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Showing posts from March 18, 2014

Ukrainian Soldier 'Killed' as Troops Storm Simferopol Base

By Reuters

 "Reuters"- Ukraine's military says a base in Crimea has been stormed with one serviceman killed, following Russia's signing of a treaty to incorporate Crimea. The Ukrainian premier says the crisis has now become a military one.

Troops stormed a Ukrainian base on the outskirts of Simferopol on Tuesday, according to a Ukrainian military spokesman.

One Ukrainian officer was initially reported to have been wounded in the neck. The Interfax and Reuters news agencies reported that a soldier had been killed.

Kyiv, which blamed Russia for the attack, authorized Ukrainian troops to use weapons if necessary to defend themselves.

A reporter for the AFP news agency said a burst of gunfire had been heard from a Ukrainian military unit in a suburb northeast of Simferopol. Two ambulances were seen driving into the area.

Immediately after the incident, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said the conflict had moved from a political to a military stage.

"Today, Russ…

Lithium and it´s use

You know lithium as the stuff that powers your iPhone, but you may not know that the lightest solid element also powers atomic bombs. Ignorance of lithium’s true nature once sparked a nuclear disaster.

In 1954, the U.S. tested its first hydrogen bomb fueled with a lithium compound. What the weaponeers didn’t know about lithium almost killed them.

Although lithium is fairly abundant, you almost never see it in its raw form. The silvery, butter-soft metal is highly combustible and so light that it floats. It keeps best in sealed jars of petroleum jelly.

Lithium’s reactivity makes it all kinds of useful. In addition to battery anodes and psychoactive medications, lithium compounds form the high-temperature greases and atmospheric scrubbers in submarines and spacecraft.

But lithium’s place on the periodic table right next to hydrogen and helium fascinates nuclear weapons designers. Hydrogen is the simplest possible element, consisting of a single proton surrounded by a single electron cloud. …

China's Stealth Chengdu J-20 Jet Fighter Rivals American F-22

The plane was first observed flying in grainy photographs in late 2010. China's new Chengdu J-20 jet fighter. Photos: Sina Weibo and other sources.
(SALEM) - A new Chinese fighter jet with stealth capabilities, the Chengdu J-20, was observed conducting a successful test flight Saturday at noon. Photos and video of the flight were leaked on military forums like Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter. But this is not some big secret, NATO and western nations are familiar with the new plane, however they don't necessarily like having their F-22 Raptor, which reportedly costs as much as $361 million per aircraft to build, (no one knows the exact figure, some place the cost of an F-22 at $130 million, being upstaged by Communist China. An even newer US plane is the F-35 Lightning II. Millions and millions of US taxpayer dollars are invested in these death machines that can crash with the flick of a pilot's wrist, and the actual cost will never be known since so much money …

Ukraine Activates Reserves After Vote In Crimea

By Anthony Faiola

 - "Washington Post"- KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s government mobilized reservists and approved an emergency military buildup a day after the disputed province of Crimea voted to secede from the country and become part of Russia.

But with its armed forces woefully ill-trained and poorly equipped after years of underfunding, a frustrated Ukraine continued to focus on diplomacy first.

Political leaders here hurled harsh words at Moscow and refused to give up Crimea as lost. But even as the government in Kiev took steps to shore up national defenses, it renewed calls for a diplomatic solution. Amid concerns about possible further Russian intervention in Ukraine’s restive east and south, Kiev hoped for the best — ­progress in efforts to resolve the crisis — while also preparing for the worst.

Parliament approved a presidential decree mobilizing some of the country’s 40,000 reservists and agreed to divert $600 million from other parts of Ukraine’s budget to buy weapons…

China's Shale Gas Development Potential


China's potential in shale gas production is nearly as staggering as its potential growth in demand for natural gas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that China possesses by far the world's largest reserves of technically recoverable shale gas. Although China's shale gas industry is not as advanced as the United States', it could be the most advanced outside of North America. China's target is to produce 60 billion to 100 billion cubic meters of shale gas by 2020, but there are severe limitations to hitting the target. China is more likely to produce somewhere around 25 billion cubic meters of shale gas by then. In total, China will realistically be able to access 275 billion cubic meters to perhaps 300 billion cubic meters of natural gas from land-based (both piped and domestic) sources by 2020. It remains unclear whether this will be able to satisfy most of China's demand. Should China's demand reach higher estimates, such as Barclay&…

North Africa: A Cultural Crossroads Faces the Future

Summary


The countries that make up North Africa -- Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya -- are defined as much by the broad desert expanses of the Sahara and the Atlas Mountains as they are by the waters of the Mediterranean. Wedged between the coastline of the southern Mediterranean and an ocean of sand, the populations of North Africa inhabit a virtual island. Despite their proximity to -- and long history of interaction with -- Southern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the broader Middle East, the countries of North Africa have been able to forge and maintain an identity distinct from their neighbors. This is not to say that these states are relatively insulated. Rather than preventing transportation, the Mediterranean and Sahara have been crisscrossed by trade routes for millennia, making North Africa a central node of a vibrant pre-modern trade route spanning three continents. Traders used these routes to transport gold and goods from West Africa to Southern Europe via the Maghreb, a…

Serbia Will Be Caught Up in Russia-West Standoff

Serbian Progressive Party leader Aleksandar Vucic casts his ballot in Belgrade on March 16. (ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Serbia will soon have a new party leading its government, but there will not be any drastic changes to its policies or improvements in its chances of joining the European Union. Serbia's continued refusal to recognize Kosovo's independence and the new party's efforts to consolidate power will not sit well with Brussels. At the same time, larger issues such as the standoff between Russia and the West and Europe's own structural crisis will add uncertainty to Belgrade's bid for EU membership. Before the new government's term expires, Serbia will probably be less interested in joining the European Union.

Analysis


The Serbian Progressive Party won about 49 percent of the vote in the March 16 parliamentary elections, translating into an absolute majority in the parliament because of the threshold required for parties to win seats. Often…

The U.S. and Europe Diverge on the Crimea Crisis

The United States and the European Union on Monday unveiled a set of sanctions against several Russian officials -- one of the first concrete retaliatory moves by the West since the beginning of the Crimean crisis. While coordination was expected from the West in applying sanctions against Russia, a discrepancy between the list of officials targeted by the United States and that of the European Union points to a wider-than-expected divergence of interests between the two partners.

The sanctions were announced following a referendum in Crimea that saw citizens of the breakaway Ukrainian region overwhelmingly vote to join the Russian Federation. Washington and Brussels both chose to limit the scope of this particular round of sanctions to travel restrictions and asset freezes targeting specific Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean leaders.

There is little overlap between the list of 11 individuals targeted by the U.S. executive order and the 21 people sanctioned by the EU legislature. Only four…

The U.S. Levies Sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian Officials

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about Crimea on March 17 in Washington. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The day after the Ukrainian autonomous region of Crimea voted to separate from Ukraine and join Russia, the U.S. government announced expanded sanctions against 11 Ukrainian, Crimean and Russian officials. The United States is targeting a precise list of Russian officials who are important tacticians within the Kremlin -- a move that will likely elicit a response from the Russian government. The European Union has also drawn up its own list of sanction targets, though they seem to be less influential figures, perhaps due to the bloc's struggles to remain united against Russia over the issue of Ukraine.

Analysis


The order signed by President Barack Obama authorizes the U.S. Treasury to impose sanctions on the officials, freezing their assets and blocking their entry into the United States. Obama specifically said that these are all individuals responsible for compromising th…