A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘abkhazia

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait notes that far-orbiting body 2015 TC387 offers more indirect evidence for Planet Nine, as does D-Brief.
  • Centauri Dreams notes that data from the Gaia astrometrics satellite finds traces of past collisions between the Milky Way Galaxy and the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy.
  • The Crux takes a look at the long history of human observation of the Crab Nebula.
  • Sujata Gupta at JSTOR Daily writes about the struggle of modern agriculture with the pig, balancing off concerns for animal welfare with productivity.
  • Language Hat shares a defensive of an apparently legendarily awful novel, Marguerite Young’s Miss Macintosh, My Darling.
  • Lingua Franca, at the Chronicle, takes a look at the controversy over the name of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, going up to the recent referendum on North Macedonia.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the high rate of fatal car accidents in the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia.
  • Reddit’s mapporn shares an interesting effort to try to determine the boundaries between different regions of Europe, stacking maps from different sources on top of each other.
  • Justin Petrone at North! writes about how the northern wilderness of Estonia sits uncomfortably with his Mediterranean Catholic background.
  • Peter Watts reports from a book fair he recently attended in Lviv, in the west of Ukraine.
  • Jason Davis at the Planetary Society Blog notes the new effort being put in by NASA into the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
  • Roads and Kingdoms reports on some beer in a very obscure bar in Shanghai.
  • Drew Rowsome reports on the performance artist Lukas Avendano, staging a performance in Toronto inspired by the Zapotech concept of the muxe gender.
  • Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps examines the ocean-centric Spielhaus map projection that has recently gone viral.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers the question of whether or not the Big Rip could lead to another Big Bang.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the harm that global warming will inflict on the infrastructures of northern Siberia.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell considers the ecological fallacy in connection with electoral politics. Sometimes there really are not niches for new groups.
  • Arnold Zwicky takes part in the #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob meme, this time looking at images of linguists.

[NEWS] Three links from eastern Europe: Bulgaria and Macedonia, Moldova, Georgia and Abkhazia

  • Bulgaria and Macedonia have at last signed a treaty trying to put their contentious past behind them. Greece next?
  • The legacies of Stalinist deportations in Moldova continue to trouble this poor country.
  • The plight of the ethnic Georgians apparently permanently displaced from Georgia has been only muted by time.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • io9 notes that kale, cauliflower, and collards all are product of the same species.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze speculates on the detection of Earth analogues late in their lifespan and notes the failure to discover a predicted circumbinary brown dwarf at V471 Tauri.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares Lockheed’s suggestion that it is on the verge of developing a 300-kilowatt laser weapon.
  • Far Outliers considers the question of who is to blame for the Khmer Rouge.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that One Million Moms is hostile to the free WiFi of McDonald’s.
  • Spacing Toronto notes an 1855 circus riot sparked by a visit of clowns to the wrong brothel.
  • Torontoist notes how demographic changes in different Toronto neighbourhoods means some schools are closing while others are straining.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a California court ruling not recognizing the competence of the Iranian judicial system in a civil case on the grounds of its discrimination against religious minorities and women.
  • Window on Eurasia considers the implications of peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, notes the steady integration of Abkhazia and South Ossetia into Russia, and notes Russian fascism.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO comes up with a shortlist of some of the most noteworthy Giorgio Mammoliti controversies.
  • Centauri Dreams has a couple of posts (1, 2) talking about how nice it would be to have space probes orbiting the ice giants of Uranus and Neptune.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to an analysis suggesting that Russia is going to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia to punish Georgia.
  • Language Log tackles a myth that vocal fry is caused by stress.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the superexploitation associated with prison labour.
  • Steve Munro notes the latest delays with reopening Queens Quay to streetcars.
  • The Search has a fascinating interview regarding what it takes to archive electronic art, including video and programs.
  • Torontoist shares photos of the Monday night storm.
  • Towleroad notes the story of two Texas gay fathers who not only weren’t allowed to cross-adopt the other’s biological son (each father having one child, both children product of the same egg donor), but who weren’t registered as the fathers of their own biological child.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that up to a quarter-million people were displaced in Brazil to make way for the World Cup.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the weakness of Russian liberalism.

[LINK] “South Ossetia’s unwanted independence”

Open Democracy’s Stephen Jones takes a look at South Ossetia. Nominally independent since the 2008 Russo-Georgian war like Abkhazia, South Ossetians seem inclined to favour unification with their co-ethnics in North Ossetia, in the Russian Federation. There’s little prospect of that, though.

‘[I]ndependence’ will bring little to most South Ossetians – they will be condemned to isolation, marginality, and dependence. The prospects for cooperation with Georgia, its natural economic partner, and contacts with the rest of the South Caucasus through traditional seasonal work and cross border trade, are closed. In the 2012 South Ossetian presidential elections, all four candidates declared they would not engage with the Georgian government. Local migration to North Ossetia and Russia has accelerated, particularly among youth, adding to the SOAO’s demographic decline (villages are disproportionately made up of older women).

the 2012 elections, Alla Dzhioyeva, an anti-corruption crusader against Eduard Kokoity, the outgoing president (unrecognised by Georgia and the rest of the international community), had victory snatched from her by the South Ossetian Supreme Court. Dzhioyeva’s challenge had been unexpected, and she was not Russia’s preferred candidate. Although Dzhioyeva was later given a cabinet post, it illustrated the region’s limited political autonomy, underlined by the intimidating and unchallengeable presence of the Russian military. That court decision supported the Georgian contention that South Ossetia is a not a real state, but a Russian vassal, subject to Russia’s strategic goals. South Ossetia’s borders remain under Russian control, and South Ossetian foreign policy simply does not exist.

South Ossetia does not have the autonomous functions of a state able to provide for its citizens, 80% of whom hold Russian passports. There is constant talk (which goes back to irredentist demands made in the early 1990s) by Putin and local South Ossetian parties for a simple solution – union with North Ossetia. This means annexation by Russia because North Ossetia is part of the Russian Federation. United Ossetia, one of the nine parties running in the June 2014 South Ossetian parliamentary elections, has made union with North Ossetia central to its platform. It would be a popular decision. In a rare independent survey of South Ossetians in 2010 by Gerard Toal and John O’Loughlin, over 80% expressed the desire for union with the Russian Federation, and 82% wanted Russian troops to remain in South Ossetia permanently. Unlike Abkhazia, there is, paradoxically, little support for independence.

[. . .]

There are, in addition, potential repercussions in the North Caucasus if annexation takes place. The North Caucasus, which consists of six non-Russian autonomous republics (which contain significant ethnic Russian populations) and over 40 national groups, is crisscrossed with conflict between clans, regions, religions and republics; there are multiple border disputes – between Ingushetia and Chechnya, North Ossetia and Ingushetia, between Kabardins and Balkars, and between Kumyks and Chechens in Daghestan, to mention just a few. Changing borders in the Caucasus is rarely accomplished peacefully, and right now Russia does not want to endanger its precarious control over the North Caucasian Federal District.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 11, 2014 at 6:57 pm

[LINK] “In Russian protege Abkhazia, a cautionary tale for Crimea”

Maria Tsvetkova’s Reuters article overreaches in comparing the potential situation of a Russian-annexed Crimea with that of willing ex-Georgian but Russian satellite Abkhazia. Crimea was annexed directly into the Russian Federation unlike an Abkhazia which was left of outside, and moreover is of substantially greater sentimental and importance to Russians. Against this, Crimea is much larger.

Turning its back on Georgia, as Crimea has to Kiev, disrupted Abkhazia’s trade and transport and hitched its economy to the oil-fueled rouble, importing heavily from Russia, where wages and prices are much higher than in Georgia – or Ukraine.

[. . .]

Russia has said it could spend up to $7 billion this year alone to integrate Crimea’s economy into its own – no simple matter when they share no land border.

In Abkhazia, by contrast, Russia invested just a tenth of that in five years, from 2009 to 2013. Just over half went on construction projects, including kindergartens, two theaters and a stadium, and the rest on pensions and state workers’ wages.

[. . .]

Famed for its subtropical climate, clean sea and snow-capped mountains, Abkhazia was a favorite retreat for Georgian-born Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and a sought-after holiday destination for generations of workers from across the USSR.

Today, a broad new coastal highway covers the few miles to the Abkhazian border from the lavish Olympic Park built for this year’s Sochi winter games. But after the checkpoint, the road narrows. The picturesque mountain landscape is dotted with abandoned apartment blocks with empty windows and bullet holes.

Abkhazia won the 1992-93 war against Georgia but, like its population, which was virtually halved by an exodus of refugees, tourism has never fully recovered. It is hard to find a place on the shore without a view of battle-scarred hotels. The charred hulk of a public building dominates the center of Sukhumi.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 10, 2014 at 7:44 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO profiles classic Toronto convenience store chain Becker’s.
  • Crooked Timber links to their index of posts on their recent symposium on the ethics of immigration.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that a simulation of the Gliese 581 system (assuming four planets) shows it’s stable over long periods.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting that the distribution of trans-Neptunian objects indicates the existence of two large distant planets.
  • Eastern Approaches notes the recent revolution in Abkhazia.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis notes that there is scarce evidence of environmental issues triggering Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria.
  • Language Hat hosts a discussion on Elias Muhanna’s essay on the translation of Frozen.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair lists the long collection of words censored in China on the grounds of their relationship to Tiananmen Square.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a recent study suggesting rapidly declining fortunes among young Americans after 2000.
  • Savage Minds engages with the potentially colonial concept of the Arctic.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia is drawing multiple connections between Ukraine and Syria, and notes the huge contribution of Ukrainians to the defeat of the Nazis in the Second World War.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Crooked Timber continues its immigration and open borders symposium, wondering about the European Union.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that brown dwarfs will also form planets out of their discs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales tracks the Ukrainian conflict.
  • Eastern Approaches notes that, despite continued warm feelings for the United States, Poland is now becoming concerned with its affairs as a European power.
  • Language Hat notes how for many Russians in the 19th century, Francophilia was seen as a shame, a betrayal.
  • At Language of the World, Asya Perelstvaig notes efforts among some local Christian Arabs to revive the Aramaic language.
  • James Nicoll of More Words, Deeper Hole reviews fondly the Joan Vinge classic novel Psion.
  • At the Planetary Society Blog, Bill Dunford shares photos of the tracks of Mars rovers taken by the rovers themselves.
  • Steve Munro links to John Lorinc’s series of articles at Spacing on the neglect of transit to the benefit of talking in Scarborough.
  • Towleroad notes a recent meeting held in Vienna, funded by a Russian oligarch, aimed at fighting gays.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the role played by Facebook in coordinating recent anti-government protests in Abkhazia and observes fears for the Crimean Tatars among scholars.

[NEWS] Four links on Ukraine, Russia, Crimea, Tatars, and the European Union

  • At Pando, veteran journalist Mark Ames has an article (“Everything you know about Ukraine is wrong”) arguing, from a generally pro-Maidan perspective, about the ongoing issues in Ukrainian (it’s a contest between factions backed by different oligarchies, fascism isn’t especially a Ukrainian issue, et cetera).
  • The Atlantic‘s William Schreiber writes in “The Hidden Costs of a Russian Statelet in Ukraine” about the economic costs of a protracted Russian occupation of Crimea. In other regions, like Abkhazia and Transnistria, Russia has found itself spending billions of dollars to prop up local economies. Crimea, with two million people, is much bigger than all of these unrecognized states combined.
  • Via Jussi Jalonen on Facebook, I found an Andrew Wilson Guardian article suggesting that Crimean Tatars are starting to mobilize against Russia. Crimean Tatars have, post-1991, strongly opposed Russian influence; militias are reportedly starting to form.
  • MacLean’s shares an Associated Press article suggesting that, if the European Union and Russia applied sanctions against each other, the effects could be significant. Russia, which depends on the EU as its major export market, would be hit disproportionately, but the European Union would also have to find alternate sources of gas.

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • Here on Livejournal, Elf Sternberg notes that the sort of homophobia that reduces same-sex partners to sex acts and anatomical parts is also really unflattering to heterosexuals, too.
  • The New Scientist notes a recent paleogenetic study suggesting that among the legacies left to Homo sapiens by Neanderthals may be lighter skin and straighter hair.
  • Bloomberg notes that growing official homophobia is making lives for GLBT people across Africa more difficult than ever before.
  • The Guardian suggests suggests that the growing crackdown on student visas in the United Kingdom may be alienating future professionals from Britain, and notes that migrants from Mali are going to Africa much more than Europe nowadays.
  • Al Jazeera provides background to the ethnic conflict ongoing in the Central African Republic and notes the popularity of Korean popular culture in northeastern India based–among other things–on shared race.
  • New York magazine notes the absurdity of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas claiming that Georgia in the 1960s was race-neutral.
  • In the Caucasus, Eurasianet notes that Georgia wants to join NATO to get its lost territories back (another reason not to let it in) and that Abkhazia has not benefitted from the Olympics as some had hoped.
  • Radio Free Europe notes that Serbian and Bosnian Serb migrant workers at Sochi seem to have gotten screwed over.
  • The New York Post traces the genesis of Suzanne Vega’s songs in different places around New York City.