Saturday, 22 March 2014

Oxford economics professor Kevin O'Rourke: "The euro crisis has caused the EU democratic deficit to widen"

This Oxford professor is worth listening to:

The euro crisis has caused the EU democratic deficit to widen which threatens reaching a durable solution to the region’s economic malaise, warned Kevin O’Rourke, professor of economics at Oxford University.
The debt crisis that has divided the eurozone into debtor and creditor nations has also seen the emergence of the unelected technocrat with very dangerous consequences, he said.

Prof O’Rourke said the “men in the white coats” from the European Commission and the ECB, among other EU institutions, had incorrectly diagnosed the cause of the crisis and prescribed inappropriate remedial measures with disastrous results.

Read the entire article here

Friday, 21 March 2014

Garry Kasparov: "Putin is a lost cause, and Russia also will be until he is gone"

The more I read what Garry Kasporov has to say about the West's reaction to Putin's aggression, the more convinced I am that he is right. Here is an excerpt from his latest opinion article in the Washington Post:

The first hard truth is that the only sanctions or other measures that would affect Putin’s conduct are those that, directly or indirectly, would target his hold on power. That is all Putin cares about, because he knows what happens when people in his position lose that grip. This is why a recent comment by Secretary of State John Kerry was precisely wrong. “We hope President Putin will recognize that none of what we’re saying is meant as a threat,” Kerry said. “It’s not meant in a personal way.” With one feeble remark, Kerry took off the table the only thing Putin cares about.
Obama repeated this mistake on Wednesday when he said that the United States would not send troops to defend Ukraine. Nobody was asking for troops, and Obama probably thinks he is defusing tensions. But where Obama sees a gesture of peaceful intent, Putin sees more weakness. To Putin, his opponent freely surrendered one of his greatest advantages: America’s overwhelming military strength. On Iran, on Syria and now regarding Ukraine, Obama has outsourced his foreign policy to Putin and, in so doing, has crippled the power of his office in ways that will long outlast his White House tenure.
The second hard truth is that there is no dealing with Putin, no mutually beneficial business as usual. He exploits every opening and feels no obligation to operate by the rule of law or human rights in or outside of Russia. Putin is a lost cause, and Russia also will be until he is gone

Anne Applebaum: "Russia is an anti-Western power with a different, darker visionof global politics"

Anne Applebaum's article in the Slate magazine should be compulsory reading for Western political leaders. Here is an excerpt:

Openly or subconsciously, Western leaders have since 1991 acted on the assumption that Russia is a flawed Western country. Perhaps during the Soviet years it had become different, even deformed. But sooner or later, the land of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, the home of classical ballet, would join what Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, so movingly called “our common European home.” --

For the first time, many are beginning to understand that the narrative is wrong: Russia is not a flawed Western power. Russia is an anti-Western power with a different, darker vision of global politics. The sanctions lists published in Europe this week were laughably short, but the fact that they appeared at all reflects this sea change. For 20 years, nobody has thought about how to “contain” Russia. Now they will.
In any case, even the new and longer U.S. sanctions list is only a signal. Far more important, now, are the deeper strategic changes that should flow from our new understanding of Russia. We need to reimagine NATO, to move its forces from Germany to the alliance’s eastern borders. We need to re-examine the presence of Russian money in international financial markets, given that so much “private” Russian money is in fact controlled by the state. We need to look again at our tax shelters and money-laundering laws, given that Russia uses corruption as a tool of foreign policy. Above all we need to examine the West’s energy strategy, given that Russia’s oil and gas assets are also used to manipulate European politics and politicians, and find ways to reduce our dependence.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Alexej Navalny: The West should freeze the financial assets and seize the proporty of Putin's cronies

Western nations could deliver a serious blow to the luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by the Kremlin’s cronies who shuttle between Russia and the West. This means freezing the oligarchs’ financial assets and seizing their property.
Such sanctions should primarily target Mr. Putin’s inner circle, the Kremlin mafia who pillage the nation’s wealth, including Gennady N. Timchenko, head of the Volga Group; Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, influential businessmen and former judo sparring partners of Mr. Putin; Yuri V. Kovalchuk, a financier believed to be Mr. Putin’s banker; Vladimir I. Yakunin, president of Russian Railways; the oligarchs Roman A. Abramovich and Alisher B. Usmanov; and Igor I. Sechin and Aleksei B. Miller, the heads of Rosneft and Gazprom, respectively.
The sanctions must also hit the oligarchs whose media outlets parrot the regime lines, and target Mr. Putin’s entire “war cabinet”: the TV spin doctors, compliant Duma members and apparatchiks of Mr. Putin’s United Russia Party.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The London Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Phil should cut their ties with Putin's musical puppet Valery Gergiev

 "his loyalty to the Russian president has been rewarded with personal honours, including the esteemed Hero of Labour, and multi-million state grants for his pet projects, most notably the restoration of his Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg"
(The Guardian)

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's musical puppet, Ossetian conductor Valery Gergiev is again  displaying his obedience to the master:

Valery Gergiev, the internationally renowned Russian conductor, has joined a host of other arts and cultural figures from Russia in support of President Vladimir Putin's controversial policies in Ukraine's Crimea region.
The conductor was one of 100 signatories of an open letter released this week backing Russia's military intervention in Ukraine and the government's efforts to annex Crimea. The letter was posted on the website of Russia's culture ministry on Wednesday.
The letter's signatories say that they "firmly state support for the position of the president of the Russian Federation" in the region, according to translated reports.

No wonder that the people in Munich, who chose him as the next Chief Conductor of the Munich Phil, are getting cold feet:

 Is it wise to hold on to this principal conductor?”
“Gergiev sees himself as a cultural ambassador for Russia, he will not remain silent in the future. Putin’s policies will overshadow any of his [musical] performances until further notice. If the Russians suddenly want to ‘free’ their compatriots in Riga, he will certainly defend this as well as any other step of the President.”

It is difficult to see, how this highly overrated conductor, who has been richly rewarded by Putin, will be able hang on to his contract with the Munich Phil. But it is even more difficult to understand why the venerable London Symphony Orchestra still keeps this man as its Principal Conductor
Sir Colin must be turning in his grave ....

Waiting for Tsar Putin's next move: A list of countries that have "always been an inalienable part of Russia"

Tsar Vladimir, "the man without a face"

The mentally unstable thugocrat in charge of the largest mafia state the world has ever seen, has spoken:
Putin, speaking to a joint session of Parliament in Moscow, also stressed the historical and cultural ties between Russia and Crimea, and said Crimea is an inalienable part of Russia.
"In our hearts we know Crimea has always been an inalienable part of Russia," he said.
At least the countries and regions mentioned below should take notice. Tsar Vladimir will probably soon announce that they (and some areas that were part of the Soviet empire) have also "always been an inalienable part of Russia":

In addition to almost the entire territory of modern Russia,[n 2] prior to 1917 the Russian Empire included most of Ukraine (Dnieper Ukraine and Crimea), Belarus, Moldova (Bessarabia), Finland (Grand Principality of Finland), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (including Mengrelia), the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (Russian Turkestan), most of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia (Baltic provinces), as well as a significant portion of Poland (Kingdom of Poland) and Ardahan, Artvin, Iğdır, Kars and northeastern part of Erzurum from Turkey (then part of the Ottoman Empire).

Monday, 17 March 2014

New study published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management: Global warming will cause 180,000 cases of rape in the US

From the wonderful world of global warming "science":

"Crime, weather, and climate change" - A study by Matthew Ranson published in the
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management

"This paper estimates the impact of climate change on the prevalence of criminal activity in the United States. The analysis is based on a 30-year panel of monthly crime and weather data for 2997 US counties. I identify the effect of weather on monthly crime by using a semi-parametric bin estimator and controlling for state-by-month and county-by-year fixed effects. The results show that temperature has a strong positive effect on criminal behavior, with little evidence of lagged impacts. Between 2010 and 2099, climate change will cause an additional 22,000 murders, 180,000 cases of rape, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny, and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft in the United States."

Putin's friend threatens the US: "Russia is the only country realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash"

The fact that Russian television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov is very close to dictator Vladimir Putin is scaring:

Reuters is reporting that a Kremlin-backed journalist has issued a stark warning to the United States about Moscow's nuclear capabilities as the White House threatened sanctions over Crimea's referendum on union with Russia.
"Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash," television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov said on his weekly current affairs show.
Behind him was a backdrop of a mushroom cloud following a nuclear blast.
Kiselyov was named by President Vladimir Putin in December as the head of a new state news agency whose task will be to portray Russia in the best possible light.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Is Putin planning a grand celebration of the return of the Crimea?: The Red Army Choir is on full alert

Vladimir Putin apparently planning a Sochi style huge celebration of the return of the Crimea to his empire. I would not be surprised if Valery Gergiev is already rehearsing with the Red Army Choir, ballet and orchestra:

Russian Defence Ministry has cancelled a planned tour of Finland by the Red Army Choir, ballet and orchestra. The St Petersburg troupe, including more than 100 members, was to have performed in Helsinki, Tampere, Imatra, Pori and Rauma in the coming weeks.
Tiina Kudjoi, a concert organiser from the west-coast city of Pori, says that the reason given for the cancellation is that members of the Russian military have been forbidden to leave the country due to the Ukraine crisis.