For the cat and free speech lover in your life are these fabulous Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un scratching posts
Also a variety of more affordable litter trays
Whats and whys of the of the Ukraine crisis
. Some of what the MSM is ignoring.
What do Neocons want
from the Ukraine Crisis?
Juan Cole - The Neocon comeback
Did you know about America's Dirty Little Ukraine Secret
which has Republican overtones?
Putin, for all his authoritarianism, is not the cause of the Ukrainian conundrum (though he is certainly exploiting it).
There is a genuine divide in Ukraine
between a nationalist-dominated west and a Russian-speaking east.
Watching The Eclipse
- "Ambassador Michael McFaul
was there when the promise of democracy came to Russia—and when it began to fade."
In the three months between McFaul’s appointment and his arrival in Moscow, a great deal changed. Putin, feeling betrayed by both the urban middle classes and the West, made it plain that he would go on the offensive against any sign of foreign interference, real or imagined. A raw and resentful anti-Americanism, unknown since the seventies, suffused Kremlin policy and the state-run airwaves.
As a new Ambassador, McFaul was hardly ignorant of the chill, but he launched into his work with a characteristic earnestness. “Started with a bang,” he wrote in his official blog. During the next two years, McFaul would be America’s primary witness to the rise of an even harsher form of Putinism—and, often enough, he would be its unwitting target. [more inside]
"...it's social media that has helped build the public case against Russia
" in Ukraine. One example is liveuamap.com
, who "gather information from open sources and put it on the [Google] map" using familiar Google Maps markers for a Reds (Pro-Russian) vs Blues (Pro-Ukraine) theater map. Shaded regions indicate the Donetsk People's Republic
(DNR; Red), Lugansk People's Republic
(LNR; Purple), the MH17
crash site (Yellow), and the MH17 ceasefire zone
(green). The posts linked to by each marker include a link to the source via a chain icon at the bottom of the post.
In fact, we have no idea.
"LGBT organizations declared foreign agents in one fell swoop, gays being blacklisted by banks, employers, and landlords—welcome to the new reality of being LGBT under Putin.
" [more inside]
Forty maps that explain the Middle East.
Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
Xenophobic Chill Descends Upon Moscow [NYTimes]
“...For now, we have not encountered real aliens. However, the ‘fifth column’ of national traitors in Russia has unfortunately become an incontestable reality.”
Pussy Riot's new song and video, "Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland", rocks.
This video features both Nadia and Masha (just released from jail) performing in public and hugging the Winter Olympics mascot - before being beaten with whips by cossack soldiers. And the song is actually catchy...
What Does Pussy Riot Mean Now?
"With all eyes on Russia, two members of the country’s most notorious band of shit-stirrers are free after nearly two years of political imprisonment and enjoying the rock-star treatment during their first trip to the U.S. But the group’s unlikely journey from art-school project to international icons shows just how rotten Russia has become and how much the mission has changed."
The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus “Sochi used to be much prettier... These days crooks from Moscow come here to build and sell skyscrapers and apartments, although it used to be such a small, lovely town."
via The New York Review of Books
article on "Why Sochi"
Putin explicitly links the Games to the humiliations of the recent past: “There is also a certain moral aspect here and there is no need to be ashamed of it,” he said. “After the collapse of the Soviet Union, after the dark and, let us be honest, bloody events in the Caucasus, the society had a negative and pessimistic attitude.” The Olympics, he explains, are a necessary part of an effort to “strengthen the morale of the nation.”
Suzdal awaited the Emperor's arrival...
So the ancient Russian town had to acquire a duly imperial lustre, somehow, anyhow. [more inside]
"Putin has long kept a veil of secrecy over his personal life. Thus, he startled the world with an abrupt announcement on state television in June that he was divorcing his wife, Lyudmila, after 29 years of marriage. The news revived long-running speculation that the 60-year-old president was seeing another woman, possibly the 30-year-old Kabaeva, a State Duma deputy with United Russia and one of the most decorated gymnasts in the history of rhythmic gymnastics."
A Plea for Caution From Russia
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
"This scene is straight outta Nikolai Gogol."
Chairman Bruce reflects on Manning, surveillance, the history of computing, the character of cypherpunks, the Russian and American states, and more.
Poets appeared in Russia in the eighteenth century. They wore officers’ uniforms and mostly wrote odes for the accession of German empresses onto the Russian throne. In a country where life was lived according to the wartime principle of unity of command, everyone including poets served the government, which was personified by the autocracy. But everything changed with Pushkin. Born in a country where serfdom was only the formal expression of a deep internal psychological slavery, he achieved the most important Russian coup, the greatest Russian revolution: in opposition to the pyramid of power, at the head of which the Czar administers the fates of individuals and nations, he created an alternative pyramid, at the head of which stood the poet. The juxtaposition of the czar and the holy fool—the old divided paradigm of authority—was exchanged for the juxtaposition of the czar and the poet.
— Poets and Czars — From Pushkin to Putin: the sad tale of democracy in Russia
by Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin, who caused a stir earlier this year when he withdrew from participation in literary events sponsored by the Russian state
with a strongly-worded letter
. His action was equally strongly criticized by the state and several Russian writers
. Shishkin spoke to The American Reader
about recent events. He currently lives in Switzerland and recently wrote an essay about being separated from his native language community
Pussy Riot aren't just on tour. They're on the run. Laurie Penny meets the Russian punk-protest group
. [more inside]
The Cossacks Are Back. May the Hills Tremble. [New York Times]
"In his third term, President Vladimir V. Putin has offered one clear new direction for the country: the development of a conservative, nationalist ideology. Cossacks have emerged as a kind of mascot, with growing financial and political support."
"I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we now expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. Now the whole world sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, Russia looks different in the eyes of the world from the way Putin tries to present it at daily international meetings. All the steps toward a state governed by the rule of law that he promised have obviously not been made. And his statement that the court in our case will be objective and make a fair decision is another deception of the entire country and the international community. That is all. Thank you." - Yekaterina Samutsevich: Closing Statement at the Pussy Riot Trial
"The Western observer tends to split the Russian press into two camps: evil statists and martyrs. But for their part, members of the Russian press are convinced of their superiority over their Western colleagues, at least when it comes to Syria. Russian journalists aren’t under the illusion that they are more objective than their Western counterparts, but they are convinced of their ability to convey a more realistic, complex picture of the events in Syria."
- The New Republic: In Russia, Even Putin’s Critics Are OK With His Syria Policy
"You’ll be happy with him. He’ll protect you like a stone wall." First time, only for <3. [more inside]
Lego figurines, Kinder surprises and other toys played the role of 'demonstrators'.
Police in Siberian city ask prosecutors to investigate legality of protest involving display of toy figures holding miniature placards. "Political opposition forces are using new technologies to carry out public events – using toys with placards at mini-protests," Andrei Mulintsev, the city's deputy police chief, said at a press conference this week, according to local media. "In our opinion, this is still an unsanctioned public event." [more inside]
There were thousands of Russians protesting the widespread ballot stuffing
discovered during the elections last sunday
. Russian police arrested hundreds of protesters who had gathered in Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square, including Alexei Navalny
. Protestors raised awareness using Twitter hashtags like #триумфальная (Triumfalnaya), but pro-Kremlin spammers were prepared
to drown them out using 2000 automated twitterbots
they'd created earlier this year. (related
He rides with biker gangs! He shoots whales with a crossbow! He does piano recitals for charity! He bends frying pans with his bare hands! It's Vladimir Putin, Action Man
. [more inside]
Vladimir Putin sings "Blueberry Hill"
Russian President Medvedev is tweeting his trip to the US (English
). So far, no comment on Putin belittling him to the French press
. [more inside]
It took spontaneously crowd-sourced translators
less than 24 hrs to make an article on the FSB's (former KGB) alleged implication in the Moscow 1999 apartment blasts accessible in Russian. Before, distribution of the issue of GQ in Russia had been banned by the editor himself
. The topic (although the allegations are anything else than new) became an instant top
in the russian blogosphere today (dynamic listing, will change with time)
George Bush's Mahjong Secrets: Revealed! The Legend of Koizumi
manga, featuring both Georges Bush, Putin, Pope Benedict XVI, Thatcher, et al, has had its first chapter translated into English
The global financial crisis has severely affected the Russian economy
. The unstable situation in the country has contributed
to a growing rift
between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev. As increasing numbers of Russians become disillusioned with Putin's promise of comfort and security in exchange for authoritarianism, Medvedev has shown some willingness to take the country in a more liberal direction
. Some analysts
, however, remain unconvinced
Did Vladimir Putin really turn around Russia's economy?
Washington Post's Fred Hyatt attempts to refute the conventional wisdom that Putin was responsible for Russia's turnaround from the economic instability of the "disastrous" 90s by offering a thorough counter argument to prove that Putin's effect on the economy was just the reverse. [more inside]
A Tsar Is Born.
For his "extraordinary feat of leadership in taking a country that was in chaos and bringing it stability," Time
has announced Vladimir Putin as Person of the Year. Al Gore
and J.K. Rowling
, chess grandmaster, and presidential opponent to Putin, has just been detained
on charges of organizing a protest and resisting arrest. [more inside]
is clearly nostalgic
for the good old days
of the Iron Curtain
Russians plant flag on North Pole Sea bed.
Russia has attempted to assert it's sovereignty over the North Pole by planting a Russian flag 4,200 metres under the ice. Norwegians, Danes react with amusement.
The Heiligendamm G8 summit just ended. While some
stuck to alcohol-free beer, fresh
French President Nicolas Sarkozy clearly
had something a bit stronger before his press conference
"OMON knows no mercy and forgives none. This is the way it is, was, and always will be."
The Russian OMON (Otryad Militsii Osobovo Naznacheniya), or Special Purpose Police Squad, is one of the most elite police units in the world
. Formed in the mid-1980s to combat urban riots, the 20,000-strong OMON now tackles terrorists, protesters, and soccer fans
. What drives former soldiers to join the beefy brigade? "Risk," says
Major Viktor Kommissarov, "Working in the OMON always involves the risk of death." (in Russian)
Putins spy war on the West
White House intelligence advisers believe no other country is as aggressive as Russia in trying to obtain US secrets, with the possible exception of China.
In particular the SVR, as the former KGB’s foreign intelligence arm is now known, is using a network of undercover agents in America to gather classified information about sensitive technologies, including military projects under development and high-tech research.
Vladimir Putin: You know who else wanted to dominate the world?
Also: Russia suspends compliance with treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe
. A 2002 analysis of Putin's foreign policy by Clifford Gaddy and Fiona Hill
discusses Russia's fear of US unilateralism; a more recent article by Hill notes that high oil prices have made Russia an energy superpower
. A 1951 article by George F. Kennan
on US policy towards Russia. Previously.