Tag Archive: Cold War

Google Gagarin

It Was 50 Years Ago, Today

…when mankind left the gravitational confines of our Earth.

Google Gagarin

Google Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

A poor boy from the steppes, Yuri Gagarin, simultaneously became the first man in space and the first man to leave Earth and orbit it completely.  (This is something that took NASA several steps before John Glenn finally emulated the feat).

While of humble background (like Jesus), his father was a carpenter (like Jesus) and his mother read voraciously (as Jesus knew the scriptures).  Obviously, Gagarin wasn’t Jesus, but he did die in his mid-thirties which parallels Jesus’s early death.

Gagarin Launch

Gagarin Launch

I was alive when Gagarin stunned the world by being shot into space.  I remember very few photos of the man or the event.  The West was naturally very embarrassed by being overshadowed by a dictator-led communist state.  Most scientists were just astonished.  Most politicians and the mainstream media were extremely alarmist in public (and fully actioned in private) because the inter-continental aspect of chucking a nuclear weapon sized piece of machinery aloft at the height of the cold war was paramount in their minds.

What struck me then and since was the fact that Gagarin always seemed to have a happy cheeriness about him.  When we now see his pre-flight pictures, his confidence is astounding, because remember, before the voyage, mankind had conflicting ideas about the very survivability for a man in the entirely hostile and unforgiving environment of space.  Some said that a man would die within half and hour from radiation….

Of course, the Soviet scientists had tested these theories with mammals (dogs & ape) and knew that even though the animals died on their space-flights (and were destined to die, by design), they knew that a man could survive the flight and if a return to Earth could be made, he’d live to see another day.  They’d also done a small step-by-step approach to their rocketry so even though the rocket was made primarily as an ICBM, its designer was actually more interested in getting men into space and had designed accordingly.  (see this article on Sergei Korolev and his space-flight dreams).

This, Gagarin duly did, by re-entering the atmosphere in his capsule and then, when the speed had sufficiently reduced, by opening his capsule and leaping from it to then descend on a conventional parachute.

Amazingly, this all worked, perfectly.

International Space Station

International Space Station

We now see the benefits of this early Soviet work because for the next few years, transport of people to the International Space Station (ISS) will be done by the Russian Soyuz spacecraft alone now that the NASA Space Shuttle is grounded for good.

The Soyuz is a direct descendant of Gagarin’s early capsule and the subsequent work and deaths of Soviet cosmonauts.  Later joint work with NASA and their own accidents and astronaut deaths have made the Soyuz platform very reliable, in space flight terms.  See this Wikipedia article for a full introduction to space-flight of all kinds.

Google Celebration

Google, characteristically, have celebrated Gagarin’s achievement (and that it was, make no mistake, he was a very, very, brave man), with a decorated main page which I’ve copied for posterity above.

Hooray For Gagarin.

So it was 50 years ago today.  An event that changed the world and our perception of it and ourselves  in the universe.

It’s only people some years older than myself who actually remember the previous world where people remained fixed to the planet and could only dream and wonder about the reality beyond.  For myself and folks younger than me, we can only to imagine what that world was like because we are part of the world that Gagarin’s bravery opened up for us..

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BBC and Weird Pravda Report on Gas

In the news today, although you’d hardly think so because of the Israeli / Palestinian conflict, is the story that the Ukraine can’t pay their gas bills.  I apologise for it being a bit buried amongst the profits’ statements etc, but hey!, I didn’t write it.

However, please read the links.  Within the blurb is the crushing realisation, like a deja vu, that the events in Georgia this last year, along with all the dire dependency that the West (especially Europe) has on Russian energy, still have not gone away.  I’ve banged on about this for over a year now…  It’s a sleeping, really obvious, giant, that we choose to ignore at our peril.

Today, only the four links above mention this news.  The rest of the world is asleep, mesmerised by the Israeli weaponry.  So lets look at it logically.

  • Western European gets 45% (and rising) of it’s gas from Russia.
  • My house is heated by gas and I live in Western Europe.
  • Russian gas is managed by a “company” called GazProm.
  • GazProm is very similar to US “companies” (especially now :-?) in that the political leaders (Putin, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paulson) control the companies.
  • Putin controls GazProm.
  • GazProm can charge what they like for their gas – it’s a free market and the country (Russia) is well capable of looking after it’s interests defensively, and offensively.
  • Ukraine can’t pay – they’ve run out of cash.
  • The Ukraine will get cut off (again!!) in 2009.
  • The gas for Western Europe goes through a pipeline – across the Ukraine.

And there we have it.  And I did tell you so.  In this post, Georgia, USA Trade & the Gas Bills, Repeating History & The Destroyer of Worlds , for instance!  At the beginning of this year,  Ukraine refused to pay thinking “The West” would back them up.  Within a fortnight, the gas was cut off, Ukraine paid up, then the gas was back on!

Now we are back to square one except GazProm is richer, Putin has more power, the US is bankrupt and a new, unique, US President, has been served a dog’s dinner of an economic and political legacy and been asked to turn it into a banquet to satisfy all tastes.


As an aside, in the research for this article, I came across Pravda again.  Each time I go there it gets more and more bizarre…. and I mean, bizarre.

It still has the constant haranguing of capitalism etc from it’s old paper output during the cold war.  Some articles are pretty good, almost as good as mine ;-) ,…

But what is odd is two things;

etc, etc, etc.

Funnily enough, just as I was copying the link for the Ukraine news from Pravda, a ticker header flashed across the top of the screen;

Ukraine mourns victims of gas explosion

You can’t make it up, can you?

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George Bush Inc: Bluff Called in Nuclear Poker Game.

p_hatching_1_.jpgWell the chickens are not only coming home to roost – they’ve actually laid eggs and the chicks are starting to hatch, like a plot from a sixties spy paperback.

Today’s news, (Russia to upgrade nuclear systems), that the Russians are initiating plans for their own missile defence shield shows what happens when god-fearing idiots are put in charge of anything more complicated than a school hockey match.

The tit-for-tat arms race that I predicated would happen if steps towards peace weren’t followed, is now happening.  As I’ve said previously in various ways, most recently here, the “missile shield” concept as a way of surviving nuclear missile attacks, is like following the warblings of a mad fool in a dream.

The scope of any nuclear release makes their use far, far worse than the odd conventional bomb getting through.  And much worse than the cheery optimism in this US film from the cold war era.  Remember, all the film mentions is one carefully staged test explosion at a time.  A full nuclear exchange will involve thousands raining down, many hopelessly off course due to EMP or other damage.  The film can’t hide the effect of ruptured gas mains etc on any fires or the effect of EMP disruption on radio and civil services .

What the USA started and now Russia is completing by squaring the circle, is a means for people to believe that a nuclear exchange is not only survivable by many, but that the whole fabric of a nation state can survive an exchange of nuclear weapons.

In fact, it leaves the unfortunate impression in people’s minds that an exchange or “initial strike” is desirable and even preferable, to dialogue and agreement between sentient beings to resolve differences.

GN0307_NUCLEAR_BLAST_1_.jpgAs I tried to explain, people’s propensity for tit-for-tat action, means that a limited exchange of weapons cannot happen – it will very rapidly escalate, faster than anyone can react, so that everything that could be fired, would be fired, totally opposite to the filmed scenario of a single explosion in the YouTube clip above.

And the consequences of that are a virtually uninhabitable world and the collapse of languages, literature and creativity into an abyss of deformed, mutant, hunter gatherer tribes, living on the margins of existence.

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US Nationalises Banks while Russia Devalues the Rouble! Total Irony.

US Nationalises Banks

Well nearly – but they’ll never admit it.  The headline news in financial markets today (a Saturday! – no co-incidence there then?), is:

Key US lenders to face new curbs BBC News

U.S. Nears Rescue Plan For Fannie And Freddie Washington Post, source story

The two psuedo-companies called Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are going to be run by Uncle Sam and (hooray!), the top management who fucked up the world’s monetary system are being sacked.  Personally, I think they should all suffer the same potential fate as the mentally ill computer cracker, Gary McKinnon, who certain American freedom-loving lawyers and politicians would like to “see him fry“.

In an amazing sleight-of-words, the two companies are going to be nationalised; “put under conservatorship” is the term used, (you couldn’t make it up, could you!) and the common stock hacked down in value…sorry,  “diluted, but not wiped out” …

This is state ownership in most people’s language.

Thatcher would have a fit if she knew what was going on!  Ha Ha.

Russia Devalues the Rouble

Well not really.  They have $582,000,000,000 foreign currency reserves, the third highest in the world!

Moscow forced to shore up the rouble

However,  they have been chucking it around because a fair whack of dosh has been pulled from their system by foreign investors.  I doubt this will last though, as Russia has all the gas, all the oil, all the wheat, all the cards.

The total irony about this reversal in fortunes of the two major powers of the Cold War is not lost on me though.  The archetype of all capitalism is nationalising a major bulwark of it’s finance system while the last bastion of common ownership and central planning is now run by megalomaniac oligarchs who play the financial markets!

Thatcher would have a fit if she knew what was going on!  Ha Ha.

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Continuing the Correct Chronology in the Recent Georgian Saga

It’s important that in these times of tit-for-tat diplomacy which have replaced common sense and dialogue, that the correct order of statements and actions is recorded. Otherwise, in a short time, a different history will be seen as people’s views and memories get clouded in the mists of time.  Eventually, a whole new history appears that people act and react to, certain that the train of events that they think happened, really did happen. My last post on the subject was only a couple of days ago, if-you-are-not-for-us-then-you-are-against-us on the 27th August 2008.  Since then we’ve had:

28th Aug 2008: EU considers sanctions on Russia – French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, came out with the gormless suggestion that the EU (and others) should implement trade sanctions against Russia.  Noticing the fact that this was like cutting off your nose to spite your face, Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said it was the product of a “sick imaginatiion” – and I agree.  In an article from the 29th Aug 2008, previously at , Russia’s EU envoy Vladimir Chizhov said;

“The European Union’s creative mentality has never gone that far, (…) is not prepared to send peacekeepers yet, (…) if relations sour between Russia and the European union over disagreements on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Europe will suffer worse from that, (…) at the end of the day, there is very little Russia wants from the European Union”

Currently 40% of EU Gas is sourced from Russia!   If sanctions were implemented, Russia would lose pots of dosh as it supplies oodles of gas and fuel to the West nowadays.  This isn’t really what they want, but is something they could live with, and yes, I think the West would lose out more than Russia from such a scenario.  We only have to look at the recent history when energy supplies were slightly constrained.  Governments nearly changed and would’ve, if they hadn’t relaxed taxation policies. This is a link describing Russian energy control over Europe.  It’s something I’ve pointed out many times.

29th Aug 2008: Georgia breaks ties with Russia – an obvious result.  The Georgian diplomats have been pulled from Moscow. However, the key bit is at the bottom in the sub-text:

The Russian Interfax news agency reported that Moscow would sign an agreement next week allowing it to set up military bases in the region.

South Ossetia’s parliamentary speaker Znaur Gassiyev said Russia would absorb the region within “several years”, according to a report by the Associated Press

He said the move had been agreed at high-level talks in Moscow earlier this week.

And Interfax also quoted Abkhazia’s foreign minister, Sergei Shamba, as saying his province “may become part of the Union State of Russia and Belarus“.

This information directly contradicts the statement by Medvedev when he said on the 15th Aug 2008, “…would support independence bids by Georgia’s separatist provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia“.  But this is to be expected really. Further Medvedev statements sticking the “blame” onto Georgia should be set against the fact that Russia, since 1991, has issued unprecedented passports to Georgia and elsewhere, as part of a very long game plan.  The fruits of this plan can be seen in the statements that Russia issued as a pretence for entering Georgia about “protecting Russian citizens”.  Well they would be.  That was the plan. But as a counter, Russia is absolutely correct that the whole Georgian military was financed and armed by the USA under George Bush’s instructions.  The fact that the USA did nothing when Mikhail Saakashvili launched his assault on South Ossetia should have been expected by Saakashvili.  This was exactly what happened to the Marsh Arabs in Iraq at the end of Gulf War I when Bush Snr did nothing. And in that respect, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was right when she called Saakashvili “a hothead” and “not to be trusted” as he would bring trouble to the EU and NATO, which is why she originally vetoed the Georgian application for NATO. Now, things have changed. And this is bad because it plays right into the hands of Putin and the American right who both would like nothing more than a return to the USA/Russia standoff that existed in the old Cold War days.  There is so much hypocracy floating around this small issue of peoples, living in an area, speaking their own languages and striving to determine their own futures as in this comment herepdf of Cached Google Page It should be simple.  And the reason it isn’t is because they are being manipulated by forces outside their control for those forces’ motives.

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