assorted updates: pirates, nukes, BRICs and the straits of kerch

Updating some recent stories. Let’s start with pirates!

A pirate spokesman, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted Somalilandpress today said at least ten of his men were executed by the Russian navy after the troopers stormed MV Moscow University.

“The Russians never released the young men instead they shot them point-blank range then loaded their lifeless bodies back on the boat,” he added.

“We condemn the action of the Russians, it’s driven by racism and hate for black people and Africa, it’s the face of the new Russia. In future, if we capture Russians they will meet the same fate as those they executed,” he added.

I posted a bunch of links about nukes the other day, mostly about Brazil stepping up to the nuclear table. Brazil’s in the middle of this one here:

This is a big deal for Iran, of course, but also Brazil. It’s a prominent international action that steps into a gap where the US and Europe failed. It brings Brazil into the inner circles of nuclear diplomacy, easing the way for their potential development. It also hedges their bets by helping Iran, who might assist them with nuclear technology in the future if the global institutions won’t.

Read about the BRICs, in case you didn’t know:

And finally, here’s Russia and Ukraine sparring over borders:

I think this is the key point:

The agreement on the issue is crucial for the potential introduction of visa-free travel for Ukainian visitors to the European Union.

Ships pass the straits just fine, so this isn’t holding up shipping. But it holds up Ukrainian integration into western institutions. Ukraine just tilted heavily towards Russia in their last elections, and while they’re keeping up the official policies of looking west, this is a good way to slow things down a bit.

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.

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.

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

pirates and post-soviets

Moscow flexes muscle in Ukraine
Explosion kills 2 Georgian police near S. Ossetia
Georgians Flee Border Village as Russian Troops Leave

Pirates seize chemical tanker, 23 crew off Somalia
Pirates to contact owners over ransom payment
India navy ‘stops pirate attack’
Russian frigate escorts Danish ship off Somalia

post-soviet blues

Russia to move missiles to Baltic

Ukraine reverses ban on Russian TV channel
South-East Ukraine Refused to Disconnect Russia’s TV Channels

Ukraine Hasn’t Breached International Laws When Supplying Weapons to Georgia

Georgia’s Saakashvili sacks military chief
Georgian Cluster Bombs Killed Civilians: Report
Ossetians fiercely resisted Georgian invasion

“The Georgians were in their tanks with the hatches down, driving on streets which they did not recognize,” said Vitaly, a 32-year-old policeman-reservist who was wounded during the recent fighting. “We live in this city all of our lives; we know every alley, every sewer, every hiding place. They could have been here for 10 years and they could not crush the resistance.”

Spiral of violence cripples Russia’s Ingushetia
Russia replaces Ingushetia leader

Kazakhstan starts transporting oil by Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline
EU energy chief toTurkey for Nabucco pipeline talks

the usual global politics

Pirates Seize Crew of French Boat at Cameroon Rig
Piracy Attacks Boost Demand for Kidnap & Ransom Coverage

“Traditional marine cover will meet the cost of the ransom but none of the costs involved in the process. What we’ve found is the ransom can account for just 25 percent to 30 percent of the costs of the incident. Where K&R cover goes above the traditional marine policies is that it will become involved from the moment a vessel is seized.

Saakashvili Denies Georgian War Crimes During South Ossetia War
The truth about South Ossetia
Return a long way off for many Georgian refugees
Georgians Contemplate Future Five Years After Rose Revolution

Russian forces should withdraw from Moldova: Nato

“I sincerely hope on the basis on the principles we all agreed upon (in Istanbul) … a solution can be found,” the Nato chief said during a brief visit to Moldova. Trans-Dniester broke away in 1992 after a bloody war with Moldova that left more than 1,500 people dead. Russia maintains about 1,500troops and an unknown amount of light weapons in Trans-Dniester, despite calls by the United States and the European Union to respect the 1999 pledge to withdraw them.

Leader of troubled southern Russian republic quits
Ukraine says Russia pushing it out of arms market

Union for the Black Sea May Be Established in 2009

The New Cold War: Reviving the U.S. Presence in the Arctic

news from space

Here’s a roundup of space news from the last few days.

First, a warm welcome for the newest little planet in the system, Haumea:
News Release – IAU0807: IAU names fifth dwarf planet Haumea
And in related news: Planet Definition Update

Endeavour put on standby as rescue spacecraft

USA stops work on Ares I and Ares I-X rockets

In a move that could upset NASA and its plans to hurry the Constellation moon rocket program, United Space Alliance, the main contractor at Kennedy Space Center, notified its employees on Thursday that it will no longer be working on the Ares I rocket or Ares I-X test rocket from Sept 22.

Presidential space debate closed to public

China To Snap 4 Space Ships Into a Station

Russia Begins Elbowing Ukraine Out From Brazil’s Space Program
Russia May Build Space Center in Cuba
I can’t imagine what Cuba wants with a space program right now, but whatever.

Europe plans asteroid sample grab

all your favorite news stories in one stylish package

Owners hire armed guards to secure ships against pirates
Kidnap ransoms a ‘toll’ to fund terrorist groups

EU mulling military action to tackle Somalia pirates
Tuna fishing vessels seek refuge in Seychelles after threats of piracy

Review: At the Edge of the World (Documentary)
Propaganda: At The Edge of the World Premieres at the Toronto Film Festival

A nonfiction pirate movie that tickles one’s inner eco-radical, “At the Edge of the World” spends a season in the frozen sea with Paul Watson and his militant-mariner Sea Shepherd crew as they try to save endangered mammals from the restaurant suppliers of the Japanese whaling fleet. Docu-cum-chase film may have limited theatrical appeal, but should make a dent in the specialty market and, certainly, the DVD racks.

Google search finds seafaring solution

RAF radar chief: I saw UFO fleet

Wing Commander Alan Turner, 64, said colleagues sat stunned when 35 super-fast vessels appeared on their screens.

Wing Cmdr Turner said six military radars, plus operators at Heathrow, spotted the UFOs east of Salisbury Plain and filed reports on the unexplained phenomenon in 1971.

Three days later, the Ministry of Defence visited the RAF and instructed staff to “never speak about the incident again”.

Hubble Finds a Mystery Object
China Broadcasts Greetings From The Moon
Japanese Beam-Down Solar Power System To Be Tested in Abu Dhabi

7 countries plan Black Sea naval exercises
U.S. warship enters Black Sea, Turkey rules out Montreux breach
Russia eyes Mediterranean as alternative to Sevastopol naval base

Georgia war sparks political battle in Ukraine

Arctic meeting calls for closer international cooperation

The right to assembly: The American Civil Liberties Union is representing dozens of protestors arrested at the RNC

When you’ve got a police presence that’s as strong and as aggressive as this, and where they use as much chemical irritant as these guys have been using—they have two million dollars’ worth of it; you might as well use it up; doesn’t last forever, you know—you’re going to get news people who will be gassed and, you know, who will be arrested. People are being swept up, including journalists, charged with a felony, thrown in jail, and then, you know, they’re sitting there for a day and a half, and then the prosecutors are looking at it and saying, “Oh, there’s no reason. We’ll let you go.”

Judge blocks Ore. logging project