Gluten or FODMAP?

In tips, Sera pointed at an article per Gluten sensitivity. The claim is that the original researcher went back, did a far more detailed and complete study, and found it wasn’t gluten.

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/tips-july-2016/#comment-69841

As a few of my friends are on “gluten free” diets (and I’ve tried it), this is of some significant import to me. Interestingly enough, the “Old College Roomie” was first diagnosed with hypoglycemia, then Gluten Intolerance, then later testing showed it to actually be a different category of actual allergy to wheat. Put a spoon of wheat in anything, even without his knowing, and he’s “got issues”.

So over the last decade or three I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking with “wheat alternatives” for things. (I’d do the group thanksgiving dinner… it got to be an ever increasing challenge as we slowly accumulated various food tolerances. The list finally reached, for various folks: No corn, no wheat, no beef, no hydrogenated oils, organic, vegetarian, vegan; then ‘wheat’ expanded to include rye, barley and maybe oats… and then a soy reaction had one person with ‘no soy’… Ever try to cook vegetarian without soy, wheat, corn, rye, barley, and oats?…)

Back at the story…

The basic idea is that there are short chain carb and sugar like things that don’t digest well, but do ferment in the large intestine causing distress (along with gas). This is in addition to the folks who have actual IBS Irritable Bowl Syndrome from the wheat. Now, by my take, we’ve got at least three things going on here that will be confounding. IBS, actual allergies, and those short chain things. They are collectively called “FODMAP”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FODMAP

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates (oligosaccharides), disaccharides, monosaccharides and related alcohols that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. These include short chain (oligo-) saccharide polymers of fructose (fructans) and galactose (galactans), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose), and sugar alcohols (polyols) such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol.

The term FODMAP is an acronym, deriving from “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharides And Polyols.” These carbohydrates are commonly found in the modern western diet. Some evidence has been presented that the restriction of these FODMAPs from the diet may have a beneficial effect for sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome and other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID), including one low FODMAP diet.

A low FODMAP diet has been shown in studies to be efficacious in short-term management of many individuals with FGID, but this diet can adversely affect the gut microbiota and nutrient intake. Currently, the long-term efficacy and safety of low FODMAP diet are not established.

Some of these we already know. Beans, for instance, have the gas making part in that list as galactans. In fact, several ‘problem foods’ known traditionally for some folks can be found in the list containing these substances. Lactose, for example. All those “lactose intolerant” folks lacking the enzyme to digest it, get the ferment issues. Beans “the musical fruit”. The cabbage family that for some folks cause gas / ‘aroma’ issues (fructans and polyols) and even some of the artificial sweetener issues (mannitol, sorbitol) that cause some folks “issues”.

Just based on that list of known foods with issues, I can see where some folks are likely to “have issues” based on the group of compounds. But that also points to the fact that each individual is unique and some folks, like me, have no problem with lactose, but may have issues with the other bits. I also note that the list is a shopping list for “The Usual Additives” that are in almost every processed food product out there. Perhaps why so many folks benefit from a “whole foods / natural foods” diet. Nothing to do with “organic” or “vegetarian” so much as “non-FODMAP”?

From the link Sera provided:

http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-who-found-evidence-for-gluten-sensitivity-have-now-shown-it-doesn-t-exist

For a follow-up paper, 37 self-identified gluten-sensitive patients were tested. According to Real Clear Science’s Newton Blog, here’s how the experiment went:

Subjects would be provided with every single meal for the duration of the trial. Any and all potential dietary triggers for gastrointestinal symptoms would be removed, including lactose (from milk products), certain preservatives like benzoates, propionate, sulfites, and nitrites, and fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, also known as FODMAPs. And last, but not least, nine days worth of urine and faecal matter would be collected. With this new study, Gibson wasn’t messing around.

The subjects cycled through high-gluten, low-gluten, and no-gluten (placebo) diets, without knowing which diet plan they were on at any given time. In the end, all of the treatment diets – even the placebo diet – caused pain, bloating, nausea, and gas to a similar degree. It didn’t matter if the diet contained gluten.
[…]
On top of that, these other potential dietary triggers – specifically the FODMAPS – could be causing what people have wrongly interpreted as gluten sensitivity. FODMAPS are frequently found in the same foods as gluten. That still doesn’t explain why people in the study negatively reacted to diets that were free of all dietary triggers.

They then go on to a ‘catchy phrase’ that you can not only smell the bread now but eat it too… ignoring the statement that “FODMAPS are frequently found in the same foods as gluten”… so if you react to them you STILL can’t have bread as the FODMAPS are there… I do wish science writers had at least basic logic training…

Back at the wiki:

Poor absorption of most FODMAP carbohydrates is common to everyone. Any FODMAPs that are not absorbed in the small intestine pass into the large intestine, where bacteria ferment them. The resultant production of gas potentially results in bloating and flatulence. Most individuals do not suffer significant symptoms but some may suffer the symptoms of IBS. Restriction of FODMAP intake in the latter group has been found to result in improvement of symptoms.

Fructose malabsorption and lactose intolerance may produce IBS symptoms through the same mechanism but, unlike with other FODMAPs, poor absorption is found only in a minority of people. Many who benefit from a low FODMAP diet need not restrict fructose or lactose. It is possible to identify these two conditions with hydrogen and methane breath testing and thus eliminate the necessity for dietary compliance if possible.[3]

Yet fructose is the sugar of choice in the processed food industry and is used by the megaton in sodas and snack foods. IFF you are one of that minority with poor absorption, you get a major problem. My family has tried restricting the massive fructose (“corn syrup”) load in the typical diet and it isn’t easy. You mostly end up making everything yourself. (FWIW, I didn’t notice any real change from fructose reduction in my clan… then again, I don’t drink sodas on any regular basis nor like packages snacks other than when “on the road”… and even then tend to making my own sandwiches and eating potato chips.)

Yet many “typical Americans” live by the canned soda and “sugary snacks” made with fructose. I wonder how many of them have no idea their fructose absorption level?

Given that each person will have a unique metabolism, though often similar inside any given clan, any given person could have a problem with any given part of the list of substances. (For me, I know beans can be very gassy, so I clearly don’t handle galactans well. But it usually causes no discomfort. To me anyway ;-)

Sources in the diet

The significance of sources of FODMAPs varies through differences in dietary groups such as geography, ethnicity and other factors. Commonly used FODMAPs comprise the following:

oligosaccharides, including fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides;
disaccharides, including lactose;
monosaccharides, including fructose;
polyols, including sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol.

That’s the short list of the categories. Each of those 4 tends to come from specific plant sources. (Meat eaters, rejoice… it’s a plant problem ;-) Simple sugars (fructose), sugary alcohols (sorbitol), sugars made with two sugar units (lactose), and sugars with several units (galactans – polymer of galactose). Essentially, if you are missing the enzyme to break down any particular sugar / sugar chain, it goes to your gut bugs to do the fermenting, and that can be a gassy uncomfortable process.

Fructans, galactans and polyols (mandatory restriction)

Sources of fructans

Sources of fructans include wheat (although some wheat strains such as spelt contain lower amounts), rye, barley, onion, garlic, Jerusalem and globe artichoke, asparagus, beetroot, chicory, dandelion leaves, leek, radicchio, the white part of spring onion, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, fennel and prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), oligofructose and inulin.

Inulin is a starch like stuff that is useful for diabetics as they can eat it without screwing up their sugar levels. It comes from “Jerusalem artichokes” which are really a root related to sunflowers. Also called “The Windy Root” for their tendency to cause gas… I’ve tried them. Once… so I know I don’t digest inulin well. The aliums (leeks, onions, garlic) cause me no problems. For some folks, the brassicas (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, turnips, etc.) cause issues. Not for me. So “YMMV” and it works best if you know what plants are related.

Sources of galactans

Pulses and beans are the main dietary sources (though green beans, tofu and tempeh contain comparatively low amounts).

This varies a LOT by variety. Lentils cause me no gas. Pintos? Baked Beans? Oh yeah… (Though changing the cook water three times eliminates most of it.) There is also a “gasless Jacob’s Cattle” bean… For when Lentil Chili just doesn’t cut it… ;-)

Sources of polyols

Polyols are found naturally in some fruit (particularly stone fruits), including apples, apricots, avocados, blackberries, cherries, lychees, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, watermelon and some vegetables, including cauliflower, mushrooms and mange-tout peas. They are also used as bulk sweeteners and include isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol.

I have no problem at all with fruits. Peas can be an issue, but I suspect that’s the galactans. Note the bulk sweetener list for those with polyols issues. Not something you find in home cooking, though…

For fructose and lactose the wiki points you on to other lists. Likely because they are in so many foods. Lactose from milk along with other sources. Fructose from fruit, but now massively from corn syrups and solids.

Fructose and lactose (discretionary restriction)
Sources of fructose

See: Foods with high fructose content
Sources of lactose

See: Avoiding lactose-containing products

So what’s “in”? I presume in the below list when they say “alfalfa” they mean the sprouts. Meats and animal products are generally free of FODMAPs (though watch out for heavily processed things).

Low-FODMAP diet suggested foods

Below are low-FODMAP foods categorized by group according to the Monash University “Low FODMAP Diet”.

Vegetables: Alfalfa, bean sprouts, green beans, bok choy, capsicum (bell pepper), carrot, chives, fresh herbs, choy sum, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, zucchini
Fruits: Banana, orange, mandarin, grapes, melon
Protein: Meats, fish, chicken, tofu, tempeh
Dairy: Lactose-free milk, lactose-free yoghurts, hard cheese
Breads and cereals: Gluten-free bread and sourdough spelt bread, rice bubbles, oats, gluten-free pasta, rice, quinoa
Biscuits (cookies) and snacks: Gluten-free biscuits, rice cakes, corn thins
Nuts and seeds: Almonds (<10 nuts), pumpkin seeds
Beverage options: water, coffee or tea

Other sources confirm the suitability of these and suggest some additional foods.

Oddly (or maybe not so oddly…) that list is largely how I’ve been cooking the last few years, even without the idea of a FODMAP. Though add potatoes, sweet potatoes, and the occasional canned peas and fresh parsnips. Onions frequently in cooking. Some soft cheeses and yogurt; but not much.

Yes, there are more exceptions. Frosting on cakes at special events. Apple cider and beer. But the core is “plain foods simply cooked” and then the diversion into gluten free for a while.

My conclusion is that I’m likely avoiding those things that cause issues for my clan just from trial and rejection. Few beans (and cooked with lots of changes of water when done) just to reduce the “social aspect”. Not much from the brassica family as the spouse doesn’t like them. Few canned beverages with the chemical shopping list as many of them don’t like me. Etc. etc.

Knowing there’s a set of broad groups to test “orders” that whole process and lets you know that if one group has a member with a red flag, for your clan, others in that group ought to be considered ‘yellow flag’ until tested in your own meals.

It is also quite clear to me that individual clans will have strikingly different reactions. I’m from the Nordic / Germanic clan and have no problems at all with lactose. (Though IgE and LOTS of beef / milk consumption has left me with a beef reaction leading to arthritic joints – so I use goat and sheep products instead). Similarly, potatoes are no problem (likely due to the Irish grandparents clan living on little else for a generation or two). Yet others eat baked beans with gusto (and no bloating later) and for me “that’s an issue”. So I see this list as a “search / sort list”, not as a blanket condemnation. IFF having “issues”, you can eliminate all, and see if it resolves. But then selective adding back can lead to an exact problem food and a much easier time of the diet design.

For me, one very key “takeaway” was just that wheat DOES come with some of these things in it, so it may not be “gluten intolerance” for some folks, but it still means wheat avoidance for them.

For us? Well, the wheat is back in and we didn’t notice much either way. Mostly I’m happy with the “meat and potatoes” with a side vegetable that has been our clans’ norm for 100 years… YMMV and every body is unique.

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Posted in Biology Biochem, Food | 10 Comments

Windowz PC Sales Drop, Apple Rises – Linux?

In comments on a R.Pi thread, I’d mentioned that I was no longer feeling any need to keep using my Intel based PCs. (Even with Linux on them).

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/pxe-puppy-working/#comment-70065

[…]
It seems that the Pi 3 has put me over the edge into “Pi Preference” land… and I’m no longer willing to accept the “compromise” of “almost” quiet… and 4 x 64 bit x 1.2 GHz cores beat one old 32 bit core even at IIRC about 2.4 GHz… something like that. Let’s check:

chiefio@EVOdebian:~$ cat /proc/cpuinfo
processor       : 0
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 15
model           : 2
model name      : Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 2.40GHz

[…]
Yes, I know, I could go out and buy a SuperD-Duper New Giant Game Station Intel Wiz-Box!! and have a whole lot faster… but why? What I have does everything I need… Once you have: Browser, Email, Graphics Edit, Word / Calc / Office Stuff, Video and Music… I’m running out of things I need and don’t have.

I suspect this portends “problems ahead” for Intel and Microsoft…

That reminded me of an article I’d thought of posting about, but that had sat, unused, on a tab for several months.

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/13/pc-market-has-worst-year-ever-apple-bucks-the-trend.html

The PC market has had its worst year ever
Arjun Kharpal
Wed, 13 Jan ’16 | 5:34 AM ET

PC shipments suffered their biggest yearly decline ever in 2015 due to headwinds ranging from the China stock turmoil to fierce competition, according to a new report.

Global PC shipments totaled 276.2 million in 2015, a 10.4 percent plunge from the 308.3 million recorded the year before, research firm the International Data Corporation (IDC), said on Tuesday.

It is the first time shipments have dipped below 300 million since 2008.

“The PC market remains competitive and the economic environment weakened further with the recent drop in the Chinese stock market,” said Loren Loverde, vice-president of IDC’s Worldwide PC Tracker program, said in a press release.

“However, PC replacements should pick up again in 2016, particularly later in the year. Commercial adoption of Windows 10 is expected to accelerate, and consumer buying should also stabilize by the second half of the year. Most PC users have delayed an upgrade, but can only maintain this for so long before facing security and performance issues.”

A 10.4% drop in one year. They randomly cast about for “why” ranging over the whole planet, then lay their hopes on a Windows 10 upgrade cycle forcing people to buy new hardware. Really?

Maybe, just maybe, folks ARE upgrading… just to something not on the MicroSnot treadmill…

Apple posts growth

While the overall PC market declined, Apple saw shipments increase 6.2 percent, making it the only company to post a rise. It is the fourth-biggest PC vendor by market share, shipping 20.7 million devices in 2015, IDC said.

Lenovo maintained its number one position in the PC market and held over 20 percent market share. HP was the second-largest vendor with a 19.4 percent share of shipments, while Dell was third. Acer came in fifth, behind Apple.

“Even as mainstream desktop and notebooks see their lifetimes stretched ever longer, Apple’s emergence as a top 5 global PC vendor in 2015 shows that there can be strong demand for innovative, even premium-priced systems that put user experience first,” IDC said in a press release.

My immediate family bought 2 or 3 laptops in the last year. ALL of them Macs. Plus iPhones.

I bought 3 machines too, all of them Raspberry Pi boxes.

I’m not seeing any reason at all to buy anything outside that set.

I think this matters.

https://www.engadget.com/2016/01/12/pc-shipment-drop-is-worst-ever/

Postulates a different set of causes:

PC shipments see their steepest drop ever

Windows 10 didn’t save the PC industry this holiday.

Jon Fingas , @jonfingas
01.12.16 in Personal Computing
[…]
Why the plummeting numbers? The analyst groups peg it on a combination of PC buyers’ behavior and Microsoft’s strategy. As we’ve seen in the past, PC upgrade cycles are getting longer — that old PC is more likely to be good enough for another year, especially in a world where smartphones and tablets still reduce the need for a beefy computer. And IDC notes that the free Windows 10 upgrades may have hurt PC vendors. When you don’t have to pay to get a new version of Windows, why not use the PC you already have?

Whatever the cause, PC makers don’t have a lot to look forward to in 2016. They were banking on a slew of new Windows 10 PCs turning things around this fall, and that clearly wasn’t enough. While there’s a chance that a flood of clever new hardware (plus many aging systems finally needing upgrades) will help out this year, companies may have to accept that they’re in for another rough ride.

I think it is worse than that. More people are simply not going the Microsoft Way but taking the highway…

Apple Macs provide a stellar experience, for more money. More folks willing to “go there” and pay up.

From smart phones to connected tablets, users with light needs (email, browsing, maps) are just using their mobile Android devices. I use my tablet with Android when on the road, and it is fine for that. No laptop needed.

More things that used to take a PC, are moving to non-PC hardware. Raspberry Pi is but one of a gaggle of vendors of small boards and ‘systems in a can’ that are running various versions of Linux. In this category I’d include the Chromebox and ChromeBook machines from Google. I was quite happy with my ChromeBox as a traveling companion desktop box that could drive the TV in wherever I was staying. Cheap, reliable, easy to use (modulo a certain Google Spying and Straight Jacket attitude from Chrome… but MS isn’t much better…) For my main desktop I’m now running on a Raspberry Pi Model 3 and find it Just Fine In Every Way.

Now not everyone will love *Nix based systems like I do, but more do every year. It has reached the point of very effective and usable desktop (in a dozen styles and flavors as you like it) with full and free Office and Graphics Edit software (and just about any other software you could reasonably need for the typical home user).

So where’s my motivation to go buy a $500 to $1000 New Whiz Bang PC? Just to “upgrade” to the latest mutation of Windowz? Why bother. They change it often enough to be a pain anyway, so why not just move over to something that doesn’t do that to you? Take one change one time and be done. Besides, you can also leave behind 99%+ of the virus problems…

In many cases whole countries have moved away from the Windows World. China, for example, uses a home grown Kylin operating system based on Unix (with lots better security…) and at one time Germany had announced their government was cutting over (don’t know the status on that) including the Police. Mexico’s schools were doing the cut-over some years back (again, I don’t know the current state of things). The point being “It can be done” for just about any size organization.

I suspect that all this is taking a heavy toll. At last.

I know I’m not going to buy any more MS Windows systems. I briefly went shopping for a laptop (prior to the PiM3) and found myself being ‘pitched’ Windows 10. “But I want one that runs Linux. Is this one Linux Compatible?”- blank stares… and no sales…

At this point, all the docs I have that need windows are very old. Windows 7 or XP era. I’ve not needed to open one in years, so they are just an aging archive. In most cases, Open Office / Libre Office opens them anyway. So I have an open issue of “conversion”, or maybe just validation that they are openable. But that doesn’t take Windows 10 to do… or a new PC.

I suspect we’ve reached the point where what bigger hardware and newer MS Mutated Windows gives you is more pain than benefit.

A long long time ago I drew a Bell Curve on a graph. Vertical lines dividing it at regular intervals. On the far right, Supercomputers. On the far left, PCs. In between, minis, mainframes, etc. Then pointed out that each of these was able to solve problems in that scale of problem. (Smallest problem on the left, largest on the right.) Over time, as hardware improves, the lines march to the right.

Every Moore’s Law cycle, the lines make ever more problems solvable by machines at the small end, and ever less requiring machines at the biggest scale. I then predicted that Supercomputers would have shrinking market share (not hard as at that time it was already starting) and then Mainframes and then Minis… That was about 1988 or so at Apple. Since then, Cray was absorbed into another company, IBM moved to “service based” business models. Compaq, Dec, Tandem, and a few others absorbed into HP, that is now having “issues” making money with PCs.

The lines continue to march…

But now on the small end, we have ARM chips in tablets, phones and Pi like boards. Apple stayed important by moving with that to major player with the iPhone and tablets, and a laptop that is as small as a tablet (but a LOT more usable).

As the small advances to the center, market share grows. As the large pass it, they have ever shrinking market share. It is inevitable. Just as Dec and Sun and the other “mini” scale machines boomed as they hit the top of the curve, they evaporated as they passed it and the PC became “enough”. At Apple, our Cray was replaced with Silicon Graphics desk machines (who later bought out Cray…) Now I can get more than that power in a $35 Pi. That whole scale of problem now takes a $35 machine, not a $35 Million one…

IMHO, that was why Microsoft tried to get into phones (but did it so badly as to be irrelevant today). It is also why a newer bigger desktop is less and less relevant.

It is my belief that the failure of sales is NOT due to some temporary thing, but due to so many smaller chips, boards, and boxes having advanced to the middle of the Bell Curve of problem size…

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Posted in Tech Bits | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Italy – Non-Performing Loans headed for 20% – Yikes!

From the “Well That’s not good” department…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/07/16/why-italys-banking-crisis-will-shake-the-eurozone-to-its-core/

Why Italy’s banking crisis will shake the eurozone to its core

By Tim Wallace and Szu Ping Chan

16 July 2016 • 4:41pm

They call them le sofferenze – the suffering.
[…]
But despite the emotional name, these are not people. They are loans. Bad debts, draining banks of profits and undermining economic growth.

The name is less clinical than the English term “non-performing loans”, a reflection of the Italian authorities’ emotional rather than business-like approach to the problem.

None the less, the loans are indeed causing real suffering. The €360bn (£300bn) of sofferenze from Italian banks show borrowers are weighed down with debts they cannot afford, while the banks are struggling to offer new credit to the households and firms that need them.
[…]
In a way, Italy’s authorities had good intentions. When loans turn bad and banks lose money, someone has to pay. It should be the banks’ investors, the shareholders and bondholders who take the risk of investing in return for the chance of profits. Unfortunately in Italy, households are keen investors in bank bonds, and would be badly burnt if they had to face up to those losses.

So nothing was done. The bondholders have so far kept sight of their savings, and the banks have been allowed to ignore their bad loans. It saved the country some short-term pain, but the financial problems never went away.

Essentially they just ignored the whole problem, and it’s gotten worse. I hope the graphs in the article are somehow wrong… but fear they are accurate. They show non-performing loans headed toward 20%. That’s just a crazy level of bad debt.

Italian Bank Bad Loans vs other EU Banks

Italian Bank Bad Loans vs other EU Banks

Given the high ownership of bank bonds by the citizens, and the political fragility of the Italian Government, they have one heck of a problem. Stick it to the bond holders, bank confidence plunges along with the ability of a lot of those folks to pay back loans. 1/2 stick it to them via conversion to stock / shares (a “bail in”) and you give them something, but still are screwing them. Do nothing, the ECB et.al. come after you (and eventually it all collapses anyway). Use taxpayer money to bail out the banks, the government likely falls.

What a sack of poo…

Now they have spread to the wider economy, and are morphing into a political crisis with implications across the EU. It could bring down Italy’s government.

If no compromise is reached between Rome, which wants to protect bondholders, and the EU, which wants to enforce the rules, it could even bring down the eurozone.

“This could be a bigger risk than Brexit,”
says a lawyer who is close to the situation.

“The Greeks are desperate to be anchored into Europe, they are willing to suffer and suffer and suffer to stay in – I am not sure that Italy is willing to suffer.” The stakes are that high, and nobody knows whether the EU can muddle through another crisis, or if shock waves from Italy will split the union. Long nights and fraught nerves lie ahead.

This is just the latest phase of the eurozone’s seemingly never-ending crisis, and the International Monetary Fund’s latest assessment of the currency area’s third-largest economy shows why Italy is the latest focal point.

The country faces a slow crawl back to economic health, the IMF warned last week. Productivity growth remains weak, debt is still climbing and the economy can’t prosper while its banking sector is sick.

Under current projections, the economy will not get back to its pre-crisis size until 2025. In other words, Italy faces not one, but two lost decades.
[…]
The first impact would be on the banks. They rely heavily on retail deposits and bonds to finance their lending – according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, households own €235.6bn of bank bonds, amounting to 14.6pc of their wealth – and the banks do not want to frighten them.

“The risk of bailing in retail bondholders is that the domestic bond market, which is important for funding Italian banks, could potentially shut down,” says Roberto Henriques at JP Morgan.

“At the margin, the media coverage of any subsequent losses for retail bondholders might also undermine retail depositor confidence in the same institutions, with the potential for some deposit outflows.”

In this case, the financial crisis could worsen, rather than being resolved.

It goes on from there further admiring the problems and the linkages in Italy and the broader EU.

For me, it looks like the whole EU is in big trouble. Britain is headed for the exit (and likely just in time). Italy, the “3rd largest economy”, has debt:GDP ratio about 135% (i.e. bad..) and private debt that’s garbage on top of it, with banks with no net capital and stagnant growth.

Figure Greece is bankrupt too, and Spain with no jobs and poor prospects.

Essentially that leaves France and Germany to carry the freight… and Germany is being overrun with millions of “refugees” looking for handouts.

No wonder all the money is flowing into US Stocks and bonds… and propping up our markets far beyond any reason. (S&P PE ratio is crazy high compared to historical norms, but with bonds at 1+% one of the few games left to play that has any yield potential).

IF the ECB (European Central Bank) and IMF try to do another Cypress or Greece on Italy, I think the EU dissolves. If they don’t, the EU becomes toothless and Italy flounders for a few more decades.

What a mess.

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Posted in Economics - Trading - and Money | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

An Interesting POV on “solidarity”

I’ve often thought it a bit daft that folks would all hug and wave candles together after some tragic event, instead of actually doing something about it. Along with things like “walk to cure cancer” where a few hundred (or thousand…) potentially productive work-hours are wasted by having a troupe of people walk in circles for hours… (Yes, I’ve done it. Once. The spouse or kid or their friends roped me into it… did get a free soda though ;-)

Looks like I’m not alone…

https://mikecunningham.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/what-or-whom-are-they-showing-solidarity-towards/

Has an interesting anti-multi-culturalism rant. Being rather fond of languages I’m not keen on his wanting to pitch the Celtic languages from the UK, but they are dying on their own already… Still, having ONE official common language works a heck of a lot better than the exponential growth of translation tables E.U. approach. (What are they up to now, 28 x 28 translation pairs?)

An Excerpt or two:

Red, white and blue Floodlights and lighting on buildings across the world? Candles in the bloody wind? Holding hands? What on earth for? The dead as they lie scattered or shattered on the pavements and tarmac streets of Nice?
[…]
Instead of raiding known nests of bloody jihadis, or bringing back the guillotine for terrorist treason; they form committees, light ’effing candles, and hold bloody hands!

Maybe it’s an Aspe thing. Or maybe it is just that having spent a 1/2 Century making and fixing things, I’m just focused on actual productive actions and not “symbolic” ones. “Symbolic of WHAT? Being ‘supportive’ of dead bodies strewn down the road?” comes to mind. So I find the ‘call to action’ aspect attractive, since I fundamentally prefer actions with results other than just emotional masturbation…

He then lists a set of actions. I can’t endorse all of them. Some have practical issues, like banning clothing that endorses a religion… We have that in California in the form of banning “Gang Colors” at school. Blue, Red, and who knows what. So everyone ends up wearing green and gray…and your kid gets sent home from school (while you are at work) because some petty functionary can’t decide if turquoise is green or blue… Just daft. Then they had to make an exception for “blue jeans”… Having an entire government bureau devoted to dictating clothing will just not work.

But that said, much of the list is just “UNdo what the Saudi / Muslim Push has done”:

What should the West be doing? My views, being slightly more robust than some, include the following:-

Close ALL the Saudi-funded Wahabbi-led mosques, and deport immediately all the Saudi-funded imams and mullahs; along with their extensive families, broods and supporters.

Close down, immediately, all Madrassas and so-called Islamic schools, and either deport or restrict the so-called teachers.

Ban, immediately, all Sharia courts, and deport or imprison, if necessary, those who push this alternate justice system; as by allowing ‘sharia’, they push the system which encourages the diminution of women to a second class status.

Ban not only the burka, but any form of head covering which is worn to signify religious observance. Ban also any dress, garment or covering which signifies adherence to the Muslim religion or belief.
[…]

I stumbled on this as it was just above a comment I posted here:

http://joannenova.com.au/2016/07/something-serious-happening-to-the-chinese-economy/#comment-1819204

About China and it slowing. (h/t to Another Ian for getting me to go look from tips)

Though I’m still left to wonder how long and how many more dead before the average Numpty decides that “being symbolic” is not as useful as actually accomplishing something. I suspect it will be a few hundred more and a couple of election cycles… Though there are some encouraging signs that Multicultural 3rd Way Progressive Socialism has found a few rocks on various shores… (hack hack, Brexit)

I guess we’ll find out how much the world has changed in November…

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Posted in News Related, Political Current Events | Tagged , , , , | 35 Comments

Turkey – Coup attempt

Hit the TV news folks. Looks like an attempted coup underway in Turkey.

Wonder how this will impact their entry into the E.U. ;-)

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/07/15/gunfire-reported-in-turkish-capital-amid-reports-possible-military-coup.html

published July 15, 2016
FoxNews.com

A military coup appeared to be underway in Turkey Friday evening as gunshots were reported in the capital, Ankara, and soldiers closed off two key bridges in Istanbul.

Reuters, citing a witness, reported that military jets and helicopters were seen flying overhead in both Ankara and Istanbul.

Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said that a “coup attempt” by factions within the military was in progress and vowed that the country’s security forces would “uphold democracy.”
[…]
There were no immediate reports of any casualties and there was no official statement from the Turkish government.

Meanwhile, private broadcaster NTV reported that both bridges across the Bosphorus strait, which separates Europe and Asia, had been closed to traffic.

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PXE Puppy Working!

Long time folks here will have familiarity with my “gaggle of old junk” computer farm. Not being fond of tossing out things that work, and from a “family restaurant” background where you have roast turkey one day, turkey sandwiches the next, then “turkey ala king” and finally turkey soup… BTW, the profit is in the soup and the ‘ala king’… I’m loath to toss out a box just because, say, the DVD drive dies (which they do rather more often than I like).

One box, in particular, that I like is the Compaq Evo (Yes, from before HP bought Compaq…) as it has very little fan noise. Nearly none. Fan noise, at 2 am in particular, drives me up a wall… “A fan is an admission of Engineering Failure. -E.M.Smith”. Why on God’s Earth put a fan in a box when simple physics can fix it? A rotating whirring power consuming failure prone mechanical thing. You don’t see fans in high end stereo gear and it runs at hundreds to thousands of watts. The old “Grid Computer Company” made a hand held with a magnesium case and no fan. With heat pipes and aluminum you can passively, and silently, cool just about any hardware that needs it. Or just design for lower power consumption. The Raspberry Pi does that.

In any case, the Evo is a nice, small, quiet and fairly good CPU box with a nice chunk of memory. It also is my Emergency Windoze Box if for some reason I can’t get a thing done on a Linux machine and simply MUST use a Windows box. It has XP on it, wich I like a lot more than anything since. Though the last time I needed that Windows “feature” was a few years back, there are still a fair number of archived things that I’ve not converted away from MS formats, yet. So I keep it.

It also has / had a very nice DVD RW drive in it. That has started to be “sporadic”. Some days fine, some days ‘No Joy’. As booting from CD / DVD releases was my favorite way to get ‘variety linux distros’ to run, that crimps my style. Knoppix, Puppy, SystemRescue CD, Slitaz, and so many more. Nice for doing “financial things” with a known clean OS / Browser. Nice for general browsing without infestation accumulating. Etc. etc. But with the CD / DVD drive dying, not exactly reliable. About 50:50 right now. It being very ancient, not exactly worth putting money into a replacement drive, either. I can get a whole system for less as the local recycle computers shop Weird Stuff. As I noted here:

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/bit-of-a-grab-bag/

Though in the process of trying to boot another of my machines I found that SLAX Linux CD does a nice thing, it has a PXE boot server version on the disk… So I might try just booting that on one of them and call it my PXE server, for now. Eventually I want a R.Pi version PXE boot, but the Evo has, once again, stopped talking to the CD drive, and an update of Debian on it did not fix the “occasionally hangs” due to the video driver having issues, so I need a PXE boot target for it, now. As a ‘quick fix’ it would let me get the Evo running (hopefully more stable) and get more experience with the PXE set up process and use. Then that Pi solution can take it’s own time.

Well, without the CD working that SLAX CD didn’t help much. The Antek / ASUS 64 bit box had problems with the disk interface, moving the disk to the second spigot fixed it, for a while… so it’s not a good candidate (and makes noise like a 60 MPH wind tunnel from the fan…) it, too, to become a ‘boot from PXE’ box as that disk is failing.

So I decided to make it a PXE Boot machine. Pre Execution Environment – aka netboot – aka booting over the network.

So I was left with “Then that Pi solution can take it’s own time.” Which time had come. So I set about working on it. A bit more sedately than usual (my motivation was fine, but my ambition was lacking… and some Apple Cider was calling my name, and the TV was teasing me with Mr. Robot and some nice movies on HBO…) Besides, At each step I needed some “think time”. So that’s where I’ve been the last couple of days. Finally deciding to just “push through it” and not do other things until done.

Normally, I’ll just do a web search for folks posting on what they did, ‘gotchas’ they encountered, tricks and methods. Then make up my own recipe if one of them doesn’t stand out as clear and clean. Often there is one stellar example and you can just ‘cook book’ off of it.

Turns out that was a bit more of an adventure than I’d expected. PXE isn’t a service so much as a bag of tools and part of the raw materials you need. Everybody using different parts to build a different structure. Like so many things in the world of people, strongly diverging from the UNIX Way of “do one thing and do it well” (that also means doing it clearly), PXE boot tries to be many things to all people, so “it just growed” into a bit of a mess. At some point I’m going to come back and put up some of the half dozen links to ‘other ways to do it’ that I explored.

For now, I’m just going to “stream of consciousness” put some notes down here. The “Here There Be Dragons” bits.

General Macro Issues

The first thing you run into is the general attitude of postings. PXE boot is something used by SysAdmins in large shops to deploy / configure a hundred machines at a crack. The postings that I found are generally not oriented toward the home gamer with just one box to bring up. So they are terse, leave out a lot of stuff that “the experienced Sys Admin will know”, and revel in offering dozens of options that you might need in a huge shop, but are irrelevant for a shop of a half dozen boxes. Things like how to configure a dozen different architectures of machines with selection of OS to install via MAC address or IP address or HW Class or … Generally NOT just a “get the box working quick”.

Then there is the “go hunt” attitude. For example, you find that you need to put “pxelinux.0” in a particular directory. Where do you get “pxelinux.0”? “Go Fish!”. Eventually you find it is at the SYSLINUX web site. And you can download their tarball and unpack it… and it does have preconfigured binaries for x86 boxes. Somewhere in the file system tree…

Then there are the endless variations of DNS Server,DHCP, TFTP / FTP server, and even HTTP server possible. Originally designed for “Trivial File Transfer Protocol” TFTP, some folks wanted other protocols with higher security or the wiz-bang feature of using a web server to serve their OS. So various reference pages use different DNS configs for different DNS server types. Some Microsoft centric. Some use THE most complicated DNS / DHCP services on the planet. All configured differently and all using somewhat different commands and syntax.

I chose to simplify a lot of that by using “dnsmasq”. It is a ‘lightweight’ DNS, DHCP, TFTP server, but for being “lightweight” has a few hundred levers to pull and settings to set. Now you can ignore 99% of them. But which 99%? Oh, you get to learn about a lot of the others to decide to ignore them…

Lucky for me, I’d already done some dnsmasq setup for my Pi Model B DNS server that blocks ads, so I wasn’t starting from scratch.

Then you get to the PXE Boot part… and again a hundred and one settings. Worse, some can be defaults, some are set in dnsmasq as forced options, or they can be set in various files and flags in the PXE tftp name space. Or some combination of all that. In short, at least 3 places you can set things and they interact. Lord save me from folks adding “feature creep” with multiple places to set ONE configuration. It just cries out “Confusion and conflicts ahead!”… here there be dragons…

So the major part of the workload is just cutting out a lot of that redundant, unnecessary, confounding, weedy crap and finding just what little bit DOES matter and where to get it.

Oh, and most of the path names for directory structure is user configurable so every web page has a different idea of what all the name space ought to be. This can lead to ‘leveling’ issues, and one bit me. Things ‘base’ off of where pxelinux.0 is located, and I got one of the things ‘off by one’ and put files/Puppy in a place that needed /Puppy… that was an hour or two.

So I’m going to leave out a lot of wandering in circles and sorting out useless complications and focus on “what does it take to get PXE up on a Raspberri Pi?” Suited for use with older hardware (i.e. not exploring how to make it ‘go’ with UEFI machines) and with Puppy in particular and direct booting live CD / DVD .iso’s without burning them to a CD.

Syslinux / pxelinux.0

This drove me around the bend for a while. Some pages saying to take it from Their Special Place and others complaining that some releases, like Ubuntu, seemed to have different versions or changed in some way. Others admonishing that all the bits have to match or Bad Things Happen. Since one end goal is to PXE boot some raspberry Pi images too, that they were all using x86 or AMD64 binaries didn’t please me. Since I was running this as server ON a Pi, compiling from source for the PC was not an option I wanted to follow. Many hours pondering and wandering in the desert followed… This is made much much worse by the way SYSLINUX, ISOLINUX and PXELINUX are freely intermingled in most of the pages and docs. All made by the same folks, with the clear dominant use being SYSLINUX as a generic boot loader. PXELINUX a ‘glue on’ afterthought. So you get to wade through dozens of pages of stuff about all sorts of irrelevant SYSLINUX features and options and requirements, only to find out PXELINUX may not need them. Thus the odd .c32 and related files still lying around in my current configuration. Likely not needed and I drug them in when things were NOT working to see if “maybe that will fix it”.

So, you get syslinux from here:

http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php?title=Download

but only for the recent development version.

The latest official version of Syslinux can be downloaded in .tar.gz, .tar.bz2, .tar.xz, and .zip formats from kernel.org. This download includes both the source and official pre-compiled binaries that should work for most users (See also Official Binaries). Version changes are available in the .LSM files.

The Syslinux download includes PXELINUX, ISOLINUX and MEMDISK as well.

Official Testing versions (aka pre-release), when available, can be downloaded from:

It does have the helpful note:

WARNING

At least SuSE, Mandriva, and Ubuntu use a version of SYSLINUX modified with a patch called “gfxboot”. This is a highly invasive and unsupported modification of SYSLINUX. Please avoid these versions if possible.
Warning-Ubuntu-Update

As of 2010-10-19, Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) uses Syslinux 4.01 with GFXBoot.c32 (now officially included) and includes several special patches to allow gfxboot to use some configuration directives that were originally intended to be used only with the Simple Menu modules (menu.c32/vesamenu.c32). Some patches are upstreamed, but some of them might not.

So Ubuntu will be later in my PXE boot additions…

Then it sends you off to a different link to actually get the download you most likely want:

https://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/utils/boot/syslinux/

This kind of “wade through three things and four links to get to the actual place you wanted” is pervasive in the whole SYSLINUX / PXELINUX design and web pages and more. Royal PITA and clearly a difference between “bootloader people” and “UNIX guys”…

FWIW, there is a watershed at about 5.0 release. That’s where the whole UEFI extension was added. SYSLINUX breaks up into several different forks then and the files multiply like rabbits. Then you must pick the RIGHT version for your system. BIOS vs UEFI vs… and 32 vs 64 bit hardware. This, then, reflects into the PXELINUX area…

Despite that, I chose a recent 6.x release and and odd number (even are often ‘feature releases’ in the land of *nix and the odd releases ‘bug fixes’ for those features…) then download it. Copy it to the working directory for syslinux and unpack it. I chose the .gz compression version just because the .xz is not as easy to type… I also snagged a slightly older one, just in case. Unpacked with something like “tar -xvzf syslinux-6.03.tar.gz” it makes it’s own directory.

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux# cd syslinux
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/syslinux# l

syslinux-5.10  syslinux-5.10.tar.gz  syslinux-6.03  syslinux-6.03.tar.gz

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/syslinux# ls -l
total 19496
drwxrwsr-x 29 11341510     501     4096 Jun  4  2013 syslinux-5.10
-rw-r--r--  1 chiefio  chiefio  8281150 Jul 14 01:31 syslinux-5.10.tar.gz
drwxrwxr-x 33     1026    1026     4096 Jul 14 00:18 syslinux-6.03
-rw-r--r--  1 chiefio  chiefio 11671940 Jul 13 22:53 syslinux-6.03.tar.gz

Once you go inside, you find a nice dense forest of all sorts of stuff, almost all of it not what you wanted. Where’s pxelinux.0? Nobody seems to tell you…

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/syslinux# cd syslinux-6.03
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/syslinux/syslinux-6.03# l

bios	  core	 dos	  efi32      gnu-efi	   linux     mbr      mtools  sample	     version	 win64
codepage  devel  dosutil  efi64      gpxe	   lzo	     memdisk  NEWS    syslinux.spec  version.pl
com32	  diag	 dummy.c  extlinux   libfat	   Makefile  mime     now.pl  txt	     win6
COPYING   doc	 efi	  gen-id.sh  libinstaller  man	     mk       README  utils	     win32

Now if you happen to be an experienced sys admin, which is their target audience, no worries. But for the home gamer, it’s opaque. I poked around for about 5 minutes thinking I’d have good intuition about where it ought to be. No joy. Why? “Because a find is a terrible thing to waste!” of course! ;-)

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/syslinux/syslinux-6.03# find . -name pxelinux.0 -print
./bios/core/pxelinux.0

Now in the world of Unix, naming ANY file “core” is a Very Bad Idea. IF you are running a program, and it crashes, it dumps a file named “core” in your present working directory. It is just asking for that file to be nuked. Here, they have a whole directory named “core”. Sigh. Any experienced sys admin or sys prog would generally presume that ‘core’ was a left over core file and ignore it. (I have no idea what happens if I’m running a program as ‘root’ and it core dumps AND there is a directory named ‘core’ in that space…)

Yet there it is. OK, snag a copy and put it in your PXEboot root tree…

Now at one time I thought I might need the lslinux.c32 file. Why? Because when attempting to PXEboot I’d get the DHCP done, and then the prompt menu, and then it would crap out saying it didn’t find ‘ldlinux.c32’. So I added it. And that didn’t fix it. I suspect a SYSLINUX error message from the boot process. I’ll be removing it later to see if it is really needed… BUT, in case anyone wants to know where to find it… My guess is that pxelinux.0 has that inside of it, but that the error message doesn’t know that. at any rate, changing the place where pxelinux.0 was located in the file system name space made boot work and the error message go away.

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/syslinux/syslinux-6.03# find . -name ldlinux.c32 -print
./bios/com32/elflink/ldlinux/ldlinux.c32

The “elf’ is one “object file format” for assembler language. Others are a.out and more. They make several versions of ldlinux and you need the one for your object format, which they then name with the .c32 suffix and put in a com32 directory…

Similar find commands can be used to find any other bits you might need for whatever you choose to do…

The key take away here is just that you need to download this tarball and compile to get the one for the Raspberry Pi chip, or do a find to get the one for the right Intel chip and assembler combo for your PC hardware. (Learning that cost me about 4 hours…)

DHCP DNS FTP TFTP dnsmasq

Originally I’d thought of setting up the Pi with a WiFi dongle and having it be the router to my WiFi network as well. Due to some bad behaviour at boot time with my WiFi dongle, I scrubbed that (at a cost of 1/2 a day…) All the more frustrating as this particular SD chip had been working as my emergency router to the hotspot… I suspect maybe a different dongle has confused it, or the wifi software was not happy booting without the hotspot in existence. At any rate, it was taking 1/2 hour or so to boot, so I just started turning things off. Unplugging the dongle, I got to where I could config it (and another few hours gone…) and took the easy way out. The old D-Link spare WiFi router from the parts box. I shut off DHCP on it, and use the Pi for DHCP. It also provides a “hub” function so the stand alone ethernet hub went into the parts box. (Who knows how much time saved… yeay!!)

Many of the ‘how to’ pages go out of their way to explore the intricacies of leaving your present router as your DHCP source via indirection configuration. As I wanted a very private network behind its own router, that didn’t interest me… but did keep getting in my face…

FWIW, this site has a nice write up for dnsmasq with ubuntu:

http://blogging.dragon.org.uk/howto-setup-a-pxe-server-with-dnsmasq/

For the dnsmasq config, I’m just going to ‘diff’ the old and new. Realize that I’m still playing with “menus”. I’ve shut off the ones from dnsmasq, but not yet got the ones from files in the pxe-root working as desired. Oddly, this results in a boot prompt on the EVO where just typing “Puppy” works, as the pxelinux.cfg is ‘correct’ for Puppy.

This may have some artifacts and junk in it, but is still illustrative. The actual file has a LOT more lines in it (678) and most of them are comments or command commented out. Since dnsmasq handles all of DNS, DHCP, TFTP and PXE stuff, showing all that in one go is likely best. This is NOT an ideal layout, but is a test / working layout. Final production gets a cleaning and preening pass and the ‘pxe root’ will end up on a USB dongle as something like /PXE/boot_files.

For those unfamiliar with ‘diff’ output, it gives the line number of the change, then gives the ‘out’ and ‘in’ as angle brackets. Since wordpress will try to steal anything between those as HTML, Im changing them to O and I. This is showing what changed between the old basic dnsmasq config, and the one working now as a DNS, DHCP, TFTP and PXE boot server.

I MAKE NO REPRESENTATION THAT THIS IS IDEAL, OR EVEN VERY GOOD. It was “hacked together on the fly” as the base router when AT&T service suddenly died. I just “got it to work” and moved on. I’m sure there is plenty of tuning and preening that could be done.

This first batch mostly protects against some odds and ends of bad practice. Like not forwarding partial domain names for resolution (i.e. don’t do a DNS lookup ‘forward’ out of your network on ‘servername’ without a .foo.bar part) and don’t forward 192 and 172 and 10. block addresses) Lines with a # at the start, like “#resolv-file=/etc/resolv.dnsmasq” are commented out. This one shows where I was testing using an external file for my resolver listing of hosts names to kill, then changed my mind and went to ‘in line’ (see down below). Note that there is copious description of all of these in the dnsmasq.conf file, so I’m not going to explain them all here.

diff dnsmasq.old.conf dnsmasq.conf
19c19
O #domain-needed
---
I domain-needed
21c21
O #bogus-priv
---
I bogus-priv
30c30
O #filterwin2k
---
I filterwin2k
34c34
O #resolv-file=
---
I #resolv-file=/etc/resolv.dnsmasq
46c46
O #no-resolv
---
I no-resolv
50c50
O #no-poll
---
I no-poll
54c54,63

Here is my list of name servers. The old router had been 192.168.0.1, but that changed when it died. It looks like I need to take that out. 192.168.0.253 is my Pi filtering DNS, while .254 is the AT&T box (that I likely ought to deprecate at this level). IF it gets stuck, it can go looking in The Big Bad World on the other servers. Due to Google being “Less Than Trustworthy”, I’ve commented out their 8.8.8.8 server.

O #server=/localnet/192.168.0.1
---
I #server=127.0.0.1
I server=192.168.0.253
I server=192.168.0.254
I server=198.101.242.72
I server=192.168.0.1
I #server=10.11.11.254
I server=23.253.163.53
I #server=8.8.8.8
I

Then, after a couple of ‘junk lines’ we get into the list of domains to ‘ground’ to my own local web server that just says “It Worked!” instead of a load of ads and tracking… This is a partial list…

I #server=/localnet/192.168.0.253
67c76,121
O #address=/double-click.net/127.0.0.1
---
I 
I address=/website-error.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/double-click.net/127.0.0.1
I address=/.chartbeat.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/packages-seo.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.doubleclick.net/127.0.0.1
I address=/doubleclick.ads.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.pixel.quantserve.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.bluekai.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.ubertags.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.google-analytics.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.googlesyndication.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/googleusercontent.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/l.google.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.l.google.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.ads.google.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.googleapis.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.googletagservices.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.facebook.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.twitter.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/amazonaws.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.amazonaws.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.moatads/127.0.0.1
I address=/.microsoft.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.bing.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.medianetadvertizing.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.doubleverify.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.akadnds.net/127.0.0.1
I address=/.gravatar.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.adnxs.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.advertizing.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.godaddy.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.adadvisor.net/127.0.0.1
I address=/.adtechus.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.simpli.fi/127.0.0.1
I address=/.amazon-adsystem.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.criteo.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.mathtag.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.adform.net/127.0.0.1
I address=/.asdrvr.org/127.0.0.1
I address=/.adsymptotic.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.chango.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.rfihub.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.sitescout.com/127.0.0.1
I address=/.akadns.net/127.0.0.1
90c144

Customize to my own domain name inside the office, and use the ethernet port for DNS DHCP.

O #interface=
---
I interface=eth0
119c173
O #expand-hosts
---
I expand-hosts
128c182
O #domain=thekelleys.org.uk
---
I domain=chiefio.global
141c195

This part starts DHCP services, sets up default routers and assigns address ranges. Numbers to be changed to whatever you use.

O #dhcp-range=192.168.0.50,192.168.0.150,12h
---
I dhcp-range=172.11.11.100,172.11.11.199,48h
311c365
O #dhcp-option=option:router,1.2.3.4
---
I dhcp-option=option:router,172.11.11.254
331c385
O #dhcp-option=42,0.0.0.0
---
I dhcp-option=42,0.0.0.0
364c418
O #dhcp-option=252,"\n"
---
I dhcp-option=252,"\n"
396c450
O #dhcp-option-force=208,f1:00:74:7e
---
I dhcp-option-force=208,f1:00:74:7e
398c452
O #dhcp-option-force=209,configs/common
---
I dhcp-option-force=209,configs/common
400c454

Here, DHCP starts to interact with PXE. I played with forcing the PXE root directory, but decided to leave it alone for now. Letting it default to the TFTP root (see below). The “pxe-service” lines force PXE menu lines for boxes of the type “x86PC”. They worked, but I’ve commented them out as I’m working on that files based menu config. For a first bring up, using lines like them is fine.

O #dhcp-option-force=210,/tftpboot/pxelinux/files/
---
I #dhcp-option-force=210,/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files
408c462
O #dhcp-boot=pxelinux.0
---
I dhcp-boot=pxelinux.0
446c500
O #pxe-service=x86PC, "Install Linux", pxelinux
---
I pxe-service=x86PC, "Run / Install Linux", pxelinux
465c519

Here we turn on TFTP service. “Someday” it will become shorter on that USB dongle…

O #enable-tftp
---
I enable-tftp
468a523
I tftp-root=/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files

I made cache size and timeouts bigger as I wanted more persistent DNS caching. Especially when it was routing over the WiFi Hotspot…

520c575
O #cache-size=150
---
I cache-size=10000
525c580
O # Normally responses which come form /etc/hosts and the DHCP lease
---
I # Normally responses which come from /etc/hosts and the DHCP lease
530c585
O #local-ttl=
---
I local-ttl=10000
537c592
O #bogus-nxdomain=64.94.110.11
---
I bogus-nxdomain=64.94.110.11

You might be wondering what that last line is about. I’m just going to quote the comments in the dnsmasq.conf file. It is a good exmple of their stuff anyway:

# If you want dnsmasq to detect attempts by Verisign to send queries
# to unregistered .com and .net hosts to its sitefinder service and
# have dnsmasq instead return the correct NXDOMAIN response, uncomment
# this line. You can add similar lines to do the same for other
# registries which have implemented wildcard A records.

bogus-nxdomain=64.94.110.11

Just shutting of yet another data leak…

Puppy In Particular

For Puppy, there is an added complication. Puppy uses an ‘odd’ structure where it writes out information to a .sfs file AND reads it in at startup. So when you get the kernel to boot, it still wants that file. It then proceeds to hunt for it on any disk it can find. To stop this, you must bundle it into the initial RAMdisk in memory. This page had a decent formula for it, but there may well be better. I followed a slightly different path, that also worked.

http://sirlagz.net/2011/06/13/how-to-boot-puppy-5-2-5-over-pxe/

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files# pwd
/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files

Note that my prompt includes a listing of what directory I am in. I’m running as root (superuser) and the # shows that too. It saves a LOT of typing “sudo blah“.

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files# ls
ldlinux.c32  memdisk  Puppy  pxelinux.0  pxelinux.cfg

So I stuck a ldlinux.c32 here at one point, thinking it was the problem. It wasn’t, so likely needs to be removed. My ‘tftp’ directory is “/WD/ext/pxelinux/files” and that is where pxelinux.0 goes. In here is also the pxelinux.cfg directory where you put the directions for PXE to follow. I made a directory named ‘memdisk’ preparatory to the bring up of an iso image boot (later) and a Puppy directory for my particular Puppy release.

After editing the dnsmasq settings “this time for sure” you must restart it. This is a SystemV Init box, not Systemd. If running systemd, you are on your own for the service starting.

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files# service dnsmasq restart
[ ok ] Restarting DNS forwarder and DHCP server: dnsmasq.

Here’s what my owenership and permissions look like at present. They can likely be tightened up considerably, later. Perhaps via a PXEboot user who owns things…

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files# ls -ld .
drwxr-xr-x 4 root root 4096 Jul 14 01:34 .
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files# ls -l *
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 122308 Jul 14 01:34 ldlinux.c32
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  26140 Jul 14 01:12 memdisk
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  46909 Jul 14 00:09 pxelinux.0

Puppy:
total 2852
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1287530 Jul 13 16:45 initrd.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1627180 Jul 13 16:45 vmlinuz

pxelinux.cfg:
total 8
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 257 Jul 14 01:14 default
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 234 Jul 14 01:13 old.default

The “default” file in pxelinux.cfg directory is where you put your recipe of what is to be done. You can make dozens of layers of other recipes, too. Complicaions on complications. Just ignore them.

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/pxelinux.cfg# df
Filesystem      1K-blocks       Used Available Use% Mounted on
[...]
/dev/loop0         103422     103422         0 100% /WD2/ext/pxelinux/Puppy
/dev/loop1         713980     713980         0 100% /WD2/ext/pxelinux/Knoppix
/dev/loop2         660480     660480         0 100% /WD2/ext/pxelinux/Debian
/dev/loop3         164418     164418         0 100% /WD2/ext/pxelinux/Slacko

To make things easier, I’ve mounted several CD .iso images as file systems. Lets me root around inside them if I like. You can also see what else is going into my PXE Boot server over the next few days ;-)

Here’s the /etc/fstab entries for those mounts:

# Mount ISO Images as disk                <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>
#

/WD2/ext/pxelinux/isos/puppy-4.2.1-MULTIUSER-r3.iso /WD2/ext/pxelinux/Puppy udf,iso9660 ro,user,loop 0 0

/WD2/ext/pxelinux/isos/debian-7.8.0-i386-xfce-CD-1.iso /WD2/ext/pxelinux/Debian udf,iso9660 ro,user,loop 0 0

/WD2/ext/pxelinux/isos/slacko-5.7-NO-pae.iso /WD2/ext/pxelinux/Slacko udf,iso9660 ro,user,loop 0 0

/WD2/ext/pxelinux/isos/KNOPPIX_V7.0.5CD-2012-12-21-EN.iso /WD2/ext/pxelinux/Knoppix udf,iso9660 ro,user,loop 0 0

One must also make the directories as mount points, so here’s what the name space looked like after that:

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux# ls
Debian	files  isos  Knoppix  pup_421.sfs   Puppy  Slacko  syslinux  TESTING_menus

The iso images are in ‘isos’ and they get mounted on a directory with their name in it. The directory “files” is where I finally landed the start point for PXE boot (and likely needs to be ‘up leveled’ to a shorter path name in the final version). The directory ‘syslinux’ was where I unpacked the syslinux download to extract the needed file(s?). I’m still working on the whole menus thing, so they are set aside at the moment with the TESTING prefeix… That whole interaction of “menus from files” vs menus from dnsmasq… That “pup_421.sfs” file is just ‘passsing through’ on its way from the iso image to the ‘final initial ram disk’ that is accurate in an oxymoronic kind of way…

Essentially, this shows my workspace layout. Syslinux unpacked in one directory. Isos as isos in another. Mounted where it’s easy to rummage around in them AND they are inside the tftp export space if for some reason I need that. All the actual PXE working bits in the ‘files’ space as I whacked on it to to get it to go.

Here is where I went into the CD image and pulled out that .sfs file and moved it ‘up one’:

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/pxelinux.cfg# cd /WD2/ext/pxelinux/Puppy/
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/Puppy# l

boot.cat  boot.msg  help.msg  initrd.gz  isolinux.bin  isolinux.cfg  logo.16  pup_421.sfs  vmlinuz

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/Puppy# ls /WD2/ext/pxelinux
Debian	files  isos  Knoppix  Puppy  Slacko  syslinux  TESTING_menus
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/Puppy# cp pup_421.sfs ..
ls ..
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/Puppy# ls ..
Debian	files  isos  Knoppix  pup_421.sfs  Puppy  Slacko  syslinux  TESTING_menus
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/Puppy# cd ..

That way I’m not at risk of messing up anything. Yes, the iso is read only and mounted read only, but paranoia knows no bounds… so I made a copy (later to be deleted… scratch disk is free).

Next we go into that PXE files Puppy directory where you can see that I’ve already got a copy of the vmlinuz kernel and the initrd.gz initial RAM disk. Now we need to glue onto it that .sfs file…

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux# cd files
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files# ls
files  ldlinux.c32  memdisk  Puppy  pxelinux.0	pxelinux.cfg
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files# cd Puppy
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# ls
initrd.gz  vmlinuz

I’m going to do the work in /tmp. That’s on the SD card. It would likley be better to do it on the hard disk, but habit is comforted by the /tmp path name…

First we look around to make sure we are not doing to step on anything. Then make a working directory and do the “unpack merge repack’ on the intird.gz file. Again, I’m making copies so the original copies are intact. I’ll delete them later.

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# ls /tmp
cKpNC8hq.part  serverauth.J6jRRzXQn0  ssh-fmlNhwZBCwcw
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# mkdir /tmp/Puppy
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# pwd
/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# ls
initrd.gz  vmlinuz
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# cp initrd.gz /tmp/Puppy
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# ls ..
files  ldlinux.c32  memdisk  Puppy  pxelinux.0	pxelinux.cfg
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# ls ../..
Debian	files  isos  Knoppix  pup_421.sfs  Puppy  Slacko  syslinux  TESTING_menus
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# cp ../../pup_421.sfs /tmp/Puppy
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# cd /tmp/Puppy
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# ls
initrd.gz  pup_421.sfs

So this puts the two files that need a merge in one temp directory where I can play with them. We then make a working directory inside that one. Yes, you could cut out half of these copies and moves and still be fine. The original originals are still on the CD iso. But my habit of always flowing away from the pure source was set in Chem Class… you never back contaminate…

The process is pretty simple. The initrd.gz file is a compressed cpio archive. We uncompress it, take it out of cpio format, add the .sfs file, then put it back in a cpio archive.

root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# mkdir working
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# ls -ld working
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Jul 14 18:07 working
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# chmod 777 working
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# cd working
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy/working# mv ../initrd.gz ../initrd.gz_old
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy/working# zcat ../initrd.gz_old | cpio -i
3754 blocks
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy/working# l

bin  init  proc		 pup_ro1   pup_ro12  pup_ro15  pup_ro18  pup_ro20  pup_ro3  pup_ro6  pup_ro9  README.txt  tmp
dev  lib   pup_new	 pup_ro10  pup_ro13  pup_ro16  pup_ro19  pup_ro21  pup_ro4  pup_ro7  pup_rw   sbin	  var
etc  mnt   PUPPYVERSION  pup_ro11  pup_ro14  pup_ro17  pup_ro2	 pup_ro22  pup_ro5  pup_ro8  pup_z    sys

root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy/working# cp ../pup_421.sfs .
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy/working# find . | cpio -o -H newc | gzip -9 > ../initrd.gz 
203970 blocks

That’s it. Now we swap that initrd.gz in for the old one. (At this point, I’d already gotten the PXE boot to try booting Puppy, but it failed on that missing .sfs file, so this whole process was after hitting that wall…) Again, my usual overly careful “move to the side don’t delete until the end” so I end up with two “old” copies (in addition to the one on the iso…), verfy all the files are where I think they are, then make the move. All this could be shortend to one move command.

root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy/working# cd ..
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# ls
initrd.gz  initrd.gz_old  pup_421.sfs  working
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# ls /WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy
initrd.gz  vmlinuz
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# mv /WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy/initrd.gz /WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy/Old_initrd.gz
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# ls -l initrd.gz_old /WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy/Old_initrd.gz 
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1287530 Jul 14 18:03 initrd.gz_old
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1287530 Jul 13 16:45 /WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy/Old_initrd.gz
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# ls -l
total 201716
-rw-r--r--  1 root root 102749687 Jul 14 18:13 initrd.gz
-rw-r--r--  1 root root   1287530 Jul 14 18:03 initrd.gz_old
-rwxr--r--  1 root root 102510592 Jul 14 18:04 pup_421.sfs
drwxrwxrwx 37 root root      4096 Jul 14 18:12 working

the actual move…

root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# mv initrd.gz /WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy/
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# ls /WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy/
initrd.gz  Old_initrd.gz  vmlinuz
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# ls /WD2/ext/pxelinux/Puppy/
boot.cat  boot.msg  help.msg  initrd.gz  isolinux.bin  isolinux.cfg  logo.16  pup_421.sfs  vmlinuz

Then I clean up by removing the stuff in /tmp.

root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# pwd
/tmp/Puppy
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# ls
initrd.gz_old  pup_421.sfs  working
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# rm -rf working/
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# rm *
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# ls
root@RaPiM2:/tmp/Puppy# cd ..
root@RaPiM2:/tmp# pwd
/tmp
root@RaPiM2:/tmp# ls
cKpNC8hq.part  Puppy  serverauth.J6jRRzXQn0  ssh-fmlNhwZBCwcw
root@RaPiM2:/tmp# rmdir Puppy/

Again, all that could be shortened to “rm -rf /tmp/Puppy” in the blind… but I don’t like flying blind…

Then I clean up those excess “old” copies (after the PXE boot actually worked ;-)

root@RaPiM2:/tmp# cd /WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# ls
initrd.gz  Old_initrd.gz  vmlinuz
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# rm Old_initrd.gz 
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# ls
initrd.gz  vmlinuz
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/Puppy# ls -l
total 101936
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 102749687 Jul 14 18:13 initrd.gz
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   1627180 Jul 13 16:45 vmlinuz

CD .iso images for Live CDs

The next step will be getting a “Live CD” image to boot. I’m basically going to follow the guide here:

http://wellsie.net/p/286/

as it looks like a well written and clean process.

In the file /var/lib/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default, add this menu entry. Replace the ISO and menu labels accordingly.

label wde
menu label WDE Recovery
root (hd0,0)
kernel other/memdisk
append iso initrd=other/SymantecEncryptionDesktop10.3.0MP1Win32_WDE_Recovery.iso raw

I’ve already got the memdisk part done, and it does boot memdisk, so all I need to do now is add the iso file in the append line.

Here’s my pxelinux.config file as of right now (note short on menu stuff…)

root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files# cd pxelinux.cfg
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/pxelinux.cfg# ls
default  old.default
root@RaPiM2:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/files/pxelinux.cfg# cat default
menu title PXE Boot Menu by EMS

label Puppy
	menu label Puppy
	kernel Puppy/vmlinuz
		append initrd=Puppy/initrd.gz method=nfs:172.11.11.250:/WD2/ext/pxelinux/Puppy lang=us keymap=us ip=dhcp noipv6

label memdisk
	menu label memdisk
	kernel memdisk

I’m not sure that “method -nfs” is actually doing anything at this time… it was another debugging attempt…

Still To Do

Clean it up. I’ve left all sorts of non-harmful but untidy bits laying around.

Get better files based menus working right.

Move the TFTP directory onto a USB Stick (so it doesn’t need a USB Hub to power the hard disk). For this, I need to empty one of my USB sticks… Most likely the PNY that isn’t too swift on writes, but is OK on reads. It presently holds a Centos copy that I was using with a Plop boot CD to run on the EVO, but that now I can’t get to reliably via that CD… So a prime candidate for PXE boot instead.

Assure it boots headless correctly so I can just power up and go without moving my monitor, keyboard, mouse etc. from my desktop Pi onto it. This will be my second “infrastructure Pi”, but one that doesn’t need to be “up” all the time so will need to take power on cycles in the blind.

Then write a script to rebuild one from scratch (and test it) without all the fumbling and drama. MUCH easier now that I’ve got a working copy. Oh, and I need to clone the Chip to disk as a backup while I’m at it…

But for now, I’m just going to “pop a cool one” (home brew cider ;-) and catch up on some web page reading and comments … maybe from that new Puppy running on the Evo ;-)

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Posted in Tech Bits | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

International Events – Venezuela & Russia & Bears, Oh My!

A short treatise on Politics. “Poli” meaning “many” and “tics” from those blood sucking creatures that carry diseases and like chewing on your ass…

Venezuela

Well, I’d predicted it would have a revolution in 3 weeks, it is now over 4 weeks and it didn’t, so I presume they got more beer supply (what with that Spanish loan to the brewer and all).

Now a curious thing, the Unaligned Nations are supposed to have a Summit in Venezuela Real Soon Now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Aligned_Summit

16th 26–31 August 2012 Iran Tehran
17th 13-18 July 2016 Venezuela TBA

Now if you go searching for information on the “17th Non-Aligned Summit” you get many references to one in Tehran that most folks call the 16th, but the Iranians seem to call the 17th. Somebody can’t count all that well, it seems. Or Tehran called a do-over and it IS the 17th, but maybe didn’t happen either?

http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/politics/65661.html

7th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement will be held in Tehran
Feb 2, 2015 – 3:26 pm

The 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement at the level of Foreign Ministers will be held in Tehran in June 2015, the secretariat of the organization announced.

The 16th meeting of Heads of State and Government also took place in the capital of Iran in August 2012.

It was attended by representatives of 120 countries, including 24 presidents, the heads of three monarchies, eight prime ministers and 50 foreign ministers. The chairmanship for three years was transferred to Iran, which will hand over its powers to Venezuela at the 18th summit in September 2015, Tass reports.

Check all you want. All I’ve been able to find are out of place references to Iran as “going to happen” in the past, and spurious statements from 2015 saying that the Venezuelan one is being postponed to, well, to now. Nothing about now. Like this one:

http://www.caribbeandigitalnetwork.com/venezuela-proposes-17th-nam-summit-for-july-2016/

Venezuela Proposes 17th NAM Summit for July, 2016
Caribbean Digital Network | November 13, 2015

CARACAS (Prensa Latina) – President Nicolás Maduro will suggest to the Non Aligned Movement to hold the 17th summit of the group here, on July, 2016, a diplomatic source announced today.

According to a message posted on Twitter by Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, the NAM summit will be held on July 14-16, 2016.

Venezuela will assume the pro tempore presidency from Iran during that meeting, expected to be attended by all 120 member countries of the bloc.

In September, 2014, when Maduro announced that he would lead NAM, he said efforts would prioritize the presence of the voice of the peoples in world processes without impositions.

Given that Venezuela is a Royal Mess, I think it isn’t going to happen. Maybe. But maybe it will be moved somewhere else, or somewhen else, again.

Maybe that’s what it means to be non-aligned… nothing lines up…

From what I think might be the Iranian site (link broken by me so as not to have a connection with them: http: namiran.org/ ) just to give you warm fuzzies, here’s the subtitle of their organization banner:

“Lasting Peace Through Joint Global Governance”… not like anybody would be nervous or antsy about a Global Government doing that job, or the Iranians being big wigs in it…

In other news…

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article73657547.html

Bold added by me:

Andres Oppenheimer

April 20, 2016 8:12 AM
Venezuela nearing total “collapse”

A top International Monetary Fund economist says Venezuela could reach “total economic collapse” in 12-18 months

Judging from similar cases in Latin America, it’s hard to see how President Nicolas Maduro can finish his term in 2019

Democracies in the region should collectively press Maduro to respect democratic rules, and avoid a military coup.

A recent International Monetary Fund report that Venezuela will reach a 720 percent inflation rate this year — the highest in the world — has drawn a lot of media attention, but what I heard from a senior IMF economist this week was even more dramatic.

Robert K. Rennhack, deputy director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere department, told me in an interview that Venezuela is on a path to hyperinflation — the stage where the economy reaches total chaos — and could reach a “total collapse of the economic system” in 12 to 18 months if there are no changes in economic policies.

“Inflation in Venezuela probably entered on a hyperinflationary path in 2015,” Rennhack says. He told me that he expects Venezuela’s inflation to reach 2.200 percent in 2017, and could balloon very fast to 13,000 a year, the stage that most academics define as full-blown hyper-inflation.

Editorial: Venezuela is grinding to a halt amid chaos

[…]
Rennhack said his team of economists looked at previous episodes of hyper-inflation in Bolivia (1982-1984,) Argentina (1989-1990) and Brazil (1989-1990.) From those experiences, they concluded that Venezuela is on a similar path as these countries were between 12 and 18 months before their hyper-inflationary crises.

President Nicolas Maduro’s term ends in 2019, although the opposition MUD coalition is considering launching a referendum to demand early elections.

Is this Maduro’s final year in office in Venezuela?

Many Venezuelans believe the country will explode much sooner than in 12 to 18 months. Prices go up daily, supermarket shelves are near empty, there are growing electricity shortages — Maduro has declared every Friday in April and May a non-working holiday in order to save energy — and crime statistics are skyrocketing.

The Venezuelan currency, the Bolivar, is increasingly worthless. Not even robbers want it: a few months ago, news report quoted an engineer named Pedro Venero as saying that he was attacked by armed robbers who were looking for U.S. dollars stashed in his home, but refused to take Bolivars.

Essentially, Venezuela is on economic death watch and Hospice is being called… When even the robbers won’t take your currency, it is pretty much worthless.

The major questions now are just when, and in what manor? (Elections, Revolution, Invasion, etc. etc.)

The rest of Latin America is looking askance at them too:

http://en.mercopress.com/venezuela

Monday, June 27th 2016 – 08:01 UTC
Temer will be absent from Mercosur summit; displeasure with Venezuela
Temer ”does not wish to participate in the solemnity of the event when Venezuela takes over the Mercosur presidency
“according to sources in Folha de Sao Paulo.

Brazilian interim president Michel Temer will be absent from the next Mercosur summit scheduled to take place in Montevideo, and this decision is considered a strong message to the Venezuelan government of president Nicolas Maduro that will be taking the group’s chair for the next six months.

Tuesday, June 28th 2016 – 06:28 UTC
Mercosur presidential summit off, but chair transfer to Venezuela will be done at foreign ministers’ level
“There won’t be any presidential summit, but yes the Mercosur chair transfer to Venezuela for the next six months will take place”, pointed out the two ministers

Mercosur presidential summit next July in Montevideo has been cancelled, but the six-month presidency of the group, currently held by Uruguay will be transferred as scheduled to Venezuela, although some conditions of the event are “pending discussion”, said on Monday foreign ministers Susana Malcorra and host Rodolfo Nin Novoa.

Thursday, June 30th 2016 – 13:22 UTC
Paraguay does not accept Venezuela as Mercosur pro tempore chair; group split in half
Loizaga said Paraguay will not accept Venezuela’s presidency since “it’s not a good message for Mercosur because we were not consulted, nor was Brazil”.

Mercosur is again split over Venezuela because Paraguay, and apparently Brazil, have not been consulted regarding the decision to hand the pro tempore presidency of the block to Venezuela in July, as was agreed in Montevideo by Uruguay and Argentina.

Wednesday, July 6th 2016 – 06:54 UTC
Brazil asks Mercosur chair transfer to Venezuela to be delayed until August
Serra told Uruguay president Vázquez, “we’re asking for more time. Let’s wait ’til August, the Mercosur presidency must be the result of an unanimous decision”

The deep differences among Mercosur members as to who should hold the group’s rotating chair this second half of the year surfaced openly in Montevideo with the surprise visit of Brazilian foreign minister Jose Serra and ex president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The Brazilin delegation formally requested Uruguay, which currently holds the six/month Mercosur chair to suspend the transfer to Venezuela until at least August.

Friday, July 8th 2016 – 04:56 UTC
Uruguayan government insists in transferring Mercosur presidency to Venezuela
A release from Uruguay’s foreign ministry, which was not signed by Nin Novoa, reiterates its decision to transfer the Mercosur chair to Venezuela

Uruguay ratified on Thursday its willingness to transfer the Mercosur presidency to Venezuela despite objections from the other members, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. In a brief statement in its official site, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Uruguay, currently holding the Mercosur pro tempore chair “reiterates its position to proceed to transfer the presidency, in abidance with what is established by the current Mercosur rules”.

So that’s two international Summit Bodies that are all messed up over Venezuela…

And all of South America waiting for Venezuela to collapse so they can get on with life.

From Russia, With Bruises

The Nightly News was dominated by a lost guy running out of the Dallas police parking structure and all of Dallas’s finest looking for him under every car, so the potential start of W.W.III was relegated to the Crawler at the bottom of the screen.

Searching on line, I found many articles, but in order to avoid US / European/ Russian bias, I’m linking to one from Al Jazeera, who ought to be a bit jaundiced about all this… if you want other sources, just search on “Russia expels diplomats”…

Seems the USA and Russia have been tossing each others diplomats out. Never mind that this often precedes fighting. Never mind that Russia has a pattern of military action during The Olympics (and their track and field were kicked out for doping). Never mind that Russia likes doing things in the Lame Duck part of a presidential term, knowing The Prez usually doesn’t want to sully his exit with a surprise war (especially THIS Prez.) No, far more important for Barry Obummer to fly off to Dallas to argue for disarming the voters.

The USA “diplomat” got into a dust up with a cop when the “diplomat” was “trying to enter the US Embassy”. So the USA expelled 2 Russian “diplomats”. So Russia tatted the tit and expelled 2 US “diplomats”. Keep this up, the booze budget in the capitals could be severely impacted…

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/russia-expels-diplomats-tit-tat-move-160709140506319.html

Politics 12 hours ago

Russia expels two US diplomats in ‘tit-for-tat’ move

Moscow’s move comes in response to Washington’s decision to expel Russian officials over an attack on a US diplomat.

Moscow says that both expelled US diplomats were CIA agents [AFP]

Russia has said it expelled two US Embassy staff members in a retaliatory move after a similar action by Washington last month.

“After their unfriendly step two employees of the US Embassy had to leave Moscow,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

One of the expelled diplomats was involved in an incident with a Russian policeman near the US Embassy entrance in Moscow, Ryabkov said, also claiming that both expelled diplomats were CIA agents.

“They were declared persona non grata for activities incompatible with their diplomatic status,” he said on “the tit-for-tat expulsions”.

“We hope Washington recognises all the same the perversity of its anti-Russian line. If they decide there to move further along the path of escalation it will not remain unanswered,” Ryabkov warned.

US move

The US State Department on Friday announced that it had expelled two Russian officials over an attack on a US diplomat in Moscow.

Department spokesman John Kirby said that on June 6, a Russian policeman attacked the accredited US diplomat in question while entering the US embassy compound, after the US official identified himself.

“On June 17, we expelled two Russian officials from the US to respond to this attack,” Kirby said.

Moscow, disputes the US version of events and insists the diplomat was a CIA agent who attacked the policeman as he tried to stop him to check his ID as he returned from a spying mission in the city.

Relations between Russia and the US have chilled following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, after which the West imposed sanctions against Russia.

Season with Russian jets buzzing US fleets, US moving forces into the Baltic area, and more…

https://www.rt.com/news/345510-us-forces-march-lithuania/

US forces rumble across Lithuania to large-scale Baltic NATO drills (VIDEO)

Published time: 6 Jun, 2016 01:26
Edited time: 6 Jun, 2016 06:55

A newly released video shows US armed forces marching through Lithuanian territory as they take part in “Dragoon Ride II,” a tactical march taking place ahead of NATO’s massive annual military drills that will be conducted in the Baltic States this year.

In the video, columns of US military vehicles, including Stryker M1126 Infantry Carriers and M1128 Mobile Gun Systems equipped with 105mm cannons, can be seen moving along the streets of Lithuanian cities.

Military columns consisting of 10-20 vehicles rumbled along the route from the city of Kalvarija to the city of Panevezys throughout the day, Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.

In the second part of the video, US military vehicles are seen parked near a shopping mall in Panevezys, as US soldiers show the vehicles, weapons, and equipment to locals.

Dragoon Ride II is a “2,200-kilometer [1,370-mile] tactical road march from the town of Vilseck, Germany to Estonia” that is being conducted from May 27 to June 15 ahead of the annual drills, according to the US army’s official website.

Its purpose is to “demonstrate a dynamic presence throughout the region by showcasing freedom of movement,” the statement on the website says.

The demonstration of military might features “1,400 Soldiers and 400 vehicles stopping in several cities to host public displays of their equipment along with their Allied counterparts.”

The march is being held in the run up to “Saber Strike 16,” a US-led multinational exercise that has been held annually in the EU since 2011. This year’s exercises will take place in the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – from May 30 to June 22.

Nearly 10,000 service members from 13 states are to participate in the drills. Apart from major NATO forces and those of the host countries, troops and military equipment from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, and the UK will also take part.

They have a photo of a B-52 with a caption that they are headed over too…

What could possibly go wrong…

In Conclusion

So our President is indulging in Domestic Navel Gazing and a lust to disarm Americans, while South America grinds to a halt, the Middle East is mid-war, and NATO pees in the Russian Garden… And the Russians are sharpening their long knives…

God I wish we had someone with a clue running our country.
Anyone, of any party, just with a tiny bit of clue…

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