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Showing posts from June 8, 2008

A league table of liveable cities

Financial Times By Tyler Brule Published: June 13 2008 21:40 | Last updated: June 13 2008 21:40 This might look like a rather straightforward column published by a powerful global media group, but it’s far more than that. Behind this matte salmon paper and the e-mail address below there’s an elaborate research-cum-call centre that dispenses all kinds of advice on issues ranging from travel itineraries to tailoring services in Tokyo to café tips in emerging neighbourhoods around the world. While I’m not party to how much revenue is generated on this page by Mr Eyres and me, I’m convinced there’s room to at least double the takings by setting up a concierge service. Given the volume of requests landing in my inbox from late Friday night UK time (when Asia wakes up) through till Monday morning, I reckon that a flat £5 fee for my services could boost the fortunes of the owners of this paper. Of all the requests to hit my screen over the years, relocation advice is the topic that most

Subdue Iran, secure Iraq

In managing its unfinished business with Tehran and Baghdad, the George W Bush administration seeks to bind the region - and its successor. By Paul Rogers for openDemocracy (13/06/08) The United States is facing key military and political decisions over a bitter current adversary, Iran, and an adversary-turned-ally, Iraq. Their outcome will have major consequences for the short- and medium-term future both of the Middle East and the US homeland. The decision over Iran, put crudely, is whether and when to go to war in the attempt to counter and/or disable Iran's nuclear-power developments. The signs that this prospect is returning to active consideration in the White House have been accumulating for weeks. The fact that the discussions between George W Bush and the beleaguered Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert on 4 June are reported to have focused more on Iran than on Gaza and the Palestinians is only one; Olmert expressed satisfaction that the US administration's firmne

Oil has grounded airlines

21:33 | 11/ 06/ 2008 MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti economic commentator) - In 2001, the world's airlines sustained a record aggregate loss of $13 billion as a result of a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. After such a shock, many people sharply cut down on their air travel. But this year, the record may be beaten for a strictly economic reason. Prices on jet fuel are skyrocketing as fast as oil. Austrian Airlines, the Austrian national carrier, was the last to report problems on June 10. It expects to lose up to 90 million Euros by the end of this year, although in the past year it made a profit of 3.3 million Euros. Something is definitely wrong with oil prices. At the end of the first week of June, they jumped by $16 to reach $139 per barrel in less than 36 hours. The balance of supply and demand has vanished altogether. Although now the price has stabilized at $135 per barrel, many experts predict that it will rise to $150 per barrel in the near fut

China: dam nation

Source: OXFORD ANALYTICA China has more hydroelectric dams than any other nation, and the presence of so many near the epicenter in Sichuan province could prove a huge risk in the aftermath of last month's earthquake. Sichuan's position in the most easterly mountainous part of China, where the rivers cascade from high elevations, is understandably a tempting location for genrating hydropower. Yet nowhere on Earth has more dams in an area of such high seismic risk, and it will make the government decidedly more cautious when selecting sites for further hydroelectric projects -- and nuclear power stations. The earthquake triggered extensive landslides that blocked river valleys; monsoon rains are also swelling river flow in the region, putting unprecedented pressure on the dams. Failure of one dam increases the probability of failure for the others. In 1975, a dam burst during a monsoon in Henan province, causing a tidal wave that destroyed a larger dam downstream. The floo

VIDEO : US Air Strike on Afghan-Pakistan Border

____________ Air Strike in Pakistan ‘Legitimate, Self-Defense,’ Pentagon Official Says By John J. Kruzel American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, June 11, 2008 – Defense Department officials called a U.S. air strike yesterday in Pakistan near the Afghanistan border “legitimate” and “self-defense,” and said they are investigating the attack with Pakistani officials. “Every indication we have at this point is that the actions that were taken by U.S. forces were legitimate, in that they were in self-defense after U.S. forces operating on the border of Pakistan in Afghanistan territory came under attack from hostile forces,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said in a news conference today. “In self-defense, they called in an air strike, which took out those forces that were attacking them,” he added. News articles today quoted Pakistani officials as saying the U.S. air strike killed 11 members of Pakistan’s military. However, Morrell did not confirm that members of Paki

Russian Navy to expand presence in Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific

16:24 | 10/ 06/ 2008 MOSCOW, June 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Defense Ministry is planning to expand the presence of the Russian Navy in the world's oceans and extend the operational radius of submarines deployed with the Northern Fleet, a high-ranking military official said on Tuesday. "The summer training program [running from June 1 to December 1] envisions the increased presence of the Russian Navy, not only in the Atlantic, but also in the Arctic and the Pacific," said Lt. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, who heads the Defense Ministry's combat training directorate. "We are also planning to increase the operational radius of the Northern Fleet's submarines," he said, adding that the General Staff would determine the new composition and size of the Armed Forces by the beginning of July. The general said that Russia may shift the focus of its military strategy toward the northern latitudes in order to protect its national interests in the Arcti

Will piracy never be sunk?

15:30 | 11/ 06/ 2008 MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik) - The ongoing hijacking of ships off the Somalia coast long ago became a routine part of maritime life in the Arabian Sea. One of the most recent incidents was the seizure of the tanker Amiya Scan, which is owned by Dutch company Reider Shipping. Pirates are still holding the crew consisting of four Russian officers (including the captain) and five Filipino sailors hostage. But the Amiya Scan incident could also prove to be a turning point. One of the major consequences of the hijacking incident was a UN Security Council resolution urging countries to pool their efforts in the struggle against piracy, and allowing foreign warships to enter Somalia's territorial waters in order to combat piracy. Piracy is as old as seafaring and even ancient states suffered from this evil. Julius Caesar was probably one its most famous victims. Captured in the Aegean Sea in 75 BC, he was released for the princely r

Russia’s power Industry : Caught Unprepared

By Graham Stack Special to Russia Profile A Rags-to-Riches Surprise for Russia’s Power Engineering Industry The flood of investment in expanding Russia’s power generation capacity has taken most people by surprise – including the power engineering companies who will be involved in achieving it. "No one anticipated the success of the UES spin offs in raising investment funds," said Alfa Bank’s Alexander Kornilov, "and so the power generation machinery sector was caught unprepared for the huge surge in demand." St. Petersburg-based Power Machines, a conglomerate of several large power engineering plants which took shape in 2004, possesses 60 percent of the Russian market, so it is taking a lion's share of the capex. But according to Kornilov, Power Machines is facing a "severe shortage of qualified personnel and manpower." It was only in 2007, as the sell-off of the state’s stakes in power generation companies begun, that the scale of the f

Urban congestion charges?

Source: OXFORD ANALYTICA After a relatively successful experience with congestion charging in London, the UK government has announced funding for a scheme in Manchester. The city's congestion charge will differ from London's model: Two rings will be created around the city, one at the outer motorway ring road, and one at the inner ring road. Vehicles will have tags attached to their windscreens, which will be scanned electronically as they cross each ring. In contrast, London has a single central congestion charge area. Drivers in Manchester will pay to enter each ring only at peak traffic times; in London, vehicles pay to enter the congestion charging area between 7am and 6pm on weekdays. Pros and cons Manchester's prospective congestion charge, along with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's abortive attempt to pass a similar scheme though the New York State Assembly, highlight some of the benefits and pitfalls of congestion charging: Reduced traffic flows: The

this week's Masterstroke Award: President Hugo Chavez

Source: OXFORD ANALYTICA This week's third place goes to new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is imposing his vision of a Russia governed by the 'rule of law'. This week, the Interior Ministry announced that it would drop all charges against Manana Aslamazyan, the head of a prominent US-funded non-governmental organisation. The development is the latest in a series of moves that indicate Medvedev's intention to follow through on his election pledge to liberalise somewhat restrictions on media and civil society in Russia. Second place goes to former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner , who has used continuing discontent in the agriculture sector to return to the forefront of Argentine politics. Kirchner has been rallying the Peronist ranks in opposition to the protest leaders. Yet as he returns to the limelight, his wife Christina finds it increasingly difficult to exert her authority. The tarnishing of the Kirchner brand makes Nestor's ultimate goa

Pak Frontier Corps: To Trust or Not To Trust?

International Terrorism Monitor--Paper No. 400 By B. Raman Twenty-seven persons----13 of them members of Pakistan's Frontier Corps, including a Major--- are reported to have been killed in an air strike by US Air Force planes on a check post of the FC located near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the Gora Parao area in the Mohmand agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan on the night of June 10, 2008. 2. While a Pakistani army spokesman has condemned the US attack as cowardly and unprovoked, Pentagon spokesmen in Washington DC, while not denying the attack, have justified it as a legitimate act of self-defence. 3. The check post attacked by US planes was manned by the Mohmand Rifles, a unit of the FC, which consists mainly of local recruits. The Mohmand Agency is one of the preferred infiltration routes of the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan headed by Mulla Mohammad Omar and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan.

All you want to know about terrorism in India

Source: REDIFF Dr Anil A Athale June 11, 2008 After the Jaipur terror attacks on May 13, we saw the routine that happens after every attack. There were VIP visits, compensation announced to the victims, politicians spoke of 'zero tolerance', television channels held the usual debates, the police announced imminent breakthroughs. Soon everything is forgotten, till the next terror attack. At which time, I am sure the same sequence will be repeated. I have been a student of insurgency and terrorism for 24 years. At social gatherings when asked what I do for a living, my answer invariably provokes a flurry of questions, much to the annoyance of my better half (who glares and hints that I should stop holding forth on my pet topic and not 'spoil' the party). Here is my attempt to answer some of those frequently asked questions. Why are attacks by Islamic groups called Islamist terrorism? Other terror groups like the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) or the IRA (Irish Republican Army

INTELLIGENCE: Pioneers in Intercepting Data on Internet

Source: IntelligenceOnline A handful of companies are fighting over the new market for the interception of Internet communications . And that technology is of particular interest to intelligence and security agencies. Among the young companies active on the market for intercepting data on the Internet (see graph below), France’s Qosmos stands out for the intricate analysis solutions it offers. Based in Paris, the group has developed a new generation of Deep Packet Inspection software (which filters and analyzes packets of data) that can recognize over 300 communications protocols (Webmail, Voice over IP, Instant Messaging, etc) and process 1.6 million packets of data per second. Once the protocol is identified, Qosmos can get down to in-depth work on the data and recover information about the user (login, password, IP address) and the contents of the messages that are sent. The outlets for such technology are of two types: legal interceptions (the French justice ministry is about to

Balawaristan: BNF Chief Abdul Hamid Speech to a Historic Gathering

English translation of Chairman Balawaristan National Front (BNF) Abdul Hamid Khan's telephonic address to a public gathering at Gahkuch dated June 8, 2008 My dear brothers, sisters of Gilgit-Baltistan, Ladakh, Chitral and Kohistan; youth of BNSO, GBDA Leaders and distinguished guests, I am proud of the fact that after ten years' separation, I have the opportunity to address a public gathering at Gahkuch today. My brothers, sisters and respected elders, I am not a leader nor a Quaid but a servant of my people. The word leader or Quaid is not a self-proclaimed title but a trust of a nation. Whoever a nation likes bestows the honor on him. This can only be possible when a person remains steadfast in his struggle for a national cause and stand by his nation, not the one who takes side with the usurpers. If anyone of you comes forward and dedicates himself to the struggle for taking the nation out of the whirpool and lead the people, the nation will choose him/her as their leader.

Deoband’s Dar-ul Islam

Pioneer-Deoband- 10 June 2008 Sandhya Jain Deoband’s 31 May 2008 fatwa against terrorism marks official Islam’s most significant departure from the phase of unproductive violence adopted by this beleaguered faith since the advent of western colonialism, particularly in the last two centuries. Though slow in coming, the decision by Indian Islam’s leading seminary to repudiate terrorism as a “most inhuman crime” was not unexpected; it may mark modern Islam’s first decisive move towards demarcating the religious sphere from the polity, thereby facilitating believers to live without mental discomfort in non-Muslim societies. Regular readers may recall that I have been expecting a dilution of Islamic fervour since Saudi Arabia itself experienced jihadi violence, viz., the 12 May 2003 car-bomb attacks and the 9 November 2003 suicide attack on Muhaya compound, both in Riyadh . The then US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage rightly concluded that

Why there is no Dharma in Progressive Liberalism ? Last week while penning down the Tale of Two Tortoises, Offstumped had another epiphany. This time on the oxymoron called “Progress Liberalism”. Multiple stories in the Mainstream Media over the past few days have only further validated it. Here is a sampling. CNN-IBN asking this question - Will America elect a Black President ? The Telegraph asking this question - Tears for film and verse, not a drop for riots ? So what do these questions tell us about Progressive Liberalism ? To better appreciate this let us pose these questions in a different way. Can America elect a President being blind to his skin color ? Was Mr. Advani guilty of not discharging his constitutional duty in response to riots ? The difference between the above questions and the previous set, posed by the mainstream media that professes by “progressive liberalism”, lies in the premise. Where the above questions