Apr 30, 2009

Regulate This

While today's headline is clearly the Bulgaria - Russia South Stream deal, we have to give credit to our very own V. V. Putin for this month's "New Achievment in Logic" award.

After announcing the South Stream deal, Putin added that he "saw no point in continuing to be a signatory to the European Energy Charter after it failed to regulate Moscow's dispute with Ukraine over transit to Europe in January.”

Uh, failed to regulate?

1) Russia hasn't even ratified the charter; 2) Putin doesn't care what it says anyway; But 3) Russia cannot continue as a signatory because it didn't 'keep the Ukrainians in line' (read: we shut off the gas in the first place)?

As each day passes, it is becoming harder to tell if Putin is one of the most amazing sophists to ever live, or he just lives in a happy Putin place where all of this makes sense.

Europe's Dictators* Pose for the Cameras

FP Passport: Belarussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko's PR machine kicked into overdrive yesterday during a meeting with Pope Benedict. Said Belarussian opposition leader Anatoly Lebedko:

Lukashenko's main goal is to improve his image and to receive absolution from the pope ahead of the EU summit in Prague, where many European politicians will not extend a hand to the Belarusian dictator.

You know what could improve your image, Lukashenko? Free some prisoners, allow some freedom of speech, and if you could just generally tone down the crazy, that would be fantastic!

*According to dictionary.com, a dictator is "a person exercising absolute power, esp. a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession."

Kasparov: Master or Amateur?

Excite News: Chess master Garry Kasparov staged a guerrilla hit-and-run protests against the Kremlin on Wednesday, showing up at the criminal trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and engaging in a brief, heated debate with one of the prosecutors. Kasparov and other supporters of Khodorkovsky say he is chiefly guilty of making an enemy of former President Vladimir Putin.

When the judge ordered a recess, Kasparov confronted prosecutor Gyulchekhra Ibragimova as she walked past him on her way out. During the brief and tense exchange, Ibragimova told Kasparov she respected him but added he should have been playing chess rather than wasting his time in court.

"You are an amateur" in the courtroom, she told him.

Apr 29, 2009

"Get your hands off my country"

This week, one of Poland’s most renowned concert pianists, Krystian Zimerman, suddenly interrupted a performance in LA to unveil his new calling in life: geo-political commentator.

Oh, and boy does he have a lot to comment about:

"Get your hands off my country," Zimerman told the stunned crowd in a denunciation of US plans to install a missile defense shield on Polish soil. Some people cheered, others yelled at him to shut up and keep playing. A few dozen walked out, some of them shouting obscenities."

To be fair, Zimerman has some reason to be upset. Notes the Guardian, “Shortly after 9/11, his piano was confiscated by customs officials at New York's JFK airport, who thought the glue smelled funny. They subsequently destroyed the instrument.”

Yet somehow, “Get your hands off my piano” doesn’t have the same flair.

Ukraine will be safe from Swine Flu!

Measels, mumps, whooping cough, hepatitis B, tuberculosis... those are another story.

But according to Ms. Yulia's blog, the government will approve several measures to protect Ukraine from the spread of the swine flu virus. There have been no cases of swine flu in Ukraine so far. According to Tymoshenko, the Government is taking all the necessary measures to prevent the virus from reaching Ukrainian territory. Special points are being set up at border crossings to examine people with visual signs of the illness. Staff will by confiscating animal and plant products from hand luggage.

Seriously, Ukraine, you have had two measels outbreaks since the turn of the century, and that's with people handing you free vaccines. You're going to worry about swine flu?

Apr 28, 2009

Economy Update: Serbia Goes Crazy for Cannibalism

The economy is bad, for sure. But did you know that the global recession has forced Serb textile workers to use cannibalism as a protest?

"We, the workers have nothing to eat, we had to seek some sort of alternative food and I gave them an example," Zoran Bulatovic told Reuters. "It hurt like hell."
It hurt, because Bulatovic chopped his finger off to make the point and to prevent one of his underlings, "a single mother of three," from doing the deed herself. Bulatovic, you see, wanted to be a gentleman about it. "[She was] the first to say she would cut off her finger. I could not allow her to do that."

Somehow this Serbian cannibalism business is really getting legs, or more accuretly: feet.

You see, in February, a Ms. Radmila Stojadinovic, resident of Lucica, Serbia reportedly ate her sister's foot after "sleeping on her dead body for a month." Apparetnly, "When the police came to see Radmila, she was very weak, had soot on her face and 10-centimeter fingernails," according to the Kurir Daily.

Poor cops. That is definetly going to require a session with the police psychologist.

Apr 27, 2009

Tale of woe by the meatcounter

The body count in ER has been dropping as of late, so thankfully we have a story of the absurd from Gliwice Sosnica, Poland.  

A customer dies by the meat counter in a Biedronka store around 9 AM.  The meatlady tries to resuscitate him but the bad hair, makeup, and attitude does not win him back to life. Doctor comes and declares the man dead.  He lies in the aisle of the store in  bodybag for two hours while the rest of the store goes on with business as usual. Customers start tripping over the body bag.  Customers complain to management.  Management responds with dirty looks.  Eventually someone calls the press and the body is removed.  Store does not shut down for a minute. 

Enemy of the State

To steal a line from Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State, Anton Chumachenko is either incredibly smart, or incredibly stupid.

This first time United Russia candidate has "publicly renounced his own victory, expressing disgust that votes had been falsified in his favor." Yeah, he really did it:
"I am sincerely convinced that my colleagues in the party will support my position and make all efforts to make sure that the rule of law prevails," he wrote. "The party's strength lies not in exaggerated percentages of support, but in its ability to stand up for the truth."
Now, this is either one of the most brilliant self-promotion campaigns ever (how else could a 23-year old United Russia small-timer make it onto the front page of the Washington Post) or he's alarmingly naïve. United Russia's only strength lies in the exaggerated appearance of public support...oh yes, and all that violence and prision time for people who do not play by the rules.

Khordokovsky might soon have a bunkmate, or not. See Gene Hackman above.

Apr 24, 2009

Obama Flips on Armenian "Genocide?"

Today, President Obama will mark the heart-breaking events of 1915 in Armenia with a statement that explicitly avoids any mention of the word "genocide." The White House calims that Obama is not reversing from his position on the campaign trail, since "He has his views, and his views are known." More to come, for sure.

Apr 23, 2009

Postcards from Moldova

Democracy is awesome.

2010 is the New 2012

It looks like the Mayans might have it wrong. The world will not end in 2012, as the calendar implies, but next year when Russia runs out of oil money.

According to new comments from Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, the Russian government will have fully depleted the nation’s $120 billion oil reserve fund by 2010. Thanks to the Kremlin’s ill-fated quest to support the ruble and lavish support for money-loosing business, the lock-box of Russia's energy wealth will be empty in little more than a year.

Also reported, Russia’s economy shrank by 9.5% in the first three months of 2009. Definetly time to stock up on shot-guns and dry goods. That doomsday cult might have been onto something.

Tweeting from Home, Now

In honor of Moldova’s “Twitter Revolution," we’ll do this in 140 characters or less…

Twitter master Natalia Morar is house arrested in Moldova. “Inciting mass disorder” the charge. Hasn’t been tortured, yet. Thinks Kremlin is behind crackdown.

And if that seems way to brief to do the story justice, now you know why I dispise Twitter.

Apr 21, 2009

Russia Wants its Soviet Tobacco Back

Once upon a time, there was a magical world in which the workers of the world united into a Union of Socialist Republics. It was a myth, because everyone knew that some workers (Russians) were more equal than others.

So what does any of this have to do with tobacco? Well, as part of its negotiations with Bulgaria over the proposed South Stream gas pipeline, Moscow has claimed ownership of Bulgartabac (granted to the USSR as a spoil of war in 1945). Now, Russia wants it back.

"We are set to reclaim all properties that lie abroad and belonged to the Soviet Union. Bulgartabac will not be an exception," said Vladimir Kozhin, head of the
Presidential Property Management Department of the Russian Federation.

Wait just one second, you say… How can Russia claim Bulgartabac as a property of the Soviet Union, when the Russian SSR was just a single republic within a broader Union of Socialist Republics. Couldn't the other former SSR's also claim ownership of Bulgartabac?

Nope. Just Russia, according to Kozhin.

So ends the myth of Soviet equality. Argubably, that myth died a painful death sometime around the time when the National Soviet of the Ukrainian Socialist Republic started passing laws in direct contradiction to the USSR constitution, or maybe it was that moment in which Yeltsin climbed on top of a tank. But this one is just too juicy.

Note to our Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Belarusian, Ukranian, Moldovan, Georgian, Armenian, Azeri, Uzbek, Kazakh, and Tajik friends: you might also want to file a claim, lest Russia take what -- by rights -- also belongs to you...

Sorry Bulgaria. All power to the People's Soviets!

Apr 20, 2009

Save Angela Merkel

Last week, FP Magazine published a list of the “Top Five Governments that Deserve to Fail.” And since we're just now learning to about the wonders of Google Timeline, ER can finally catch up on all the crap we missed.

In the, not-a-surprise-to-anyone catagory, we discover that both Russia and Georgia are on the list. But Angela Merkel's Germany?

According to the editors, Saakashvili has got to go for his “economic and foreign-policy incompetence;” Putin deserves the boot for, eh, “failing to enact economic policies that would have aided Russia through the financial crisis” (how very brave of you FP); and someone should show Angela the door for “naysaying other countries' policies.”

Naysaying? Where the hell is Kim Jong-il?

Go for the Gold

The first contentious race of the 2014 Sochi Olympics has already begun, with multiple false-starts and disqualifications for the Mayoral candidate. At stake is access to the vast state coffers for the Olympic preparations as well as control over a favorite summertime spot for President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.

In a frenzy for control over this political resource, Sochi has had four mayors in the last year alone and at one time over 25 candidates were registered for the election next week. Of the original 25, only 6 remain. Amongst the throng, famous ballerina Anastasia Volochkova, businessman and British favorite Aleksandr Lebedev, and Just Russia's candidate Viktor Kurpitko have been eliminated for various paperwork issues. Despite the scandal surrounding a large foreign campaign contribution, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov has managed to recover from his early lagging pace and is considered the only viable competition left for United Russia's candidate, acting Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov.

Russian television stations have decided not to cover this election; no doubt the powers that be do not want another Murmansk debacle. Although hopefully Pakhomov has been filled in better on election policies than Anton Chumachenko (for more on this idealistic United Russia see here).

Berlin Wall Divides East and West Again

According to The Guardian, there are plans to repaint what remains of the Berlin Wall, roughly 1300 meters of concrete.

Noir, the Frenchman who painted the first major work of art on the wall, is now organizing the restoration of his paintings as well as those of around 120 other artists. The artists, representing 21 countries, will return to Berlin to paint the wall after it has been scrubbed and resurfaced. So how is this project dividing rather than uniting?

The Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel, who painted the famous image of the East German leader Erich Honecker kissing his Soviet counterpart, Leonid Brezhnev, has told German media he would not paint the same image as before. Noir dismissed the Russian artist, whose "kiss" painting has graced T-shirts, coffee mugs and posters in dorm rooms across Europe for decades, as a publicity-seeker.

Maybe we should just knock down the rest of the wall? Maybe repaint the original designs on paper or something?

Russia Being Cool?

Two stories from the NY Times that just warm your heart.

1. Medvedev has asked that the bill to expand the definition of espionage and state treason — a measure backed by Putin — be revised. What What?!

The bill had prompted a strong outcry in the media and among government critics, and Mr. Medvedev’s request appears to represent a rare example of public opinion influencing policy in Russia, a country with strict controls on free expression of divergent political ideas.

Critics had said that the bill would have needlessly broadened the understanding of actions considered detrimental to Russia’s security and allowed officials to equate any government criticism with state treason.

2. Russia may be putting off its plan to deploy missiles near the Polish border raised. The reports have not been confirmed, but if the speculation is good enough for the New York Times, it's good enough for me to mention here. I mean I speculated last week that by calling Moldova the poorest country in Europe, the NYT was in fact saying Kosovo was not a country. I'm in no position to judge.

In any case, thanks for being cool, Russia, even if it is temporary or not confirmed.

Apr 17, 2009


In its latest installment of Russian military modernization, the latest in anti-pirate technology has been unveiled. The aptly named "Dazzle Rifle" the design for which was no doubt based upon multiple viewings of the "Fifth Element," emits an extremely bright light which causes temporary blindness; thus preventing small boat approaches. Yargh!

(They've also created the DP-54, a grenade launcher capable of discharging without creating a jet stream, but it's not nearly as awesome looking.)

Who's Your Daddy

Despite the title, this is actually a very sad story. As many of us are aware, financial and economic pressures have driven many Tajik men to seek work outside of the country and left Tajik women with few job prospects. As a result, there has been a steep increase in the number of 25+ women marrying men between the ages of 60 and 70. Not surprisingly, the regions where these marriages are most common have also witnessed a rising divorce rate. [edit: new photo since the old one died.]

"Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...."

This actual sentence appeared in the UK’s Guardian yesterday:

"And so to the Urals, where medics are reported to have removed a tiny fir tree from a man's lung, after he complained of chest pains." That's right, an actual fir tree. A really small one, at least. "Before doctors opened him up, they were convinced he had lung cancer. Now, they're convinced [28-year-old Artyom Sidorkin] inhaled a seed, which sprouted inside him.”

Now, before you hypochondriacs latch on to a new medical fear, we must point out that the original story has also graced the pages of Pravda, that bastion of journalistic integrity. So, caveat emptor everyone, if you are inclined to buy this story.

(Thanks Leopolis!)

Apr 16, 2009

So just who is the poorest in Europe?

So after a dicussion with some friends who recently returned from Moldova, I'm left with that question. In the various articles following the recent protests in Moldova, writers have repeatedly reminded us where Moldova is, that Chisinau is the capital of Moldova, and that Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. Apparently, this last "fact" has Moldovans a bit peeved.

It seems Moldovans believe they are the second poorest country in Europe. Who do they claim is the poorest? Well, Kosovo. So the question is: is Moldova poorer than Kosovo, or does the New York Times and several other news outlets agree with Serbia and not consider Kosovo to be an independent country?

Saddest competition ever.

See Georgia? Russia will leave... in 10 years.

CNN: Today, Russia declared an end to its 10-year anti-terror "operation" in the autonomous republic of Chechnya. The end to the offensive could see the withdrawal of thousands of troops from the Muslim-majority region, where Russia has fought two wars since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The late president Boris Yeltsin ordered the counter-terrorist operation in 1999. Since then, the region has been relatively stable. Yes, relatively stable within the region as most of the violence has been exported.

Apr 15, 2009


In his ground-breaking first ever interview with Novaya Gazeta, President Medvedev did reveal several things about himself. First, his political savvy in terms of his ability to avoid giving a straight answer is excellently attuned. And secondly, the man has a sense of humor.

When asked to "speculate" on the outcome of the ongoing Khodorkovsky trial, Medvedev replied that officials should not comment on the outcome of trials because of the independence of the judicial branch. "Perhaps, someone can predict the outcome of a case," Medvedev said (no doubt with an impish and innocent smile). Oh Mr. President, you're such a kidder.

Moldova, this is your intervention

Before I get into the article from the NY Times, let me just give have a side conversation with Moldova for a moment. And this is coming from a place of genuine concern and respect for the country. Um, you're going down a dangerous path that leads to probable failure.

When populations break into two such diametrically opposed positions, it welcomes outside influence (East and West alike) that more often than not does not help the country. Please, please, please look at Ukraine. Years after the Orange Revolution, the government is still struggling to stay together and the country still rightly fears losing its autonomy. Not to mention, in the meantime, the government of Ukraine fails to provide its population with basic needs like vaccines. There's my harsh analysis.

So highlights from the article: As the world learned last week, the divisions within Moldovan society are dangerous and deep. In a way, Moldova (the poorest country in Europe) is grappling with the same challenge as Georgia and Ukraine — trying to join the West after decades of Russian influencw (some Moldovans still support unification with Romania). But not everyone is for joining the West, especially the old folks who remember the good old days. Sound familiar?

At newsstands, Russian newspapers refer to last week’s events as a “putsch,” and Romanian newspapers cast them as a revolution. And a couple more of my cents: Nothing is resolved. Nothing will be resolved until the population can agree on a national identity independent of West or East political leanings... Good luck with that.

Apr 14, 2009

Romania Does It!

Not content with electing zombie mayors or plotting to overthrow democracy in Moldova, Romania now has a new accomplishment to hang over the national fireplace...
AP: "A Romanian model displays a wedding dress with a train measuring 1,579 metres long for a new world record for the longest wedding train in Bucharest Romania, Wednesday, April 1 2009."

Apr 13, 2009

Cold War Fix

In light of the on-going toilet war between US and Russian astronauts aboard the International Space Station, it only seems fitting that we mark today in Cold War history as the 48th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight.

Dusting off the archives, the UK's Guardian published this article from that famous day. Upon hearing that Russia's captured Nazi rocket scientists had just beat his own captured Nazi rocket scientists to space:

"[President Kennedy] said...there was no doubt that 'we are behind.' But the latest Soviet feat did not mean the free world was losing the world contest with communism."
Indeed, that day would come years later when the [former] communists would call dibs on the best public toilet in space.

Bring the Weird

Is this really the kind of assistance Ukraine needs?

According to BBC Ukrainian, David Lynch (you know, "Twin Peaks" David Lynch, What the hell is going on in "Lost Highway"? David Lynch) is bringing his foundation to Ukraine. The organization is the David Lynch Foundation For Consciousness-Based Education and Peace. It finances scholarships for students in middle and high schools who are interested in learning the Transcendental Meditation technique. According to Wikipedia, TM is a technique practiced for 20 min 2X a day while sitting with one's eyes closed and repeatng a thought-sound called a mantra. The technique involves neither concentration nor contemplation.

So maybe without concentration or contemplation, Ukrainians will get vaccines, or maybe they will eradicate corruption, or maybe they will actually form a working coalition government. Just to be clear on what my stance is: I HAVE MY DOUBTS.


According to the NY TIMES, a new sweet action film was released in Russia this month. Well, actually it seems, the NY TIMES is more concerned with the nationalistic sentiments it seems to be inciting. But come on, you can't put all of that on one movie...

Here's the basic plot: Taras Bulba, the 15th-century Cossack immortalized by Nikolai Gogol, disdains peace talks as “womanish” and awes his men with speeches about the Russian soul. When Polish soldiers finally burn him at the stake, he roars out his faith in the Russian czar even as flames lick at his mustache. Before that, he "slices up Polish noblemen like so many cabbages."

Honestly, so what if the Russian Ministry of Culture financed it? So what if it's a blatant attempt to bolster support for Russia and encourage anti-west sentiments in Russia as well as Ukraine? It sounds like an action-packed thrill ride. The world needs more movies about Cossacks, and for that matter, we need more movies about Mongol invasions. I'm talking to you Bodrov.

Apr 9, 2009

Saakashvili Has a Masseuse?

I have absolutly no comment on this photo. None. Zero. In fact, I'll just let Saakashvili's masseuse Dorothy Stein explain. She has a blog, you see, and assures us that sometimes a good old presidential "massage" is just a massage.
During the massage ‘Mr. President’ was very witty. I was massaging his massive neck and told him “wow! Your neck is so tense!” and he answered “no kidding, I have RUSSIA sitting on it!."
Russia, and 100,000 Georgians in the streets of Tbilisi calling for his head. Almost forgot that part. Lucky Ms. Stein specilizes in non-traditional massage techniques like "biting her clients backs." Very relaxing.

(Props Igor!)

We're arguing over Moldova now? Really?

The Indpendent: Russia gave its backing yesterday to Moldova's President, Vladimir Voronin, when he accused EU and Nato member Romania of backing a coup attempt, and expelled the Romanian ambassador.

So much for the reset button.


In yet another blow to Medvedev's manhood (and the constitutional office of president), it turns out that Putin not only gets to run the wars, gets the VIP seats at the Olympics, and gets to tell Gazprom when to deliver gas...but he also makes more money than the president.

Newly released public salaries show that Putin's paycheck is 11 percent higher than Medvedev's salary, meaning that Putin earned just $137,000 last year. His assets included "a large plot of land" and a shared parking space in a garage (thanks BBC).

These days, $137,000 won't even allow you to serve drinks at the Moscow Millionaires Fair. But don't feel too bad for Putin. The report declines to mention the $200 million which he received as a "finders fee" for hijacking Yukos into the waiting arms of Rosneft.

Sorry Khordakovsky...care for some gruel?

Beware the Thorns or

a Rose by any other name would not smell as sweet.... to Saakashvili.

Looks like Rose Revolution leader President Mikhail Saakashvili may now be facing a (rose)bed of his own making. Now renowned for voting with their feet, Georgian protesters have amassed once again outside the parliament building demanding the resignation of their number one official. But, as we have seen in the other successful and failed "colored revolutions," it is not sheer protest numbers which tips the scales against the authorities. Amongst other factors, many analysts point to unification of opposition parties and the confidence (or lack thereof) of those in office as vital to the success of a colored revolution.

Several newspaper accounts have emphasized the newfound unity amongst the opposition. However, who knows how long the enemy of my enemy logic can hold. We'll have to wait and see how Misha feels about all this.

Also interesting is the attention in the media to the Russian influence/support of these protests. Keep tuned.

Apr 8, 2009

Resistance is Futile

Yup, Starbucks is about to open it's first "cafe" in Poland...

“'Poland, as well as the rest of Central and Eastern Europe, represents significant growth areas for Starbucks,' said Buck Hendrix, president of Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa, in a statement."

That's fine and all, but Mr. Buck Henxrix declined to explain how he's mangaged to con the world into buying such awful coffee.

Methinks they doth protest too much...

Today, the general director of Spartak Nalchik lodged an official complaint with the Russian authorities about a lewd sign held up at last Sunday's "football" match which suggested that the players were "sheep-lovers" ...but not in that sheperding kind of way. This infuriating one-word message of seven Cyrillic letters was held up by a group of fans (of Spartak Moscow), one of whom is now in custody. Use of "mat" or obscene language is prohibited by Russian law. Not that we would know it based on past cases brought forth on such charges, of which there are very few. I wonder if Spartak Nalchik would have been less angry if they hadn't lost that game?

Apr 7, 2009

Meet the "Ukrainian Obama"

Financial Times:If recent polls are right, an increasing number of them see 34-year-old Arseniy Yatseniuk as an alternative to 3 leaders whose mud-slinging power struggle has dominated Kyiv’s politics since 2004.

Some people are calling him Ukraine’s Barack Obama. Yatseniuk is young, yet experienced. Since 2004 he has served as central bank chief, economy and foreign affairs minister – and, most recently, parliament’s speaker until he was ousted last year.

Parliament has called early presidential elections for October 25, although Viktor Yushchenko, the president, wants the vote held in January 2010.

“It is clear that Yatseniuk is trying to position himself as a Ukrainian Obama,” says Olexiy Haran, a political science professor in Kyiv.

Obvious question: shouldn't it be easy to find a young socialist spewing propaganda to run for office in a former socialist republic?

This ain't no color revolution...

The Guardian: Protesters in Moldova stormed the country's parliament today, smashing windows and hurling tables and chairs out onto the street, in a violent protest against Sunday's elections which saw the ruling communists returned to power.

Anti-communist demonstrators poured into the building and heaped whatever they found onto the street. They set fire to paper, computers, and furniture. A small group also broke into the president's office - as police using tear gas and water canons tried to drive them back.

At least 10,000 protesters gathered outside the parliament building in the capital, Chisinau. The young crowd carried EU, Moldovan and Romanian flags and shouted slogans including: "Down with communism!" "Freedom!" and "We want Europe!" Others demanded the unification of Moldova and Romania.

Could this work?

YahooNews: Kazakhstan offered Monday to host an international nuclear fuel bank, and Iran's leader said he supported the idea. The US initiated the project and allocated $50 million toward it in 2007.

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Monday that his Central Asian country would be an appropriate place for such a depository, as it was giving up its own Soviet-era nuclear arsenal.

If created, the global fuel bank would undermine claims by Iran and other states that they need to develop their own fuel enrichment programs. Nevertheless, Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a two-day visit to Kazakhstan that he supported the project.

Apr 6, 2009

I Want My [Czech] TV

Not everyone was happy to greet President Obama on his visit to Prague. The missile shield is fast becoming a political hot potato in the Czech Republic. Little noticed, however, are the reasons why many Czechs are opposed to the radar. Russia? Iran? You say...not quite.

When asked why they oppose the radar system, Czechs living near the proposed site were more concerned with the prospect that it would interfere with their television reception.

Apr 3, 2009

I think Russia confused its foreign policy with its population building plans

According to the NY Times, Russia won't pull out of Georgia. Nearly eight months after the war between Russia and Georgia, Russian troops continue to hold Georgian territory that the Kremlin agreed to vacate as part of a formal cease-fire, leaving a basic condition of that agreement unfulfilled. Observers and diplomats say Russia has also used attack helicopters and stationed tanks in areas where none existed before the war.

Georgian officials have made clear that their own ability to get Russia to comply with the agreement is essentially nonexistent. Says Irakli Alasania, who was Georgia’s ambassador to the United Nations during the war but now is in the opposition to Mr. Saakashvili:

The only thing we can do now, and the only thing we can hope for is to prevent another war.

Apr 2, 2009

NATO welcomes two wild and crazy guys

NY Times: Albania and Croatia became NATO's newest members Wednesday in a historic expansion into the volatile western Balkans region where the alliance fought its first war a decade ago.

The two Balkan nations will be ceremonially inducted into NATO during a summit in Strasbourg, France, and Kehl, Germany, on Friday and Saturday to mark the alliance's 60th anniversary. The two new states will take total members nations to 28.

Apr 1, 2009

First Contact

Insert "looking into his soul" comment here.