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Blog Entries from 2006-06-06 to 2006-07-10

Submitted by kavanagh. on 2006-07-10 10:45 PM. freedom
Self-determination, democracy and security in the post-Soviet republics surrounding the Black Sea.

The “Soft War” for Europe’s East
By Bruce P. Jackson
Policy Review, June & July 2006

But we should not hesitate to state plainly what we do face: namely, a “soft war” over influence, alignment, and values. Today, one can identify three distinct campaign objectives in the political competition for Europe’s East.

The United States seeks to protect and perpetuate democracy in Ukraine and Georgia and potentially extend these democratic developments to the resolution of “frozen conflicts” on Moldovan and Georgian territory. The United States seeks to construct a trans-Caucasian energy route that would link the energy supplies of Central Asia and the Caspian Sea to European markets, breaking the monopoly on transit Moscow currently enjoys and exploits. And the United States seeks to ground the newly independent democratic states of Southeast Europe and the former Soviet Union in Euro-Atlantic institutions, beginning with the entrance of Romania and Bulgaria into the European Union in January 2007 and continuing with invitations to Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Georgia, and Ukraine to join nato before the end of the decade.

These three objectives of democracy support, energy independence, and Euro-Atlantic institutional integration define the theater of soft power competition.

Submitted by kavanagh. on 2006-06-26 01:21 PM. freedom
The NY Times reports on education enrollment while the BBC News covers Iraqi oil ouput

Amid Iraqi Chaos, Schools Fill After Long Decline
The New York Times
June 26, 2006

"Enrollment in Iraqi schools has risen every year since the American invasion, according to Iraqi government figures, reversing more than a decade of declines and offering evidence of increased prosperity for some Iraqis."

The increase, which has greatly outpaced modest population growth during the same period, is a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy landscape of bombs and killings that have shattered community life in many areas in western and central Iraq. And it is seen as an important indicator here in a country that used to pride itself on its education system, then saw enrollment and literacy fall during the later years of Saddam Hussein's rule.

Iraq oil output hits a new high
BBC News
June 26, 2006

Oil production in Iraq has hit its highest level since former leader Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003. Production has risen to 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) from a steady 2 million bpd during the US-led invasion, Iraq's new oil minister said.

Before the war, output was around 3 million bpd, peaking at a record of 3.5 million bpd. During an interview with CNN, Mr Shahristani said that Iraq's target now was to challenge Saudi Arabia's position as the world's leading oil producer.

Submitted by kavanagh. on 2006-06-22 09:22 AM. military
Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent

Declassified: National Ground Intelligence Center

Submitted by kavanagh. on 2006-06-21 11:30 PM.
An Economist article on income and equality in America

In 1916 the richest 1% got only a fifth of their income from paid work, whereas the figure in 2004 was over 60%.

...the share of aggregate income going to the highest-earning 1% of Americans has doubled from 8% in 1980 to over 16% in 2004.That going to the top tenth of 1% has tripled from 2% in 1980 to 7% today. And that going to the top one-hundredth of 1%—the 14,000 taxpayers at the very top of the income ladder—has quadrupled from 0.65% in 1980 to 2.87% in 2004.

Inequality in America
The rich, the poor and the growing gap between them
Jun 15th 2006
The Economist

Submitted by kavanagh. on 2006-06-20 05:04 PM. space
Jane’s Space Directory covers a Space Tourism event held at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London.

Future space tours booked and operated by Space Adventures and Virgin Galactic may include circumlunar and lunar landing excursions, and flights through the Aurora Borealis, respectively. Presently, Space Adventures is quoting USD100 million as the price for a trip to the Moon.

Space tourism: ready for the masses?
June 20, 2006
By Kimberley Ebner, Jane’s Space Directory

Submitted by kavanagh. on 2006-06-17 10:47 PM. recreation
Buffalo summers are full of fun on the Niagara River

Submitted by kavanagh. on 2006-06-10 12:44 AM. military
Michael Ledeen at the National Review discusses the operation that took out Zarqawi

We have probably just lived through the greatest global counterterrorist operation in history. In Iraq alone, some 16 or 17 terror cells were attacked at the same time as Zarqawi was killed. And the wave of arrests — just yesterday the Swiss reported they had broken up a cell planning to attack an El Al passenger plane — is like nothing I have seen before, bespeaking an encouraging degree of international cooperation. It goes hand in hand with the devastating campaign in Iraq against the terrorist leadership. Zarqawi is just the latest to fall; most of his top associates had been eliminated over the course of the past several months.

Zarqawi played on a global scale. Reports from Canada recount contacts between the ‘home-grown’ terrorists arrested by the Mounties and Zarqawi himself (See the ‘Mississauga News,’ June 7: ‘The arrest of 17 said to be the latest stage in dismantling a terrorist network that’s linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi...’). Those arrests seem linked to those carried out in Atlanta, Georgia, by the FBI, and to other arrests in Sarajevo, England, and Denmark

NRO: Iran Connects the Dots - June 9, 2006

Submitted by kavanagh. on 2006-06-08 09:42 AM. military
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, had his final setback in obstructing democratization

After failing to halt voting for Iraq's first freely-elected national government in January 30, 2005, after failing to prevent voter approval of Iraqs Constitutional Referendum on October 15, 2005 and after failing to disrupt elections of Iraq's Council of Representatives on December 15, 2005, al-Zarqawi was introduced to a U.S. Air Force F-16 Falcon.

Submitted by kavanagh. on 2006-06-07 09:50 AM. space
Back in my Geomorphology class at University at Buffalo, I recall studying the Milankovitch cycles - an accurate model of ice age frequency based on Earth's position in solar system. This Wikipedia entry explains...

The eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession of the Earth's orbit vary in several patterns, resulting in 100,000 year ice age cycles of the Quaternary glaciation over the last few million years. The Earth's axis completes one full cycle of precession approximately every 26,000 years. At the same time, the elliptical orbit rotates, more slowly, leading to a 22,000 year cycle in the equinoxes. In addition, the Earth's tilt relative to the Sun changes between 21.5 degrees to 24.5 degrees and back again on a 41,000 year cycle. The Earth's axis today is tilted 23.44 degrees relative to the normal to the plane of the ecliptic.

Wikipedia - Milankovitch cycles

Submitted by kavanagh. on 2006-06-06 03:22 PM. military
Islamic militants conquer the capital of Somalia. A reminder that Afghanistan and Iraq won't be the final battlegrounds in the global conflict with jihadists.

"Now you've got a safe haven for al-Qaida," said a defense intelligence official monitoring the country that was used as a base to stage attacks on two U.S. embassies and an Israeli resort in East Africa. "It's definitely a concern." However, current and former U.S. officials told the New York Daily News that Osama bin Laden's terror network isn't firmly established in Somalia, though the country hasn't had a central government in 15 years.

U.S. officials fear Somalia could become al-Qaida safe haven