A dovetail joint of news, art, science, politics, philosophy & global affairs

Grasping the currency true to our time

"Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει"







April 15th
2:22 PM
"No one knows what the United States wants in this region, beyond the unacceptable ambition it has displayed since Communism’s collapse - and which now has exploded in its face - of shoving NATO membership and Western ostensibly-defensive /opportunistically-offensive missile installations right up to the Russian borders. This can only be understood in Moscow as a hostile policy."
—  William Pfaff, The Worst Mess since the 1930’s
2:02 PM
"Russia is a power in structural decline. Its economic growth is anemic, it has an uncertain demographic future, and the state budget is highly vulnerable to any shift in oil prices. That being said, for the next several years it will have the most modern and effective military it has had since the Soviet Union collapsed. Russia’s leaders realize that right now they are the strongest they are ever likely to be, economically and militarily. Conversely, the West is at its weakest point of willpower, exhausted by crises and conflicts abroad, along with the pull of domestic agendas at home. NATO defense budgets are hardly a credible threat and will continue to decline. Even some of the Baltic states, who decry Russia as an existential threat, barely spend 1 percent of GDP on their own defense. Moscow knows that nobody wants to spend more money on defense to confront them. Putin likely calculates that if now is not the time to take on the West, then it will never come. He is rolling the dice while Russia still has dice to roll."
April 13th
7:45 PM
"I have no idea where the official numbers come from; those that say that Ukraine is evenly divided between those who support the West, and those who feel their identity is closely linked with Russia. Maybe this might be the case in Western Ukraine, in Lvov, or even in the capital – Kiev. But Western Ukraine has only a few key cities. The majority of people in this country of around forty-four million are concentrated in the south, east and southeast, around the enormous industrial and mining centers of Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, and Krivoi Rog. There is Odessa in the south, and Kharkov ‘the second capital’ in the east. And people in all those parts of the country mainly speak Russian. And they see, what has recently happened in Kiev as an unceremonious coup, orchestrated and supported by the West."
—  Andre Vltchek, Ukraine: Lies and Realities
March 16th
1:47 PM
"I am afraid that I am interested in a cold war with the West. I was very patient. I waited for 20 years. I did everything I could so that this war would begin. I worked day and night."
—  Aleksandr A. Prokhanov, Foes of America in Russia Crave Rupture in Ties
March 10th
9:49 PM

How does Conservatism apply to the Russia/Ukraine situation?

Nowadays “Conservatism” applies to Ukraine/Russia in the following way: Ignore the grey areas. Paint Putin as a thug but a virile, manly thug. Paint Obama as a pussy who doesn’t understand the real world.

It doesn’t matter that “conservatism” is nominally against Putin as much as his masculine grasp of realpolitik is heavily construed as a school yard threat to nerd Obama. This appeals to the high-school mentality of the current “conservative” base and is, thus, more important than default support for an American President. The fact that military provocation of Russia would be pretty much mindless, and that no “conservative” would be doing anything different also is of no consequence.

Questions and analysis of the situation are also of no consequence. Rather, the immediacy of the above narrative is to be slathered on top of the situation like syrup over hot pancakes, which should be clear from the ubiquity of talking points already delivered on talk radio.

>context<

March 6th
8:57 AM
Via
mapsontheweb:

Territorial evolution of Ukraine

"On February 27, 1954 Pravda published a short announcement on its front page that the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR had decreed on February 19 the transfer of the Crimean oblast from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic&#8230;
But why was this done? Was it, as was described at the time and for decades thereafter, a &#8220;gift&#8221; to Ukraine? If so, what motivated such generosity? After all, Crimea, the rugged peninsula jutting into the Black Sea, had not become territorially contiguous with Ukraine all of a sudden. Moreover, its cultural links with Ukraine were not nearly as strong as with Russia. According to the 1959 census, there were 268,000 Ukrainians but 858,000 ethnic Russians living in Crimea. As for economic &#8220;commonalities,&#8221; the main industry of Crimea was recreation and tourism which drew its clientele from throughout the USSR.
Before the Great Patriotic War, Crimea was home to over 300,000 Tatars, descendants of the Great Horde that moved across Anatolia and settled in the peninsula beginning in the thirteenth century. Because of the collaboration of some Crimean Tatars with Nazi occupiers during 1941-43, the entire community was deported in May 1944. The following year, the Crimean Autonomous Republic was abolished and replaced by the Crimean oblast. It was this entity that was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954 and remains, at least for the time being, a part of post-Soviet Ukraine. A gift that was at the time essentially meaningless has acquired great historical importance.&#8221;  &gt;source&lt;
Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine in a gesture that mystified some people
Crimean peninsula had a very tricky 20th century 
Khrushchev’s gift

mapsontheweb:

Territorial evolution of Ukraine

"On February 27, 1954 Pravda published a short announcement on its front page that the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR had decreed on February 19 the transfer of the Crimean oblast from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic…

But why was this done? Was it, as was described at the time and for decades thereafter, a “gift” to Ukraine? If so, what motivated such generosity? After all, Crimea, the rugged peninsula jutting into the Black Sea, had not become territorially contiguous with Ukraine all of a sudden. Moreover, its cultural links with Ukraine were not nearly as strong as with Russia. According to the 1959 census, there were 268,000 Ukrainians but 858,000 ethnic Russians living in Crimea. As for economic “commonalities,” the main industry of Crimea was recreation and tourism which drew its clientele from throughout the USSR.

Before the Great Patriotic War, Crimea was home to over 300,000 Tatars, descendants of the Great Horde that moved across Anatolia and settled in the peninsula beginning in the thirteenth century. Because of the collaboration of some Crimean Tatars with Nazi occupiers during 1941-43, the entire community was deported in May 1944. The following year, the Crimean Autonomous Republic was abolished and replaced by the Crimean oblast. It was this entity that was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954 and remains, at least for the time being, a part of post-Soviet Ukraine. A gift that was at the time essentially meaningless has acquired great historical importance.”  >source<

Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine in a gesture that mystified some people

Crimean peninsula had a very tricky 20th century 

Khrushchev’s gift

January 21st
8:29 AM

Kiev: “akin to a war zone”

Protests are continuing in the Ukraine, often turning violent. Monday marked a second night of clashes, prompting Russia to warn the EU not to intervene.

A heavily commented reddit thread on the situation includes a link to a live video stream.

The situation is highly complex and perhaps threatens a wild sideshow to the Sochi Winter Olympics on an order greater than terror threats in the wake of Volgograd.

July 19th
12:28 PM
Via
"Aleksey Navalny did something very simple on his blog: He held officials and official companies accountable in a way a destroyed civil society was unable and unwilling to do."
—  

The Most Dangerous Blogger in the World. By Julia Ioffe.

Navalny emerged as a prime critic of Putin as protests erupted in Dec 2011. Many observers conclude that the recent trial is an ongoing sham aimed at destroying any political career: See also: Russia’s patience with Putin is wearing thin & Putin’s biggest critic convicted.

February 15th
10:35 AM
Via

spaceplasma:

Huge Meteor Blazes Across Sky Over Russia; Sonic Boom Shatters Windows

A huge fireball shattered the morning skies over Russia’s Urals region generating a series of powerful sonic booms, blowing out windows and causing widespread panic. The event has been captured by a series of Youtube videos uploaded from eyewitness cameras and CCTV footage.

“Atmospheric phenomena have been registered in the cities of Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg and Tyumen,” reports the Russian news agency RT. “In Chelyabinsk, witnesses said the explosion was so loud that it resembled an earthquake and thunder at the same time, and that there were huge trails of smoke across the sky. Others reported seeing burning objects fall to earth.” The region is approximately 900 miles east of Moscow.

Details are currently sketchy, but as this video shows, it was certainly a major event. In another video, an eyewitness trains their camera on billowing smoke overhead just as a series of loud explosions cause windows to shatter and car alarms to be triggered. It’s not thought the loud bangs were caused by surface impacts of meteorites, it’s most likely shock waves (sonic booms) originating from the hypervelocity object.   >video collection<

Watch upper left of screen. Vehicle turns right just in time to keep the explosive event in view.

May 29th
9:00 AM
Via
themodernhistory:

Stop the pointless demonization of Putin | The Great Debate
by Stephen F. Cohen 
Stephen F. Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Politics and Russian Studies at Princeton University and New York University. His book “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War” has recently been published in an expanded paperback edition.

American media coverage of Vladimir Putin, who today began his third term as Russia’s president and 13th year as its leader, has so demonized him that the result may be to endanger U.S. national security.
For nearly 10 years, mainstream press reporting, editorials and op-ed articles have increasingly portrayed Putin as a czar-like “autocrat,” or alternatively a “KGB thug,” who imposed a “rollback of democratic reforms” under way in Russia when he succeeded Boris Yeltsin as president in 2000. He installed instead a “venal regime” that has permitted “corruptionism,” encouraged the assassination of a “growing number” of journalists and carried out the “killing of political opponents.” Not infrequently, Putin is compared to Saddam Hussein and even Stalin.
Well-informed opinions, in the West and in Russia, differ considerably as to the pluses and minuses of Putin’s leadership over the years – my own evaluation is somewhere in the middle – but there is no evidence that any of these allegations against him are true, or at least entirely true. Most seem to have originated with Putin’s personal enemies, particularly Yeltsin-era oligarchs who found themselves in foreign exile as a result of his policies – or, in the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in prison. Nonetheless, U.S. media, with little investigation of their own, have woven the allegations into a near-consensus narrative of “Putin’s Russia.”


Cohen is a thoughtful analyst. Once, back in the early 90&#8217;s on a McNeil/Lehrer News Hour, he eviscerated Jeffery Sachs&#8217; notions about post-USSR Russia with such brute elan that one wishes it were on Youtube, if only because it turned out to be so prescient ;/

themodernhistory:

Stop the pointless demonization of Putin | The Great Debate

by Stephen F. Cohen 

Stephen F. Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Politics and Russian Studies at Princeton University and New York University. His book “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War” has recently been published in an expanded paperback edition.

American media coverage of Vladimir Putin, who today began his third term as Russia’s president and 13th year as its leader, has so demonized him that the result may be to endanger U.S. national security.

For nearly 10 years, mainstream press reporting, editorials and op-ed articles have increasingly portrayed Putin as a czar-like “autocrat,” or alternatively a “KGB thug,” who imposed a “rollback of democratic reforms” under way in Russia when he succeeded Boris Yeltsin as president in 2000. He installed instead a “venal regime” that has permitted “corruptionism,” encouraged the assassination of a “growing number” of journalists and carried out the “killing of political opponents.” Not infrequently, Putin is compared to Saddam Hussein and even Stalin.

Well-informed opinions, in the West and in Russia, differ considerably as to the pluses and minuses of Putin’s leadership over the years – my own evaluation is somewhere in the middle – but there is no evidence that any of these allegations against him are true, or at least entirely true. Most seem to have originated with Putin’s personal enemies, particularly Yeltsin-era oligarchs who found themselves in foreign exile as a result of his policies – or, in the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in prison. Nonetheless, U.S. media, with little investigation of their own, have woven the allegations into a near-consensus narrative of “Putin’s Russia.”

Cohen is a thoughtful analyst. Once, back in the early 90’s on a McNeil/Lehrer News Hour, he eviscerated Jeffery Sachs’ notions about post-USSR Russia with such brute elan that one wishes it were on Youtube, if only because it turned out to be so prescient ;/

May 7th
12:29 PM
"It’s all very well hosting the Winter Olympics, having a leader who likes to swim topless in icy waters, and having NASA pay you to take US astronauts into space, but it all seems rather meaningless when your country is simply not as free and open as it could be. This is not a feeling exclusive from pride and shame at one’s own country. It’s dangerous when people forget, that to honour and respect, one mustn’t invest in the object of affection a simple faith alone.

…When one sees people posing next to a Stalin look-a-like in a subway tunnel, it does make one pause to wonder what the hell is going on.

As I walk through another station later on, I see two haggard men with bruised and cut faces, begging. An old man meets a woman nearby, touching his hat and smiling. He takes her trolley, and they walk off, chatting amiably. Just like any other metro station in many other countries. But here it feels indicative of something more, of both a struggling alienation and a harsh world, and yet also a warm heart that will always live beyond the reach of the system it lives under."
—  

redsparrows, a mystery?

perhaps apropos of:
Russian Police Battle Anti-Putin Protesters

March 3rd
11:50 AM
Vote on Sunday&#8230;  Russians Fed Up With Putin&#8217;s Manipulations

&#8230;Putin&#8217;s campaign staff is vilifying the opposition. Although its leaders  are invited to meet with the president, blogger Navalny, for example,  the most popular resistance figure among young Russians, was depicted in  a photo montage looking chummy with Boris Berezovsky, the Jewish  oligarch who has fled to London. The intended message is that sinister  characters control the opposition&#8230; &gt;continue&lt;

see also: Protest Archipelago

Vote on Sunday…  Russians Fed Up With Putin’s Manipulations

…Putin’s campaign staff is vilifying the opposition. Although its leaders are invited to meet with the president, blogger Navalny, for example, the most popular resistance figure among young Russians, was depicted in a photo montage looking chummy with Boris Berezovsky, the Jewish oligarch who has fled to London. The intended message is that sinister characters control the opposition… >continue<

see also: Protest Archipelago

February 19th
7:18 AM
Russia&#8217;s It Girl becomes high-profile campaigner against Vladimir PutinGuardian&#160;&#187;

She is an unlikely figurehead for the political protests that have rocked Russia over the last few months. Ksenia Sobchak, 30, is a family friend of  Vladimir Putin and the host of a reality TV programme known for its  scandalous scenes. But it is her new political talkshow that has caused a  real stir – and that has just been ordered off Russian television.
Sobchak  was once dubbed the Paris Hilton of Russia because of her similarity to  the American hotel heiress. She used to be just a rich society girl:  thin, blonde, with a sharp tongue and a reputation for being spoilt.
She has written books on how to be a success and hosts Dom-2,  the longest-running reality show in the world, which has been memorably  described as the worst thing to hit Russian culture since the Mongols.
&#8230; &#8220;It has been interesting to watch her change. When she came to the first  meeting, she said we need to talk [with the government]. Now she is  radicalising in front of our eyes.&#8221;  &gt;continue&lt;

Russia’s It Girl becomes high-profile campaigner against Vladimir Putin
Guardian »

She is an unlikely figurehead for the political protests that have rocked Russia over the last few months. Ksenia Sobchak, 30, is a family friend of Vladimir Putin and the host of a reality TV programme known for its scandalous scenes. But it is her new political talkshow that has caused a real stir – and that has just been ordered off Russian television.

Sobchak was once dubbed the Paris Hilton of Russia because of her similarity to the American hotel heiress. She used to be just a rich society girl: thin, blonde, with a sharp tongue and a reputation for being spoilt.

She has written books on how to be a success and hosts Dom-2, the longest-running reality show in the world, which has been memorably described as the worst thing to hit Russian culture since the Mongols.

… “It has been interesting to watch her change. When she came to the first meeting, she said we need to talk [with the government]. Now she is radicalising in front of our eyes.”  >continue<