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Showing posts from May, 2015

Anne Applebaum on the British Election

From the Washington Post: The End of Britain As We Know It This election will be remembered as the one that rescued the career of David Cameron, the British prime minister, who was publicly contemplating his own exit from politics only two months ago. It will also be remembered as the election that abruptly ended the career of the Labor Party leader, Ed Miliband, who had confidently carved his electoral promises onto a large piece of limestone only last week. Above all, it will be remembered as the election that every single major pollster got wrong... Certainly it could literally mark the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom, that union of four nations — Welsh, English, Northern Irish and Scottish — whose stability hasn’t seriously been challenged for quite some time... ...Suddenly, a vision of a different future has opened up, especially for a certain kind of English Tory: Without dour, difficult, left-wing Scotland, maybe they could rule the rest of what used to be Great

Putin co-opting conservatism and religious messianism gather world-wide support and sympathy

A new Forbes article (Un)Holy Alliance: Vladimir Putin, The Russian Orthodox Church And Russian Exceptionalism makes shocking reading. [...W]hile much attention has been paid to the growing authoritarianism of the Kremlin and on the support for Putin’s regime on the part of the Russian oligarchs whom Putin has enriched through his crony capitalism, little has been paid to the equally critical role of the Russian Orthodox Church in helping to shape Russia’s current system, and in supporting Putin’s regime and publicly conflating the mission of the Russian state under Vladimir Putin’s leadership with the mission of the Church. Putin’s move in close coordination with the Russian Orthodox Church to sacralize the Russian national identity has been a key factor shaping the increasingly authoritarian bent of the Russian government under Putin, and strengthening his public support, and must be understood in order to understand Russia’s international behavior. The close relationship betwe

The Daily Vertical: Foreign Agents Against Torture

Today's video is about Europeans, participating in a conference against torture, deported from Russia. Related link: The Daily Vertical: Foreign Agents Against Torture Also available is an hour long podcast on States Within A State : Two republics in the Russian Federation. Both predominantly Muslim. Both seeking to secure maximum autonomy from Moscow. Each using dramatically different tactics. ...On the latest Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss Grozny's and Kazan's approaches, Moscow's respective reaction to them, and what this tells us about Russia today.

Alarm on the border in Poland

From Deutsche Welle: Alarm on the border in Poland Since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, citizen defense and paramilitary groups in Poland have seen their numbers swell. The government in Warsaw has officially included these troops in its plans for national defense. An article in more depth on Poland and it's fears and preparation for war with Russia, from Poland Prepares for Russian Invasion by John Schindler of The XX Committee: ... Poland is the real issue when it comes to defending NATO’s exposed Eastern frontier from Russian aggression. Only Poland, which occupies the Alliance’s central front, has the military power to seriously blunt any Russian moves westward. As in 1920, when the Red Army failed to push past Warsaw, Poland is the wall that will defend Central Europe from any westward movement by Moscow’s military. To their credit, and thanks to a long history of understanding the Russian mentality better than most NATO and EU members, Warsaw last fa

Daily Vertical - Novorossia: A Short-Lived Mirage

Novorossia died a quiet death this week. When separatist leader Oleg Tsarev announced the end of the scheme to unite the Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine into a single pro-Moscow separatist entity on May 20, it was the latest in a series of signs that the yearlong conflict in the Donbas is lumbering toward some kind of endgame. In remarks reported by, Tsarev, the chairman of the self-styled parliament of Novorossia, said the project was being suspended because it "doesn't fit into" the cease-fire agreement signed in Minsk in February. In reality, Novorossia was stillborn from the get-go. Unlike in Donetsk and Luhansk, where pro-Moscow separatism took hold, Russian-speakers in Odesa, Mariupol, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Kharkiv, and elsewhere remained loyal to Kyiv. ... Russia had once hoped to partition Ukraine by seizing so-called Novorossia, which stretches from Kharkiv in the northeast to Odesa in the south, which would have given it

The Daily Vertical: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Authorities in Krasnodar announce that they will monitor a concert by the popular musician Noize MC for extremism after the liberal-minded rapper criticized Russia's policies in Ukraine. Local Cossacks in a St. Petersburg suburb unveil a statue depicting Vladimir Putin as a Roman emperor. The State Duma approves legislation criminalizing "undesirable organizations." A pro-Kremlin institute unveils a computer program that will trawl social networks in search of chatter about unauthorized protests -- and report it to the authorities. The latest petty harassment of a socially conscious artist. Yet another cartoonish exaltation of the national leader. And the creation of a couple more blunt instruments to repress dissent. Just another month in the brave new Russia. I can't imagine any company in the Western world unveiling a computer program to trawl social networks to check for chatter about unauthorised protests. In fact, protests in the Western world are

Russia threatens to ban Google, Twitter and Facebook over extremist content

From The Guardian: Russia threatens to ban Google, Twitter and Facebook over extremist content : Russia’s communications watchdog has threatened to fine Facebook, Google and Twitter and block their services under a controversial law on blogging. In a letter to executives on on Monday, the director of the communications oversight agency warned that the three US companies could face sanctions if they continued alleged illegal activities in Russia, Izvestia newspaper reported on Wednesday. Any action could affect a number of social media sites: besides its eponymous social network, Facebook also owns the photo-sharing service Instagram, while Google owns YouTube, BlogSpot and Google+. Facebook and Twitter, in particular, have been instrumental to organisers of opposition protests in Russia, where the major television news channels are controlled by the state. A spokesman told the state news agency RIA Novosti that the watchdog’s complaints related mainly to deleting pages with ext

Bible classes in state schools

I suppose many readers might assume that I would be for the continuing teaching of bible classes in state schools. Of the type where the school "closes down" for a little while so that the class can be taught out of school time. Except I don't support this sort of thing at all. The whole notion of closing a school down so a subject can be taught is ridiculous. Either the school has the mandate to teach something or it doesn't. In other words, Bible class should be made part of the curriculum, and then the fight is with the Government, or the school not teach it at all. Any parents that want Bible class need to get together and create some sort of Sunday school. So, in that way I am on the side of Jeff McClintock, who is taking his 7 year old daughter's school and Attorney General, Chris Finlayson to court. From 3 News : A parent fighting bible lessons in schools admits he's feeling a weight on his shoulders as his High Court battles begins.

The continuing invasion of Ukraine by Russia

From New Putin Invasion Coming This Summer ~ Michael Weiss and James Miller, Daily Beast On May 5, the Ukrainian government released new data which says that they have lost 28 towns to Russian-backed separatists since February 18. That was the day the strategic town of Debaltsevo, which guarded a key highway to separatist-controlled regions, slipped from Ukraine’s control. The map of separatist territory is as alarming as it is illustrative, especially when it is combined with the daily reports of ceasefire violations and fighting coming out of both the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Kiev. On May 6, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed the National Security and Defense Council and warned that Russia has 50,000 troops on the border and its proxies have more than 40,000 fighters inside the country. That’s not only a combined 50% increase in possible invaders over July of last year, the month which proceeded the “Russian invasion” on the

The Daily Vertical: The Strange Endgame In Donbas

* For more than year, there's been a war in eastern Ukraine that nobody called a war. And for the past three months, there's been a cease-fire there that wasn't a cease-fire. And now that the agreement reached in Minsk in February that was supposed to end hostilities in the Donbas is all but dead in the water, we seem to be lurching toward some kind of endgame. And it is shaping up to be as strange and counterintuitive as every other aspect of this through-the-looking-glass hybrid conflict. This article Lose The Territory, Win The War is what is said in the You-Tube above plus lots more analysis. Personally, I think, Russia Putin needs to be forced to repair the damage to the country of Ukraine and pay reparations to all those families, both Ukrainian and Russian, that have lost loved ones in this pointless war. Putin is worth at least $40 billion, though some think he's even richer at $200 billion , so he can afford it. Related link: The Daily Vertical: The

Mr Abbas - Angel of Peace or not?

Pope Francis and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority at the Vatican There's been a bit of outrage over Pope Francis supposedly calling President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority an "angel of peace", according to some news reports, during a private conversation between the two when Mr Abbas visited the Pope at the Vatican recently. Other media reported the phrase as an exhortation for Abbas to be an angel of peace. The Vatican hasn't clarified matters, beyond reminding everyone that angels are messengers. Anyway, officially Israel is not too concerned, for ... Emmanuel Nahshon, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said he heard a recording of the conversation, had consulted with Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican and was satisfied that the pope had said, “May you be an angel of peace.” “He is far from an angel of peace,” Mr. Nahshon said of Mr. Abbas, adding, “If he was, perhaps by now there would be peace.” Yep.  There's also n

Proof verified by MSM as to who shot down MH17 [UPDATE 3]

An Australian journalist, Michael Usher recently traveled to Ukraine, into rebel-held territory, to look into the evidence for a Russian BUK shooting down MH17 as it flew over Ukraine. He used information from Bellingcat , photos and geo-locations, which he verified by going to those places.  He saw exactly where the Russian BUK passed through, thus putting to bed any suggestion that it was a Ukranian BUK as asserted by Russia. He also talks to an expert as to whether the damage to the plane was from projectile (ie a Ukranian fighter plane as the Russians initially asserted) or a BUK which creates shrapnel type damage. This 60 Minutes TV programme was screened in Australia only a few days ago and is a must watch, especially for those that are unsure as to what actually happened.  It seems the Australians will not let this go, and with good reason. This is a new wave of internet crowd sourcing of forensic detective work backed up by the MSM. Related link: Michael Usher travels

To understand Putin, read Orwell.

From To Understand Putin, Read Orwell by Timothy Snyder. Anyone who wants to understand the current Russian position on Ukraine would do well to begin with George Orwell’s classic, 1984. The connections go deeper than the adjective “Orwellian”: the structure and the wisdom of the book are guides, often frighteningly precise ones, to current events. The easiest way to begin, in light of the now entirely open Russian invasion of Ukraine, is with “War is Peace,” one of the slogans of the imagined empire in Orwell’s tale. After all, every attempt thus far at negotiation and cease-fire has been accompanied by a Russian escalation, to the point where we can be certain that this is not a coincidence. If Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with other leaders, we must simply expect that this is cover for the latest outrage, as with the entrance of Russian troops, armor and artillery during the recent talks in Minsk. But we need to dig a bit deeper into the plot for the three concepts

Roman Emperor Putin

Created and erected by the St Petersburg Cossack Society, it was unveiled to mark [this year's Russia's] Victory Day celebrations The bust, created by the St Petersburg Cossack Society to mark Russia's victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, has been unveiled on a plot of private land in the north. Andrei Polyakov, a local Cossack leader, said the idea for the bust came about after Russia's annexation of Crimea last year. He said: 'Cossacks would want to have an emperor for life, who would give strength to the state and would take care of Russia's destiny throughout his whole life. 'Presidents come and go, but an emperor as a symbol is probably what Russia needs.' It will remain perched in the small town of Vartemyagi, which is located just outside the northern city of St Petersburg. Vladimir Belyancheko, a member of the society, said: 'In this image we see manhood. This is the image of a victor, and probably a model fo

Very Wet Yesterday UPDATE

Slip on Centennial Highway blocks the train track on the right on the hill and the road It was a bit wet here on the Kapiti Coast, NZ yesterday. We had a lot of rain and there was flooding, which caused a major slip on the main highway disconnecting us to the city of Wellington. Chaos ensued.  A man died, stuck in his car in a flooded area. My backyard filled with water, but not above the level of the grass. My sun room leaked and a giant puddle formed outside the front door, but with being on a slight hill, the house was never in danger.  Though, there were evacuations further down the road due to the local stream rising. The local schools were closed, my kids were home and spend the day playing computer games rather than studying, and they were hoping school was not on today either. Which it is, despite the trains not running and no buses as replacement, which affects those coming north into this area. My husband is still stuck in Wellington, but was able to stay with

Must listen: Panel Discussion on current Russian Disinformation

Joint Baltic American National Committee Conference 2015 Morning Panel Archived JBANC panel on Kremlin propaganda and disinformation from April 18 Panelists are: Paul Goble, Christopher Walker, Jamie Kirchick, Liz Wahl, John Schindler. I have to disagree with Jamie Kirchick that ridicule is the best counter to those who propagate disinformation in the West. Ridicule does not persuade those who are undecided, or don't know what is going on. It can enforce conformity, but not everyone is a conformist and is therefore convinced.   You can lose a lot of people by using ridicule.  Far better to directly engage with the arguments and inform of the real situation. I really would like to write a lot more about the 72 minute talk fest above, but it would just take far too much time, and rather than post nothing, I leave it to those who want to know more about what is going on to spend the time listening as well. Related links: Joint Baltic American National Committee

Putin still defending Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that started WWII

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (L) and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Moscow. Photo: EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY ( Source ) Angela Merkel is trying to talk sense into Vladimir Putin. Unfortunately, it's still not working. Russian President Vladimir Putin defended 1939's Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as Moscow's response to being isolated and having its peace efforts snubbed by Western nations. At the close of his Sunday meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Moscow — a day after Russian held grand-scale celebrations of the allied victory in World War II — Putin offered a lengthy defense of the controversial agreement that led to the carving up of Eastern Europe. "The Soviet Union made massive efforts to lay the groundwork for a collective resistance to Nazism in Germany, made repeated attempts to create an anti-fascist bloc in Europe. All of these attempts failed," Putin told journalists a

Too many crucifixes and Catholic imagery in Catholic university in the US

Pope Francis holding a crucifix A Catholic university in America is being investigated for having too many crucifixes, thus offending the Muslim students who go there. Not that any of the students have complained. No, it appears a serial litigant has complained on their behalf. The sixty-page complaint was filed with the Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights by a one-man nuisance-lawsuit factory, George Washington University Law School Professor John Banzhaf. Muslim students are but pawns in Banzhaf’s game against Catholics. Taken to its logical conclusion, his lawfare would wipe out mosques and Islamic learning centers as well. The rules of engagement in the Establishment’s War on Religion have a funny way of changing to accommodate Islam, however, so perhaps those hypothetical logical conclusions will never be reached. Banzhaf’s complaint alleges that the large amount of Catholic imagery draping the halls of Catholic University creates an “offensive” environment in which

Author John Schindler on Woodrow Wilson's involvement in Europe

The post Woodrow Wilson’s Great Folly of John Schindler on his blog is a very different way of looking at what happened post WWI that I hadn't really considered as a person of Polish heritage. For me, the breakup of empires at the end of the war, specifically the breakup of the Hapsburg Empire was always supposed to be a "good thing", for it meant that Poland became it's own country again. Yet it wasn't that good, because WWII happened, the expansion of Soviet influence happened, so much death and destruction happened when the land powers of the early 20th century fell apart. His summary of what Europe could have been like is therefore though-provoking. It’s clear, with a century of hindsight, what a Europe without Wilson and his Fourteen Points would look like. A compromise peace would have allowed the Germans to quickly crush Russia’s nascent Bolshevik thugocracy like a bug, as they planned to do. Without the Bolshevik threat, European politics would have

A theory about why the pollsters are getting election results wrong

The internet is destroying homogeneity of information and therefore predictability of citizens. No longer are family, friends, work colleges, the local paper or the national TV the sole source of information. Now the internet can give you points of view that you are interested in from around the world, giving people perspectives that they may not have though of from their corner of the world. The aim of modern (Prussian) schooling, to create predictable citizens (see Why Schools Don't Educate ), is being destroyed by technology. Inspired by: The rise of the ‘shy Tory': why pollsters are missing voters on the right

Russia and WWII

My father fought the evil of fascism, but he was taken advantage of by another evil. He and millions of Soviet soldiers, sailors and airmen, virtual slaves, brought the world not liberation but another slavery. The people sacrificed everything for victory, but the fruits of this victory were less freedom and more poverty. The above paragraph by Mikhail Shishkin published as part of his opinion piece in the New York Times several days ago, I think, is the quintessential summary of Russia and WWII. It does not deny the victory of the Russian people, yet it also does not deny their involvement in bringing misery to many more. To admit this requires a strength and a humility to look into the face of evil, see yourself, and not be consumed or capitulate to it. This is something that all of us, at some point or another have to do when confronting our own past, because no one has an unblemished history. Related link: How Russians Lost the War ~ New York Times

Battle of Vienna 1683 You-Tube clip

Related links: Wikipedia Turning the Ottoman Tide - John III Sobieski at Vienna 1683 Under Mary's Holy Name: Victory in Vienna, September 12, 1683