February 27, 2009

Canada PM concerned by "aggressive" Russia

Per Reuters, "Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking after it emerged that a Russian bomber had flown toward Canada before U.S. President Barack Obama visited last week, said on Friday he was deeply worried about Moscow's 'increasingly aggressive' actions."

A Russian bomber neared Canadian airspace less than 24 hours before Obama's visit, but it did turn back when it was asked to, according to the article.

Russian News and Information Agency Novosti published a story today noting that a government source in Russia was astonished by the accusation, adding that it was nothing more than a "routine flight."

Twitter users in Canada were buzzing about the story.

@carlospdiaz (Toronto, Ontario): The Russians are coming?: Canadian jets scrambled to intercept Russian bomber before Obama visit http://bit.ly/DzTsc

@LifeofJames (Alberta): So Russia sent a bomber into our airspace on Obama's visit. We intercepted it with F18's and sent it home. Shades of the Cold War much?

@shawndearn (Ottawa, Ontario): Jets scrambled to intercept Russian bomber in arctic. Memo to Russia: COLD WAR IS OVER. http://bit.ly/2R8Mu

The Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado tweeted confirmation of an incident of some kind just a few hours ago.

@noradnorthcom (Colorado Springs, Col.): Canada's MND, during Gen Renuart's Ottawa visit, confirmed intercept of 2 Russia bombers by NORAD CF-18 fighters before Obama Feb. 19 visit

American twitterers also took note of the story.

@mwmeadows (Dallas, Texas): What if Russia launched an attack on Canada?

@Topher_Campbell (Boston, Mass.): Russian bomber neared Canada before Obama visit - http://tinyurl.com/cf3fql. Interesting to see Russia test US and Canada.

@rob_k_84 (Minnesota): Whoa, Russia tried to bomb Canada?

No tweets about this developing story could be found in Russia as of this post, in English or Russian, except for a tweet from the media outlet mentioned earlier (@RIA_Novosti) which linked to the story on its Web site.


Panel urges Obama to re-establish ties with Cuba

Per CNN, a Washington think tank has suggested that President Barack Obama re-establish relations with Cuba. The group—made up of 19 academics, opinion leaders and diplomats—proposed lifting travel restrictions to Cuba, allowing U.S. residents to send money to people in Cuba and enabling Cubans to travel in the U.S. under certain requirements, according to the article.

Twitter users commented:

kristinquintas (Miami, Florida): Think tank urges Obama to ease U.S. policy on Cuba..http://tinyurl.com/aq43ls (expand) What are ur views

josephchez (California): We've had a 50 yr ecomomic boycot on Cuba, while doing bussiness with other communist countries. President Obama, tear down the wall!

MMHollywood (Austin, TX): Do it OBAMA ... http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/27/us.cuba.relations/index.html


Airline plans charge for mile high bathroom breaks

Per RTE, Irish-based low-cost airline Ryanair is considering charging passengers to use on-board toilets. The potential move comes as the airline looks at new ways to cut costs and generate extra revenue. Last week, Ryanair announced it would close all traditional check-in desks, making passengers check-in online or at airport kiosks instead.

Twitter users have been quick to deride the plan. In searches on Friday, comments in favor of charging to use toilets on Ryanair flights could not easily be found.

@99luftaballoons (Rio de Janeiro) Will Ryan Air start charging for use of a defibrillator as well?

@_sivanath (Silcon Valley, USA) I wudn't want to fly long distance on Ryan Air bit.ly/dpwz3 But love to see how they handle folks who don't want to spend extra -:)

@julescyprus (Cyprus) Ryan air charging a pound for a penny??? IF i ever flew them... NOT.. Y NOT book a seat in the loo for journey!! yes a (cheap airfare)

@dpkamoen (Los Angeles, USA) just read that Ryan Air wants to charge passengers 1 Euro for each visit to the toilet on flights. How much for a barf bag?

@stuartridout (Milton Keynes, England) Ryan Air can't be far off putting chip & pin machines on oxygen masks @tinyurl.com/cr56mk

@pkiss (Hamburg, Germany) starting to collect 1-€-coins, even if I'm not a Ryan Air customer: tinyurl.com/cdkapc

@llsand Paris, France Ryan Air want their customers to pay 1£ to go the bathroom on their planes ??? Cheap bastards !

@XdentalXtremist (NYC, USA) Not flying Ryan Air anytime soon: tinyurl.com/dyj9lt


Students warned against spring break in Mexico

Per CBS News, tens of thousands of high school and college-age Americans looking forward to spring break may have to postpone their travel plans. Schools and universities across the nation are urging their student bodies not to travel to Mexico due to the escalating violence among the nation's drug cartels.

Per the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, a travel alert for U.S. citizens going Mexico was issued on Feb. 20. The alert expires in August.

@HannaSoltys: Hoping to talk the brother out of the Spring Break trip to Rocky Point, Mexico next weekend. Would like to remain alive.

Those students near the Texas border are anxious about travel plans:

@hkhacker (Dallas, Texas): Any TX universities warning students not to go to Mexico for spring break?

Behind the cynicism of some Twitterers, there are legit concerns for violence.

@desertpenquin (Sun City, Ariz.): March Madness coming, in the gambling mood? What is the over/under on the number of US kids killed or kidnapped in Mexico over spring break?

@chakabrown: The drug war in mexico is ramping up, just in time for spring break, tequila and margaritas along with columbian neck ties and beheading.

The Twitter community is working together to seek and give advice to others for spring break plans in Mexico:

@jessedcaron (Fresno, CA): Were considering canceling our Mexico Spring Break Mission Trip because of increasing danger. I would appreciate thoughts.

@Chanchoy (Miami, FL): Jamaica is a good alternative to Mexico for spring break, cheap flights available and everthing thats available in Mexico.


Broke bank chief in pension stand-off

Per BBC Scotland, the former chief of the Royal Bank of Scotland Sir Fred Goodwin is refusing to give up his £16 million ($22.6 million) pension, despite his company posting record losses of £24 billion ($34 billion) and receiving a multi-billion dollar bailout from the British Government.

The story is headline news at all the Scottish newspaper websites. Edinburgh's The Scotsman reports that the former bank boss is "defiant" about giving up any of his pension. Meanwhile The Glasgow Herald uses video interviews to tell the story and Aberdeen's Press & Journal claims that Sir Fred is "furious" details of his pension plan have been leaked to the media.

Here's what Twitter users have to say on the subject - including news that Sir Fred Goodwin might himself be on Twitter:

@handlewithcare (Shoreditch, London) Surprised that Fred Goodwin's £16m pension makes the front page when the govt's £300bn bet on RBS gets shunted to page 6

@DavidTurner1 (Yorkshire, UK) Hands up who expected RBS's Fred Goodwin to give up his pension? He's a banker - if they gave a damn, they'd be social workers.

@LesArmitage (Rufford, England) Hey I bank at the RBS too. Will they dump my toxic debt with theirs :)

@Jimble1 (Swindon, England) Can you believe Sir Fred Goodwin is unwilling to give up any of his pension even though he has manged to lead RBS to failure

@GillyLiz (London, England) I think they should give the RBS boss a big chinese burn until he coughs up his pension

@foshjedi2004 (Swansea, Wales) thinks a 600k pension to the RBS guy is wrong - he should be forced to have a state pension! Its not as if he isn't already a millionaire..

@ryanajarrett (Kent, England) Apparently ex-RBS boss Fred Goodwin is on Twitter - is this for real? Either way, I wonder how much abuse he'll get! http://bit.ly/yqUtJ

However, the @sirfredgoodwin account does not appear to be authentic. Its first updates only came hours ago, and as a breaking news story develops, that is often a red flag for an impostor.


Former Serbian leader cleared of war crimes

Per BBC, former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic has been acquitted of war crimes and crimes against humanity by a UN war crimes tribunal.

While Milutinovic was acquitted, five former top Serbian officals were convicted on some or all of the charges they faced resulting from a 1990s conflict, according to BBC. The sentences for those convicted range from 15 to 22 years, per the article.

A twitterer in Kosovo called the ruling a "Big victory."

@arianitd (Kosovo): Serb president not guilty. But 5 other members of the state criminal enterprise guilty. Big victory for Kosovo. Civil case next?

Other tweets from Europe and elsewhere demonstrated a sense of surprise.

@ZlatkoGR (Polygyros, Greece): Κάτσε... Ο Milutinovic βρέθηκε αθώος; Κάτι έχω χάσει εδώ πέρα (Sit ... A Milutinovic found innocent? Something I miss here)

@dskp (Boston/L.A.): What happened in Kosovo was NOT a crime against humanity? WTF UN? Sentences r [expletive] weak http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7911761.stm

@DennisBeatty(Indianapolis, Ind.) Milan Milutinovic was found not guilty at the Hague, does that mean Clinton was worse than Bush? At least Hussein was found guilty

@cafemir (Atlanta, Ga.): Milosevic's post-humus acquittal by the Hague of war crimes against Kosovo Albanians http://is.gd/l3pz - what kind of justice is that?


U.S., Iran exchange blows over nuclear plans

Per the AP: America will try to end Iran's nuclear ambitions and its "support for terrorism," the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said. Ambassador Susan Rice made the remark at a Security Council meeting, prompting a sharp rebuke from Iranian envoy Mohammad Khazee.

Khazee maintained the position that they seeks nuclear power for peaceful use only, and said the accusation that they support terrorism is "baseless and absurd." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he would welcome talks with President Obama on a basis of mutual respect.

Meanwhile, AFP reported that European powers are considering sanctions on any parties connected to Iran's nuclear program.

One Twitterer pointed to Iran's accusation that Obama's government "sounds like Bush."

@weeklypoint: Iran: Obama Makes Same Accusations as Bush at http://tinyurl.com/cgeefl (expand)

Despite Iran's insistence that its intentions are peaceful, the specter of nuclear weapons fueled fear ranging from cynical to apocalyptic.

@Criminal: The economy is in the toilet, Iran is building nukes, North Korea has a missle that can hit the US, and Jon couldn't find an easy micro. :-0

@LastDaysNews: Barak Says Israel will ‘Stop at Nothing’ to Deny Iran Nukes http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/130150

@wns_195 (Dewsbury, England): seeded "The Iran-Israel nuclear endgame is now much closer" ( http://tinyurl.com/crtk9r (expand) )

Some encouraged Israel to attack Iran.

@Patriot223 (Palm Beach, FL): @danaseverance Our little brother Israel will need to hit Iran soon. nuclear proliferation CAN NOT HAPPEN. These people hate us.

A scientific journal analyzed whether Iran could actually pose a nuclear weapons threat.

@naturenews: Iran's nuclear plant test at Bushehr yesterday was successful. See our briefing on the country's nuclear plans http://tinyurl.com/cn8snu (expand)

A Twittered post from an official U.K. news service clarified Britain's position.

@HMGOV: #FCOblogs Iran's Bushehr reactor: Some say switching on Iran's Bushehr reactor on 25 February will only.. http://twurl.nl/p4urur (expand)

Other Twitterers questioned anti-Iran sentiment.

@andrewmackenzie (Las Vegas, NV): Wondering whose money is behind this slick Iran isolation campaign web site. http://www.unitedagainstnucleariran.com/video/view/4

@IndustryCanada (Canada): @mattgood Kindly refrain from spreading those postings about Iran. We're trying to fake an inroad into war. We need more OIL control!