Tag Archives: SOVIET UNION

How the news media controls you

 

Even though I have worked in academia for years and have enjoyed the benefits of helping learning minds to expand their horizons, I have had one gnawing concern. Learning institutions typically help students, at best, to make a living but they fail miserably at teaching how to live life. These areas pertain to the realm of accumulated wisdom. Of course, wisdom presupposes knowledge, that is, the correct and consistent application of knowledge as truth. As a behavioral professional and an academic, I wish institutions would teach practical things such as how media, government, religion, and even academia itself, can indoctrinate the masses. For the purpose of this article I will focus on the media (and a little on academia).

I can very much remember talking to journalism students and perusing their text books. I noticed the emphasis on “objective and balanced reporting.” I always laugh. Having been a student who used “qualitative methods of research” I knew very well how every bit of research made by any human being is always tainted at some level with some bias. I know some will have a cow at this but even quantum physicists tell us the same. In the media, even a well-intentioned journalist is affecting his message in some form.

I would like to focus on how the media can manipulate the masses through their message. You still see journalists reacting, “How dare you question me!” as if they belonged to some privileged priesthood directly connected to a Divine stream of ultimate truth.

I have endeavored to share just some of the tactics of psychological manipulation of mass thinking. Most reading this will easily recognize these. I don’t claim to provide an exhaustive list.

 

Guilt by Association

All that is necessary to destroy a person’s character publicly is to take that person and overtly or covertly associate them to something the masses will reject. Never mind if it is true or not, simply to question it or make the association is sufficient.

One example that comes to mind is a very clever twist I saw used by a famous newspaper. At the time, a political leader, greatly disliked by the editors of a newspaper, was portrayed in a very interesting way. They put an article and his photo strategically in very close proximity to a picture of a circus clown that was part of some other story. I thought to myself, “Now that tactic wins the prize!” It was very subtle and very subconscious in approach. The ultimate message was, “This person is a clown, therefore laugh at him and consider him non-credible like you would with a clown.”

Another very typical way of using this same tactic is to connect, even if it is through intricate stratagem, the person to some law-breaking, shady, person, organization, or action. Even if it is not true, it will leave a dark cloud of doubt in the mind of the person receiving the information. That is why slander is so effective in destroying enemies. The media will never come out and admit that they do this. They are accountable to no one, much like some sort of immaculate and narcissistic god.

Just a Little Poison

The next way the media tries to manipulate minds is through, what is called, the verisimilitude. Now that is a real mouthful. It means that something is “very similar” to something else. In this case, it is mixing a little poison or a lie with the truth. It is possible to ingest into your body gallons of healthy food. If you simply mix a small amount of extremely powerful poison with it, you would be dead soon. If we graduate the amount of poison into smaller dosages we can do the same over time, at a much slower rate but getting the same results… your demise.

All the media has to do, in order to destroy a person, is to slowly administer lies (poison) about a person mixed in with good things. Eventually, they destroy their enemy and they come out looking like choir boys; clean and glistening.

Make it Funny
I’ve already mentioned how a political leader was made to look like a clown. I remember an influential leader characterized by the media as a bafoon, idiot, and dumb person. I can still see the political cartoons drawn of him making him look like some human monkey creature. Typically, monkeys are funny and into mischief. That message stuck.

Along these lines, photos that show the bad side of a person, and everyone has them, are used to portray enemies as stupid and/or psychotic fools. You can sometimes see this approach when a publication deliberately uses a photo of a person looking cross-eyed or bizarre. The editors choose photos that make the person look their worst. In contrast, when their favorite persons are put on the same page, they are shown in a hero’s stance, making them look their best. Coincidental? Absolutely not!

Making Sandwiches
A great technique to help build self-esteem in people, while correcting them, is called the “sandwich technique.” This approach is amazing because it uses positive reinforcement of the individual before and after you have shared a difficult area they need to change in. This assures to them that you still like them and that you respect them. It makes your message easy to accept with them.

When you take the same technique and switch it around, placing something positive in-between two negative pieces of information, it becomes quite destructive. In the media, you can come out looking objective and with a “pass” if you use this technique while still destroying your enemy. It is one of the most commonly used approaches by the media, in article after article pertaining to persons they dislike. Notice this… All you really need to hurt your opponent is to do a news piece on them. You start and close the report with negativity and doubt. This leaves a black cloud over their character. You get a free pass and you still got to be very nasty. This is like a school bully brat that gets away with murder and yet looks good.

Stacking the Experts
Have you ever noticed on TV a panel of intellectuals, journalists, etc. are chosen carefully where it is in disproportion but still looks balanced? Sometimes it is outrageously blatant and sometimes it is covert. Let’s say we dislike a position but we cannot say so for fear of looking bigoted. We can handpick the majority of our experts that will agree with us. Then we bring only one person that represents the side we dislike. We unload the pit-bull dogs on that person, all the while we look “balanced.”

Ridicule and labeling
I am often amused at the interesting adjectives used by a proponent of one side against the other. We hear words like “racist,” “Nazi,” “?-phobe,” “pin-head,” “antiquated,” “irrelevant,” “killer,” and more. By applying these labels on that person, what happens is that you freeze, isolate, and polarize that person. You make them out to look like they are part of a dangerous, scary, and insane fringe. This process is otherwise known in history as “character assassination.” In this case, it happens in the public forum on full display. Have you ever noticed that if the same is applied to the media, it is considered blasphemy? Who makes the media accountable? No one. They are free to destroy anyone they choose. That is why they secretly fear the internet. The tables can be turned on them by some little guy behind a screen.

Repetition Makes True
Incessant repetition of a lie registers as truth in the mind of the masses. Mass hysteria can be created by repeatedly reporting the dangers of some microbe infesting humans and taking over the world in tones of panic. Some of the most successful tyrants in history used great emotion and repetition to their advantage. Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister said that if “You repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” This brings us to my next point.

Make the Devil Look Like God and God Like the Devil
Hitler himself said, “By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.” In this technique, the attacker makes himself look like a benefactor and savior. He twists the sides. Have you ever wondered why the media narcissistically loves to see themselves as the protectors and keepers of truth? It almost has religious indoctrination undertones, doesn’t it? In classical religious literature we are told that the Devil deceives and disguises himself as an angel of light. I call this, characteristically, the reversing of the poles by making black look like white and vice-versa.

Conclusion
I don’t claim to have covered all aspects of the art of deceit as used in the media. These are as old as man himself. I simply attempted to provide some of the more obvious typical forms of deceit used to psychologically manipulate the masses. What can we learn from this? Perhaps the biggest lesson could be that we must not be naïve.

We must discriminately keep awake and aware. We must be hungry for truth wherever we find it. We must protect it and defend it. We need to be careful to avoid coming to hasty conclusions just because the “experts” say it. It is, very much, an individual journey. It is a great quest but filled with minefields. Be careful and beware.

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/02/06/media-manipulation-of-the-masses-how-the-media-psychologically-manipulates/

Russia flexes military power with ‘futuristic’ fighter jet

CSM

Russia returned to the global stage Friday as a first-rank military and technological power by launching a ‘fifth generation’ fighter plane, with futuristic characteristics of stealth, sustained supersonic cruise, and integrated weapons.

A new Russian T-50 fighter lands at an airfield of the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturing plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur January 23. The new fighter aircraft is by some seen as Russia's response to U.S. advances in military aviation.

By Fred Weir

Moscow

Vladimir Putin is jubilant, the Russian aviation industry is filled with pride, and even normally skeptical military experts say they’re truly impressed by reports Friday that Russia has successfully test-flown the first prototype of a “fifth generation” fighter plane.

They all may have good reasons to cheer. Building such a plane is so expensive, complex, and technologically sophisticated that, until now, only the United States has been able to field an operational version of one: the F-22 Raptor.

According to news reports, Russia’s venerable Sukhoi company – maker of many famous Soviet warplanes – sent the V-tailed, swept-wing Sukhoi T-50 on its maiden flight for 47 minutes Friday near Komsomolsk-na-Amur in Russia’s far east (see video here) and it exceeded all expectations.

“We started flight tests of the fifth-generation aircraft today,” Sukhoi CEO Mikhail Pogosyan told Russian news agencies. “I am strongly convinced that this project will excel its Western rivals in cost-effectiveness and these planes will constitute the backbone of the Russian Air Force for the next few decades.”

A fighter of the “fifth generation” should have futuristic characteristics of stealth, sustained supersonic cruise, multi-role capabilities, integrated weapons and navigation systems that are controlled by artificial intelligence, over-the-horizon radar visibility and other cutting-edge wizardry.

Experts say that the mere fact that Russia can put one into the air announces its return to the global stage as a first-rank military and technological power.

“This is an epic event, because it’s the first time in post-Soviet history that [the Russian military industry] has been able to create something brand new,” Alexander Khramchikhin, an expert with the independent Institute of Political and Military Analysis in Moscow, says in a telephone interview.

“Everything we produced after the USSR’s collapse was based on Soviet designs; nobody thought we could make anything so technologically complicated as this. But now, strange as it may seem, this shows Russia’s level is very high.”

Kremlin leaders have been promising to build this new aircraft for years as part of a broader effort to re-arm and modernize Russia’s crumbling Soviet-era armed forces. Though Russia handily won its brief 2008 war with neighboring Georgia, the conflict revealed massive shortcomings in its military machine, including disastrously poor air support for ground forces and almost nonexistent aerial reconnaissance capability.

Prime Minister Putin praised the T-50′s first flight as a “big step” in restoring Russia’s traditional place as a global military power, and pledged that the air force will start receiving production models of the plane in about three years.

As Russia’s president, Putin launched a sweeping, $200-billion rearmament program that aims to introduce new generations of nuclear submarines, intercontinental missiles, tanks, and aircraft carriers for the armed forces within the next five years.

Experts say the T-50 fighter, which has been developed in partnership with Russia’s leading arms client India, will also go far toward restoring the tattered reputation of Russia’s military-industrial complex as a leading supplier of weaponry in global markets.

“This is really good advertising; it shows buyers of Russian-made hardware that we can produce the most modern weapons and also improve them,” says Vitaly Shlykov, a former Soviet war planner who now works as a civilian adviser to the Russian Defense Ministry.

“We invested a lot in this plane, and the fact that we can fly it has a big psychological impact,” he says. “It has a huge symbolic meaning for Russia itself.”

But skeptics say we’d best wait for more details about the top-secret plane of which we have seen, so far, only a few superficial images.

“We see the plane has some external characteristics that are new, but we have no way of knowing whether it actually possesses the technological features that would make it a fighter of the fifth generation,” says Alexander Golts, military expert for the independent Yezhednevny Zhurnal, an online news magazine.

“It’s great that it took off. Hurray. But I want to know a lot more about it.”

Digg This
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

NATO member aligning itself with Russia

Move by Turkey gives Putin way to keep treaty organization at arm’s length

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

As Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, turns away from its Western links, it is aligning itself more and more with Iran, Syria and Russia, especially because of its quickly developing energy and trade connections to the central part of what was the old Soviet Union, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

From a strategic standpoint, the development gives Moscow an opportunity to further undermine a plan by NATO to spread its security arrangement further east in a region Moscow considers to be its sphere of influence.

During a recent visit to Moscow to meet with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed multi-billion dollar agreements on trade and energy.

While both parties agreed to increase trade from the current $35 billion to $100 billion within the next five years, the most significant development was an agreement in their strategic relationship on energy cooperation.

In addition to concessions on various pipelines between the two countries, Erdogan pledged to pursue Russian construction and operation of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

Keep in touch with the most important breaking news stories about critical developments around the globe with Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.

The Turks were left with little choice but to involve Russia more in its energy future, given that Turkey imports some 70 percent of its natural gas from Russia.

That dependency also gives the Russians considerable political and economic leverage over Ankara and increases Moscow’s influence over Europe’s energy future through greater control of existing and proposed pipelines that provide European countries with more than 40 percent of their energy needs.

Various pipelines with Turkish participation as a gate to the West, however, are but one source of control Russia is exhibiting over the Turks.

The more significant one is Russia’s proposal to construct and operate Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

Erdogan and Putin signed a commitment to construct the nuclear power plant, even though there is some domestic opposition due to the existing heavy reliance on Russia for energy.

The plant is to be built on the Mediterranean coast near Akkuyu. A consortium to construct the nuclear power plant includes Russia’s Atomstroyexport, Inter Rao Eus and Turkey’s Park Teknik.

Putin said that Russia had “significant advantages over the competition” to build the nuclear plant in Turkey. In one sense, he was alluding to the virtual energy grip Moscow enjoys over Ankara.

For the complete report and full immediate access to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, subscribe now.

Digg This
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Russia’s last independent TV stations to move into Kremlin-owned studios

CSMONITOR

Russia’s National Media Group cites economic motives in moving REN TV and the outspoken St. Petersburg Channel Five. But critics worry the partnering move with Russia Today may presage a loss of editorial freedom

Censored

Russia’s last two independent TV voices, citing financial distress, have announced a major “restructuring” that may involve partnering with state agencies, with what many liberal critics fear could be an inevitable loss of editorial freedom.

Officials of the National Media Group, which owns the independent REN TV and the outspoken St. Petersburg Channel Five, insist they’re just looking for economic efficiencies in the reported plans to move REN’s operations into a giant Moscow TV center run by the Kremlin’s pocket news agency, RIA-Novosti, and home to its 24-hour English-language satellite TV station Russia Today (RT). But liberals say they’ve seen this happen several times before, beginning with the Kremlin’s stealthy use of a commercial dispute to take over the only nonstate nationwide TV network, NTV, at the beginning of the Vladimir Putin era in 2001.

“These two small channels are the very last islands of media freedom in Russia, and if they are to be restructured in the ways we have seen, all too often in the past, they will become part of the official propaganda machine,” says Vladimir Ryzhkov, a former independent Duma deputy. “We are all watching this process with deep fears that, once again, economic optimization will actually lead to censorship. In Russia’s TV landscape today, there is basically no freedom.”

RUSSIA TODAY: TECHNICAL SUPPORT, EDITORIAL INFLUENCE?

In the past, the Kremlin’s chosen vehicle for taking over critical media assets was the state-owned natural-gas goliath, Gazprom, but today liberals are pointing their fingers at a surprising new culprit: Russia Today. Started up less than four years ago as a Kremlin project to counter Western “misperceptions” about Russia, RT has burgeoned under a lavish flow of state funding into a huge operation that now boasts an Arabic-language service and a soon-to-launch Spanish service. According to the station’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, a new US branch of RT is set to begin broadcasting from studios in Washington, D.C., in January, and will be running special US-oriented programming, 24/7, within a year.

Ms. Simonyan says it’s logical that little stations like REN TV would want to partner with RT, because the English-language station now possesses one of the most modern and sophisticated broadcasting centers in the country.

“Because of this, we can support them technologically,” she says. “We are not going to interfere with their editorial content. That’s not the idea at all.”

That pledge is also offered by officials of the two beleaguered stations, who say they are forced to make radical changes due to sagging advertising revenues and rising shareholder demands to show a profit. “We need to find new premises for REN TV, and we may outsource some technical functions,” says Asya Pomeranets, a company public relations representative. “But the stations will retain their distinctive content.”

Simonyan argues that RT, which offers a variety of news, talk and documentary programming, itself enjoys “absolute editorial independence” from its main financial sponsor, the Kremlin. “What we do is offer a different view of the world, a list of stories you won’t see covered in the mainstream media,” she says. “Our goal is to do good journalism and increase our audience, and not to please someone up there.”

‘I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE THIS DAY’

Still, giant state-funded broadcasters like RT are thriving, while little independent outlets like REN are gasping for air, and that points to an inevitable outcome, some experts argue.

“What RT makes is a packaged propaganda product, which is bought and paid for by the Kremlin,” says Alexei Samokhvalov, a former director of REN TV who now heads the independent National TV and Radio Research Center in Moscow.

“In another country, it might seem normal for TV stations to share technical facilities while maintaining separate editorial lines, but in Russia it does not work that way,” Mr. Samokhvalov says.

“If REN TV moves into the RT’s headquarters, and becomes dependent upon them for its very existence, it will lose its independence. When I was director of REN TV, we prized our independence. I never thought I’d see this day,” he adds.

REN TV has grown from a tiny independent station into a nationwide TV network that now enjoys about 6 percent of Russia’s market share, a tiny blip compared with the three state-owned TV behemoths, but beloved to Russian liberals because of its relatively independent editorial stance.

“If you compare with the other media outlets, REN is by far the most liberal, most outspoken, and shows the greatest degree of independence,” says Vladimir Pozner, a leading Russian TV personality. “If it were to lose its independence, I would find that very disheartening.”

KREMLIN MEDIA CRACKDOWN

When Vladimir Putin came to power, nearly a decade ago, he began cracking down on Russia’s once diverse and combative media spectrum, using economic levers of influence rather than Soviet-style brute force to corral journalists, critics have long said. The state-backed takeover of NTV by Gazprom produced a chilling effect on TV broadcasters around the country. The Kremlin subsequently orchestrated the downfall of smaller TV networks that failed to come to heel, including TV-6 in 2002 and TVS the following year. Some public opinion services, which provide journalists with raw information, were also brought under state control, leaving only a handful of small-circulation outfits, such as the liberal Ekho Moskvi radio station, that some critics say are allowed to exist as political window-dressing.

“Very clearly, the government wants that kind of window to remain open, because it’s a way of saying ‘Hey, we have democracy in Russia,’ to the rest of the world,” says Mr. Pozner. “Maybe they see REN TV playing this kind of role, and perhaps that will save it.”

Russia’s beleaguered liberals, who have watched the political landscape turn into a Sovietesque one-party show under Putin and his successor, Dmitri Medvedev, say they hold out little hope for the survival of the last media holdouts.

“Unfortunately, everything that has happened on the TV media front since Putin became president in 2000 suggests that the last vestiges of independent television will be muzzled as well,” says Mr. Ryzhkov.

Digg This
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

In Russia, Putin’s democracy looking more like a facade

CSMONITOR

Former leader Mikhail Gorbachev and others are outraged after last week’s elections, which only 3 percent of Russians believed were fair, according to a poll.

vladimir putin

MOSCOW – What can one single vote, confirmed missing, tell us about the current state of democracy in Russia?

A lot, says Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the liberal Yabloko party. He says that the lost vote in question – his own – offers startling evidence to back widespread opposition claims that regional polls held across Russia last week were stage-managed to ensure the victory of pro-Kremlin forces.

The United Russia (UR) party, which is led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, won about 80 percent of all contested positions in some 7,000 districts around the country. In the crucial center of Moscow, UR swept up 32 of the 35 city council seats.

Along with millions of other Russians, Mr. Mitrokhin went with his family to vote at their local polling station, No. 192, in Moscow’s tony Khamovniki district on election day. He knows for sure that he voted for his own party ticket.

But when the final official tally was released last weekend, it showed that zero votes for Yabloko were registered at polling station No. 192.

“We know there were massive falsifications in the vote counting, but really, not a single vote for Yabloko?” says Mitrokhin. “It’s almost as if they wanted to prove I don’t exist as a living being. It looks like the authorities are not even trying to pretend any longer that we are having real elections.”

Gorbachev: democratic system is ‘maimed’
A public opinion survey published this week by the daily Noviye Izvestia newspaper found that just 3 percent of respondents believe the elections were a fair and true democratic exercise. A third thought that UR’s victory was due to “massive falsifications” while a further 44 percent said the party benefited unduly from its command of “administrative resources,” meaning official influence, state media backing, and access to government funds.

Yabloko has documented multiple cases of what is says is official fraud, coercion, and other legal violations in the election campaign and subsequent voting, some of which has been translated and posted on the party’s English-language website (http://www.eng.yabloko.ru/).

But Mitrokhin’s outrage over what looks like the most seriously miscarried electoral exercise in Russia’s post-Soviet history has been increasingly echoed by independent commentators, including the father of Russia’s troubled democracy, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

“In the eyes of everyone, elections have turned into a mockery of the people and people have great distrust over how their votes are used,” Mr. Gorbachev told the opposition weekly Novaya Gazeta, of which he is part owner, on Monday.

“What is democracy when the people don’t participate in it?” he said. “The electoral system has been utterly maimed. We need an alternative.”

‘Everyone knows the electoral process is dirty’
Last week, scores of opposition parliamentarians staged a walkout from the State Duma to dramatize their complaints about the elections, but by Monday all but a few deputies of the Communist Party had returned.

The chairman of Russia’s official Electoral Commission, Vladimir Churov, warned the protesting lawmakers that they might be breaking the law, and added if they had doubts about the process they could challenge them by “signing an official protocol” of complaint. If that doesn’t work, he added, they can “file a lawsuit.”

Lawsuits against electoral authorities in the past have almost always been dismissed by state-dominated courts.

“Everyone knows that the electoral process is dirty, and that UR basically controls the system,” says Alexei Mukhin, director of the independent Center for Political Technologies in Moscow. “In fact, the whole world sees this, and it’s causing serious damage to the image of the country’s top leaders. The Kremlin needs to take action to change this situation,” before the next cycle of elections in just over two years time, he says.

Since Mr. Putin came to power in 2000, Russia’s political system has been forcibly reshaped to eliminate pesky opposition parties and game elections to favor the giant and reliably pro-Kremlin UR. Mr. Putin’s party now controls the vast majority of regional legislatures, most big city councils, and a more than two-thirds majority in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

That system, dubbed “managed democracy,” reached a climax last year when Putin ushered his hand-picked successor Dmitri Medvedev into the Kremlin against virtually no opposition.

Kremlin facade of democracy
The Kremlin’s efforts to create a facade that looks like genuinely contested elections – while ruthlessly eliminating serious contenders – took on almost comical dimensions in polls to choose a new mayor for Sochi, the host of the 2014 Olympic Games, where Putin has invested about $12 billion of the state’s cash and much of his own personal credibility.

In the event last March, Putin’s candidate won with a 77 percent majority, while opposition candidates and democracy activists launched futile protests over what they called heavy-handed state manipulation at every stage of the process.

But experts say the wave of regional elections carried out last week make those polls look almost fair by comparison.

“As we have seen in the past, candidates who were unwanted by the authorities were simply disqualified early in the process,” says Andrei Buzin, chairman of the Interregional Association of Voters, a grassroots monitoring group. “As before, the police were often deployed to block opposition activities and meetings. But, unlike the past, when we didn’t see direct falsifications, there was a lot of falsification in the vote counting in these elections.”

Mr. Buzin says “the situation is getting worse, subjectively and objectively, much worse.”

Former Russian deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, who faced huge obstacles in his bid to run for mayor of Sochi last April, says that this time around no candidate from his Solidarnost movement was allowed to run for city office in Moscow.

“Every single one of our candidates was disqualified, supposedly due to fraudulent signatures on their nomination forms,” says Mr. Nemtsov. Even Nemtsov’s own signature on one of the forms was declared invalid by officials, he says.

“It’s absolutely terrible, like an election in the German Democratic Republic [the former East Germany],” he says. “Forget about elections in this country. It’s just fraud, manipulation, and corruption. It’s a great big fiction.”

Digg This
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Experts Find Soviet Parts in North Korean Missile

WASHINGTON

With concerns rising about a possible North Korean long-range missile test this weekend, two independent scientists say the regime may be using an old Soviet ballistic missile to boost a rocket capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States.

North Korea is not known to have nuclear warheads and faces years of research and testing before building such a reliable weapon.

But the scientists say that if North Korea does have such a Russian-made ballistic missile in its arsenal, it could modify the rocket into a two-stage missile that could reach Seattle, Wash., carrying a 900-kilogram warhead, or San Francisco carrying a 700-kilogram charge.

The design of a long-range missile tested by North Korea last April “represents a very significant advance in rocket technology,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ted Postol and Union of Concerned Scientists’ David Wright in a June 29 assessment published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Using data and imagery from North Korea’s April 4 launch, Postol and Wright calculated that the second stage of the North Korean rocket had the external dimensions, engine power and key features of an SS-N 6, a Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile first deployed in 1968.

Their theory is at odds with U.S. officials’ skepticism of the recent North Korean long-range missile launch, dismissed as a failure.

Missile expert and former U.N. arms inspector Mike Elleman cautioned against assuming that the similarities between the external dimensions of the North Korean second stage and the SS-N 6 mean that the two are the same technology.

But Elleman added that the coincidence is hard to explain.

Geoffrey Forden, another missile expert with MIT, sees merit in the Russian missile theory and believes North Korea may have its own production line for SS-N 6 missile components.

Technorati : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Del.icio.us : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Zooomr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Flickr : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Oil? Ah, let Russia have it

State Department gives away 125,000 square miles of Alaskan ocean floor

autumnsky-subcontent-image.gif

Even if Congress follows President Bush’s lead in opening off-shore oil exploration, there exist over 125,000 square miles of sea bottom that won’t be explored, because the State Department – amid controversy and against the will of Alaskans – has surrendered the land to Russia.

Eight islands and their surrounding sea floors were ceded to the former Soviet Union as part of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Maritime Boundary Treaty in 1991, a treaty signed by the U.S. Senate and President George Bush but never ratified by the Soviets. Nonetheless, an executive agreement enforcing the terms of the treaty until ratification has been in place through three presidencies, meaning the State Department officially recognizes the islands as Russian territory.

Alaskan legislators, who were given no input or authority on the island giveaway, have long protested the treaty, declaring it null and void without Russian ratification.

And since last week’s U.S. Geological Survey estimating that 90 billion barrels of oil lie undiscovered and technically recoverable above the Arctic Circle, those 125,000 square miles of seabed have taken on newly appreciated value. Five of the islands lie north of the Artic Circle, and the other three sit at the western end of Alaska‘s Aleutian island chain.

Carl Olson, a retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander and chairman of State Department Watch, a nonpartisan foreign policy watchdog group, explained to WND the significance of the State Department’s stance: “The area off the coast of an island that a nation may use is called the exclusive economic zone. The group in charge of defining that is the State Department. So (the president and Congress) can say the off-shore areas are opened up, but still not recognize these quarter of a million square miles available for American oil exploration.”

Alaska state Rep. John B. Coghill told WND earlier, “The issues involve not only state sovereignty over vital territories but also significant national defense concerns and substantial economic losses over fisheries and petroleum.”

The Alaskan legislature and a sympathetic California legislature have both passed resolutions asking Congress to allow Alaska at the bargaining table with Russia to resolve the islands’ ownership. After almost 20 years of official protests, the U.S. State Department has yet to acknowledge Alaska’s arguments.

“It’s totally anti-public, anti-Congress, anti-state actions – but unfortunately the State Department thinks it has the power to adopt this boundary line with the Russians without anybody’s consent outside themselves, ” Olson told WND. “The State Department is basically chopping off a piece of Alaska and giving it to a foreign government without Alaska having any say in it.”

The lands in dispute include the islands of Herald, Bennett, Henrietta, Jeanette, Copper Island, Sea Lion Rock, Sea Otter Rock, and Wrangel, which is the largest of the eight, roughly the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

The U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867, including the Aleutian Islands, which presumably would include Copper Island, Sea Otter Rock and Sea Lion Rock. In 1881, U.S. Captain Calvin L. Hooper landed on Wrangel Island and claimed it for the U.S. Also in 1881, the U.S. Navy claimed the islands of Bennett, Jeannette, and Henrietta. The British held Herald Island, but they gave up that claim, permitting the U.S. to take it.

American citizens had occupied Wrangel Island from approximately 1881 to 1924, when Russian soldiers landed and forcibly removed the American occupants from its shores. The Russians then reportedly used the island as a concentration camp.

Many Alaskan legislators believe the islands were part of their state, even after the Wrangel invasion, though the U.S. State Department officially disagrees. Without a ratified treaty designating them as Russian, those same legislators and Carl Olson believe the islands still are American territory and can be reverted to the U.S. easily.

The only thing binding the islands to Russia is “in the form of an executive agreement,” Olson told WND, “which means it can be changed with the stroke of a pen by the president, because it has no force of law.”

“We have been steadily maintaining the pressure,” said Olson. “It’s just a matter of finding sympathetic people in Washington and the other states to go for it. There’s plenty of organizations who have endorsed our efforts, so we keep up the drumbeat.”

Coghill has also sought the support of other states, claiming that the federal State Department has overstepped its authority in giving away a state’s land. “If they can do this to Alaska,” he warns, “they can do this to any state.”

U.S. State Department officials did not return WND telephone calls to discuss the matter, but a State Department webpage devoted to the island controversy denies that islands were ever claimed by the United States and explains that though the treaty between the U.S. and Russian Federation was never fully ratified, “In a separate exchange of diplomatic notes, the two countries agreed to apply the agreement provisionally.”

The webpage concludes, “The U.S. has no intention of reopening discussion of the 1990 Maritime Boundary Treaty.”

universal-body-repeat.gif

Del.icio.us : , , , , ,
Zooomr : , , , , ,
Technorati : , , , , ,
Flickr : , , , , ,

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.