Voice of America: Midterm Aftermath Could Lead to Cooperation and Conflict

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The political landscape shifted in Washington this week in the wake of the 2018 congressional midterm elections. Opposition Democrats won back control of the House of Representatives while Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate. The election returns amounted to what many see as a split midterm verdict on Donald Trump’s presidency, as we hear from VOA National correspondent Jim Malone.

Voice of America


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US – Russia relations – Google News: Moscow State Univ’s FSB ‘infowar’ instructor, the Kremlin and the US midterms, and Russia’s Northern Fleet troubles – Meduza

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Meduza

Moscow State Univ’s FSB ‘infowar’ instructor, the Kremlin and the US midterms, and Russia’s Northern Fleet troubles
Meduza
Paris summit is off; Columnist Vladimir Ruvinsky parses what the the American midterm election results mean for U.S.Russian relations; Kirill Serebrennikov’s trial begins; Russia’s Northern Fleet is in for major delays, thanks to that dry dock sinking …
Is Trump Duping Putin?Project Syndicate

all 510 news articles »

US – Russia relations – Google News


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Voice of America: FAA Issues Emergency Directive After Boeing Crash in Indonesia

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency airworthiness directive on how to handle erroneous data from a sensor that investigators believe malfunctioned on a new Boeing jet that plunged into the sea in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. 

 

The directive gives regulatory weight to a safety bulletin that Boeing sent to operators of its 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 planes based on findings from the ongoing Indonesian investigation into the Oct. 29 crash of a Lion Air jet. FAA directives are usually followed by other airline regulators internationally. 

Bad data from sensor

The FAA said erroneous data from the “angle of attack” sensor, which helps prevent the plane from stalling and diving, could cause flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane and lead to “excessive nose-down attitude, significant altitude loss, and possible impact with the terrain.” 

The directive instructs airlines to make specific changes to flight manual procedures for responding to the problem. Boeing’s bulletin said it was directing flight crews to existing guidelines. 

Indonesian investigators on Wednesday said the sensor was replaced on the Lion Air plane the day before its fatal flight and may have compounded other problems with the aircraft. 

New 737 MAX 8

The 2-month-old Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta. Both that flight and its Oct. 28 flight from Bali to Jakarta had erratic speed and altitude shortly after takeoff. 

 

Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee earlier this week announced the plane had a malfunctioning airspeed indicator on its last four flights, based on analysis of the flight data recorder. Chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono said the airspeed indicator and sensor problems are related. 

 

Lion Air’s first two attempts to address the airspeed problem didn’t work, and for the jet’s second-to-last flight the “angle of attack” sensors were replaced, Tjahjono said. 

 

On that Oct. 28 flight, from Bali to Jakarta, the pilot’s and copilot’s sensors disagreed by about 20 degrees. The plane went into a sudden dive minutes after takeoff, from which the pilots were able to recover. They decided to fly on to Jakarta at a lower-than-normal altitude. 

 

On the fatal flight, the plane hit the water at very high speed after the flight crew had been cleared to return to the airport several minutes after takeoff. 

 

“The point is that after the AOA (sensor) is replaced, the problem is not solved but the problem might even increase. Is this fatal? NTSC wants to explore this,” Tjahjono said. 

 

Airline safety experts said pilots are trained to handle a plane safely if those crucial sensors fail and backup systems are generally in place as well. 

 

There are audio signals and physical warnings that can alert the pilot to malfunctioning equipment or other dangers, said Todd Curtis, director of the Airsafe.com Foundation.

Voice of America


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Настоящее Время: Пообещали скидку на кладбище. В Омской области жители жалуются на давление силовиков

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Жители деревни Луговая Омской области жалуются на давление силовиков. Как рассказывают сельчане, полицейские пришли в деревню после того, как люди воспротивились строительству по соседству нового кладбища.

Там, где еще недавно росла пшеница, сейчас земля разрыта бульдозерами. Жители деревни Луговая, что в 30 километрах от Омска, недавно случайно узнали, что по соседству с ними появится новое кладбище площадью в 60 гектаров.

“По поводу кладбища и этой земли вообще никто нам ничего не говорил. Как так все в тайне сделали?” – говорит Светлана Комлева, депутат от деревни Луговая.

Местные жители уверены, что обустраивать кладбище в этом месте нельзя, поскольку весной талая вода отравит скважины и колодцы, а затем окажется в местном озере и дойдет до Иртыша.

“Еще краше будет вода. Сейчас она хоть техническая, но черное там осядет – можно будет пить, а у нас там еще яды трупные будут плавать”, – возмущается местная жительница Вера Мых.

Волнения начались, когда в деревню приехал владелец этого участка. Мужчина, который представился Денисом Кондратьевым, заявил, что менять своих планов не намерен, но пообещал местным преференции на новом кладбище, рассказывают жители.

“Нам сказали, что вам будет скидка. А мы ответили, что у нас свое кладбище, и нам внуков и правнуков там хватит похоронить”, – говорит Вера Мых. 

“Мы не хотели с ним встречаться, не пытались, они сами приехали. Начали утверждать, что все разрешения получены. Нас сразу и насторожило, как они могли получить законным путем разрешения”, – продолжает другая местная жительница, Татьяна Лаптева.

В сельской администрации заявили, что такого разрешения действительно нет.

“Разрешения на строительство кладбища администрация не выдавала”, – сказала Оксана Фокина, заместитель главы сельской администрации. При этом она не смогла ответить, почему на месте уже начались работы.

“Не смогла прочитать, но подписала”

Через несколько дней после народного схода в деревню приехали полицейские. Татьяну Бабич, а также других жителей, заставили подписать бумагу, что митинговать никто не собирается.

“Как он объяснил, до него слухи дошли, что мы, наша деревня, собираемся выставить там пикет, перекрыть дорогу. Все, что я говорила, он записывал, но там на листочке такие буквы… Я ни одну букву не смогла прочитать. Но все равно подписала листок”, – говорит жительница Луговой Татьяна Бабич. 

После огласки в СМИ все работы были приостановлены. В областном МВД инициировали проверку законности строительства. Вместе с тем в главке подчеркивают, что разговоры о якобы проверке жителей на экстремизм могут быть умышленным искажением информации.

“Проверочные мероприятия в отношении граждан, проживающих в деревне, на предмет содержания экстремистских высказываний при проведении схода не проводятся и не проводились”, – сказал начальник пресс-службы ГУ МВД России по Омской области Алексей Командыков.

Получить комментарий от предполагаемого владельца земельного участка журналистам Настоящего Времени не удалось. Бизнесмен Денис Кондратьев, согласно открытым данным, является учредителем и директором нескольких компаний, как действующих, так и ликвидированных. Дозвониться ни в одну из них не удалось.

В правительстве региона сообщили, что собираются разобраться в истории. Строительство кладбища в этом месте противоречит закону о землях сельхозназначения.

“Строить кладбища на землях сельхозназначения, если они являются частными, законом не предусматривается. И происходящее является нарушением законодательства”, – говорит заместитель министра сельского хозяйства и продовольствия Омской области Николай Дрофа.

Областные чиновники обещают проинформировать Россельхознадзор. Те, в свою очередь, обязаны будут организовать проверку, по итогам которой владелец земли и районные чиновники могут получить взыскание.

Настоящее Время


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Voice of America: Red Bull Drawn in Indonesian Cave Dates to 40,000 Years Ago

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Scientists have found the oldest known example of an animal drawing: a red silhouette of a bull-like beast on the wall of an Indonesian cave. 

The sketch is at least 40,000 years old, slightly older than similar animal paintings found in famous caves in France and Spain. Until a few years ago, experts believed Europe was where our ancestors started drawing animals and other figures. 

But the age of the drawing reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, along with previous discoveries in Southeast Asia, suggests that figurative drawing appeared in both continents about the same time. 

The new findings fuel discussions about whether historical or evolutionary events prompted this near-simultaneous “burst of human creativity,” said lead author Maxime Aubert, an archaeologist and geochemist at Griffith University in Australia. 

The remote limestones caves on Borneo have been known to contain prehistoric drawings since the 1990s. To reach them, Aubert and his team used machetes to hack through thick jungle in a verdant corner of the island. 

Search for specific minerals

Strapping on miners’ helmets to illuminate the darkness, they walked and crawled through miles of caves decorated with hundreds of ancient designs, looking for artwork that could be dated. They needed to find specific mineral deposits on the drawings to determine their age with technology that measures decay of the element uranium. 

“Most of the paintings we actually can’t sample,” said Aubert. 

Aubert and his fellow researchers reported in 2014 on cave art from the neighboring Indonesian island of Sulawesi. They dated hand stencils, created by blowing red dye through a tube to capture the outline of a hand pressed against rock, to almost 40,000 years ago. 

Now, with the Borneo cave art, the scientists can construct a rough timeline of how art developed in the area. In addition to the bull, which is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide, they dated red- and purple-colored hand stencils and cave paintings of human scenes. 

After large animal drawings and stencils, “it seems the focus shifted to showing the human world,” Aubert said. 

Around 14,000 years ago, the cave-dwellers began to regularly sketch human figures doing things like dancing and hunting, often wearing large headdresses. A similar transition in rock art subjects happened in the caves of Europe. 

“That’s very cool, from a human point of view,” said Peter Veth, an archaeologist at the University of Western Australia, who was not involved in the study. “People adopted similar strategies in different environments as they became more modern.” 

​Did migrants bring skills?

The island of Borneo was still connected to mainland Southeast Asia when the first figurative drawings were made about 40,000 years ago — which is also about the time that the first modern humans arrived in Europe. The earliest drawings of animals in the French cave of Chauvet have been dated to about 33,500 to 37,000 years ago. 

Whether new waves of people migrating from Africa brought the skills of figurative cave painting with them, or whether these arts emerged later, remains unclear.

Scientists have only a partial record of global rock art. The earliest cave etchings have been found in Africa and include abstract designs, like crosshatches, dating to around 73,000 years ago. 

The next stage of research in Indonesia will include excavations to learn more about the people who made these paintings. A few sites have already been identified, containing human bones, prehistoric jewelry and remains of small animals. 

As for the red bull, its meaning remains a mystery. 

“We think it wasn’t just food for them — it meant something special,” said Aubert.

Voice of America


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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Oligarchs have Stolen and Sent Abroad 10,000 US Dollars from Every Russian Man, Woman and Child, Eidman Says

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Paul Goble
            Staunton, November 7 – A Duma deputy drawing on a study by the Tax Justice Network says that almost 1.5 trillion US dollars have been illegally sent abroad by Russian businessmen and politicians, an amount, Igor Eidman says, represents “about 10,000 dollars stolen from every Russian from babes in arms to the elderly.”
            The Russian commentator for Deutsche Welle says that works out to 40,000 US dollars stolen from every family of four, an amount equal to the cost of two foreign cars or of a small apartment, both of which are far beyond the reach of most Russians but not the thieving oligarchs (blog.newsru.com/article/07nov2018/lostmoney).
            And that is only part of the money these people have stolen from their fellow citizens. They have sent even more abroad via at least superficially legal ways or wasted it inside the country, Eidman continues.  “It is difficult even to imagine such sums.” But Russians need to make the effort in order to understand what the Putin regime has done and is doing to them. 
            Another way to grasp what has been happening, he says, is to recognize that Russia has exported approximately 5.4 trillion US dollars in natural resources since Putin came to power – an amount equal to 36,000 US dollars for every Russian and 144,000 US dollars for a family of four.
            In many resource-exporting countries, the government ensures that some of the money earned goes back into the pockets of the population. But not so in Russia, Eidman points out. “Russians,” he asks, “have you ever seen any of this money” or the many goods and services it could have bought instead of London townhouses and luxury yachts for the rich?
            Two other articles today underscored his point. The first, a new Higher School of Economics study  reported that the level of social inequality in Russia having fallen over the last dozen years is not on the rise once again as the result of inflation and the slow rate of increases in wages and salaries (rosbalt.ru/russia/2018/11/07/1744729.html).
                And the second, by Nakanune commentator Yevgeny Rychkov, brought together a series of horrific comments by officials and the upper classes which show that an entire generation of elites has grown up whose members view themselves as entitled to everything they have and more and the less well-off as nothing more as a burden (nakanune.ru/articles/114547/).
            Such people clearly believe that they have the right to everything they can steal; and they will thus have little interest in stemming the outflow of Russia’s wealth or diverting it back to the population. The only change they will introduce, if given the chance, is to direct even more of this money into their own pockets and not those of the Russian people. 

Window on Eurasia — New Series


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