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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 25-Mar-2014
25-Mar-14 World View -- U.S. may release Jonathan Pollard to keep Mideast peace talks going

Web Log - March, 2014

25-Mar-14 World View -- U.S. may release Jonathan Pollard to keep Mideast peace talks going

How analysts used the Doppler Effect to locate Malaysia flight MH370

This morning's key headlines from

U.S. may release Jonathan Pollard to keep Mideast peace talks going

Kerry lectures Netanyahu at the start of the 'peace talks' last July
Kerry lectures Netanyahu at the start of the 'peace talks' last July

Jonathan Pollard has been in jail since 1987, when he pled guilty to passing classified information to Israel. Israel has repeatedly tried to get him released, but one American administration after another has refused to let him go.

Now Pollard is becoming an issue in the Mideast "peace talks." The Obama administration got these "peace talks" going last year by "convincing" the Israelis to release 104 prisoners from the jails. These prisoners had been convicted of terrorist acts prior to the 1994 Oslo accords. The release of these prisoners has been extremely controversial in Israel, with very vocal opposition from the family members of the people whom these terrorists had killed. Nonetheless, Israel doesn't want to be seen to oppose President Obama, and though the "peace talks" have been a worthless farce, the Palestinians had continued to participate so that the prisoner releases will go forward. But the last batch of 26 prisoners are scheduled for release on Friday (March 28), and the "peace talks" will officially end of April 29.

The "peace talks" farce is now enveloping the Jonathan Pollard situation. Israel is releasing 104 killers from jail, but Pollard can't be released.

So now there are reports (or rumors) that the Obama administration is desperate to keep the "peace talks" going (presumably for purely domestic political reasons), and so they are offering to release Jonathan Pollard if the Israels will, in turn, offer some further concessions to the Palestinians to keep the "peace talks" going. Releasing Pollard seems like a reasonable thing, but these "peace talks" have literally a zero probabilty of achieving anything, and holding them together by a combination of multiple bribes and extortion is so absurd as to be beyond belief.

This administration has had one major policy debacle after another, whether it's the Russian "reset," the Afghan "peace process," the Syrian "red line," or the Iranian nuclear talks. It seems every day that they do one more stupid thing. I think I can honestly say that, in my lifetime, I have not seen an administration, Democratic or Republican, so completely inept and clueless about what's going on in the world. Israel Today and Jewish Journal

Kazakhstan becomes anxious over Russia's annexation of Crimea

In many ways, the central Asian country of Kazakhstan is similar to Ukraine. Both were part of the Soviet Union before it collapsed. And both have sizeable populations of ethnic Russians. Kazakhstan and Russia have the longest continuous common land border in the world. A quarter of Kazakhstan's population is ethnic Russian, largely concentrated in the northern provinces, along the border with Russia.

Kazakhstan has never recognized the independence of Georgia's provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russian troops have occupied since Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. Just last month, several Russian politicians called on Russia to annex part of Kazakhstan.

So Kazak politicians have been extremely anxious about Russia's annexation of Crimea. On March 3, prior to the annexation, Kazakhstanís foreign ministry had warned that "further escalation of tension may lead to unpredictable consequences" and called on all parties "to renounce options that imply the use of power."

But once the Crimea referendum was held, Kazakhstan's government flip-flopped, and issued a statement that many interpreted as supporting the annexation:

"The referendum held in Crimea is seen in Kazakhstan as a free expression of the will of the Autonomous Republicís population, while the decision of the Russian Federation under the existing circumstances is regarded with understanding."

The interim Ukraine government responded with this on March 19:

"Ukraine expressed its deep concern in connection to Kazakhstanís response to the referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The response contradicts the statement Kazakhstan made earlier about the need to maintain territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Kazakhstan officials are being very careful not to criticize Russian, Ukrainian, or Western governments for their action, hoping to maintain good relations with everyone. Relations between Kazakhstan and Ukraine had been improving in recent years. Russia is Kazakhstan's premier economic and security partner, while Ukraine offers Kazakhstan an important connection with European markets and institutions. The Ukraine crisis has already harmed Kazakhstan economically, and the desire is to prevent any further damage. Tengri News (Kazakhstan) and Jamestown

How analysts used the Doppler Effect to locate Malaysia flight MH370

Monday's dramatic announcement from Kuala Lumpur that Malaysian Airlines flight 370 had with certainty "ended in the southern Indian Ocean" west of Perth meant the families of the passengers on the flight could no longer hope that their family members were still alive somewhere. It's interesting that after a couple of weeks of knowing almost nothing, suddenly officials can be certain where the plane went down.

If you've ever stood and watched a train or a noisy truck drive by you at high speed, then you may have noticed that the noise coming from the vehicle changed pitch as the vehicle went past. As the vehicle was approaching you, the sound waves coming from the vehicle were being squeezed together, creating a higher pitch. As the vehicle was moving away from you, the sound waves were being stretched out, creating a lower pitch sound. If you had equipment that could precisely measure these two pitches, then you would be able to use that data to compute the speed of the vehicle. If you studied physics in high school, then you may recall that this phenomenon is called "the Doppler Effect."

What a company called Inmarsat did was use the same principle to compute the speed and direction of MH370. The plane's engines would send out a "ping" every hour of so that would be received by an Inmarsat satellite. There was no information in the transmission, just "I am here" ping. By measuring tiny differences in the frequencies of successive pings, and using the Doppler effect, the engineers were able to determine with certainty that the plane had crashed into the southern Indian ocean. The Star (Kuala Lumpur) and Ars Technica

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Mar-14 World View -- U.S. may release Jonathan Pollard to keep Mideast peace talks going thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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