Sunday, November 30, 2014

German-made ‘miracle’ machine turns water into gasoline

German-made ‘miracle’ machine turns water into gasoline

Published time: November 30, 2014 08:35

Still from Ruptly video
Still from Ruptly video

There is as yet no method to mimic Jesus Christ and turn water into wine, but German chemical engineers have proved they can perform miracles of alchemy. They are now finalizing the assembly of a rig that changes water into gasoline.

The German company says it has developed an engineering installation capable of synthesizing petroleum-based fuels from water and carbon dioxide. The ‘power-to-liquid’ rig converts gases extracted from water into liquid hydrocarbon fuels.
 
“I would call it a miracle because it completely changes the way we are producing fuels for cars, planes and also the chemical industry,” Nils Aldag, Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of Sunfire GmbH told RT’s Ruptly video agency.

The Dresden-based company expects the technology to have a big impact on the future fuel market.
The electrically-powered installation uses a process known as Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis, first developed by German chemists Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch in 1925.

The Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) reaction converts colorless, odorless, incombustible carbon dioxide gas (CO2) extracted from water, and hydrogen gas generated from water vapor, by electrolysis into liquid fuels such as diesel, jet kerosene and other chemical products.


The conversion process takes place in a series of reactors at temperatures between 150 and 300 degrees Celsius.

However, the F-T fuel technology “will always be more expensive” than getting conventional liquid hydrocarbon fuels from oil or coal, Aldag warned.
 
“What is important is that the value creation happens at the place where you use the fuel,” he said. So there will be no crude oil transportation costs and expensive infrastructure. “You are producing the fuel right where you are actually going to use it,” Aldag stressed.

One might think that much cheaper conventional fuels will always be a sure bet, but this depends on the given conditions. The Pentagon has already been working in this direction.

The US military has spent up to $150 per gallon on alternative jet fuels made from algae, which is a good bit more than the approximately $3 per gallon that traditional jet fuels currently cost in the US.

Although $150 seems a lot for a gallon of gas, the US has spent a fortune on fuel during its 13-year
campaign in Afghanistan. The military themselves estimate that the cost of delivering fuel to remote bases is $400 a gallon.

Sunfire believes the technology will be refined, and after obtaining regulatory permission they hope to offer it for commercial exploitation by 2016.

While Nils Aldag considers the technology has a bright future, the will to use it needs to gain momentum.

 
Video ID: 20141127-037 M/S Sunfire GmbH power-to-liquid plant, Dresden C/U Sunfire sign C/U Sunfire sign C/U Sunfire sign SOT, Nils Aldag, Sunfire CTO (in En...
youtube.com

 
“I think in a very long time it will actually have an impact on geopolitics. What you always have to know is that the quantities that are required in these industries are so big that it would be difficult for such a technology to make a significant impact in a short period of time,” said Aldag.

Source: http://rt.com/news/209619-sunfire-water-synthetic-fuel/

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Russia is “One of the safest places for Jews in Europe" - Chief Rabbi

Putin’s Chosen People

What’s behind the Russian president’s close relationship with an Orthodox Jewish sect?

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (center) speaks with chief rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar (left) and head of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia Alexander Boroda (right) in Moscow on April 14, 2014.
Photo by Alexei Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

Moscow’s Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center is an impressive place. Original artifacts, film clips, and interactive displays take visitors on a tour through centuries of Judaism’s rich but tragic history in Russia, from the Middle Ages to the czarist-era pogroms to the Holocaust to the repression of the Stalin era to the mass emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Then it just sort of ends.
Joshua Keating Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog.

There’s a panel featuring photos of Vladimir Putin with Jewish leaders, a small display on the Russian Jewish diaspora featuring Little Failure author Gary Shteyngart as an example of a “successful, integrated Russian Jew,” and that’s about it. An exhibit on post-perestroika Jewish life is planned for some time in the future, but for now, the museum gives the impression that Judaism in Russia is a subject of historical interest rather than an ongoing story.

Technically speaking, there are four “official” religions in Russia: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. But given that almost 70 percent of Russians identify as adherents to the Russian Orthodox Church, it’s pretty apparent that one religion is more “official” than others.

The smallest of the four is Judaism. There are fewer than 200,000 self-identified Jews in Russia today—less than the number of pagans—though the number of Russians from Jewish backgrounds who no longer identify with the religion is likely much higher. They are what remains after a mass exodus that saw more than 2 million Jews leave the countries of the former Soviet Union shortly before and after its collapse, mainly for the United States and Israel. Given that most Russians with Jewish backgrounds range from casual observers to entirely indifferent to their religion, it’s a bit unexpected that their official representatives hail from one of the more doctrinaire sects of Orthodox Judaism. You may be surprised to learn, too, that those representatives are quite close with President Vladimir Putin.

Regardless, it’s quite clear that we are not at a high point of Russian Jewish culture. You could argue, though, that for the Jews who are left, things aren’t that bad. Recent years have seen a great deal of government-supported synagogue construction, and a small but growing number of Jews are attending services.

And while there were fears after the fall of the Soviet Union that rising Russian nationalism would lead to an upsurge in anti-Semitism, that never really materialized. “After the collapse of the USSR, the number of cases of anti-Semitism have been steadily dropping on an annual basis over the last 10 years,” says Yury Kanner, head of the country’s largest secular Jewish organization, the Russian Jewish Congress.

There is certainly anti-Jewish sentiment in Russia, but the country is far from an outlier in that regard. Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in a number of European countries, including France, Germany, and Italy. Much of this is related to tension between Jewish and Muslim communities and criticism of Israel, which isn’t a particularly salient issue in Russia. Anti-Semitic far-right parties have also made troubling election gains in countries like Greece and Hungary. Ultra-nationalism is an issue in Russia as well—a controversial far-right rally was held in Moscow on Nov. 4—but when this manifests itself as racism or xenophobia, it’s more typically directed against the predominantly Muslim migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia, perhaps because they’re far more numerous than Jews.

Whatever his many other sins, even Vladimir Putin’s harshest critics concede that he’s not an anti-Semite. As the New Republic’s Julia Ioffe notes, a number of his closest confidants, as well as the Judo teacher who served as a mentor and surrogate father, are Jews. He has personally intervened in cases of state anti-Semitism, such as an incident last year in which a teacher was charged with corruption and the prosecution used his Jewish last name as evidence. Putin labeled that “egregious,” and the conviction was overturned soon after.

Putin’s has also generally been supportive of Jewish institutions—one Jewish institution in particular. One of the more intriguing aspects of contemporary Russian Jewish life is the close relationship between the Kremlin and Chabad, also known as Lubavitch, the Hasidic sect known in the United States for its street-corner proselytizing to fellow Jews and reverence for the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Founded in Western Russia in the 18th century, the Lubavitchers decamped to the United States in 1940, setting up their new headquarters in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood. The Orthodox Jewish movement has dispatched hundreds of emissaries throughout the world to promote the faith. Just after the fall of Communism and just prior to his own death, Schneerson sent Rabbi Berel Lazar to represent Chabad in Russia.

Today, Lazar, who was born in Italy and educated in the United States, is Russia’s chief rabbi. He appears frequently at Putin’s side at public events, and is the leader of the Federation of Jewish Communities (known by its Russian acronym FEOR), the country’s most important Jewish organization. But the title of Russia’s most important rabbi is not an uncontested one.

Adolf Shayevech, a prominent figure in the community since the late Soviet period, was considered chief rabbi until 2000, and still claims the title. Kanner’s group, the Russian Jewish Congress, also recognizes Shayevech. But since Putin came to power in 2000, he has preferred to work with FEOR. Lazar, who is sometimes referred to as “Putin’s Rabbi,” now sits on the country’s public chamber, a government-appointed oversight committee. Lazar has been nothing but appreciative, praising Putin publicly as a friend of the Jews and calling Russia “one of the safest places for Jews in Europe.”

Source: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/11/vladimir_putin_chabad_what_s_behind_the_russian_president_s_close_relationship.html

Lavrov Speaks - This is a MUST READ

The Saker Blog now in Serbian

TO ALL THE SAKER FRIENDS IN SERBIA!
you can now also visit the Serbian Vineyardsaker Blog by clicking on this link:


http://www.thesakersrpski.rs/

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Absolutely crucial statement by Foreign Minister Lavrov (*MUST READ*!)

Note: Finally the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs found the time, energy and personnel to translate this most important statement. They even posted it (thanks to Jonathan Jarvis for the pointer!). And if you detect irritation on my part you are correct - I am frustrated with how incompetent Russians are in anything relating to public information. Anyway,

I have bolded out what I consider to be the most important statements made by Lavrov that day.  I would just like to add the following:


1)  Lavrov is considered very much a "moderate" and his language has always been strictly diplomatic.  So when you read Lavrov, just imagine what folks in other Russian ministries are thinking.

2) Lavrov makes no secret of his view of the USA and of his plans for the future of our planet.  When you read his words, try to imagine what a US Neocon feels and thinks and you will immediately see why the US elites both hate and fear Russia.

3) Finally, Lavrov openly admits that Russia and China have forged an long-term strategic alliance (proving all the nay-sayers who predicted that China would backtstab Russian wrong).  This is, I would argue, the single most important strategic development in the past decade.


4)  Finally, notice the clear contempt which Lavrov has for a pseudo-Christian "West" which dares not speak in defense of persecuted Christians, denies its own roots, and does not even respect its own traditions.

Friends, what we are witnessing before our eyes is not some petty statement about the Ukraine or sanctions, it is the admission by Lavrov of a fundamental "clash of civilizations", but not between some wholly imaginary "Christian West" and Islam, but between Christian Russia and the post-Christian West.

Russia did not want this conflict.  Russia did everything in her power to prevent it.  But the West left Russia no choice and Russia now openly declares her willingness to fight and prevail.


The Saker
-------

Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the XXII Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, 22 November 2014

I’m happy to be at this annual Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy (Russian abbreviation SVOP). It is always a great pleasure for me to meet people and feel the intellectual potential, which enables the Council, its leaders and representatives to respond to global developments and analyse them. Their analysis is always free from any hysteria, and its members offer well-grounded and solid arguments, taking a step back, since those caught in the midst of events can hardly adopt an unbiased perspective. We are inevitably influenced by the developments, which makes your observations, analysis, discourse and suggestions even more valuable to us.

As far as I know, this year’s Assembly will focus on prospects for accelerating domestic growth in Russia. There is no doubt that concerted efforts by our society as a whole to bring about comprehensive economic, social and spiritual development are a prerequisite for making Russia’s future sustainable. That said, by virtue of my professional duties, I have to focus on foreign policy issues, which are still relevant for the Assembly’s agenda, since in this interconnected, globalised world, isolating internal development from the outside world is impossible.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin provided a detailed analysis of the international developments at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi, as well as in his interviews during his trip to Asia. For this reason, I won’t offer any conceptual observations, as everything has already been said. Nevertheless, I would like to share with you some considerations based on our day-to-day foreign policy efforts. It is not my intention to deliver a comprehensive or clear outlook, since at this stage all forecasts are provisional, no matter who makes them. Moreover, diplomats seek to influence developments as they unfold, not contemplate them.

Naturally, I will start with Ukraine. Long before the country was plunged into the crisis, there was a feeling in the air that Russia’s relations with the EU and with the West were about to reach their moment of truth. It was clear that we could no longer continue to put issues in our relations on the back burner and that a choice had to be made between a genuine partnership or, as the saying goes, “breaking pots.” It goes without saying that Russia opted for the former alternative, while unfortunately our Western partners settled for the latter, whether consciously or not. In fact, they went all out in Ukraine and supported extremists, thereby giving up their own principles of democratic regime change. What came out of it was an attempt to play chicken with Russia, to see who blinks first. As bullies say, they wanted to Russia to “chicken out” (I can’t find a better word for it), to force us to swallow the humiliation of Russians and native speakers of Russian in Ukraine.

Honourable Leslie Gelb, whom you know all too well, wrote that Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU had nothing to do with inviting Ukraine to join the EU and was aimed in the short term at preventing it from joining the Customs Union. This is what an impartial and unbiased person said. When they deliberately decided to go down the path of escalation in Ukraine, they forgot many things, and had a clear understanding of how such moves would be viewed in Russia. They forgot the advice of, say, Otto von Bismarck, who had said that disparaging the millions-strong great Russian people would be the biggest political mistake.

President Vladimir Putin said the other day that no one in history has yet managed to subjugate Russia to its influence. This is not an assessment, but a statement of fact. Yet such an attempt has been made to quench the thirst for expanding the geopolitical space under Western control, out of a mercantile fear to lose the spoils of what they across the Atlantic had persuaded themselves was the victory in the Cold War.

The plus of today’s situation is that everything has clicked into its place and the calculus behind the West’s actions has been revealed despite its professed readiness to build a security community, a common European home. To quote (singer/song-writer) Bulat Okudzhava, “The past is getting clearer and clearer.” The clarity is becoming more tangible. Today our task is not only to sort out the past (although that must be done), but most importantly, to think about the future.

Talks about Russia’s isolation do not merit serious discussion. I need hardly dwell on this before this audience. Of course, one can damage our economy, and damage is being done, but only by doing harm to those who are taking corresponding measures and, equally important, destroying the system of international economic relations, the principles on which it is based. Formerly, when sanctions were applied (I worked at the Russian mission to the UN at the time) our Western partners, when discussing the DPRK, Iran or other states, said that it was necessary to formulate the restrictions in such a way as to keep within humanitarian limits and not to cause damage to the social sphere and the economy, and to selectively target only the elite. Today everything is the other way around: Western leaders are publicly declaring that the sanctions should destroy the economy and trigger popular protests. So, as regards the conceptual approach to the use of coercive measures the West unequivocally demonstrates that it does not merely seek to change Russian policy (which in itself is illusory), but it seeks to change the regime -- and practically nobody denies this.

President Vladimir Putin, speaking with journalists recently, said that today’s Western leaders have a limited planning horizon. Indeed, it is dangerous when decisions on key problems of the development of the world and humankind as a whole are taken on the basis of short electoral cycles: in the United States the cycle is two years and each time one has to think of or do something to win votes. This is the negative side of the democratic process, but we cannot afford to ignore it. We cannot accept the logic when we are told to resign, relax and take it as a given that everyone has to suffer because there are elections in the United States every two years. This is just not right. We will not resign ourselves to this because the stakes are too high in the fight against terror, the threats of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and many bloody conflicts whose negative impact goes far beyond the framework of the corresponding states and regions. The wish to do something to gain unilateral advantages or to endear oneself to the electorate ahead of another election leads to chaos and confusion in international relations.

We hear the daily repeated mantra that Washington is aware of its own exclusiveness and its duty to bear this burden, to lead the rest of the world. Rudyard Kipling spoke about “the white man’s burden.” I hope that this is not what drives Americans. The world today is not white or black, but multi-coloured and heterogeneous. Leadership in this world can be assured not by persuading oneself of one’ exclusiveness and God-given duty to be responsible for everyone, but only by the ability and craft in forming a consensus. If the US partners committed their power to this goal, this would be priceless, and Russia would be actively helping them.

However, so far, US administrative resources still work only in the NATO framework, and then with substantial reservations, and its writ does not reach beyond the North Atlantic Alliance. One proof of this is the results of US attempts to make the world community follow its line in connection with the anti-Russian sanctions and principles. I have spoken about it more than once and we have ample proof of the fact that American ambassadors and envoys across the world seek meetings at the highest level to argue that the corresponding countries are obliged to punish Russia together with them or else face the consequences. This is done with regard to all countries, including our closest allies (this speaks volumes about the kind of analysts Washington has). An overwhelming majority of the states with which we have a continuing dialogue without any restrictions and isolation, as you see, value Russia’s independent role in the international arena. Not because they like it when somebody challenges the Americans, but because they realise that the world order will not be stable if nobody is allowed to speak his mind (although privately the overwhelming majority do express their opinion, but they do not want to do so publicly for fear of Washington’s reprisals).

Many reasonable analysts understand that there is a widening gap between the global ambitions of the US Administration and the country’s real potential. The world is changing and, as has always happened in history, at some point somebody’s influence and power reach their peak and then somebody begins to develop still faster and more effectively. One should study history and proceed from realities. The seven developing economies headed by BRICS already have a bigger GDP than the Western G7. One should proceed from the facts of life, and not from a misconceived sense of one’s own grandeur.

It has become fashionable to argue that Russia is waging a kind of “hybrid war” in Crimea and in Ukraine. It is an interesting term, but I would apply it above all to the United States and its war strategy – it is truly a hybrid war aimed not so much at defeating the enemy militarily as at changing the regimes in the states that pursue a policy Washington does not like. It is using financial and economic pressure, information attacks, using others on the perimeter of a corresponding state as proxies and of course information and ideological pressure through externally financed non-governmental organisations. Is it not a hybrid process and not what we call war? It would be interesting to discuss the concept of the hybrid war to see who is waging it and is it only about “little green men.”

Apparently the toolkit of our US partners, who have become adept at using it, is much larger.

In attempting to establish their pre-eminence at a time when new economic, financial and political power centres are emerging, the Americans provoke counteraction in keeping with Newton’s third law and contribute to the emergence of structures, mechanisms, and movements that seek alternatives to the American recipes for solving the pressing problems. I am not referring to anti-Americanism, still less about forming coalitions spearheaded against the United States, but only about the natural wish of a growing number of countries to secure their vital interests and do it the way they think right, and not what they are told “from across the pond.” Nobody is going to play anti-US games just to spite the United States. We face attempts and facts of extra-territorial use of US legislation, the kidnapping of our citizens in spite of existing treaties with Washington whereby these issues are to be resolved through law enforcement and judicial bodies.

According to its doctrine of national security, the United States has the right to use force anywhere, anytime without necessarily asking the UN Security Council for approval. A coalition against the Islamic State was formed unbeknownst to the Security Council. I asked Secretary of State John Kerry why have not they gone to the UN Security Council for this.

He told me that if they did, they would have to somehow designate the status of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Of course, they had to because Syria is a sovereign state and still a member of the UN (no one excluded it from UN membership). The secretary of state said it was wrong because the United States is combating terrorism and the al-Assad regime is the most important factor that galvanises terrorists from around the world and acts as a magnet attracting them to this region in an attempt to overthrow the Syrian regime.

I believe this is perverse logic. If we are talking about precedents (the United States adheres to case law), it is worth remembering the chemical disarmament in Syria when the Assad regime was a completely legitimate partner of the United States, Russia, the OPCW and others. The Americans maintain talks with the Taliban as well. Whenever the United States has an opportunity to benefit from something, it acts quite pragmatically. I’m not sure why the ideologically-driven position took the upper hand this time and the United States chose to believe that Assad cannot be a partner. Perhaps, this is not so much an operation against the Islamic State as paving the way for toppling al-Assad under the guise of a counter-terrorist operation.

Francis Fukuyama recently wrote the book, Political Order and Political Decay, in which he argues that the efficiency of public administration in the United States is declining and the traditions of democratic governance are gradually being replaced with feudal fiefdom ruling methods. This is part of the discussion about someone who lives in a glass house and throws stones.

All of this is happening amid the mounting challenges and problems of the modern world. We are seeing a continued "tug of war" in Ukraine. Trouble is brewing on the south border of the EU. I don’t think the Middle Eastern and North African problems will go away all by themselves. The EU has formed a new commission. New foreign actors have emerged, who will face a serious fight for where to send their basic resources: either for the continuation of reckless schemes in Ukraine, Moldova, etc., within the Eastern Partnership (as advocated by an aggressive minority in the EU), or they will listen to the Southern European countries and focus on what’s happening on the other side of the Mediterranean.

This is a major issue for the EU.

So far, those who are not guided by real problems, but rather by a desire to quickly grab things from freshly turned up ground. It is deplorable. Exporting revolutions – be they democratic, communist or others – never brings any good.

State, public and civilisational structures are actually disintegrating in the MENA region. The destructive energy released in the process can scorch states that are located far beyond this region. Terrorists (including the Islamic State) are claiming a national status. Moreover, they are already beginning to create quasi-governmental bodies there that engage in the administrative work.

On this backdrop, minorities, including Christians, are banished. In Europe, these issues are deemed not politically correct. They are ashamed when we invite them to do something about it together at the OSCE. They wonder why would we focus specifically on Christians? How is that special? The OSCE has held a series of events dedicated to keeping memories about the Holocaust and its victims alive. A few years ago, the OSCE started holding events against Islamophobia. We will be offering an analysis of the processes leading to Christianophobia.

On 4-5 December, OSCE ministerial meetings will be held in Basel, where we will present this proposal. The majority of EU member states elude this topic, because they are ashamed to talk about it. Just as they were ashamed to include in what was then the EU constitution drafted by Valery Giscard d'Estaing a phrase that Europe has Christian roots.

If you don’t remember or respect your own roots and traditions, how would you respect the traditions and values of other people? This is straightforward logic. Comparing what’s happening now in the Middle East to a period of religious wars in Europe, Israeli political scientist Avineri said that the current turmoil is unlikely to end with what the West means when it says “democratic reforms.”

The Arab-Israeli conflict is dead in the water. It's hard to play on several boards at a time. The Americans are trying to accomplish this, but it doesn’t work for them. In 2013, they took nine months to sort out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I will not go into the reasons, they are known, but they failed at this as well. Now, they asked for more time to try to achieve some progress before the end of 2014, so that the Palestinians wouldn’t go to the UN and sign the Statute of the International Criminal Court, etc. Suddenly, it transpired that negotiations on Iran are underway. The US State Department dumped Palestine to focus on Iran.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and I agreed to talk on this subject some time soon. It’s important to understand that you can’t keep the problem of the Palestinian state deeply frozen forever. Failure to resolve it for nearly 70 years has been a major argument of those who recruit extremists in their ranks, “there’s no justice: it was promised to create two states; the Jewish one was created, but they will never create an Arab state.” Used on a hungry Arab street, these arguments sound quite plausible, and they start calling for a fight for justice using other methods.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi that we need a new version of interdependence. This was a very topical statement. The leading powers must return to the negotiating table and agree on a new framework that takes into account the basic legitimate interests of all the key parties (I can’t tell you what it should be called, but it should be based on the UN Charter), to agree on reasonable self-imposed restrictions and collective risk management in a system of international relations underpinned by democratic values. Our Western partners promote respect for the rule of law, democracy and minority opinion within countries, while failing to stand up for the same values in international affairs. This leaves Russia as a pioneer in promoting democracy, justice and rule of international law. A new world order can only be polycentric and should reflect the diversity of cultures and civilisations in today’s world.

You are aware of Russia’s commitment to ensuring indivisibility of security in international affairs and holding it in international law. I won’t elaborate on this.

I would like to support the point the SVOP has been making that Russia won’t succeed in becoming a major, successful and confident power of the 21st century without developing its eastern regions. Sergei Karaganov was among the first to conceptualise this idea, and I fully agree. Taking Russia’s relations with the Asia Pacific countries to a new level is an absolute priority. Russia worked along these lines at the Beijing APEC meeting and the G20 forum. We will continue moving in this direction in the new environment created by the upcoming launch of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on 1 January 2015.

We have been treated as “subhumans.” For over a decade, Russia has been trying to establish partnership ties with NATO through CSTO. These efforts were not just about putting NATO and CSTO “in the same league.” As a matter of fact, CSTO is focused on catching drug dealers and illegal migrants around the Afghan border, and the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the backbone of the international security forces, which, among other things, were tasked with fighting the terrorist threat and eliminating its financing schemes, which involve drug trafficking. We tried everything: we pleaded and then demanded real-time contact, so that once NATO detects a caravan transporting drugs and is unable to stop it, it alerts us across the border, so that this caravan could be intercepted by CSTO forces. They simply refused to talk to us. In private conversations, our NATO well-wishers (and I actually mean this in the positive way) told us that the alliance can’t view CSTO as an equal partner for ideological reasons. Until recently, we saw the same condescending and arrogant attitude with respect to the Eurasian economic integration. And that despite the fact that countries intending to join the EAEU have much more in common in terms of their economies, history and culture than many EU members. This union is not about creating barriers with anyone. We always stress how open this union is expected to be. I strongly believe that it will make a significant contribution to building a bridge between Europe and Asia Pacific.

I can’t fail to mention Russia’s comprehensive partnership with China. Important bilateral decisions have been taken, paving the way to an energy alliance between Russia and China. But there’s more to it. We can now even talk about the emerging technology alliance between the two countries. Russia’s tandem with Beijing is a crucial factor for ensuring international stability and at least some balance in international affairs, as well as ensuring the rule of international law. We will make full use of our relations with India and Vietnam, Russia’s strategic partners, as well as the ASEAN countries. We are also open to expanding cooperation with Japan, if our Japanese neighbours can look at their national interests and stop looking back at some overseas powers.

There is no doubt that the European Union is our largest collective partner. No one intends to “shoot himself in the foot” by renouncing cooperation with Europe, although it is now clear that business as usual is no longer an option. This is what our European partners are telling us, but neither do we want to operate the old way. They believed that Russia owed them something, while we want to be on an equal footing. For this reason, things will never be the same again. That said, I’m confident that we will be able to overcome this period, lessons will be learned and a new foundation for our relations will emerge.

The idea of creating a single economic and humanitarian space from Lisbon to Vladivostok can now be heard here and there and is gaining traction. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has said publicly (while we have been saying it for a long time) that the EU and the EAEU should engage in dialogue. The statement President Vladimir Putin made in Brussels in January 2014, when he proposed the first step by launching negotiations on a free-trade zone between the EU and the Customs Union with an eye on 2020, is no longer viewed as something exotic. All of this has already become part of diplomacy and real politics. Although this is so far only a matter of discussion, I strongly believe that we will one day achieve what is called “the integration of integrations.” This is one of the key topics we want to promote within the OSCE at the Ministerial Council in Basel. Russia is about to assume BRICS and SCO presidency. The two organisations will hold their summits in Ufa. These are very promising organisations for the new age. They are not blocks (especially BRICS), but groups where members share the same interests, representing countries from all continents that share common approaches regarding the future of the global economy, finance and politics.
 
Source: http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com.br/2014/11/absolutely-crucial-statement-by-foreign.html

Sun has controlled climate over the past 11,000 years, not CO2

A paper published today in Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics finds a "strong and stable correlation" between the millennial variations in sunspots and the temperature in Antarctica over the past 11,000 years. In stark contrast, the authors find no strong or stable correlation between temperature and CO2 over that same period. 

The authors correlated reconstructed CO2 levels, sunspots, and temperatures from ice-core data from Vostok Antarctica and find
"We find that the variations of SSN [sunspot number] and T [temperature] have some common periodicities, such as the 208 year (yr), 521 yr, and ~1000 yr cycles. The correlations between SSN and T are strong for some intermittent periodicities. However, the wavelet analysis demonstrates that the relative phase relations between them usually do not hold stable except for the millennium-cycle component. The millennial variation of SSN leads that of T by 30–40 years, and the anti-phase relation between them keeps stable nearly over the whole 11,000 years of the past. As a contrast, the correlations between CO2 and T are neither strong nor stable."
Thus, the well known ~1000 year climate cycle responsible for the Holocene Climate Optimum 6000 to 4000 years ago, the Egyptian warm period ~4000 years ago, the Minoan warm period ~3000 years ago, the Roman warm period ~2000 years ago, the Medieval warm period ~1000 years ago, and the current warm period at present all roughly fall in this same 1000 year sequence of increased solar activity associated with warm periods. 


a) sunspots, b) temperature, c) CO2, d-i show the amplitudes of the strongest cycle lengths (period in years) shown in the data for sunspots, temperature, and CO2
Wavelet analysis in graph a shows the most prominent solar periods in red and graph b for temperature. The most stable period for both is at ~1024 years, shown by the horizontal region in red/yellow/light blue.
The authors find a lag of 30-40 years between changes in solar activity driving temperature, likely due to the huge thermal capacity and inertia of the oceans. Lead time shown in bottom graph of 40 years shows the temperature response following an increase or decrease of solar activity lags by about 40 years. Top graph shows "the anti-phase relation between [solar activity and temperature] keeps them stable nearly over the whole 11,000 years of the past."

The authors find temperature changes lag solar activity changes by ~40 years, which is
 likely due to the huge heat capacity and inertia of the oceans. Warming proponents attempt to dismiss the Sun's role in climate change by claiming 20th century solar activity peaked at around 1960 and somewhat declined from 1960 levels to the end of the 20th century (and have continued to decline in the 21st century right along with the 18+ year "pause" of global warming). 

Firstly, the assumption that solar activity peaked in 1960 and declined since is false, since it is necessary to determine the accumulated solar energy over multiple solar cycles, which is the accumulated departure from the average number of sunspots over the entire period, which I call the "sunspot integral." The sunspot integral is plotted in blue and shows remarkable correction with global temperatures plotted in red below. Correlating sunspot and temperature data with and without CO2, we find the sunspot integral explains 95% of temperature change over the past 400 years, and that CO2 had no significant influence (also here).

Source

Secondly, this paper finds strong evidence of a 30-40 year lag between solar activity and temperature response. So what happened ~40 years after the 1960 peak in sunspot activity? Why that just so happens to be when satellite measurements of global temperature peaked with the 1998 El Nino [which is also driven by solar activity], followed by the "pause" and cooling since. 

We have thus shown
  • Strong correlation between solar activity and climate over the past 11,000 years of the Holocene
  • Strong lack of correlation between CO2 and climate over the past 11,000 years of the Holocene
  • Solar activity explains all 6 well-known warming periods that have occurred during the Holocene, including the current warm period
  • The 20th century peak in sunspot activity is associated with a 40 year lag in the peak global temperature
What more proof do you need that it's the Sun!

But wait, there's more. Please see the two previous posts demonstrating that the alternate 33C greenhouse effect is due to atmospheric mass/gravity/pressure, not CO2 or water vapor, physical proof & observations that water vapor is a strong negative-feedback cooling agent, and physical proof that CO2 cannot cause any significant global warming. All of the above also strongly suggests the increase in CO2 levels is primarily due to ocean outgassing from warming oceans from the Sun, not from CO2 radiative forcing warming the oceans, and not primarily from man-made CO2 emissions.
SSN [Sunspot Number] and Vostok temperature (T) had common periodicities in past 11,000 years.
The millennial variations of SSN and T had a strong and stable correlation.
The millennial variation of SSN led that of T by 30–40 years.
Correlations between CO2 and T were neither strong nor stable.

Abstract

The solar impact on the Earth's climate change is a long topic with intense debates. Based on the reconstructed data of solar sunspot number (SSN), the local temperature in Vostok (T), and the atmospheric CO2 concentration data of Dome Concordia, we investigate the periodicities of solar activity, the atmospheric CO2 and local temperature in the inland Antarctica as well as their correlations during the past 11,000 years before AD 1895. We find that the variations of SSN and T have some common periodicities, such as the 208 year (yr), 521 yr, and ~1000 yr cycles. The correlations between SSN and T are strong for some intermittent periodicities. However, the wavelet analysis demonstrates that the relative phase relations between them usually do not hold stable except for the millennium-cycle component. The millennial variation of SSN leads that of T by 30–40 years, and the anti-phase relation between them keeps stable nearly over the whole 11,000 years of the past. As a contrast, the correlations between CO2 and T are neither strong nor stable. These results indicate that solar activity might have potential influences on the long-term change of Vostok's local climate during the past 11,000 years before modern industry.
 
Source: http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.ca/2014/11/new-paper-finds-strong-evidence-sun-has.html?m=1

The tipping point for biometric security

The tipping point for biometric security

Nick Savvides ABC Technology and Games 26 Nov 2014
security mobile fingerprint
Phones have made the public far more accepting of Biometric security.
Currently most of us depend on passwords to protect our online identities. But passwords may be the largest security liability of the internet. They have numerous weaknesses that put consumers, corporates and the wider online world at significant risk. These weaknesses fall into three categories:
  1. People. Most organisations leave users to choose their own passwords and people tend to choose passwords they can remember rather than passwords that are secure. In fact, 91 percent of all passwords used are found in the top 1000 most used passwords and indeed, more than 10 percent of PINs picked at random will be 1234.
  2. Passwords are easily lost or stolen. Many people reuse the same password on multiple sites - creating a massive exposure for their entire online identity. Recent large scale data breaches have included the exposure of passwords. 600,000 logins to a popular social networking site are compromised every day. Once a hacker has the password to one account they can unlock a huge quantity of personal, financial and corporate information.
  3. Recovery is flawed. If a user loses or forgets a password the usual recovery method is to ask them a question or questions that only they should know the answer to. Unfortunately the answers to these questions can often be found elsewhere online. Or hackers could use social engineering to steal passwords by masquerading as a trusted entity to either the user or other people with access to the user's information.
For some time the answer to address these weaknesses appeared to be biometrics. A biometric is an aspect of the human body that can be measured and is distinguishing enough to be unique to the user, so it can be used for user authentication. Examples of biometrics include fingerprints, voice, face, eyes and hands.

But using biometrics for online security has rarely been seen outside Hollywood movies to date. Consumers have been put off by high error rates and privacy concerns while organisations find server-side biometric templates too risky to hold and are a prized target for cybercriminals.

Existing biometric authentication models are focused on identity management and identity proofing, which are related but separate issues to authentication. Making the problem worse is that there is little interoperability between sites, applications and users.

However the tipping point for biometric security is approaching. The Biometrics Institute is an impartial forum for sharing knowledge and information about biometrics. To address concerns about privacy and data protection, it has designed a range of privacy guidelines to assure the public that best practice privacy principles are followed. The guidelines are intended to be a guide across many countries and jurisdictions - recognising that biometrics and IT connect beyond national and organisational boundaries.

Biometric security technology is maturing. Over the next two years biometric security is predicted to meet end user and organisational demands for both convenience and security. We can now combine multiple authentication factors that are easy-to-use, but do not require the use of passwords. This is due to a number of developments in the biometric security landscape.

Firstly, the rise of the smartphone has offered an opportunity to re-think the application of biometrics from both a security and user perspective. Previously when presented with fingerprint readers on laptops, which are near ubiquitous in a corporate setting, users who enroled their fingers, discovered the only thing they could do was unlock their laptop, leaving them asking "now what?".

The incentive to use the fingerprint reader was non-existant, as entering their password on a keyboard was easy, so very few used it. The smartphone changed this as typing complex passwords is difficult and inconvinient on small mobile keyboards leading users to use either simple PINs or no password protection at all. Re-thinking the biometric as a convenience feature for the user but as security feature for the device increases the incentive for use. As a user you can pick up your phone and have it automatically unlock and start working and as security control it ties the device to me.

Secondly, a number of industry initiaves with common aspects have formed. Organisations like The FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance who are developing technical standards for biometric devices and controls for use by all, and single vendor systems like Apple's TouchID and Samsung's PassAPI are focussing on using simple integration for developers.

Significantly all of these systems are adopting the mandate of using on-device (client side) biometrics, rather than using central (server side) biometrics.

With on-device only biometrics, the biometric authentication happens on the device, unlocking regular strong credentials, that are then sent instead of passwords or biometric data. This means that each service provider does not hold any biometric data on the user and the user is also guaranteed of using unique strong credentials that can easily be managed and consumed.

Other advances include:
  1. Building systems that use biometrics but still have a secure back up method available to users.
  2. Integrating location awareness and biometrics for systems access. Users have to be in the expected location as well as having the correct biometric identity.
  3. Having biometrics work with any form of authentication such as PINs.
  4. Providing the freedom for developers and integrators to integrate biometrics into their technology as required.
You'll soon start seeing biometrics accounted for in security software.

Ultimately, convenience, ease-of-use, speed and accuracy are appealing attributes for authentication and this will drive the adoption of biometrics.

Nick Savvides, Security Expert for Norton and Symantec in the Pacific region.

Source: www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2014/11/26/4136367.htm


Friday, November 28, 2014

Star Trek-Like Invisible Shield Thousands of Miles Above the Earth



Star Trek-like invisible shield found thousands of miles above Earth - See more at: http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2014/11/26/star-trek-invisible-shield-found-thousands-miles-above-earth#sthash.i1Xstsvm.dpuf

 Star Trek-Like Invisible Shield Thousands of Miles Above the Earth

November 26, 2014 •Natural Sciences Institute


A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has discovered an invisible shield some 7,200 miles above Earth that blocks so-called “killer electrons,” which whip around the planet at near-light speed and have been known to threaten astronauts, fry satellites and degrade space systems during intense solar storms.

Scientists have discovered an invisible shield roughly 7,200 miles above Earth that blocks so-called “killer electrons,” which can fry satellites and degrade space systems during intense solar storms. Illustration by Andy Kale, University of Alberta.

The barrier to the particle motion was discovered in the Van Allen radiation belts, two doughnut-shaped rings above Earth that are filled with high-energy electrons and protons, said Distinguished Professor Daniel Baker, director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). Held in place by Earth’s magnetic field, the Van Allen radiation belts periodically swell and shrink in response to incoming energy disturbances from the sun.

As the first significant discovery of the space age, the Van Allen radiation belts were detected in 1958 by Professor James Van Allen and his team at the University of Iowa and were found to be comprised of an inner and outer belt extending up to 25,000 miles above Earth’s surface. In 2013, Baker -- who received his doctorate under Van Allen -- led a team that used the twin Van Allen Probes launched by NASA in 2012 to discover a third, transient “storage ring” between the inner and outer Van Allen radiation belts that seems to come and go with the intensity of space weather.

The latest mystery revolves around an “extremely sharp” boundary at the inner edge of the outer belt at roughly 7,200 miles in altitude that appears to block the ultrafast electrons from breeching the shield and moving deeper towards Earth’s atmosphere.

“It’s almost like theses electrons are running into a glass wall in space,” said Baker, the study’s lead author. “Somewhat like the shields created by force fields on Star Trek that were used to repel alien weapons, we are seeing an invisible shield blocking these electrons. It’s an extremely puzzling phenomenon.”

A paper on the subject was published in the Nov. 27 issue of Nature.

The team originally thought the highly charged electrons, which are looping around Earth at more than 100,000 miles per second, would slowly drift downward into the upper atmosphere and gradually be wiped out by interactions with air molecules. But the impenetrable barrier seen by the twin Van Allen belt spacecraft stops the electrons before they get that far, said Baker.

The group looked at a number of scenarios that could create and maintain such a barrier. The team wondered if it might have to do with Earth’s magnetic field lines, which trap and control protons and electrons, bouncing them between Earth’s poles like beads on a string. The also looked at whether radio signals from human transmitters on Earth could be scattering the charged electrons at the barrier, preventing their downward motion. Neither explanation held scientific water, Baker said.

“Nature abhors strong gradients and generally finds ways to smooth them out, so we would expect some of the relativistic electrons to move inward and some outward,” said Baker. “It’s not obvious how the slow, gradual processes that should be involved in motion of these particles can conspire to create such a sharp, persistent boundary at this location in space.”

Another scenario is that the giant cloud of cold, electrically charged gas called the plasmasphere, which begins about 600 miles above Earth and stretches thousands of miles into the outer Van Allen belt, is scattering the electrons at the boundary with low frequency, electromagnetic waves that create a plasmapheric “hiss,” said Baker. The hiss sounds like white noise when played over a speaker, he said.

While Baker said plasmaspheric hiss may play a role in the puzzling space barrier, he believes there is more to the story. “I think the key here is to keep observing the region in exquisite detail, which we can do because of the powerful instruments on the Van Allen probes. If the sun really blasts the Earth’s magnetosphere with a coronal mass ejection (CME), I suspect it will breach the shield for a period of time,” said Baker, also a faculty member in the astrophysical and planetary sciences department.

“It’s like looking at the phenomenon with new eyes, with a new set of instrumentation, which give us the detail to say, ‘Yes, there is this hard, fast boundary,’” said John Foster, associate director of MIT’s Haystack Observatory and a study co-author.

Other CU-Boulder study co-authors included Allison Jaynes, Vaughn Hoxie, Xinlin Li, Quintin Schiller, Lauren Blum and David Malaspina. Other co-authors were from UCLA, Aerospace Corp. Space Sciences Lab in Los Angeles, the University of Minnesota, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the University of Iowa and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

CU-Boulder is playing a prominent role in NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission, which consists of two spinning, octagonal spacecraft weighing 1,500 pounds each. LASP developed the Relativistic Electron Proton Telescope, (REPT) to measure high-energy electrons. LASP also developed the “brains” of the Electronic Field and Waves package to compress huge amounts of mission data to send back to Earth. CU-Boulder will receive roughly $18 million from NASA over the lifetime of the mission.

About a dozen graduate students are participating in the mission, as well as more than a dozen other LASP personnel.

The Van Allen probes mission is part of NASA’s Living with a Star Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built the twin satellites and is managing the mission for NASA.

For more information on LASP visit http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/. For more information on the Van Allen Probes mission visit http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/missions-projects/quick-facts-rbsp/

Contacts
Daniel Baker, LASP, 303-492-0591
daniel.baker@lasp.colorado.edu
Jim Scott, CU-Boulder media relations, 303-492-3114
jim.scott@colorado.edu
- See more at: http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2014/11/26/star-trek-invisible-shield-found-thousands-miles-above-earth#sthash.i1Xstsvm.dpuf