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My Rise and Fall Part 2
Disclaimer: This is likely going to be the most boring section but year 3 is where it starts to get good (which I can make it more humorous) and I will type it up while I play tomorrow. But as long as interest in these threads is here I will invest the time in making them. A couple comments in the first one said it was nostalgic, which I agree, its kind of why I am even writing these. These were the actual good days of poker before government decided to fuck it up for everyone, poker is a shell of what it used to be and it will never return to its glory days without government fucking off. There is no entry point for new players these days, there are no advertisements on ESPN, no play money hustles or low stakes games online full of fish (now full of bots or bot like regs) or mega field mtts for people to get excited about. Also processing power has grown so much that problem solvers are becoming prevalent in decent stakes games. Jump online and play some NLH, it is insanely unfriendly to anyone playing less than perfect (plo is the only way to play online now, lets make it bigger than NLH!). Your every leak will be exploited. Its just not going to come back. (No one tell me bovada is soft either, fuck the anonymous stuff, 4$ rake no rewards system, they deserve no business, globalpoker is the only one worse) Also worth noting every single event I cover is real. The only thing that can be false is dialogue (for humor usually) and potentially altered hand histories due to lapsed memory. Oh and since I bashed two online sites I will plug one. Coinpoker.com - learn how to use crypto and join up. The software is solid, traffic a bit slow for USA time zones but its growing a bit. I have no affiliation aside from playing there and would enjoy more traffic in USA peak hours. Year 2 I am now a 20 year old gun slinger in the wild West of online poker. I am grinding sit n gos and mtts and cash games. I am a jack of all trades, and a master of all games. I am playing plo stud8 nlh it didnt matter, I just wanted to learn every game. I was a genuine student of poker, it consumed my brain at all times. I wake up at noon to slide into my chair and start grinding, still living at home with my dad in my ear telling me to get a job because “there is no future to gambling” to which I retort “you got it wrong pops, its actually no gamble no future, and I am gonna gamble for mine”. I am in the backwoods of Oklahoma. I have no clue when high speed internet was invented but I sure as hell didnt have it in 2006. I was still using dialup as it was the only option available. I grind a lot of mtts and sitngos, and when Poker Stars releases a small patch or update I always paid the piper. I would leave the website open 24/7 so disconnects often would leave me screaming at my computer banging my head as updates downloaded for 5-20 minutes usually. Often I would be ITM in an mtt or holding AA/KK somewhere praying to the poker gods that everyone else disconnected and was feeling my struggles as well. Nevertheless I am becoming a winning player. I have erratic account balances ranging from 300-1000$ while I play $1-10$ mtts (and occasionally jumping into a 20$+) and cash games at 10nl/plo mostly. I dont exactly recall the tourney that allowed me to cash out $3,000 off of Poker Stars, but it happened at some point that year. I remember the day it came in the mail pretty well. I got in my piece of shit 1998 Ford F150 (that I drove from age 17 to 23ish until I gave it to a friend who had his car stolen, it finally collapsed at 310k miles, I abused that truck, it literally had so many original parts on it, including the spark plugs amazingly) and drove into town head held high with my prize sitting on my lap. I couldnt wait to get to the bank so they could ask me where I got all this money from (which is ironic because a year later you had to lie if you wanted to retain your bank account). In my mind, as a 20 year old who has never even held 1000$ of my own money before it felt like I was going to be cashing the biggest check they would see all week. I arrive at a Bank of Oklahoma, walk in and head to an open teller. She was an elderly lady probably in her 60s. I hand her the check and give her my account info and she starts punching away on her computer. She asks me how I want it, and with a smug grin on my face I say “in cash”. She gives me a blank stare then reaches into her drawer and pulls out a stack of $100 bills. This was the moment I had lived for, this was the moment my year plus of sitting in a basement ostracized from society grinding it out on my leather ass was for. She leans in to start counting out $3,000 and time is moving so slow for me. My bottom lip is literally shaking watching her count this massive sum of fiat, it was at the time the greatest moment of my life (over losing virginity, over the first time feeling the euphoria of MDMA, over anything). It felt so fulfilling. Pixelated cash turned to physical cash and I was on my way. Making the hour drive to the city to buy some cocaine and hang out with friends. Short version of the weeks that followed that event, cocaine and home games for pennies. The money ran dry and my nose wore raw. The cocaine was rarely good obviously but thats to be expected in 2006 and in the Midwest. Towards the end of the year I am going to a friends house to play after a weekend of partying and poker. We played at the casino the night before and have had little to no sleep in two days. Hes not a well seasoned super pro who has cashed a $3,000 check like me but he dabbles a bit. Its Sunday and were gonna grind a few tourneys, one in particular was a freeroll for anyone who earned X amount of FPPs over a set period of time. Everyone who makes final table gets a $12,000 package to main event. So we saddle up and jump into this (if my memory serves me correctly) 26,000~ player field. Luckily it had a good structure with plenty of play, 5 minute levels was going to allow my sharpened skills to shine. Laptops out, chargers plugged into a power supply we were underway. We felt like Louis and Clark setting out to traverse the western USA. We were gonna chart our maps on our way through this large field and claim our prize. We rarely say a word to each other through the first hour, were dog ass tired from the partying and high stakes 1-2nl at the casino the night before. I bust my entry in the second hour, humiliated by the poker gods I look over at my friend in disgrace to let him know he is on his own, only to see him fast asleep sitting out at his table. I grab his laptop and feel my heart thud and my jugular swell as I have been revitalized having a second chance at this tourney, so long as he doesnt wake up. I quietly accrue chips, soul reading my digital opponents and swiping their blinds. An hour passes I am still alive. Another hour and I am full thrive. Another hour and it seems I wont be deprived. We get down to 1000 then 500 then 100 people left standing. I awake my friend to show him what I have done, much to his surprise. He was excited but knew that I was the captain of his ship now. He fell asleep at the helm, so his ship now belonged to me. Now to the hands I remember pretty well. Two tables left. Not a ton of play but I am one of the bigger stacks. 15ish left and I am in the blinds with 66 when some asshat rips from the cutoff. It will cost me 3/4 of my stack (tbh I cant remember how many bb, it had to be 6-10 I would think, a 5 minute level turbo with 26k people back in 06? Had to be shallow) but I nut up and call. My 66 is ahead of his QT but he finds a way to win. Now I am on deaths throes seeing this 12k package slip out of my grasp. Aside from a pivotal pot that I won with K9o (ripping shallow) I remember no other hands but I assure you no one was all in or had someone all in more than I did at those final two tables. It tailed off with me comfortably sliding in from 11~ left to 9. I remember agonizing so many all ins, laughing when I won and yelling FUCK!! when I lost. More highs and lows over that 20-30 minutes than I had ever thought possible, and wouldnt feel again for a year or two. This 12k score was by far my biggest to date. We fist bumped and despite having no sleep we went out drinking and playing 1-2 like a couple of punk 21 year olds that we were. Kind of a side note but I have had many threats to me at a poker table, I am a bit mouthy (in the name of humor, but the humorless get angry). Since it was my friends account we chopped the 12k. He proceeded to become a 200nl pro for the next few weeks. Sitting with the likes of Sam Simon (of The Simpsons, he was a frequent Poker Stars player) and melting off a good portion before tapping out. I proceeded to continue to chip up from there. Then I had some issues on Poker Stars. While playing some 180 man sitgos I was talking to someone in chat. Who then found me on my cash tables to ask me what I had in a hand. Needless to say I broke collusion rules (worse than that, he lingered and was telling me his hands and I would tell him mine like a nimrod). Wasnt exactly intentional but I received a life time ban on Poker Stars and they sent me a check for my account balance. Not my proudest moment, it was dumb but honestly resulted in a net positive. The end of the year I turn 21 and am grinding FTP and I am thinking about moving out of my folks house. I never get a fat roll together but I am winning here and there and blowing money like an idiot kid who has no concept of tomorrow. I was downloading new poker sites (the resulting net positive from losing stars) One last story from this year. This is genuinely my favorite one I ever tell (and I tell it occasionally to this day in certain situations with people I dont think will get offended and they set themselves up for it) I walk into a card room and get a 1-2 seat. I grab chips and head that way, and I end up drawing a seat directly to this old mans left. The old man was my grandfather. I had spent minimal time with this man in my life. Less than most people do with grandparents who live fairly close. He was a gambler though, stocks or cards. Rumor has it (never heard this from him only my mom and other family) in the late 70s or early 80s he sells a plot of land with a few oil drills on it and heads to Vegas where he spends 6-9 months playing poker and comes back busto. I never asked him about this story, if true I am sure he was felting himself to Brunson or Slim or some of the other old timers. The land yielded him a few hundred thousand dollars. The funny part is that piece of land is still pumping oil in 2019 (he fucked up). He recovered in life though, he never lived poorly. Owned a house on a lake in Oklahoma and dated meth addicted women 30 years younger than him my whole life. Just a standard version of a sugar daddy I suppose. Anyhow, we greet each other and exchange a few words before just getting immersed in the game. Hes not exactly an old man coffee player, I do know his favorite hand is 910 though from poker discussions we had previously. About an hour into the session I have barely played a hand. I look over at him and say “man I just keep getting 92o 83o 72o over and over”. He then turns his head towards me and looks me in the eyes and says words I never will forget. He says (using fake name here) “Johnny, there aint one guy at this table that gives a fuck what youre folding” and looks away. I wasnt shocked at the cold response. He was a brash and dry person. Never told a joke that I remember. I never forgot it though and when people try to complain about their cards I tell them “I will tell you what my grandpappy told me, aint nobody at this table gives a fuck what youre folding”. Even though it was kind of cold, truer words rarely are uttered at a poker table. The last thing I care about is someones bad beats or card dead hour or wtf ever else. We are all so self involved that we think people care to hear a bad beat story or whatever, but they dont. Part 3 in the next day or two.
Hi All, This idea for a Fallout Game has been burrowing a hole in my head for the past few weeks and if I don't share it I feel I'm going to burst. The Setting Two of the most requested cities for a future Fallout game (on the East coast at least) are Philadelphia and New York City... but what if we could have both? In Fallout: Pathfinder, the game takes place in the space between these two metropolises - New Jersey, with Philadelphia and New York taking up the lower-left and top-right corners of the map. The game takes place between the events of Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, in 2283, and charts the events that occur between the two games. Like Fallout 76 (clearly everyone's favorite Fallout game! /s), the map will also be split into biomes that will represent the diversity of landscape present in the state. These areas will be: - The Gap: Following the mountainous area along the Delaware river on New Jersey's western border, this isolated and forested area will be the starting location for the player. Some major cities will include Hackettstown, home of Galaxy Confectionary HQ (producers of Big Pop's Bubblegum, Sugar Bombs, and other sugary goodness), and Morristown, the first major locale the player visits. - The College: In the huge suburban sprawl between Rutgers University and Princeton University, this area will feature callbacks to the intense rivalry between the two schools, and will be where the player encounters the first main story beats. It is also where the first major post war settlement will be located. - The Shore: Along the shoreline of New Jersey, this area will encompass the entire bottom right side of the map, full of high level ghouls due to the invention of the Rad-Bed, a tanning bed that used intense-but-short bursts of radiation to provide tanning, this area culminates in Atlantic City, a perverse reflection of New Vegas, where raider gangs roam the streets, and automated casinos provide these gambling-addicted raiders a fast way to dispose of their caps. - The Barrens: The bottom middle map features a ghostly and misty expanse of pinewood and brambles. Very few locations here, but designed to give players an uneasy feeling when traversing. While not as plentiful as Far Harbor and the Mire, a few Anglers can be spotted in the marshy areas of the Barrens, as well as tales of one of the Game's few cryptids. Legend says the Jersey Devil stalks the woods. - The Corridor: North of the College lies the corridor, an interminable series of Ghost towns that lead into New York City. Picked dry by prospectors and other entrepreneurial citizens of the College, the Corridor is one of the few relatively safe avenues for trade between the College and the warring gangs of lower Manhattan, flanked by the water on the right and the wilder sections of the Gap to its North and West. - Manhattan: In the Great War, a bomb struck New York city in the heart of Central Park, levelling most of the city (but not all) above Midtown. And yet, in the remaining lower section of the Island, gangs of raiders fight over the spoils of a post-nuclear New York. These gangs include the 54s, who have occupied the northernmost section of what remains of the city, the Villagers who inhabit the area in and around Washington Square Park, and the Bulls who occupy the southernmost point of the island. While they stand divided now, a united coalition could cast a wide shadow over the surrounding area. - Philadelphia: Inhabited by Enclave Reformers, these survivors (more below) seek to change and move past the legacy of war and genocide of their fathers, towards a different future, and they seek that future in the ruins of America's first capital, where it all began. Many in senior leadership however view the warring gangs of Manhattan as a threat that may have to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Will the wasteland cause their good intentions to die out? - Staten Island: This island will be for "post-game" content. Isolated from the rest of the area, the creatures here have been forged in a crucible of violence and are significantly stronger than anywhere else in the area. Are you ready for the challenge? The Factions - The Enclave Remnants: In the aftermath of the fall of Adams Airforce Base and the collapse of their senior leadership, the shattered and broken remnants of the Enclave on the East Coast make their way North-East, braving the swamps of Delaware and losing many in the process, but finally making their way to the ruins of Philadelphia, America's first Capital, where the new generation is attempting to shrug off the warlike tendencies and mistakes of their fathers. They are hoping to reinvent what the Enclave stands for going forward. Will this new generation move past the ghosts of their past? - The Brotherhood of Steel Recon Squad Artemis: Arthur Maxson has just taken control on the East Coast chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel and is beginning to chart a path to the Commonwealth. In order to do so, Recon Squads are being sent north to clear the way for the Prydwen. Led by Paladin Brandis, this squad has landed on the outskirts of the College, where rumors of the Enclave in Philadelphia are just beginning to reach them. Will they continue with their mission, or will they stamp out the Enclave the only way they know how? Violently. - The College: The central point between the two urban sprawls, the College rose up as first a major trading post, then as a true post-war settlement, the shanty town echoes the sibling rivalry of the two universities upon which it stands: extreme factionalism divides the town between those who would side with their new southern neighbors, and those who remain skeptical and look to the north for answers, and beyond these both, a new faction that would see the College capitalize its position to the fullest and remain strong, proud, and most importantly, independent. - The Manhattan Gangs: While these groups have been fighting for decades, to call them raiders would be reductive: each features their own distinct culture, identity and way of life in the shadow of the ruined husks of the city. A grand alliance between these factions could radically reshape the landscape of the Northeast. But, with the riches of the world's biggest city between them, will the ever-fighting gangs be able to forge a new path? And if they do, will the city that never sleeps awaken once more? - The Shore Raiders: Headquartered in Atlantic City, the Shore Raiders spend their day gambling, slaving, raiding, and drinking. And that's how they like it. With the right leadership and organization, the Shore Raiders could come to dominate the Garden State and burn it to the ground. The Story As with all mainline Fallout games, the main character begins life in a Vault. Vault 110, located near Hackettstown, the player character is the child of the Vault's overseer. Vault 110's experiment, made in conjunction with the Galaxy Confectionary Company, was to see what the long term effects of consuming pre-packaged candy and chocolate would be in the presence of a limited diet. When the Vault door closed, Vault residents discovered that they had been the manufacturing ability to create a nearly limitless amount of Sugar Bombs, Big Pop's Bubblegum, Galaxy Chocolate Bars and more, but no simple way to grow vegetables and no reliable source of protein. In order to solve this issue, the second Overseer of Vault 110, seeing his vault dwellers become hopelessly malnourished in spite of their high caloric intake, made some secret modifications to the manufacturing equipment that would reprocess the organic matter from dead vault dwellers and slowly redistribute those nutrients into the candy the Vault was eating. Each overseer vowed to keep this confectionarized cannibalism a secret from the rest of the Vault in order to avoid armed retaliation and/or an opening of the Vault Doors. On their nineteenth birthday, the player character discovers the ghastly truth, and confronting their father, they are exiled from the vault never to be seen again. Exiting the vault and descending into Hackettstown, the main character, henceforth "the Exile", encounters a group of peaceful prospectors in the ruins. These prospectors belong to a faction called "The Pathfinders" who are seeking a safe path through the Gap in order to find trade routes in Eastern Pennsylvania and beyond. The Pathfinders point the Exile towards their nearby camp in Morristown, telling the Exile that they are not the first Vault 110 dweller to have left the Vault. In Morristown, the Exile finds the Pathfinder camp under assault by Shore Raiders. After successfully fighting them off, the leader of the Pathfinders, a woman named Isa Gonzalez, notes that the Shore Raiders must be getting desperate to attack settlements so far north, and points you in the direction of the College, down the old Interstate 278. When asking about the previous Vault 110 dweller, Isa hands you a holotape she found in the ruins of Morristown, the voice matches that of your grandfather, who had gone missing ten years ago, when your father took over the overseer position. You resolve to go searching for him. Once at the College, the game opens up as you get involved in both the internal politics of the settlement and the broader game of factions, however the bread crumb trail of holotapes and stories from other Jersey residents lead the Exile down the Shore region until they reach Atlantic City, home of the Shore Raiders. Here you learn that the Exile's grandparent was one of the founders of the Shore Raiders faction and oversaw their transition from chem junkies and gambling addicts to organized slaving and raiding faction. Your grandfather, now the leader of the faction, justifies this by saying that in the Vault, you lived in a society dominated by rules, and that if you followed those rules to the letter you would be rewarded, but those rules were sick, they misled people, and the societies outside the vault have the same problem. Only by eliminating the rules, can the Wasteland be free. You are then given the choice: Join the Shore Raiders or leave and never return. Themes Each and every Fallout game has a recurring theme that informs the entire narrative. In Fallout: Pathfinder, that theme is legacy. In particular: how do we move past the legacy of our parents, of our forefathers? For the player character, this is quite central to their character, as the questionable moral decisionmaking of their father, and all previous overseers, is part of the character arc. In addition, each major faction (with the exception of the Shore Raiders) is grappling with the past in some way, and dealing with the legacy of their faction or their settlement. Ultimately the moral of the story is that you get to define what your faction is and what their legacy will be going forward. __________________ I'm still fleshing out many of these ideas, but I'd love some feedback and if any modauthors/Fudgemuppeteers are reading this, let's talk!
As agreed, the Russian Federation has worked on a sweeping economic development package for Thailand that will focus on the development of a highly-modern and attractive tourist center that will focus on Phuket. In addition the Russian Federation will be assisting Thailand in developing two major southern trade-ports and the linkage between them using HSR with cargo-support. Although the Kra Canal Project was cancelled, this plan will ultimately bring even more money to Thailand, and force it to dock and cross Thailand proper at a faster rate than having to go through the Malacca Straits, while also bringing the money and resources inland- through Thailand. This ambitious proposal will only increase the amount of money and trade navigating through Thailand's center, boost tourism, and burgeon foreign investments in Thailand. On a geopolitical scale, this will prove to the world that Thailand does care about its image within ASEAN through cancelling the Kra Canal, as well as the environmental impact it would cause, but offer a more attractive plan that will provide more direct impact as an alternative to the Thai economy.
The Satun and Songkhla Economic Trade Hubs
After the Russian Federation agreed to the Global Development Initiative moving into Thailand, the Ministry of Economic development was keen to work with PM Shinawatra to develop an alternative to the Kra Canal that would bring in more revenues for Thailand. To do so, the Russian Federation set a course and a series of goals that would make such an option a more attractive alternative for Thailand. To do so, Satun, in the West, and Songkhla in the East, just the opposite side of Thailand's thinnest narrow- would be eligible for two massive port constructions. The Satun and Songkhla ports, although would be separate, were part of a larger scheme to circumvent the need for a Kra canal that would drive in more funds, foreign investment, but promise faster travel as the Kra Canal once did. What that would mean is, that each end port would have to be quite large, and able to accommodate a large flow trade. A preference would be set on speed and efficiency for loading and unloading ships to make it so equipment could transfer between ports faster. However this would have to include automation of the unloading from the boat, loading onto the transportation, and loading on the other vessel. Ultimately, the goal will be to still make it faster and attractive enough of an alternative than traversing the Malacca Straits for shipping dependent companies. To do so, both ports constructed will have to be large deep-water ports with massive twenty-foot equivalent unit capacity. Both Satun and the Songkhla ports will be constructed completely identical for streamlining sake. Thailand will be directed by the Russian Federation to set up a company to manage both ports as a state-owned enterprise, called Thai Shipping Corp. Ltd, which will make the process smoother as both will be managed by the same unit. Then Russian National Construction Engineering Corporation will construct the two large port authorities on each side, and all the supplies and resources for said construction will be purchased from Siam Cement Group (which does more than just cement). This will allow Thailand to receive economic benefits during the ports construction that will also include, the contracting of local unemployed Thai to build the ports. It would cost an insurmountable amount of money for the RNCEC to move Russian laborers there to construct, however it would be much more economically beneficial for the Thai people for them to be hired then get paid a Russian laborers wage. Both ports will be constructed to support 45 million TEUs annually. Each port will include a total of 54 berths, quay length of 15,600 m, an area of 600 hectares, max draft of 18 m, 190 quay cranes. Additionally, both will have warehouse facilities that cover 180,000 m2 , and a depth of 20 m. The Russian Federation aims to have this true megaport to be as automated as possible, in an attempt to make it the one of the largest, if not the largest series of interconnected fully automated port terminals on Earth. To do so, the Russian Federation will be providing thousands of driver-less vehicles and robotic equipment produced through the Golden Russia Plan and provide it specifically to the Satun and Songkhla Trade Hubs. To fund the port and the interconnectivity services, a tax fee will be paid to Thai Shipping Corp. Ltd, that will be used as Thailand's increase of revenue for having the trade hub, in addition to docking fees and ship fuel. Ultimately this will also create approximately 10,000 permanent jobs between both locations for managing controls, inspections, security and other longshoreman services. The construction of these two ports will cost $8 Bn in total, making each port a $4 Bn construction. These should be completed by 2031. Russia will be providing the project to Thailand, however will retain a holding of 25% of each port.
The Trans-Satun-Songkhla Economic Transportation Corridor
The second piece to tag onto the Trade Hub will be the necessary transportation corridor that will exist between Satun and Songkhla. A High Speed Rail service for both passengers and cargo will be serviced in a side-by-side line set called the Trans-Satun-Songkhla Economic Transportation Corridor. The railway will be operated by the State Railway of Thailand on 1,435 mm track gauge. The HSR will move of speeds around 300+ km/h between the two points. As the distance is approximately 125 km, it will take approximately 25 minutes to use the Russian Siemens HSR Cargo Cars to transport between transportation ends, which is considerably faster than going around the Malacca Straits. At which point, the cargo can quickly be loaded onto next-level transport in the logistics chain and be on the way to its end station. The high speed rail transportation corridor will likely be the most expensive undertaking of this project and is expected to cost $15 Bn to construct. This piece of the project should be completed in 2030.
The Phuket Special Economic Zone
As Thailand already operates several special economic zones that receive a large amount of investment from the central government, the Russian Federation has proposed to open Phuket as the next special economic zone for the purposes of tourism. This will make it much easier for the Russian Federation to invest in Thailand's southern provinces. Phuket already has a great airport and has connections travel connections to Thailand proper, however what it really needs is major investment in one of it's most forefront markets- tourism. Already one of the peak destinations for tourism in Thailand, the Russian Federation has a plan to make it more attractive by significantly extending its current white sand beaches, adding nightclubs/bars, and casinos. To do so, however, under the special economic zone, Thailand will have to allow gambling within the Phuket economic zone. While gambling is illegal in China and much of Asia, this will allow Phuket to dip into the honeymoon, Asian gambling, and Western gambling markets in a similar, yet cheaper way than Macau. Phuket will receive assistance from the RNCEC to extend a white sand beach along the entirety of Mu Ban Chao Le. This will turn a large formerly mudflat beach into usable white sand beach for tourism right neat the city center of Phuket proper. This will provide just over 3 kilometers of area for Phuket to build resorts and casinos along the beachfront. The RNCEC will assist Thailand and interested hotel and casino chains from other countries in filling up the new strip, however at least one spot must be reserved for Russia's Azimut Resort Chain which will be building a casino. Just behind the major resort strip at Mu Ban Chao Le, the RNCEC will also assist in major bar and nightclub construction to feed these hotels and the rest of Phuket's tourist industry. The Russian Federation will invest $15 Bn into this project, and expects that it will return a considerable amount for Thailand, especially off of the gambling and tourism boom it will cause, dragging tourists from China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and Western nations. Russia will not seek a holding on the Phuket investment as it will purely serve for Thailand's benefit as a token of Russian goodwill.
Stability, Security, and CSTO Cooperation
The Russian Federation understands that Thailand has been experiencing issues with its military force after the junta was ousted from power. As discussed prior, Thailand has been admitted to the CSTO as an observer, and will be receiving Russian training, assistance, and armament during this time because of its commitment to the organization. The Russian Federation has formerly discussed with Thailand sending a security and training force that will help prevent a counter-coup and begin preparing Thailand's new officer corps. The Russian Ministry of Defense has agreed to send a 2,000 soldier training and security force to Bangkok, Thailand that will focus on educating its new officer corps and retraining Thailand's military force in CSTO doctrine and tactics. The FSB and the State Security Service will each send an attache to work alongside the National Intelligence Agency by training their forces and conducting joint operations. The Russian Spetsnaz GRU will send 100 soldiers to teach the Royal Thai Army Special Warfare Command at their Special Warfare School. In reciprocation, Russian forces will gain an understanding in fighting in the harsh jungles of South East Asia. After three years of continued commitment to the CSTO, CSTO-Thai relations have increased exponentially, and have only been cemented through the recent economic developments. The Russian Federation has extended an invitation for Thailand to join as a full-member of the CSTO that will entitle them to all the protection benefits, economic benefits, and cross-cultural training. The CSTO is ready to make new commitments to Thailand after Russia has shown Thailand that it can fulfill its original promises. If Thailand agrees to this commitment, Thailand will receive a CSTO package of the latest equipment, and discounts on all proceeding equipment, in addition to admission to the current joint-training rotations, and full participant status in exercises that will include Aerial, Ground, Naval, and Special Forces. A special joint training will be opening in Thailand due to its uniqueness that will include other full-members. The Russian Federation is interested in executing a lease for a naval-air base in Thailand at Trat. The Russian Federation plans to base the 2,000 troops there mentioned earlier in the discussions. The Russian Federation would like to take a lease for 20 years on Trat at $500 Mn a year, at 4.6% interest. Russia will pay the rent annually including interest to the Thai Government for the lease, to be renegotiated at the end of the 20 year period. Thailand will be able to cancel the lease at their choosing at any point in time, however if it is cancelled in the first 10 years of the lease, they will be required to backpay all the rent and the interest for a lack of fulfilling the agreed lease. Russian forces will leave uncontested if requested under these terms. From years 11 to 20, the Russian Federation can have the lease cancelled by Thailand without requiring backpay. Russia will not be required to pay the rest of the interest or payment for the lease, and will receive the rent and interest payment back only for the current year. Russia will be allowed to dismantle the base and destroy any equipment not brought with them when departing. The land the base sits in will not belong to the Russian Federation at any point in time, they will be granted usage rights.
A terrorist attack earlier this year killed 337 people in a rural village 120-kilometers outside of Pishan, in the Xinjiang autonomous region of northwestern China. Authorities say sometime in the evening of March 5th, 2019, Yusuf Ajiyiming used an unknown delivery method to silently poison the small village with carfentanil -- a powerful narcotic that is lethal, even in small doses. Officials have described the event as a massacre, with one saying, “He killed men, women, and children indiscriminately. Many were killed in their sleep. He spared no one -- not even babies in their cribs. The village, for all purposes, is gone.” Authorities have described the attack as terrorism, but have not stated if it was fueled by politics, religion, or if the attacker had some other motivation. Notably, local government officials in the region, as well as national Chinese investigators, have remained largely silent on how the attack was carried out. Off the record, investigators say they have no idea how one man could carry out such an assault, with several saying they believe he received detailed help. Answers about the why-and-how of the attack will not be forthcoming from Mr. Ajiyiming himself, who was executed on conviction of terrorism and murder charges on April 12th, 2019. Investigators now say they have turned to forensic evidence and Mr. Ajiyiming’s family for answers, but have refused to describe what new information they’ve recovered or where Mr. Ajiyiming’s family is now. Based on interviews with investigators from the Ministries of Public and State Security, as well as regional and national officials, and supported by police documents and confidential sources, Myra Kindle brings you a special investigative report on an attack that is being called terrorism, but whose evidence tells a more complicated story.
The Night Of
It’s impossible to know exactly what transpired on the evening of March 5th, 2019. For nearly two months investigators have been trying to recreate the scene through forensic evidence, and for two months they have failed. Their biggest question -- how could 337 people fall dead simultaneously? “The evidence says the village was hit all at once,” says Qiang Li, an investigator with the Ministry of Public Security. “On the street, men and women fell within seconds of each other. We know it was sudden because many of the dead had fall related bruising, suggesting villagers didn’t have time to brace themselves when they collapsed. The bodies are also spaced out in such a way suggesting no villagers ran to help one another.” On the mechanism of death, investigators are positive that the narcotic carfentanil killed each of the 337 villagers, and that once administered, it would have been lethal in minutes. “The drug appears in high doses in each of the villagers,” says investigator Li. “There can be no dispute on how they died. They would have felt sick at first, but soon would have overdosed, gone into a coma, and then suffered respiratory and/or heart failure within just a few minutes.” Carfentanil, a drug 1,000 times more powerful than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, has been linked to numerous drug overdoses in the United States and across the world. Typically mixed with heroin to increase its potency, the drug is lethal in doses as small as just a few milligrams. What is perplexing to investigators is not that carfentanil could kill, but how it could kill so uniformly and in such a short period of time. Absent a delivery method, no clear theory has been presented on how the attack was perpetrated. “We have several ideas on how the culprit could’ve done it,” says Qiang Li. “He could have poisoned the local water-well, or given the villagers a gift of food that was poisoned. He could have thrown the drug into the wind or used a kite or some other device to drop the powder from the sky. We don’t know how Yusuf Ajiyiming carried out the attack, but there are ways he could have.” All the theories presented by investigators thus far have issues that either disqualify them, or make it highly unlikely that Mr. Ajiyiming used one these methods. In regards to timing, it would have been impossible for Mr. Ajiyiming to ensure that each villager ate or drank at the same time. In regards to the more plausible delivery systems of air or wind, there’s an even bigger problem -- Mr. Ajiyiming was likely several hundreds kilometers away from the village when the attack took place. A resident of Urumqi, a city some several hundred kilometers to the northeast Pishan, Mr. Ajiyiming reportedly provided evidence to investigators before his execution that he was home the day before and after the attack. With no car and no evidence he traveled on public transportation, it is virtually impossible for him to have made the long trip and return in such a short time. Still, investigators are certain it was him. “There is no doubt the attack was carried out by Yusuf Ajiyiming,” says investigator Li. “We know he is the terrorist -- that is why he was already executed.” Off the record, confidential sources at the Ministry of State Security tell me they believe Mr. Ajiyiming must have received help to carry out the attack. One official commenting anonymously said, “We believe Yusuf Ajiyiming probably wasn’t within several hundred kilometers of the village on March 5th, the day before, or even the day after. We believe it would be quite impossible for him to commit this atrocity alone.” While Mr. Ajiyiming’s wife and son have been detained and could not be reached for comment, several relatives of Mr. Ajiyiming say the government's account does not fit the picture of the man they know. Although they have no evidence, several suggested the Chinese government is simply using Mr. Ajiyiming as a scapegoat for some other group’s actions. One relative said, “They want to blame him because they need someone to blame. If they cannot find the real person who did it, they will always find someone like us to blame.”
The Xinjiang Region
In a region of China already saddled with controversy over internment camps and the heavy surveillance of the minority Uyghur (pronounced ‘we-ger’) population, this attack is expected to have grave consequences for the Xinjiang region. Mr. Ajiyiming himself is of the Uyghur ethnic group. “The modern day Chinese government has been suspicious of the Uyghur population for decades,” says Cynthia Zhang, a researcher of Chinese policy at the Brookings Institute. “This attack will almost certainly be used to continue the strong national intervention and degradation of human rights in the region that we’ve seen under President Xi.” Home to a majority of the Uyghur population in the world, the mostly Sunni Muslim ethnic group of the Xinjiang region has faced incredible pressure from the Chinese government to conform to state approved worship. Partly out of fear of jihadism and other radical extremism, the Chinese government has also taken incredible efforts to also surveille the Uyghur population. “Face recognition has becoming increasingly common in China, but that’s just the beginning of the type of surveillance that exists for Uyghurs,” says Ms. Zhang. “From on-the-ground community spies that report any type of criminality, to mandatory software that needs to be installed on phones to keep track of messages, to physical barriers that require facial scans to traverse from one part of the city to another -- the Uyghur population is under very close watch.” It’s this extremely tight surveillance that makes the March 5th attack all the more puzzling. Mr. Ajiyiming resided in a major city, and the idea that he could simply leave without the Chinese government knowing is either preposterous or an indictment on a multi-billion dollar security infrastructure. For Mr. Ajiyiming’s relatives, it has been a point of frustration as they say it is all the more reason the attack could not have been carried out by Yusuf.
The Hidden China
While both China and the regional government of Xinjiang have been largely silent on evidence that Mr. Ajiyiming’s carried out the March 5th attack, there is one detail that is heavily cited -- the ethnicity of the victims. The village outside Pishan was entirely populated by Han-Chinese, the ethnic majority in China but a minority population within the Xinjiang region. “The malice behind this attack was because they were Han,” says Ai Wei Wong, national deputy liaison to the Xinjiang region. “They were targeted and killed because of they were Han Chinese.” Accounting for 90% of mainland China’s ethnic group, the Han led Chinese government has long feared uprisings by minority groups such as the Tibetans, Mongols, and Uyghurs. In executing Mr. Ajiyiming, the government emphatically made the case that he hated Han-Chinese, and used this as a motive for why he massacred the village of 337 people. “We look at this situation and this is what we always fear,” says Ms. Wong. “This is our fear come true, and it justifies the preventive measures the government has taken to limit the danger from these populations.” While the Chinese government published the names and ages of victims in the attack, aside from their ethnicity, surprisingly little is known about the dead.
Not listed on any map and with no official name, the rural village outside of Pishan that was attacked remains something of a mystery. Currently impossible to visit due to a still strong investigative presence, the village outside of Pishan was likely a small community that focused on agriculture or another common trade. There is however another possibility -- one that has been given more credience through reporting -- that the village was remotely located so it could participate in illicit activity. From counterfeit alcohol production, to DVD packaging, to sometimes just straight murder, the economics of illicit rural Chinese villages are diverse, and they often operate with their own laws and codes of ethics. “The Chinese government has been completely unable to manage illicit rural economies,” says Cynthia Zhang of the Brookings Institute. “There is simply too much territory to cover to ever do it effectively. These villages and towns are essentially their own governments, and the ones that choose to partake in illegal activity can pretty much do so freely.” Ms. Zhang says the economic incentives for these villages favor producing counterfeit goods and drugs because these exports are worth more than anything a small village could produce otherwise. She also says that without any police presence, the only thing stopping villages from illicit activity is their own desire not to do it. In regards to the village that was attacked, it has become increasingly clear through interviews with residents in the neighboring city of Pishan, that the village was likely involved in such behavior. One resident of Pishan who commented anonymously said, “The rural villages out there make alcohol and drugs. We know this because that’s how it comes into the city, and then from the city it goes elsewhere in China, or out to Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Tajikistan. We always know this.” Another resident commented, “The heroin comes from Afghanistan to China, then we package it and send it elsewhere.” Although residents of Pishan don’t have evidence of such an illegal trade route, Anthony Schwartz of the Council of Foreign Relations says, “North of the golden crescent there are similar pathways for opioid production and counterfeiting. If the transportation is cheap enough, it works in the favor of drug manufacturers to outsource different parts of the operation over a several hundred mile area. I’m unaware of that specific trade route, but if the transportation exists, almost certainly drugs are transported there.”
In my time interviewing local residents of Pishan and the neighboring area, I came across two men who regularly hike in the area surrounding the village that was attacked. While both hikers say they were not in the area on or around the attack on March 5th, they do claim to have some familiarity with the village. One hiker commenting anonymously said, “We hike in the hills around the village once or twice a month. It’s a really beautiful area, but we would never want to get close to the people out there. You wouldn’t build something out there unless you want it hidden. That’s what I think, at least.” The other hiker backs up this opinion, but also adds, “They have flying devices in the hills there that I think keep watch. They’re very small -- a person couldn't fly one, but I see them sometimes and they have four propellers, or maybe more.” When reminded of the flying devices, the first hiker confirms that he has seen them as well, and after speaking with the men further, I’m convinced that what they’re describing are manless drones. The idea of a drone flying in the area, coupled with the notion that such a village could be used to produce illicit substances, provided me with a new question -- could drones have been used to ferry drugs or other contraband between the village and other locations? Richard Matthews, a former DEA agent, believes not only is that a possibility, but that he’s seen something like it before: “I don’t know about China, but on the US Southern border drones are sometimes used to move drugs. There’s a big catch though -- drones can’t carry much weight. Whatever you’re moving can’t be more than just a few pounds, and it really can’t be very bulky either. There aren’t many drugs that can be transported that way.”
It is possible that on March 5th, 2019, a terrorist plot was carried out by Yusuf Ajiyiming against a village of 337 Han-Chinese citizens. It is possible that fueled by hatred for the ethnic majority and ruling class in China, Yusuf traveled several hundred kilometers in the middle of the night with no car or public transportation, obtained a large quantity of carfentanil, and then somehow found a delivery method to kill 337 people in a matter of minutes. This is at least the story that the Chinese and Xinjiang regional governments have stated, and one that they stick to. It’s also a story on which they have been willing to execute a man and take his wife and child out of public view and to a location unknown. It is not however, what I believe. I believe it is far more likely that in a small rural village of 337 Chinese citizens existed as a minor link in part of a larger drug trade. I believe that the village likely used carfentanil to either package heroin, or was possibly just a loading point on a longer journey westward to Afghanistan or elsewhere. I believe on March 5th, 2019, one or more people in the village of 337 was expecting a package to be delivered by aerial drone, and that something went wrong and that a sizable package of carfentanil broke loose and the drug spread quickly throughout the village. I believe that if this is what happened, the Chinese and Xinjiang regional governments would see 337 bodies and feel shame at a rural drug trade that they cannot control. I believe that in that shame they would either try and cover up the deaths of these people, or they would find another explanation. I may believe all that, but I cannot prove it. However I don’t believe the Chinese government can prove their story either, and I don’t think they have. Returning to interview the relatives of Mr. Ajiyiming, I tell them about what the hikers from Pishan told me, and give them another possible explanation for what happened to the village. They are not relieved. There is no solace in having yet another person tell them they believe Yusuf didn’t murder a village of 337. They tell me they already know that, and instead ask, “Will this bring Yusuf’s wife and child home?” I tell them something that is not a theory, but a truth, “no.” Myra Kindle is an independent investigative reporter. She covers tech, law, politics, and other stories that would be impossible to write about in more traditional outlets.
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