Friday, July 27, 2007

Putin Youth, Part 2

The Putin Youth, which I commented on earlier, are starting to sound more and more like their Soviet and Nazi counterparts. They're being taught the Western ideology is evil, and that the great Mother Russia should regain her power. So, you have the enemy identified, and the means of fighting it, mixed in with strict indoctrination and nationalism.

If Putin needs a group of willing jackbooted thugs, he's doing a good job of building it.

Putin as Soprano

This Wall Street Journal commentary makes the interesting claim that Putin's Russia is essentially run like the mob: part oligarchy and part feudal society. Some quotes:

Mr. Putin's government is unique in history. This Kremlin is part oligarchy, with a small, tightly connected gang of wealthy rulers. It is partly a feudal system, broken down into semi-autonomous fiefdoms in which payments are collected from the serfs, who have no rights. Over this there is a democratic coat of paint, just thick enough to gain entry into the G-8 and keep the oligarchy's money safe in Western banks.

If you are in a real hurry to become an expert on the Russian government, you may prefer the DVD section, where you can find Mr. Puzo's works on film. "The Godfather" trilogy is a good place to start, but do not leave out "The Last Don," "Omerta" and "The Sicilian."

It's a fascinating read, and, incredibly, makes a bit of sense.

Putin Establishes Economic Policy for his Upcoming Hiatus

Odd that essentially outgoing President Putin would put together Russian first 3-year economic plan (which, yes, sounds like the old Soviet 5-year plans). So, he's essentially establishing economic policy until his return.

How convenient.

Spielberg to Pull Out of Olympics as Darfur Protest?

Celebrity Report: Steven Spielberg is considering to threaten to pull out of the Chinese Olympics as artistic advisor if China doesn't take more action in Darfur.

It's a nice gesture, I suppose, but given China's tremendous financial investments in the region, I imagine they'll find someone else to direct.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 3444 Diggs, is a link to a "brilliant" photo of a "Stop War" sign.

First, I don't find it particularly brilliant. Second, a "Stop War" sign is kind of like a "Stop Murder" sign. I don't know anyone who wouldn't love to see an end to both, but since there are evil people in the world, there's not much to be done about it.

China vs. The Pope

Here's a strange one. It seems that the Chinese government appoints (Catholic?) bishops in the "official church," which of course the Vatican has taken offense at for years. In its turn, the Vatican recognizes Taiwan, which has always had China in a tizzy. The new Pope hopes to turn things around, though.

Geopolitics and religion make strange bedfellows, I say.