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Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DaveHodges-TheCommonSenseShow/~3/lGKDzDFQ7GM/
There’s a story in the medical journal Emergency Physicians International, in which a Saudi doctor finds a male patient convulsing on the floor of his ward, unable to talk. Suspecting the young man may be showing early signs of a heart attack, he bundles him into a treatment room. A nurse whips the cubicle curtain closed, leaving his family crying outside. The young man pulls the doctor close – “Don’t tell my parents, but I’ve taken amphetamines.”
Last year, 30 per cent of global amphetamine seizures came from Saudi Arabia. The United Nations ranks the country as the biggest consumer of illegal stimulants in the region. While khat and hashish are common-place, the drug of choice is Captagon – a substance similar to speed. Police seize around fifty million tablets each year.
Invented by an American drug company, doctors used Captagon throughout the Sixties and Seventies to treat narcolepsy and depression. Initially, researchers believed it would be a safer alternative to standard amphetamines, but the US government placed Captagon on a controlled substance list in 1981, and five years later the World Health Organization followed suit – banning the tablets globally. Captagon was deemed too addictive.
Nowadays the Captagon available in Saudi Arabia is likely to be a mix of the genuine substance and a host of fake alternatives. Captagon, like crystal meth, can be produced extremely cheaply almost anywhere, even using materials which can be bought over the counter. Despite this, pills can sell for over ten or even twenty pounds each.
Saudi Arabia appears to have the highest usage per capita in the region – although because of strict cultural norms and an institutional aversion to solving the problem, the exact extent of usage is not known. Saudi officials at the Ministry of Interior estimate that the sixty million tablets seized each year represent just 10 per cent of the total in the market.
“Why Captagon has become so unpopular in the region is unclear,” says Justin Thomas, author of Psychological Well-Being in the Gulf States. “Young people are using it to stay awake or as a weight-loss aid.” Obesity has risen in Saudi Arabia in recent years, and body image has become more important. Socialising also often goes on late into the night, but young Saudis are still expected to present themselves at school or university very early in the morning.
Thomas explains that in-depth research about Captagon usage in the Kingdom is unhelpfully scant. In 2008, a rare study suggested that users were more likely to be under-educated males in their twenties or early thirties.
This demographic profile is in line with international norms for drug usage, however Saudi Arabia is unusual in that such a low proportion of women take drugs. The study spoke to nearly five hundred users and just thirteen were female. A study conducted in Kuwait saw even more polarised results – out of over eight hundred Captagon users surveyed, only two were women.
In fact, while Saudi Arabia has an extraordinary usage per capita (accounting for thirty percent of the world’s amphetamines but just 0.1 per cent of the population) it is not the only Middle Eastern country were amphetamine usage is rocketing. Each year, UAE police and coastguard units seize around four million capsules of Captagon. The actual amount being imported may be far higher. In 2009, an unusually successful raid on a single warehouse revealed a stash of four million. The massive haul of drugs had been smuggled in by sea, according to local newspaper The National, hidden in large roles of textiles. Captagon even has a folk nickname “Abu Hilalain,” which means “Father of the Two Crescent Moons.” The name mimics the designs imprinted on the tablets.
Lebanon was once an industrial production hub for amphetamines, but its regional importance has ebbed away as the conflict in Syria has escalated. In 2012, the Lebanese government announced that around twelve million tablets had been confiscated. The following year, that number dropped by 90 per cent as illegal labs relocated en masse to war-torn Syria. Producers wanted to be closer to the market: illicit amphetamines are now widely used by rebel forces fighting Assad, to keep awake and treat stress.
There is media speculation both from western outlets, such as Reuters, and local media organisations, that proceeds from the Captagon sales in Syria are now being used to fund weapons sales. This is difficult to prove, but last week a large shipment of small arms was stopped by a Jordanian border patrol, heading into the warzone. Alongside over two hundred weapons, ten thousand capsules of Captagon were confiscated, suggesting the two trades may be inter-linked in some way.
Captagon is not the only drug being used widely in Saudi Arabia. James M. Dorsey, blogger and author of The Turbulent World of Middle Eastern Soccer, suspects the football clubs of Saudi Arabia are riddled with narcotics.
“Fouad Anwar, a former Saudi player and captain of the national team, recently denounced the rampant use of hashish by players, and called for drug tests,” Dorsey told Middle East Monitor. “Fouad made the claim on Saudi sports channel al-Riyadiyah at the beginning of March.”
Anwar says he wanted to “ring the alarm,” that he was acting in the public interest, and refused to be drawn further on the topic – saying that he didn’t want to be accused of personal bias against certain players.
Hashish usage is also thought to be common in the Kingdom. Much of it originates in Afghanistan, before being smuggled in overland through Yemen or by sea. The product is considered low-grade by international standards.
Last November, Saudi coastguards caught four Yemenis carrying nearly four hundred kilos of hashish, sailing towards the coastal village of Shaqiq. Keen to block off overland routes, Saudi border enforcement agencies have also started work on a 1000 mile fence along the Saudi-Yemeni border – specifically aimed at stopping smuggling. The wall will also include cameras for remote surveillance.
Middle East Monitor spoke to an anonymous Western expat, who had lived in Saudi Arabia for sixteen years and worked as a hashish dealer. He told us about the dangers of dealing in a country where capital punishment is a typical punishment for drug offences.
“I knew dealers that were publicly executed. The death penalty was generally enforced, so it’s one of those things you don’t wanna mess with.”
“We didn’t really get paid in cash – our profits were in hashish itself. If I bought 5,000 Riyal worth of drugs, I would keep perhaps 150g for myself,” he said, “before distributing the rest to my customers.”
This profit-in-kind is colloquially known as “the death snitch,” a dark humourous nod to the risks involved.
According to the ex-dealer, executions of locals were “widely enforced.” However the ex-dealer believed Western expats may be treated a little differently. “I had two American friends caught with a small amount on them. They spent twenty four hours in a cell, and then were deported with a permanent visa ban for life.”
He added “I don’t think they would have executed me, as an expat.”
Heralding the New Year, the Saudi Interior Ministry proudly announced that the first two government-sanctioned executions would be drug smugglers. One man had been caught in Jeddah, trying to smuggle heroin into the country in his stomach, the other in Qatif, Eastern Province. Both men were victims of Saudi Arabia’s infamously punitive judiciary, who regularly dole out death sentences for drug offences.
Although enforcement agencies are rigorous, local organisations seeking to understand more about the drug problem, or help with treatment, are suspiciously unreachable. We tried to contact local charities and drug information centres but none were able to comment.
Expert sources suggest that the problem is not an issue the Saudi government would like to be widely publicised, or even acknowledge, although the Ministry of Interior does run their own drug rehabilitation centre, and some efforts are being made to refine treatments. While hashish remains a problem, addiction to Captagon reportedly makes up fifty percent of attendees.
March 19, 2018
7:03:43 PM Eastern
NATASHA BERTRAND: It really makes no sense. I mean, the White House kind of had a victory when it managed to get Mueller’s team to submit, kind of, written questions or at least topics to the White House about a possible sit-down interview with the President.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Interview. Where does that word come from? Help me with that word. Questioning, interrogation. Why is it an interview? I’m curious. Everybody is using that word, everybody. What does it mean?
BERTRAND: It’s technically an interview.
MATTHEWS: The president of the United States is a witness in this case, probably a defendant. Why can’t they say question the guy and say, “show up at this date or you’re under subpoena. And if you break the subpoena, we’ll hold you in contempt.” Why do they have to negotiate with the President? I don’t get this. Send me your quest– They’re talking about written questions. What, are you kidding me? Take-home exams?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE: And you mentioned the subpoena. Listen, they only have — this is typical lawyering. Clinton’s lawyers did it too. You do this back and forth dance.
MATTHEWS: But they’re leaking all that stuff to the press. Why do you guys buy the fact that they have a choice? Don’t they have to answer to a subpoena?
MATTHEWS: I’m not knocking you, but it just seems so soft.
MATTHEWS: Let me go — let me go to Frank Montoya. The same question. The President could be questioned on anything. In other words, if he shows up, I don’t know whether Bill Clinton– that President Clinton was warned they were going to talk about Monica when he was asked about the Paula Jones case. But they sure as hell asked the questions. None of this preview of coming attractions crap where oh, we’re going to ask you all these tricky questions. Get him in the booth. Get him under oath and start grilling him. That seems to be the appropriate method. Your thinking.
7:07:33 PM Eastern
MATTHEWS: They want him to lie about obstruction. Because that’s where I’ve always thought Mueller is coming from. He took this job as special counsel because he is furious at the attack on the institution he loves, which is the FBI by the firing of Comey. And he sees that as an obstruction of what Comey was doing, which was to help investigate the President. Right?
7:29:39 PM Eastern
MATTHEWS: I’m going back to my fighting word. Why do we call it conversations? Why do we call them interviews? Why isn’t the President required under law to answer to the law? Why does he get to negotiate?
ROBERT COSTA: He should be.
MATTHEWS: I’m going to do a written test, take it home with me.
COSTA: They’re negotiating the parameters.
MATTHEWS: Why don’t they just tell him to do what he has to do?
COSTA: They could have with an indictment.
MATTHEWS: They have to indictment him first?
COSTA: That’s the process.
7:59:09 PM Eastern
MATTHEWS: Mueller reminds me of the starfish which gets itself tightly around the clam and uses all its stuff to weaken and pry open the clam. Now this is a battle to the death as far as the clam is concerned. If the starfish is able to open him even a little bit, he can open him all the way, and that’s it of course for the clam. He is the starfish’s lunch.
I’ve watched a number of these starfishes along the way, the special counsels or independent prosecutors, which is what we used to call them. Like starfishes they don’t give up. Their purpose in life is to open the clam. Get what’s in them and devour it whole. Whatever you can say about him, Robert Mueller is a perfect example of a starfish. He will not stop until he has gotten Trump to open up.
If you haven’t noticed, Mueller is in no hurry. He just keeps prying, and that clam in the White House is now snugly in his grip. Does anyone think this is going to end well for the clam?
The city of Damascus has been bombed continously by Al-Qaïda for the last six years. Here a shell fired from East Ghouta hits a house in the neighbourhood of Rukn Eddin, on 23 February 2018, killing three and wounding fifteen people.
Over the last six years, the Minister for Reconciliation has signed more than a thousand agreements and offered amnesty to tens of thousands of combatants. They have been reintegrated into society, sometimes even into the army. Those from Western Ghouta have accepted, but never those from the Eastern part.
This area, which is quite vast, was populated before the war by more than 400,000 people. According to the UNO, they number 367,000 today. According to the government, they are much fewer than that, and in any case, do not exceed 250,000.
The main city, Douma, is a neighbourhood with a bad reputation, known before the war for its brothels and its criminal elements.
In reality, this area is held by Al-Qaïda, under the title of « The Army of Islam » (Jaych al-Islam), supervised by the British SAS and officers from the French DGSE ( Direction Generale de la Securite Extérieur) under cover of the NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres. For the most part, the combatants are directed by the Allouche family, which has important property in London.
From July 2012 until his death at the end of 2015, Zahran Allouche announced several times a week that he was going to take Damascus and execute all the infidels without trial – infidel for him meaning the non-Sunni population. He imposed charia on all inhabitants according to the principles of the Wahhabite preacher, Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz. Those who contested his authority were shut in cages. He executed many people, including my neighbour (an estate agent who lived in the apartment above mine), who had his throat cut in public because he refused to say that « Assad is a dog ».
Receiving weapons from Saudi Arabia via Jordan, Allouche presided over a military parade with tanks – directed and produced by British MI6 .
When the Syrian Arab Army placed artillery on the mountains which dominate the capital, and began to bombard the army of Zahran Allouche, he ordered that prisoners should be put on the roof to act as human shields.
At the beginning of 2016, his cousin Mohamed Allouche took control. He made himself famous by throwing homosexuals off the rooftops. It’s important to understand that Syria protects homosexuals, which is an exception among contemporary Muslim countries and was also an excception in the Western countries only thirty years ago .
Mohamed Allouche became the head of the delegation from the opposition at the Geneva negotiations. When he was there, he demanded, and obtained, that the paintings and sculptures which decorated his hotel should be covered with veils. During the discusssions, from the negotiation room, he tweeted to his supporters to prepare to kill the soldiers of the « pig ».
It’s only been a few months since the Syrian Arab Army completely locked down the area. Until then, it was still possible for the inhabitants to flee. The UNO and the Red Crescent have free access on the side of the Republic, but not on the Al-Qaïda side. The jihadists allow only their own partisans to leave in order to receive medical treatment. The convoys of food are searched by the army before entering the Ghouta. Indeed, many times, the UN convoys have been used to deliver weapons to the jihadists. If the UN refuses the search, the convoys are halted.
The Ghouta is the agricultural zone which surrounds the capital. When foodstuffs which are not cultivated on site are provided by the UNO, it is the jihadists who distribute them to the population. Their prices are considerably higher than in the capital, sometimes four times more expensive. Only the inhabitants who pay allegiance to the jihadists receive money from them which allows them to buy these products. Several times, the loyalist inhabitants of the Ghouta were obliged to suffer the famine imposed on them by the jihadists.
For six years, the jihadists have regularly attacked Damascus from the Ghouta. Every day, they have continued killing its inhabitants in the deafening silence of the international community. Little by little, Daraya, Mouadamiyat al-Cham, Qudsaya and al-Hameh in August 2016, then Jobar, Barzeh, Qaboun and Tichrine in February 2017, were retaken. The agreements which were signed planned for the transport of combatants, under escort, to Idleb, in the North-East of the country, on the single condition that they free the inhabitants.
The Republic has just decided to liberate East Ghouta from the jihadists. Intensive bombing is being carried out by the artillery and the aviation. The goal is to destroy the jihadists while causing the least possible victims in the civilian population. During this campaign, humanitarian convoys are impossible. From its own side, Al-Qaïda is firing shells on the capital. Normally, the jihadists mainly target the Iranian embassy in Mezzeh, on Omeyyades Square (headquarters of the television and the Ministry of Defence), the Russian Cultural Centre in the heart of the city, and the Russisan embassy. This time, the shells are raining down everywhere. The people of Damascus and the millions of Syrians who refuse the charia have taken refuge in the capital under the protection of the Republic, and are once again trying to survive. More than a third of the inhabitants stay in their homes for fear of being killed by shells in the city. A quarter of the businesses remain closed and the administrations are working at a snail’s pace.
The United Kingdom and France are attempting to impose a thirty-day cease fire in the Ghouta. These two states make no secret of their support for the Allouche family, and their hostility to the Syrian Arab Republic in general, and its President, Bachar el-Assad, in particular. Both of them refused to take part in the peace conference in Sotchi, where more than 90% of all Syrians were represented – but not the Allouches .
War is a means of solving conflicts which, first of all, simplifies the problems in the extreme and divides men into two groups, never three, contrary to what the British and French diplomats pretend. War is practised by killing as many of the enemy as possible, but also as few of our own people as possible. In all wars, we are obliged to sacrifice some of our own, otherwise it would be a simple police action.
When the Western Coalition bombed Mosul, last year, in order to crush the few thousand jihadists who were stsaying there, it killed many more civilians (between 9,000 and 11,000, according to the sources). The Western medias celebrated this victory with enthousiasm. The same Western medias broadcast ad nauseam the images of the two little girls from the Ghouta in the middle of the bombing. No-one asked any questions about the families of these two children, nor how they learned English. No-one thought about the other children who are dying in Damascus. Everyone pleads for the massacre to stop.
If a cease-fire were to be installed, it would have no practical consequence. Indeed, Al-Qaïda would be excluded by the UNO and would reject that decision, when in fact it is Al-Qaïda and only Al-Qaïda which holds East Ghouta.
In these conditions, we have to ask ourselves why the United Kingdom and France are promoting the idea of an impractical cease-fire? Why are these two states proposing to offer Al-Qaïda a respite to the detriment only of the civilans it is oppressing ?
Source Article from http://www.voltairenet.org/article199840.html
Even though military assets inherited by Russia from the former Soviet Union were less advanced than the US arsenal, it’s no secret that the Kremlin has been developing weaponized armed forces robotics – from unmanned vehicles to fully autonomous artificial intelligence.
The Russian military has been testing unmanned ground vehicles over the last few years, including the Nerekhta, the Uran-9, and the Vikhr, as reported by Business Insider.
The Nerekhta, a tracked unmanned ground vehicle, can be equipped with large-caliber machine guns, an AG-30M grenade launcher and anti-tank guided missiles.
The Uran-9 and Vikhr are heavier than the Nerekhta and operate like infantry fighting vehicles. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Nerekhta functioned better than other manned vehicles during training sessions.
In addition, Moscow has made great progress in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, known to be smaller and cheaper than US drones. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the country’s unmanned aerial vehicles have flown 16,000 missions in Syria — equivalent to 96,000 hours of flight time.
The chairman of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, Viktor Bondarev, recently announced that Russia is studying the concept of drone “swarms” — defined as dozens or more drones operating as a single unit.
Noticing Russia’s recent improved electronic-warfare technologies, the US Army has stepped up its development of an electronic-warfare system to be integrated into a Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system.
The Pentagon’s Integrated Electronic Warfare System will consist of the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare (MFEW) capability and the Defensive Electronic Attack capability. The MFEW system is a multifunctional cyber, electronic warfare, communications intelligence, electronic intelligence and signal intelligence platform.
According to sources within the Pentagon, the development of autonomous combat drones “could be a game-changer,” cited by Defense One.
But the Kremlin is already a step ahead as, in early November, Bondarev announced that Russia plans to integrate artificial intelligence into military vehicles and combat operations, despite warnings by Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk that AI weaponry may cause a global arms race culminating in a third world war.
“The day is nearing when vehicles will get artificial intelligence. So why not entrust aviation or air defense to them?” Bondarev said.
- China’s Army Recruits Top Scientists to Develop Quantum Technology and AI
- Argentina’s relationship with Russia suddenly becomes ‘strategic’
- UK goes crazy, says Russia is planning mass murder
- US State Department warns Americans against visiting Russia
- Sex Robot developer claims robots will be able to remain Pregnant and give Birth
Source Article from http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheEuropeanUnionTimes/~3/OzaoTqttZ1g/
January 27th, 2018
German carmakers hope a network of high-power charging stations they are rolling out with Ford will set an industry standard for plugs and protocols that will give them an edge over electric car rivals.
At the moment, Tesla and carmakers in Japan and Germany use different plugs and communication protocols to link batteries to chargers, but firms building the charging networks needed for electric vehicles to become mainstream say the number of plug formats will need to be limited to keep costs down.
Carmakers behind the winning technology will benefit from having an established supply chain and an extensive network, making their vehicles potentially more attractive to customers worried about embarking upon longer journeys, analysts say.
Manufacturers that back losing plugs, however, could end up with redundant research and development and may have to invest to adapt assembly lines and vehicle designs so their customers can use the most widespread fast-charging networks.
Swiss bank UBS has estimated that $360 billion will need to be spent over the next eight years to build global charging infrastructure to keep pace with electric car sales, and it will be key to limit the numerous technologies now in use.
One Response to “Plug Wars: The Battle for Electric Car Supremacy”
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