Thursday, June 30, 2005

FW: The Electrovaya PowerPad 300

Powerpad 300

Look, we’re gonna keep this simple. Would you be willing to plunk down for a sizeable (12 x 8.75 x 1.2-inches, to be exact) “Lithium-Ion SuperPolymer” battery that could provide you up to 24 hours of laptop life—even if it costs ya 6.6 pounds and $800? Yeah, we would too. Not even a doubt in our minds.

[Via TRFJ]


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Situation in Iraq and "Victory disregarded..."

Last Sunday I was at a baby reception talking to a Kenyan man about American foreign policy.  These kinds of discussion inevitably turn to Iraq.  The war in Iraq is not very popular among foreign nationals (non-Americans), nor is it popular among most ex-pat Americans I run into here in Kosovo.  There are a percentage of people who are really well-informed and well-read about the situation there and still stand in opposition.  But the majority take their lead from the mainstream media which people an all sides of the aisle agree only report bad news.  I read several blogs from soldiers serving in Iraq and it’s fascinating to read their take on the situation there.  One might argue that they are so deeply in the forest that their view is obstructed by trees.  They can’t see the big picture.  And yet they have the same access to the media as we do, and still see the world differently.


Here’s a post from “Major K” who works in the intelligence section of his unit.  He’s literate, well read, well informed, and still manages to see progress in the development of Iraq and in the attitudes of its people towards the freedom they are so painfully winning. 


The UK's Guardian manages to snatch a defeatist headline from the jaws of a true victory.  The arhabi threw everything that they had at the local Iraqi Security Forces in our sister Battalion's sector, in one of the largest coordinated attacks that we have seen since we got here.  They failed.  We had a few patrols nearby that jumped in just to help out, and they caught the bad guys with their pants down, big time.  Read the article.  LTC Funk is right.  I'm sure any reporter can find someone to complain after the shooting stops.  Once again, they also fail to report that a nearby mosque was used as the primary coomand and control center as well as weapons cache for the terrorists.  They even fired on our men from inside the mosque before trying to run away.  Our guys did great that morning.  So did the Iraqis.  The arhabi put together about the biggest operation that they could muster and got their butts kicked.  There were a few follow up IED's and such in our sector, but other than the tragic loss of Dup, things have quieted down again.  We remain on offense and our sister battalion has been pulling a lot of guys out of closets where they have hidden unsuccesfully hoping to fight another day.  I think their only fighting will be done in the chow hall of an Iraqi prison.  Here's another good one that only headlined for about 5 minutes.

FW: KFOR: No threat of violence when status negotiations start

There’s been some speculation lately that violence would ramp up as the final status talks draw closer.  You wouldn’t know that in Gjilan.  I’m sure that there are elements of the society that believe they can profit from a destabilized environment.  I believe that the majority just want to be left alone, have a job, raise their children in relative security and get on with their lives.  It is a society, however, that is running out of hope that these things are attainable.  Kosovo still needs your prayers


From: KosovaReport
Posted At: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 3:16 PM
Conversation: KFOR: No threat of violence when status negotiations start
Subject: KFOR: No threat of violence when status negotiations start

Zëri reports on the front page that KFOR is not planning to increase the number of its troops in Kosovo as there is no serious threat when the negotiations on the final status start.

On the other hand, UNMIK officials think that during the sensitive stage of the comprehensive review by ambassador Kai Eide, there could be people interested in causing violence.

International media have speculated over the last few days that with the launch of status talks, Serb militants in the northern part of Kosovo and supported by nationalists from Serbia could start violence.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

News: Globalist: Crack in Serb armor gives U.S. an opening

Interesting things have been happening in the last few weeks since the appearance of the Scorpion video. The year 2005 is going to be one of the most interesting yet. Also just read here that the Brits are laying up contingency plans for the fall.

By Roger Cohen

NEW YORK A decade ago, on June 24, 1995, I sat in the ravaged city of Sarajevo and filed a piece to The New York Times that began: "Always the stomach contracts. When, through the still air, there comes the flat boom of rending and fracture that is the sound of another shell's impact, indifference can only be feigned. Even the war-hardened of this city feel the familiar knife in the gut."
That stomach, of course, was mine, along with those of another 280,000 people in a European city that had been living for more than three years with a dirt trench around it, subjected to regular bombardment by Serbian nationalist forces intent on denying the multiethnic character of Sarajevo.
The people of the city had become crazed by that summer. They raised their hands to their necks in a gesture of self-strangulation, saying they could no longer breathe. They burned books to heat stoves to cook the rabbits they raised in cages in their bedrooms. Gravediggers took shelter from shelling in the graves they dug.
That was Europe in 1995: bleeding in its Balkan backyard as the United States and the European Union dithered. The continent's 20th-century agony had begun with the bullets fired by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914; it seemed the century might end much as it began.
But within five months the Bosnian war was over, hustled to a conclusion by the American diplomat, Richard Holbrooke. Another U.S. diplomat, Nicholas Burns, was at Dayton, Ohio, when the peace accord was signed. Because what you see, as opposed to what you merely read about, is what drives you, that presence has become significant.
Burns this year became the under secretary of state for political affairs - and the torpid graph of American attention to the Balkans blipped upward. He visited the area in May. He pledged American involvement. And he made clear his view of the Balkans: "The status quo is neither stable nor sustainable."
What is that status quo? Bosnia is at peace, but its Muslim, Serb and Croat populations remain driven by the politics of ethnic rivalry, dependent on international aid, protected by an EU-led force, and gathered in what amounts to a tenuous state.
The two Serbs most wanted for war crimes - Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic - are still at large. Until recently very few Serbs believed they had done anything wrong.
But the first real dent in the crippling Serbian denial of their crimes was made this month with the showing of a video of the execution of six - yes, six - of the more than 7,000 Muslims killed at Srebrenica in July, 1995.
For once the ironclad Serbian self-image of perennial victim was breached.
Burns is eager to build on this tentative Serbian opening. In a wide-ranging telephone conversation, he described his linked plans for Bosnia and Kosovo, where the peace is even more tenuous.
"In both places we have outstanding business from 10 years ago," Burns said. "The release of the videotape had a big effect on Serbia. It has finally convinced people this shameful massacre happened."
Both President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica of Serbia have assured Burns that they have now made the decision to arrest and turn over Mladic, who is believed to be in Serbia, and Karadzic, who may be in Serb-controlled areas of Bosnia.
"I've told them, you have to get Mladic," Burns said. "I've told them that until you do, we are your biggest problem. You're never going to get into NATO."
Referring to the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, Burns continued: "And I've made clear that they have a major anniversary coming up on July 11 and they need to atone and it would be good to get Mladic before then. I will remind them of that in the next couple of days."
Tadic has told Burns he will be at a Srebrenica ceremony, along with Svetozar Marovic, the president of the federation of Serbia and Montenegro. That in itself would be significant, a step toward Serbian confrontation with what national hysteria wrought.
The reward for Serbia would be movement toward NATO and the long-term prospect of European Union membership. The EU has assured the Bush administration that, despite its travails, it will keep the door open to Balkan countries, Burns said.
Close American-European cooperation is also envisaged in Kosovo, where Burns is anxious to move toward final-status talks this fall.
By then, Kai Eide, the Norwegian ambassador to NATO, will have completed a review in Kosovo, looking at guarantees of the rights of the area's Serb minority and other governance issues.
Kosovo's overwhelming Albanian majority is clamoring for independence from Serbia and believes America has promised to deliver it to the province, now effectively a ward of the international community. Serbia is countering with "more than autonomy, less than independence," a Delphic phrase. Burns is not pronouncing yet on the outcome, but is clear on procedure.
A leading EU politician, perhaps the former Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari, would lead the talks, flanked by a senior American diplomat, who would probably not be Burns himself. "We might try sequestration a la Holbrooke in Dayton, or we might negotiate in some other way," Burns said.
Where would the process lead? A long-term outcome other than independence seems inconceivable when the overwhelming majority of Kosovars want that.
But the Kosovo Albanians would have to earn it - by decentralizing power, by providing real protection and rights to the Serb minority, and by accepting an international civil administration for a long transitional period.
If Serbia agrees to this, and has arrested Mladic and Karadzic, it will need prompt recognition in the form of convincingly open arms from NATO and the EU.
Two things are clear. Only America's involvement will deliver results because its credibility is unmatched. And, as Burns has said, the United States and its partners "cannot define averting disaster in the Balkans as success."