Daily Archives: March 14, 2012

Communists shed tears for ‘Lenin’ bathhouse


Russian communist supporters lay flowers near a statue to pay their respects to party founder Vladimir Lenin (AFP/File, Kirill Kudryavtsev)

AFP | Mar 14, 2012

SAINT PETERSBURG — Communists mourned Tuesday as developers moved in to demolish a bathhouse in the northwestern Russian city of Saint Petersburg which Lenin is said to have frequented.

The Communists of Petersburg and the Leningrad Region called for an investigation after developers bulldozed the 19th-century Udelniye bathhouse where the Bolshevik leader soaped up on the eve of the 1917 revolution.

“The building of the public baths dating from 1834 was demolished without any discussions, even despite a veto from the previous governor,” complained Sergei Malinkovich of the Communists of Petersburg and the Leningrad region.

“Vladimir Ilyich Lenin washed here just before going to Finland in August 1917,” he told AFP, calling the building “historic.”

The leader of the Communist group, which is not part of the official Russian Communist party, said they would appeal to the regional governor over the demolition.

Lenin fled Russia for exile in Finland, returning in triumph months later after Bolsheviks seized the Winter Palace in a virtually bloodless revolution. The city was renamed Leningrad after his death.

Local television showed an excavator reducing the brick building to a pile of rubble.

Many Russians regularly attend public baths, or banyas, where people roast themselves in piping hot steam rooms and flog each other with birch twigs to open up pores and cleanse the skin.

Former regional governor Valentina Matviyenko, now speaker of the Russian Senate, said two years ago that the building would be closed for reconstruction but vowed it would not be demolished.

“With all respect for Vladimir Ilyich Lenin washing there, this bathhouse dates back to 1834,” she told local television, saying the building was in a dangerous condition.

China Has Coldest Winter in 27 Years

CRIENGLISH.com | Mar 13, 2012     

by Zhangxu

The average temperature in China this winter plunged to its lowest in 27 years, the People’s Daily reports.

Between December 1, 2011, and February 29, 2012, the average temperature in the country was 4.8 degrees below zero degrees Celsius, one degree less than that of the same period during the previous years, said Chen Zhenlin, a spokesman for China Meteorological Administration, Monday at a news conference in Beijing.

Ren Fumin from the National Climate Center said during the last five winters, China had undergone three cold winters in which the average temperatures were at least 0.5 degrees Celsius less than that of the same period between 1981 and 2010.

DARPA Director Trading Places From Pentagon to Google


Darpa Director Regina Dugan at the ‘All Things D’ conference. Photo: Nosillacast/Flickr

Wired | Mar 12, 2012

By Noah Shachtman

Darpa director Regina Dugan will soon be stepping down from her position atop the Pentagon’s premiere research shop to take a job with Google. Dugan, whose controversial tenure at the agency lasted just under three years, was “offered and accepted at senior executive position” with the internet giant, according to Darpa spokesman Eric Mazzacone. She felt she couldn’t say no to such an “innovative company,” he adds.

Dugan’s emphasis on cybersecurity and next-generation manufacturing earned her strong support from the White House, winning her praise from the President and maintaining the agency’s budget even during a period of relative austerity at the Pentagon. Her push into crowdsourcing and outreach to the hacker community were eye-openers in the often-closed world of military R&D. Dugan also won over some military commanders by diverting some of her research cash from long-term, blue-sky projects to immediate battlefield concerns.

“There is a time and a place for daydreaming. But it is not at Darpa,” she told a congressional panel in March 2011 (.pdf). “Darpa is not the place of dreamlike musings or fantasies, not a place for self-indulging in wishes and hopes. Darpa is a place of doing.” For an agency that spent millions of dollars on shape-shifting robots, Mach 20 missiles, and mind-controlled limbs, it was something of a revolutionary statement.

The shift was only one of the reasons why Dugan was a highly polarizing figure within her agency, and in the larger defense research community. The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is also actively investigating hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of contracts that Darpa gave out to RedX Defense — a bomb-detection firm that Dugan co-founded, and still partially owns. A separate audit is examining a sample of the 2,000 other research contracts Darpa has signed during Dugan’s tenure, to “determine the adequacy of Darpa’s selection, award, and administration of contracts and grants,” according to a military memorandum.

Results of the inspector general’s work haven’t been released. And the work had “no impact” on Dugan’s decision, according to her spokesman, Mazzacone. “The only reason” she decided to leave the Pentagon was the allure of working at Google.

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Police stand behind cellphone ticket given to man with no cellphone

METRO WINNIPEG | Mar 7, 2012

by ELISHA DACEY

Winnipeg police said they are standing behind the officers who issued a distracted driving ticket to a man who claims he doesn’t own a cell phone.

In a statement emailed to media last night, the Winnipeg Police Service said they had ” information that is contradictory to the information that has been depicted in the local media.”

The WPS maintains two officers saw a man driving on Portage Avenue March 2 while talking on his cell phone. They pulled the man over after “several blocks” and gave him a ticket.

The only problem, said Laszlo Piszker, is that he does not own a cell phone. Piszker went to the media to tell his story, igniting a debate about ticket quotas.

Piszker told media after being pulled over, he invited the police to check his car and his person to find the cell phone, and his wife Margaret agreed. Instead, he said, one of the officers told Margaret to “shut up” and handed over the ticket.

Piszker said he didn’t pull over immediately because he didn’t think the flashing lights were for him. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” he said.

Piszker said he has contact a lawyer and is planning to fight the ticket.

Winnipeg police said they will not discuss the incident further, adding talking about the case in the media isn’t the “proper forum.”