Archive for January, 2012

200 Minus 188

January 27, 2012

If you’re the manager of a state-owned industrial enterprise, what do you do when the Deputy Prime Minister visits on an Udmurtia inspection tour to chastize you for shoddy inventory control?  You tell him that sales are up 57% and let him play with some new toys, that’s what.

It’s all part of the post-soviet playbook at Izhmash, where Dimi Rogozin got hands-on with the RF’s next-gen AK-12 (fka AK-200) standard-issue infantry rifle and got some face-time with international celebrity Mikhail Kalashnikov.  Turning lemons into lemonade, Russian-style.

Izhmash has unveiled a prototype of its new Kalashnikov assault rifle with improved ergonomics and tactical flexibility.  The new rifle, dubbed AK-12, is a basic platform for the development of nearly 20 different modifications of the weapon … for cartridges varying from 5.45 x 39mm to 7.62 x 51mm NATO.  The AK-12 has a folding stock and a height-adjustable heelpiece. The weapon can be used by both left-handed and right-handed people, and can be easily handled with one hand.

Actually, this looks like the older model AK-74 Kalashnikov

Comrade General K. is in his early 90s, but his name is a global brand whose renown surpasses even that of Comrade Bear himself.  That takes some doing!

Lunghu likes the fact that Izhmash and Comrade Kalashnikov kept the best characteristics of the classic weapon while grafting on a new scion of good-ol’ Yankee ingenuity:  the Picatinny rail accessory system.  These features –together with price performance–  may help Izhmash achieve greater penetration in African and Asian markets where local military command structures are currently susceptible to U.S. influence.  A few judiciously-distributed “commission payments” wouldn’t hurt either.

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One-Two Punch

January 24, 2012

Certainly doesn’t take long for YoD feng shui predictions to swing into action.  Cue the avalanches in Kashmir!

Raymond Lo [earth-related disasters such as … avalanches] and Edgar Lok Tin Yung [more water-related events such as … avalanches] both score minor points for all-too-predictable predictions.  After all, there are avalanches just about every year in Kashmir … just as there are in the Alps, Andes, Urals and Rocky Mountains.

 

Ben 2 World: STFU

January 24, 2012

Lunghu is being very quiet as he writes this —because you never know who might be listening … and we’re not talking about those silent black helicopters, either.

 

In his annual communications message released Tuesday, Benoit Seize extolled the sounds of silence.  “Joy, anxiety and suffering can all be communicated in silence –indeed it provides them with a particularly powerful mode of expression.” … He noted that sometimes the most authentic communication takes place in utter silence, “between people who are in love: gestures, facial expressions and body language are signs by which they reveal themselves to each other.”

And, of course, the eyes … windows to the soul.

“By remaining silent, we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself, and we avoid being tied merely to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested,” he said.

Reflect deeply.  In silence, of course.  The void is never very far away.

However, Lunghu would also like to take this occasion to remind oppressors everywhere that silence does not equal assent.  This fundamental truth should be remembered at all times … particularly by the clergy themselves.

 

Time Keeps Dragon On

January 23, 2012

Happy Lunar New Year!  By popular demand, Lunghu once again presents a compendium of feng shui predictions for the New Year.  This year, mass media coverage of this topic in the Western bourgeois imperialist press was extremely scanty, so Lunghu was forced to supplement the meager haul by scouring the internet for websites that publish credible(?) feng shui forecasts for the Year of the Dragon.  This research yielded interesting results, and there are still another one or two other soothsayers whose predictions will be added within a day or two.  Stay tuned.

Here are the seven feng shui masters whose starcasts Lunghu makes available as a public service while the Spring Festival gets underway:

The first four specialists were all-too-briefly quoted in wire service (Reuters and AFP) news reports.  The remaining three either have their own websites or an online newspaper column.  Although these practitioners offer an extremely diverse range of opinions concerning the influence of Stem and Branch on events to come during the year of the Yang Water Dragon, there are also some aspects of the future on which all (more-or-less) agree.  As you scroll through their predictions, you’ll notice that some forecasters emphasize economic aspects, others concentrate on lifestyles of the rich and famous, and still others stress socio-political trends and developments.  Underneath it all, there’s wind and water —and above, the stars.

  Practitioner 2012 Prediction
     
  Anthony Cheng [HK] Russia and China will be the two best
emerging market performers in the
coming year.
     
    In the second half of the year, a
scandalous corruption case will be
exposed in China.
     
    In Hong Kong and in mainland China,
high-ranking officials will be forced to
step down. Some may be jailed, or even die.
     
     
     
  Peter So [HK] Europe’s economy will not recover
until at least 2014.
     
    Recovery for the US economy is
possible in 2013.
     
    The US is starting to have luck on its
side again, so it will be a good year no
matter who is elected President.
     
    Indonesia, Pakistan, India & Sichuan,
Yunnan and Guizhou are likely to
experience frequent earthquakes.
     
     
     
  Alion Yeo [HK] Expect to see a lot of flooding in areas
like Thailand and southeast China.
     
     
  Chan Wei-chung [TW] Vladimir Putin has a negative Treasure
Star this year, which means he could
lose a lot of money.
     
    Al Pacino has “bright sunshine”, which
means he could turn away trouble with
good luck because of his works of charity
or the help he has given others.
     
    Sandra Bullock needs to watch out for
manipulative people beside her, but
may have a chance of conceiving
a child.
     
     
  Raymond Lo [HK] The Dragon’s powerful Earth quality
often triggers massive earthquakes
and earth-related disasters such as
collapse of buildings, mine disasters,
landslides, or avalanches.
     
    Yang Water Dragon year creates the
potential danger of big flooding and/or
tsunami, [particularly in the Monkey or
Rat months].
     
    Yang Water is a powerful driving force
toward progress and social changes,
so it will be an energetic year
with new movements and changes,
reform in politics and the social
establishment.
     
    Water atop Earth causes muddy water
and creates a climate for viruses
and spread of epidemic.
     
    The absence of the Fire element is not
very favorable for the airline industry
and there may be more airline
accidents in June, July, or October
when Fire is under attack.
     
    People born in years of Dog have to
be particularly careful in 2012:
they should take extra care to
avoid mountain-related activities.
     
    The economic crisis in some European
countries may deepen in October and
November, causing a downturn in the
global economy and stock market.
     
    The Dragon’s Earth element is most
beneficial to Wood industries such
as textile, paper, books, media,
environmental industries, food and
consumer goods.
     
    Earth industries such as real estate,
mining & insurance will prosper
less than Wood industries.
     
    Water industries such as shipping,
beverages, transport, and
communications will not do well in the
Dragon year.
     
    Metal industries such as banking,
engineering, technology, computers
and machinery will also struggle.
     
    Presidential elections in USA, India,
Taiwan, France, [Korea] will bring
a new phase to the politics of
these countries & Yang Water is
a sign of bold progress and reform.
     
    For people who need support of the
Fire element, such as French
President Nicolas Sarkozy, 2012
will not be favorable.
     
    Famous people born in the year of the
Dog who thus clash against the
Dragon in 2012 are Madonna, Bill
Clinton, Donald Trump, George Bush,
Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone
and Jennifer Lopez.
     
    People born in the Year of the Dragon
may experience complications and
disharmony in their relationships:
Sandra Bullock, Vladimir Putin, Tom
Jones, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Liam Neeson,
Sarah Palin. A clash against the Day
Pillar will usually cause movement or
conflict in the family or human
relationship area, especially in
relationships with the spouse or
opposite sex.
     
     
   JVM Franciso [PI] We will see the emergence of new
leaders who will inspire change.
They will come to power through
radical means or through elections
marred by controversy.
     
    Civic organizations will be more
vigilant and emphasize advocacy for
human rights, the environment and
national identity.
     
    Some parts of the world will be
devastated by major earthquakes,
extreme flooding and volcanic eruptions.
     
    A major astronomical discovery in the
Milky Way will revolutionize our
perception of the universe.
     
    Yang Water is flowing: ideas will
abound, creativity flourish,
economies grow and communities
celebrate.
     
    The fields of music, fashion and film
will lead in the production of
ground-breaking and cutting-edge
works of art.
     
    Favorable areas for economic growth
this year are agriculture, real
estate, building & infrastructure
development, transportation,
creative industry and information
communication technology.
     
     
  Edgar Lok Tin Yung
[Austr]
There will be more natural disasters
such as earthquakes, and water-
related events such as flooding,
tsunamis, avalanches, sea level
changes.
     
    2012 is a wet year. We will see more
rain, snow, polar ice sheets [and
glaciers] melting and so on.
     
    Major dams around the world may
have a few incidents due to flood-
ing.
     
    There will be series of earthquakes or
volcanic eruptions in the Dog month
(October) or Monkey month (August)
or Rat month (December).
     
    2012 is not a very stable year for
Australia and New Zealand. There
will be more water-related
incidents or earthquakes. There
will be a lot more lawsuits and
labor conflicts.
     
    The conflict relationship between the
Stem and Branch is that the bottom
level opposes the upper level. There
will be more rebellions from the
lower strata of society. The
opposition party will be elected to
government in many countries.
     
    2012 is a year of innovations and
changes in religions, concepts,
philosophy, and values. Religious
conflicts will worsen. High-profile
religious figures will be in the
news.
     
    In 2012 the Annual Star number 6 is in
the central place. This number
represents law, government, power,
and the patriarch, especially in
religions. The power of such people
will be challenged.
     
    In the Year of the Dragon, economic
growth is suppressed. Avoid invest-
ment in transportation, aviation,
shipping, logistics and so on.
     
    The birth rate will be higher in the
Dragon year, so products marketed to
new parents and babies may see
improved sales.
     
    In the first half of the Yang Water
Dragon (February to early August),
the price of gold will drop. But
gold will recover in the second
half of the year.
     
    After entering the Rooster month
(September) the European crisis
will gradually clear up. However,
in October (the Dog month) the
stock market will drop sharply.
     

credit: John O’Boyle

It will be interesting to see which of these predictions will be the first to materialize.  Lunghu will add some forecasts of his own … just as soon as the needle stops spinning wildly in his luo pan.

Snow Dragon

January 16, 2012

The Sino-Korean winter propaganda war has been –pardon the cliche– heating up in the final weeks before the New Year.  First, a week ago Friday, the People’s Republic of China attempted to break the fighting spirit of its fearsome foes with a stirring call to make-love-not-war:  yoga practice in the park at Wuhan, Hobei Province.

Last Wednesday, the ROK Army issued a firm, unequivocal response by staging its annual topless-soldiers-in-the-snow training exercise:  this time at Mount Hwangbyeong (near the future site of the 2018 Winter Olympics).

I dunno, seems like the downward-facing dog may have won this round hands-down.  Lunghu’s looking forward to the rematch.

I Fall In Pieces

January 15, 2012

Have you seen this vehicle?  If not, perhaps you’ll have a close-up view later today.

 

The [RF] Federal Space Agency said on Friday that Phobos-Grunt fragments might fall … over the Atlantic Ocean, along the eastern coast of South America, at 45 degrees South 60 degrees West.  From 20 to 30 rover fragments made of heat proof materials with a total weight less than 200 kilograms may hit the [earth’s surface].

If not off Argentina, then perhaps further west:

Experts [said on Sunday] it most likely that the fragments will fall to Earth at about 21:51 Moscow time in the Pacific Ocean off Chile [near] 42 degrees latitude south and 80 degrees longitude west.

The rover launched on November 9, 2011, failed to set off towards Mars and stayed in a circumterrestrial orbit. The project cost about 5 billion rubles.

Lunghu is inclined to believe that more than one technocrat at Roskosmos and Lavochkin is going be made a patsy for this failure, even though Vladimir Popovkin himself has hinted that nefarious Yankee cyber-warriors may have hijacked Phobos-Grunt’s control systems when the spacecraft orbited over the Western Hemisphere.  After all, anything’s possible in this day and age.

 

Provoking Thought

January 14, 2012

Both before and after Kim Jong-il’s death, both the United States and ROK have been making a big deal about standing up to North Korean “provocations.”   They’re referring, of course, to the “unprovoked” artillery barrages, atomic weapons tests, and ballistic missile launches that DPRK has staged in the past few years.   The US/ROK alliance now appears to be concerned that Kim Jong-eun will foment external crisis in order to reinforce internal stability of the DPRK regime, and the bourgeois Western imperialists are attempting to signal their firm resolve to oppose such revanchist adventurism.

Lunghu believes that such US/ROK fears are mistaken, because the PRC has sternly counseled the Kim clique (in a brotherly socialist fashion) that war-mongering in North Asia during 2012 will merely play into the hands of militarist political factions in the US and South Korea.  Neither China nor North Korea wants to see a Republican president in the United States or a GNP president in South Korea next year:  stirring up trouble along the DMZ right now would be the strategic equivalent of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

On the other hand, as we approach the Sino-Korean New Year, it seems as though South Korea is engaging in some provocation of its own.  Item One:  Dear Leader Kim Jong-il is no longer around to pose for photo ops during his tours of industrial facilities in North Korea, so what does the ROK Army do?  It has the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Jung Seung-jo, inspect one of South Korea’s nuclear power plants just before heading off to Washington DC for consultations.  Does this picture remind you of anything?

Item Two: North Korea’s rice harvest was devastated by heavy flooding in 2011, and the nation is desperately seeking humanitarian food aid to avoid mass starvation this winter.  What do South Korean farmers do in Gyeonggi Province?  They stage a press conference to demonstrate the first rice-planting of the season —in January … in Icheon greenhouses.  Harvest of this crop is expected in early June —when the far North of the DPRK will have barely planted their fields.  Way to rub it in, guys!

President Lee was unable to attend.

Hey! Is that a Daedong Duo60 transplanter in the background? Yup.

Give peace a chance in the Year of the Water Dragon:  please stop the taunting.

Give Chance a Piece

January 13, 2012

World peace ain’t exactly bustin’ out all over, but somehow the supply of barely-used AK-47s exceeds current demand.  That is, at least in two neighboring nations that border the Eastern Baltic Sea …

The Finnish Defense Forces will have to sell or scrap up to 100,000 assault rifles in mint condition.  In the 1990s Finland acquired 200,000 Kalashnikov-type assault rifles at bargain prices from China, and from Germany, which unloaded surplus equipment from the National People’s Army of East Germany.  …  They have not been used in the training of conscripts because they are of lower quality than Finnish-made assault rifles.  Commander Taneli Uosukainen says that they are good battlefield weapons, but they are not as durable in military training as Finnish-made guns are.

However, selling the guns is difficult, as there is little demand for AK-47s in [Europe].  Prospective buyers would be mainly from Third World countries … [but] Finnish policy forbids selling weapons to conflict zones.

Meanwhile, in the Kalashnikov Motherland itself, crates of AKs just end up in the dustbin of post-Communist history:

A local pensioner has found submachine guns in abandoned crates, which he was going to use for heating his stove, a source in Udmurtia’s law enforcement agencies told Itar-Tass on Friday. “On Thursday evening district police officers noticed that a resident of Sovkhozny in the Zavyalovsky district was unloading the containers and decided to examine them. Some 79 Kalashnikov submachine guns, spare parts and 253 magazines were found in the search of 64 containers,” the source said. The investigation continues.  A criminal case for negligence is about to be opened against Izhmash officials.

 “The weapons arrived at the Izhevsky arms plant for destruction from arms depots of the Defense Ministry … The Kamaz driver was taking the crates [with weapons] to a firing range … but sold them off on the way,” police said.  Izhmash PR officer Yelena Filatova suggested the truck driver was taking what he believed were empty crates to a dump but sold them on the way to a local resident for firewood.

Management at Izhmash can’t be too happy to hear that “Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin will fly to Udmurtia on January 24 to organize a meeting on firearms production and storage at the military compound.”

Elsewhere in the Baltic Region …

Investigators in the northern Russian port of Arkhangelsk have charged in absentia Estonia’s former spy chief, Eerik-Niiles Kross, with organizing the hijacking of the cargo ship Arctic Sea in 2009, a spokesman for the regional Investigative Committee, Yury Shperling said on Friday.  “We sent the documents [on the case] to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) to put Kross on the federal and international wanted lists,” Shperling said.

Estonian Justice Minister Kristen Michal [retorted:] “Estonia will not hand its citizens over to Russia and [Russia] knows this well. One of the principles of the agreement on juridical assistance between Estonia and Russia says that if citizens are not exchanged, then an investigation of the case is exchanged.  If the Russian authorities wish to question Kross they should do so via the Estonian Prosecutor General’s Office.”

Lunghu suspects Russia has learned that one of Kross’ networks provided key intell to NATO back in June 2009 about what was going on in Kaliningrad.   It’s always payback time when Comrade Bear is involved.

Get the Point?

January 9, 2012

Lunghu wasn’t aware that the protocol for visits by a foreign head of state required the honor guard to present arms with fixed bayonets. Apparently, though, that’s how they do things in China.  At least when Lee Myung-bak comes to visit.

Poor President Lee –it seems he thought that Hu Jin-tao just wanted to spend a few days discussing the future of bi-lateral relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.   However, to leave his aircraft, and to enter the Great Hall of the People, the President had to walk a gauntlet of impeccably uniformed Chinese from every branch of the armed forces.  Lots of ’em.  Just to get the message across, naval personnel were present by the boatload.

Judging by the photographs, this particular Korean President doesn’t look too comfortable with weaponry.  Which (as Sun-tzu would tell you) is exactly the point.

Take Five

January 8, 2012

This is the time of year when self-appointed pundits of various stripes and persuasions issue their ‘Top Ten’ lists for the previous year.  Lunghu isn’t half that ambitious, so he will content himself with a ‘Top Five’ list:  adjectives he’d like to see excised from media discourse during the year 2012.   There’s no need to explain why these words should not appear in print or cyberfont –if the reason isn’t self-evident, you shouldn’t be reading this blog anyway.  As a well-known Japanese novelist has recently written, “If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.

Here goes –the Top Five adjectives world media can and should do without:

  • stricken
  • embattled
  • chilling (usage as a verb in a music industry context still permitted)
  • restive
  • troubled