Saturday, August 16, 2008

Russian Bear Out From Hibernation

The Georgia incursion by Russian forces is called by some in Russia as "Putin's War". It does seem to be a very personal vendetta by Putin to rid himself of the Columbia University trained lawyer Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia. But, most folks think much more is at play than simply regime change of a pesky leadershhip problem.

Putin has threatened the safety of Ukraine if the Black Sea Fleet is blocked from re-entry to the port at Sebastopol. Poland, after months of delay, quickly signed an agreement allowing advanced anti-missile defense batteries on Polish territory. Putin now has plans to rebuild the Russian fleet with 5 to 6 aicraft carriers plus support vessels.

Norway says it is being threatened by the former Soviet Union if they do not allow Russian oil and gas exploration and drilling in the waters around the Spitsbergen archipelago. Norway, and most everyone else, has understood that under the terms of the 1920 Paris Treaty it has the right to establish an economic zone around the archipelago. Russia claims, and some other countries agree, the treaty only applies to circumstances on the islands of the archipelago, not the surrounding waters.

All this is causing Norway and Sweden to re-evaluate their defense posture with Russia and out side threats in general.

Several Norwegian opposition politicians say Russia’s intervention in the South Ossetia crisis shows that the country has Great Power aspirations, which could eventually pose a threat against Norwegian positions in the High North. Also in Sweden, the Caucasus conflict now triggers a domestic defence policy debate.
Leader of the Norwegian Conservative Party, Ms. Erna Solberg, does not believe that a conflict like the one in Georgia could take place between Russian and Norway. She still believes that the South Ossetia events bear clear evidence of Russia’s great power aspirations.

"We can not defend ourselves alone, Norway needs a strong army," she says to newspaper Aftenposten.


Ms. Solberg illustrates her increasing fears with Russia’s reported violations of aircraft regulations at Spitsbergen and military training near the Norwegian border.

"It worries me that the Russians are showing disrespect for our right to govern the Spitsbergen archipelago," she says to the newspaper. She also accuses the Norwegian red-green government coalition of failing to nurse relations with the USA.

The Swedish debate

At the same time, a similar debate is unfolding in Sweden. An editorial in newspaper Dagens Nyheter today highlights the need for a revision of Swedish defence policies.

"For Sweden, the issue is now to adjust its defence policy to the hard realities," the editorial reads.

The newspaper writes that the South Ossetia crisis to certain extent resembles the Cold War.

"The perception that Sweden does not have external threats is an ill-informed stance, which although it lacks basis in reality has spread through the Swedish defence debate," the editors write.

The newspaper now calls on the Swedish government to stall cuts in the country’s defence in order to bolster national security.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Russia Threatens Poland with Nukes, Robs Georgian Bank

Russia has invaded Georgia, threatened that Ukraine may be next, and today has warned Poland they too may be a target for Russian nukes.

Anatoly Nogovitsin, the deputy head of the Russian armed forces, warned Poland that by hosting the shield it could become the target of a nuclear attack in war time. "The US is concerned with its own anti-missile defence, not Poland’s. But Poland, by deploying [the shield], will be exposed to attack."
While threatening the life of Poland, Russian forces in Senaki, Georgia captured a large weapons cache of American manufacture.

Russian forces have seized a "large arsenal" of U.S.-made weapons in the western Georgian city of Senaki including hundreds of assault rifles, a military spokesman said Friday.

"In Senaki, we seized a large arsenal of weapons including 664 U.S.-made M-16 rifles" and a number of M-40 sniper rifles, General Anatoly Nogovitsyn told a news conference in Moscow. "There were 1,728 weapons total."
Weapons wasn't the only loot Russian forces grabbed. In a scene reminiscent of "Kelly's Heroes", a band of Russian brothers robbed a bank.

The band of gun-toting men were caught on CCTV forcing their way into the bank in Gori. Once inside, the men are seen breaking into the teller offices and rifling through the desks.

They are then caught making off with what appear to be armfuls of equipment including laptop computers and perhaps even cash. The outrage took place amid some of the bloodiest fighting in Gori, which is on Georgia’s main east-west highway.
Okay, the Russian version wasn't that exciting. But, it was pathetic.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

When the Earth Warmed and Mankind Was Blameless

North Africa. The Sahara. Moist and lush with verdant forests. Large lakes of cool clear water pockmarked the landscape. Between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago, elephants, giraffes, hartebeasts, warthogs, and many other animals wandered the plains and woodland freely. Fish and crocodiles populated the rivers and lakes. The tall muscular Kiffian people hunted the animals, gathered the flora, drank from the rivers and lakes, and for 2000 years called this place home.

Then the inexplicable happened. The rains didn't come, the rivers no longer fed the lakes with sweet water, the lakes dried up, the forests shriveled. The animals moved south to find water and food. The people followed. Those people and animals who didn't, perished in the rapidly heating climate. Those who died earliest were buried beneath the parching soil, some singularly, others as families.

For a thousand years, the land was parched beneath the unrelenting sun, the baking soil finding surcease only at night when the skies opened to the coolness of space.

A cloud formed over the dying land. As more clouds formed, cool moist sea air met with the hot dry air of the land, rain fell, rivers flowed, lakes filled. In time, animals returned and men came with their families. The Tenerians were shorter than the 6 feet tall Kiffians who had lived on this land in North Africa 1000 years before. The Tenerian's skills were more varied. They hunted, fished, and herded domesticated cattle 7,000 to 4,500 years ago. They made jewelry from hippo tusks, and made jars and cups from clay. Tenerians were an industrious lot who buried their kin with care beneath the verdant soils of the North Africa they called home.

After 2,500 years, the inexplicable happened. Again the rains ceased, the rivers stopped, and the lakes dried. The animals migrated south to water and food, and many of the people followed. Those who remained, perished.

Eight years ago, the hot dry winds of the Sahara Desert unearthed the remains of over 200 Kiffians and Tenerians. Researchers from the University of Chicago were looking for dinosaur bones in the Niger region called Gobero, all but hidden within the Tenere Desert. When they found human bones, they were astonished. They knew they had found remains of people who had lived during green Sahara. The group in the photo is of a Tenerian woman about 40 years old facing two children, one was 8 years old and the other only five when they died and were buried on a bed of flowers.

What caused the drastic climate change from verdant forest land of lakes to a sweltering desert hellhole, not once, but twice? Was it the heavy industrialization dependant upon environmentally damaging carbon releasing agents? Could the climate change have been caused by fossil fuel guzzling ancient SUVs popularized by Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble? Well, that's doubtful as the Kiffians and Tenerians probably had developed only to the point of fire. Granted, they could probably make really big fires, but not big enough to destroy the entire Sahara Forest ecosystem.

No, nothing as ego stroking as that. Human beings of such meager means could hardly have been able to effectuate global climate change. Not like the highly evolved and skilled humans of today. We can witness on our satellite televisions, fiber optic Internet accessible computers, and wireless Internet mobile devices as some religious lunatic barbarian hacks off the head of a hapless infidel on the other side of the planet. We are so advanced, we are so schooled, that we can actually create Global Climate Change out of ozone depleted, carbon dioxide enhanced thin air.

The Sahara today is the world's largest desert and has been for a very long time. Back then, climate change needed outside help and it came when, some 12,000 years ago, Earth slipped out of it's somewhat unstable orbit. When that happened the monsoons came farther north, inundating the arid land making the deserts bloom, attracting animals and people. As Earth settled once again into a stable attitude, the monsoons went south and the verdant vacated. The cycle was repeated and may be repeating now.

Earth wobble may not be as sexy as poison gas hurled into the atmosphere by puny man and it grates to think we are insignificant, but Earth wobble is an explanation that has verifiably happened many times before the current climate variations without any help from mankind's technologies. Earth and Sol will right themselves and man will take credit and become even more narcissistic and dangerous for having learned nothing.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

OUCH!! Janos Baranyai Blows Out Elbow

Hungarian weightlifter Janos Baranyai's first Olympics ended in agony when he dislocated his right elbow in the ugliest moment yet of the Olympic weightlifting competition.

Baranyai was trying to snatch 148kg in his third lift in the men's 77kg division, when his elbow popped out of its socket.

No longer able to support the weight of the barbell, his right forearm bent backward. The 24-year-old Hungarian fell to the floor in shock, shaking and crying out in pain.
A former judo wrestler from Oroszlany, Hungary, Baranyai was competing with the so-called B-group of lifters in the 77kg division.

Hungary's lone lifter in the Olympics, he was ninth in both the snatch and clean and jerk in the European Championship earlier this year and placed 33rd in last year's world championship.

He cleared his first snatch attempts at 140kg and 145kg before loading up the bar at 148kg - a relatively modest weight in top-level competition. The world record in the snatch is 173kg.
This is why I watch the Olympics. Not the injuries. The single competitor who pits himself against the world. The solitary athlete always give all. Sometimes they win honors for themselves and sometimes the greatest honor they take home is that of OLYMPIAN. Less often, the athlete loses control and disaster strikes as it did here.

Janos Baranyai, Hungarian weightlifter, goes home with injury an distinction. Janos is what most of us will never be - an Olympian.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Georgia, South Ossetia, Russia, the Western Powers and What Should Have Been Learned A Long Time Ago

The school year had begun and President John Kennedy was still alive. I was 9 years old and in the 5th grade in 1963. Late that summer, I had been at Mercy Hospital in Sacramento, California for corrective surgery to my left foot.

By October, the surgery had healed enough that I could walk with a "walker cast", a simple plaster cast with a rubber peg woven into the plaster sole. Walking was still difficult and painful. My teacher, Mrs. Hubbard, excused me early from class everyday so I could walk to the school bus before the bell rang without having to contend with hundreds of kids running wild at the end of the day.

It really wasn't very far to the buses and I usually got to the school front before the buses arrived. It was late autumn and the temperatures in Auburn would cool quickly after 3:00PM. This day was no different. I sat on the concrete walkway in the sun to keep warm. One of the school bullies was wandering the school grounds when he found me sitting alone.

He began with taunting words, then moved to pushing my casted leg with his foot. I asked him to stop. He started kicking my injured leg. Though encased in thick plaster, the shock hurt. Shortly, I was in tears, yelling at him to stop because he was hurting me. I took a feeble swing at him and caught him in the knee, but he didn't stop. He moved to the end of by leg and repeatedly kicked hard at the bottom of my healing foot. Searing pain shot up my leg and I cried all the more. And the bully laughed and kicked all the more.

Finally, I was able to get up while still being kicked, punched, and pushed into the wall. By the time I was upright, the bell rang and the bully ran off. I went to the Principal's office and told the secretary and the nurse what had happened. They summoned Mr. Schuh, the Principal, and I told him the story and the name of my tormentor. He said he would take care of it. I got on my bus and went home. I was satisfied because tomorrow the bully would get what he deserved and I would be protected while I awaited the bus in the sun.

The next day, a secretary came to my class shortly before the time I was usually excused. She escorted me to the office to await the bus. Nothing ever happened to the bully. Everyday, until the the cast was removed about a week later, I spent the last few minutes of the day in the Principal's office as if I had done something wrong.

I know, I know ... Indigo, that was horrible, but what does that have to do with Georgia, South Ossetia, Russia, and the Western powers?

At 9 years of age, I learned that those whom I thought were going to protect me, were supposed to protect me, simply didn't. Instead of dealing with the offender, it was me who was removed from the world. What happened to the weak member wasn't as important as not antagonizing the bully.

Essentially, appeasement of the strong bully is cheaper and easier than taking positive action to protect the weak. It is more expedient to quarantine the aggressed than to contain the aggressor. I learned this at nine.

Georgia simply doesn't matter to the West. They have nothing and bring nothing to any international relationship. Russia has much and brings much to any relationship. Russia is strong, capable of doing great harm or accomplishing much good. It's a simple fact of life that Georgia has paid dearly to learn. Georgia is weak and nobody cares. Georgia doesn't matter.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Monday, August 11, 2008

15 Years for Murder, 19 Years for Drug Selling - Are We Freakin' Nuts!?

Robert Chambers killed a woman in Central Park Aug. 26, 1986. Jennifer D. Levin, 19, was found dead behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The girl was lying on her back. Her mini-skirt had been pushed up to her waist. Her bra and shirt were pushed up to her neck. Her panties, if she had been wearing any, were missing. There were no stab wounds or gunshot injuries, only the very obvious red marks on the girl's throat. She also had bruises, bite marks and cuts on her body, which indicated a lost fight for life."

As New York's finest processed the crime scene, a short distance away joggers and pedestrians paused to watch. Susan Bird asked a man sitting on the wall what had happened. He said he thought police had found a body. Within days, Bird saw the man again when his photo was splashed across newspapers from coast to coast. Robert Chambers, 19, was arrested and charged with second degree murder.

Two years later, Chambers suddenly agreed to a guilty plea. He was sentenced to prison and was released Valentine's Day after serving 15 years for assaulting, raping, and killing a fellow human being.

Because of the death of Levin, the underage drinking, privileged Manhattan kids, and the apparent consensual, casual rough sexual activity, Robert Chambers was dubbed the "Preppy Killer".

That is the short story of depravity. But the story continues...

Robert Chambers, now 41, has once again been arrested and again has pleaded guilty. This time he was charged with selling drugs out of the Manhattan apartment of his girlfriend, Shawn Kovell.

Okay, now it gets really sick. For selling drugs out of his girlfriend's apartment, Chambers has been sentenced to 19 years and four months in prison.

Did you all get that? Fifteen years in prison for assault, rape, and murder. Nineteen years for selling drugs from a Manhattan apartment.

Makes me wonder who is the real sick bastard criminal - the rapist, killer, drug dealer Chambers, or the members of the justice system and the rest of us who hand out greater punishments for drug dealing than killing.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Famed Arch Collapsed in National Park

We don't really think about it; they've been around so long it seems like forever. Another stone arch in a National Park has collapsed. All we have left are photos and a pile of rubble. In a few days, after the Forest Service cleans up, even the rubble will be gone.

The famed, much loved and photographed Wall Arch at Arches National Park was visited by thousands over the years in Moab, Utah. The arch was first reported and named in 1948. Among the 2,000 arches in the park, the free-standing Wall Arch was the twelfth in size with an arch opening under the span of 71 feet wide, 33.5 feet high.

Sometime during the night of Thursday, August 14, the Wall Arch succumbed to age, erosion, and gravity. Eventually, we all do. The Earth and Universe are constantly changing, the old falls away, and the new created. It is how all things are and have always been. It cannot be changed by the mere whim or demand of man.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.