Friday, September 5, 2008

Family Relations

In Ukraine, A Conflict Over Russian Relations

Morning Edition, September 5, 2008 · Russia's invasion of Georgia sent shudders through other former Soviet countries, especially Ukraine. Vice President Dick Cheney is in the capital Kiev on Friday — the last stop on his tour of some of Russia's closest neighbors to show U.S. support in the wake of last month's invasion.
Cheney will find Ukrainian politicians more focused on Europe and distracted by yet another political crisis.
Ukraine has stumbled through political turmoil since the 2004 Orange Revolution brought to power the pro-Western team of President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. They have fought as bitterly among themselves as with their more pro-Russian opponents. It is basically a fight over the respective powers of the president and the prime minister, and it has paralyzed the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Hryhoriy Nemyria says Yushchenko's withdrawal from the coalition couldn't come at a worse time.
"This is the last thing Ukraine needs: preterm elections amid regional and domestic crises," Nemyria says.........In fact, their positions are not so very different — Yushchenko and Tymoshenko both hope for NATO membership one day, they just differ on how much to push the issue now.
Tymoshenko's go-slower approach reflects the deep divide in Ukraine about how to juggle relations with Russia and the West....

A conversation overhead in a Kiev bar sums it up: An off-duty police officer says Ukraine has nothing with which to protect itself from Russia, except the prospect of NATO. Without NATO, he says Ukraine will cease to exist. His three companions disagree.
"We can't antagonize Russia," one says, "Russians are our brothers."
Posted 9/4/2008

Russia: Vladimir Putin is desperate, which is bad news for us. Because a desperate Russia under an increasingly nationalistic and paranoid leader poses a greater danger than at any time since the Soviet Union's collapse

Vice President Dick Cheney is visiting Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine this week to reassure those nations that the U.S. is a true-blue ally rather than a fair-weather friend.
On Thursday, Cheney ripped into Russia for its invasion of Georgia and what he called an "illegitimate, unilateral attempt" to redraw the map of that country and other former Soviet republics. And in a powerful statement, he said the U.S. is "fully committed" to Georgia joining NATO. If Georgia had been a NATO member last month, the West today would be at war with Russia.
After being caught off-guard by Russia's incursion, the U.S. has played itself back into something like a stalemate, with each power jockeying for position against the other.
As the well-regarded national security Web site put it: "(Russian) troops remain in Georgia. No one outside Georgia is prepared to do anything about it. No one wants to admit that they are doing nothing about it, so they hold meetings and then decide to do nothing about it. This is called diplomacy."
Unfortunately, that pretty much hits the nail on the head.
No surprise, then, that Russia's rampage continues. On Wednesday, another independent Russian journalist was murdered, the second in as many weeks, and many suspect Putin's government.
Russia has also taken to whipping up separatist sentiment in the ethnic Russian enclaves of the former Soviet republics, part of a divide-and-conquer strategy to re-establish control over its former empire. Rumors are circulating, for instance, that two groups of Russians in Estonia will soon try to secede.
Still more trouble is on the way. Putin is threatening to forge new ties with U.S. enemies such as Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela, including setting up military bases in those countries. Seemingly, a new Cold War has begun.
That said, Putin is likely to run out of clever moves soon. The fact is, Russia longs for international recognition and to have its oil-dependent economy integrated into the rest of the world.
Putin, however, seems to be gambling that Russia will be able to finance his bullying with little or no cost by keeping oil prices high and threatening to cut off energy to Europe. About a third of Europe's oil and gas supplies come from sources controlled by Russia.
That's why Cheney's trip, so little publicized, is important. The U.S. should back its new allies in the region. If not, our reputation for being a solid, reliable friend may be forever tarnished.
Meanwhile, we should ratchet up the pain on Russia. We've already talked about denying them membership in the G-8 group of countries and World Trade Organization. Both are good moves.
Now, we need to squeeze Russia's economy. Russia's stock market has already lost a third of its value since May, the biggest drop since the 1998 ruble crisis. According to a Reuters report, up to $25 billion in foreign capital has fled since the Georgia invasion.
Russian President Dmitry Mevedev has predicted that his nation's economy will soon become the world's fifth-largest. A paranoid Russia that is also rich is a danger to us all. The best way it doesn't happen is to drive down energy prices by developing our oil and gas resources in Alaska, offshore and in the Far West.
Getting oil prices down to $80 a barrel or so would giving American consumers relief at the pump and ease inflationary pressures. More importantly, it would deprive Russia of the foreign currency it needs to finance its military mischief.
At some point, the Russians will have to decide if they want a real economy or one based on military might and plunder. They once tried the latter and failed. We must see that they do so again.

1968 Re-visited   The rest of the story........If they had been called "girdle-burners" they would have gotten more support.
Pageant Protest Sparked Bra-Burning Myth

An unidentified member of the Women's Liberation Party drops a brassiere in the trashIf they had been called "girdle-burners" they would have gotten more support.

An unidentified protester drops a bra into the trash. The women did not burn their undergarments, contrary to popular belief.
In reality, no bras were actually burned on the boardwalk in front of the Atlantic City convention hall that hosted the Miss America pageant, says Carol Hanisch, one of the organizers of the protest.
"We had intended to burn it, but the police department, since we were on the boardwalk, wouldn't let us do the burning," says Hanisch. A New York Post story on the protest included a reference to bra burning as a way to link the movement to war protesters burning draft cards. 

Donavon Frankenreiter In Concert

Click the link above to hear Frankenreiter perform live in concert from WXPN and World Café Live in Philadelphia.

Silver Jews On A Pleasure Cruise

Silver Jews' David Berman 300
To listen, click on link above...., September 5, 2008 - A fuzzy guitar conjures up rolling waves, a boat's baleful whistle, seagull mews... How many times has a song tried to take the listener on a cruise? Many, many times. But in the annals of popular music, "Party Barge" is a unique vessel, invented by the son of a steamroller and a crossing guard: "She got rolled when he got steamed / and I got left in charge." Its mission is to send out a St. Bernard to anyone at large. Its motto is "Nothing stops a party barge.

courtesy of David Berman
"Party Barge" showcases the deep, unexpressive, weirdly mesmerizing voice of Silver Jews' David, September 5, 2008 - 


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