Cuba

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Can You Hear Me Now?
If you believe the global media, Cuba is a crumbling communist regime with sunny beaches, wonderful music and poor, but happy people.

They never mention that Cuba has some big time Signal Intelligence facilities all over the island. The Russians built the spy bases, which uses Chinese  satellites to intercept telephone communications in the US. They can do more than listen, though. They have the ability to interfere with computer networks, change electronic files and, more importantly, change output commands of computers used to control infrastructure facilities.

The state-of-the-art signals intelligence post in Bejucal, just west of Havana, includes a large array of satellite dishes and antennas spread over about 28 square miles – all just a little more than 90 miles from the Florida coast.

In the mid 90’s, as the Russians were constructing the facility, the first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, was telling President Bill Clinton that he was committed to democracy and the free market, and friendship with the United States. Yes, the same Boris Yeltsin who got so drunk during a presidential visit with the Clintons in Washington, he was found standing outside the White House in his underpants, trying to hail a taxi so he could go out for a pizza. I’m still trying to erase that image from my mind.

The big question is, if President Obama can successfully open trade negotiations with Cuba, will he let them take over Guantanamo? The U.S. has operated a base there since 1915. It might be a good idea to stay there to monitor what Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are listening to.

In the meantime, enjoy our favorite Cuban import, Gloria Estefan – Reach:

Gold

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Switzerland – Let’s be Franc
A country with a population equal to the city of New York, Switzerland is best known for its beauty, its cheese and it’s banks.

For hundreds of years the Swiss were also known for their sound banking system and strong government policies which kept the people employed and safe.

Alas, that all changed with the global financial crisis in 2008. The Swiss Franc was too strong against the rest of the global currencies – namely the euro, so the banks began printing money.

In just a few short years the equity ratio (collateral) held by Swiss banks went from 20% to less than 3% and the Swiss aligned themselves with a bunch bat-shit crazy European bankers. See: Christine Lagarde.

But wait, there’s still hope! With a new “gold referendum” on the November ballot, the Swiss have the chance to, once again, require their paper currency to be backed by at least 20% gold. Purchasing power would be stabilized and the bankers wouldn’t be able to control and manipulate monetary policy. The world will be watching on November 30th.

Enjoy Jake Owen – Days of Gold:

The New Silk Road

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All roads lead to Damascus
While the U.S., Britain and France have been sending soldiers and contractors to the middle east to fight terrorists, multinational contractors and Wall Street bankers have gained a foothold in the war-torn lands and have begun building highways, railways, logistics centers, manufacturing facilities, new towns and gas and oil pipelines under the auspices of the “war on terror.”

During her time as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton negotiated deals all over the world representing the multinationals and the “too big to fail” banks who are using U.S. tax dollars to build infrastructure tied to China’s mega-plan for the “New Silk Road.”

Read about it at the  State Department’s website:

U.S. Support for the New Silk Road
http://www.state.gov/p/sca/ci/af/newsilkroad/

In the meantime, enjoy Kitaro – Silk Road:

Monkey Selfie

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Who Owns It?
An English photographer named David Slater was on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi taking photos of a crested black macaques. Just like children, the macaques were posing for the camera when one of them  accidentally pressed the shutter button. Intrigued by the sound, the monkey kept pressing it. Voila! A collection of macaque selfless!

The photos were posted on websites and TV shows all over the world. Now here comes the tricky part. One of Wikimedia Commons employees saw the photos and added them to the websites royalty-free image collection.

Because of the popularity of the photos, Slater wanted to copyright the images so he could get paid for their future use. When the photographer contacted Wikimedia to remove the images they refused stating that Slater didn’t take the photos, the monkey did, and only humans can own a copyright.

According the The Telegraph, Mr. Slater now faces and estimated £10,000 legal bill to take the matter to court. Should the matter go to court? No. Will Wikimedia do the right thing by honoring the request of the owner of the photographs? We’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, enjoy the Rolling Stones – Monkey Man:

Summer Down Under

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The Global Warming Party Ship Stuck in Antarctic Ice
Australia’s media-loving climate scientist, Professor Chris Turney, along with 73 others including the crew, 4 journalists, 36 members of the science team and 26 tourists, are sitting on the Russian vessel, the MS Akademik Shokalskiy, stuck in the ice near the South Pole.

Professor Turney’s plan was to re-create the 3 year exploration led by Sir Douglas Mawson in 1911 and to measure changes in ice and climate since that time.

Unfortunately, someone didn’t check the weather reports. The Akademik Shokalskiy is now in a dangerous situation and the attempts by 3 ice breakers and a helicopter to rescue the people on board the vessel have failed. If another helicopter rescue attempt cannot be made because of the high wind and low visibility, the US Coast Guard Polar-class icebreaker, Polar Star, will we directed to the area.

So why was this underfunded and poorly planned expedition attempted anyway? Well, it seems the 38-year-old entrepeneur/scientist wanted to prove global warming is melting the Antarctic ice. It would tie in perfectly with a new book and could be used to promote his carbon business.

News reports failed to mention Turney is a founding Director of Carbonscape, a New Zealand carbon refining company that offers a global solution for mitigating the effects of human-caused climate change.

According to Carbonscape co-founder Nick Gerritsen, the company has the patent on the one-step microwave charcoal technology that turns biomass waste such as sawdust into what is known as activated carbon (AC). Sawdust or corn or sugar cane can be turned into bio oils, which become biochemicals and fuels. There is plenty of money from governments and private corporations looking to fund alternatives to fossil fuels.

If the good professor had checked any of NASA’s weather and climate data he would have known that for the second year in a row the ice surrounding Antarctica reached its annual winter maximum at the end of September and set a new record. Oops.

Update: Chinese helicopter successfully rescues passengers from the Akademik Shokalskiy. Video.

Enjoy Foreigner performing Cold As Ice:

Road Trip

Texas-Landscape-Photo

Driving Through Flyover Country
Watching the weather reports of the cold front moving down from Canada into Texas brings thoughts of the great weather we had on our road trip to Austin a couple of months ago.

It’s always nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the coast and head into the wide open spaces of the southwestern desert. Some places are exactly as they were 20 years ago and some places belie what travel will be like in the future. In California and Arizona we have security check points now. Cars and truck funnel through a gauntlet of cameras aimed at every angle possible to scan the front, back and side of each vehicle and the passengers inside. It might be fun to wear one of those fake noses with a mustache just to mess with the facial recognition cameras.

The only problem we had on the road was getting a flat tire just outside of Lordsburg, New Mexico. A nice fellow on a motorcycle on his way to Waco stopped to help Floyd change the tire. Other than that, we had a great time at the lake, the Tommy Bahama outlet store, Cabela’s sporting goods store and the new barbecue joint we found. Life is good.

Time to start planning our next road trip.

Enjoy some southern rock by JJ Grey & Mofro – Brighter Days:

The beautiful photo of Guadalupe River State Park is by Laura Vu.

Travel

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The Boeing 747
The iconic plane that made it’s debut at the Paris Air Show in 1969 is still the favorite of intercontinental travelers. The unique-looking jumbo jet revolutionized air travel as the first airliner to carry more than 500 passengers – almost double the capacity of the DC-8 and 707. Even with the increased number of travelers, flying was still glamorous and fun on the jumbo jets.

The new 747 is reminiscent of those days when you stepped on board and it felt like you were walking onto a small cruise ship. To the left was first class, to the right was economy and in the middle was the curved staircase leading up to a first class seating area. That was the best! Oh dear, I’m dating myself.

Although it still looks almost the same with its famous 1st class hump, the plane is lighter, more fuel-efficient and has all the electronic bells and whistles on the interior that we all expect.

Lufthansa, is already flying 6 of the planes out of Frankfurt to several U.S cities as well as the lucrative Frankfurt/Hong Kong route.

In fact, the White House is considering replacing the current Air Force 1 with a new 747-8. The only problem I see with the current Apple-loving administration is that the software used on the plane is Microsoft. Maybe there will be an iPlane in the future. Ya’ never know.

In the meantime enjoy Sugar Ray – Fly: