Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

China and Russia Quit Dollar As Main Trade Currency

November 24, 2010 1 comment

Premier Jiabao shakes hands with Putin in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Photo by Alexey Druzhinin of the AFP

by Su Qiang and Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

St. Petersburg, Russia – China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday.

Chinese experts said the move reflected closer relations between Beijing and Moscow and is not aimed at challenging the dollar, but to protect their domestic economies.

“About trade settlement, we have decided to use our own currencies,” Putin said at a joint news conference with Wen in St. Petersburg.

The two countries were accustomed to using other currencies, especially the dollar, for bilateral trade. Since the financial crisis, however, high-ranking officials on both sides began to explore other possibilities.

The yuan has now started trading against the Russian rouble in the Chinese interbank market, while the renminbi will soon be allowed to trade against the rouble in Russia, Putin said.

“That has forged an important step in bilateral trade and it is a result of the consolidated financial systems of world countries,” he said.

Putin made his remarks after a meeting with Wen. They also officiated at a signing ceremony for 12 documents, including energy cooperation.

The documents covered cooperation on aviation, railroad construction, customs, protecting intellectual property, culture and a joint communiqu. Details of the documents have yet to be released.

Putin said one of the pacts between the two countries is about the purchase of two nuclear reactors from Russia by China’s Tianwan nuclear power plant, the most advanced nuclear power complex in China. – More here and here

Russia’s President Medvedev shakes hands with China’s Premier Jiabao
during their meeting at the presidential residence in Gorki, Russia – Reuter’s photo

China-Russia currency agreement further threatens U.S. dollar

11/25/2010/8:30 P.M. E.S.T.
by Hao Li

China and Russia have agreed to allow their currencies to trade against each other in spot inter-bank markets.

Russia’s President Medvedev shakes hands with China’s Premier Wen Jiabao during their meeting at the presidential residence in Gorki outside Moscow

The motive is to “promote the bilateral trade between China and Russia, facilitate the cross-border trade settlement of [the yuan], and meet the needs of economic entities to reduce the conversion cost,” according to Chinese officials.

This latest move — a continuation in a series of efforts by both countries to move away from U.S. dollar usage in international trade — further threatens the dollar’s reserve currency status.

The dollar has this status because it is currently the currency of international trade.

For example, when Malaysia and Germany exchange goods, the transaction is often denominated in dollars. In particular, oil — something that all modern economies need — is denominated in U.S. dollars, so the currency is almost as indispensable as oil itself.

The dollar reserve currency status allows the U.S. to run up high deficits and have its debt be denominated in the U.S. dollar, which in turn enables it to print unlimited dollars and inflate its way out of debt. America, understandably, wants to protect these privileges.

In fact, some allege that the U.S. wants to protect this status so badly that it invaded Iraq because the country began selling oil in euros instead of dollars. Now, the U.S. is allegedly threatening Iran because of the country’s desire to use euros or Russian rubles in oil transactions.

Meanwhile, China and Russia are gradually revolting against the U.S. dollar. This latest move to shift bilateral trade away from it is significant in itself because China-Russian trade — previously denominated in dollars — is currently around $40 billion per year. For Russia, trade with China is larger than trade with the U.S.

Moreover, as this policy extends to Russian exports of oil and natural gas to China, it threatens the global “petro-currency” status of the U.S. dollar.

According to the International Energy Agency, China is already the largest consumer of energy, although the U.S. is still the largest consumer of oil. However, China, now the largest automobile market in the world, is expected to rapidly increase oil consumption.

Russia is already the second biggest oil exporter and the biggest natural gas exporter in the world.

In other words, the growing importance of Russia and China in the global energy picture — and their phasing out of dollar usage for trading energy commodities — would marginalize the status of the dollar.

Russian ambitions against the dollar for energy exports go back to 2006. That year, former President Vladimir Putin made plans to set up a ruble-denominated oil and natural gas stock exchange in Russia.

“The ruble must become a more widespread means of international transactions. To this end, we need to open a stock exchange in Russia to trade in oil, gas, and other goods to be paid for with rubles…Our goods are traded on global markets. Why are they not traded in Russia,” said Putin, according to RIA Novosti.

For China, it is promoting the use of yuan as a trade settlement currency in Asia. Recently, it allowed its currency to trade against the Malaysian ringgit. Just like the deal with Russia, the purpose of that agreement was to “promote bilateral trade between China and Malaysia and facilitate using the yuan to settle cross-border trade.”

Trade is the major reason for the demand of foreign currencies in the first place. So as countries like China and Russia phase out the usage of U.S. dollars for international trade — including but not limited to oil trade — its status as the world’s reserve currency will continue to slide. – Source

Related Articles:

China Assails Monetary Easing, Citing `Imported Inflation,’ Bubble Risks

11/13/2010/3:04 A.M. G.M.T.-0600
by Sophie Leung

China renewed an attack on quantitative easing, citing the risk of increased prices in emerging economies, a day after the Group of 20 nations said the markets can adopt regulatory steps to cope.

China “doesn’t support” the monetary easing that causes “imported” inflation in developing countries, Commerce Minister Chen Deming told a forum today in Macau, a Chinese special autonomous region. The capital inflows increase the risk of “asset bubbles,” Jin Zhongxia, deputy director general of the international department at the People’s Bank of China, said at the same forum.

The Group of 20 offered emerging economies cover to limit currency swings and stem asset bubbles. The U.S. Federal Reserve fueled concern in emerging economies last week when it announced plans to buy $600 billion of long-term government bonds to reduce borrowing costs and spur growth in a second round of so- called quantitative easing. – More here

Abhisit calls on Asia to use yuan in trade – G20 makes no progress in curbing capital flows
11/13/2010/12:00 AM
from the

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, fearful of the effects of the soaring baht due to massive capital inflows, has proposed the use of the Chinese yuan as a major regional trading currency.

Asia-Pacific leaders will have to discuss measures to deal with the fund inflows after the Group of 20 major economies failed to reach any tangible decisions, Mr Abhisit said yesterday.

“The G20 did not make any progress on the matter and it is difficult to get the United States and China to express their clear stances on the issue. But what we can do is try to cooperate in the region and reduce the impact from currency volatility,” Mr Abhisit said before leaving for the Asian Games in China and an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders’ meeting in Yokohama, Japan, this weekend.

G20 leaders drew a veil over their economic policy disputes in South Korea yesterday. They agreed to tackle tensions that have raised the spectre of a currency war and trade protectionism, but they fell short of already low expectations.

Only vague “indicative guidelines” were set for measuring imbalances between their multi-speed economies. Leaders called a timeout to let tempers cool and left details to be discussed in the first half of next year.

Mr Abhisit echoed a call made by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to use China’s yuan as a major trading currency in the region to reduce the impact of currency volatility, especially linked to the weakening of the US dollar. He said he was the one who proposed the idea to the ADB.

ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda met Mr Abhisit this week to seek Thailand’s support when it tables the proposal at the next meeting of Asean+3 (Asean plus China, Japan and South Korea) finance ministers. – More here


Russian Protesters Defy Putin’s Warning On Illegal Protest Gatherings

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

The Russian protesters who won’t give up
The 31ers are making their protest global after being fenced out of a Moscow square
8/30/2010/20:00 BST

For the Kremlin it has become something of an embarrassment. On the 31st of the month, a group of noisy protesters gather in downtown Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square. They shout slogans against Vladimir Putin and his regime. The 31ers, as they are known, are seeking to defend Russia’s much-abused constitution and in particular article 31 – meant to guarantee freedom of assembly.

Over this year Moscow’s city government has devised various tactics to stop these rallies from taking place, ranging from the brutal to the surreal – the campaign is beginning to look like a convoluted game of chess for control of the square. The authorities have turned down all applications to stage the “Strategy-31” gatherings. And in time-honoured Russian fashion, mayor Yuri Luzhkov has sent in the goons, with riot police deployed on every occasion to arrest protesters and chuck them in the back of police vans. In May police broke a journalist’s arm; in July officials came up with a rival event in the square – a car rally.

Ahead of the latest 31 gathering, these tactics have reached a new level of ridiculousness. The government last week announced it was building an underground car park underneath the square and fenced off the whole area. On Friday, two workmen could be seen slowly digging a small hole next to a statue of Russian futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. It is clear that nobody is in any hurry to get the work completed, which could now drag on for years.

In retaliation, the 31ers have decided to take their protest global – with the first demonstration taking place today outside the Russian Embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens, London and in New York, Helsinki, Berlin and Tel Aviv. “We Russians living abroad cannot stand by quietly and watch as Russia gradually turns into a police state,” Andrey Sidelnikov, organiser of the London picket, says. He adds: “In recent years, in Russia the government has consistently refused to citizens of Russia their legitimate right to assemble freely.”

In the eight months since the rallies started, protesters have included elderly dissidents who fought against the Soviet Union and teenagers who were born in the 1990s, well after the collapse of communism. The protests rarely attract more than a few hundred people – although the rally in May drew a crowd of 2,000, which was violently broken up by police.

At some point, one hopes, Russia’s authoritarian-minded leadership will have to come up with a creative response to Russia’s vigorous social protest movement. A fence simply doesn’t cut it. – Source

Stray Bullets – 31ers Plan Global Protests, Nokia Sued And Sudan’s Child Soldiers
Strategy 31 protests

Russian Protests Set To Go Global:
by Richard Lemmer

A Russian protest group, known informally as the 31ers, are planning to stage global protests against the Russian government’s breaching of the national constitution. Started on July 31 2009, Strategy 31 is a civic movement which holds public protest meetings in Triumfalnaya Square, Moscow, on the 31st day of every month that has 31 days. This is a symbolic reference to article 31 of the Russian Constitution, which asserts the right to peaceful assembly.

January of this year saw more than 150 protesters arrested, including 82-year-old renowned human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva. In July 2010, city officials helped organise a bike festival from 30 July to 1 August, in Triumfalnaya Square; in what many see as a deliberate move to foil the protests. Now, the government has announced the square is out of bounds to the protest group because an underground car park is being built beneath the square, which has been partially fenced off.

In retaliation, the 31ers are planning demonstrations to take place outside the Russian Embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens, London, and in New York, Helsinki, Berlin and Tel Aviv. Viktor Korb, secretary of the Omsk Civic Coalition, told Open Democracy:

Observe the Constitution, the message from our Soviet past, has now become relevant. The possibilities afforded by this disaffection with life in a false imitation of democracy are potentially massive. Unfortunately, our civil society is still fragmented, but Stratergy-31 offers the possibility of uniting on the basis of a common idea.


Video of 31ers protest in Russia:

Related Article:

Russia’s “day of wrath”
Thousands protest across Russia in largest show of discontent since
Vladimir Putin came to power more than a decade ago.

by Miriam Elder – GlobalPost
3/20/2010/15:23 ET in Europe

Opposition supporters shout slogans during a protest rally in St. Petersburg, March 20, 2010. Thousands of Russians rallied against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s government in a string of protests fueled by sharp falls in living standards since the economic crisis hit. (Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters) Click to enlarge photo

KALININGRAD, Russia — They gathered under rainy gray skies — men and women, young and old — demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a man long seen as untouchable in Russia’s tightly controlled political scene.

Cries of “Freedom!” and “Putin resign!” filled Kaliningrad’s dilapidated main square, as up to 5,000 people gathered to take part in a nationwide “Day of Wrath.” From Vladivostok in the far east to this, Russia’s westernmost region, dozens of protests were held today in the largest show of discontent since Putin came to power more than a decade ago.

What began as distinct protests against specific economic policies — a rise in utilities prices, an increased tax on imported cars, environmental concerns — have now been united by a growing concensus on who is to blame, said Vladimir Milov, a former energy minister under Putin and current co-leader of Solidarity, an umbrella opposition movement.

“People are clearly moving from specific economic and social demands to general political demands, from the resignation of local governors to the resignation of Putin’s government,” he said, sitting in a Kaliningrad cafe after flying in from Moscow to observe the day’s events.

“There’s a recognition that political factors, and the government, are to blame,” he said.

As yet, it’s unclear how true that is. Putin’s popularity rating remains high and many of today’s protests garnered just 150 to 500 participants. In Irkutsk, where locals voted in a Communist mayor in local elections last week, dealing a heavy blow to the ruling United Russia party, just 500 people turned out (versus the 2,000 who attended a pre-election protest earlier this month).

In Kaliningrad, the population is certainly calling for political change. Today, protesters wore pins disparaging United Russia and called for the ouster of the Moscow-appointed governor, Georgy Boos. The smell of tangerines filled the air as they held aloft the fruit that has become the symbol of the unpopular leader. “It’s because he used to be fat,” said one protester (failing to mention that his face carries the distinct orange glow of a badly done fake tan).

Kaliningrad has held the largest anti-Putin protest to date, with 12,000 taking to the streets on Jan. 30.

Yet ask anyone here, and they will tell you Kaliningrad is different. Nestled between European Union members Poland and Lithuania, and separated from the Russian mainland, it is unlikely to be the launching pad for a wave of large-scale protests — all the more so since television in Russia remains largely state-controlled, and coverage of events here has been nonexistent.

“Our population is different from Russia,” said Konstantin Polyakov, a regional Duma deputy from United Russia. (Nevermind that Kaliningrad is, actually, Russia.) – 2 page here.

Timeline of the Russian Heatwave of 2010 with Chart, Pictures, Temperature Map and Video

August 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Abnormal hot and dry weather has hit Russian regions in the summer of 2010. Many Russians are suffering from the record-breaking heat and the worst drought in 40 years.

Muscovites wearing masks to breath clear air in smog-ridden Moscow
(yes I see the Russian hottie)

Image from Alexandr Solo via Flickr

Image from Evgeniya Zzubchenko via Flickr

Russians flee villages from fire caused in part by 2010 heat wave

Higher Food Prices: Why a Russian Heatwave Could Burn Your Budget
by Charles Wallace
08/05/2010/ 10:05 AM

Central Russia is having the hottest summer on record — this may not be of major interest in Chicago or L.A., which have their own heat problems to worry about. But we live in a globalized world, and Russia’s high temperatures, complete with raging wildfires, are going to send food prices higher for American consumers in the next few months.

According to reports out of Moscow, the Russian Farmers Union says the wheat crop will be down by an estimated 50% this year. That has sent wheat prices soaring from $5 to $7.25 a bushel on the commodity futures market Wednesday, a 45% jump.

Ephraim Leibtag, an economist with the U.S. Agriculture Department’s economic research service, says the “pass-through” rate of commodity prices is about 5% to 15% at the retail level.

With a 45% increase in wheat prices, Leibtag expects the cost of wheat-based products like bread, pasta, and flour to rise about 2% to 4% in grocery stores. Consumer goods like breakfast cereal probably won’t rise as fast because they contain sugar and ingredients other than wheat.

Paying More for a Caffeine Jolt

And it’s not just wheat prices that are going up, either.

J.M. Smucker (SJM), which distributes Folgers and such other coffee brands as Dunkin’ Donuts and Millstone, announced on Tuesday that it’s raising prices 9%, effective immediately. The company had already raised prices by 4% in May.

Wholesale coffee prices hit a 12-year high on Monday after a string of bad harvests in Colombia, the supplier of premium Arabica coffee.

And cocoa, the main ingredient in a host of chocolate confectionary items, hit a 33-year high of $3,092 a ton on July 30, following a sharp fall in production in Ivory Coast, West Africa, where plant diseases have caused the harvest to shrink by 15% in the last five years.

“A lot of the key commodities that go into food products and baked goods are trending upward right now,” says Christopher Shanahan, food industry analyst for San Antonio, Texas-based research firm Frost & Sullivan.

“When there’s uncertainty in the price of a commodity, processors and retailers will act on that and try to increase prices to either take advantage of the news or put a buffer on in case their material costs go up faster than expected,” Shanahan says.

Knock-On Effects

One side effect of the wheat price rise is the possibility it will cause the price of other commodities, like corn and soybeans, to climb too. If that happens, prices for beef, pork and chicken will also probably go up because corn and soybeans are widely used in animal feed.

Corn, which averaged around $3.50 a bushel earlier this year, was trading at $4.15 a bushel on commodities markets Wednesday. Soybeans, which averaged $9.40 to $9.50, were trading at $10.28 a bushel Wednesday.

“If wheat supplies are down, then demand for the other commodities is going to go up,” Shanahan says. “Prices of all commodities are impacted by wheat.”

Shanahan says the stocks of retail grocery firms probably won’t be hit by the cost increases because they pass those hikes along to consumers. But he notes manufacturers could feel the pinch, especially if oil prices continue to rise beyond the $80 a barrel level. – Source

Related Article:

Russia Bans Grain Exports Amid Drought

Video: Wildfires and Drought Destroy 25% of Russian’s Grain Crops. Affecting Third World Countries

Deadly Russian heat wave gravest over millennium

Russia has recently seen the longest unprecedented heat wave for at least one thousand years, the head of the Russian Meteorological Center said on Monday.

Wildfires continue to rage across much of the central part of European Russia as the country experiences a heat wave, with temperatures of up to and above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

“We have an ‘archive’ of abnormal weather situations stretching over a thousand years. It is possible to say there was nothing similar to this on the territory of Russia during the last one thousand years in regard to the heat,” Alexander Frolov said.

He said scientists received information on ancient weather conditions by exploring lake deposits.

Frolov also said Russia’s grain crop may decrease by at least 30% compared to last year.

On Thursday, Russia imposed a ban on the export of grain and grain products that will last from August 15 to December 31, though First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said the ban may be changed after the harvest is calculated in October. – Source

Russia Heat Wave May Kill 15,000, Shave $15 Billion of GDP
8/10/2010/8:02 A.M. PT
by Lucian Kim and Maria Levitov

A man puts his head into a fountain as he tries to cool down near the Kremlin in Moscow.

Russia’s record heat wave may already have taken 15,000 lives and cost the economy $15 billion as fires and drought ravage the country.

At least 7,000 people have probably died in Moscow as a result of the heat, and the nationwide death toll is likely to be at least twice that figure, according to Jeff Masters, co- founder of Weather Underground, a 15-year-old Internet weather service that gathers information from around the world.

“The Russian population affected by extreme heat is at least double the population of Moscow, and the death toll in Russia from the 2010 heat wave is probably at least 15,000, and may be much higher,” Masters said late yesterday on his blog.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took to the air today to douse a forest fire south of Moscow. The heat wave may slice 1 percent off of Russia’s $1.5 trillion economy this year because of lower agricultural output and reduced activity in other areas such as industry, Alexander Morozov, chief economist at HSBC Holdings Plc in Moscow, said in an e-mail today.

Russia may harvest a third less grain than last year because of drought, Putin said yesterday. Companies such as automaker OAO AvtoVAZ have curbed production, and restaurants in Moscow are seeing a decline in customers as residents avoid smoke from wildfires that is blanketing the city.

Putin, 57, is leading government relief efforts, banning grain exports until the end of the year and traveling to the worst affected areas. State television showed him in the cockpit of a Be-200 firefighting plane today as it scooped up water from a river to extinguish two fires in the Ryazan region.

Moscow Smoke

In the Moscow region, planes are unable to fight fires because of thick smoke. Aircraft are on stand-by for when the air clears, Rossiya-24 television reported. The capital broke another record today when the temperature reached 32.8 degrees Celsius (91 Fahrenheit).

While the official death toll from fires in central Russia is 52, the heat and smoke in Moscow have almost doubled the city’s normal death rate to about 700 a day, Andrei Seltsovsky, head of the city’s public health department, said yesterday in a televised news conference.

Masters, who has a Ph.D. in air pollution meteorology, used those numbers to calculate a nationwide death toll. As many as 50,000 people died during a European heat wave seven years ago, he said. – More here with video

2010 Russian Heat Wave Causes Smog, Wildfires and Drought
by Maureen K. Fleury

Record-breaking temperatures that began in late June have been responsible for crop failure, hundreds of fires and poor air quality in Russia.

Many towns and villages in Central and Western Russia have been destroyed by wildfires propelled by dry vegetation and lack of manpower to fight the fires. The air quality has deteriorated to the point of a stagnant blanket of smog trapping harmful particulates.

Drought Conditions in Russia

In a BBC news report dated July 29, 2010, “A state of emergency has been declared in more than 20 drought-hit regions. It is estimated a fifth of the country’s wheat crop has now died due to the lack of rain in what is thought to be the country’s worst drought for more than a century.”

Officials are concerned that there will be no little or no wheat available for export this year.

Wildfires in Russia

In a report by The Guardian on August 2, 2010 it was noted,” The president, Dmitry Medvedev, declared a state of emergency in seven regions as firefighters struggled to contain about 600 blazes covering an estimated 309,000 acres (125,000 hectares). Strong winds added to the difficulty. Several villages in the Nizhny Novgorod, Voronezh and Ryazan regions were reduced to drifts of ash.”

Forest fires and peat fires have also approached the areas that lie south and west of Moscow where there is a risk of the fires reactivating contaminated property caused by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The fires also pose a risk to military installations and to the nuclear research headquarters in Savov. As a precaution, all explosive and radioactive materials have been removed, in addition to the relocation of missiles and artillery.

Impact of the Heat Wave in Moscow

A thick blanket of smog has smothered Moscow and the air quality is extremely poor. The BBC also reported “pollution levels in parts of the city are 10 times higher than normal safety limits.”

Temperatures soared upwards of 97F (36C) and one day, the thermometers read 108F (42C). Forecasters predict that the heat wave will continue for at least another week.

According to a report by the PBS News Hour on August 9, 2010. “Heat stroke and complications from air quality have nearly doubled death rates in Moscow, from about 360 deaths a day to about 700, according to Moscow’s health department. Carbon monoxide levels are two to three times higher than the level considered healthy.”

Authorities have warned residents to stay home and to wear facemasks if going outdoors. The warning also suggested the limitation of physical activity. The visibility at Moscow’s airport was reduced to 1,200 feet (350 meters) and this caused the cancellation and delays of over 100 flights. In the Moscow region alone, over 50 fires have been reported.

PBS reported that 52 people have lost their lives in the fires since the heat wave started at the end of June. The Guardian stated that more than 2,000 people have died by drowning when cooling off in the lakes and rivers. Many of these deaths have been alcohol related.


Fires Rage on as Moscow Suffers ‘Hottest Day Ever’. BBC News, World-Europe. July 29, 2010.

Parfitt, Tom. Russian Wildfires Kill 34 in Heatwave. The Guardian, World News. August 2, 2010.

Miller, Talea. Heat Wave, Wildfires Pummel Russia. PBS News Hour. August 9, 2010. – Source

Fire battle continues as new wave of smoke expected in Moscow

Moscow is bracing itself for another uncomfortable cloud of smog. Experts warn that after a brief respite, a new wave of noxious smoke is likely to engulf the city.

While Muscovites are enjoying fresh air in the capital, a burst of new blazes is expected to come late Thursday and Friday. The new fires are expected to be less intense than other recent infernos.

Doctors predict a rise in respiratory diseases in the coming autumn and winter, as smoke and heat in the city have weakened peoples’ immune systems. – More here with downloadable video

We are facing global climate anomaly – meteorologist

Several weeks of sweltering heat which have gripped Central Russia have again stirred up the debate about global warming.

Meteorologist Vadim Zavodchenkov, from an independent weather information service, explains what has been behind the seasonal shift and predicts where it could lead the coming winter.

“There are several factors there,” Zavochenkov told RT. “First of all, of course, it’s down to nature. There’s also the human factor, as people’s influence on nature is rarely positive. But there also a more global factor that I want to mention. The earth as apart of the universe is affected by outer space.”

The scientist claimed solar activity and its variations are among the strongest impacts on Earth and said that now the sun is in one of the longest calm periods of its cycle for decades, which affects the air streams’ circulation. – More here with downloadable video

The Russian Heatwave had nothing to do with global warming as this article below shows:

More on the Russian heat wave – satellite analysis
by Steve Goddard
minor editing by Daniel Knight

Dr. Pielke’s excellent post gave me an idea. NASA said:

Not all parts of the Russian Federation experienced unusual warmth on July 20–27, 2010. A large expanse of northern central Russia, for instance, exhibits below-average temperatures. Areas of atypical warmth, however, predominate in the east and west. Orange- and red-tinged areas extend from eastern Siberia toward the southwest, but the most obvious area of unusual warmth occurs north and northwest of the Caspian Sea. These warm areas in eastern and western Russia continue a pattern noticeable earlier in July, and correspond to areas of intense drought and wildfire activity.

Looking at the NASA image, it is clear that more land is below normal temperatures than is above. So I generated the map below, which flattens all areas of above and below normal temperatures. – More here

Related News:

Moscow weather sets sixth record in August

Heat wave breaks another temperature record in Moscow

Moscow records highest ever temperature

Moscow celebrates Russia Day in grips of record-breaking heat

Teen hammers father to death over computer game

April 16, 2010 2 comments

From (04/16/2010/13:45):

A 14-year-old boy killed his sleeping father with a sledgehammer after his parents told him not to play a computer game overnight and took away the keyboard.

Yaroslav Melnichenko committed the horrible crime in cold blood and feels no remorse for the fratricide, reports Life News tabloid.

Moreover, he told investigators that initially he planned to kill the mother because she was the one to stand between him and the game, but then he thought the father would wake up and stop him, so he decided to kill the man.

In the middle of the night the boy sneaked into the parents’ bedroom, covered the head of his father with a plastic bag and landed six strikes with a sledgehammer. The bag was to prevent blood from splattering on him, he later explained to the police.

Then the murderer demanded his keyboard from the shocked mother, took her mobile phone, locked the door and went straight to the computer to play a dark-themed fantasy role-playing game.

Relatives describe Yaroslav as a reclusive youngster with almost no friends and addicted to computer games. They also said that the parents had spoiled him, bringing him up with little discipline and making him the only heir to the family business – a resort hotel on the Black Sea. The shocking case also has a Freudian twist, as the boy said during the investigation that “now he was head of the family.”

The murderous teen now faces up to 10 years in prison for the crime. –  Source

Related Story:

South Korean children face gaming curfew

04/13/2010/12:21 UK

The South Korean government is introducing policies aimed at curbing the amount of time children spend playing online games.

The first involves barring online gaming access to young people of school age between 12am (midnight) and 8am.

The other policy suggests slowing down people’s internet connections after they have been logged on to certain games for a long period of time.

The Culture Ministry is calling on games providers to implement the plans.

It is asking the companies to monitor the national identity numbers of their players, which includes the age of the individual.

Parents can also choose to be notified if their identity number is used online.

“The policy provides a way for parents to supervise their children’s game playing,” Lee Young-ah from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism told Reuters.

The Korea Herald reports that Barameui Nara, Maple Story and Mabinogi, three popular virtual worlds, will introduce the blackout later this year.

Meanwhile role playing games “Dungeon and Fighter” and “Dragon Nest” will pilot the connection slowing scheme.

A total of 19 role playing games will eventually be included – a huge proportion of the online gaming market in the country.

South Korea has sophisticated high speed broadband connections and online gaming is enormously popular.

But there has been growing concern over the amount of time its citizens spend in virtual worlds and playing online games.

A couple whose baby daughter starved while they spent up to 12 hours a day in internet cafes raising a virtual child online have made headlines around the world.

They were charged with negligent homicide and are due to be sentenced on 16 April. – SourceMore info.

Who with common sense would put their faith in the Russian Orthodox sect after this?

Not surprising to me, the Pentecostal “Assembly of God” denomination, which is plagued with Arminians (heretic Christians who deny that God gives eternal life upon asking him for forgiveness by saying in various ways that man’s will can negate God’s promise and gift of eternal life / God’s will), has also shown it’s weakness in a related tragedy (and no doubt many other times, but not always connected to their denomination or publicized widely):

Daniel Petric killed mother, shot father because they took Halo 3 video game, prosecutors say
by Karl Turnerr
12/15/2008/10:47 AM

Mark Petric, who is a minister, cries during testimony in the trial of his son Daniel.

Previous post: Pastor’s son charged in mother’s murder, father’s shooting

ELYRIA — Daniel Petric shot his parents — killing his mother — because they wouldn’t allow him to play the violent video game Halo 3, prosecutors told a judge at the boy’s murder trial Monday.

The trial, on charges of murder and attempted murder, opened Monday for Petric, 17, of Brighton Township. He is being tried without a jury before Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge. – More here.

More information:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful,
proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control,
brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited,
lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
having a form of godliness but denying its power.
Have nothing to do with them.

2 Timothy 3:1-5