Sunday, August 31, 2008

Moldova, Transnistria, Chisinau, Tiraspol....Say them again, three times, fast...

Familiar with Transnistria?  Don't worry, you probably will be's another of those wonderful (former) Russian playgrounds that they're having such fun with these days.  Ah, Vlad, remember how good it was to forment revolutions, stir up ethnic dissent, smuggle weapons, forge currency, write propaganda, and even get in a murder or two?  No problem......come to Transnistria, on the grey banks of the Dnester.  It's just like the old days!
by Corey Flintoff - NPR

It may sound like one of those fictional Eastern European countries, Ruritania or Graustark, but it's a real place, part of Moldova, sandwiched along the border with Ukraine. It doesn't quite reach the Black Sea but mostly follows the eastern shore of one the region's great rivers, the Dnester.  European officials are worried that Russia could use other frozen ethnic conflicts to put pressure on Moldova and Ukraine.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner noted that Russia could use areas such as Transnistria in Moldova to create tension and counter efforts to bring those countries into NATO and the EU.

Life Slowly Returns To Normal In Georgian Port
A visit to the Georgian port of Poti, still under effective Russian control in the wake of this month's conflict, finds there are still some Russian soldiers inside the town — Georgia's largest Black Sea port. Many checkpoints dot the outskirts, but the town is beginning to return to normal.

Russia stands by Georgia actions
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said his decision to recognise Georgia's breakaway regions as independent is irrevocable.

Unfortunately, the French and Germans are not speaking up for sanctions against Russia. 

"French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told the BBC that Paris did not support sanctions but the views of all EU members would have to be taken into account.

"The situation is very difficult and... we must be firm on our position in offering a line defending, of course, territorial integrity of Georgia," he said.........

Germany's foreign minister ( Mr Steinmeier)said that "the dangerous spiral of violence [over Georgia] must be stopped"..... "We need a strong and sensible European role to allow a return to reason and responsibility," he said.

Speaking earlier in the week, Mr Steinmeier rejected the idea of sanctions, saying "someone should first tell me what a sanction against Russia could be".

"Particularly in such a serious political situation, it is necessary to show a bit of common sense," he said.

"We will continue to have Russia as our neighbour also beyond the current day, and it is in our own interest to return to a normal relationship."

The UK's Prime Minister, however, showed some backbone.....

Mr Brown said both the EU and Nato should review their ties with Russia

"When Russia has a grievance over an issue such as South Ossetia, it should act multilaterally by consent rather than unilaterally by force," he said.

"My message to Russia is simple: If you want to be welcome at the top table of organisations such as the G8, OECD and WTO, you must accept that with rights come responsibilities."

How odd.........

Kremlin critic shot in Ingushetia
The owner of an internet site critical of the Russian authorities in the volatile region of Ingushetia has been shot dead in police custody.

Magomed Yevloyev, owner of the site, was a vocal critic of the region's administration.

The Russian prosecutor's office said an investigation into the death had been launched....... (Now move along citizen, there's nothing to see here.....)

Sunday Readings

The Louisiana governor talks about what it means to be conservative, why he became a Catholic and why our immigration policy goes against the American dream.
The news from the north of our home in Tbilisi didn’t strike me as unusual. In the breakaway region of South Ossetia, clashes continued between Georgian- and Ossetian-held villages. Georgians said they had gone in to stop the fighting. The Russians, who back the Ossetians, traded threats with the Georgians. This had been going on for weeks. I gave no more thought to it and went grocery shopping.

Obama tied to lobbyists, but boasts of not taking money
By Ken Dilanian, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama often boasts he is "the only candidate who isn't taking a dime from Washington lobbyists," yet his fundraising team includes 38 members of law firms that were paid $138 million last year to lobby the federal government, records show.

All in the Family for Biden and the tort lawyers
ByThomas Lifson, American Thinker
The tort lawyers have a great friend in Joe Biden and his running mate, and there is a smelly "intersection of interests" among them.

Digg this......

Medieval canals spotted from air

Archaeologists have found what they have described as a "breathtaking engineering project" in Lincolnshire.  Almost 60 miles of medieval canals, possibly built by monks to ferry stone, have been identified in the Fens.

and this....

Roald Dahl’s wartime sex raids

Children's author seduced for Britain in undercover mission. He is known to the world as the author of bestselling children’s books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. Yet before he became a successful writer, Roald Dahl had a very different reputation – as the sexiest British spy in America. (He did it for God, Queen, and Country!)

and this....
The Wave shows how to turn children into Nazis

A hit German film that shows how to turn children into Nazis. And it's based on a real-life Californian experiment that got scarily out of hand.

and this....

Happy 63rd birthday to Van Morrison. "Baby Please Don't Go" by Them, 1965

and this....

Sarah Palin on Sports:

Stormy Weather - Sunday Update

This Isn't the Return of History

-Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek

The Georgia attack will go down not as the dawn of a new era 
of Russian power but as a major strategic blunder.

Europe Must Back Ukraine for Peace

 - David Miliband, The Guardian
It is not an act of hostility towards Russia for Europe to
support Ukraine, but a positive move towards lasting peace

Ex-Soviet States Fear Russia
- Otto Luchterhandt, Der Spiegel 
Moscow's recent offensive in the Caucasus region has former Soviet republics worried. They see it as a return to old imperialist policies and fear they could be the next victims of Russian aggression. How much at risk are Ukraine and Moldova?
Palin Made Impression from the Start
- Washington Post

Far from being a last-minute tactical move or a second choice when

better known alternatives were eliminated, Palin was very much in
McCain's thinking from the beginning of the selection process,
according to McCain's advisers. The 44-year-old governor made every
cut as the first list of candidates assembled last spring was slowly
winnowed. The more McCain learned about her, the more attracted he
was to her as someone who shared his maverick, anti-establishment instincts.
Joe Biden's deep (but mythical) blue-collar roots
-Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune

Joe Biden once got in trouble for plagiarizing a speech and inflating his academic record.
So it will not surprise you to find that his famous working-class background turns out to be mythical.

But it may surprise you to learn that Biden isn't the one who has trouble with the facts.

The Audacity of Hype
- William Safire, NY Times

BY choosing the venue of a vast outdoor stadium as John Kennedy did for
his “new frontier” acceptance, and by speaking on the anniversary of
Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” address, Barack Obama — whose
claim to fame is an ability to move audiences with his words — deliberately
invited comparison with two of the most memorable speeches of our recent history. 

What a mistake.

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