Posts Tagged ‘russia’

Figure-Ground in an Age of Set Color Palettes

Friday, July 24th, 2009

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[Editor’s note: This map from the Economist suffers from stiff adherence to a limited color palette. Not only are red and green, the two primary colors used, hard to distinguish (1, 2, 3) for 8% of men (use Color Oracle to test), but it’s just hard to focus on what the topic of the map is. Because of it’s complexity (there are 3 different legends, with a total of 9 basic map classes), this map tips towards being a reference map rather than an explainer map (which usually just focuses on a max of 3 top-level classes). When I say “figure” here, I mean “what is the focus of the graphic”. By “ground” I mean the background, supporting elements (5+ here) that help locate and provide context for the figure.

The graphic treatments on the green-tinted land, blue-tinted water, Arctic circle, solid country lines in brown, dashed province lines in brown, and a white water vignette compete directly with the figure instead of supporting it. While this basic color palette works for simple locators, an explainer graphic like this suffers from strict adherence.

A possible redesign might include using white water fill instead of blue (and thus avoid the water vignette, necessitated by the small 7% difference in HSV value  between the green and blue right next to each other), a creme-beige instead of green for the land, grey lines for the country and provinces, and different hues entirely for the Inuit and Sami areas but that share the same saturation and value (one is dull now, the other bright). The dots and dashes that distinguish the ice extents  is done well, but the lines should offset from each other in the Greenland Sea.

The key objective: if it’s important enough to put on the map and feature in the figure (to include it in the legend), make it clearly legible.]

Republished from the Economist.
Jul 16th 2009 | NUUK, GREENLAND

The rights of Arctic peoples: Not a barren country
More political powers for the indigenous people of the Arctic could soon be matched by more economic clout

THE crowds in Nuuk, Greenland’s pretty coastal capital, marked the devolution of more powers from Denmark, on midsummer’s day, with cheers, processions and flags. The town thronged with men in white anoraks and women in kalaallisuut, an outfit of sealskin boots and trousers set off with a beaded top. Even a dusting of summer snow failed to chill the mood.

The newly elected prime minister of Greenland, Kuupik Kleist, who represents an Inuit-dominated party, promised that his country would act as an “equal partner” with Denmark, the old colonial power. The Danish prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, responded with a pledge that Greenland could claim full independence whenever it chooses. A more cordial separation is hard to imagine.

Continue reading at the Economist . . .

Suddenly, a Wider World Below the Waterline (Economist)

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

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[Editor's note: Nations around the world are laying claim to areas beyond their 200-nautical-mile limit to lay claim to underwater mineral riches like oil and gas, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic, as detailed in last month's National Geographic magazine. Note the use of Southern Ocean on this map for waters around Antarctica south of 60 degrees.]

Republished from the Economist. May 14th 2009
Related story: St Pierre and Miquelon – Squaring off for a seabed scrap

The scramble for the seabed: Coastal states have now made their bids for vast new areas of continental shelf

YOU never know what may come in handy. That is the principle behind the rush for the seabed that reached a climax of sorts this week with the deadline on May 13th for lodging claims to extensions of the continental shelf. When Russia sold Alaska to the United States for two cents an acre (five cents a hectare) in 1867, it thought it was parting with a useless lump of ice. After gold was discovered there, it began kicking itself. Now it is one of a host of countries eagerly laying claim to swathes of the seafloor that may one day yield huge riches. That is the hope anyway.

The rules for this carve-up derive from the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. These gave all countries that had ratified the treaty before May 13th 1999 ten years in which to claim any extension of their continental shelf beyond the normal 200 nautical miles (370km), so long as that extension was no more than 100 miles from the point at which the sea reached a depth of 2.5km, and no more than 350 miles from land. Any other country wishing to make a claim has ten years from the date on which it ratified the treaty. It must then, like all the states that have now made their claims, submit copious scientific evidence to show that the seabed in question is indeed continental shelf.

Continue reading at The Economist . . .

Gas Woe’s for Europe (Wash Post)

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

[Editor's note: Beautiful, compact map in Thursday's paper showing 4 main natural gas pipelines feeding Europe from Russia on a globe. I think this map is by Laris Karklis. He even has the Arctic Circle on there!]

Republished from The Washington Post. By Philip P. Pan. Thursday, January 8, 2009; Page A08

Economy, Politics Stoke Russia-Ukraine Gas Quarrel
Deliveries Halted To European Users As Feud Deepens 

MOSCOW, Jan. 7 — Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine have wrangled over fuel prices, with both sides holding a powerful bargaining chip. Russia has had the natural gas Ukraine needs to power its industries. Ukraine has owned the pipelines Russia depends on to transport the gas it sells to Europe.

The two have often engaged in brinkmanship, threatening to cut off deliveries. But they have never followed through on the threats for very long – until now.

A confluence of factors tied to the global economic crisis and political uncertainty in both countries have altered the dynamics of the annual dispute. For the first time, Russian gas deliveries to Europe through Ukraine came to a complete halt Wednesday, as the standoff between the two countries stretched into a seventh day.

Russia accused Ukraine of shutting down pipelines that deliver a fifth of the continent’s fuel, while Ukraine charged that Russia had simply stopped sending gas. With more than a dozen countries scrambling to maintain heat and electricity amid a bitter cold snap, the European Union urged both countries to accept international monitors to verify gas flows.

Direct talks were scheduled to resume Thursday, but analysts said progress would be difficult for the same mix of economic and political reasons that led the two nations to dig in this week instead of compromising, as they had done in years past.

With its economy in deep trouble, Ukraine has little to lose by using its control of European fuel shipments to resist Russia’s demand for a price increase. By contrast, Russia is suffering huge losses in immediate gas revenue and enormous damage to its reputation as an energy partner seeking European investment. Yet political considerations seem to have prevented the Kremlin from surrendering.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

Russia Marches, Neighbors Check Their Cards (NY Times)

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

The fallout from Russia’s excursion into Georgia continues to be mapped by the news media (view graphic). Today the New York Times features a map looking at post-Solviet power structures in eastern Europe and Central Asia where democratic and not-so-democratic regimes still feel Moscow’s shadow while being tugged at by the West.

The above graphic accompanies a story by Bill Keller in the Times called Cold Friends, Wrapped in Mink and Medals. The first few graphs:

Writing in The Financial Times last week, Chrystia Freeland recalled Francis Fukuyama’s 1989 essay “The End of History?,” which trumpeted the definitive triumph of liberal democracy. The great nightmare tyrannies of last century — the Evil Empire, Red China — had been left behind by those inseparable twins, freedom and prosperity. Civilization had chosen, and it chose us.

So much for that thesis. Surveying the Russian military rout of neighboring Georgia and the spectacle of China’s Olympics, Ms. Freeland, editor of The Financial Times’s American edition and a journalist who started her career covering Russia and Ukraine, proclaimed that a new Age of Authoritarianism was upon us.

If it is not yet an age, it is at least a season: Springtime for autocrats, and not just the minor-league monsters of Zimbabwe and the like, but the giant regimes that seemed so surely bound for the ash heap in 1989.

The Chinese have made their Olympics an exultant display of athletic prowess and global prestige without having to temper their impulse to suppress and control. From the dazzling locksteps of that opening ceremony, to the kowtowing international V.I.P.’s, to the carefully policed absence of protest, this was an Olympics largely free of democratic mess.

Individualism has been confined between lane markers. The pre-Olympics promises that attention would be paid to international norms of behavior went unredeemed. The New York Times’s Andrew Jacobs followed one citizen who decided to take up the government’s Olympic offer of designated protest zones for aggrieved parties who had filed the proper paperwork. Zhang Wei applied for the requisite license and was promptly arrested for “disturbing social order.” Take that, International Olympic Committee.

The striking thing about Russia’s subjugation of uppity Georgia was not the ease or audacity but the swagger of it. This was not just about a couple of obscure border enclaves, nor even, really, about Georgia. This was existential payback.

It turns out that if 1989 was an end — the end of the Wall, the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire, if not in fact the end of history — it was also a beginning.

Continue reading at NYTimes.com . . .