More on Russian Oligarchy

As I periodically do on this blog, today I’m writing about how more and more obvious it becomes that the Russian Federation is run by an oligarchy.

Not that its so unique, lots of nations are run by oligarchies, but let’s stay on Russia today. Last weeks news that yet another person who was going to testify that the Russian secret police were responsible for the poisoning of that guy in the UK, once again threw an even brighter blinking red warning sign that not only is Russia run by an oligarchy, the oligarchs are willing to do whatever it takes to stay in power, and that includes the occasional murder.

Oligarchy: (according to webster) 1 : government by the few
2 : a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also : a group exercising such control

Yay Russia

Radio Open Source had one of their must-listen-to programs the other day regarding Russia and just what has happenned to the country since their so-called adoption of the market system. Among the things that the interesting guests pointed out:

    – Moscow now has one of the highest number of billionaires of any city in the world.
    – President Putin may step down after the next election, but the next president will come from the same group that has ruled the country for the past 2 decades.
    – He can also just rewrite the statutes to make himself a powerful prime minister and keep ruling.
    – The KGB was never disbanded, it was simply given a new name.
    – All the big industries, especially fossil fuels like gas and oil, were taken control through secret deals, family connections, and of course the occasional government payoff.

Anyway there’s plenty more where that came from, but the concern remains the same. Huge inequality continues to grow in Russia while a small group of people plunder its natural wealth. The population is decreasing while the rest of the world pretends Putin is a nice guy and nothing is wrong because they are so addicted to the fuel Russia will provide for the forseeable future.

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Holiday Recommendations

Being that most of you are home with some days off, some with lots of time to kill, others with no time (like me!) as you’re forced to drive from place to place on some unspoken quest to see every one of your favorite family and friends within a 150 kilometer radius. I think tonight I’ll recommend some excellent content that has stood out for me lately:

One is a show I constantly recommend, Radio Open Source. The particular show that I really enjoyed was focusing on Gorbachev, Russia, and looking back, asking the question.. what happened and why are things in Russia the way they are. It is a really good discussion and actually attacks alot of opinions Ive long held about Russia and Putin.. Ive actually had to rethink things.. which is always good.

My next recommendation is a very different one from my usual focus. Madge Weinstein recently interviewed Rebecca also known as the Trannywreck from Trannywreck radio. She just had her gender re-assignment surgery to change her penis into a vagina. This interview is great, Rebecca really comes through (in my opinion) as a very calm, thoughtful, and interesting person.. with such a unique experience as a trans-person!

And finally today I want to point out my friends over at the Lounge Chicken. The blog rolls on and i got an email from Jesse recently about some noteworthy citizen journalism projects that are in the works. Hopefully I can get involved, but nevermind all that, first I recommend people read the blog.

I almost forgot, here’s a typically Portuguese gift on xmas, nevermind if you celebrate the holiday or not.. you need COD.

Bacalhau.

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Eye on The Head Russian

Packing.. packing.. and watching.

Vladimir Putin.

Democracy shmerocracy, as time goes on, he reminds me of all the former Russian presidents/dictators going all the way back to Stalin and maybe that Tsar guy who had poor health.

I say this as I watch each report come in about his government’s latest move, public or secretive, to consolidate power, own lots of resources, and get rid of opposition.

Yeah. this is real.

Latest one is this 20bn dollar seizure of Shell and their gas projects in places like Siberia. Not that I love shell or gas for that matter, but it continues to seem suspicious that the state gas company buys up more and more and then seems to use this power to influence other countries that need this gas… for example.. the EU.

After the radiation poisoning of this agent guy and the murder of that wonderful journalist, both of which I obviously can’t confirm that government was involved in or at least had some knowledge about… these also seem to be odd occurances.

What did Bush say some 6 years ago about Putin during a state visit… he looked into his soul. We probably should have known then… if Bush looks in your soul and see’s good… well.. that IS probably a sign.

Whatever the case, my concern is with people… Russians, Europeans… Humans. Unfortunately we need these things like gas and oil, and the question is how will all of us be manipulated based on the whims of a leader that has proven, over his very long reign, that he will use all manner of force and persuation.. to get what he wants. Whatever that is.

Thankfully some bloggers are keeping watch…. here’s one I was flipping through today… Im going to keep reading and see if I can’t learn some things and understand better what is happening.

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Nicest Populations Get Murdered

Sitting in the heart of the Jordaan this evening, as boats sailed by, bikes rattled past, and drunken teenagers hobbled from bar to bar, I spent some quality time with a very special girl. She graduated, as did I, from the U of Amsterdam, and during her studies went off to Darfur to do field work related to displaced people and the genocide that happened and is beginning to happen again.

She’s been travelling alot lately, and so I updated her on things like Spike Lee’s documentary, conspiracy theories, and who’s been on Bill Maar’s show lately. As we sat there talking about all the death and destruction in the world, she began to go into detail about her experience in Darfur and how everything is unfolding with the world’s full knowledge and yet nothing is done.

Among the things she talked about was the hospitality she received there, how people were so unbelievably welcoming to an American girl from Georgia. They even knew I was Jewish, she said, to further emphasize how kind the people of Darfur are. We went on to speak about the oil deals and other interests, especially those of China and Russia, that further help to halt any and all efforts to intervene in the mass murders.

At some point, she puts her empty glass on the table and says something like

“It is almost like, the nicer a culture or a population, the more likely they are to be victims of mass murder.”

I thought about that as I rode home. I thought about her travels and how eventually, she’ll likely end up back in Sudan, trying to do whatever she can, her small part in the face of so much complacency. As sad as the conversation sometimes seemed, it is inspiring to spend time and share ideas with someone of such intelligence and understanding of the world around us.

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