roma under attack, kosovo mayhem and political trials

Europe may be your liberal utopia, but if you want to see its true colors, ask the Roma.

Jozsef Bencze, Hungary’s national police chief, said in an interview on Friday with the daily newspaper Nepszabadsag that the perpetrators, believed to be a group of four or more men in their 40s, were killing “with hands that are too confident.” Military counterintelligence is taking part in the investigation, Hungarian radio reported, and Mr. Bencze said the pool of suspects included veterans of the Balkan wars and Hungarian members of the French Foreign Legion.

Experts on Roma issues describe an ever more aggressive atmosphere toward Roma in Hungary and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, led by extreme right-wing parties, whose leaders are playing on old stereotypes of Roma as petty criminals and drains on social welfare systems at a time of rising economic and political turmoil. As unemployment rises, officials and Roma experts fear the attacks will only intensify.

Kosovo has never fully settled down after declaring independence, and unrest seems to be increasing again. No comprehensive roundup for today, but just a snapshot:

And assorted treehuggers facing The Man:

(Typical lousy Earth First! photo. Can’t tell what’s going on, can’t read the banners. They’re treesitting, if that helps.)

wreckage in space, wreckage in the balkans, and jane fonda

The movie hit cinemas in 1972, the same week Fonda made a controversial trip to Hanoi, North Vietnam, visiting opposition forces.

A week after its release, the film was removed from theatres, with director Francine Parker blaming pressure from the White House for making the movie “disappear”.

You heard about last week’s big satellite crash, yes?

It’s been a year since Kosovo gained an official semblance of independence. You can ask the (somewhat reduced) Republic of Georgia what that did for international relations.

space, somalia and the genius of cops

I’m inclined to think that military force will follow humans wherever we go. That doesn’t mean working towards limits on it is a bad idea, though.

“There’s still a lot of wiggle room” in the administration’s statement on military space, said analyst Victoria Samson with the private Center for Defense Information. “But just the sheer fact that they are discussing it represents a real shift from the Bush administration.”

This might actually be good news for the law and order crowd, although supporters of human rights won’t be so happy:

The usual post-soviet geekery:

And finally, you know I can’t resist a good crime story, especially when it makes the police look like idiots:

The boy, who has been charged as a juvenile for impersonating an officer, walked into the Grand Crossing District station, 7040 S. Cottage Grove Ave., dressed in a Chicago police uniform, police spokeswoman Monique Bond said. The boy, who reported for duty about 1:30 p.m., partnered with another police officer for about five hours.

The boy identified himself as an officer from another district but was detailed for the day to Grand Crossing and also was savvy enough to sign out a police radio and a ticket book, according to a source. The source also said the boy went on traffic stops with the officer he went on the street with.


Starting with News of the Stupid:

Junior Brandon Davis said “it all started in good nature, but then people were throwing them as hard as they could at each other.” Junior Matt Lunchick said an officer chased and arrested a student after being hit in the back with a snowball.

“The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car. They pursued them. However one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat,” Kwara state police spokesman Tunde Mohammed told Reuters by telephone.

“We cannot confirm the story, but the goat is in our custody. We cannot base our information on something mystical. It is something that has to be proved scientifically, that a human being turned into a goat,” he said.

And on to News of the Grim:

I’m an optimistic pessimist. I think it’s wrong to assume we’ll survive 2 °C of warming: there are already too many people on Earth. At 4 °C we could not survive with even one-tenth of our current population. The reason is we would not find enough food, unless we synthesised it. Because of this, the cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 per cent. The number of people remaining at the end of the century will probably be a billion or less. It has happened before: between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2000 people left. It’s happening again.

And now this:

Nine pirates armed with rocket launchers and heavy machine guns boarded the ship at 12:43 pm (Beijing time) on Dec 17. The 30 sailors locked themselves in the cabins, using fire hydrants and self-made firebombs to keep the attackers at bay.

The beer bottles worked as real weapons, flying like missiles and exploding on impact. And the shards of broken glass made walking on the deck difficult for the pirates because most of them were barefoot.

A couple of these:

And bad news in space, too:

return of the headlines

Trying to get back in the swing of things here….

There’s been a lot of buzz about this story lately:

But this article provides some context that’s missing everywhere else:

The report appeared in November 2008, and was intended for use in “long range planning guidance.” It was not meant to predict anything. Media sensationalists latched on to the comments about “rapid collapse” scenarios in the JFCOM speculative study and totally missed the point that this was a “what if?” scenario for planning purposes, not a prediction. JFCOM’s long-range planners thought Pakistan and Mexico were “worst cases” of rapid collapse. Okay, this is fodder for wargaming and long-range planning excursions. No doubt a Mexican collapse would have huge effects on the US. However, the direct comparison to Pakistan was a huge stretch.

Read the report yourself, if you want. The Mexican collapse scenario appears in exactly one paragraph out of 56 pages:

Been a long time since we visited the former Soviet periphery. Here’s a quick look around:

I’m sure this is nothing to worry about:

If there’s any water on the moon, this is the place to look. Too bad we have to hitch a ride from India to find out.

Here’s some early evidence that Obama won’t do what you want without you making a stink about it (and maybe not even then- time will tell.) This is a draft of a plan that has lots of process ahead of it, but he didn’t have to move it forward at all:

And finally, here’s what you’ve been waiting for: PIRATES!

world news

I’m busy packing tonight, so here’s a quick crawl through the post-soviet periphery and a couple other things.

holy crap

I wish I could embed this video for you- it’s a giant shark taking a dump. No, really.
Shark-cam captures ocean motion

It is as thick as your arm, gungy and smells disgusting – and it has just been caught on camera for what is thought to be the first time.

Whalers slip out of Japanese port

Lunar Images From Chandrayaan-1
Controllers Cheer as Data Arrive from NASA’s Spirit Rover
What to Get Space Station on 10th Anniversary — a Name
Physicist admits sending US space know-how to China

Pirates capture Saudi oil tanker
Somali pirates release cargo ship
US Admiral ‘stunned’ by pirates’ reach

Georgia: Russian drone explodes, killing 2 soldiers and wounding 8 near S. Ossetian border
South Ossetian gunmen withdraw from disputed village: Sarkozy
Macedonia Takes Greece to World Court
Protests against UN, EU in Kosovo planned

Ancient Greeks pre-empted Dead Parrot sketch

“I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. It’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it.”

For those who believe the ancient Greeks thought of everything first, proof has been found in a 4th century AD joke book featuring an ancestor of Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch where a man returns a parrot to a shop, complaining it is dead.

The 1,600-year-old work entitled “Philogelos: The Laugh Addict,” one of the world’s oldest joke books, features a joke in which a man complains that a slave he has just bought has died, its publisher said Friday.

“By the gods,” answers the slave’s seller, “when he was with me, he never did any such thing!”

news keeps on happening

Once again, I wish I had a tag called “awesome.”

The Alternate History Theme Park Where Dinosaurs Fought in the Civil War

Hubble snaps planet orbiting distant star: First visible-light image of gravitationally-bound world

The Hubble space telescope has captured the first visible-light image of an exoplanet orbiting a star – a body no greater than three Jupiter masses, gravitationally-bound to Fomalhaut in the constellation Piscis Australis.

Mission Accomplished: India fifth in world to reach moon
High-Performance Ares Rocket Engine Passes Review
Shuttle Endeavour links with space station

Policeman Killed Near Abkhazia
EU monitors in Georgia ‘come under fire near Abkhazia’
U.S. studies another path for Georgia to join NATO

Explosive charge thrown at EU mission in Kosovo
EU’s Kosovo Mission In Doubt After Rejection Of UN Proposal
Aiming to partition Kosovo, Tadic reveals his Janus-like face

Putin holds talks on Transdniester

news and nudes

I have to admit- I would never stay on top of this story without the Fortean Times:
Sixth severed foot washes up on B.C. shore

Not as cool as the Ganesha that grew up through the sidewalk, but it’ll do:
Monks see Buddha in wasp nest

Judge clears nude bicyclist in Portland
Seattle Parks seeking to ban nudity
Resort plans nude “anything goes” party

The usual post-Soviet stuff, starting in the Balkans:
Postwar Bosnia’s surprising export: peacekeepers
Kosovo rejects deal on deployment of EU mission
EULEX: UN appeals to Kosovo for flexibility

Tag reform! I used to tag stories about South Ossetia and Abkhazia with “Georgia,” just to keep the tags under control. But that’s kind of old school by now, so from this point forward, there’s a new tag called “Ossetia.” Not like you care, but I do.

Police attack raises tension in South Ossetia
S.Ossetia to report EU monitoring failure

The first two Ukraine headlines describe basically the same event, and yet their spin is almost totally opposite:
NATO reaffirms close ties with Ukraine
NATO Raises Concerns About Ukraine Reforms, Alliance Membership
Ukraine MPs sack presidential associate as speaker

the balkans

Montenegro warns of rising Balkan tensions

EU mission to be deployed throughout Kosovo
EU will accept Serb demands on Kosovo mission

EU peacekeeper pullout worries Bosnia Muslims, but not analysts
EU Must Act To Stem Growing Bosnia Disunity
Europe’s Next Trouble Spot

Unlike in the 1990s, when America was at the height of its relative power and thus able to extend security over the region, America is now fighting two wars in the Middle East and is preoccupied with the financial crisis. Europe is still divided on its interpretation of Kosovo and is severely dependant on Russia for energy. The question of the day in the 1990s — “Why should I be a minority in your country when you could be a minority in mine?” – is surfacing again. And to ethnic separatists, post-Kosovo, there is no longer a satisfying answer.

Croatia makes progress toward joining EU