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Showing posts from October 23, 2013

Dark side to Japan's official image

Abe builds up military appeal and capacity - but not all for self-defense

Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force is launching a charm offensive to attract young Japanese. It is inviting web surfers to pick the "Mr and Ms" of Japan's naval service.

Among the uniformed candidates are a P-3C pilot, a submarine rescue diver, an airborne electronics specialist, an air traffic controller and a shipboard navigator.

Upholding the pacifist creed based on Article 9 of Japan's Constitution - which "renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes" - members of the Japanese public have little interest in joining the army, navy or air force, and the SDF has found it hard to meet recruitment quotas.

In summer, the SDF coordination office for Kagawa prefecture ran a contest to design a new recruitment poster. The winning entry featured anime girls in the uniforms of the three SDF branches and the …

Nuclear Power in the European Union

At a time when other European countries are trying to move away from nuclear energy and increase their use of renewables, the British government announced plans to build its first new nuclear reactors in nearly two decades. At the same time as Britain's announcement, France and Germany, the countries with the largest economies in Europe, are seeking to move away from nuclear energy. Public support for nuclear power in France has somewhat declined since the Fukushima incident. The events in Fukushima in 2011 reignited the debate over nuclear power in Germany, and in May of that year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the country would close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022.

Despite France's and Germany's efforts to move away from nuclear energy, several European countries are trying to expand their nuclear energy sectors over the coming decades, though the process will be slow and expensive. Poland plans to build two nuclear power plants, each with a capa…

Will Additive Manufacturing Replace Conventional Manufacturing?

By now, we have all heard or read about additive manufacturing, more commonly called 3-D printing. Machines deposit layers upon layers of material in a three-dimensional design created by a computer-generated model. But many of us may not be as aware of the next breakthrough in the industry: 4-D printing. 4-D demonstrations were initially made early in 2013, but on Oct. 22, the University of Colorado-Boulder issued a press release saying its researchers had taken one step further by producing 4-D printed composite materials.

4-D printing adds the dimension of transformation to 3-D printing, whereby the manufactured material changes when subjected to certain conditions, like being submerged in water or being exposed to hot or cold temperatures. The researchers at UC-Boulder were able to create a self-folding box that used 4-D printed material as hinges. In the future, the creation of such materials could benefit manufacturers that operate under harsh or unpredictable conditions. Further…

Negotiations Between Congo and M23 Rebels Suspended


The deployment of U.N. forces in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo to allow for negotiations has actually removed Kinshasa's incentive to negotiate with rebels there. Talks between the Congolese government and M23 rebels were suspended Oct. 21 over disagreements related to amnesty, disarmament and the reintegration of the rebels into the country's military. Kinshasa has no desire to allow M23, which started as a mutiny of Congolese forces, to return to its ranks, and since U.N. troops are present to limit the actions of M23, the Congolese government sees no reason to compromise.


While mediators claimed over the weekend that an agreement was only hours away, disputes over the most important articles of a draft agreement led negotiators to suspend talks. In the meantime, both sides have reportedly reinforced their positions in North Kivu, the eastern Congolese state where the fighting has taken place.

Negotiations have been ongoing since M23 briefly too…

Russia: Terror Suspected in Volgograd Bombing


An explosive device detonated on a bus just after 2 p.m. local time in the Russian city of Volgograd on Oct. 21, killing six people and injuring more than a dozen as of the latest casualty report. Authorities from Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee said the incident is likely a case of terrorism, with investigators suspecting a female suicide bomber identified as Naida Asiyalova, a native of the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan.

The cause of the blast was "an unspecified explosive device," and there are reports that there could have been a grenade under the bus as well. About 40 passengers were on the bus, which was on a route to the south of the city at the time of the explosion. Photos of the blast scene indicate the device used in the attack was small, and the damage is not inconsistent with what would be caused by a hand grenade detonation. Investigators from the National Anti-Terrorism Committee say the suspected female suicide bomber was the wife…