Maps and Google and War in Georgia

The Georgia-Russian War generates his own specific graphics. One graphic in the news is the empty Google’s Georgia map, the other is the following caricature. 

The Georgia-Russian war: a caricature found on a russian blog (here).

And I quote myself from my own post on NowPublic about

“Where is Georgia’s Map on Google?”

In this sudden burst of war between Georgia and Russia, Google Maps as an impartial observer’, removed the map details from the Georgian map , preventing the map from being used by the Georgian or by the Russian for any warfare purpose..Well, I suppose that Russia as the former Soviet Union has maps of Georgia and Georgia as a former part of the Soviet Union has also maps of Georgia. But we, the not participating part of the world in the conflict, seeking a map of Georgia, we don’t have a map..

 But later on ( August 12, 2008) Google denied that she erased Georgia’s map:

…”One story says that ‘the relevant maps went blank as soon as fighting broke out,’ according to the Azerbaijan Press Agency.
Google says that’s not so. While its Web maps shows only the outlines of those three countries — without roads or even the capital cities marked — Google says that the lack of information is not new.

Interestingly, Google Earth, the company 3-D geographic visualization service, identifies many Georgian cities, and it allows users to zoom in to them close enough to see individual buildings. So Google Earth clearly has some “local data” on the countries that are blank on Google Maps.
Microsoft’s rival mapping service, Virtual Earth, pinpoints dozens on cities in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.”…see here.

Cyber Attack, Google and the Georgian War

In the new web 2.0 era, preparation for physical warfare is preceded by cyberattattacks and by cyberdefence.

Here is the Georgian’s war cyberdefence ‘provided’ by Google, (from InformationAge)

…”Yesterday, it emerged that the company had removed details of all roads, towns and cities in Georgia from its Google Maps online mapping service, as well as from the maps of neighbouring countries Azerbaijan and Armenia. According to the Azerbaijan Press Agency, the relevant maps went blank as soon as fighting broke out. However, satellite information was still available earlier today.

Several observers highlighted the fact that Google co-founder Sergey Brin is Moscow-born.

Meanwhile, Google is involuntarily providing cyber-refuge to Georgian web sites that have been disrupted by Russian hackers. Georgian news site  (now restored) relocated to a domain on Google’s Blogger blogging infrastructure after a cyber-attack, reportedly originating in Russia, took the web site down.

Even Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is using the Blogger infrastructure to disseminate information:see here “…… For the full article see here. For the map see here.

As for the Cyberattacks, the NYT published yesterday (August 12, 2008) that …

….”Weeks before bombs started falling on Georgia, a security researcher in suburban Massachusetts was watching an attack against the country in cyberspace.”…

An image from the Web site of the Georgian Parliament after it had been defaced showing Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili together with leaders of the Nazi regime
An image from the Web site of the Georgian Parliament after it had been defaced showing Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili together with leaders of the Nazi regime


Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks in Lexington noticed a stream of data directed at Georgian government sites containing the message: “win+love+in+Rusia.”

Other Internet experts in the United States said the attacks against Georgia’s Internet infrastructure began as early as July 20, with coordinated barrages of millions of requests — known as distributed denial of service, or D.D.O.S., attacks — that overloaded and effectively shut down Georgian servers.

Researchers at Shadowserver, a volunteer group that tracks malicious network activity, reported that the Web site of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, had been rendered inoperable for 24 hours by multiple D.D.O.S. attacks. They said the command and control server that directed the attack was based in the United States and had come online several weeks before it began the assault.

As it turns out, the July attack may have been a dress rehearsal for an all-out cyberwar once the shooting started between Georgia and Georgia. According to Internet technical experts, it was the first time a known cyberattack had coincided with a shooting war. See here the full article.

So, perhaps the Holy Grail of anticipating an imminent war, is to monitor unusual Internet activity  on the globe, before there is any real troops displacement

Georgia war 2008
Georgia war 2008
Russian soldiers on top of an APC pass by a burning house on the way to Tskhinvali, capital of Georgian
Russian soldiers on top of an APC pass by a burning house on the way to Tskhinvali, capital of Georgian

To speak Flemish or French in Belgium?

As a short introduction to my post I will tell you the followign story. I was born in Antwerp, in the Flemish speaking region of Belgium. In 1940 my parents and I go to Brussels to stay there. Quickly I mastered french. In these ‘prehistoric times’, French and Flemish lived in good neighbourhood in Brussels. During the ww2 I was hiding in Wallonie and learned the Walloon’s french dialect. So,  in a nutshell, this is the whole story  of how I become a “Cosmopolitan Belgian Linguist”.
And from here on, taken with a grain of Belgian humor , don’t show in Belgium that you are a “Cosmopolitan Belgian Linguist” . If you are in a Flemish speaking region don’t speak french, because it may cause you trouble.To be on the safe side speak in English. In a French speaking region speak in Flemish nobody will pay to much attention.
 Well ,why all the mess?
On Agora Fox, a french language citizen media site, I found this post “L’obsession linguistique de la Flandre” or translated “The  language obsession of Flanders”.
I quote from the (transaled) post..”This arrogant linguistics obsession , in defiance of reports of the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations, is not just a cultural chauvinism for a little spoken language in the world. Linked to the unassailable “right of soil”, it is the glaring reflection of a bad nationalist decline , “a kind of  non-violent fascism ” to resume the vision of the New York Herald Tribune.”….
Now,….”Consider a few actual examples: the refusal to appoint  three French mayors democratically elected on the outskirts of Brussels for non-compliance with the use of languages;   the language requirement “wooncode (code housing) for public housing in Flanders;  the obligation to know the Dutch language to be able to acquire a building or land in some communes of Flanders (Zaventem and Vilvoorde); the banning of children from playground if they are not speaking Dutch (Liedekerke);…. the obligation to notify illegal immigrants in Dutch of their expulsion, if they are intercepted at Brussels Airport- a land located in Flemish territory;   the obligation to provide public libraries with 80% of books in Dutch, while the citizens are a French-speaking majority; the prohibition against the French Community of Belgium to finance the francophone associations in Flanders.”….see here in french.
A more detailed picture comes from the little town Lidekerke, 15 minutes by train from Brussels. A few excerpts from the ‘International Herald Tribune’ exemplifies the situation, I quote…”If Belgium vanishes one day, it will be because of little towns like this one, where Flemish politicians are riding a new wave of nationalism and pushing for an independent state.”…
….”Liedekerke has only 12,000 inhabitants, but its elected council has caused a stir by insisting on the “Flemish nature” of the town. Not only must all city business and schooling take place in Flemish, true throughout Flanders, but children who cannot speak the language can be prohibited from taking part in holiday outings, like hikes and swimming classes.”…
Marc Mertens, 53, is the full-time secretary of the town, a professional manager who works under the elected, but part-time village council, he said:
…””Brussels is coming this way,” …. explaining that the people here, having gained autonomy, do not want to be overwhelmed again by another French-speaking ascendancy. More of schoolchildren, taught in Flemish, have French-speaking parents.”…
…”When I was young I never heard a foreign language here,” he said. “Now every day I meet people speaking French.There are days “when I think I’m not in my village any more,” he added.’…
…”Part of the black community here invited relatives and friends with children from Brussels to play,” he said. “There were too many, and more than half didn’t understand Dutch.”…
…”Johan Daelman, the head of the far-right, anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang party here and a village councilman, want to keep French-speaking immigrants from Africa out of town, too – all in the name of keeping Liedekerke “unspoiled,” meaning free of the crime and racial tensions of nearby Brussels.”…..etcetera..see more.
The above citations gives a feeling on what is at stake, the language crisis only being the top of the Flemish extremist  iceberg.
From my own ‘Belgian’ subjective standpoint, it is almost unbelievable, that the people I did know 18 years,  Flemish and French , are now entrenched in an ‘ethnic’ war threatening to disrupt their own country.

“Free” nuclear studies for Iranian students in the UK

  Iran science

How do you make and  read a Headline?
  Write “Iranians study nuclear physics in Britain” (Times Online October 28, 2007)
and then  write, I quote…”THE Foreign Office has cleared dozens of Iranians to enter British universities to study advanced nuclear physics and other subjects with the potential to be applied to weapons of mass destruction. In the past nine months about 60 Iranians have been admitted to study postgraduate courses deemed “proliferation-sensitive” by the security services. The disciplines range from nuclear physics to some areas of electrical and chemical engineering and microbiology. Additionally, figures obtained by David Willetts, the shadow secretary for innovation, universities and skills, show that in 2005-06, 30 Iranians were doing postgraduate degrees in subjects covering nuclear physics and nuclear engineering. The flow of Iranian scientists to Britain for training has caused alarm as the nuclear standoff between Iran and the West becomes increasingly tense. When confronted with the figures this weekend, the Foreign Office admitted that it was reviewing the vetting for sensitive areas of study and planned to announce an overhaul within the next few weeks to make procedures more rigorous.’.”.. see more.

In the actual context, where Israel whipped out the Syrian nuclear faculty, where the Bush administration calls the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization and imposes sanctions on her financial institutions, where French President Sarkozy goes hand in hand with Bush, the ‘Time Online’ headline ‘Iranians study nuclear physics in Britain’ specifying that  ” 60 Iranians admitted to study postgraduate courses”, seems to be an impermissible  break into the functioning of the British policy and her security services and a slap in the face of everyone feeling he is under the trait of a nuclear war with Iran.    

But ironically the cited number of 60-80 students admitted at the British universities is risible against the numbers of the Iranian Brain Drain estimated at 150000 per year heading mostly to Europe the Us and the UK. An estimated 6.5 million Iranians, almost 10 percent of the country’s population, have emigrated. The International Monetary Fund reports that more than 150,000 educated Iranians flee the country each year, “the biggest brain drain in history.”.. see here and here
(To day many of them hold very respectable position in science and engineering in the western world, see a (problematic) list here )

   Now if we are left with some paranoid doubts they will disappear, because  according to the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Higher Education, there are approximately 50,000 Iranian students currently studying abroad, see here in the ‘Iran Daily’ under ‘Perspective’.  One of them is Mohammad Hafezi a bona fide research fellow of Professor Lukin Group in the field of laser cooling on optical cavities . In the ‘Iran Daily’ from Thu, Aug 02, 2007, one of the headline is ” Iranian Researcher To Revolutionize Quantum Physics ” telling us about Mohammad Hafezi a research fellow of Professor Lukin Group in the field of laser cooling on optical cavities, see more

  So not the benign number of Iranian students (‘Time Online’ ) admitted in British universities in 2006 or 2007 is the headline but the massive numbers of students (50000) cited by the ‘Iran Daily’,  among them, students of science who may at any moment of inner conviction with the ideological goals of to day Iran , return to their country or being recruited, and contribute to the further development of an nuclear Iran headed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the foreground and in the background the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the true leader.

Nucluar Iran


A casual source list of Ayatollahs statements about a Nuclear Iran. (2001-2007)
TEHRAN 14 Dec. (IPS) One of Iran’s most influential ruling cleric called Friday on the Muslim states to use nuclear weapon against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them “damages only”.”If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world”, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran, see here
Qods Day Speech (Jerusalem Day), see here

On December 3, 2004, Iran’s former president and an Islamic cleric , Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani alluded to Iran’s position on nuclear energy:Allah willing, we expect to soon join the club of the countries that have a nuclear industry, with all its branches, except the military one, in which we are not interested. We want to get what we’re entitled to. I say unequivocally that for no price will we be willing to relinquish our legal and international right. I also say unequivocally to those who make false claims: Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, but it will not give up its rights.Your provocation will not make us pursue nuclear weapons. We hope that you come to your senses soon and do not get the world involved in disputes and crises, see here.


Iran’s Leader: No Plans For Nuclear Bomb
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Denies Country Is Working Toward Building Nuclear Weapons
Speaking to an audience of Revolutionary Guards, the elite military unit that answers directly to him, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a rare direct statement that Iran is not interested in nuclear weapons….Iran insists it wants to master the technology only to meet future power needs and argues it is entitled to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty provision giving all pact members the right to develop peaceful programs…. see here

Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad displayed his talent in double talk again. He claimed the recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had officially cleared Iran, while in the same breath boasted that his regime has “taken another step in the nuclear progress and launched more than 3,000 centrifuge machines, installing a new cascade every week.” A day later, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei left no doubt that Ahmadinejad indeed speaks for him. He vowed that the theocratic regime would never yield to international demands to stop nuclear enrichment, and that it would outsmart “drunken and arrogant” Western opponents in the standoff, see here.

Ayatollah: Iran’s nuclear path ‘irreversible’
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s supreme leader issued a tough line on his country’s suspect nuclear program Tuesday, saying it is “irreversible” and any retreat would endanger the Islamic republic’s independence, see here
Iran’s Gray Area on Nuclear Arms
Despite Official Assertions That Islam Requires a Ban, Some Clerics See Justification
“This question is ambiguous,” said Grand Ayatollah Jalalodine Taheri, who was a leading figure in the Iranian government before becoming a sharp critic. Taheri, 80, said during an interview at his bedside in the central Iranian city of Isfahan that “taking weapons of mass destruction as a whole, I’m against it.” But he added that religious texts might offer avenues that would allow stockpiling such weapons in the name of deterrence or self-defense”… see here

Former ayatollah’s letter cites Iran’s need for nuclear weapons…”.A letter written by Iran’s former supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, published last Friday by an Iran news wire refers indirectly to Iran’s needs to pursue nuclear weapons, and has become part of the struggle between moderates and the military as hardliners try to expand thier power under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the New York Times reported”…. see here..


An article in the “jerusalem Post”
“Another major victory for messianics“….”THE MOST worrying revelation about Jalili’s past appeared recently in the Iran Diplomacy Web site. This Teheran-based news agency, in an article titled “Dr Ali Leaves, Dr Saeed Enters” revealed that for most of his career at the Foreign Ministry, Jalili worked closely with Mojtaba Hashemi Samare, a leading messianic and a close ally of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, the most well-known and high-ranking messianic cleric in Iran.”….

Who is Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi……… “Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi (Persian:  (born 1934) is a hardline Iranian Shia cleric and politician. He is widely seen as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s spiritual advisor, and a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts [1][2], the body responsible for choosing the Supreme Leader. Mesbah Yazdi espouses complete isolation from the West and proclaims non-literal interpretations of the Quran as heretical[3][4]. He advocates a return to the values of the 1979 Iranian revolution and is a prominent opponent of the Reformist movement in Iran.”… see here