Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teddy Bear Airstrikes In, Indian Power Out (Link Round-Up 8/1/12)

[via Stereogum]

Belarus sacks air chief over teddy bear air-bombing
Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko has sacked his air defence chief and the head of the border guards for failing to stop a Swedish aircraft from dropping hundreds of teddy bears over the hardline state in a pro-democracy stunt.
The aircraft, chartered by a Swedish public relations firm, crossed into Belarussian air space from Lithuania on July 4th and dropped about 800 teddies near the town of Ivenets. Each bear carried a message calling for Belarus to show greater respect for individual human rights.
Egypt denies sending a nice letter to Israel
The return letter, released by the Israeli president's office, was on the stationery of the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv.

In it, Morsi appeared to write in English, "I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle east Peace Process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including that Israeli people." The Israeli president's name was spelled "Perez."

Then a spokesman for Morsi, Yasser Ali, said in Cairo that Morsi had not written a letter to the Israeli president at all.
The Olympics have turned London into a "ghost town"
“There are two groups of people missing. The first are general visitors to London who are staying clear because of the perception that London will be busy.

“The second are Londoners and Brits who have been warned there will be a transport nightmare.

“Our message to them is that, while it may be sensible to avoid certain peak times and locations, transport is running very smoothly.

“Ironically there has never been a better time to visit our attractions because the queues are shorter and opening times have been extended.”
Running 70% of India on coal power couldn't stop the power outage
“Coal operates at a steady output 24 hours a day - it's baseload,” says Mr. Guay, the Washington Representative of the Sierra Club International Climate Program. “But coal can’t be ramped up quickly to accommodate quick peak surges in demand.”
He says solar energy, improved efficiency, and natural gas are much more plausible solutions for delivering energy when India needs it - at peak times, such as when millions flip on their air conditioners. 
Russian blogger criticizes Orthodox Church, escapes to Poland over threatened detainment
In the capital of Karelia, we see anti-Church sentiments growing. There is nothing shocking about this. The thinking part of society understands that the Church is another wing of the Party of Power [United Russia]. The Russian Orthodox Church, just like United Russia, cons the public with fairytales about how well we are living, all while scooping up money for itself. Total corruption, the oligarchy, and the all-powerful intelligence agencies are directly linked to the rise of the Russian Orthodox Church. Using money from the state budget, which isn’t even necessary to fund the Orthodox Church's operations, churches are being built in Karelia. The Church is also being granted the use of land that now hosts several nursery schools (which are currently in catastrophically short supply).
New Iranian sanctions cut off Chinese, Iraqi banks
On the call with reporters, Cohen said the "collateral benefit" of the sanctions is that Iran is finding it increasingly difficult to make payments in the international financial system, which in turn make it more difficult to procure materials for the nuclear program. The sanctions on Kunlun and Elaf would have a "chilling effect" on the willingness of other international financial institutions from doing business with Iranian banks Cohen said.
How WikiLeaks transformed Brazilian investigative reporting
If WikiLeaks on the Brazilian media community has been unmistakable: within a couple of months, articles based on documents from Brazil’s dictatorship period started popping up in the press. Folha de S. Paulo started its own WikiLeaks-type section, the “FolhaLeaks,” and established an investigative unit in Brasília. More investigative stories are being produced by both the traditional and the independent media. A year later, corporate media outlets such as Globo and Grupo Bandeirantes—major TV networks in Brazil—are fighting to sponsor the annual congress of the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism. And Publica is now up and running.

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