bmtv50 Oppression in Russia

This vlog was put together before I left Berlin yesterday. It concerns last week’s gay rights demonstration in Moscow, where once again we see what kind of police state the entire country has become. The rampant homophobia, not only among the authorities but also among regular people, is horrifying. I used the footage from EURONEWS, their podcast which i strongly recommend to everyone.

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Fear of Losing Estonian-ness

As part of being in Berlin this week I attended a lovely hacker conference-party by the name of PH-Neutral. Perhaps the best part of this get together was that I met two very fun new friends, K and F. (maybe they dont want their names used, who knows)

K recognized me from the talk I gave at the congress back in December, she gave me a big smile and told me how much she enjoyed my talk. Turns out K is Estonian but has moved her life to Berlin. She and her boyfriend took me out on the town last night, exposing me to some of the nightspots where other revolutionaries gather. And throughout the evening we discussed education, culture, the internets, and much more.

One very interesting thing I learned from K about what is going on in Estonia, was about how fearful Estonians are that their culture will disappear. With only around 1 million citizens, she explained that the very common political and social discussion is about how things like culture, language, and especially music, must be preserved and passed on. This is, of course, while Estonia also has a very significant Russian minority that has lived in the country for several decades. The conflict she pointed out was that Russia being so huge and right next door, is seen as a force that could erode Estonian culture… and as an extension of that.. there becomes a struggle between the Estonians and the Russians in Estonia regarding language, culture, and from what Ive read – rights.

So then comes the very typical discussion that you here in various countries… the classic question of how minority groups should interact with the so-called national majority.

a wall

K and I agreed that neither of us supports the forcing of anyone to be anything. But I understood that the average citizen in Estonia doesn’t share our opinion. Instead it sounds like typical rhetoric about how minority groups must do this and that in order to be good citizens and get “intigrated”. Still it is hard to compare what happens in Estonia to say.. the US or even Germany. Small place. Few people. Unique situation.

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Nuclear Juntas

Can’t quite finish the vlog I’m working on tonight so instead I wanted to bring up Burma. Or Myanmar, same difference.

What strikes me as odd and worthy of attention about Burma is that over the past 6 years they’ve managed to come in completely below the diplomatic and global media radar. Besides the international sanctions applied years ago, rarely does any politician in any country make a concerned speech about a country ruled by a bunch of military thugs. They periodically arrest political dissidents and are conducting their own insane slave labor project of building a new capital, mostly funded with the help of Dick Cheney associates of the oil industry. I guess that detail helps to explain some of the silence from the diplomatic side.

YaY Burma

Today I read about Russia’s deal to supply them with a nuclear reactor. Naturally the Russian government, having long shown it doesn’t care much for human rights, see’s no problem in doing such big business with a cabal that the world likes to not think about. And irritatingly enough, compared to all the noise about Iran, or the scary stories spread about North Korea, one would have to work very hard to find criticism of this deal from any powerful government out there.

For the time being, I’ll look to the Burma correspondents of global voices online, who normally provide a good snapshot of happenings in the isolated country.

Tomorrow I’m coming out of academic retirement and participating in blogwalk Amsterdam. I think I’ll take the boat, hopefully parking won’t be bad.

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F Yeltsin

Seriously I never liked him and I don’t buy into the whole whitewash the US media gives the story of Russia’s “democratic revolution.” Plus I doubly hated how it was taught in US high school… those pages on Yeltsin, beyond the usual oder of US HS history books, stunk to high heaven. But nevermind my opinion based on facts….

You should read Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone piece. It is excellent and one day if I teach high school, I’m pasting in this article as required reading. On the test there will be questions about how much money Yeltsin stole from Russia, and a bonus question looking for a rough estimate as to how many people died thanks to his “democratic reforms”. Anyway I’ve said enough… read Matt.

Oh and if you still need good writing, in this case having nothing to do with fat glorified oligarchs, read Jamie’s latest… love his stories.

Losers.

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