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Pak security forces enter Mingora
Today's Headlines
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-Lurid Crime Tales-
civic-minded females asked to stick their heads in a toilet
In April, the district attorney in Vilas County, Wis., announced that he was seeking volunteers for a forensic test to help his case against Douglas Plude, 42, who is scheduled to stand trial soon for the second time in the death of his wife.

The volunteers must be female, about 5-feet-8 and 140 pounds, and will have to stick their heads into a toilet bowl and flush. Plude is charged with drowning his wife in a commode, but his version (which the prosecutor will try to show is improbable) is that his wife committed suicide by flushing herself.
Posted by: Anonymoose || 05/24/2009 19:20 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6488 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Was that a clean swirly or a dirty swirly?
Posted by: no mo uro || 05/24/2009 19:53 Comments || Top||

#2  sounds like Waterboarding. I know a Speaker of the House I'd like to volunteer...
Posted by: Frank G || 05/24/2009 19:59 Comments || Top||

#3  Wouldn't the flushing action mean that the water is, I dunno, leaving the loo? Don't you need water to drown, even in Wisconsin?

Posted by: Cornsilk Blondie || 05/24/2009 22:46 Comments || Top||


Passer-by pushes suicide jumper in south China
BEIJING (AP) - Chen Fuchao, a man heavily in debt, had been contemplating suicide on a bridge in southern China for hours when a passer-by came up, shook his hand - and pushed him off the ledge.

Chen fell 26 feet (8 meters) onto a partially inflated emergency air cushion laid out by authorities and survived, suffering spine and elbow injuries, the official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday.

The passer-by, 66-year-old Lai Jiansheng, had been fed up with what he called Chen's "selfish activity," Xinhua said. Traffic around the Haizhu bridge in the city of Guangzhou had been backed up for five hours and police had cordoned off the area.
One can understand the frustration, but this is a little extreme ...
"I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest," Lai was quoted as saying by Xinhua. "They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities' attention to their appeals."

Xinhua said Lai was "taken away by police" but did not elaborate.
Posted by: Steve White || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6474 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Hilarious.
Posted by: Broadhead6 || 05/24/2009 1:21 Comments || Top||

#2  What a sport.
Posted by: Girlthursday || 05/24/2009 1:40 Comments || Top||

#3  There was an inflated bag under the guy he landed on so it might not be that extreme.
Posted by: 3dc || 05/24/2009 1:43 Comments || Top||

#4  Back in 1998, somebody closed down the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (along the Washington Beltway south of DC) for 5 hours the same way. The police eventually shot him with a beanbag gun; he then jumped into the Potomac and survived. I just saw a comment on freerepublic.com suggesting that Mr. Lai's action was perfectly understandable.
Posted by: Eric Jablow || 05/24/2009 7:16 Comments || Top||

#5  In China, there is a tradition of sensible old people doing the obviously right thing, when nobody else can see it.

Also notice how the old man is 100% pro-government, despite the fact that he lived through the twin disasters of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Never underestimate this.
Posted by: gromky || 05/24/2009 7:20 Comments || Top||

#6  I remember well the incident to which Eric is refering. And, if memory serves, there were more than a few letters to the editor in both the Post and Times suggesting the same treatment of the Wilson Bridge "jumper".
Posted by: WolfDog || 05/24/2009 10:36 Comments || Top||

#7  suicide cowards, just get it over with
Posted by: 746 || 05/24/2009 11:19 Comments || Top||

#8  Dueling narcissism.
Posted by: mojo || 05/24/2009 16:11 Comments || Top||

#9  Seems the police cordon of the area wasn't all that good.

Wonder if he'll sue the writer of Lethal Weapon.
Posted by: rjschwarz || 05/24/2009 17:11 Comments || Top||


-Obits-
World's Oldest Woman Slips, Falls, Dies
The world's oldest woman, according to officials in Kazakhstan, slipped on the bathroom floor of an apartment that the state had given her because of her great age. She died at 130. Sakhan Dosova had 10 children, and she outlived all but three of them.
Posted by: 3dc || 05/24/2009 13:10 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6485 views] Top|| File under:

#1  She fell, and couldn't get up. Didn't they give her a LifeCall pendant????
Posted by: Scooter McGruder || 05/24/2009 14:06 Comments || Top||

#2  At least her neighbors will finally get some peace and quiet after years of her either entertaining or fighting with her string of young boyfriends at all night sex and dancing parties. That and her practicing on her tuba.
Posted by: Anonymoose || 05/24/2009 21:00 Comments || Top||

#3  even worse, the accordion
Posted by: Frank G || 05/24/2009 21:16 Comments || Top||


-Signs, Portents, and the Weather-
Sun Spots return!
The sun kicked up a whopping storm on May 7th and 8th seen by STEREO-B spacecraft.
Posted by: 3dc || 05/24/2009 13:14 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6487 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Crap! This means another 11 years of Al Gore.
Posted by: ed || 05/24/2009 13:58 Comments || Top||

#2  How nice for the sun.

But have sunspots actually returned, or is this just a one-off? Enquiring minds, etc....
Posted by: Barbara Skolaut || 05/24/2009 14:52 Comments || Top||

#3  Exactly, Barbara. The Maunder Minimum didn't mean there were NO sunspots, just a lot fewer than normal. Just because there is one sunspot doesn't mean we are not headed into another mini ice age.
Posted by: Rambler in Virginia || 05/24/2009 15:37 Comments || Top||

#4  Seems that the May 7-8 event did not result in a sunspot surge. The sun has been spotless (even speckless) for the past week or so.
Posted by: Lord garth || 05/24/2009 15:38 Comments || Top||

#5  The only sunspot to last any length of time was 1017, which started and stopped in about five days. There was another spot, #1018, that erupted and faded in the same day. The Sun IS waking up, but it just hit the snooze again.
Posted by: Old Patriot || 05/24/2009 17:22 Comments || Top||

#6  [Someone has to write it]

Stay, Spot, Stay

[groan]
Posted by: Procopius2k || 05/24/2009 17:41 Comments || Top||

#7  Don't count your sun spots until you see them. They may or may not associate with solar storms. The rotation period of the sun is about 25 days, so depending on the launch point of the solar storm it may be a while before we will know for sure.
Posted by: Anonymoose || 05/24/2009 20:54 Comments || Top||

#8  Find someone who can darn damaged warm wool socks that you've not thrown out. OTC real wool socks haven't been available for 3 years now.
If you have poor circulation, warm socks are a gift of God.
Posted by: Asymmetrical Triangulation || 05/24/2009 21:38 Comments || Top||

#9  Come on folks, the sun has nothing to do with global warming!

Really
Posted by: European Conservative || 05/24/2009 21:58 Comments || Top||

#10  (P.S. Yes I was told this yesterday)
Posted by: European Conservative || 05/24/2009 21:59 Comments || Top||

#11  of course, there's no money to be parasited by Solar Activity, so it will be buried. The time's come to call the Global Warming Ambulance Chasers for the weak-assed whores and parasites they are

Posted by: Frank G || 05/24/2009 22:30 Comments || Top||


U.S. Asks Firms to Make Swine Flu Vaccine
The federal government has asked three drug companies to make enough swine flu vaccine to immunize at least 20 million people in key positions in health care, national security and emergency services, officials said yesterday. The order, announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is part of a $1 billion investment in immediate production and testing of vaccine against the newly emerged strain of the H1N1 flu virus. Further orders for potentially hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine are expected.

"This is really to reserve our place in line," Sebelius said at a news conference at the agency's day-care center.

Although questions remain unanswered about the effectiveness of a swine flu vaccine, how many doses it will take to protect a person and who should get it, Sebelius said that "we can't wait" for the answers before putting the manufacturing machinery in motion.

The order is for bulk quantities of a killed version of the virus and two different adjuvants, chemical additives that boost the immune system's response and allow a lower dose of vaccine to be used, which in turn stretches the supply. The money will also pay for testing pilot lots of the vaccine in human volunteers.

The vaccine ingredients would not be combined and "finished" into usable vaccine until late summer. Special permission from the Food and Drug Administration will be needed for the adjuvants to be used, as neither one is currently approved for use in this country.

The government's pandemic preparedness plan divides the U.S. population into five tiers of priority for getting the vaccine. The first tier, of about 24 million people, includes deployed armed forces members; critical health-care workers; fire, police and ambulance workers; pregnant women and small children.

HHS has contracts with five companies to make pandemic vaccine. The department has activated the ones with Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline. It is still negotiating with the two others, MedImmune and CSL, an Australian company.
Very good to know.
Posted by: Steve White || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6477 views] Top|| File under:

#1  One sided conversation goes something like this - "Make the vaccine, or we'll seize your companies, we might just do it anyway. Don't even think of being allowed to recoup your costs or to be immunized from frivolous lawsuits. We'll be by to pick it up tomorrow..."
Posted by: M. Murcek || 05/24/2009 13:04 Comments || Top||

#2  No one of those companies is American. Scary. After developing most of the world's vaccines, including influenza, the US doesn't even control it's own vaccine production anymore.
Posted by: ed || 05/24/2009 13:36 Comments || Top||

#3  Sorry. Didn't read that last line. MedImmune is a US company.
Posted by: ed || 05/24/2009 13:37 Comments || Top||

#4  Trials are underway here in Houston for the H1N1 vaccine.
Posted by: Zorba || 05/24/2009 18:53 Comments || Top||

#5  There is a good chance it may not work in any account, as in those instances of late spring flus, there were numerous accounts of the same people catching the later, severe flu.

Critical tools to have in your arsenal. There is strong evidence that ordinary statin drugs, used against high cholesterol, such as Lipitor and Crestor, for as of yet unknown reasons strongly lowers the chances of developing high-mortality Acute Respiratory Distress associated with the Cytokine Storm.

http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/URItheFlu/5411

So it is absolutely vital to get your hands on a supply of these pills if a severe influenza hits.

Otherwise, a four drug OTC combination has been devised that might also fend off ARD. All four parts have to be taken for the effect, in that they each inhibit different, critical cytokine components (out of 150).

Vitamin D 10,000 IU/day, which can be taken for a long period of time without toxicity, but should not be taken until there is risk of severe influenza. Vitamin D is a hormone that has both antiviral and inhibitory effects.

Benedryl, a histamine-1 inhibitor.

Tagamet, a histamine-2 inhibitor, normally used for acid reflux.

Ibuprofen, a prostaglandin inhibitor, normally used as a pain reliever.

ARD will be doubly lethal, because when you develop it, you must have an oxygen ventilator to breathe, and these are in critical supply in the US. Therefore it is essential you do not develop ARD.
Posted by: Anonymoose || 05/24/2009 21:13 Comments || Top||

#6  Thanks for the info, 'moose. Rantburg U is in session again.

What are the dosages for the other 3 drugs (besides Vit. D)?
Posted by: Barbara Skolaut || 05/24/2009 21:25 Comments || Top||

#7  double cheeseburger hold the lettuce 3 times in one week! and a cholesterol test please!
Posted by: GirlThursday || 05/24/2009 21:52 Comments || Top||


Arabia
Saoodi Oil Tick Says Oil to Reach $75 a Barrel
May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al- Naimi said the price of oil will climb to $75 a barrel when demand picks up. “We’ll get there eventually,” al-Naimi told reporters in Rome today where he will attend meetings with energy ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations. “The trick is keeping it between $70 and $80. It will be achieved as demand rises and the fundamentals are better than they are now.”
Pah. Just you wait and see all those new green cars that Bambi has Chrysler and Fiat building right now ...
To reach that goal, Naimi said he will recommend OPEC members “stay the course” at their meeting in Vienna on May 28. The group is likely to keep daily output quotas unchanged at 24.845 million barrels at the Vienna gathering, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Crude oil for July delivery rose 62 cents to settle at $61.67 a barrel at 2:45 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday. The July contract increased 8.2 percent this past week. Oil is up 38 percent this year.

Naimi said oil should keep at about $75 a barrel “because that is what is desired for the Saoodis world economy.”

Saudi Arabia produced less than its quota of 8 million barrels a day last month, according to a May 13 OPEC report. The Saudis produced 7.9 million barrels of OPEC’s 25.3 million- barrel daily output.

Naimi said last month that helping to keep oil prices at $50 a barrel was his country’s contribution to the world economy, which is fighting the worst recession in six decades. Since he made those comments in Tokyo on April 25, crude prices have climbed more than 20 percent to above $60 a barrel.

The 12 members of OPEC, which overshot their ceiling by 410,000 barrels last month, will update their policy on oil output at this month’s meeting. At the last summit on March 15, the group decided to leave quotas unchanged and adhere to its earlier commitment to restrict supply by a total of 4.2 million barrels a day from levels in September 2008.

OPEC cut its 2009 forecast on May 13 and now estimates daily oil demand will fall by 1.57 million barrels, or 1.8 percent, to 84.03 million barrels of oil a day this year.
Posted by: Steve White || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6466 views] Top|| File under:

#1  wouldnt closer to the truth be:

"Oil ticks predict fall of US dollar to value of 1/75 of a barrel of oil"?

personally i think it is a rather optimistic assessment of the dollar's future.
Posted by: abu do you love || 05/24/2009 17:38 Comments || Top||


UAE monetary hissy fit not related to al-Saud favoritism
The goal behind the United Arab Emirates (UAE) not joining the unified GCC currency has nothing to do with choosing Saudi Arabia as headquarters of the Gulf central bank, local politicians and economists said here Saturday.
Certainly not.
According to those experts, the UAE is entitled to be the headquarters of the bank due to its "sturdy" economic status in the Gulf area.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman had previously approved draft project of the joint monetary agreement and its by-laws last year, so as to implement it by end of 2009. The draft project would pave the way for establishing the monetary union and the issuance of the common currency.
Lots of inside Arabian moneyball here, I hope the State Department reads KUNA. Much more at the link.
Posted by: Seafarious || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6466 views] Top|| File under:

#1  The UAE is very western concidering where it is on the globe. They do not want Soddies having any control over them.
Posted by: 49 Pan || 05/24/2009 13:18 Comments || Top||


Bangladesh
One killed, 50 injured in AL factional clashes
JHENIDAH, May 23: Separate factional clashes of the ruling Awami League in the district Saturday left a man dead, 50 others injured and 35 houses vandalized, reports UNB.

Police said Hafizul Islam, a sexagenarian man, was killed and 30 others were injured in a fierce clash between two groups of AL supporters at Dhaura village in Shailakupa upazila over establishing supremacy at the village.

Villagers said Dhalahara union unit AL president and its secretary Motiur Rahman had been in a conflict since the AL came to power. The clash broke out at about 5am as a few supporters of the both groups locked into an altercation over a social issue.
Social issue in B'desh: likker, wimmin or someone's mustache?
Later, both the groups, equipped with lethal weapons and rods and sticks, attacked each other, leaving 31 people injured from both sides. Twenty of the injured were admitted to local health complex where Hafizul Islam died soon after admission.

The warring groups also vandalized at least 20 houses in the village during the fight.
"Empty the likker cabinets!"
On information, police rushed in and fired six shots in the air to disperse the rowdy people.
No one was bullet-struck?
In another incident, at least 20 people were injured and 15 houses damaged in a clash between two groups of AL activists at Kutipara in Sadar upazila.
Which location is no doubt marked on a map stored in the back of a cabinet in a sub-basement somewhere, in microscopic and unreadable letters.
Police said there was a dispute between two AL Leaders-Abdul Malek backed by local MP Abdul Manna, and ex-UP Chairman Shahid Shikder backed by the upazila chairman-over taking control over organizational activities.

The clash erupted as supporters of Shahid beat supporters of Malek at about 10am near a river at Jithore village following their past enmity. As the news of attack spread around, Malek's supporters caught two followers of Shahid, triggering a fierce clash between the two groups that left 20 people injured.
Boys will be boys, even sexagenarians.
At least 15 houses were damaged during the two-hour clash. Being informed, police appeared at the scene and brought the situation under control.
Posted by: Steve White || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6470 views] Top|| File under:


Caribbean-Latin America
Zimbabwe on the Orinoco
Venezuela's farm seizures show little results

This vast ranch used to be filled with grazing herds of cattle, but the green pastures are now overgrown with weeds and dotted with patches where poor farmers grow corn and beans. The cows have vanished.

The 32,000-acre (12,950-hectare) El Charcote Ranch in central Venezuela was meant as a showcase for President Hugo Chavez's agrarian revolution, turning a country with food shortages and runaway inflation into one that could feed itself. But since troops and peasants seized the land from a British agribusiness company four years ago, beef production has dropped from 2.6 million pounds (1.2 million kilograms) annually to zero.

The ranch and many like it across the country raise the concern that the dream of a Venezuela living off its own land is just one more socialist promise heavy on rhetoric and light on results. The Chavez government says it has taken over more than 5.4 million acres (2.2 million hectares) of farmland from private owners. Yet food imports have tripled since 2004, the year before Chavez began his aggressive reform program.
Posted by: ed || 05/24/2009 14:27 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6484 views] Top|| File under:

#1  coming soon to the USA. fortunately, nobody was all that interested in GM autos to begin with so the falling production wont be that noticed
Posted by: abu do you love || 05/24/2009 17:41 Comments || Top||

#2  The new "owners" just wanted to make sure all those horrible cow farts didn't kill the rainforest.
Posted by: Cornsilk Blondie || 05/24/2009 18:44 Comments || Top||

#3  when the starvation starts, supply the opposition with arms
Posted by: Frank G || 05/24/2009 18:51 Comments || Top||


China-Japan-Koreas
Gulags, Nukes and a Water Slide
In the propaganda blitz that followed North Korea's missile launch last month, the country's state media released photos of leader Kim Jong Il visiting a hydroelectric dam and power station.

Images from the report showed two large pipes descending a hillside. That was enough to allow Curtis Melvin, a doctoral candidate at George Mason University in suburban Virginia, to pinpoint the installation on his online map of North Korea.

Mr. Melvin is at the center of a dozen or so citizen snoops who have spent the past two years filling in the blanks on the map of one of the world's most secretive countries. Seeking clues in photos, news reports and eyewitness accounts, they affix labels to North Korean structures and landscapes captured by Google Earth, an online service that stitches satellite pictures into a virtual globe. The result is an annotated North Korea of rocket-launch sites, prison camps and elite palaces on white-sand beaches.

"It's democratized intelligence," says Mr. Melvin.
His Google Earth KML file is available for download at the link.
Joshua Stanton at One Free Korea has written about this as well. This is a potential project for us at the Burg. Perhaps we could map out the Iranian and Pak nuclear sites. Just to help out, you see ...
Posted by: Parabellum || 05/24/2009 10:31 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6478 views] Top|| File under:


PLAN Aircrews to train off carriers in Brazil? Also Varyag update and photos
Posted by: 3dc || 05/24/2009 02:06 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6466 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Yep, that is what Minister says in Portuguese.
The Chinese will have to learn Portuguese and will get training in São Paulo carrier (ex-French Foch). It is not a done deal but it appears that there will be a good chance for that.
Posted by: Large Snerong7311 || 05/24/2009 7:18 Comments || Top||

#2  I wonder if there's any relationship to the multi-billion barrel 'Tupi' oil discovery last year (way) off the Brazilian coast?
Posted by: Glenmore || 05/24/2009 8:42 Comments || Top||


SKor Birthrate Remains Lowest in the World
South Korea ranks at the very bottom of the global birthrate list for the second year, according to statistics released by the World Health Organization on Thursday. South Korea had an average of 1.2 babies per woman of reproductive age based on 2007 figures, the lowest among 193 countries. Eight countries shared the bottom place, including Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine.
Context: a country needs a birthrate of ~2.1 babies per woman in order to maintain a stable population. Higher than that and your country grows in population; lower than that and your country declines. A birthrate of 1.2 puts a country on a trajectory to halve its population in about 30 years time. Demographic experts say that anything less than 1.4 is essentially unrecoverable, and a country with a birthrate below that simply won't exist over time.
South Korea was also at the bottom last year with the same birthrate along with Belarus, the Czech Republic and Poland. The rate has been dropping from 1.6 in 1990 and 1.4 in 2000. In North Korea, the birthrate was 2.4 in 1990 and 2 in 2000, dropping to 1.9 in 2006 and 2007.

Most figures were the same as last year, with Niger and Afghanistan topping the list with 7.2 and 7.1, down slightly from last year's 7.3 and 7.2. But those countries find themselves at the bottom of the list in terms of average life expectancy with 51 and 42 years, respectively.

The United States had an average fertility rate of 2.1, the same as last year, and France and U.K. also maintained last year's figure of 1.9 and 1.8. Scandinavian countries -- Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden -- posted 1.8, the same as last year. As for the BRICs countries, India and Brazil maintained last year's figure of 2.8 and 2.3, and China and Russia recorded 1.7 and 1.3.
Posted by: Steve White || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6472 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Skor diaper, baby carriage, and designer baby clothes companies r gonna be pissed!!
Posted by: GirlThursday || 05/24/2009 0:21 Comments || Top||

#2  I'm sure that their glorious leader will come to the rescue and impregnate the entire female population in one month's time.
Posted by: gorb || 05/24/2009 0:41 Comments || Top||

#3  And some trannies will be getting some visitations too.
Posted by: GirlThursday || 05/24/2009 0:43 Comments || Top||

#4  Korean chicks are hot. I'm willing to offer assistance by trying to impregnate a few.....
Posted by: Scooter McGruder || 05/24/2009 1:42 Comments || Top||

#5  ***cough*** any corollary between the draw down of the American presence and the birthrate? Nothing improves performance like unconstrained competition.
Posted by: Procopius2k || 05/24/2009 9:23 Comments || Top||


Former President Roh leaves behind brief suicide note
SEOUL, May 23 (Yonhap) -- Former President Roh Moo-hyun, long beleaguered by bribery allegations, jumped to his death off a cliff behind his home in southern South Korea Saturday after leaving a brief suicide note to his family, his lawyer and police said.

In a suicide note left on his personal computer just an hour before he left home, Roh spoke of emotional suffering, the Gyeongnam Provincial Police Agency said in a briefing.

"I'm indebted to too many people. The pain that I caused to so many people is too great. The pain in the coming days is unfathomable," Roh said in the note disclosed by police.

"Due to my frail health, I cannot do anything. I cannot read or write. Don't be too sad. Don't blame anyone. Life and death are identical parts of nature. It's fate," the note said.

It also conveyed his desire to be cremated and that a small headstone be set up near his home.
Posted by: Steve White || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6467 views] Top|| File under:

#1  The left always loves non-American traditions, maybe this is one the pols here could adopt. Unfortunately, in the great left tradition of 'one set of rules for thee and another set of rules for me', they'd only expect their enemies counterparts to do it.
Posted by: Procopius2k || 05/24/2009 9:26 Comments || Top||


Europe
EU-Russia summit fails to assure energy supplies
MOSCOW | Russia and the European Union failed to agree Friday on measures to prevent another cutoff of gas supplies to Europe. EU leaders said their summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev improved a relationship severely strained by Russia's war with Georgia last summer and a winter gas cutoff of Russian supplies via Ukraine - but there were no major breakthroughs.

Tension over energy supplies and EU overtures to Russia's neighbors was palpable. Mr. Medvedev warned that the EU's strengthening ties with former Soviet states must not turn into an anti-Russian coalition.

The talks "increased our mutual trust, which is very much needed and very important," Czech President Vaclav Klaus, whose country holds the EU presidency, told reporters after the summit in Khabarovsk, 3,800 miles east of Moscow.

While the tone was warmer than it was during edgy EU summits with Mr. Medvedev's predecessor, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president sparred with the EU leaders over energy - a sensitive issue because Europe relies on Russia for a quarter of its natural gas imports.

Mr. Medvedev insisted that only Ukraine was to blame for the two-week cutoff that left millions in Europe without heat in January, and warned that further disruptions are possible if Ukraine cannot pay. Russia turned off the taps to Ukraine during a dispute over pricing and payments, prompting angry EU questions about Moscow's reliability as a supplier.

Russia will offer no assurances that supplies would not be disrupted again, Mr. Medvedev said. "What for? There are no problems on our side - everything is in order here," he said.

He suggested the EU can only ensure reliable supplies by lending money to Ukraine to help it pay for gas. "We have doubts about Ukraine's ability to pay," Mr. Medvedev said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's energy adviser, Oleksandr Hudyma, said Ukraine is not in debt for gas and dismissed Mr. Medvedev's warning. "There is no threat and there is no debt to Russia," he said.

Mr. Medvedev reiterated Russia's opposition to the EU-backed Energy Charter, saying Moscow has "no intention" of signing on to the energy security pact in its current form, and pressed for an alternative.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU would consider Russia's proposals, but stressed that the EU could only augment the Energy Charter, not replace it. Mr. Barroso also made it clear that the EU thinks it is up to Russia, not just Ukraine, to ensure reliable gas supplies to Europe.
Perhaps the Euros should get to work building pipelines that are outside -- well outside -- Russia's control. And drill for more oil/NG in the North Sea and anywhere else in Western Europe that might have it.
Posted by: Steve White || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6466 views] Top|| File under:


Horst Koehler wins German presidential elections
In other news, Germany apparently had a presidential election.
But who voted? The numbers below don't sound like national population figures.
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) nominee Horst Koehler was re-elected on Saturday as the President of Germany and secured an absolute majority by 613 out of 1,224 votes.

Koehler's Social Democratic Party opponent, the 66-years-old female Political Science Professor Gesine Schwas scored 503 votes and was supported by her party as well as The Greens and the Left while Left Party's nominee Peter Sodann garnered 91 votes.

The elections' day coincides with the 60th anniversary of the formation of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German constitution. A celebration will kick off today where German politicians, intellectuals, artists, and German and foreign art bands will be participating.

Christian Democratic Union chairman Konrad Adenauer was the first Chancellor of West Germany from 1949-1963.
Posted by: Seafarious || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6468 views] Top|| File under:

#1  How many members does Germany have in it's Parliment?
Posted by: Richard of Oregon || 05/24/2009 11:23 Comments || Top||

#2  Richard, here's a link to Wikipedia's summary of the German political system.

From (hazy) memory, the President in Germany is a ceremonial office; the Kanzler (Chancellor) is the actual head of government. Germany has a sort of parliamentary system - the people don't elect the head of the government; the Bundestag does.
Posted by: Barbara Skolaut || 05/24/2009 12:09 Comments || Top||


India-Pakistan
India Seeks 3 More AWACS from Israel
NEW DELHI - India is negotiating the purchase of three more Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a Defence Ministry official here said.

The news arrived just days before the expected delivery of the first of three AWACS ordered in 2004 for $1.1 billion, the official said. The Indian Air Force AWACS planes will be Russian-built Ilyushin Il-76s equipped with Phalcon radars made by Elta, an IAI subsidiary.

New Delhi wants to buy three more Phalcon radars for mounting on aircraft, but IAI is asking for 30 percent more money than the first batch, the official said. IAI officials were not available for comment.

The Indian Air Force plans to beam data from the AWACS through a dedicated satellite under the nascent joint Aerospace Command.

The Phalcon radar can track 60 targets simultaneously out to 350 kilometers, an Air Force official said.

The AWACS' electronics must include a Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array radar system that can simultaneously handle fighter control, and air, sea and area search; 300-nautical-mile Identification-Friend-or-Foe system; electronic warfare defenses; and electronic support subsystems, a senior Air Force official said.

The aircraft should have a payload of 9,831 kilograms, an empty weight of 46,606 kilograms and a maximum takeoff weight of 77,564 kilograms. The aircraft should also have a cruise speed of 853 kilometers per hour, a range of 7,000 kilometers and a service ceiling of 41,000 feet.

While awaiting the AWACS planes, the Air Force has been relying on UAVs, including the Searcher-I, Searcher-II and Heron.
Posted by: john frum || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6469 views] Top|| File under:

#1  What a freking mess. the idiot that wrote this don't know what is talking about. Since when Searcher-I, Searcher-II and Heron are to track airplanes? 60 targets tracked simultaneously eh? what a terrible radar.
Posted by: Large Snerong7311 || 05/24/2009 7:13 Comments || Top||


Science & Technology
NASA Gets Out of Satellite Servicing Business
Mission to Hubble and marks the end of the servicing era.
Posted by: 3dc || 05/24/2009 12:46 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6483 views] Top|| File under:


USS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg Being Laid To Rest
A decade in the works. More than $8 million spent to get it done. A last-minute save by a local bank when a federal judge ordered it sold at public auction.

And Wednesday morning, it could all be over in less than four minutes.

That's when the USS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg is scheduled to be scuttled seven miles off Key West -- and that's how long it's estimated for the 522-foot former military vessel to sink and settle in as an artificial reef.

Previously known as the USS General Harry Taylor (AP-145) a General G. O. Squier-class transport ship in the United States Navy in World War II named in honor of U.S. Army Chief of Engineers Harry Taylor.

She served for a time as army transport USAT General Harry Taylor, and was reacquired by the navy in 1950 as USNS General Harry Taylor (T-AP-145). Placed in reserve in 1958, she was transferred to the U.S. Air Force in 1961 and renamed USAFS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg in 1963 in honor of the former Air Force Chief of Staff. She was reacquired by the navy in 1964 as USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (T-AGM-10).

On 1 July 1964, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg was acquired by the Navy and designated T-AGM-10, as a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship, one of ten such ships transferred from the Commander, Air Force Eastern Test Range, to MSTS.

"Equipped with extremely accurate and discriminating radar and telemetry equipment," she tracked and analyzed "re-entry bodies in the terminal phase of ballistic missile test flights," carrying out those missile and spacecraft tracking duties in both Atlantic and Pacific waters until her retirement in 1983. She was ultimately stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 29 April 1993.

http://www.wrecksite.eu/img/wrecks/general_vandenber_usafs.jpg

A picture of her as a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship.
Posted by: Anonymoose || 05/24/2009 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6475 views] Top|| File under:

#1  ...I saw the Vandenberg in Norfolk last summer, she did not look good at the time.

Mike
Posted by: Mike Kozlowski || 05/24/2009 9:09 Comments || Top||



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