. Several days before the tender, the managers of several companies came together and set the offers they would make in the tender.

As they were being returned to state ownership, a company was given a tender for the renovation of 14 power plants.

In return for bribes, the work of businessmen experiencing legal obstacles in the construction sector has been facilitated. Under the guise of donations, the businessmen bribed politicians' relatives to take state tenders.

Public land was unlawfully transferred to a foundation through political means. Examples include land belonging to İstanbul Gas Distribution Industry and Trade Inc. (İGDAŞ) and the İstanbul Transportation Authority (İETT). Because of plans to construct a hotel on private land next to public land that had been transferred to the foundation, an attempt was made to acquire the private land through threats.

Rigging was involved in the tender for the rental of the “Büfe-Büvet-Café” businesses to be opened in Yenikapı Station as part of the Marmaray project. The authorities' suspicions about an investigation were confirmed through the TİB and there was a pause in the rigging activities.

A company was informed in advance of the desired bid for the construction of a road between Viranşehir and Kızıltepe in southeastern Turkey, so the tender was rigged in this manner.

Confidential information about the Ankara-İstanbul High-Speed Train Project tender was also shared by some involved in the project. Today Zaman

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Latest on Egypt

Alright we just have the first attack against a civilian infrastructure an hour ago. It was a small bomb launched at a public bus.

Yesterday the Egyptian Government declared Muslim Brotherhood as Terrorist Organization and here are some of the implications of it (from Egyptian Streets)
** All NGOs affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood are now banned.
** All activities of the Muslim Brotherhood - including protests and gathering - are now illegal and will be met with force.
** Members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been told by the government to withdraw their memberships or face arrest. Penal code says those belonging to a "terrorist group" face 5-years in jail.
** The Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, is now banned.
** Government says Hamas may be declared a terrorist organization 'soon.'

The latest Turkish Crisis

We might be seeing the resignation of Erdogan soon
The Cabinet was shaken by the resignations of three ministers on Wednesday over a sweeping corruption and bribery investigation, with one of the ministers calling on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to step down as well.

Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan and Interior Minister Muammer Güler announced their resignations earlier in the day. They denied any involvement in corruption or bribery and said their resignations were aimed at helping the “truth to come out.”

However, Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, in a harsh statement, claimed that he had been pressured to submit his own resignation to save the prestige of the government, adding that the prime minister should also quit as most of the amendments on construction plans mentioned in the corruption investigation were made on Erdoğan's orders. Today's Zaman

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Eventually Cairo will be hit

This is a picture of devastation in Mansoura (a few hours North of Cairo) after a suspected dual car bomb attack against a police HQ in downtown  area.

Everybody is blaming the Muslim Brotherhood for this although I doubt that they are the culprit behind this. There are plenty of militants in Egypt ready and willing to cause massive damage to Egyptian cities whenever they have a chance (remember that Northern Sinai is pretty much an active war zone at this moment).

This comes after last week's car bomb attack at the entrance of the town of Ismailia.

There is no sense of elevated tension on the street of Cairo because well, we are lucky enough not to be hit with these big attacks (there was a small one two months ago). Eventually they will come to Cairo simply because this is the center of power of Egypt. When it happens, it is going to be ugly.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Witness Tampering at Kenya's ICC case

Yesterday ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda took the extraordinary measure of filing an application to indefinitely adjourn the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in order to seek additional evidence to sustain the prosecution. At the core of the request is the ongoing issue of witness tampering that has haunted the ICC in Kenya for years.

Allegations of bribing, threatening and even killing potentially cooperative witnesses to the 2008 post-election violence date back to at least 2009. Several witnesses that provided testimony to UN officials have later refused to testify or simply disappeared. While international organizations like the UN Office of Drugs and Crime stepped in to help Kenya amend its domestic witness protection program and Western countries contributed to the ICC’s witness relocation program, gaps persisted. Kenya’s new Witness Protection Agency largely went unfunded while relocation offers only a temporary reprieve for witnesses facing harm.

By the time Deputy President William Ruto’s trial started earlier this year, several witnesses pulled out while others significantly changed testimony. Human rights groups have alleged such reversals are the result of high level pressure by political elites while others accuse human rights groups of coaching witnesses to lie to support the ICC charges. UN Dispatch

South Sudan sucks

After much investment by the international community which resulted in their independence from Sudan two years ago, the assholes at South Sudanese government decided that it is time to start the civil war again.

An FCO spokesman said: "We strongly advise all British nationals in South Sudan to leave the country if they can do so safely. You may have difficulty leaving in the event of a further deterioration in security."Sky

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ukraine has little choice but to turn to Russia

Turning to European Union and IMF means austerity measures. Fuck them. It is better to get bailout money from Russia instead
Ukraine expects economic growth of 3 percent in 2014, a draft budget showed on Thursday, days after Russia offered a $15 billion lifeline to help revive its smaller neighbour's economy and keep the country in its orbit.

Ukraine's economy has shrunk for the last five quarters and Ukraine had been seen at risk of default before Tuesday's deal between Kiev and Moscow, under which Russia will offer cheaper gas supplies and buy up $15 billion of Ukrainian bonds. Reuters

Amnesty International on Syria

Torture, flogging, and summary killings are rife in secret prisons run by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an armed group that controls large areas of northern Syria, said Amnesty International in a briefing published today.

ISIS, which claims to apply strict Shari’a (Islamic law) in areas it controls, has ruthlessly flouted the rights of local people. In the 18-page briefing, Rule of fear: ISIS abuses in detention in northern Syria, Amnesty International identifies seven detention facilities that ISIS uses in al-Raqqa governorate and Aleppo.

“Those abducted and detained by ISIS include children as young as eight who are held together with adults in the same cruel and inhuman conditions,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa. Amnesty International

Sunday, December 15, 2013

We are not ending 2013 well

2013 is a turbulent year.

The Syrian situation is not getting any better. The nationalistic Syrian rebellion has pretty much been isolated, if not defeated, in its struggle to overthrow the Bashar al Asssad regime. They have been replaced by cadres of well supported and well funded Jihadists from neighboring country. Assad's unexpected cooperation on destroying its chemical weapon stockpiles pretty much bought him the time to fight the rebellions against him. At this point it is high probability that he will stay in power in Syria for a long time to come. He has managed to position himself as the lesser evil of the current alternatives.

The Libyan situation is getting worse. The central government has proven unable to consolidate power and fill up the security vacuum currently happening in the country. Various militias have carved various area in the country and pretty much create de facto rule/warlord with very narrow tribal/city focus.

The French intervention has temporarily provide some stability to Mali. However the fundamental issues of the country is not getting better. The central government remains weak, corrupt and incompetent. The grievance of Tuareg community at the north of the country has not been addressed.

Central African Republic is turning into a genocidal event. Christians and Muslim communities are fighting against one another. 600 people have died in the past week in communal fights. The current intervention by France to this former colony will not be sufficient to bring stability to the country.

Somalia is getting better although al Shabab still manage to pull the spectacular terrorist attack in Nairobi.
The number of Somalians diaspora returning to the country is increasing by the month bringing capital and skills to rebuild their country. The UN has also been effective here.

Egypt situation is not getting any better. The popular coup against President Morsi has deepen the fissures within the societies. The short term economic situation is better thanks to the large infusion of money from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE. The current government has been busy releasing laws restricting rights of speech and assembly bringing new coalition against the current transition government.

The Afghanistan situation is not getting worse. There is a pending agreement for American forces to stay in the country as a security anchor against the rising Taliban. Karzai though is a terrible leader and it is time for him to go.

Pakistan is improving. It has successfully transfer power between civilian for the first time in full term this year. The American drones are still real issue but there is little alternative right now to solve the Taliban issue.

North Korea is not getting any better. The recent execution of the Great Leader's uncle is a sign of power struggle and it is not clear what kind of regime is taking shape under the new leader.

China, Japan and Korea are playing pissing contests with one or another. There is an increasing chance of somebody in around the islands making wrong calculation and start  a small shooting war. China's belligerence in extending its flight detection zone over disputed useless islands show an overtly nationalistic/irrational muscle flexing by its leadership.

Ukraine is in the middle of massive power struggle between EU oriented mass against pro Russian people. There is no clear path right on how this situation will develop. It is unlikely that it will become a violent confrontation.

Bangladesh still treats its garment workers badly, Burma still cannot contain the pogrom against its Muslim populations, Sri Lanka is still denying its terrible records on the phase of the campaign to destroy the Tamil Tiger.

India is waking up to the news that it has terrible record on sexual attacks against women. Saudia Arabi is expelling thousands of low level foreign workers in a mission to empower local population.

Southern European economy is getting worse with super high unemployment rate especially among the young.

Turkey's cherish secularism is under immense strain under the powerful Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan.

Singapore had its first violent riot in four decades just a week ago. This is a sign to come.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Syrian fiasco

The top Western-backed commander of the opposition forces in Syria has been run out of the country by Islamist militants, US officials said Wednesday.

According to US officials cited by the Wall Street Journal, Free Syrian Army General Salim Idris was forced to take flight. RT
Yeah, Bashar al-Assad has won although the conflict is not ending soon. There are an estimated 2.5 million Syrian refugees outside Syria and many millions more have been displaced in the country.

Euro Maidan live blogging

Maidan Sq. this morning. Kyivpost is doing live blogging.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Person of the year


Not bad although Edward Snowden would have been the inspired choice.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Inside Bucharest erotic webcam studio

The bread-and-butter of a model’s income is earned through "privates," sessions where members pay $2 a minute for a one-on-one webcam chat with a model. Some of that normally goes to the hosting site, then 40 to 75 percent goes to the studio, leaving the models with between 60 and 25 cents a minute, depending on what studio they work in. 
The key, even for erotic models, is to keep your clothes on for as long as possible, which isn't too difficult because ejaculation is less of a priority for members than you’d imagine. Most of them are divorced men looking for a little companionship. From Anica’s description, modeling sounds a lot like working in sales: ask them lots of questions about themselves and be interested in what they say and they’ll love you forever—or at least until their money runs out. Eventually they might ask you to take your clothes off, at which point you’re expected to lie back and get it over with. 
Making $15 to $36 an hour wouldn't be terrible under normal circumstances, but given the nature of the work, it’s a good thing there are Vice

Monday, December 09, 2013

Lenin Down

Daily Mail

Ukrainians are really really made about their current government. 

Scene rules

If you ever wonder whether those movies/tv torrent uploaders have rules, wonder no more. They do and it is quite comprehensive. It governs many aspect of pirate media release.

How not take deal with the Internet

This is the original video showing a burned S4

This is how Samsung responded

They should have just replaced his S4 in the first place instead of sending a legal document to him. You can google around to find instances of smartphones caught fire at charging. It's an uncommon situation but it does happen. 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Transparency International Corruption Index 2013

The darker the color, the worse it is. The full result is at Transparency International

Choking in Shanghai

Shanghai's concentration of tiny, harmful PM 2.5 particles was 602.5 micrograms per cubic meter on Friday afternoon, an extremely hazardous level that was the highest since the city began recording such data last December. That compares with the World Health Organisation's safety guideline of 25 micrograms. Guardian


The best material to read about Mandela's vision for his country is the South Africa Constitution (pdf) that he promulgated when he was President. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

By all counts and measures, Bradley Smith is an unequivocal business success. He's CEO of Rescue One Financial, an Irvine, California-based financial services company that had sales of nearly $32 million last year. Smith's company has grown some 1,400 percent in the last three years, landing it at No. 310 on this year's Inc. 500. So you might never guess that just five years ago, Smith was on the brink of financial ruin--and mental collapse.

Back in 2008, Smith was working long hours counseling nervous clients about getting out of debt. But his calm demeanor masked a secret: He shared their fears. Like them, Smith was sinking deeper and deeper into debt. He had driven himself far into the red starting--of all things--a debt-settlement company. "I was hearing how depressed and strung out my clients were, but in the back of my mind I was thinking to myself, I've got twice as much debt as you do," Smith recalls. Inc
Entrepreneurship looks sexy from the outside but it is a nutty world. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Passport Ranking

UK citizens have the best passport for travelling (in terms of not requiring visa or being able to pay on arrival)

The core of the current Ukrainian protest

Tension had been building since Friday, when Yanukovich declined to sign a landmark pact with EU leaders at a summit in Lithuania, going back on a pledge to work towards integrating his ex-Soviet republic into the European mainstream. Reuters
Yanukovich is the current President of Ukraine. He wants to take Ukraine to join Euroasian Economic Community instead.

Here's a view from the other side by Russia Today:
Russia, Ukraine’s main source of energy, loans, and trade, wants to dissuade its geographical partner from making a "suicidal" move towards Europe and sacrifice the option of joining the Russian-led Customs Union, that by 2015 will be extended to the Eurasian Economic Union, after a number of other CIS members, like Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan join the club.

Too fast too soon

(Daily Mail)

Paul Walker, the star of Fast and Furious movie franchise, has died in a fiery crash yesterday. This fun B movie series generate billions dollars around the world and have huge loyal following among motor head/action flicks fans.