Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rigs, rigging, rigged

RIGS





RIGGING






RIGGED


"I can’t speak for anybody else, but having spent those nearly thirty years immersed in equity, bond, and commodity markets all around the world, I have seen enough to absolutely confirm in my own mind that the markets are rigged.

"Not just some of them. All of them. In different ways, to be sure, but they’re all rigged.

"Not only are they rigged, but they are rigged in ways that beggar belief; and in many places they are rigged by the very people who ought to be responsible for STOPPING any rigging.

"So... as Brad Katsuyama said:

        “If you wanna do this, let’s do this.”

"How do I rig thee? Let me count the ways: [read the piece to find out]"
-- Grant Williams, What’s the Frequency Zenith? , in Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

You absolutely should click the link and read the whole piece.  It's very readable, and includes a great link at the end to a wonderful string recital, for something completely different and irrelevant.

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Science (fiction?)

Novel Way Discovered to Decode and Read DNA: Scientists
According to a new report, scientists have discovered a new way to read and decode DNA. Scientists are suspecting this research could forever change the ways on how doctors uncover, diagnose and treat various diseases.

Researchers said the main aim of this research is to understand the process of storage of biological functions in the human genome.

The research, published in the journal Science, states how genomes use genetic code to write information about proteins and that too in two separate languages. Researchers believe that the second language lies below the first and instruct the cell to control the genes.

Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulosm, lead researcher, said: "For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made".

Researchers said this novel research has thrown light on the fact that the DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which has been fully exploited by nature.
Don't Be Duped By 'Duon' DNA Hype
I can only hope that Stamatoyannopoulos didn’t really say that. The authors report that changes in a single DNA sequence can influence both the protein it encodes and the place where other proteins bind to initiate copying. So evolutionarily, a single change could influence two endpoints–copying the sequence and what gets made using the same sequence. That’s cool, but not actually new.

With today’s headlines hyping “Second Code Uncovered Inside the DNA,” you might think that scientists are running around in circles in their labs, tearing out their hair, and screaming. But the real reaction of scientists to these headlines is more along the lines of this Twitter conversation among several scientific experts and science writers. They have good reason to be snarky.

The hype began with the way hype often begins: an institutional news release offering us the holy grail/huge breakthrough/game-changing finding of the day. This kind of exaggeration is the big reason any science consumer should look well beyond the news release in considering new findings. A news release is a marketing tool. You’re reading an advertisement when you read a news release; it’s also scientifically garbled and open to all kinds of misinterpretation, as the comments at the link to the release make clear.

Scientists have not assumed that the genetic code “was used exclusively to write information about proteins,” or even ever assumed that it “writes information about proteins,” whatever that means. A quick primer: Proteins are molecules that do the work of an organism, and that includes the work of copying DNA for protein production and cell division. Even nonmajors biology textbooks cover the fact that the DNA sequence both contains code for proteins and serves a regulatory purpose, making it possible to copy that code into a form the cell can read, recipe-like, to build the proper protein.

(edited in article) I’d be stunned if UW scientists were genuinely “stunned” to discover this dual use of DNA sequences to “write” “two separate languages” because what they really describe is the use of a single language, the language of nucleotides, for two known purposes. They themselves noted that “the potential for some coding exons to accommodate transcriptional enhancers or splicing signals has long been recognized.”

The release also contains gems such as “The genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons.” This sentence makes me sad. Codons consist of three nucleotides–which we designate with the letters A, C, G, and T/U–and there are 64 of these triplets, 61 of which serve as molecular code words for 20 amino acids (here is a DNA nucleotide codon table, too; these are the codons the authors address). Some amino acids get more than one word to designate them. The cell “reads” these code words and uses the amino acids they designate to build proteins.

The other problem is the ubiquitous use of the phrase “second code” in so many of the headlines related to this story when the authors themselves state: “ Although nearly all codon biases parallel TF recognition preferences genome-wide…” with the arginine codon as an exception. That’s not a “second code,” even though the news release describes it that way. It’s a different (but already recognized) use of an existing code, now identified as occurring at a greater than previously recognized frequency in areas that use the same code for proteins.

So what was the real import of the study that warranted its publication in Science, a “glamor” science publication? The authors (whose paper I enjoyed) seem to have found that the genome contains more of these dual-use triplet DNA sequences than previously thought, which might make them more relevant when examining some aspects of evolution (see “Single change could influence two endpoints”). And, it seems, the authors wanted the opportunity to, um, codify their own term for these dual-use sequences: duons. I wonder if they realized that the name had already been taken?
Ah, science. Guambat wonders why Mrs Guambat spends so much time watching all the "Housewives of..." shows, when they hardly know the meaning of the term "bitchy". Academic "science" (so often commercial "innovation") could open a whole new realm of reality show in way it never imagined.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

We've always loved the ones we were with

He met a young girl who suited him nice
He went to his papa to ask his advice
His papa said, "Son, I have to say no
That girl is your sister but your mama don't know"

A week went by and the summer came down
And soon another girl on the island, he found
He went to his papa to name the day
His papa shook his head and this time he did say

"You can't marry this girl, I have to say no
That girl is your aunty but your granny don't know

He met a young girl who suited him nice
He went to his papa to ask his advice
His papa said, "Son, I have to say no
That girl is your sister but your mama don't know"

Now, he went to his mama and covered his head
He told his mama what his papa had said
His mama, she laughed, she said, "Go man, go
Your daddy ain't your daddy but your daddy don't know"

Hey, woe is me, shame and scandal in the family
Hey, woe is me, shame and scandal in the family


Ancient bones point to Native Americans' twin ancestry
In the "Out of Africa" theory, Homo sapiens left their ancestral home in east Africa around 50,000 years ago, heading north, west and south. Their East Asian descendants eventually crossed from Sibera to Alaska, island-hopping across the frozen Bering Strait, around 15,000 years ago.

Thus began human settlement of modern-day North America, according to this thinking.

But a new study suggests this human odyssey is rather more complex, and just as compelling. Against all expectations, DNA teased from the bones of a child who lived in Siberia 24,000 years ago shows that the forerunners of Native Americans can also be traced to western Eurasia, or on the western boundaries of Asia.

"The result came as a complete surprise to us," said Eske Willerslev, a professor at the Centre for GeoGenetics in Denmark, who led the probe. Who would have thought that present-day Native Americans, who we learned in school derive from East Asians, share recent evolutionary history with western Eurasians?"
Mystery humans spiced up ancients’ rampant sex lives
The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia.

“What it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a ‘Lord of the Rings’-type world — that there were many hominid populations,” says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work.

All humans whose ancestry originates outside of Africa owe about 2% of their genome to Neanderthals; and certain populations living in Oceania, such as Papua New Guineans and Australian Aboriginals, got about 4% of their DNA from interbreeding between their ancestors and Denisovans, who are named after the cave in Siberia’s Altai Mountains where they were discovered. The cave contains remains deposited there between 30,000 and 50,000 years ago.

The meeting was abuzz with conjecture about the identity of this potentially new population of humans. “We don’t have the faintest idea,” says Chris Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the London Natural History Museum, who was not involved in the work.
Perhaps you've had that date?

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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Fully one-third of all Microsoft OS owners don't want to come within 3 degrees of current OS

According to this article, fully one-third of all Microsoft OS owners stick with their old trusted XP and won't come closer than three degrees of the current relationship, Windows 8, which is already pretty long in the byte for the dominant PC drug. Let's see, after XP there was, what, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8????

According to the article, Microsoft has unscrupulously scraped the barnacles off the good ship Lollisoft, with resistant effect:
Microsoft has beaten the dump-XP drum for more than two years. Last month, it did so again when a manager in its security group warned that the aged OS will become a prime target for cyber criminals once security updates end on April 8, 2014.

But those calls by Redmond have gone largely unheeded. According to the Irish firm, XP actually gained one-tenth of a percentage point last month.

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Sunday, August 04, 2013

And your friends, baby, they treat you like a guest

When the truth is found to be lies
And all the joy within you dies

Don't you want somebody to love
Don't you need somebody to love
Wouldn't you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love
-- Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane

In the West, we describe something as Machiavellian when it is full of intrigue. Machiavelli was as devious as Mr. Rogers compared to the masters of court of the Middle East.

The following must be read with that in mind, and at face value. And for entertainment, not prescient or insightful political science. More inciteful than insightful, perhaps. Time will tell.

I have taken the piece apart (and extracted) and rearranged it so as to put its own caveats upfront.

The ‘top secret’ Muslim Brotherhood
Proof of this is yet to come, I cannot predict in what form, but come, eventually, it will.

(P.S. – The above article, according to some reports, was is sarcasm. If you do not believe it was is, the author would like to sell the Pyramids to you – at a discount, seeing as it is Ramadan.)

Over the past few weeks, since the ouster of former Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi, there has been something of a sea change in the identification of political actors and public figures.

To begin with, the binary choice in public discourse was clear: pro-Mursi and anti-Mursi. Due to research completed by the most distinguished journalists in the Egyptian media, it appears that there is a separate, previously unheard of group. Now, it seems that there is a growing third option in the public arena: pro-Mursi, anti-Mursi and secretly pro-Muslim Brotherhood.

Their cover story is something we never quite imagined: liberalism. This “top secret" Muslim Brotherhood is an interesting outfit.

One of the members of this ultra-secret group is none other than the famous Google executive that was part of the uprising in 2011 that led to the resignation of then president Hosni Mubarak.

Amr Hamzawy, the founder of the ‘Free Egypt’ party, and prominent member of the National Salvation Front, is another one of these conniving individuals. His cover was blown when he insisted that the complete exclusion of the Brotherhood from Egyptian politics was unjustifiable. His audacity in promoting this idea, which ostensibly is in line with a rational, liberal, and legal approach, only proves his deftness in abusing liberalism to justify the continued existence of the Muslim Brotherhood. That, in itself, shows how truly loyal he is to the top-secret core of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It pains me to say this but Bassem Youssef, the noted political satirist who is highly popular in Egypt, is also a member of the secret-secret Muslim Brotherhood. No one could be left in any doubt, after he called for an independent investigation into the killings of unarmed pro-Mursi protesters at the Republican Guard sit-in.

Alas, my friends, we have one more person that has now been outed. Ladies and gentlemen: Vice President Mohammed el-Baradei is not only a member of this cell. He is, in reality, the true General Guide of the “secret-secret" Muslim Brotherhood.

Be forewarned, friends. Do not be fooled. All of these voices are not supporters of a genuinely pluralistic and progressive Egypt – they are its worst enemies.

With one exception, the author – as a Brit, is in fact an undercover imperialist spy.
Guambat wants very much to roar with laughter, so clever is this piece. But he's shivering too much to do so. Western humor is too slapstick, too Vaudevillian rather than Machiavellian, to appreciate -- or understand -- the seven veils of Middle Eastern humor. Guambat worries it is maybe meant to be unsettling as a substitute for humor.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

The mixed fortunes of Swiss and Norwegians

India jails six over Swiss gang rape in Madhya Pradesh A
court in India has sentenced six men to life imprisonment over the gang rape of a Swiss tourist in March this year.

The woman, 39, and her husband were attacked while camping in woodland in central Madhya Pradesh state.

The men, aged between 22 and 30, were all from a village close to the scene of the rape.

The attack came months after a 23-year-old Indian woman died following a gang rape on a bus in Delhi, sparking protests across the country.

Days after the Swiss tourist was raped, changes to the laws were passed, containing stricter punishments for rapists, including the death penalty.
Dubai sentences Norwegian woman who reported rape
Interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv was on a business trip in Dubai when she says she was raped.

The 24-year-old reported the March attack to the police but found herself charged with having extramarital sex, drinking alcohol, and perjury. Verdict: guilty; penalty 16 months prison. Her alleged attacker, she said, received a 13-month sentence for extra-marital sex and alcohol consumption.

Ms Dalelv says she had been on a night out with colleagues on 6 March when the rape took place.

She reported it to the police, who proceeded to confiscate her passport and seize her money. She was charged four days later on three counts, including having sex outside marriage.

The sentence has been condemned by Norway's Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide who is quoted as saying that it "flies in the face of our notion of justice" and was "highly problematic from a human rights perspective".

Dubai has undergone a rapid transformation in recent years, emerging as a five-star trade and tourism destination with its tax-free salaries and year-round sunshine.

It is now one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities with foreign workers and visitors greatly outnumbering the local population.

But it remains a deeply conservative region, and its strict laws have caught out foreigners in the past. Public displays of affection and drunkenness are frowned upon.

A British couple, Ayman Najafi and Charlotte Adams, were jailed for a month in 2010 after they shared what Mr Najafi described as an "innocuous peck on the cheek" in a restaurant. A witness said they had kissed on the mouth.

Another British couple, Vince Acors and Michelle Palmer, were jailed for three months in 2008 for having sex on a public beach - an allegation they denied.
Visit Dubai and enjoy the world's most lavish pandering, but check your pandering culture at the border.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Stand your airspace law

The first snowflake of a snowball effect in the making?

Deer Trail to vote on whether to legalize hunting drones
Deer Trail's town board will vote Aug. 6 on an ordinance that would create drone-hunting licenses and offer $100 bounties for unmanned aerial vehicles.

"We do not want drones in town," said Phillip Steel, the resident who drafted the ordinance. "They fly in town, they get shot down."

Read more at the link. (There's not really all that much more to read.)

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Don’t Do It, Wendy! (concerning the advice of one jail breaker to another)

A thousand years ago, Guambat and Mrs. Guambat took Baby Bat to DisneyLand, and rode the Peter Pan ride. Baby Bat memorized every kid's media she ever heard or saw. Back then, most of the media was only scratchy records, but then came VHS and Baby Bat was mesmerized. So she had seen Peter Pan, and many of the other Disney films and stories come to life at DisneyLand.

So, anyway, there we all were riding the little carriage through the Land of Pan, at the part where Capt. Hook was making Wendy walk the plank, and it all just became toooo much for Baby Bat, who blurted out, "Don't Do It Wendy!", for all to hear.

Precious memory.

But one that has little to nothing to do with this article.

Taliban to Malala Yousafzai: we regret the shooting but you should join a madrassa
In an open letter released on Wednesday, Adnan Rasheed, a former air force member turned TTP cadre, said he personally wished the attack had not happened, but accused her of running a "smearing campaign" against the militants. "It is amazing that you are shouting for education, you and the UNO (UN) is pretending that you were shot due to education, although this is not the reason ... not the education but your propaganda was the issue," Mr Rasheed wrote.

Mr Rasheed was sentenced to death over a 2003 attack on Pakistan's then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf but escaped from custody in a mass jailbreak in April last year.

He accused Malala of seeking to promote an education system begun by the British colonialists to produce "Asians in blood but English in taste" and said students should study Islam and not what it called the "satanic or secular curriculum".

"I advise you to come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pashtun culture, join any female Islamic madrassa near your home town, study and learn the book of Allah, use your pen for Islam and plight of Muslim ummah (community)," Mr Rasheed wrote. 

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/taliban-to-malala-yousafzai-we-regret-the-shooting-but-you-should-join-a-madrassa-20130718-2q59v.html#ixzz2ZLhzj5DT

I can hear the sage cry of Baby Bat ringing in my ear:
Don't do it, Wendy!!!!





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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Interlude whilst we await Zimmerman's Florida court verdict

(CBS News) JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
A Florida woman who fired warning shots against her allegedly abusive husband has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville had said the state's "Stand Your Ground" law should apply to her because she was defending herself against her allegedly abusive husband when she fired warning shots inside her home in August 2010.

She told police it was to escape a brutal beating by her husband, against whom she had already taken out a protective order.

CBS Affiliate WETV reports that Circuit Court Judge James Daniel handed down the sentence Friday.

Alexander was convicted of attempted murder after she rejected a plea deal for a three-year prison sentence. She said she did not believe she did anything wrong.

She was recently denied a new trial after appealing to the judge to reconsider her case based on Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law. The law states that the victim of a crime does not have to attempt to run for safety and can immediately retaliate in self-defense.
Oh, she is a black woman, by the way.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Average Guamanian annual average income lower than his or her share of government debt

The average Guamanian Per Capita Income for 2010 is $12,864 (see). Assuming 175,000 men, women and children on island, the per capita government debt, before personal and household debt, is $12,933. ($1.08 Billion divided by 175,000). 

Which year of your life, fellow Guamanians, do you want to give up to paying off the government debt?

 Better hurry. Interest is accruing.

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They treated Africa as if a market when the rest of world viewed Africa as an economic basket case

Apart from creating gold out of alchemy, which is to say valuable assets out of ideas, the great success of American commerce for most of the 20th Century has been in marketing. Now the cricket strikes at the master.

Why Obama is making an African power-play against China
China surpassed the U.S. in total trade in sub-Saharan Africa in 2009, but its increasingly strong economic ties took root in 2000, when then-Chinese president Hu Jintao hosted representatives from 44 African nations in Beijing to establish the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation.

That meeting "set a mandate for China to become Africa's largest trading partner," says Richard Poplak, a Johannesburg-based Canadian author and journalist writing a book about China’s growing role in Africa.

It was also an early sign that the Chinese viewed economic opportunity in Africa through a different lens than their American counterparts.

"What the Chinese did that no one else had done before was that they considered Africa as a market — a market for Chinese goods, institutions and services — when the rest of world viewed Africa as an economic basket case and a place for aid programs,' says Poplak.

While the U.S. focused on global security following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Chinese firms began shoring up major contracts throughout the continent that ensured access to Africa's vast resource wealth in exchange for the funding and construction of infrastructure projects like roads, railways and airports.

China also emphasized multilateral agreements with entire regions of sub-Saharan Africa — agreements the U.S. has largely avoided in the past, says Thomas Tieku, an assistant professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. "The U.S., in many senses, miscalculated their approach to Africa. It has always been to focus on bilateral relationships— select a few countries and deal solely with them," says Tieku. "Now they're playing a catch-up game to try to establish equally strong relationships with multilateral institutions like the African Union."

The U.S. will always have to contend with the fact that China is not limited in its economic partnerships by commitments to propping up democracy and freedom, since the cornerstone of Chinese foreign policy is to take a non-interventionist approach with its trading partners, says Tieku.

"The Chinese will come into a country and in practical terms it doesn’t matter who is running the country," says Poplak. "It doesn't matter what system of government your country uses, it doesn't matter what you did last week. They will come in and do business." But, says Poplak, the Chinese business is not always “above board or unaccompanied by what the Chinese would call the culture of gift giving, euphemistically, but it certainly respects African agency in a way that the West never, ever has and still doesn't."

"Many African policy makers are just not interested in hearing about the power of the free market any more.”
Interesting that it took a Canadian, not USAmerican, observer to state the obvious.

 


Pay attention to that phrase,"non-interventionist approach"


To borrow a phrase from Inigo Montoya, "I do not think that word means what you think it does".

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Chalk it up to stupidity

Activist who chalked anti-bank slogans on San Diego sidewalks found not guilty on all charges
Jeff Olson, 40, was charged with scrawling messages with water-soluble chalk on city sidewalks outside Bank of America branches from April to August 2012, including "Shame on B of A," ''No thanks, big banks," and a drawing of an octopus reaching for dollar bills.

"Graffiti remains vandalism in the state of California," the city attorney's office said. "Under the law, there is no First Amendment right to deface property, even if the writing is easily removed, whether the message is aimed at banks or any other person or group. We are, however, sympathetic to the strong public reaction to this case and the jury's message."

The city's own mayor said the case was "stupid". "The case pitted Mayor Bob Filner against City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who prosecuted the case, and could have sent Olsen to jail for 13 years — one year for each misdemeanor count — and brought a $13,000 fine. The city attorney's office said it offered to reduce the charges to an infraction if Olson agreed to perform community service by cleaning up graffiti but he refused.

Filner called it a "nonsense prosecution" that responded to complaints from Bank of America. "It's washable chalk, it's political slogans," Filner said last week. "We're not even responding to the public's complaint ... I think it's a stupid case. It's costing us money."

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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Darwin denyer sits on US House Science Committee

Congressman calls evolution lie from 'pit of hell'
He sits on the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Georgia Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., said in videotaped remarks,
"All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior."
Broun also said that he believes the Earth is about 9,000 years old and that it was made in six days.

The Republican lawmaker made those comments during a speech Sept. 27 at a sportsman's banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell.

Broun, a medical doctor, is running for re-election in November unopposed by Democrats.

Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Congressman-calls-evolution-lie-from-pit-of-hell-3924955.php#ixzz28YITIW8J




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Friday, October 05, 2012

US should try Conventional wisdom

The US is sending its traditional military resources to the seas west and northwestward of Guambat's burrow, as a show of strength in the South China Seize, perhaps, or maybe just a way to avoid the monsoon over Guam

If the former, the US would have a stronger hand to play if it adopted the wisdom of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, according to Michael Kelly, a Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Faculty Research & International Programs at Creighton University School of Law:

 China's Blue Water Ambitions and the Law of the Sea, JURIST - Forum, Oct. 4, 2012
Signed in 1982 and in force since 1994, UNCLOS establishes the legal framework for nautical sovereignty claims of coastal states. Such states may claim a 12-nautical-mile band of water immediately offshore as their territorial sea and an additional 200 nautical miles of water as their exclusive economic zone, within which they may assert dominance over natural resource exploration and exploitation. In the South China Sea, this amounts to vast fishing rights and control over oil reserves estimated at 213 billion barrels (larger than Saudi Arabia's reserves).

But within such waters, coastal states must also guarantee freedom of navigation rights for other states.

This basic framework of oceanic sovereignty is an extension of territorial sovereignty. As such, sea claims "run with the land." So in order for China's claims to go forward, it must successfully assert sovereignty over bits of land from which it can draw those lines (The Economist has provided a detailed map of the overlapping sovereignty claims of China, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines, and Malaysia in the South China Sea).

Even though the US recognizes many of the UNCLOS provisions as binding custom, it is still the "outsider." As such, it is difficult for the US to force compliance with UNCLOS provisions and impossible to avail itself of dispute resolution features as a party — the threat of which could induce better Chinese cooperation, especially in the case of island claims.

The rest of the permanent members of the UN Security Council belong to UNCLOS, as do the rest of the Arctic Council members, all of the Antarctic claimants, all of the South China Sea claimants and all of the other North Pacific regional powers except North Korea.

Not only will the US not be able to contain China through UNCLOS, as a non-party, it will not be able to stake its own nautical claims for fossil fuel development or even challenge the claims of others like Russia — which has staked out a region in the Arctic the size of France and Spain combined for exclusive Russian oil and natural gas development.

Smaller states with overlapping claims in the South China Sea have worked within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) political apparatus to arrive at a multilateral solution. However, the draft ASEAN "code of conduct" in the South China Sea, which seeks to settle disputes peacefully and keep the waters mostly demilitarized, was scuttled by Cambodia, the regional host for the July 2012 ASEAN meeting, at China's urging.

China understands it would lose in a multilateral environment with an array of states working against it. Thus, it prefers to deal with states (much smaller states) in bilateral settings where it can better leverage its power. That said, China realizes that it cannot bully larger states to get its way in oceanic matters.

The waters of the Arctic Ocean are largely controlled by the eight polar states: Canada, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, the US (via Alaska) and Denmark (via Greenland). Collectively, they set policy for the region through the Arctic Council which was created in 1996 to promote cooperation and coordination of activities.

Since the opening of trans-Arctic waterways in the wake of global climate change-induced ice melt, this has suddenly become a very important body of water for states that do a lot of global shipping, as well as states that are home to petroleum exploration companies seeking to develop the vast hydrocarbon reserves that are now becoming accessible. China possesses these twin interests. But it does not possess a seat on the Arctic Council or even permanent observer status.

As an "ad-hoc observer," China must go through the humiliating process of requesting to attend each individual meeting of the Council. China very much wants to advance its status to permanent observer (like Britain, France and Germany) so it can attend all the meetings as of right and potentially participate in working groups and task forces — clearly forums that help shape access policies with respect to navigation and natural resource development. But Norway opposes China's entry on human rights grounds. A diplomatic spat occurred in the wake of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo winning the Oslo-based Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, and Beijing has not sufficiently made amends with the Norwegians — who could block China's advancement in the organization.

Unable to intimidate European states as it is able to do elsewhere, China must resolve this issue diplomatically if its more pragmatic oceanic interests are to be pursued. All of the above states are parties to UNCLOS except the US.

Since the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the US has enjoyed unchallenged primacy in possessing the world's largest blue water navy.   Moreover, as half the world's shipping — worth over $5 trillion annually — passes through the South China Sea, protecting this right is paramount.    The US has not shied away from deploying this force to further its interests — including to the South China Sea — but such force projection requires freedom of navigation, a right guaranteed by UNCLOS.

It is manifestly in America's interest to ratify UNCLOS in the next session of Congress.  Republican and Democratic presidents alike have supported ratification, in addition to the Pentagon and the environmental lobby. The original hesitancy by private industry in the US of handing deep seabed mining authority over to the UN in the recovery of manganese deposits has evaporated.

The benefits of joining clearly outweigh any vague sovereignty concerns. Perhaps the biggest immediate benefit would be the ability of the US to throw the rulebook at China's feet on its oceanic claims in the same way that it can with respect to China's trading practices within the World Trade Organization — an analogously effective tool that Washington uses to help manage China's rise to great power.

Read more of Prof. Kelley's article, and in context, at the cite above.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Pacific Way

Guambat posted a short while back about China's involvement with a economic development in the neighboring state of Yap, in the Federated States of Micronesia.  See here It has been reported that the plans are gobsmacking: 
As originally envisioned, the plan was to bring as many as 10,000 hotel rooms to various locations in Yap, along with golf courses, spas, restaurants and all the other amenities of an intensive visitor industry development. “The objective of this project is to develop the State of Yap into a world renowned tourism destination,”the agreement states.

The scope of the planned development is mind-boggling. ETG agrees to upgrade the airport and seaport facilities to accommodate the requirements of what will be the largest investment and development in the entire FSM, by far, since the founding of the nation. ETG will also fund the creation of a new public park and a new state capitol.

The impact of all of this on Yap is a worry. The land of stone money is the most traditional of the Micronesian states, and things haven’t really changed very much there for the past 50 years. It’s a small, tightly knit community where traditional leadership is more highly respected than the elected leadership. Although Gov. Sebastian Anefal signed the agreement on behalf of the state, he would not have been able to do so without the acquiescence of the Council of Pilung, the traditional chiefs of Yap, who were present at the signing.
Well, maybe not so fast.  There is a Pacific Way in the islands.  It values consensus over domination, dialogue and relationship stabilization over power plays, deference over challenge.  Leadership is earned through diplomacy and trust rather than brash competition.  They won't usually even look you in the eye, let alone get in your face.  They can be quite militant if pushed, but prefer a different approach, traditionally any way.

This is illustrated by the slow boil resistance to the ETG offer.  Now, it is reported in the print edition of the Marianas Variety Guam Edition, September 24th, that the Paramount Chiefs of Yap are speaking out.  Not in the adversarial way Westerners like to "debate" their differences, mind you:
The Three Pillars, Paramount chiefs of the State of Yap known as the "Dalip Pi Nguchol", have jointly signed a letter which was submitted to the whole State Leadership, in response to a fake version previously made public.

The alleged letter claimed the Dalip Pi Nguchol commanded that the ETG project be prohibited from proceeding.  The official letter issued September 21 is reported to read as follows:

"We understand that you may have received a letter allegedly from the Dalip Pi Nguchol.  As far as we know, the Dalip Pi Nguchol has neither been consulted nor contacted on any matter whatsoever.

"However, we feel that it is now of the utmost importance that, as leaders of the State Government, you come together with a unified voice in addressing the many challenges facing the State and her peoples.  No matter the challenges, this Yapese maxim will always hold true:  Ra tareb lungdad ngay ma ra fel, ma rawagey lungdad riy ma rawagey.  [Guambat only wishes he could translate that.]

"Recent events have revealed great public concerns on foreign investment.  Not all these concerns are the same, nor do they all come from the same points of view.  But they all recognize one simple truth -- that Yap State needs sustainable foreign investment.  And they all share one common underlying goal -- that foreign investments must be truly suitable for the State in terms of their sizes, types, and impacts.

"We are, therefore, requesting the State Leadership to unify and ensure that the line agencies of government will always continue to promote foreign investment, but with the underlying goal that the totality of foreign investments be sustainable and suitable for Yap, considering the size of our lands and waters, the limitations of our resources, the fragility of our environment, and the livelihood of our customs and traditions.

"This underlying goal must apply to ETG as it must to all others.  We ask that you make and keep this as a commitment to the peoples of the State.  Thank you."
 How does that compare to the bombasting and lambasting we see in our local and national governments?  Who's the more civilized?, Guambat ponders.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

And now comes the Autumn

There is a certain belligerence, an "eagerness to confront" as one talking head on CNN said today, that permeates small or large parts of most societies.

Those societies that try to suppress that urge, placing little to no value on the trait, are generally characterized as "civil". It is only one trait of a civil society, of course. Other such traits include respect for dissent, tolerance of diversity and appreciation for variety. And, Guambat hastens to add, defense of oneself is also a valued trait that can be found in civil society.

Those societies that tend to put a higher value on, or do not suppress, the "honor" of brawn over brain, tend to allow that trait to overshadow other "civil" traits, like art, science, literature and discourse, and become rather uninteresting, monolithic and highly authoritarian.

Of course, all such values are judgments presumed by a social construct, and consumed by an nihilistic, deeply rooted, culturally fed, or starved, human instinct, an instinct that can be found in other species as well, so must be deeply embedded.

These are some of the thoughts and fears that engage Guambat as he returns to the deep recesses of his burrow in the Arab Autumn that now follows the Arab Spring.



SPRING (source: http://pol297thearabspring.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/mapping-the-arab-spring/)


















AUTUMN (source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57512841/widespread-protests-against-u.s-over-anti-muslim-film/)


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