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News: Atlas Hardware Upgrade complete October 13, 2013.

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1  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: Today at 06:50:21 pm
I don't think there is any ideology behind it. Russia is trying to preserve its sphere of influence, and to be fair everyone does the same.

The main problem is that while Western countries now more or less accept the right to self-determination, Russia is still ready to go at war to keep what it sees as "its playground". France was there 50 years ago with its colonies.

(An analogy would be that Westerners are now trying to find partners by being attractive, while unattractive Russia still uses rape.)

In your mind Putin is more like Borat than Hitler?

Well, he is what Borat was the caricature of.

Seriously, Putin is decent at tactics. I am not sure he has a full strategy, a set of well-defined objectives, or anything of the sort. He definitely wants to get as much as possible - as much as the West would give him. How much? I am not even sure he himself knows at this point.
2  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: Today at 07:22:03 am
He's right. We have all seen how bad is the Ukrainian army. Even the volunteer battalions fighting with kalashnikov are better. So he can. The only question is whether he wants.

Ukrainian army would not hold. But it would spark a major partisan resistance.
3  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Tusk to be the next President of the European Council on: September 01, 2014, 06:09:49 pm
The President of the Council job is still fairly new. It will be what Tusk manages it to be.
4  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Israel steals another 1000 acres of the West Bank on: September 01, 2014, 07:14:00 am
Guys, Israel is the rightful sovereign over the West Bank. Do their leaders do stupid things? Yes. We should have a One State Solution. Israel with full religious freedom and Muslims give control of the Temple Mount to the Jews.

This is just utterly moronic. Not even the US government would argue that.

Neither has any Israeli government.

The issue there is, of course, not the religious freedom (Jews do not prozelitize among the gentiles), but the right to vote. Even adding just the West Bank would, pretty much, guarantee the Arab parties 30-40 Knesset seats. Even if that is 30, a Zionist government would need 2/3 of the Jews. That is why they have never annexed.
5  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Israel steals another 1000 acres of the West Bank on: September 01, 2014, 12:03:29 am
The Palestinian ghetto gets smaller and smaller. When is liquidation day? [/antisemitic]

Yeah, idiotic hyperbole like this isn't really helping your cause.

All the right people hear the dogwhistles. That's what matters to the "Israel is the new Nazis" crew.

Yet, what is your opinion on the subject?

My opinion is that comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is hate speech.
Yes. Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany should be banned.

Are you sure you would prefer the comparison to South Africa and the bantustans? Or with the Russian Empire and the Pale?

True, these might be more appropriate.  But also more dangerous for Israel.
6  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Tusk to be the next President of the European Council on: August 31, 2014, 08:32:03 pm
Sikorski seems like a good choice.
7  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Do any regions in Estonia or Latvia want to break away and join Russia? on: August 31, 2014, 12:16:57 am
Narva might, but nowhere else.

What's the difference between Narva and Kohtla Jarve or Sillamae?
8  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: If USA/Russia/China are the 3 most powerful countries, who are 4,5,6,7,8,9,10 ? on: August 30, 2014, 07:35:07 am
You are exaggerating the true power of Russia. Except in terms of the number of nukes, it is not that powerful at all. Mostly, it suffers from illusions of power.
9  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: The Present Israel-Palestine Conflict Thread on: August 29, 2014, 03:13:53 pm
In this specific case, rounding up large numbers of people without evidence of involvement in the kidnapping.  Israel likes to claim it is the only Western-style democracy in the area, but that means it'll be judged as one, and when it comes to the area beyond the 1949-1967 borders it consistently fails to act as one.

Outside the 1967 borders Israel is not a democracy, but an occupying/colonizing power. And this, of course, corrupts.
10  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: August 29, 2014, 02:44:33 pm
France continues to build warships for Russia, ExxonMobil starts drilling for oil in Sibiria, and the next FIFA World Cup is still going to take place in Russia.

It may be that Russia invaded Ukraine. On the other hand, there's still a whole lot of money to be made in Russia. Tongue

Yes and no. I was told that by late last fall pretty much no new investment projects in Russia were being started. Yes, Russia has a humongous fuel bonanza, but only very large firms can operate at the scale that both pays the cost of doing business there and, at least partially, protects them from expropriation. Yes, there is a lot of money there - but getting is is dangerous not only for your morals, but also for your life.

BTW, I would certainly move the World Cup.
11  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: August 29, 2014, 02:41:45 pm
The problem is, you know, all parts involved are capitalists, and they don't want to stop making business with anyone. And Western governments have stripped themselves of the powers to force them to do so. So no economic sanction of any sort (like the banning of planes, ships and so on that you proposed) will be implemented by airlines, port authorities...

As for UEFA banning : do you really think UEFA is anywhere near a politically responsible organism ? Next football World Cup is staged in Russia and you think UEFA will ban the Russian Federation ? I ask this with all the kindness I can, and sincerely : are you deluded or do you really believe the measures you propose can actually realistically be implemented ?

The truth is, nobody in the West gives a sh**t if Russia annexes Eastern Ukraine, even if it gobbles up the whole of Ukraine for that matter. As long as we don't get into a war and can do business. Munich spirit is strong.

So far, it is the French socialists that are the most willing to make trade, not war.  Especially, if that trade is in French- built assault ships.
Since you like to refer to the Munich agreements, I want to remind you that it was a failure from the UK and France to respect a military agreement with Czechoslovakia.
In the case of Crimea, it's the US and the UK who have an agreement to defend Ukraine's territorial integrity, and who are failing to respect it. So go first, we'll follow (maybe Wink).

I fully agree. But I am Mexican, not American. BTW, it was Mexico that was the only country to protest against the Anschluss in the League of Nations.
12  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: August 29, 2014, 05:05:13 am
The problem is, you know, all parts involved are capitalists, and they don't want to stop making business with anyone. And Western governments have stripped themselves of the powers to force them to do so. So no economic sanction of any sort (like the banning of planes, ships and so on that you proposed) will be implemented by airlines, port authorities...

As for UEFA banning : do you really think UEFA is anywhere near a politically responsible organism ? Next football World Cup is staged in Russia and you think UEFA will ban the Russian Federation ? I ask this with all the kindness I can, and sincerely : are you deluded or do you really believe the measures you propose can actually realistically be implemented ?

The truth is, nobody in the West gives a sh**t if Russia annexes Eastern Ukraine, even if it gobbles up the whole of Ukraine for that matter. As long as we don't get into a war and can do business. Munich spirit is strong.

So far, it is the French socialists that are the most willing to make trade, not war.  Especially, if that trade is in French- built assault ships.
13  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: August 29, 2014, 12:04:30 am
My solution, for the record:

Place Crimea under temporary UN administration and hold a three-way referendum between Russia, Ukraine, and independence. One of these three options has to get over 50% to win outright.

Well, this can only happen after Russia is defeated.
14  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Do any regions in Estonia or Latvia want to break away and join Russia? on: August 29, 2014, 12:03:42 am
Probably not without Putin's interference.

But he will interfere all right.
15  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Do any regions in Estonia or Latvia want to break away and join Russia? on: August 28, 2014, 11:58:36 pm
This was the guy who saved my uncle

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jānis_Lipke

note the stamp those Latvian Nazis produced to commemorate him.
16  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Do any regions in Estonia or Latvia want to break away and join Russia? on: August 28, 2014, 11:54:30 pm
Tallin is also plurality Russian I believe. of course they are probably more integrated than the ones in Narva

It is called Tallinn.
17  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Do any regions in Estonia or Latvia want to break away and join Russia? on: August 28, 2014, 11:51:37 pm
The Balts actually slaughtered their own Jewish populations before the Germans even passed through.

I had an uncle, who survived the Riga ghetto. He fled and was hidden by Latvian underground. The group that saved him, saved dosens of Jews - and a lot of people participated in the operation, risking the necks of their own and of their kids. Stop listening to Russian propaganda - you have already seen how much they lie, why do you insist on paying attention to them?

And, yes, we also lost many family members in the Holocaust in Lithuania. They lived in Alitus: it was taken over by the Germans within 14 hours of invasion. But many others would not flee the Germans: they could not imagine they could be any worse than the Russians. Just a week before the German attack, Russians deported over a 100 thousand Balts to concentration camps in Siberia, where a lot of them died. They had no reason to love those sadistic murderers - the Soviets. It is not their fault that the Germans turned out to be no better. But Germany was defeated and recoiled from its past. Russia continues to celebrate its inhumanity.

Yes, for Eastern Europeans WWII lasted till 1991. They have no love lost for the totalitarian dictatorship that enslaved them for decades. That does not make them fascist.
18  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Do any regions in Estonia or Latvia want to break away and join Russia? on: August 28, 2014, 11:40:38 pm
If they do I wouldn't blame them, given that the governments and people of the Baltic states openly admire genocidal Nazi collaborators.

I know: you prefer the genocidal GULAG guards.
19  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: August 28, 2014, 08:52:41 pm
Let's say that Crimea held a legitimate referendum (I'm definitely not under the impression that the one in March was fair) and chose to stay in Russia with, say, 60% of the vote. What would you support then, ag?

No legitimate referendum in Crimea is now possible, at least in short term. As far as I am concerned, a referendum would only be legitimate if the Jan 1, 2014 status quo is restored first - that is, Russia fully withdraws. Then, an election - under Ukrainian law - should be held to elect the authorities of the Crimean Autonomous Republic. These authorities would have to negotiate with the national government the conduct and the timetable for such a referendum (Scotland- or Quebec-style) - taking into account the opinion of the indigenous Tartar population. All this time the Russian government should be credibly committed to non-interference, irrespective of the vote result. I do not see any of that happening any time soon.

The fact is, if on Jan 1, 2014 such a referendum were held, it would have, probably, lost in Crimea proper (would have won in Sevastopol - especially if the resident Russians were to have been allowed a vote). Parties advocating switch to Russia routinely got miniscule percentages in actual voting there. Russian invasion dramatically changed the situation, of course. Currently many people would simply be afraid of going back to Ukraine, which they have betrayed. But allowing the annexation to stand would reward an invasion. And that cannot be accepted.

To sum up, I would not mind Crimea joining Russia some time in the future, if its population so desires - but only after Russia first unconditionally capitulates. This Russian regime cannot be allowed to enjoy any conquest.
20  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Do any regions in Estonia or Latvia want to break away and join Russia? on: August 28, 2014, 07:06:37 pm
I believe Narva is ~75% Russian. That does not necessarily mean the majority of the population has irredentist goals though.

More like 90%. And so are, really, Kohtla Jarve and Sillamae. A LOT more Russian than, say, Crimea. Daugavpils is majority Russian in Latvia. Creating a credibly-looking separatist movement in all of these areas (and more) would be a piece of cake for the Russian security services.

Do not kid yourselves. This is WAR. And it will not stop in Ukraine.
21  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: August 28, 2014, 06:33:06 pm
These are all possible options, but before deciding about the means we need to set the goals.

For example, I think many in Europe are fine with Crimea going back to Russia. It could have happened in better ways, but also in much worse ways, so there is a kind of relief that it happened in a "not so bad" way. So I don't think we will see any decisive European sanctions about Crimea, just a few symbolic things.

A kind of decentralization of Ukraine with more autonomy for the East would also probably be seen as a positive outcome, and apparently Merkel is pushing Poroshenko in this direction.

There are on the other hand things that are unacceptable from a European point of view, and a link between Crimea and mainland Russia is one of them, so let's see if Putin is trying to get that.

Under the circumstances, giving Russia the Crimea or giving Russia any say in Ukrainian affairs will lead to a general European war as inexorably as giving up completely.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudetenland#Sudeten_Crisis
22  General Politics / Economics / Re: Gazprom to sell oil for rubles, yuan on: August 28, 2014, 05:47:15 pm
I'm certain Gazprom would much rather get paid in yuan than rubles.  If the SHTF then the ruble is likely to fall considerably whereas the yuan should remain stable or even rise slightly in such a circumstance.

If I were Chinese, I would use it to sign some really nice long-term contracts in rubles Smiley Within 10 years they might be getting their oil and gaz for free Smiley
23  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: The Present Israel-Palestine Conflict Thread on: August 28, 2014, 05:42:42 pm
As far as I am concerned (and, of course, this is a personal view), it is not merely the overreaction to whatever provocation, it goes deeper. Israeli governments in recent years have been obviously content with the status quo: Arabs behind the wall and closely guarded. If they misbehave they can be punished by bombing the hell out of them. No need to bother about any proposals for a settlement - there will be no settlement, and that is fine, because it avoids taking the tough decisions.

The problem with this line is that, as long as there is no settlement, Israel is the occupying power with millions of people at its mercy. One may say whatever one likes about Gaza not being Israeli responsibility anymore. But, unfortunately, as long as there is no settlement, it is still in charge - of, at the very least, most of external communication (and of the timing when to do the punishment). And as the power in charge, Israel remains responsible for the welfare of Gazans - as much as prison guards would be responsible for the welfare of prisoners.

I do not have any personal stake in what the settlement should be - I, honestly, do not much care, as long as it is consistent with my basic views on human and civil rights. But, at present, there seems to be only 2 plausible directions: either partition or integration. Partition would presume Israeli territorial sacrifice in the West Bank. Integration would presume Israeli ideological sacrifice either on its "Jewishness"or on its democracy. Neither seems acceptable to the current crop of Israeli leaders. They prefer the status quo to either solution. Ok, fine. But, then, they remain the de facto prison wardens of the population, both in the West Bank and in Gaza. They do not like the responsibility? Tough, they chose to keep it.
24  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: August 28, 2014, 05:03:43 pm
The troops really keep complaining about their poor equipment, delivering weapons would make a big difference. There are other steps in between though, I don't know if we will eventually reach that stage or not.

Start with economically blockading Crimea. Aeroflot chooses to fly there - ban it from Europe, recall the leased planes, etc. Sheremetyevo Airport chooses to accept planes from Simferopol - stop accepting planes from Sheremeytevo. A bank opened an ATM there - put it on the sanctions list. Also, after Russia introduced its "anti-sanctions" against Western food, it made exceptions for things it cannot live without - take that list and make it stick. Finally, the diplomatic sanctions should be immediate: ambassadors should be recalled for consultations, Russian ambassadors expelled, Russian consulates closed. Broad financial sanctions can still wait - they should be the threat. Also, I would take a couple very well-known oligarchs who tend to spend a lot of time abroad and put them on the list personally - whatever it does to FC Chelsea and the like.

And, BTW, though it is outside any government's sphere of action, there is something that would sting a lot. Russian Football Union has allowed Crimean teams into the championship. They were very nervous about it - new clubs were formed, rather than Ukrainian accepted, and the clubs were registered outside Crimea. But they are named for Crimean towns and play in Crimea. I am pretty sure, this is grounds for kicking Russia out of the UEFA. This should be done.
25  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ukraine Crisis on: August 28, 2014, 03:07:58 pm
This is very disconcerting to say the very least. What do you think we should do about it? 

Major across the board sanctions against Russia and active economic and military aid for the Ukrainian government. Sanctions should include very strict restrictions on all financial transactions with Russia (basically, each such transaction should be authorized individually); ban on all new investment there;  banning every airline that flies to Crimea from the European and American airspace, as well as stopping all regular flights from airports that receive flights from Crimea; prohibition on any ship entering any Crimea port from using European/American ports.  Also, I would suggest major military maneuvers all around the Russian frontiers - from the Northern Territories in the East to the Kola peninsula in the west. Supporting Lituania and Poland in cutting rail and road links to Kaliningrad. Recalling ambassadors, expelling Russian ambassadors and closing Russian consulates outside capital cities. Approaching China promising full support if it chooses to make any gains at Russian expense. Etc., etc., etc. There are many things that could be done.
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