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Comment: Re:Unreal... (Score 4, Informative) 451

Regardless of political preferences... I simply can't imagine in what form those threats could have been made. Phone call? Letter? Email? How can anyone be so [IMHO, unrealistically] stupid to mention using nuclear weapons knowing that every word in today's communications is being recorded and would be published by the opposite side?

It was made during a verbal question and answer session some days ago. You can read a transcript of the full thing, without western media's blatantly selective quoting and bias, right here. Do go read it for yourself. The press has been having a field day with taking individual sentences out of context, in many cases not even mentioning that Putin was responding to questions from Russian citizens, to make it look like he's issuing press releases about Ukraine specifically. It's the most amazingly dangerous set of selective quotations I've ever seen. In this case Putin wasn't even talking about Ukraine!

I copy/pasted the full question and answer in a post below. But you can easily find it in that page. It's a long answer to a relatively vague question that asks (amongst other things) about how Russia can avoid being drawn into large scale conflicts. So right at the start he says he doesn't want to be drawn into any large conflicts, he doesn't think it's going to happen and that he thinks nobody has any intention of starting a large scale conflict (er, he might want to re-evaluate that given the noise coming out of NATO). Then he goes on to point out that Russia can defend itself, and talks about the "nuclear deterrent" (same language as the UK uses), and then states again that it's for defence.

You can choose not to believe him if you like. But the USA and UK also have "nuclear deterrents" and their so-called Departments of Defence routinely engage in offence at the drop of a hat. We routinely see far more aggressive language coming out of the White House. So I don't think anything Putin is saying here is particularly unique or unusual.

Comment: Actual full quote (Score 5, Informative) 451

Full transcript of this youth camp Q and A session is available here.

ROMAN SMAGIN: Good afternoon, Mr President.

I am Roman Smagin from Novosibirsk Teacher Training University.

It’s no secret to anyone that history tends to repeat itself. Historical events seem to unfold according to a cyclical theory. Over these last two years we have remembered and celebrated the historic choices that Russia made at important moments for our country’s destiny, such as in 1612, 1812, and 1914.

In this context, I want to ask you what view you take of the cyclical nature of history as we can see it in Russia. Also, I want to ask you about your view of historical memory, how it helps us, how it can help to preserve Russia’s political influence on the international stage, contribute to our society’s development, and not let Russia be drawn into a new open global conflict.

Thank you.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Historical memory is a very important part of our culture, history and present. Of course, we must draw on our historical experience and historical memory as we look towards the future. I can therefore say straight away that Russia is certainly not about to let itself be drawn into any large-scale conflicts. We do not want this and will not let this happen.

Naturally, we need to be ready to respond to any aggression against Russia. Our partners, no matter what the situation in their countries and the foreign policy ideas they follow, always need to be aware that it is better not to enter into any potential armed conflict against us. Fortunately though, I don’t think anyone has the intention today of trying to start a large-scale conflict against Russia.

Let me remind you that Russia is one of the world’s biggest nuclear powers. These are not just words – this is the reality. What’s more, we are strengthening our nuclear deterrent capability and developing our armed forces. They have become more compact and effective and are becoming more modern in terms of the weapons at their disposal. We are continuing this work to build up our potential and will keep doing so, not in order to threaten anyone, but so as to be able to feel safe, ensure our security and be able to carry out our economic and social development plans.

As far as cycles are concerned, yes, I think that the world’s development does go in cycles. This has pretty much been proven as far as the economy is concerned. There are economists here and they can no doubt explain it better than I can, but there are various cycles in the economy, small waves, large waves and so on, and any country’s development depends on the state of the economy. This is why economic growth and the transition from one technological level to another always have an impact on people’s lives and prosperity and on the social and political situation.

Just look, for example, at the way demand is growing in the European countries, and how hard it is to keep up with this constantly growing demand even at today’s level of technological development. This is a sign that there is a need for something else, that we must compensate somewhere for what we are not managing to achieve with the help of foreign policy and defence policy.

I hope very much that not just Russia’s historical memory but that all of humanity will prompt us to search for peaceful solutions to the various conflicts that are currently unfolding and that will arise in the future. We support political dialogue and the search for compromise.

Comment: First press reports not very good. (Score 2) 405

by Animats (#47809751) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

The problem here is that the press reports are just rehashes of what the cops are putting out. Somebody should find this guy and interview him. He may be in hiding for reasons of his own.

His book is self-published on Amazon. It's been out since 2011, and you can read a sample there. This guy is not the next Steven King. A typical sentence: "As Zea approaches her partner she cannot restrain herself from hyperventilating as she peers at the black embossed letters on the translucent glass sign above the entrance to the central atrium".

Today, the Los Angeles Times quotes cops as saying "Everybody knew about the book in 2012", and that this is more about a four-page letter he recently sent to officials in Dorchester County, containing "complaints of alleged harassment and an alleged possible crime". There may be more clarity over the next few days, now that the story is getting attention.

Comment: Re:Which Invasion? (Score 2) 184

You mean these satellite images? The ones that have the following quotes attached to them?

At a press conference on Thursday, August 28, Dutch Brig. Gen. Nico Tak, a senior NATO commander, revealed satellite images of what NATO says are Russian combat forces engaged in military operations in or near Ukrainian territory. NATO said this image shows Russian self-propelled artillery units set up in firing positions near Krasnodon, in eastern Ukraine.

This is an extremely misleading way to phrase things. Krasnodon is not just "in eastern Ukraine". It's right on the border. So being near it can also mean in Russia. The above comments from NATO mean nothing, assuming CNN is reporting them accurately. What about the others .... hmm let's see.

Image 2 is from inside Russia and they say so. Image 3 is also in Russia. Image 5 is captioned twice, once with "Russian self propelled artillery unit inside Ukraine" and again, but this time it's again "near Krasnodon", which is practically in Russia. If there's an obviously demarcated border in this area it's hard to see based on the Google satellite images. The last image doesn't even claim to be of anything in particular, the caption is merely summarising story in general.

Both Russian and Ukranian troops appear to regularly cross the border without realising it - there have been repeated reports of Ukrainian forces entering Russia and then being redirected back across the border, with no obvious blowback. Given these things, and the fact that western media is in full-blown propaganda mode and not even hiding it, I'm going to want way stronger evidence than this.

But honestly, even if Russia did invade, this would merely make it on par with the USA and UK, both countries that practically revel in invading other countries and wading into other countries civil wars. So a part of me couldn't get too excited even if it did happen. It's definitely NOT worth a serious, major conflict between Russia and the west.

Comment: Re:Which Invasion? (Score 3, Interesting) 184

Yes, but the tanks and artillery the "separatists" keep popping up with are coming from somewhere. At this late stage in the game, they certainly aren't Ukrainian remnants that the separatists have captured in those Ukrainian territories - those were used and destroyed many months ago.

Really? I was reading in the Guardian (which has proven itself to be woefully biased in the past few months) that the separatists were surrounding and capturing Ukranian army units just last week. What's more, in the past days we've been reading about waves of deserters from the Ukrainian army. Nobody is claiming the separatists are armed only with stuff they got months ago. They're claiming, and so is Kiev, that they've been able to obtain large quantities of arms from the fleeing, conscript-based Ukrainian army.

Meanwhile Poroshenko is trying to claim that there's an Russian army rolling around in his country ...... yet so far nobody has been able to actually find it. An entire army! Over 1000 soldiers and 100 tanks! Such a unit requires support vehicles, a tent town, supply lines .... so where is it? Maybe it's sort of like invasion by aid convoy.

+ - What's wrong with American health care-> 1

Submitted by walterbyrd
walterbyrd (182728) writes "1) Americans pay way, way, way more for health care than anyone else
2) We pay doctors when they provide lots of health care, not when they provide good health care
3) Half of all healthcare spending goes towards 5 percent of the population
4) Our health insurance system is the product of random WWII-era tax provisions
5) Insurance companies have small profit margins
6) Getting health care in the United States is dangerous
7) One third of healthcare spending isn't helping
8) Obamacare is not universal health care"

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Same thing from ultra-orthodox Jews. (Score 1) 513

by Animats (#47804259) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Leaving any orthodox religion is hard, after so many years of hard-line indoctrination.

In Israel, it's very hard to leave. There are extensive Government benefits for ultra-orthodox, including subsidized housing, pay for religious study, and unlimited draft deferments. This is on top of the heavy social pressure, the lack of marketable skills, and the language barrier (the ultra-orthodox in Israel speak Yiddish, not Hebrew.)

Comment: Re:Weight (Score 1) 208

by Animats (#47804185) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

"Wind is a particular hazard, because drones weigh so little compared with regular planes."

Small drones don't have much inertia. They can be easily flipped by a small local wind gust. This is a big problem for drones that operate close to buildings, where there are eddies and turbulence as air hits the building. Pass the corner of a building and the wind situation may be completely different.

Very smart and aggressive stability control systems are able to overcome this. See this drone from PSI Tactical, which weighs about 0.5Kg and is supposed to be able to operate in winds up to 30MPH.

Comment: Yes, we know that. (Score 4, Informative) 218

by Animats (#47802079) Attached to: Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

Battery storage for bulk power has been talked up for years. Mostly by the wind industry. With solar power, you get peak power and peak air conditioning load around the same time. Wind varies about 4:1 over 24 hours, even when averaged across big areas (California or the eastern seaboard). So the wind guys desperately need to store power generated at 4AM, when it's nearly worthless, so they can resell at 2PM. When the wind farm companies start installing batteries at their own expense, this will be a real technology.

With the US glut of natural gas, this isn't needed right now. Natural gas peaking plants aren't all that expensive to build, and make money even if they only run for maybe 6 hours a day. That covers most peak needs.

There are other ways to store energy. Some of the dams of the California Water Project have reversible turbines, which can run either as pumps or generators. They pump water uphill at night, when power is cheap, and let it down during the afternoon to generate power. Since the dams and pumps are needed for water handling anyway, this adds little cost.

Comment: Re:If the Grand Ayatollah's against it.... (Score 0, Flamebait) 513

by walterbyrd (#47801745) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

In general, there are 4 stages to Islamic conquest.

1) When they are a tiny minority they only want to live, and worship, in peace.

2) Once they are a bigger minority, they start demanding special laws to respect their religion and culture. This is happening in many European nations right now. These special laws may directly oppose fundamental rights in western countries.

3) Once they are a sizable minority: they drop the mask, and the gloves come off. Time to violently overthrow the existing religion and culture. This has been going on throughout Islamic history. This is going on in Thailand right now.

4) Once Muslims are in charge, it is no different than any other mid-east nation.

Even getting to stage 2 is too much for many Americans. Lots of Americans do not want to give up stuff like freedom of speech, or freedom of press, freedom of religion.

Comment: Re:If the Grand Ayatollah's against it.... (Score 1) 513

by Phil Karn (#47801121) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"
The Christian fundies' fear of Sharia Law is one of the most ironically amusing things to come out of them in recent years. If they didn't spend so much time railing against our consitutitional separation of church and state, maybe, just maybe they might realize that it's exactly what protects them from such an (unlikely) threat.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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