Category - USSR (Former) Minus Russia

Other Former USSR

Russia Will Only Get Worse. Maybe.

Putin is on the horns of a dilemna. For the first time since the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Russia faces a severe economic crisis – after enjoying years of relative prosperity – and she has a warmongering chief executive. This is a nexus of events that will shape and define Russia for at least the next decade.

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Open Source: Latest Updates on Malaysian Plane Crash in Ukraine

NYT – On Friday, Open Source continues to follow the aftermath of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in rebel-held eastern Ukraine to supplement the latest coverage of New York Times reporters on the ground.

Updates below mix breaking news reports with new information on the investigation into the disaster and the reaction to the tragedy gleaned from social networks.

NYT crowd sourcing   or the ultimate  blog- whatever. Continuous updates also from the   BBC.
The rush to judgment is on…

Russia launches large-scale naval drill in Black Sea same day as NATO

RT, July 4

Some 20 warships, over 20 airplanes and helicopters, as well as the marines and coast artillery are taking part in the Black Sea Fleet exercise, Russian Defense Ministry reported. The war games launched the same day as NATO’s military drill in the area.

Starting from July 4, the scheduled training maneuvers are conducted in the whole of the Black Sea, the Ministry told journalists on Friday, adding the drill is being carried out according to international standards.

Former German Chancellor Celebrates 70th Birthday with Putin

Given the current Ukraine crisis, former German chancellor Schröder felt it was inappropriate to invite Putin to his official 70th birthday bash in Germany.  So instead he opted for yet another birthday party with his friend in Saint Petersburg (link to German news article).

Putin, who is fluent in German, hugs his friend Schröder as he arrives to his birthday party in Saint Petersburg.

 

The Great Expectancy

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Pax Americana continues to crumble before our eyes. The belief that the United States has a divinely-inspired obligation to police the entire world has always been most strongly held among Americans themselves; some of the beneficiaries of this largesse, such as the Vietnamese and most recently the Iraqis, never quite showed the gratitude America felt it had earned by bringing them liberty, freedom, justice, and a Starbucks Grandé Mocha every morning on their way to work. Of course, it takes a lot of effort to keep Americans invested in the Pax Americana dream, especially since to make the dream mean anything the U.S. has to have “boots on the ground” in strange places that seem to have little to do with American security. Read More

Ukraine prime minister resigns; parliament cancels anti-protest laws

LATimes – Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov tended his resignation Tuesday, as the country’s opposition celebrated its first major victory in an ongoing standoff with the government.

Azarov’s resignation comes after two months of mass protests across the country and a week of violent clashes in Kiev in which at least four activists were killed, dozens arrested and hundreds injured on both sides — the worst street violence in the history of post-Soviet Ukraine.

The announcement came after four days of negotiations between opposition leaders and President Victor Yanukovich.

In a statement published on the Cabinet’s official website, Azarov said he resigned to create a possibility for a political compromise.

Putin On The Fritz

Well, we’re literally days away from the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics, and Vladimir Putin is starting to see his chickens come home to roost:

The Olympic teams of Germany, Hungary and Italy said Wednesday that they had received emails threatening attacks at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, adding to mounting security fears two weeks before competition begins.

The International Olympic Committee told NBC News that it did not consider the threats credible and said that they appeared to be “a random message from a member of the public.”

Still, the threats arrived as Russian security forces were hunting for at least five suspected terrorists who may be plotting attacks against the Olympic torch relay or the games themselves, according to noticed posted in Sochi.

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The Adult In The Room

The interesting dynamic that is the relationship between Obama and Putin has a new twist, and it’s one we should welcome:

On Wednesday evening, when U.S. President Obama cancelled his upcoming visit to Moscow, the Russian reaction was perhaps most clear in the way that Vesti, the state’s main propaganda TV channel, conveyed it on the channel’s website. Buried about half way down on the page, underneath a story about Russian tourists in Turkey, Vesti announced: “The invitation for Obama stands.” Beside that was the somewhat diversionary headline: “Barack Obama will travel to St. Petersburg for the G20 summit.” The actual news — that Obama had decided not to meet with his Russian counterpart before, after or during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg next month — was clearly not something the official spin doctors wanted to advertise.

After a year spent honing their anti-American rhetoric — on issues ranging from the adoption of Russian children to missile defense in Europe and the civil war in Syria — the Kremlin message makers were suddenly eager to claim that President Vladimir Putin didn’t really mean for things to go this far. “Sure, Putin uses this rhetoric, but it’s not so much anti-American as anti-Euro-Atlantic,” says Evgeny Minchenko, a Kremlin-connected political strategist. “And keep in mind that he has tried to stop short of a head-on collision.”

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Declaring war on the unemployed: So that’s what “Compassionate Conservatism” looks like

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In a recession whose genesis can largely be laid at their feet, Republicans have decided to own up to their responsibility by…wait for it…blaming the victims. Instead of determining how they might lessen the burden on the unemployed- especially the long-term jobless- Republicans have declared war on them.

It’s difficult to understand, much less explain, how Republican-dominated North Carolina could sharply cut unemployment insurance benefits. Republicans in the Tar Heel state were so committed to pulling the rug out from under the unemployed that they reduced both the duration of benefits AND the average weekly payment. Because of that, North Carolina is no longer eligible for $700 in federal assistance to the long-term unemployed.

Hey, how else are you going to get those lazy “takers” off their asses and convince them to get a job? Never mind the fact that North Carolina has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates (8.8%). Add in the fact that there are three unemployed Americans for every open job, and a reasonable person would have to ask Republicans where the jobs are. Long-term unemployment remains at historically high levels, but Congress (read: Republicans) long ago allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire.

Ah, so THAT’S how the GOP plans to broaden their appeal to their middle class….

(Read the full post at What Would Jack Do?)

 

Toward a second front in Syria?

The Obama administration is reluctantly upping its involvement in the Syrian civil war. Though the White House offers few details, reports indicate that American personnel will arm and train teams of rebel fighters on Jordanian territory, then send them across the border to fight the Assad government.

This is unlikely to bring a rapid turn of events in the war. The Syrian army is on the move and rebel forces are in disarray. The new US directives will nonetheless present problems for Assad, though they may also pose problems for the US – eminently foreseeable ones.

Units deploying from Jordan into Syria will, it is hoped, constitute a second front of sorts, which will take pressure off beleaguered Free Syrian Army and al Nusra Front forces in the north and east. They will likely try to solidify rebel control over the city of Daraa and the surrounding province, which was an early site of protest and armed rebellion, and which is presently embattled.
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Peace, Love, and Brown Rice (and I’m not sure about the brown rice)

Serf/Serfdom

The word Serf as defined by Collins English Dictionary;

Noun; 1. (esp in medieval Europe) an unfree person, esp one bound to the land. If his lord sold the land, the serf was passed on to the new lord.

Synonyms;

vassal, slave, thrall, bondsman, varlet, helot, villein, and liegeman.

Serf as defined by The Oxford English Dictionary;

Noun; an agricultural labourer bound by the feudal system who was tied to working on his lord’s estate.

Origin; late 15th century (in the sense”slave”): from Old French, from Latin “servus”, slave.

From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/serf

serf (sûrf)

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent: The cult of stupid sinks to new depths

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a vibrant and growing community on the Internet composed of allegedly lucid people who are unshakably convinced that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is being framed for the Boston Marathon bombing. Despite the growing mountain of evidence against Tsarnaev and his late brother, and despite the fact that Tsarnaev has evidently admitted his guilt to investigators, there are those who’ve somehow convinced themselves otherwise.

Here in the reality-based world, facts and reality normally reign supreme. It’s what the rule of law is based on, after all. Yet, just as there are those absolutely, incontrovertibly convinced that 9.11 was an inside job, the Internet’s extra-special breed of crazy ignores facts that don’t comport with their convictions. It’s as silly as it is phenomenally, unbelievable stupid, but it’s the Internet….

(read the full post at What Would Jack Do?)