Daily Archives: December 3, 2006

Film “The Lives of Others” recalls fears of communist era

Daily Breeze | Dec 2, 2006

Germany’s entry for the foreign-film Oscar, “The Lives of Others,” takes us back to the last years of the Cold War and communist East Germany.

In many ways the most successful of the so-called socialist republics, the DDR (to use the German initials) combined German efficiency with Soviet-style control via the Stasi, the secret police who kept seemingly everyone under surveillance. After the collapse of the DDR, all who wanted to do so could look at their Stasi files and thereby find out which of their friends and relations had been informing on them.

This is the basis of “The Lives of Others,” a remarkably well-controlled debut feature by writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. He sets the story in East Berlin during the early ’80s; the wall still stands, and it looks as though communism is permanently ensconced.

Chavez reassures Venezuelans he is not next Castro

Reuters | Dec 1, 2006

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Anti-U.S. President Hugo Chavez on Friday denied he would turn Venezuela into another Cuba, countering his rival’s charges before Sunday’s election that his goal is a dictatorial one-party state.

Manuel Rosales, Chavez’s opponent, accuses the president of seeking a militarized society and of ideological devotion to Cuba’s communist leader Fidel Castro.

Chavez, who is favored in the polls to win re-election, calls Castro his mentor and typically salutes him in his long, daily speeches that are reminiscent of marathon public appearances by the Cuban president before he fell ill.

On Friday, Chavez defended his own self-styled socialist revolution against charges of closet communism.

“The Cuban model is Cuban and the Venezuelan model is Venezuelan,” the president said in a television interview.

Rosales, governor of the western state of Zulia, has stepped up attacks on the former soldier’s close ties to Castro, trying to tap into dislike of Cuban communism that polls show is high even among Chavez supporters.

“Fidel Castro himself would be the first person to recommend you not to copy the Cuban model,” Chavez added, saying accusations of communism were attempts to demonize him.

Raul Castro hails the rise of the Left in the Americas

Seattle Post-Intelligencer | Dec 2, 2006

“We have Venezuela, Cuba and soon Ecuador and Nicaragua,” Morales said. “We want to make alliances with countries in the Middle East to bring an end to the United States’ empire!”

Acting President Raul Castro on Saturday exalted the resurgence of the left in Latin America despite “interference” by the United States, which he blamed for deepening the divide between rich and poor.

Intellectuals and politicians from across Latin America and beyond flocked to Havana this week to belatedly celebrate his brother Fidel Castro’s 80th birthday. Although the elder Castro’s absence due to illness hung over the celebration, it soon turned into a hugfest among those who have spearheaded the rise of leftist politics in the Western Hemisphere.

During a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces, Raul Castro praised the rise of the left and launched a verbal broadside against Washington.

Nicaraguan President-elect Daniel Ortega, a former guerrilla and leader of his country’s Marxist-style Sandinista government in the 1980s, also said he was making his Nov. 5 victory a birthday gift for Fidel, who has not been seen in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in late July. Ortega was speaking Friday night at the same event where Morales spoke.

Ecuador joined the leftist club when it elected Rafael Correa as president on Nov. 26. A leftist economist, Correa has said Ecuador should cut ties with international lenders, called President Bush “dimwitted” and pledged a citizens’ revolution against the country’s discredited political system.

Russia Will Develop Space Elevators While China Exploits Lunar Resources

Space Daily | Dec 01, 2006

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Nikolai Sevastyanov, president of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, said Russia will build the first permanent lunar base in 2015. NASA managers claim that U.S. astronauts will land on the Moon in 2018 and manned lunar bases will subsequently be established. Chinese scientists are also spotlighting their intention to exploit the Moon’s natural resources.

A space elevator consists of satellites, spacecraft and payloads linked by long, thin, flexible elements. The simplest system links two spacecraft by means of a cable with a length of several dozen or even several hundred kilometers. This tandem, which resembles a space sling, revolves around its center of gravity, which in turn has a predetermined orbit. Either of the two spacecraft can therefore launch a payload along any required trajectory without any rocket engines.

The foundations of the space-elevator theory were laid by Russian scientists. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the father of astronautics, suggested using a space-tether system to create artificial gravity aboard orbital stations. Fridrikh Tsander, an early Russian space visionary, advocated placing a space elevator with a 60,000-km tether on the Moon. He believed that gravitational and centrifugal forces would stretch the tether and allow it to be used as a cableway to transport payloads.

Maoists Still Engaged in Extortion and Forceful Conscription in Defiance of Peace Accord

Forbes | Dec 2, 2006

Government officials, diplomats and aid workers say that despite a peace deal signed by the Maoist rebels last month to end Nepal’s decade-old conflict, the guerrillas are still recruiting – and sometimes pressing – villagers into service.

The rebels also are reported taxing peasant farmers and businessmen as they jockey to bolster their position in the new unity government being formed under the peace accord – and to hedge their bets in case they feel a need to resume the war.

“The Maoists are behaving like they are still free to take what they want,” said Man Bahadur Budhamagar, who runs a small guesthouse in the nearby town of Chhinchu. Last month, he said, he was forced to give the rebels a “donation” of 1,500 Nepal rupees, about $20.

Deng’s son blasts Cultural Revolution as disastrous

Reuters | Dec 1, 2006

The wheelchair-bound son of China’s late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping denounced on Friday the chaotic 1966-76 Cultural Revolution as disastrous in rare official comments on what is still a taboo subject.

But Deng Pufang, 62, did not give any clues on how he was paralysed from the waist down after mysteriously falling from a Peking University building in 1968 at the height of the turmoil unleashed by Chairman Mao Zedong.

Mao plunged China into anarchy for a decade, mobilising radical youth in political campaigns marked by purges, jailings, killings and suicides. Repercussions can still be felt today.

When asked by Reuters about how he became paralysed, Deng turned to a cabinet spokesman sitting next to him at a news conference in Beijing and asked: “Thirty-eight years ago?”

Deng, now chairman of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, did not say anything further on the matter.

“As I’ve said many times before, the Cultural Revolution has brought great disaster not only to me but to the entire Chinese nation,” Deng told the news conference on the disabled which was broadcast live on state television.

“Lots of inhumane acts were committed. So I have always believed that a nation can achieve modernisation only after endorsing humanitarianism and human rights,” he said.

Wristband IDs for Crowd Control Showcased at the National Baseball Trade Show

MARKET WIRE | Nov 27, 2006

AgeBand(R) and Visa Band(R) Wristbands Offer Baseball Stadiums Age Verification, Secure Admissions, and Positive Patron Identification

Baseball Trade Show Booth 1646 — Precision Dynamics Corporation (PDC), a leader in wristband identification, will show products for crowd control and patron identification including AgeBand® Age/ID Verification System and Visa Band® Wristbands during the Baseball Trade Show hosted by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, in Orlando, Florida, December 4-6.

PDC’s AgeBand scans and verifies IDs and instantly prints a wristband with pertinent patron information, including the date/time of check and the number 21 to indicate age verified. The system provides defensible action against underage drinking; reduces instances of human errors that occur when manually checking IDs; and provides non-transferable positive age verification, access control, and security.