news news good for the heart the more you read the more yo

Somalia: Who`s to blame for piracy spiraling out of control?
Canada Navy to escort Somalia food aid ships

Saakashvili ex-ally demands probe of Georgia war
Documents: Russia impeding South Ossetia monitors
UN raises number of uprooted in Georgia to 192,000

Moscow eyes Afghanistan in fear
Technical failure halts oil flow at BTC pipeline
West warns Serbs over quitting Bosnia power company


Russia says it must stake claim to Arctic resources
As sea ice melts, open water encircles the Arctic

In early September, two normally ice-clogged sea routes in the Arctic Ocean were open at the same time. It’s the first time in recorded history that this has happened.

Watch a dust devil spin in Martian arctic
US space woes felt by Europe
China counts down to space launch
Mike Griffin’s Exclusive Off The Record China Briefing
NASA Talking Points: The Urgency of NASA’s Need for Legislation to Continue to Purchase Soyuz Crew Vehicles From Russia

NASA needs Congress to provide legislative extension allowing purchase of Russian Soyuz crew vehicles to support astronauts on the International Space Station by October 2008 or else NASA will have no choice but to de-crew all U.S. astronauts from the International Space Station in 2012.

NASA needs this legislative extension by October 2008. The development and utilization of the International Space Station has been a cornerstone of U.S. space policy and international leadership since President Reagan first announced the program in 1984. We need the help of Congress to capitalize on our Nation’s $50 billion investment in space leadership.

Industry to Congress: Renew the Expiring Clean-Energy Credits
Bye-Bye, Miss American Pyro: Eco-vandal pleads guilty to 1999 arson at Michigan State University

news- bear baiting in the caucasus

There’s long been a dynamic in the Middle East where Arab leaders gain credibility by fighting Israel (and by extension, the US and the West), even though they get clobbered in the process. It’s widely considered, for instance, that Sadat took part in the 1973 war in order to gain the political capital he needed to pursue peace.

(Politics is a strange world, isn’t it? You have to fight a war in order to create peace. Don’t look at me- I didn’t make it that way.)

I wonder if Saakashvili will be inaugurating the same dynamic along the former Soviet periphery. After fighting a disastrous war, one for which he bears full responsibility, he seems to be in a pretty solid position. Georgia has unified behind him, with the opposition falling into line. All mentions of corruption and repression are gone. Countries like Poland and the Baltics are lining up to support him, and a substantial chunk of the US foreign policy establishment is treating him like a hero.

No telling how long this will last- Serbia united behind Milosevic during the Kosovo war, but still turned on him a year or so later. These circumstances are very different, of course, so we’ll just have to keep an eye on things. If taunting the bear and getting smacked down turns out to be a road to influence, we can expect the fringes of the Russian empire to get a whole lot more unstable.

Georgia accuses Russia of breaking ceasefire
Looting reignites Russia-Georgia tensions
NATO says membership pledge to Georgia stands
Iraq veterans jump from frying pan into the fire
US denies troops fighting in Georgia

Macedonia “Name” Talks Resume

Canada’s Harper aims to bolster Arctic sovereignty
US mission to Arctic will lay claim to gas reserves
Chertoff Hits the North Pole; Arctic Showdown Ahead?

Will Growing Russian/American Tension Affect ISS?
John McCain: America’s Space Program

‘Gitmo On The Platte’ Set As Holding Cell For DNC

Air Force Suspends Controversial Cyber Command

But even if everything all was calm at the Air Force, Cyber Command’s path was far from clear. At a June conference , the command’s emerging leaders couldn’t agree on what exactly the new unit would do. Some said the command’s mission would be the  “protection and defense of the Air Force’s command and control abilities.” Others argued that the “mission is to control cyberspace both for attacks and defense.” (The service even changed its mission statement to read, “As Airmen, it is our calling to dominate Air, Space, and Cyberspace.”) Some believed the Cyber Command would only be responsible for computer networks. Others thought it’d be responsbile for every system that had anything to do with the electromagnetic spectrum — up to and including laser weapons.

U.S. Judge in Wyoming Rules Against Ban on Forest Roads

headlines- the future is here, and some mayhem on the high seas

Some big birthdays today: NASA, ENIAC and the announcements of both Eris and Makemake. The future is upon us.

Berry-pickers report sasquatch sighting in northern Ontario

Blog of a Vegan Pirate, Post 10: Aftermath
Last in a series documenting this (southern) summer’s Sea Shepherd campaign against Antarctic whaling. I can’t say I’ve been reading too closely since I followed this all when it was news, but if you missed it, this seems like a good recap. Next summer’s campaign is technically underway, although they won’t be sailing until November or so.

South Africa vulnerable to modern-day piracy

Littoral Combat Ship Sets Sail

Intensive Shooting Observed in Georgian and Ossetia Conflict Zone
Tbilisi calls ‘misinformation’ reported attack on military observers
S.Ossetia accuses Georgia of disrupting reconstruction program

Serbia: Govt. plans strategy for return of K. Serbs
“UNMIK reconfiguration to start soon”
UN powerless in Kosovo: official

news- a post-meetup quickie

Too busy barbecuing in the park and ranting about Spain to give you much tonight. Insert witty remarks as necessary.

Truck Stops to Sell Tasers

The most dangerous seas in the world
Gates warns of militarization of US foreign policy
Breakaway Abkhazia opens mission in Moldova’s separatist region
Georgia pokes holes in German peace plan
Muslims furious at anthem and symbols adopted by Bosnian Serbs
Nasa Official: Moon Capsule Not Likely to Be Ready By 2013

the news- thursday night meetup edition

I been doing some drinking, so you’ll have to come up with clever commentary for yourself.

EU drug agency publishes mammoth ‘cannabis reader’
Gitmo Detainee’s Lawyer ‘Not Allowed To Tell Him’ He’s No Longer An ‘Enemy Combatant’»
Post-Soviet ‘frozen conflicts’ heat up as big-power interests collide
Kosovo Serbs to form parliament, rejecting new state
UN warns of Somalia pirate threat
Somalia: ‘The Kidnappers Want Ransom for Tourists’ – Puntland Official
Micro-Managing the War by E-mail
The Navy’s New Airship
Wedding couple sparked UFO alert
Senate Committee Approves Bill for Extra Shuttle Mission
NASA Beefs up Next-Generation Moon Rocket

news- crime stories

Starting with some crime stories tonight….
The Google Earth gatecrashers who take uninvited dips in home-owners’ swimming pools
‘Sophisticated’ Pickup Rigged To Steal Fuel
Women Dressed As Nurses Targeting Central Fla. Shoppers
On the trail of Mexico’s drugs gangs

Read most of the way down for this:

We were shown a series of extraordinary films and photos of the cartels’ latest piece of apparatus: semi-submersibles.

US Customs have come across at least four of these craft. With up to four crew, these vessels have equipment to evade radar and can travel at up to 20 knots.

Nothing that couldn’t have been reported several years ago.
Documents confirm U.S. hid detainees from Red Cross
CIA Played Larger Role In Advising Pentagon

Georgia slowly but steadily heats up:
S. Ossetia set for criminal case against Tbilisi over shelling
Georgia frees four Russian troops after arms-smuggling arrest

The governor sounds more optimistic than the CBC:
Taliban driven out of south Afghan district: governor
Canadian and Afghan soldiers take on Taliban near Kandahar
This doesn’t sound too promising, either:
Taliban capture US helicopter parts

And finally, here’s the closest thing I could find to piracy for you tonight:
Shell shuts down Nigerian oil field after attack

A leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta told The Associated Press that militants attacked the Bonga oil field more than 65 miles from land. But the fighters weren’t able to enter a computer control room, which they had hoped to destroy.

Oh, and I caught this just before I clicked “Publish”:
US N-weapons parts missing, Pentagon says
Which reminded me that I’d been seeing this story around lately:
US Air Force to review ‘significant errors’ in tanker deal
Bad sign when a bureaucracy starts making $35 billion dollar mistakes. And all of this talk about the Air Force reminded me of this utterly pointless story:
Biggles battles Yanks for right to sport tash

news stories- guinea pigs, plutoids and pepper spray

VA testing drugs on war veterans

Getting ready for the Democratic National Convention:
Denver stocks up on pepper weapon: City orders guns that fire special plastic balls

Denver had war games this week. Minneapolis had them last week. Denver’s got the Dems this summer, and Minneapolis has the Republicans. But that’s not related at all:

The exercise by special ops troops, supported by Denver police SWAT teams and firefighters, is intended to prepare for a terrorism threat in a “realistic urban environment,” said Lt. Steve Ruh, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

Military and police officials dismissed reports that the exercise was preparation for the Democratic National Convention coming to Denver in August.

“We have nothing to do with the Democratic National Convention,” said Ruh, noting that similar counterterrorism exercises have been conducted in Manhattan, Los Angeles and Houston.

Things still aren’t going well in Afghanistan:
Taliban apparently prepare for major battle near Kandahar

Robot Finds Mars Dry So Far

Strife and discord within the International Astronomical Union:
IAU Snobbery
Hail Eris, etc.

5th human foot washes up on B.C. shore

While the similarities to the other found feet is strong, she said there’s no indication this foot is related to the other cases.

“We’re certainly not discounting the possibility that this may be linked to the other recovered feet, but it’s just too premature and very speculative for us to even entertain that right now,” she said.

news stories – more goddamn aliens

Alien-Like Being Born From A Cow In Thailand

OK, if you pay attention to one story today…
Missing M-16s Returned — With Apology

Hill [Air Force Base] has been embroiled in a chain of mishaps and scandals recently, including a friendly fire incident at the Utah Test and Training Range, the accidental burning of radioactive materials at a civilian incinerator and the mistaken transfer of nuclear-missile parts to Taiwan. The latter debacle sparked an investigation that led to the resignation Thursday of the Air Force’s top two officials.

In the case of the missing machine guns, Air Base Wing Security Commander Shannon Smith said the unit that lost the weapons was returning from field exercises and had loaded the container onto the flatbed back of a Humvee, but failed to secure the case, which apparently fell out of the vehicle just south of the base’s Roy Gate.

The artist formerly known as Yugoslavia:
U.N. and NATO rush to iron out Kosovo security snags
Macedonia’s EU hopes hinge on Sunday’s vote re-run

Piracy threatens Somali food emergency shipments
Pirates now go after Nigeria’s little fish

School Of Robofish Communicate With Each Other In Underwater Robot Teams

news stories- felled by the spirits, jihadi bureaucrats

Here’s a morning roundup, so I can close a few of these tabs….

Maybe this guy should be suing God instead:
Man Falls After Receiving Spirit, Sues
Claims church liable for injuries sustained during healing service

This one inadvertently demonstrates what’s wrong with our space priorities:
Another headache the ISS doesn’t need

Building the ISS has taken far longer than planned. It is almost a quarter century since Ronald Reagan set the program in motion, but in spite of all the difficulties and heartbreaks it is, without question, a major achievement. It is way, way over budget, it’s in the wrong orbit, and it may never produce the scientific breakthroughs that were promised, but it is the only space station we have. Let’s cherish it.

Leaving aside the budget question (because it’s built by the American and Russian governments, of course- what would you expect?), and the orbit question (which was a political decision- again, what would you expect?), the question of what science is being produced shouldn’t be a major issue. As long as we wave around science as an excuse for projects like this, we’ll never live up to expectations. Robots could do most of this alleged science in orbit a whole lot easier. We shouldn’t be building the ISS to do science- we should be building it to learn how to build in space (and live there, too). Once we know how to do that, the science will follow. Until then, it’s just a fig leaf for political cover.

Also, it’s very nice to cherish a project that doesn’t deliver, but a more appropriate sentiment might be: “It’s the only space station we have. Let’s make it work.”

Al Qaeda Issues “Request For Proposals”:

Frankly, it seems like Al Qaeda is becoming more like the Pentagon with each passing day. Women want equal rights to wage Jihad; the bureaucrats issue nasty memos and want to coordinate strategic communication; and now they’re putting out the equivalent of a “request for proposals” on how to cause madness and mayhem.

America’s Medicated Army

Two more about Kosovo. Still a mess.
Police: Kosovo prime minister’s home attacked
Turkey blocks NATO training for Kosovo forces

Another one about Georgia. The president outwits his opposition, but it’s not the sort of maneuver that builds confidence in government.
Georgia’s Saakashvili convenes parliament early, thwarting opposition protest plans

Venezuela fires missiles in exercises
Venezuela embarrassed itself a couple of months back, when they tried to rush their army to the Colombian border. Their regular forces weren’t able to mobilize in a hurry, and a lot of their strength, including their tanks, never made it at all. This exercise might be an effort to regain some credibility. Doesn’t hurt either that a US Navy plane overflew this base last month. Strictly by accident, of course.

And finally… pirates!
Puntland Soldiers Join Forces With Pirates – Mayor
I was just saying last week that if anyone goes after the pirates from within Somalia, it’s Puntland. So much for that.

news stories- iranian pwnage, spies and bigfoot

Did Iranian agents dupe Pentagon officials?
Did the Bushies get pwned? (hint: yes)

Two new military commands: AFRICOM and AFCYBER
Africa: U.S. Military Set for a Long Campaign
To fight future cyberbattles, Air Force recruiting part-time geeks

Serbia expects key powers in north Kosovo
Sounds like a step towards partition

Minn. city sets reward for legendary creature
Bigfoot Bounty: Reward Offered for Mysterious Monsters

Comcast Is Hiring an Internet Snoop for the Feds
Study secretly tracks cell phone users outside US
The Comcast story is just bad all around. It’s not like the feds are going to be funding this position, so I guess that means consumers pay for the spies who watch them. The cell phone story is interesting for its method, but also for what it discovered. Guy Debord wrote (in Theory of the Derive) about the student who in an entire year goes mostly three places- home, school and her piano teacher. This study finds something similar, but on a much larger scale. On the other hand, a twenty mile radius covers a lot of ground, and in a dense urban area, it could contain an entire universe.

And a space story, of course:
Virgin Galactic Spaceline: Mega-Mothership Set for Rollout Debut