Under The Radar…aka What China’s Surveillance State, ISIS Recruitment, and Oxfam’s Orgies have to do with System of A Down, Ricardo Montalban, and the Fourth Planet Hollywood Investor


I remember when System of A Down released, “B.Y.OB.” I remember driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, tanned from a day at the beach and a belly full of surf and turf while Serge Tankian screamed, “And we all live in a fascist nation!” This was 2006. I remember thinking I liked SOAD more for their music than for their astute grasp of political philosophy. On that note, let’s jump ahead to present-day China, where 850,000 informants work the streets in Beijing alone. Biometric enrollment required for admission to scenic parks or mountains. Facial recognition done by CCTV, drones and police sunglasses. Corporatism. Gait recognition. A “social credit system” where each citizen accrues a score based on past behavior — and reaps rewards or discrimination based on it. The subjugation of an entire Muslim province. Surveillance on schoolchildren to catch cheaters, those that don’t pay attention in class, and make note of food eaten or not eaten on a daily basis. And thanks to China’s One Belt One Road initiative, it is coming to China’s de facto colonies. Expect to see this technology and this behavior increasing in Uganda, DRC, South Sudan, and even Somalia. It is already making an appearance in Zimbabwe. Now, that’s what I call fascism. What word would Serge Tankian use?

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Under the Radar News…aka Things that Happened While You Talked about Potential Supreme Court Picks at a BBQ


Here’s hoping you enjoyed the 4th of July, even if you think that whole American Revolution thing was a mistake.

Imagine you have two harmless ingredients which, when combined, become more powerful than VX gas. Imagine it is undetectable in most chemical security testings. Imagine it is deadly to the touch. Imagine it can absorb into any soft surface, from park benches to leather. Imagine it can remain lethal for years. The bad news is that you don’t need to imagine it — it is Novichok(or “newcomer”). The worse news is that the Russians have deployed it once in an attempt to kill double agent and UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter. This week’s news is that two innocent people in the same area have died from Novichok, leading to speculation that they came in contact with the substance. The ramifications are endless: the Russians have a fear-inducing weapon; Novichok’s benign ingredients make it ideal for travel; the Russians have a network of interested buyers, or the Russians could simply keep it for themselves — they have plenty of their own enemies, after all. All in all, this is a bad-news cocktail. Good thing that whole chemical weapon “redline” thing has gone the way of the 1980s, huh? Maybe it makes sense that the the Syrian rebels have decided the better part of valor is to meet with the Russians in attempts to appease them.

Continue reading at Medium

Under the Radar from the Week of the Red Hen

Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, the World Cup and the Red Hen consumed most of the past week’s news cycle, and the rest was spent on LeBron James, Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ surprise primary win. In other words, it wasn’t a real fun week for the foreign intrigue or national security minded among us. So, in the spirit of self-indulgence, I came up with the most oxygen-deprived stories of the past week or so.

I firmly believe most of the nefarious activity in the world can be traced back to Russia, China and Iran (there are good arguments about including Saudi Arabia and North Korea too, but I’ll put those aside for now). I am not trying to convince anyone about this, but it’s hard to track this stuff each week and not see the linkages. For example, the Chinese use organized crime to mess with Taiwan and Hong Kong. But then the Chinese also manipulate American small businesses to gain leverage inside our borders. Remember when the Chinese hacked the Office of Personnel Management a few years back (in what may be the most casually reported act of espionage of all time)? Now the victims are losing their identities

Continue reading at Havok Journal

Under the Radar…June 14



You could fill a library with the tales of Chinese influence in the US and, for that matter, in the UN. And if you do, you’ll want to reserve a place for a book or two on Ng Lap Seng. In the meantime, it’s a rare, clear-cut (and long overdue) positive that Trump appears to be targeting Chinese IP theft. That said, it might be too little, too late. One example? China’s lithium production. Just another reminder that while the West wrings its hands over non-binary genders or identity politics and intersectionalism, China is ruthlessly marching toward control of global natural resources. And it is a multi-front march; we continue to suffer from Chinese penetration of US intelligence (and military intelligence).

If Jon Stewart is right and the American Left sees Russia news more as a blunt instrument to wield against Trump than an actual threat in its own right, they are missing things both dangerous and fascinating. What other country produces quality hitmen and crusading anti-sex trade MMA fighters? What other country gives Steven Seagal  the most work he’s had since 1993? What other country manipulates both Interpol and Guatemala to pursue its enemies? For every promising development, Russia’s SIGINT is working overtime on POTUS, proving you don’t necessarily need Manafort to keep tabs on Trump.

Mainstream American journalism has suffered a lot of self-inflicted wounds, but perhaps none more so than the loss of foreign bureaus and the lack of reporters with experience and/or interest in foreign affairs. When twenty-something reporters and pundits view the world only through the two-dimensional lens of binary, zero-sum Beltway politics, a lot of nuance and intrigue is going to fall outside of the aperture. But even so, it remains, at the very least, disappointing that continued revelations of the Obama administration’s duplicity in the Iran deal continues to evade widespread scrutiny. I know, at this point, all outrage over the Iran deal feels dated. Almost as much as a new revelation about Carter Page or Paul Manafort would. But, dated or not, the importance of the issue shouldn’t be subject to an ADD news cycle. I mean, even if the Iran deal hadn’t been an underhanded play, it has been rapidly failing even by its own standards.

On the positive side, there is encouraging news from Germany, where the domestic intelligence agency of Baden-Wurttemberg declared the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement anti-Semitic and a security threat. You’ve heard of BDS. BDS has garnered pop culture support from both aspiring geniuses such as Russell Brand and actual geniuses who have drifted far outside their lanes (Stephen Hawking, Roger Waters). While BDS should have been suspect to anyone with either an ounce of experience or an ounce of pop media skepticism, it is heartening to see even the uber-PC Germans grow hip to the nefarious propaganda of the radicalized pro-Palestine crowd. Iran comes under some degree of scrutiny as well. German neo-Nazi group and BDS advocate The Third Way has significant  ties to both Iran-funded Hezbollah and Iran’s Syrian puppet Bashar al-Assad. Food for thought for those who think Western neo-Nazis are only a domestic issue.

While we’re talking about Russian and Iranian interests when will the NY Times release the “ISIS files“?

Are you bored with hearing about Russia, China or Iran? How about a little Pink Panther-like diversion?

Columbine is the one that started it all. If you still have the stomach to read about school shootings, here are some of the debunked myths about the attack.

Lastly, I know Emma Watson is all fired up about the lack of women in STEM jobs globally and all. But maybe she should focus on women’s lack basic civil liberties in her own country first? Who would have thought that a goon like Tommy Robinson is fighting against the forcible rapes of British women more than the whole #metoo movement?

Talk at you next week…