Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

  • Via the Volokh Conspiracy, WaPo: remember that slippery slope about state secrets we recently started down with the dismissal of torture lawsuits against the U.S.? Well, we’re gaining speed down the hill now. The White House is invoking the same state secrets idea in an attempt to dismiss a lawsuit about their planned murder targeted killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki.
  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: we covered scumball Connecticut AG/Senate hopeful Dick Blumenthal and his vile demagoguery against Craigslist before, but now he’s targeting other online adult services ads destinations. Sullum runs down the case of Backpage.com, which is so far resisting Blumenthal’s ludicrous rhetoric about “saving the children” and keeping its ads intact. It’s high time for Blumenthal’s opportunistic electioneering to get acquainted with the lower segment of his large intestine.
  • Radley Balko at Reason: any Balko post on cops is a must-read. In this one, he runs through a litany of recent cases of police misconduct. Spoiler: they’re egregious!
  • NYT: a campaign is launched to give the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. He is the president of their chapter of PEN and currently rots in jail for his role in drafting Charter 08, a human rights petition. The Peace Prize should be reserved for heroes like this guy, not spineless, war-perpetuating cowards like Obama.
  • Via Michael C. Moynihan at Reason, The American Muslim: a whole heap of cool Muslims sign a letter calling for tolerance and repudiating violence from the Muslim community. Sample: “We are even more concerned and saddened by threats that have been made against individual writers, cartoonists, and others by a minority of Muslims.  We see these as a greater offense against Islam than any cartoon, Qur’an burning, or other speech could ever be deemed.” This is exactly the sort of response I’d been hoping for from the Muslim community this past year. Good work, signatories!
  • Andrew Sullivan: reacting to an uber-lame LA Times op-ed against Prop 19, the pot legalization measure on California’s ballot. LAT thinks it might set up nasty conflicts with the federal government. Not controversy, no! Andrew: “If we had waited for the feds, we would have no gay marriage rights at all.”
  • Der Spiegel: you haven’t seen political fat city until you’ve seen the compensation scheme for top Eurocrats. All for doing jack-all except adding another layer of bureaucracy across Europe, writing more regulations and taking away more rights. Rework the old Churchhill quote a bit: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few for so little.”
  • The Globe & Mail: waaah, Quebecers seem to have gotten their feelings hurt by MacLeans ranking it the most corrupt province in Canada. Weenie MPs are predictably making stupid claims of the sort that the article fans “anti-Quebec prejudices.” Don’t want to get your feelings hurt and have the rest of the country resent you? Then stop getting a special settlement from everyone else and whizzing it away on corruption.
  • The Economist: if you want to get really depressed, this post comparing media in early Yanukovych Ukraine to media in early Putin Russia should do the trick. You can put me down in the useful idiot camp of people who thought a Yanukovych win would be a healthy thing for Russian-Ukrainian relations.
  • Der Spiegel: take a look behind the curtain at one of the West’s greatest stimulus programs of all, the NGO industry in Afghanistan. In some ways, it sounds even worse than the decadence of the Green Zone at the height of things in Iraq. Our troop are fighting, dying and killing for this.
  • Andrew Sullivan: reacting (negatively) to the GOP’s Pledge to America. They were supposed to have learned something this time. Instead, they’re pledging to keep entitlements holy and leave the bloated, disgusting defense budget alone. Rag on Obama for his deficits all you want, I don’t see this pledge making things a jot better.
  • Photography is Not a Crime: Carlos Miller covers the resolution to the case of George Donnelly, the Pennsylvania photography activist who faced eight years in prison for allegedly hitting a cop. Donnelly plead out for a fine. You might be thinking he sounds like a wing-nut, but cops deleted all of his video evidence of the event…they thought. There’s a video on the other side of the link where you can see that it was actually Donnelly being assaulted.
  • South China Morning Post: a nice profile of a Chinese dissident murdered during the Cultural Revolution who does not deserve to be forgotten. His mother later petitioned for and won his rehabilitation, something I’ll never understand. Why legitimize a gang of murderers?

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America and its flexible language policy and free cinema look great in comparison to Ukraine–Kyiv Post:

Ukraine’s cabinet of ministers is soon expected to change the rules for dubbing movies for cinemas, but society and industry insiders are split in their views over the effects.

On July 13, the Lviv Oblast Council appealed to the cabinet to preserve the current requirement of compulsory dubbing and subtitles in Ukrainian for any foreign movies. But the cabinet, however, is expected to produce a new regulation sometime this summer, requiring that the films be dubbed on Ukrainian territory, but not necessarily in the Ukrainian language.

Here’s an idea: how about government stop meddling in the world of cinema? The only reason for politicians to get involved in this debate is out of some vile nationalist agenda. If people aren’t happy with how films are being subtitled and dubbed, they will stop going. Theaters will lose money and wonder why people are staying away. Once they realize it’s the subtitles and dubbing, they will respond with the product as people want it. That’s how a market works.

Instead of a market, Ukraine gets a rotating cast of Ukrainian nationalist westerners and Russophile easterners engaging in a semi-annual macho showdown over how people will “get” to enjoy their leisure time. Ugh.

I am sure if you asked most people in Ukraine if they would rather (a) pay cheaper prices for movies, (b) have all movies dubbed and subtitled only in Ukrainian or (c) have all movies dubbed and subtitled in Ukraine, they would pick (a). The result would probably be more Ukrainian dubbing in the more Ukrainian-speaking west of the country, and more Russian dubbing in the more Russian-speaking east and south of the country. The Russian-speakers would stand to pay a little bit less for film distribution because they would probably just opt to import movies subtitled and dubbed in Russia, rather than creating their own industry in Ukraine. Some theaters in the Ukrainian-speaking regions might even elect to go with the lower-cost Russian-language content since so many Ukrainians are fluent in Russian, too. And guess what? People would go to movies, they would enjoy themselves and the country would not be subjugated by jackbooted moskal hordes.

Nationalism: dumb idea or dumbest idea?

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NYT reports that Russia turned off the gas pipeline to Belarus yesterday. If this was the “Druzhba” pipeline that the Russians have often used to block delivery to Ukraine in the past, it would be a darkly funny development since “druzhba” means “friendship” in Russian and Russia will have by now used this supposed friendship-pipeline to have starved perhaps its two most closely related East Slavic brothers of gas. The interesting thing is that stopping to delivery to Ukraine made sense at the time; Ukraine was threatening to break out of the post-Soviet orbit and go over to the West. But Belarus? The least-reformed post-Soviet state, led by Aleksandr “Uncle Luk” Lukashenko, the last dictator in Europe, the man too lazy to rename his secret police anything other than KGB, the man who promotes Russian over Belarusian at any chance, and most importantly, the man who helped create the Union State of Russia and Belarus and once seemed to welcome Belarus’s reannexation in to Russia? Color me shocked.

Interestingly enough, it’s this last bit, the Union of Russia and Belarus, that seems to be causing the trouble:

The decision arises in a tendentious political context, as President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko refused to sign off on the customs union with Russia and Kazakhstan, to Russia’s south.

In protest of Russian oil tariffs, Belarus has refused to sign off on the start of the customs union, which Moscow created in 1991 in hopes of forging a permanent economic alliance of post-Soviet countries.

Ah-ha. So Russia wants Belarus to accede to the customs union and is going to hold their feet to the fire by withholding gas until they do. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing for Belarus that the article indicates European demand for gas is much lower in summer, so the Europeans will presumably have less incentive to mediate on behalf of the Belarusians as they did for the Ukrainians in the depths of winter.

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