Friday, February 26, 2010

Люба, Атаc: Russian Nationalist Rock

From the blue collar suburbs of Moscow Lyuba embodies Russian national identity with some catchy rock.

Luxembourg-Sized Iceberg Departs Antarctica and Threatens World Oceans

The Australian Antarctic Division reports on another large hunk of an Antarctic glacier breaking off in this case due to another huge iceberg striking it. According to the Guardian the piece the size of Luxembourg may have a significant impact on world ocean ecology:

"Rob Massom, a senior scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart, Tasmania, said the location of the icebergs could affect global ocean circulation and had important implications for marine biology in the region.

The concern is that the massive displacement of ice would transform the composition of sea water in the area and impair the normal circulation of cold, dense water that normally supplies deep ocean currents with oxygen.

"Removal of this tongue of floating ice would reduce the size of that area of open water, which would slow down the rate of salinity input into the ocean and it could slow down this rate of Antarctic bottom water formation," Massom told Reuters.

Mario Hoppema, chemical oceanographer at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, said that as a result "there may be regions of the world's oceans that lose oxygen, and then of course most of the life there will die"."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Agata Kristi: Dvornik

From Agatha Kristi's Opium album.

Wither NATO?

Robert Gates, former head of the George H.W. Bush Library, the C.I.A., and now the Department of Defense, decries the falling away of European support of America's never ending war on terror:

"Citing a "crisis" in the alliance, Gates said Afghanistan has exposed fundamental NATO weaknesses - shortcomings that he said can undermine the viability of NATO as it faces future security threats.

He cited a money shortage within NATO - a perennial problem that successive American administrations have tried and failed to fix. That, in turn, is a "symptom of deeper problems with the way NATO perceives threats," assesses its defense needs and sets spending priorities, Gates said.

Gates tempered his stern message with words of praise for NATO allies, saying they had demonstrated in just the last three months an "unparalleled level of commitment" to the war effort by increasing their troop contributions from 30,000 last summer to 50,000 this year.

"By any measure that is an extraordinary feat," he said. He did not mention, however, that even NATO members who have shared the combat burden in Afghanistan are finding it hard to sustain.

In the Netherlands, for example, the coalition government collapsed this month over the issue of troop contributions; the 2,000-strong Dutch troop contingent is to begin withdrawing in August. Another stalwart, Canada, plans to remove 2,800 troops by next year, even as some other nations send more."

Meanwhile NATOs historic task of pissing off the Russians continues:

"Responding to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assurances that Russia should not fear NATO’s advance, Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin wants more than words.

In a speech that outlined NATO's mission for the 21st Century, Hillary Clinton emphasized that the 28-member military organization presents no threat to Russia.

“While Russia faces challenges to its security, NATO is not among them,” the US Secretary of State told an audience assembled at a Washington hotel ballroom on Monday. “We want a cooperative NATO-Russia relationship that produces concrete results and draws NATO and Russia closer together.”

Clinton then said that the key to NATO-Russian relations is a high level of transparency in order to dispel Moscow’s fears that the alliance will one day turn on Russia.

“European security will benefit if NATO and Russia are more open about our armaments, our military facilities, and our exercises," Clinton continued. “NATO and Russia should have a regular exchange of information on posture, doctrine, and planned military exercises, as well as specific measures to permit observation of military exercises and to allow visits to new or significantly improved military installations.”

Dmitry Rogozin, the tough-talking Russian ambassador to NATO, wasn’t buying a word of it.

“In my view, Mrs. Clinton's speech failed to answer the questions that Moscow has repeatedly raised with its US and NATO partners,” he told Interfax on Tuesday.

Rogozin then cited a long list of complaints aimed at NATO and its “spontaneous expansion eastwards.”

“We cannot be happy with these rules,” he said. “A unilateral world, NATO-centrism, the alliance's spontaneous expansion eastwards and refusal to recognize the principle of integrity and security.”

The failure “to take into account Russia's and its partners' interests… is a burp of the Cold War,” the ambassador said.

And Russia is not sitting by idly as NATO continues to encroach eastward. At a February 5 session of the Russian Security Council, President Dmitry Medvedev said he had approved Russia's updated military doctrine, which ranked NATO expansion as a major threat.

Russia’s new military doctrine mentions, amongst other threats, “the desire to invest the military potential of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with global functions, carried out in violation of international law, and advance the NATO member states’ military infrastructure closer to Russia’s border, particularly by expanding the bloc.”

But Russia had been making overtures to its partners that the European security architecture needs to be overhauled to reflect all of the parties’ interests.

In November 2009, Moscow made a push for the United States and Europe to embrace a new security structure on the European continent that would finally remove “stereotypical Cold War rationale” from NATO’s mission statement."

Why does this organization continue to exist?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jah Division: Cubana

Russian reggae with a Cuban flavor.

Saakashvili, Republicans: Strung Out or Just Crazy?

Russia Today ponders whether Georgian president Saakashvili is on drugs or is just crazy.Meanwhile American republicans, who may or may not be crazy or on drugs or both, advocate sending more arms to Georgia. A conservative (in the real sense) website, The National Interest looks at the ramifications:

"Senator Richard Lugar, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has proposed that the United States and Europe rearm the country of Georgia. The result would be to increase the chances of renewed conflict with Russia.

Georgia well illustrates the plight of small, divided states with large, assertive neighbors. Independence and freedom are hard to maintain. Georgia spent centuries as part of the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union. Even today Georgia exists in the shadow of a hostile Moscow.

However, Tbilisi shares another trait with many small, divided states—brutish nationalism. The status of ethnic minorities, such as the Abkhazis and Ossetians, has varied over time. Even the Mensheviks, who ran Georgia for a time after the Russian Revolution before being overrun by the more ruthless Bolsheviks, abandoned their more liberal principles when dealing with non-Georgians. Many Abkhazis and South Ossetians understandably do not want to be ruled by Tbilisi today.

The result is a geopolitical mess, but one with little relevance to America. During the Cold War no one suggested that the status of Georgia mattered to U.S. security. Georgia was listed as a “captive nation” in a 1959 congressional resolution—along with Turkestan, Armenia, Idel-Ural, White Ruthenia, Cossackia, and Tibet. Washington issued the usual platitudes about their plight, but there was no pretense that America ever would go to war in their defense. So it should remain with Georgia today."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Communism

Belgian Loose Nukes Follow Up

In a Barney Fife type moment Belgian Defense officials denied that a recent breach by peace activists got near the actual nukes. Per FAS Strategic Security Blog:

"An astounding statement by a Belgian defense official has pointed an unexpected light on the apparent location of nuclear weapons at the Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium.

After a group of peace activists climbed the base fence and made their way deep into an area assumed to store nuclear weapons, Ingrid Baeck, a chief spokesperson for the Belgian Ministry of Defense, bluntly told Stars and Stripes: “I can assure you these people never, ever got anywhere near a sensitive area. They are talking nonsense….It was an empty bunker, a shelter,” she said and added: “When you get close to sensitive areas, then it’s another cup of tea.”

April 3 2010, a day of resistance:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Loosely Held Nukes In Belgium

The Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security blog reports on a security breach earlier this month at a U.S. Air Force base and nuclear weapons facility at Kleine Brogel, Belgium:

"A group of people last week managed to penetrate deep onto Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium where the U.S. Air Force currently deploys 10-20 nuclear bombs...
The activists videotaped their entire walk across the base. The security personnel confiscated cameras, but the activists removed the memory card first and smuggled it out of the base. Ahem…

In June 2008, I disclosed how an internal Air Force investigation had concluded that most nuclear weapons sites in Europe did not meet US security requirements. The Dutch government denied there was a problem, and an investigative team later sent by the US congress concluded that the security was fine.

They might have to go back and check again.

The nuclear bombs at Kleine Brogel are part of a stockpile of about 200 nuclear weapons left in Europe after the Cold War ended. Whereas nuclear weapons have otherwise been withdrawn to the United States and consolidated, the bombs in Europe are scattered across 62 aircraft shelters at six bases in five European countries. The 130-person US 701st Munitions Support Squadron (MUNSS) is based at Kleine Brogel to protect and service the nuclear bombs and facilities.

They might have to go back to training.

The activists will likely be charged with trespassing a military base but they should actually get a medal for having exposed security problems at Kleine Brogel. And this follows two years of the Air Force creating new nuclear command structures and beefing up inspections and training to improve nuclear proficiency following the embarrassing incident at Minot Air Force Base in 2007. Despite that, the activists not only made their way deep into the nuclear base but also discovered that the double-fence around the nuclear storage area had a hole in it! “We’re not the first,” one of the activists said.

NATO needs to get over its obsession with nuclear weapons and move out of the Cold War and the Obama administration’s upcoming Nuclear Posture Review needs to bring those weapons home before the wrong people try to do what the peace activists did."

Yes fortunately the activists were peace activists rather than war activists.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tanghetto Enjoy the Silence

An interesting intersection, Argentinian Tango and Depeche Mode in central Asia.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Kino: Pachka Cigaret

Victor Tsoy is one of Russia's greatest rock personalities.

Microwaving your brain may not be a good idea

More and more research shows that the microwave radiation soup we now live in is hazardous to health.According to the Telegraph the WHO is ready to release a study suggesting that cell phone use has a significant impact on the incidence of brain tumors:

"A £20million, decade-long investigation overseen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) will publish evidence that heavy users face a higher risk of developing brain tumours later in life, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The conclusion, while not definitive, will undermine assurances from the government that the devices are safe and is expected to put ministers under pressure to issue stronger guidance. A preliminary breakdown of the results found a “significantly increased risk” of some brain tumours “related to use of mobile phones for a period of 10 years or more” in some studies.

The head of the Interphone investigation said that the report would include a “public health message”.

Britain’s Department of Health has not updated its guidance for more than four years. It says that “the current balance of evidence does not show health problems caused by using mobile phones”, and suggests only that children be “discouraged” from making “non-essential” calls while adults should “keep calls short”.

In contrast, several other countries, notably France, have begun strengthening warnings and American politicians are urgently investigating the risks."

Not only cellphone radiation is a concern, according to GQ Wi-Fi and others are bathing our cells in radiation:

"All of these concerns—the danger of microwaves issuing from the phones we place next to our skulls, the danger of waves emitted by the cell towers that dot our landscapes—also apply to the Wi-Fi networks in our homes and libraries and offices and cafés and parks and neighborhoods. Wi-Fi operates typically at a frequency of 2.4 gigahertz (the same frequency as microwave ovens) but is embedded with a wider range of modulations than cell phones, because we need it to carry more data. "It never ceases to surprise me that people will fight a cell tower going up in their neighborhoods," Blake Levitt, author of Electromagnetic Fields: A Consumer's Guide to the Issues and How to Protect Ourselves, told me. "They they'll install a Wi-Fi system in their homes. That's like inviting a cell tower indoors."

In the summer of 2006, a super-Wi-Fi system known as WiMAX was tested in rural Sweden. Bombarded with signals, the residents of the village of Götene—who had no knowledge that the transmitter had come online—were overcome by headaches, difficulty breathing, and blurred vision, according to a Swedish news report. Two residents reported to the hospital with heart arrhythmias, similar to those that, more than thirty years ago, Allen Frey induced in frog hearts. This happened only hours after the system was turned on, and as soon as it was powered down, the symptoms disappeared.

Today, Sprint Nextel and Clearwire are set to establish similar technology across the U.S., with a $7.2 billion government broadband stimulus speeding the rollout. A single WiMAX system would provide Internet coverage for an area of up to 75 square miles. "This means an even denser layer of radio-frequency pollution on top of what has developed over the last two decades," Blake Levitt says. "WiMAX will require many new antennas."

"The concern about Wi-Fi is being taken seriously in Europe. In April 2008, the national library of France, citing possible "genotoxic effects," announced it would shut down its Wi-Fi system, and the staff of the storied Library of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris followed up with a petition demanding the disconnection of Wi-Fi antennas and their replacement by wired connections. Several European governments are already moving to prohibit Wi-Fi in government buildings and on campuses, and the Austrian Medical Association is lobbying for a ban of all Wi-Fi systems in schools, citing the danger to children's thinner skulls and developing nervous systems."

It makes one wonder if we are in an era similar to the early 20th century when x-rays were used to measure feet and treat acne.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Russian Freedom of Assembly Protest

Грани-ТВ: Триумфальная площадь, 31 января

The above is a Grani-TV report on demonstrations in support of Russians right to public assembly under article 31 of the Russian constitution. Over 100 people were arrested at Triumph Square in Moscow during the demonstration January 31st. Moscow News has more:

"Evgeniya Chaykovskaya

Moscow police detained more than 100 people on January 31st when it dispelled an opposition protest in defense of Article 31 of the Russian constitution.

Around 500 people took part in the demonstration at Triumfalnaya Square in central Moscow and 150 journalists followed the event. Most of the detained were released later in the evening. Among the detained were Boris Nemtsov and Ilya Yashin, leaders of the opposition movement Solidarnost (Solidarity), Eduard Limonov, leader of the banned National-Bolshevist party and Oleg Orlov, the head of Memorial rights group. All the detained will face administrative fines. The participants were shouting the slogans "Freedom!" and "Russia without Putin!"
Article 31 of the constitution states that "Citizens of the Russian Federation shall have the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons, hold rallies, meetings and demonstrations, marches and pickets." Opposition marks every 31st day of months which have the date with a rallies in Moscow to support the constitutional right.

Every time ahead of the planned rallies opposition groups apply for permission to hold them at Triumfalnaya Square on Moscow's Garden Ring. But their request are traditionally rejected by the Moscow city government. Authorities explain their decision saying a rally at Triumfalnaya square would hamper street traffic or cause other disturbances. This time they cited "Winter Games" festival that would take place on the square.

The authorities claim that they offered the opposition other places in central Moscow for their rally. Alexander Khokhlov, first deputy head of press-office at mayor's office said Bolotnaya Square, Taras Shevchenko Embankment, Chistoprudniy Boulevard and the square next to "1905 Street" metro station had been offered as replacements. However, the opposition had refused to change its plans.

Similar protests took place in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk and Vladivostok.

The next rally in defense of the Article 31 of the constitution is scheduled for March, 31st.

Another massive protest took place in Kaliningrad, the most Western Russian region on January, 30th. Up to 10,000 people gathered there to protest against rising transport taxes and utility tariffs. All major political parties and groups except for pro-Kremlin United Russia, attended the protest. Boris Nemtsov and Ilya Yashin, leaders of Solidarnost flew from Moscow to take part in the rally, the organizers described as the biggest in Russia in 20 years.

The participants demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Kaliningrad Governor Georgy Boos and all the Kalinigrad government.

Nemtsov took the stage. According to the business daily Kommersant Boris Nemtsov said that "federal and regional authorities made the people so angry, that the incredible happened. The opposition united and I think that it is only a forewarning of the events that will, apparently, take place all over Russia."

The transport tax tariffs rose by 25% in Kaliningrad in Autumn 2009. Ria Novosti writes that there are around 350,000 vehicles for the million people in Kaliningrad, which is a very high number by Russian standards."

Before Americans get too smug about this they should try putting together a protest before a national political convention or global economic meeting and see what happens.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Zdob Si Zdub: Everybody In The Casa Mare

One of the hottest groups out of Moldova, singing in Moldovan and occasionally Russian.Zdob Si Zdub can be found here.