Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Russia mocks Sweden over 'James Bond' conspiracies

( Multiple theories have been put forward as to who was behind the felling of the mast in Borås last week. One possibility suggested by terror researcher Hans Brun was that it was a foreign nation. “It is only Russia that could conceivably have an interest in it,” he told radio station P4 Sjuhärad on Wednesday.

The Russian embassy in Sweden has lambasted Brun in response, suggesting that his comments are part of a Swedish tradition of anti-Russian sentiment.

“It is regrettable that a person who purports to be a serious independent analyst endorses conspiracy theories with an obvious anti-Russian subtext,” the embassy wrote on its Facebook page on Friday.

“We are convinced that any Swede with common sense would smile at the depiction of Russian agents ‘preparing for war’ by unscrewing bolts from a TV mast in a remote Swedish region,” the post continued.

“The story feels like it is inspired by the James Bond films, resonating here in Sweden where there is unfortunately an established tradition of regularly looking for a ‘Russian trail’.”

The embassy’s post then went on to recall events like the Swedish military’s hunt for what was rumoured to be a damaged Russian submarine in 2014, calling it ‘embarrassing’.

It also highlighted a similar search for Russian vessels in the 1980s, which were based on what was believed to be intercepted communications signals. The Nordic nation later admitted the sounds were actually the noises made by minks.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS


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Kosovo ( population 1,8 millions) now has over 800 mosques, 240 of them built since the war and blamed for helping indoctrinate a new generation in Wahhabism. They are part of what moderate imams and officials here describe as a deliberate, long-term strategy by Saudi Arabia to reshape Islam in its image, not only in Kosovo but around the world.
                                    * * *
Within a few years of the war’s end, the older generation of traditional clerics began to encounter aggression from young Wahhabis.
Paradoxically, some of the most serious tensions built in Gjilan, an eastern Kosovo town of about 90,000, where up to 7,000 American troops were stationed as part of Kosovo’s United Nations-run peacekeeping force at Camp Bondsteel.

“They came in the name of aid,” one moderate imam in Gjilan, Enver Rexhepi, said of the Arab charities. “But they came with a background of different intentions, and that’s where the Islamic religion started splitting here.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Russia Retools After Crash as Post-Oil Economy Takes Shape

Bloomberg With none of the fanfare that greeted Saudi Arabia’s plan for the post-oil era, the Russian economy is quietly getting its biggest makeover under President Vladimir Putin. A trail left by crude’s collapse has turned up some unlikely survivors and even industries that found a way to prosper as the broader economy burned.

“New drivers for growth have already appeared in the economy -- agriculture, chemicals, the food industry, domestic tourism,” Deputy Finance Minister Maxim Oreshkin said in an interview on Monday. “They haven’t yet made up for a drop in non-tradable sectors, which was a one-off and structural.”

Russia’s famously boom-and-bust economy is already turning heads. A contraction in the first quarter was less than all but one forecast in a Bloomberg survey, meaning the nation’s longest recession in two decades may end as soon as next quarter. The 1.2 percent drop in gross domestic product from a year earlier was the smallest since the decline began at the start of 2015.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle is Russia’s business climate. While frequently fodder for criticism, there’s progress. Russia has surged by 61 spots in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index since 2013 to 51st this year. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Natural Gas Imports to Germany From Russia

FYI James, this is what I am talking about.  Sorry that I can't put this graphic into the comments section to avoid an additional post. 

The shape of things to come

We've had this discussion before, but for those of you who don't think renewable energy is making a major impact, what happened Sunday should give you pause.

Clean power supplied almost all of Germany’s power demand for the first time on Sunday, marking a milestone for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “Energiewende” policy to boost renewables while phasing out nuclear and fossil fuels.

Solar and wind power peaked at 2 p.m. local time on Sunday, allowing renewables to supply 45.5 gigawatts as demand was 45.8 gigawatts, according to provisional data by Agora Energiewende, a research institute in Berlin. Power prices turned negative during several 15-minute periods yesterday, dropping as low as minus 50 euros ($57) a megawatt-hour, according to data from Epex Spot.

read more

Monday, May 16, 2016

NATO Missile Defense Against a Nuke-Less Iran is certainly an odd sequence:  first Iran agrees to an extensive international monitored program to comprehensively eliminate its nuclear weapon program, and then only months afterwards NATO institutes a missile defense system against Iran...  this is just another example why I think that NATO is the most dangerous, destabilizing and aggressive military alliance on the planet. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Crimea, Kosova and Brittany on Eurovision’s List of Banned Flags

( The flags of Crimea, Kosova, Brittany, Wales and the Basque Country (among others) were explicitly mentioned on a “non-exhaustive” list of flags that have been banned from the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. This list of prohibited flags also included the Islamic State flag, whilst the LGBT flag is allowed “as a symbol of tolerance and diversity”, but not with a political purpose. In an update, the organisers reported that the flags of any competing singers will be permitted, which implies that the Welsh flag will be allowed. However, it remains to be clarified whether this will extend to the Crimean flag.  
Other than Wales, prohibited flags include those of Palestine and the Basque Country, Crimea and Northern Cyprus, and Isis. The Scottish saltire has also reportedly been banned.
“The European Broadcasting Union aims to ensure that the Eurovision Song Contest is free from political statements, unauthorised commercial messages and offensive comments, in line with the contest’s rules that all 42 participating broadcasters agreed upon,” a Eurovision spokesperson said.

Monday, May 9, 2016

First Immortal Regiment march organized in Belgrade

During the event, which was started in Russia's Tomsk in 2012, people carry photographs of their relatives who participated in the Second World War.

Several hundred Russians and Serbians, including veterans who came here from Moscow, and Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, as well as Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Chepurin, took part in the march today. Serbian and Russian were heard spoken in the column of people moving through Belgrade's streets - interrupted by occasional shouts of "URA!" ("hurray")

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Palmyra Concert

This morning I watched the concert by the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra given in Palmyra last week.  I usually don't respond to violin emotionally, but somehow this melancholy performance brought tears to my eyes.  The sadness and tragedy of war is conveyed so vividly amid the tortured ruins of an ancient city, I do not think that I have ever seen a concert that so effectively matched the context in which it was given.  There is no triumphalism,  just a very sober Russian musical commentary about this tragic war.
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