In a move met by applause from at least one congressman, the Energy Department announced a pilot program for research into domestic mining of rare earth elements.
Rare earths are minerals critical to computing technologies and to various military and civilian sensor technologies. China currently dominates the production and market for these elements, with about 85% of the world’s production from its domestic mines.
Another major source for rare earths, not yet exploited, is the South China Sea floor. Part of the purpose of the PRC’s seizure of the South China Sea and of its island-building and militarization of those constructs is to control access to those rare earths and to reserve them for itself.
In response to Secretary of Defense James Mattis’, on his recent trip to the region, calling out the People’s Republic of China for its aggressions in the South China Sea, the PRC’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, had this to say.
China’s defense is for safeguarding China’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity[.]
This, of course, is nonsense, since the People’s Republic of China has no territory, and so no territorial integrity or sovereignty interests, in the South China Sea.
Japan is working with the US to develop its own ballistic missile defenses, including one that can defeat incoming ICBMs. The People’s Republic of China doesn’t like that.
Addressing a monthly press briefing at China’s Defense Ministry recently, spokesman Ren Guoqiang said Japan’s development of advanced radar systems designed to counteract incoming ballistic missiles would have a negative impact on strategic stability and damage trust between nations in the region.
Because a sound defense is a destabilizing threat to peace. Because every nation being able to defend itself means no one can trust anyone—there’s no offensive threat with which to force “trust.”
All IT Jobs Are Cybersecurity Jobs Now goes the headline on a recent Wall Street Journalarticle, and the subhead reads The rise of cyberthreats means that the people once assigned to setting up computers and email servers must now treat security as top priority.
It’s like these folks—both in the IT arena and in the reporting media—have just had an epiphany.
The global “WannaCry” ransomware attack that peaked last week, and has affected at least 200,000 computers in 150 countries, as well as the growing threat of Adylkuzz, another new piece of malware, illustrate a basic problem that will only become more pressing as ever more of our systems become connected: the internet wasn’t designed with security in mind, and dealing with that reality isn’t cheap or easy.
…or worse and worse, depending on your perspective. Not only is the Veterans Administration continuing to make bad/false/improper payments, they seem to be getting acceleratingly worse about it. The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General reported that the VA made $5 billion in “improper” payments in 2015, and then while that drew attention, the VA increased their improper payouts to $5.5 billion in 2016.
To show how terrible the rates can be, here are some data from James Clark at the above link:
the VA Community Care had 75% of their payments as “improper” payments in 2016
Harry Kazianis tried to explain, in his Real Clear World piece, why the People’s Republic of China “won’t solve” the northern Korea crisis for us. It’s complicated for the PRC, he said.
He [Kazianis’ carefully unidentified “Chinese scholar” and “retired official of the People’s Liberation Army”] pressed his case, noting, “look at this problem from where I sit in Beijing. I see a world of trouble when it comes to North Korea. I see war. I see death. I see superpower showdowns. We must all agree we don’t want this. Yes, nuclear weapons are bad, but North Korea could create far more trouble than you realize, and China would have to deal with most of it.”
FBI Director James Comey had this about Huma Abedin and her role in the ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) classified email scandal:
Somehow, her [Clinton’s] emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information. His then-spouse, Huma Abedin, appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her, so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.
Comey justified his lack of action with this:
We didn’t have any indication that she had a sense of what she was doing was in violation of the law[.]
Or not. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has reversed an Obama administration late 2016 move that
allowed academy students with exceptional sports talent to bypass active-duty and serve out their time in the military reserves to play in professional leagues.
Dana White, Pentagon spokesman, on the matter:
Our military academies exist to develop future officers who enhance the readiness and the lethality of our military services. Graduates enjoy the extraordinary benefit of a military academy education at taxpayer expense.
It sort of makes any Trump-Russia connection look awfully tenuous. Politico has a long report out on what actually transpired during Obama’s “negotiation” of the Iran nuclear weapons deal, particularly with regard to the seven folks in American detention whom Obama released to Iran as a deal sweetener.
A couple of highlights (read the whole thing; it’s important):
In reality, some of them were accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security. Three allegedly were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with US-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles like the kind Tehran test-fired recently, prompting a still-escalating exchange of threats with the Trump administration. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware.
…as timidity does. The Japan Times has it, too, as demonstrated in its editorial last Wednesday. The editorial board is worried about Japan actually achieving an ability to defend proactively itself. The board’s concern was triggered [sic] by a Liberal Democratic Party proposal that
Japan consider developing the ability to strike enemy missile bases. …a response to North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches….
The board fretted that
an attempt by Japan to build up the capability to attack enemy bases could result in destabilizing the region’s security environment by giving an imagined enemy an excuse to carry out pre-emptive strikes on our country.