11 November 2013, 15:36

Russia to enforce GLONASS

Russia to enforce GLONASS

Russia turns away from GPS

Majority of Russians support arrest of Greenpeace activists

Nuclear talks with Iran end at an impasse

Egypt looks to revive old ties with Russia

Russia takes Olympic torch to outer space

US courts see rise in defendants blaming their brains for criminal acts

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As of 2014, phones with only GPS will be illegal in Russia, Moskovskiy Komsomolets writes. In order to be imported into the country, mobile devices will have to support GLONASS – satellite navigation system, developed in Russia. A new bill claims that in order to guarantee stable operation of a unified telecom network in Russia regardless of conditions it’s necessary that the satnav system used by devices on its territory was controlled by the Russian Federation. The daily also notes that creation of conditions for effective use of GLONASS by all cellphones in Russia is one of priorities of the development of the system. Thus, new requirements for mobile devices with satellite navigation capabilities are soon to follow. The bill’s authors note that after the bill is adopted, its requirements will cover all manufacturers and vendors of cellphones, making it impossible to cell a mobile device without GLONASS support on the territory of the country: the Telecom Ministry and industry watchdog Roskomnadzor will oversee the changes.


The majority of Russians surveyed by Levada Center pollster support the arrest of Greenpeace activists, involved in the Prirazlomnaya oil platform incident Izvestia writes. The article reminds that September 18, a group of Greenpeace ecologists sailed on Arctic Sunrise watercraft to Prirazlomnaya oil platform and conducted an illegal attempt to board it. Following the incident, the crew was arrested and tried – initially they were charged with piracy, but then the charges were downgraded to hooliganism. 56% of those polled on the subject, believe that activists should have been arrested as their actions posed danger for the platform’s operation and infringed on Russia’s sovereignty. 26% are against, believing that activists only tried to warn of dangers of arctic oil drilling and claiming that the Investigative Committee protects not Russia’s interests, but those of oil companies. At the same time, 54% of respondents believe Greenpeace cares about the environment but chooses controversial methods for its activity; 28% believe it’s a business which tries to eliminate competition under the guise of environmental protection.


Two days of negotiations, the most direct and extended high-level contact between the United States and Iran in more than three decades, ended early on Sunday without agreement on a plan on Iran’s disputed nuclear program, The Washington Post writes, noting that the sides will try to reach an agreement once again November 20. At the same time, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said at a news conference that the talks between Iran and six major powers had been “very productive” and that all sides were determined to continue the efforts. The talks stalled over technical issues, the daily notes, including details of nuclear concessions required of Iran, and the incentives the Islamic Republic would receive in return. Among the obstacles were disagreements between France and other members of the six-nation bloc. The newspaper writes that arms-control advocates, while disappointed in the outcome, said they were encouraged the sides came as close as they did. For instance, Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the negotiators’ obvious determination was a positive sign.

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Egyptian politicians visited Moscow late last week. Kommersant reports that the delegation, consisting of officials with close ties to the new military government of the African nation, sought to “return strategic status to bilateral relations – like it was in the Soviet Times.” According to their statement made to the newspaper, Cairo hopes that Russia will help Egypt resist pressure from the United States, who openly criticized ousting of the Islamist President Mohhamed Morsi and revoked the bulk of its assistance to the nation. At the same time, Cairo promised to lobby Moscow’s interests in the Middle East and even went as far as to express willingness to host “facilities, allied to Russia.” Experts interviewed by the daily are skeptical over the possibility of true strategic partnership between Moscow and Cairo; Egyptians also admit that they do not see an alternative to dealing with the United States. However, experts do believe that Russia may seek certain benefits from the proposal – including weapons contracts – shipments of new arms and maintenance of existing military hardware.


The Moscow Times has an update on Russia’s Olympic torch relay. Last week the country, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in less than three months, took the torch to outer space. Sochi 2014 Winter Games organizing committee president Dmitry Chernyshenko said he would like to see a country try to surpass Russia's achievement. "We have shown the entire world what we are capable of, very vividly," Chernyshenko said, joking: "If anyone can do better, let them try.” He added: "The reaction across the globe has been extremely positive. Everyone has been talking about it, it has had immense attention and there has been real respect, without irony, that Russia has put a torch in space. The idea was to unite the country around this event, and we succeeded. We can draw a parallel with sport's highest achievements." Chernyshenko also noted that the entire endeavor cost Russia very little because the spacewalk was required anyway to conduct routine maintenance on the international space station. It was the first time a torch had ever been exposed to the vacuum of space, the newspaper concludes.


Criminal courts in the United States are facing a surge in the number of defendants arguing that their brains were to blame for their crimes, The Guardian reports. Defense of such criminals rely on questionable scans and other controversial, unproven neuroscience, a legal expert who has advised the U.S. President has warned. Nita Farahany, a professor of law who sits on Barack Obama's bioethics advisory panel, told a Society for Neuroscience meeting that attorneys typically drew on brain scans and neuropsychological tests to reduce defendants' sentences, but in a substantial number of cases the evidence was used to try to clear defendants of all culpability. quote "What is novel is the use by criminal defendants to say, essentially, that my brain made me do it.”end quote. The daily writes that legal and scientific experts foresee the trend spreading to other countries, including the UK, and Farahany said she was expanding her work abroad. Despite the fact that the science is often poorly understood, and that some experts say it is too flimsy to use in court, such evidence has swayed judgments in the past.

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