Beth Klein Boulder Attorney Writes Resistance

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Beth Klein Boulder Attorney

How to ensure that safety and health care is available, the environment is preserved, our universe explored, and people are treated equally are on the minds of many.   Does the answer lie in innovation?  Can we solve political and social problems and make petty politics irrelevant with technology and market forces?

1927 Orteig Prize, of $25,000 was offered by hotelier Raymond Orteig to spur tourism. Charles Lindbergh accepted the challenge and crossed the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis. The $25,000 prize lead to a boom in air travel the world over.

In 1716 Longitude Prize sought technology to more accurately measure longitude at sea. Nearly 60 years later, a British clockmaker named John Harrison invented the chronometer, which spurred Trans-Atlantic migration.

In 1795, Napoleon offered a 12,000 franc prize for a better method of preserving food, to ensure that good food reached the front lines of his armies. The breakthrough innovation to Napoleon’s prize led to the creation of the canning industry.

On October 21, 2004, Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne reached the edge of space, an altitude of 100km, becoming the first privately built spacecraft to perform this feat, twice within two weeks.  In so doing, they won the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE, ushering in a new era of commercial space exploration and applications.

Currently the XPRIZE Foundation, offers prizes to solve the world’s Grand Challenges — ocean health, literacy, space exploration, cancer cures, water, food.

One sector is devoted to women’s safety.  Women’s Safety Xprize   The Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE challenges teams to leverage technology to keep women and communities safe.  The winning team’s solution will autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert and transmit information to a network of community responders, all within 90 seconds and at an annual cost of US $40 or less. Teams will compete for a total prize purse of $1 million.  The Teams solve these problems with technology.

  • ONE IN THREE WOMEN GLOBALLY HAVE FACED PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THEIR LIFETIME.
  • IN NEW DELHI, 92% OF WOMEN EXPERIENCED SOME FORM OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN PUBLIC SPACES IN THEIR LIFETIME.
  • ALMOST FOUR BILLION PEOPLE ACROSS THE GLOBE LACK ACCESS TO CENTRALIZED EMERGENCY RESPONSE SYSTEMS.

GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF OUR OCEAN XPrize is a $7 million global competition challenging teams to push the boundaries of ocean technologies by creating solutions that advance the autonomy, scale, speed, depths and resolution of ocean exploration.  The success of this prize will allow us to fully explore and map the ocean floor, and uncover our planets greatest wonder and resource for the benefit of humanity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s $1 million bonus prize will incentivize teams to develop technologies to detect the source of chemical and biological signals underwater.

Teams will compete in two rounds of testing that:

Must launch from shore or air and, with restricted human intervention, their entries will have limited number of hours to explore the competition area (at depths of 2000 and 4000 meters) to produce:

1. a high resolution bathymetric map
2. images of a specified object
3. identify archaeological, biological or geological features

 

ORGANOGENESIS is a prize development funded by UCLA. There is currently a shortage of available transplantable organs. Roughly 1 million organs are needed worldwide and in 2012, only 114,690 transplants were performed. Due to the lack of available organs for transplant, patients get caught in a “catch-22.” In order to place high enough on the organ waiting list, they must be one of the sickest patients, yet well enough to survive the transplant surgery. With immunological suppression, the median organ transplant survival rate is approximately nine years. While this survival period is often characterized by improved function and quality of life, chronic rejection eventually sets in for almost all patients, resulting in deteriorating health. These patients would potentially have better outcomes if they received transplants at an earlier stage in their disease.

The winning team will demonstrate the successful function of a bioengineered human tissue and/or human organ (heart, lung, liver or kidney). These demonstrations will be showcased in a bioreactor ($1 – $2 million purse for demonstrating a tissue or $10 million purse for demonstrating an organ) or via one or two successful in-human organ transplants ($30 million purse, $20 million purse respectively).

A $1 million Diversity Prize will be split among 16 Google Lunar XPRIZE teams, and that five teams have verified launch contracts and are moving forward to the final phase of the competition to land an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the Moon.  NASA is being replaced by individual innovators working together.

All teams had until December 31, 2016 to have a verified launch contract in place.  Five teams are moving forward to the final phase of the competition:

  • SpaceIL (Israel), a non-profit organization, has secured a position on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Their goal is to make an educational impact and to create an “Apollo Effect” for the next generation in Israel.
  • Moon Express (USA), signed a multi-mission launch contract with Rocket Lab USA for three lunar missions by 2020. Their directive is to open up the Moon’s vast resources for humanity and establish new avenues for commercial space activities beyond Earth orbit.
  • Synergy Moon (International), team member Interorbital Systems will serve as the launch provider, using a NEPTUNE 8 rocket to carry a lunar lander and rover to the surface of the Moon. Synergy Moon is made of up individuals from over 15 countries, with a mission to make manned orbital travel, personal satellite launches and Solar System exploration cost effective and accessible.
  • TeamIndus (India), signed a commercial launch contract aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). TeamIndus’ spacecraft is designed to nestle inside the nosecone of the PSLV and will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
  • HAKUTO (Japan), signed a rideshare agreement to have TeamIndus carry its four-wheeled rover to the Moon. Hakuto’s ultimate target is to explore holes that are thought to be caves or ‘skylights’ into underlying lava tubes, for the first time in history, which could lead to important scientific discoveries and possibly identifying long-term habitats to shield humans from the Moon’s hostile environment.

This week a human-pig embryo was developed, and organs were grown in host animals.

What if abortion was unnecessary?  What if fossil fuels faded into the past?  What if healthcare was delivered so that everyone had access to well-being?

Stanford researchers disclosed that they have developed algorithms to detect over 300 patterns of skin cancer that diagnose conditions as effectively as dermatologists.  The diagnosis of skin cancers always begin with a visual assessment. Now artificial intelligence has the ability to do that job.  Moving the technology forward, researchers are developing apps for phones to diagnose cancer.

Already pathologists run horrifying Instagram accounts to assist in the diagnosis of health issues and causes of death.  Alicia Potters and Nicole Angemi have forwarded diagnostics with their accounts. Ms. Potters works as an assistant at a pathology lab in Florida. The lab gets tumors, body parts, and human remains from doctors who hope the pathologists and their assistants will identify the maladies plaguing patients—or, more often, their cause of death.

Potters had to investigate why a woman miscarried her fetus at around 12 weeks.  All Potters had to go on was the woman’s tiny fetus which was about half the length of an adult’s pinky finger. In dissection Potters found malformed intestines and that part of the fetus’s brain was missing. Potters took a photo of the fetus with her smartphone and later sent it to Ms. Angemi, a pathologist assistant more than 1,000 miles away in New Jersey. Angemi then posted it to her Instagram feed, which has half a million followers.

A physician based photosharing system, Figure1 is also available and HIPAA compliant.  Instagram is not required to comply with HIPAA because it doesn’t work directly with hospitals, but it strips all metadata from images.  The power of sharing is evident.  There’s @MedicalTalks, which has 724,000 fans.

NASA released all of its research for free to the world.  Wikileaks dumped data on climate change this morning.  Taking references off of whitehouse.gov is not going to stop the exchange of information to save the planet; it will make the Whitehouse irrelevant in the solution. No seat at the table.

Innovations and disruptors are us.  And perhaps we need not rely upon the petty politicians and their vanity and whim to solve problems only when they can take credit. Taking down information on government websites is not going to stop people from creating solutions or making the issues of Trump irrelevant.trump-cover-final

How not to talk to each other.

As I try to talk and reach out, here is what confronts me so.

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I watched with dismay as my friend JP posted so many mean things while she was at the Inauguration.  This is what JP says, and it is challenging to hear:

“A crazy woman from Washington didn’t understand why women could support Trump and I set her straight!”

During the Inauguration JP bragged that Bikers for Trump would lock down DC and using the language of the ALT Right bragged that Chris Cox and his 200,000 strong vigilante crew eat “Snowflakes for Breakfast.”   But she complained about the K Street Protesters and media asserting that their threats of violence was the reason why the Inauguration was not well attended.

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“Message to Woman’s Marchers- Give the next generation of women a head-start in equality and understanding, self-respect and strength of character by sending the girls and young women in your life to a single-sexed high school or college that will teach her what you marched about & for today!”

But then she writes:  “today is also the day when hypocrisy must end; when bias must be cast out and when we look for the good in each other.  People who claim they want unity and respect for women and for this country are marching in protest of a man whom millions of women supported.”  She decided that the best way to bring unity was to glare at protesters.

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But who was leading 8 years ago.  Remember when President Obama was delivering a nationally televised speech to Congress a mere 8 1/2 months into his first term, and South Carolina representative, Joe Wilson, shouted out “You Lie!” on live television?   Why was that the new norm?

Not long after, when Republicans regained control of Congress, Mitch McConnell (R)(Ky.), specifically stated that “my number one priority is making sure president Obama’s a one-term president.” He actually said that. In the midst of a financial meltdown, skyrocketing oil prices, terrorism in the middle east, and impending global catastrophe from climate change, the Congressional leadership put “intentionally obstructing the president” as the single most important issue for Congress to address. Whether Mr. McConnell was serious or just being glib doesn’t matter – the message was that Republicans had a deep dislike of Barack Obama and would do everything in their power to undermine his authority.

Don’t forget about the “birther” movement that launched Trump’s political career claiming that Obama was not American -that he was actually born in Kenya, and his birth certificate from Hawaii was forged. Or the constant insistence that Obama is actually a Muslim, despite his clear and unambiguous relationship with Christianity. Or the attempt to label him as a “communist,” although many of his policies are more to the right of Eisenhower, including his bail-out for banks, the auto industry, and the pushing through of his signature Trans-Pacific Partnership – all pro-business, right-of-center endeavors. And while occasionally being referred to as a monkey, or ape, or other racially incendiary comparison to lower level primates.

The language cannot help Americans reunite.  I heard these words over the last three days, and I had to look up what they mean.

Beta:  Alpha males are leaders, like Trump; beta males are portrayed as weak and emasculated.

Crybaby, whiny: Anyone who disagrees with them or their preferred candidate, particularly protesters and people who complain that the alt-right is embracing racism and anti-Semitism.

Cuckservative, cuck: The term “cuckservative” originated in the alt-right. It’s a portmanteau of “conservative” and “cuckold” used to describe Republicans who are perceived to be emasculated or “selling out.” Frequently shortened to “cuck,” the term has come under scrutiny for its racist implications.

Human biodiversity: Despite the fact that many say racism is at the heart of its platform, the alt-right is very sensitive about being called racist. They use the term “human biodiversity” as a more scientific-sounding way of referring to issues of race.

Libtard: The alt-right revels in the rejection of “political correctness,” so embracing an outdated term for a person with an intellectual disability (“retard”) serves the purpose of insulting liberals.

Masculinist: A word meant to embody the opposite of feminist, celebrating “manliness” and the traditional “heroic” nature of men. To the alt-right, “masculinist” principles are ones that serve and advocate for men. Critics say they primarily reinforce antiquated gender roles.

 

Multiculturalism (as a derogatory term): A major component of the alt-right platform is white supremacy and nationalism. “Multiculturalism” is used as a negative term for the blending of multiple cultures, as opposed to celebrating the supposed superiority of Western European culture.

Neoreactionaries: Also known as NRx and the “Dark Enlightenment.” A group of people who call for stripping away anything other than supposedly rational thought, as opposed to a “feelings first” mentality. They advocate for libertarianism, traditional gender roles and neofascism.

Political correctness: Anything that challenges an alt-right person’s right to say whatever they want, whenever they want, in any way they want to say it. According to the alt-right, political correctness is responsible for most of society’s ills, including feminism, Islamic terrorism and overly liberal college campuses.

Snowflake: Short for “special snowflake,” a pejorative for an entitled person. Most people protesting Trump are “snowflakes,” according to the alt-right, as are anti-Trump celebrities and most liberals.

SJW: Short for “social justice warrior,” this insult is mostly reserved for young women who try to argue on behalf of liberal or feminist ideas.

White genocide: What many alt-right members feel is the natural conclusion of liberalism and pro-immigrant policies.

Please reconcile for me why being American demands upon me and people who believe like I do to turn the other cheek?   We have a President who models escalation; how can American resist division?

I do not have the answers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are Marching!

350 women attorneys are flying from Colorado to march in D.C. on January 21, 2017, and Beth Klein Boulder Attorney is preparing to be invigorated and inspired to stand up for the rights of all.  The buzz is that this march is expected to be one of the largest demonstrations in American history. The Women’s March now has almost 200 progressive groups, large and small, signing on as supporting partners. The issues they represent are as varied as the environment, legal abortion, prisoners’ rights, voting rights, a free press, affordable healthcare, gun safety, racial and gender equality and a higher minimum wage. Donald Trump’s ceremony may take a back seat to our protest.  I hope so.

I will be documenting the voices of the marchers and the event this week.  So please engage!

It’s never happened that so many people have gathered in opposition to a new administration on day one.

But it is the correct response to a man who has smashed decorum and frightened millions.

 

Beth Klein Boulder Muses – can synthetic ivory save the elephants?

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Beth Klein Boulder Attorney and Synthetic Ivory

Last night I had a dream about replacing natural ivory with a synthetic. (As I regress to my kindergarten self, my imagination is getting stronger and my curiosity is off the charts.) After all, we have perfect synthetic diamonds, synthetic fish, and synthetic fur. Why not synthetic ivory – chemically identical and pure?  Vegan ivory?  Sustainable ivory?

I am posting this to find a team to explore this idea. Please contact Beth Klein, Boulder Attorney if you are interested in this exploration and project.

The ivory trade is the commercial, often illegal trade in the ivory tusks of the hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, mammoth, and most commonly, African and Asian elephants. The chemical structure of the teeth and tusks of mammals is the same, regardless of the species of origin.

Legal hunting and illegal poaching of elephants is big business. Despite preserving lands and having armed guards (both great ideas), poachers are still killing elephants at an extinction pace because of the demand. But there is a darker side to this trade that fuels militant Islamic groups.

Elephant Action League (EAL) recently completed a two-year investigation into illegal poaching in Africa. And it led to al-Shabab, the Islamic militant group in Somalia that raided and occupied Nairobi’s Westgate Mall for several days last month.

Al-Shabab is buying illegal ivory from poachers, says EAL. They documented an estimated one to three tons of ivory going into Somalia each month through al-Shabab traders. That is “enough to fund of up to 40 percent of the monthly salary of Shabab’s estimated 5,000 fighters.”

You can hear the radio interview here.

“And they really need money, because many of the low-level Shabab people are driven by money concerns, as much as ideology,” he said. “For Shabab, ivory is just a commodity, like kidnapping, like charcoal, like shaking down small business owners. Compared to other kinds of sources, it’s a relatively easy source of funding, so thousands of people will risk their lives to get it.”

EAL says that poaching has a more profound effect on people than most suspect.

“The human toll of the ivory trade is much wider and deeper than al-Shabab. It’s not just about terrorists making money, it’s not just about the rangers dying trying to protect the elephants and the rhinos and other wildlife. It’s about entire local communities getting exploited by this market. It’s about widows and orpans, it’s about child soldiers, it’s about weapons bought to poach,” he said. “I think it’s time for the international community to face the broad spectrum of those side effects of the ivory trade.”

Tusks are used for decoration and remedies. What if, we could duplicate the formula and satisfy the market with a man-made ivory. Ivory keys on pianos have been replaced. Plastics worked for a while. Why not evolve?

Ivory consists mainly of dentine (inorganic formula Ca10(PO4)6(CO3)·H2O, one of the physical structures of teeth and tusks. We know the 3D layering of the structures of different animals. Tusks have a minor peripheral component, the cementum, a soft derivative of enamel, and a main core of dentine which is ivory. Dentine is composed of a matrix of particles 5-20 microm in diameter in a ground substance containing dentinal tubules about 5 microm in diameter with a center to center spacing of 10-20 microm. Here is an in-depth article from NIH.  So much work has been done.

Can we use a 3D printer to print ivory that looks so natural that a carver will chose it over the real thing?

Who can make Ca10(PO4)6(CO3)·H2O in shapes of enormous trophy sized tusks?  Bigger than what is natural?

Can manufacturing of Ca10(PO4)6(CO3)·H2O jobs be created to replace hunting and poaching?

Can a market for synthetic ivory be created in the countries that demand the product as the better alternative?

Who knows the right people to bring this into existence and see what impact we can have?

Please contact Beth Klein, Boulder Attorney.

The Influence of Phillip Dick & Trumpism

philip-k-dick-prediction-fuNot far from my home, the remains of Phillip Dick rest in Riverside Cemetery in Fort Morgan, Colorado, (section K, block 1, lot 56) where they were buried next to his twin sister Jane.  No crowds come to honor him as they do Jim Morrison at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France. Ironically, Phillip Dick was one of the world’s most influential writers and thinkers who is deserving of our thanks.

I wanted to write an electronic memorial to him. When you read the names of his works, there is nothing else that needs to be added to describe his contribution to literature through battles with suspicion of propaganda and government, loneliness, drug abuse, depression and schizophrenia.

“I’m not much but I’m all I have.”

“My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression.”

“Don’t try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.”

But, during these days as we watch America being degraded by a president elect, Phillip Dick’s words have even deeper meaning.   In “The Man In The High Castle,” Philip Dick wrote about how people judge competing narratives as true or false in the context of what we already believe is true.

In High Castle, he asks us to imagine a world where Nazi power triumphed in WW2, and a world in which the narrative of history was written by the victor. If we lived in that world, how would we know that the lies spun by a Nazi government were not the truth?  Until we see how stories are used to shape our perceptions and reality, we’re vulnerable to continued manipulation. But once we can think critically about the ways that narratives are constructed, and the various agendas they serve, we can begin to assess objectively our own beliefs.

What is red, what is blue, what is real?

We have now seen how a mass communication disinformation campaign can elevate a Putin Puppet to the highest power in a competing state, and to have millions of supporters simply repeat the mantra.  The context of hatred of a conservative or a liberal view now dominates the common hatred of national threats.

Now, with these manipulations, hating or not listening to a competing political view is more important than working together.  The Machiavellian common enemy which typically binds a nation, has now been turned inward upon the US.  If there is a legacy of the Trump movement, it is simply that.  Trumpism is moving a nation to implode by false narratives that are accepted as reality in the context of the right and wrong of red and blue.

“Today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”

  • Blade Runner
  • Total Recall based on the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,”
  • Confessions d’un Barjo (1992), titled Barjo in its English-language release, a French film based on the non-science-fiction novel Confessions of a Crap Artist.
  • Screamers (1995), based on the short story “Second Variety”, directed by Christian Duguay
  • Minority Report (2002), based on the short story “The Minority Report”, based on the 1953 story “Impostor,”
  • Paycheck (2003), directed by John Woo and starring Ben Affleck, based on Dick’s short story of the same name.
  • A Scanner Darkly (2006), directed by Richard Linklater and starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, and Robert Downey Jr.
  • Next (2007), directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Nicolas Cage, loosely based on the short story “The Golden Man”.
  • Radio Free Albemuth (2010), directed by John Alan Simon loosely based on the novel “Radio Free Albemuth”.
  • The Adjustment Bureau (2011), directed by George Nolfi and starring Matt Damon, loosely based on the short story “Adjustment Team”.
  • The Terminator series prominently features the theme of humanoid assassination machines first portrayed in Second Variety.
  • The Man in the High Castle for the BBC, in the form of a mini-series.[51] A pilot episode was released on Amazon Prime in January 2015 and Season 1 was fully released in ten episodes of about 60 minutes each on 20 Nov 2015

Phillip Dick was a twin, and his sister Jane died in childbirth.  Her death influenced his placement of the protagonist in two simultaneous realities themes in many of his works.

He believed that existence is based on internal human perception, which does not necessarily correspond to external reality; he described himself as “an acoustic pantheist.  After studying metaphysical realms, Dick came to the conclusion that the world is not entirely real and there is no way to confirm whether it is truly there.  He constantly asked the question: “What is an authentic human being?”  And themes of mental illness, religious, medical and recreational drug use, and divine experiences permeate his work.

In 1974 he had a mystical experience that helped calm his horror of the world, and he wanted to communicate the structure of the calm to others in Vast Acting & Living Intelligence Systems (VALIS).  He felt that something intervened to heal his mind and give him a sense of beauty of the world amid the insanity.

“Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. . . If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn’t we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others? What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe it’s as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can’t explain his to us, and we can’t explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication … and there is the real illness.”

Following Orders was impossible for him as he explains in a 1979 interview.

He found that science fiction gave him the means for true expression, but felt that it became silly putty over time without an identity.

How he measured men was based upon acts, not celebrity or wealth.  My favorite quote is:

“The true measure of a man is not his intelligence or how high he rises in this freak establishment. No, the true measure of a man is this: how quickly can he respond to the needs of others and how much of himself he can give.

Shortly before his death Philip offered a list of his own prognostications to be published in the collection Book of Predictions.  Here’s what he predicted courtesy of the PKD Otaku fan zine, issue number 11.  Fill in the blanks yourself about whether any of these modern day quatrains occurred.

1984
The U.S. will perfect a system by which hydrogen, stored in metal hydrides, will serve as a fuel source, eliminating a need for oil.

1985
By or before this date there will be a titanic nuclear accident either in the U.S.S.R. or in the U.S., resulting in shutting down all nuclear power plants.

1986
Such satellites as HEAO-2 will uncover vast, unsuspected high energy phenomenon in the universe, indicating that there is sufficient mass to collapse the universe back when it has reached its expansion limit.

1993
An artificial life form will be created in a lab, probably in the U.S.S.R., thus reducing our interest in locating life forms on other planets.

1995
Computer use by ordinary citizens (already available in 1980) will transform the public from passive viewers of TV into mentally alert, highly trained, information-processing experts.

2010
Using tachyons (particles that move backward in time) as a carrier, the Soviet Union will attempt to alter the past with scientific information.

Now is the time to question the nature of our reality and to stand in principles broader than making the “other” right or wrong.  Thank you  Phillip for cementing these words in story so that perhaps people will create something together rather than invest billions of dollars to destroy capable leaders and ourselves with words and binary codes.

 

 

Turkey, ISIS and the PKK.

 

The Kurdish–Turkish conflict is an armed conflict between the Republic of Turkey and various Kurdish insurgent groups that want a separate Kurdish nation or greater rights for Kurds in Turkey.  The main rebel group is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK (Kurdish: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan).    The insurgency is mainly in southeastern Turkey and the Kurdish region in Iraq.   What follows is a very simplistic summary of the conflict.

The conflict between the Turks and the Kurds began in 1984.  Former French ambassador to Turkey Eric Rousseau estimated in addition to the 35,000 people killed in military campaigns, 17,500 were assassinated between 1984, when the conflict began, and 1998. An additional 1,000 people were reportedly assassinated in the first nine months of 1999. According to the Turkish press, the authors of these crimes, none of whom have been arrested, belong to groups of mercenaries working either directly or indirectly for the security agencies.

Since the 1970s, the European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for the thousands of human rights abuses against Kurdish people.  The judgments are related to systematic executions of Kurdish civilians, forced recruitments, torturing, forced displacements, thousands of destroyed villages, arbitrary arrests, murdered and disappeared Kurdish journalists. The PKK was responsible for a number of civilian deaths, even though this number is lower than those perpetrated by the government. The number of total civilian deaths perpetrated by the PKK between 1989 and 1999 was determined as 1,205 by the independent Uppsala One-Sided Violence Dataset.

On December 29, 2012, Erdoğan said that the government was conducting negotiations with jailed rebel leader Abdullah Öcalan. Negotiations initially named as Solution Process (Çözüm Süreci).  Assassination of three Kurdish PKK administrators in Paris and the bombings of the Justice Ministry of Turkey and Erdoğan’s office at the Ak Party headquarters in Ankara nearly derailed the peace process.   But despite these attacks on March, 21 2013, a cease-fire that included disarmament and withdrawal from Turkish soil began the conclusion of the 30 year old conflict.

On April 23, 2013, the PKK announced that it would be withdrawing all its forces within Turkey to Northern Iraq.  Constitutional and legal changes towards the recognition of human rights of the Kurds starts simultaneously with withdrawal.

In October 2014, riots erupted in various cities in Turkey after ISIS sieged Kobane. The Kurds accused the Turkish government of supporting ISIS.The conflict between Turkey and PKK escalated following the 2015 Suruç bombing attack on progressive activists, which was blamed on a Turkish ISIL-affiliated group. Turkey bombed alleged PKK bases in Iraq and PYD bases in Syria’s Kurdish region Rojava, effectively ending the cease-fire.

Violence soon spread throughout Turkey. Many Kurdish businesses were destroyed and branches of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were also attacked. There are reports of civilians being killed in several Kurdish-populated towns and villages. In the spring of 2016 the violence increased and in May, a Turkish Bell AH-1 SuperCobra helicopter was shot down by a PKK-fired Russian made MANPADS.

During the winter there is typically a lull in the violence.  But three conditions indicate that in the Spring of 2017 indicate that the violence may increase:  the deadlock in peace talks , polarised antagonists who believe a military solution is possible, and competition over northern Syria in which both sides are seeking maximum outcomes and competing for US support.

After the attempted coup in July 2016, the violence of PKK tactics increased with the use of  improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and kidnapping, assault and killing of political figures.   Ankara has matched the PKK’s ramp up in tactics, convinced that the group could be defeated militarily. “Ankara has declared an ‘all-out war’, intensifying military operations and advancing its domestic crackdown against alleged PKK supporters,” the ICG stated, citing the recent arrests of pro-Kurdish mayors, the closure of Kurdish media outlets, and the arrests of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers.

In 2016, Turkey suffered 18 major terror attacks, most of which were carried out by the PKK, its affiliate group, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), and ISIS.  In addition to its fight against the PKK and ISIS, Turkey has also, simultaneously, put forward a strong fight against the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), as well as the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) which carried out the July 15 coup attempt.

In 2017, the Turkish government is expected to continue its offensive against the PKK locally and in its cross-border operations, which may include an expansion of cross-border operations into northern Iraq, to fight PKK targets, including the Qandil Mountains and Sinjar, in addition to the expansion of Operation Euphrates Shield into areas held by the PKK’s Syrian offshoot, the PYD, in northern Syria.

In his recent speeches, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has particularly voiced that 2017 will be the worst year yet for the PKK.

“I say clearly that these are their good days. After April, they will be surprised to see what is happening to them, as their end will come soon. We will decisively continue our fight during the winter,” Interior Minister Soylu said on Dec. 8, during his visit to the eastern Van province.

The PKK, distanced itself on the Reina New Years nightclub attack.  “No Kurdish forces have anything to do with this attack,” it said in a statement. “The Kurdish freedom fight is also the fight for democratization of Turkey. That’s why we won’t target innocent and civilian people.”

ISIS took responsibility for the bombing.

No end is in sight for the armed conflict between these three groups.

 

 

 

Trump’s Stuxnet & Flame Primer

 

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The romantic idea that war is handled by fleets of ships, planes, and other heavy metal manned by uniformed heroes is becoming part of the past.  Now, a USB stick can be more effective than a bomber.   And we are all part of the new system of war and espionage.  Every electronic device with which we interact provides behavioral data to Google, Facebook,  the NSA and the imaginary 400 pound man in bed in a basement.

It is no secret that Trump has a very limited knowledge of computers – except for his 7th grader mastery of bullying on Twitter.  He says “”I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”  Actually, people (other than the fake news issue) do know what is going on.  And thus, this writing on Stuxnet and Flame as a rudimentary primer on the sophistication of cyber warfare the day the first power grid was attacked in the US by the Russian Federation.

A code associated with the Russian hacking operation named the Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration was found in a laptop associated with the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.  This discovery occurred after Department of Homeland Security, FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence shared the Grizzly Steppe malware code with executives from 16 sectors nationwide, including the financial, utility and transportation industries. Vermont utility officials identified the code within their operations and reported it to federal officials Friday.  The discovery reveals the vulnerabilities of the nation’s electrical grid. And it raises fears in the U.S. government that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks.  You can read the official paper here.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said ,“Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety,” Shumlin said in a statement. “This episode should highlight the urgent need for our federal government to vigorously pursue and put an end to this sort of Russian meddling.”

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said, “This is beyond hackers having electronic joy rides — this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter,” Leahy said in a statement. “That is a direct threat to Vermont and we do not take it lightly.”

And it started with Stuxnet.

Stuxnet is a militarized malicious computer worm for which no organization or state has officially admitted responsibility. The worm was at first identified by the security company VirusBlokAda in mid-June 2010.  It is believed to have been used to infect and destroy Iranian uranium production and to render Syrian radar systems unless in Operation Olympic Games during which Syria’s infant nuclear facilities were destroyed by undetected bomber planes.

Anonymous US officials claimed the worm was developed during the Bush administration to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program with what would seem like a compounding accidents over a long period of time and to demoralize the Iranians. In May 2011, the PBS program Need To Know cited a statement by Gary Samore, White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, in which he said, “we’re glad they [the Iranians] are having trouble with their centrifuge machine and that we – the US and its allies – are doing everything we can to make sure that we complicate matters for them”

Stuxnet specifically targets programmable logic controllers (PLCs).  PLCs platform automation of electromechanical processes such as those used to control machinery on factory assembly lines, amusement rides, or centrifuges for separating nuclear material.  It seeks out Siemens Step 7 software through the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Four zero-day flaws were exploited. A zero-day (also known as zero-hour or 0-day or day zero) vulnerability is an undisclosed computer-software vulnerability that hackers can exploit to adversely affect computer programs, data, additional computers or a network.

Stuxnet reportedly compromised Iranian PLCs causing the fast-spinning centrifuges to tear themselves apart.  Stuxnet reportedly ruined almost one fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.

Stuxnet has three modules: a worm that executes all routines related to the main payload of the attack; a link file that automatically executes the propagated copies of the worm; and a rootkit component responsible for hiding all malicious files and processes, preventing detection of the presence of Stuxnet.

Stuxnet is said to be introduced to the target environment via an infected USB flash drive plugged into a computer.

The worm then propagates across the network, scanning for Siemens Step7 software on computers controlling a PLC. In the absence of either criterion, Stuxnet becomes dormant inside the computer. If both the conditions are fulfilled, Stuxnet introduces the infected rootkit onto the PLC and Step7 software, modifying the codes and giving unexpected commands to the PLC while returning a loop of normal operations system values feedback to the users.

Operation Olympic Games was a covert and still unacknowledged campaign of sabotage by means of cyber disruption, directed at Iranian nuclear facilities by the United States and likely Israel. As reported, it is one of the first known uses of offensive cyber weapons.

Started under the administration of George W. Bush in 2006, Olympic Games was accelerated under President Obama, who heeded Bush’s advice to continue cyber attacks on Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz. Bush believed that the strategy was the only way to prevent an Israeli conventional strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Stuxnet has not been useful in North Korea because the computer systems are secured and the ability to introduce even an infected thumb drive is zero.

Stuxnet and cyber warfares’ potential supersede conventional treaty mandated inspections and weapon proliferation.   In cyber warfare, entire power grids, chemical plants and transportations systems can be turned against their own nation of residence.

And now Flame has been detected.  Flame appears to be a new generation of Stuxnet, and when it infects computers, it turns each computer into a bluetooth transmitter of all keystrokes, electronic communications including video chats such as Google hangouts, Skype and Face Chat.  It also has a kill command which wipes all traces of the malware from the computer.

Its discovery was announced on 28 May 2012 by MAHER Center of Iranian National, Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), Kaspersky Lab[6] and CrySyS Lab of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.

Flame “is certainly the most sophisticated malware we encountered during our practice; arguably, it is the most complex malware ever found. Flame can spread to other systems over a local network (LAN) or via USB stick. It can record audio, screenshots, keyboard activity and network traffic. The program also records Skype conversations and can turn infected computers into Bluetooth beacons which attempt to download contact information from nearby Bluetooth-enabled devices.”

If all electronic devices that interact with the internet and communications systems are indeed blue tooth transmitters, clearly people know what is “going on” with whom and may be able to predict behavior with the behavioral data mining giants of Facebook and Google.