Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Who Needs Nukes When You Have Fuel Air Bombs?

My old professor Kenneth Minogue at the LSE once told me over a pint that Russia would soon rise again. I scoffed at the idea. This was in the middle of the economic collapse following Sachs failed 'shock therapy.' My thoughts at the time were that Russia was so mixed up economically, politically, socially and everywhere that you could imagine that it would take at least a century before Russia posed a threat to anyone other than itself. My old roommate -- who maintained he was one of the few complete persons having been born in Mother Russia and raised in the Fatherland -- agreed with Minogue. Minogue knew. Arkadi knew. Russia is always a threat. It merely takes time off occasionally to lick its wounds.

Russia Says It Tested World's Most Powerful Air Bomb (Update1)
By Michael Heath
Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Russia tested the world's most powerful air-delivered vacuum bomb that generates a shockwave similar to a nuclear blast, the armed forces said, as the country moves to reassert its global military power.
The bomb is ``comparable to a nuclear weapon in its power and efficiency,'' Alexander Rukshin, deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, said on state television yesterday. Unlike a nuclear bomb, it doesn't leave radioactive contamination, he added.
The weapon is four times more powerful than the Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb tested by the U.S. military and known as the ``Mother of All Bombs,'' according to the report by broadcaster Perviy Kanal. This prompted the Russian designers to call their device ``the Father of All Bombs,'' it said.
Russia is reasserting its military power with a new intercontinental ballistic missile, upgrades to its air force and the expansion of its navy. It wants to counter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's expansion in eastern Europe and U.S. plans to deploy anti-missile defense in the region.
The Russian leadership is ``showing the strength of the administration,'' Christopher Langton, senior fellow of conflict and defense diplomacy at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies research group said at a news conference today in response to a question about the bomb.
``It's important to note the presidential elections in March next year,'' he said. Vladimir Putin could be the first Russian president ``to leave office under normal circumstances,'' so he wants to leave ``on a high,'' Langton said.
Ultrasonic Shockwave
The new weapon disperses a cloud of explosive material that is set off by a charge and produces ``an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature,'' Perviy Kanal said on its Web site. After the blast, ``the soil looks like a lunar landscape,'' according to the report.
The new bomb carries fewer explosives than the U.S. device, while the temperature at the center of its blast is twice as high and the area of damage much greater, Perviy Kanal said.
``This has made it possible to reduce the accuracy requirements and made it cheaper, which is necessary in the current situation,'' Yuri Balyko, head of the Defense Ministry's 30th Central Research Institute, told the channel.
The new weapon will allow Russia ``to ensure the nation's security and at the same time battle international terrorism in any situation and in any region,'' Rukshin said.
Russia's Defense Ministry said the bomb ``doesn't contradict a single arms treaty,'' the channel reported. ``Russia isn't unleashing a new arms race,'' it added.
President Putin last month ordered a permanent resumption of strategic bomber flights around the world, ending a 15-year suspension of long-range air patrols. The move is to protect Russia's shipping routes and ``economic zone,'' he said.

No Mention in Pravda, Strangely

When they were still friends, 1919

Russian town asks citizens to multiply
September 12, 2007, 06:52 PM
Other news, Russia
ULYANOVSK, Russia, Sept. 12 (UPI) — Couples in a Russian community were doing their patriotic duty Wednesday by trying to increase the country's population.

Ulyanovsk's Gov. Sergei Morozov declared the day Family Contact Day as part of a proposal under which families could receive prizes for having babies on Russia Day, The Moscow Times reported. Wednesday was nine months before the June 12 holiday.

The Give Birth to a Patriot on Russia Day initiative aligns with Russian President Vladimir Putin's call to counter a declining population by increasing the number of birth.

The initiative is directed at improving the demographic situation in the region, a Morozov spokeswoman said.

Families who have children on June 12 could win valuable prizes, the spokeswoman said.

BBC's Newsround (for Kids) on 9/11

Guides: 11 September 2001 attacks

Last Updated: Friday June 29 2007 10:33 GMT

Why did they do it?

The way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry, including a group called al-Qaeda - who are widely thought to have been behind the attacks.

In the past, al-Qaeda leaders have declared a holy war - called a jihad - against the US. As part of this jihad, al-Qaeda members believe attacking US targets is something they should do.

When the attacks happened in 2001, there were a number of US troops in a country called Saudi Arabia, and the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, said he wanted them to leave.

Subsequently corrected, Newsround explained the holocaust without mentioning Jews.

L'Shona Tova

The Great Chinese Firewall, Real or Imagined?

I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
--T. S. Eliot

(Any excuse to post a picture of the bentpig's auto-icon is good enough for me.)

I thought this made interesting reading:

China's 'Eye on the Internet' a Fraud

The "Great Firewall of China," used by the government of the People's Republic of China to block users from reaching content it finds objectionable, is actually a "panopticon" that encourages self-censorship through the perception that users are being watched, rather than a true firewall, according to researchers at UC Davis and the University of New Mexico.

Examples of words tested by the researchers and found to be banned included references to the Falun Gong movement and the protest movements of 1989; Nazi Germany and other historical events; and general concepts related to democracy and political protest.


"Imagine you want to remove the history of the Wounded Knee massacre from the Library of Congress," Crandall said. "You could remove 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' and a few other selected books, or you could remove every book in the entire library that contains the word 'massacre.'"

By analogy, Chinese Internet censorship based on keyword filtering is the equivalent of the latter -- and indeed, the keyword "massacre" (in Chinese) is on the blacklist.

Those were the DOS days (Notice the 5 1/4 inch floppies that really flop)