Russian military seeking dolphin w/ perfect teeth. seriously.

I recently came across an article entitled “Russia looks to buy five dolphins with perfect teeth and killer instinct.”  I assumed it was published by the Onion but it actually was from the Guardian (and not April Fool’s Day).

The article explains that the Russian military is “seeking two female and three male dolphins between three and five years old with perfect teeth and no physical impairments.”  Hmm, is there a match.com for militaries and marine mammals?  Do the marine mammals know that they have signed up for this matching website? I love the part about the perfect teeth.  It’s good to be specific about what you are really looking for in a combat dolphin.

dolphin

Apparently both the US and the Soviets deployed dolphins during the cold war for a variety of activities, including being trained to “detect submarines, underwater mines and spot suspicious objects or individuals near harbours and ships.”  Wow, an arms race in marine mammals?  Would that be a flipper race?

And the US use of sea mammals did not end with the Cold War.  The article notes that the US deployed sea lions “to Bahrain in 2003 to support Operation Enduring Freedom after the 9/11 attacks.”

Here is a link to the website for the US Navy Marine Mammal Program and a description of which mammals they use and why:

“Dolphins are essential because their exceptional biological sonar is unmatched by hardware sonars in detecting objects in the water column and on the sea floor. Sea lions are used because they have very sensitive underwater directional hearing and exceptional vision in low light conditions.  While dogs work as effective sentries on land, dolphins and sea lions cannot be outmatched as sentries in the water.”

Thankfully, the page also notes that the animals are released “almost daily untethered into the open ocean, and since the program began, only a few animals have not returned.”  It’s a weird, weird world we live in folks.

sealion

Cultural Appropriation: Sub-continent style

Mumbai recently hosted a Hindu Spiritual Fair.  There was an advertisement promoting women’s honor.  Who do you think was the poster girl for such a program?  Margaret Thatcher, naturally.  We at CG have only one question:  wtf?

thatcher

and Hindus can look to Einstein and Mark Twain for patriotic inspiration.  Yep, that makes a lot of sense.

 

h/t @PragyaTiwari

What’s really going on with Zimbabwe?

The FT has an interesting piece on Western governments’ new attitude towards Zimbabwe.  They write that “Zimbabwe is close to striking a landmark deal with western multilateral institutions that would see it clear billions in arrears of unpaid debt, access new funds for its troubled economy and end more than 15 years of international isolation.”

I find this odd.  Why are Western governments suddenly so eager to work with a pariah state like Zimbabwe to get back in the good graces of the international community?  As Nelson Chamisa, an opposition MP, noted, “re-engagement would “embolden the dictatorship” and weaken the opposition. ‘Zimbabweans cannot understand why there’s been an easing of the pressure . . . Nothing has changed.'”  Indeed, nothing has changed on the surface.

Mugabe is 91 years old and there will clearly be a change of power sooner or later.  The article mentions that but it still isn’t obvious to me why the change of heart.  Zimbabwe owes the IMF over $100 million and it has been in “continuous arrears” since 2001.  And that’s just the beginning.  It also owes the World Bank about $1.2 billion and $600 million to the African Development Bank.

Western governments tried to pressure China to pony up new loans to help Zimbabwe out but they wisely said no deal.  Somehow the new negotiations involve Algeria lending the dysfunctional government $900 million.  I’m not even sure where to start with this.  Why is  Algeria, a very poor country, loaning another poor (and poorly managed) country $900 million?  How does Algeria even have that much money just laying around that it can loan it out?  And what do Algerians have to say about the worst loan idea ever?  Clearly the Zimbabwean government doesn’t have a stellar track record on loan repayment, so why would any government want to loan them more?  Especially an underdeveloped one that could obviously use those $900 million at home.

So what’s really going on here?  Is Algeria being pressured to loan this money?  If so, why?  If not, what are they expecting as a reward for doing so?  They clearly aren’t loaning the money altruistically or in expectation of huge financial dividends.

Does anyone have any ideas or backstory to this news?

 

 

 

Then they came for the cabbage…

Alec Luhn, a journalist based in Moscow, tweets this wonderful photo and comment yesterday:

cabbage

Moscow mayor Sobyanin executes a cabbage with a cavalry sword on city day as part of ban on imported food.

Well, I should be clear.  The photo is wonderful for fans of satire and irony, but obviously very bad for consumers in Russia.  Kevin thinks he just likes to be dramatic when he makes coleslaw.