Wednesday, April 30, 2008
"Paul Scholes' winning goal for Manchester United against Barcelona on Tuesday night ensured that the nightmare most feared by Uefa, European football's governing body, would come true. Tens of thousands of United fans will now travel 1,500 miles for the privilege of watching their team play against their Premier League rivals Chelsea, who beat Liverpool 4-3 on aggregate at Stamford Bridge last night.Many fear that Moscow is simply not capable of hosting the influx, with a Foreign Office official warning that there are no hotel vacancies in the city around 21 May when the final takes place. A war of words has also broken out between London and Moscow over the system of granting visas for travel into both countries."
Already speculation has broken out about the potentially volatile mix of Russian hooligans, the notorious Russian riot police, the OMON, and England's well known hooligans. As noted in another article in "The Independent":
"They will also have Russian hooligans to deal with, many of whom model their "firms" on 1970s English football hooligans. "We've all read books and seen films about the Chelsea Headhunters, and other English firms," said one Spartak Moscow fan, "and people can't wait to test themselves against the best and most violent supporters in the game." Then there is the fearsome Omon riot police to contend with. Likely to be present in their thousands at the game, they have no qualms about using violence to quell trouble. In Moscow, a Manchester United vs Liverpool final is considered the most dangerous outcome."
This could result in something that would severly test EU unity and civility to put it mildly and might even result in American Football in Russia.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
One of my big frustrations with MSM is the nausea factor. For example why does Hannah Montana have anything to do with current events, or whatever trivia in Atlanta be it dogs or weather warrent nationwide coverage? So it is with some hope I am promoting "The Real News", a place where uncovered stories get the coverage so lacking in the everday U.S. and free us from the miasma of corporate ignorance.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Every now and then I must acknowledge some great blogs that give me inspiration and from the the great state to the Northwest I must point to The Mississippifarian and Tildology. The authors of both have been great hosts and also co-visitors at Yearly Kos. Kudos to both.
As it turns out Israel has done more than most in this area to support Robert Mugabe. Witness the following: Israel is a supplier of riot control vehicles as noted by the South African Documentation and Cooperation Council:
"The Israeli government has endorsed the sale of heavy riot control vehicles to Zimbabwe, the state-run radio station, Kol Yisrael reported yesterday. The report, on the station’s respected international affairs programme, quoted foreign ministry sources as saying that Shimon Peres, the foreign minister, had authorised the transaction between the Beit Alfa Trailer company and the Mugabe regime, but had specified that it be delayed until after Zimbabwe’s March elections. Use of the equipment during the polling would have embarrassed Israel. The report quoted Mr Peres as saying the deal would boost the economy in the north of Israel, where Beit Alfa, a kibbutz turned weapons producer, is located. In Harare, opposition elements are worried that the new weaponry, which has reportedly already arrived, will be used to intensify the regime’s current crackdown. "The equipment is heavy and can crush any demonstration," a Zimbabwe police official was quoted on Sunday as telling the Zimbabwe Gazette. The paper said police were being trained by an Israeli in how to use the equipment.
The equipment has already arrived in Zimbabwe and includes customised anti-riot tankers, gas masks and microscopic 'laser guns', similar to those used by Israeli forces against the Palestinian protesters. The tankers, called Riot Control Vehicle model RCU 4500 I, were supplied by the Beit Alfa Trailer Company and have been undergoing tests at the Police Support Unit Headquarters in the capital. The anti-riot vehicles include the latest in water cannon technology based on an advanced computer controlled jet pulse system. Highly accurate pulse firing can be done in three different modes-short pulse, long pulse and continuous stream. The water is shot up to 500 metres. The command control panel allows the operator to mix additives like scorching tear gas, pepper spray or dye to the water "according to operational needs." They are also equipped with surveillance cameras. "
More relevant at this time is the contract with Nikuv which allowed the Mugabe government access to computer equipment to influence the outcomes of elections, which as anyone living in Florida or Ohio might know, has major implications. As noted at the Cambridge Forecast Group Blog:
"Nikuv International Projects, a company that specializes in identification, electoral and government systems, holds a government contract with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Home Affairs to computerize all identification documents. The ID database compiled by the company was used in Saturday’s voters’ roll.
In an article last week, The Zimbabwean, a weekly independent newspaper promoting democratic change and published simultaneously in London and Johannesburg, alleged that 20 Israelis had arrived in Zimbabwe as “special government guests” “to beef up Mossad support for… Mugabe’s election-rigging plans.” Met by members of the Mugabe government’s Central Intelligence Office, the paper alleges they were “taken to a hideout in the capital” to meet other Mossad and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials. It quoted an anonymous government official saying Mossad agents were the “major force… controlling the election process, especially… the counting and announcement of results.”
So the Middle East's only "Democracy" is squashing it for anyone can fork over the neccesary bucks.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
It's a party and Aleksi Mitrofanov deputy of the Russian Duma demonstrates why he's a Liberal Democratic kind of guy, that is in the mold of Vladimir Zhirinovski and his LDPR. BTW Zhirinovski has his own nightclub,"Liberal" also as seen above. I am indebted to Skandali.ru for news such as this and you can thank me for reading this stuff for you. One can only wonder what Mr. Mitrofanov actually does for his constituents.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Vladimir Putin vigorously denied recent reports of his impending marriage to Alina Kabaeva. In addition the the Russian website Skandali reports that the offices of Moskovski Korrespondent have been visited by the special services of the FSB.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Allow me to introduce you to Club Orlov. All you need for admission is citizenship in a collapsing world power. Dmitry Orlov is eminently qualified having lived in one collapsed superpower and now, ironically, is living in a second collapsing "world dominator". What luck.
Needless to say this has given him a unique perspective into the process and pathology of collapse. He examines problems that have never crossed the minds of many Americans for example:
"I am also worried about soldiers getting stranded overseas — abandoning its soldiers is among the most shameful things a country can do. Not only is it an indelible stain on the country’s honor, it is an effective way to create a large underclass of desperate armed men who do not answer to any authority, creating a society where the price of a contract killing is only slightly higher than the price of the ammunition. The United States maintains over a thousand overseas military bases, most of which serve no purpose other than maintaining a megalomaniac fiction of American military superiority. They are often resupplied by private contractors, whose procurement operations rely on the domestic civilian economy. As long as the economy is intact, they can bring three flavors of ice cream to an air-conditioned tent in the middle of a desert, but once the economy collapses, they will collapse with it, and the military may turn out to lack even the resources to truck in water. Overseas military bases should be dismantled and the troops repatriated."
He also notes that in addition to competition in nuclear weapons both societies had an unhealthy lead on the rest of the world in percentage of incarcerated citizens leading to the following suggestion based on no doubt painful experience:
"I would like to see the huge prison population whittled away in a controlled manner, ahead of time, instead of in a chaotic general amnesty. Such an amnesty will have to happen as a matter of course, once the resources that sustain the prison system stop flowing. The scenario to avoid is one in which, in the midst of general chaos, the entire population of prisoners is released en masse and, with no other resources available to them, they start plying their various criminal trades. Paroling the non-violent, shortening sentences, decriminalizing drugs, and providing room and board to former inmates, are all reasonable steps to take to prevent a crime wave of staggering proportions once the criminal justice system finally shuts down."
I think it is safe to say that the "Collapse Party" is probably the wave of the American future, and while this election may not reflect this, the next one certainly will. In the meantime Mr. Orlov's new book "Reinventing Collapse" promises to be mandatory reading for would be survivors. You can pre-order here.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Radaronline gives perhaps the best lowdown on what appears to be a very interesting story.
Putin's known views on marriage are said to be at the very least somewhat authoritarian according to of all places, Center for Defense Information:
"Russian President Vladimir Putin may openly profess his pride in his KGB past, but his wife Lyudmila recently disclosed a less-publicized aspect of his personality. According to the First Lady, her husband is a bona fide male chauvinist.
Regarding a woman's role in life, Putin's views are crystal-clear -- and not exactly progressive -- 45-year-old Lyudmila said in a biography of the Russian leader released Wednesday.
He has two basic rules: "a woman must do everything at home" and "you should not a praise a woman, otherwise, you will spoil her," she confided to journalist Oleg Blotski in "Vladimir Putin: The Road to Power."
And his background as a spook may have slightly contaminated his relations with his spouse, Lyudmila Putin went on.
"He has put me to the test throughout our life together. I constantly feel that he is watching me and checking that I make the right decisions," she complained.
Some domestic tyrants may at least be easy to cook for, but not this one, she revealed.
"He is extremely difficult to cook for and will refuse to eat a dish if he does not like the slightest thing in it," she said.
"He never praises me and that has totally put me off cooking," the First Lady added.
And Putin's work as a KGB spy has meant that secrecy has been a constant of life with him. In fact, it took Lyudmila Putin a full 18 months to learn about her then fiance's professional occupation.
The fact that he was always an hour and a half late when they were dating may have put her on cue.
But while Putin is a tough husband, his wife conceded that he is an ideal father for their two daughters, 17-year-old Masha and 16-year-old Katya.
They have spent "the happiest moments of their lives with their father," who "will allow them anything," in a sharp contrast to the way he handles his wife, Lyudmila Putin said.
The book displays several pictures showing Putin playing with his then baby daughters.
A graduate of foreign languages who spent several years in East Germany when her husband was posted there as a KGB agent, Lyudmila Putin at first stayed behind the scenes after her spouse came to power in December 1999 but has recently gained more prominence.
Once a year, she gives a now traditional interview to the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, published in December.
Last year, she insisted in one of these interviews that she did not shy away from debating politics with her husband in their home life.
"I am concerned about many problems as a wife and a woman, I discuss these with Vladimir Vladimirovich when he has a minute free," Mrs. Putin said.
"When we discuss a problem, I give my point of view and sometimes this provokes a debate," the president's wife explained, adding that she "greatly respects" her husband's opinion and in general they have "the same points of view."
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Further evidence of peak oil phenomena is demonstrated in recent Russian oil production figures. According to Leonid Fedun, head of Lukoil, it will take a 1 trillion dollar investment just to maintain current Russian output. As per the BBC:
"Lukoil's Leonid Fedun said $1 trillion would have to be spent on developing new reserves if current output levels were to be maintained.
Recent figures show Russian output fell 1% in the first quarter of 2008.
The possibility of less oil from one of the world's key suppliers will add more pressure to prices now at record highs.
The surprise fall in Russian oil output in the first part of the year has raised fears about the ability of global supply to keep pace with demand over the next decade.
Russian production averaged 10 million barrels a day in the first three months of 2008, according to the International Energy Agency, down 1% on the same period last year."
In the meantime Mexican oil output has declined to the point that the third largest supplier of oil to the U.S. is now number four with Venezuala moving to number three. Peak Opportunities
gives the details:
"Most folks are surprised to learn that the world’s second largest oil field is not located in
Cantarell Field, as it turns out, is a real freak of geology. The porosity - or holes in the rock where the oil is located - is believed to be the result of a rubble pile from an asteroid strike which took place some 65 million years ago! And not just any asteroid strike: The asteroid which caused what has become known as the Chicxulub Crater, on the
Cantarell was put on production in 1979. Production was 1.16 million barrels per day (1.16 MMBO/D) in 1981, and in 1995 production was still 1 MMBO/D. In 2000, PEMEX installed the world’s largest nitrogen injection project on Cantarell. In this process, nitrogen is stripped from air and injected into the upper parts of the reservoir in order to maintain reservoir pressure, and thus to increase or maintain production. Production increased to 1.6 MMBO/D in 2001, then to 1.9 MMBO/D in 2002, and then to 2.1 MMBO/D in 2003. By the end of 2005, however, production had returned to 1.9 MMBO/D. In January, 2006, a PEMEX press release unveiled their conclusion that Cantarell had peaked, and would decline down to a rate between 1.5 MMBO/D and 0.5 MMBO/D by the end of 2008. The attentive folks at the Wall Street Journal must have sensed the significance of this event, as they first ran this story on
As of the end of 2007, Cantarell was said to be producing 1.4 MMBO/D, or down some 600,000 BO/D (or 29 %) from its peak rate in 2004!
Why is this important? Well,
To put the ultimate loss of 1.5 MMBO/D out of Cantarell into perspective, consider the massive tar sands in
Put another way, if other declines ARE present around the world, and if there are not many provinces where the RATE is significantly increasing (such as with the Canadian tar sands), and if the increases from the tar sands can barely make up for Cantarell declines, then what significant capacity increases are available to make up for the other declines?So, Cantarell Field is a "poster child" for Peak Oil concerns.
Most recently we wondered, “If Cantarell is down significantly, and other Mexican production is up some, but not enough to compensate, what must be making up the balance?” Namely, if production is down and Mexican domestic consumption is flat or up (as is normal in a developing country), then imports must go up, or exports must go down, in order to compensate. In other words, something’s got to give."
Friday, April 11, 2008
More scientific evidence accumulates relating CO2 production to climate change but with minimal effect in the consciousness ofthe American public. Recent examples include further work by James Hansen, an American scientist whose works have been actively supressed in the U.S. As noted at Truthout Dr. Hansen postulates an abrupt "tipping point" that requires decisive action and is largely ignored by the American mainstream:
" Very few people outside of climate scientists and climate activists even know about Hansen's polar ice melt hypothesis and what it means to each of our distant and more immediate futures. There is probably a scientific debate raging in labs and symposia about this new and compelling vision of climate change, but since publics globally remain, surrealistically, almost completely uninformed, how would we know?.
For example, Andrew Revkin, the NY Times expert and dean of American climate science reportage, mentioned the Hansen et el latest paper, "Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?" only through his Dotearth blog with no coverage in the Times newspaper at all. At Dotearth he quotes from the paper's summary:
Humanity today, collectively, must face the uncomfortable fact that industrial civilization itself has become the principal driver of global climate. If we stay our present course, using fossil fuels to feed a growing appetite for energy-intensive lifestyles, we will soon leave the climate of the Holocene, the world of human history. The eventual response to doubling preindustrial atmospheric CO2 likely would be a nearly ice-free planet.
Humanity's task of moderating human-caused global climate change is urgent. Ocean and ice sheet inertias provide a buffer delaying full response by centuries, but there is a danger that human-made forcings could drive the climate system beyond tipping points such that change proceeds out of our control. The time available to reduce the human-made forcing is uncertain, because models of the global system and critical components such as ice sheets are inadequate. However, climate response time is surely less than the atmospheric lifetime of the human-caused perturbation of CO2. Thus, remaining fossil fuel reserves should not be exploited without a plan for retrieval and disposal of resulting atmospheric CO2. Paleoclimate evidence and ongoing global changes imply that today's CO2, about 385 ppm, is already too high to maintain the climate to which humanity, wildlife and the rest of the biosphere are adapted.
But the vast majority of New York Times newspaper readers, Americans in general and people globally have never even heard of this emerging vision of climate change, let alone been informed and educated by critical commentary from those with relevant expertise.
Hansen's emerging climate change vision and climate change A are almost mutually exclusive. Today's nascent climate change mitigation measures, including carbon taxes and cap and trade, remain completely within the gradual, linear, conventional wisdom. This level of mitigation does not address the big ice sheet melt as a crucial tipping point. No governments anywhere - not even those governments that have led in acknowledging climate change as a real and serious problem - are even remotely considering mitigation measures of an immediacy and scale needed to try to return atmospheric CO2 emission levels below 350 ppm. Climate change B is an impossibility within our present political and economic systems.
Which is probably why you haven't heard about Hansen's new climate change information and possible Draconian mitigation strategies in the mainstream media."
The video posted above comes from The Vulcan Project at Purdue done in cooperation with NASA. While it by itself doesn't establish CO2 emissions directly to climate change it does demonstrate the measurable nature of the phenomena which can be seen also in polar ice formation melting and other harbingers of change. Don't say you weren't warned.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
"Mr Brown joined Germany and France in urging caution on the US President at the summit in Bucharest in a "brush by" meeting with Mr Bush at the summit before a formal banquet. Mr Brown made it clear he supports the granting of Nato's membership action plan (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine in principle, but he will not be pressing for it to be agreed at this summit.
Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's incoming president, warned this week that granting Nato membership to the two former Soviet republics could threaten European security.
Both the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who are attending the summit, oppose immediate granting of MAP status to the two states, which would ultimately result in Nato guaranteeing to come to their aid if they were attacked."
Now however the tide seems to have turned according to Kommersant:
"The NATO-Ukrainian commission sits in Bucharest Friday, RIA Novosti reported. The alliance partnership with Ukraine is firm, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer made clear when opening the event.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko called the NATO move historic. NATO softened yesterday the refusal to grant MAP to Ukraine and Georgia. The alliance pledged to invite two nations in future, adding that Moscow would have no influence on the membership decisions of NATO.
It was clearly said at the summit that Ukraine will become NATO member, Yushchenko announced. Of all states, Ukraine is the only one that takes part in all operations of the alliance without being its member, the president reminded, confirming, however, that Ukraine won’t host military bases as it is prohibited by the constitution."
Living in the U.S. one would hardly know that Bush was in Kiev, let alone that he was hardly greeted with open arms during the past week. Media With Conscience reports on preparations for GWBs visit:
"Thousands of protesters have gathered in Ukraine's capital to dencounce Washington and Nato ahead of a visit by George Bush, the US president. Bush is visiting Kiev before this week's Nato summit in Romania, where Ukrainian officials hope to win approval for the first step in their country's bid to join the military alliance.
Around 5,000 protesters, comprised mainly of Communists and other left-wing groups, massed in Independence Square before moving off to the US embassy as police looked on.
Many waved flags and placards saying "Bush out of Ukraine" and "Yankee go home" as Soviet-era songs blared in the background."
To get a real flavor of Ukrainian reaction this video on Kommersant is informative even if you don't speak Russian, the anti-Bush banner is priceless as my credit card would say.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
"In March 2008, in Russia, there were not less than 31 racially motivated attacks on 40 people, including 10 fatalities. In total, in 2008, not less than 39 people died and 112 were injured in 14 regions of Russia.
Moscow stays the major center of violence with 24 people murdered and not less than 63 injured, including 5 murdered and 20 injured people in March.
Obviously, because of the big number of deadly crimes, the information about minor incidents remains underreported. In particular, in St. Petersburg, the second center of the neo-nazi violence, in 2008, there have been reports about 7 murdered and only 4 injured people. This proportion hardly reflects the real situation in the city."
Pravda, by the way, reports an incident in which the would-be victims apparently turned the tables:
"Another massive fight took place in the Moscow metro on Sunday night. A group of Russian skinheads attacked two young Caucasian men on the Belorusskaya metro station at about 11:10 p.m. Potential victims showed a surprisingly powerful resistance: they would have won the fight but the police put an end to the scuffle.....
Several young men of Slavic looks came up to two nationals of the Caucasus and attempted to beat them. It was not reported what kind of weapon the assaulters had, although the Caucasians pulled out knives and used them for their own defense. Four skinheads were wounded as a result of the fight. The men were hospitalized to Sklifosofsky Institute with stab wounds, the Moscow ER Center said. The police also detained all other members of the fight.
According to the information from law-enforcement agencies, there are about 15-20 thousand skinheads in Russia. About 5,000 of them conduct subversive activities in Moscow. The numbers are most likely underestimated: there are up to 50 thousand neonazis of various beliefs in Russia, which is equal to their quantity in the rest of the world.
Pseudo-patriots attack everyone of non-Russian nationalities – they do not have any mercy on either children or elderly people. A group of skinheads in the Russian city of Lipetsk attacked an elderly doctor several days ago. The man was lucky to survive in the fight: two Russian women rushed to help the man and managed to pull furious teenagers away from their victim.
It goes without saying that such defenders are highly rare: the majority of citizens prefer to stay away from infuriated bald-headed young men in military clothing. An encounter with skinheads usually ends either with severe injuries or a lethal outcome for a victim. Skinheads killed 44 people in Russia last year and injured about 200 – presumably Africans, Caucasians and Asians."
"Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.
He admits that mobiles can save lives in emergencies, but concludes that "there is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumours". He believes this will be "definitively proven" in the next decade.
Noting that malignant brain tumours represent "a life-ending diagnosis", he adds: "We are currently experiencing a reactively unchecked and dangerous situation." He fears that "unless the industry and governments take immediate and decisive steps", the incidence of malignant brain tumours and associated death rate will be observed to rise globally within a decade from now, by which time it may be far too late to intervene medically.
"It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking," says Professor Khurana, who told the IoS his assessment is partly based on the fact that three billion people now use the phones worldwide, three times as many as smoke. Smoking kills some five million worldwide each year, and exposure to asbestos is responsible for as many deaths in Britain as road accidents.
Late last week, the Mobile Operators Association dismissed Khurana's study as "a selective discussion of scientific literature by one individual". It believes he "does not present a balanced analysis" of the published science, and "reaches opposite conclusions to the WHO and more than 30 other independent expert scientific reviews".