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rpannier

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Gender: Male
Current location: Boseong
Member since: Fri Jan 30, 2004, 05:44 AM
Number of posts: 21,596

Journal Archives

Ukrainian Prisoners Pay A Price For Less Crowded Conditions Amid COVID-19 Threat

Detainees at Kyiv's notoriously overcrowded Lukyanivska prison, parts of which are 160 years old, have been offered a way out of overcrowded cells with up to a dozen inmates and poor sanitation. But there's a catch. More spacious, refurbished cells, with fewer prisoners and modern bathrooms, come at a price.

video at link
https://www.rferl.org/a/ukrainian-prisoners-pay-a-price-for-less-crowded-conditions-amid-covid-19-threat/30625921.html

U.S. Lawmakers Criticize White House On Shipment Of Ventilators To Russia

U.S. congressional lawmakers have complained to the White House about the shipment of dozens of U.S.-built ventilators to Russia, saying the move was done without justification and could potentially deprive coronavirus-infected Americans of treatment.

The May 22 letter, signed by five Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives, was the latest development in the ongoing story of how and why medical supplies were shipped by Russia to the United States, and the reciprocal gesture made to Russia by the U.S. administration this week.

The State Department announced that around 200 ventilators, valued at around $5.6 million, were being sent to Russia in what was described as a "humanitarian donation." A military plane carrying the items arrived in Moscow on May 21.

https://www.rferl.org/a/u-s-lawmakers-criticize-white-house-on-shipment-of-ventilators-to-russia/30630103.html

5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Harutyunian Sworn In As President Of Disputed Nagorno-Karabakh Region

Arayik (Ara) Harutyunian has been sworn in as de facto president of Nagorno-Karabakh, the unrecognized breakaway Azerbaijani region.

snip

Nagorno-Karabakh was seized by Armenian-backed separatists who declared independence amid a 1988-1994 conflict that killed at least 30,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

snip

Since a fragile, Russian-brokered truce in 1994, the region has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces that Azerbaijan says include troops supplied by Armenia. The region's claim to independence has not been recognized by any country.

snip

Russia, the United States, and France are the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which acts as a mediator in resolving the crisis. The group has been struggling for years to mediate a solution.

https://www.rferl.org/a/harutyunian-sworn-in-as-president-of-disputed-nagorno-karabakh-region/30626130.html

2. France announces new date for second round of elections, delayed due to coronavirus

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe says the second round of the country's municipal elections will take place on June 28.

The first round was held on March 15th two days before France entered a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

snip

Around 5,000 cities or towns will need to hold a second round due to an inconclusive first round. That means that 16 million voters in France will head to the polls on June 28.

Philippe said it was necessary to continue democratic processes "with the virus and despite the virus", adding that the law requires that the election occurs in June.

https://www.euronews.com/2020/05/22/france-announces-new-date-for-second-round-of-elections-delayed-due-to-coronavirus

3. The Brief: Outrage over reports EU-funding linked to forced labour in Eritrea

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticised the European Union over its funding of an infrastructure project in the brutal dictatorship of Eritrea.

The scheme, which received €20 million from Brussels, was partially built by forced labour, according to the New York Times.

snip

"For the EU to rely on the government to do its monitoring, I think it is incredibly problematic, especially when obviously some of the issues the EU will be discussing with the government are around labour force," said Laetitia Bader from HRW.

snip

"And the EU has put more emphasis on developing its instruments to support democratic reforms. But the context now for democracy support in Africa and globally is a very different one because there is more of a competition of political models with China and other actors."

https://www.euronews.com/2020/01/10/outrage-over-reports-eu-funding-linked-to-forced-labour-in-eritrea


4. Putin Signs Law Allowing Voting By Mail And Internet

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a new measure that allows elections at all levels and referendums to be conducted by mail and via the Internet, according to the Kremlin's website.

The law was rushed through all three readings in the State Duma on May 13 and approved by the Federation Council, the upper house of the legislature, one week later.

Although the bill was introduced by lawmakers from the ruling United Russia party, media reports have asserted that it was drafted by the presidential administration.

The new law will not apply to the planned national vote on proposed constitutional amendments -- including a provision that would allow Putin to seek two more terms as president. That vote was set for April 22, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.rferl.org/a/putin-signs-law-allowing-voting-mail-internet/30630536.html


5. Boris Johnson forced to reduce Huawei’s role in UK’s 5G networks

Boris Johnson has been forced to cave into to Conservative backbench rebels opposed to the presence of Huawei in 5G networks and has drawn up plans to reduce the Chinese company’s involvement to zero by 2023.

The prime minister’s retreat is designed to stave off what could have been an embarrassing defeat when his existing proposal to reduce Huawei to a 35% market share was to be voted on in the Commons.

Although Johnson boasts an 80 strong majority, the number of Conservative MPs willing to rebel on the issue is now estimated to be 50 – enough in theory to defeat the government – as anti-Chinese sentiment hardens in the light of the coronavirus crisis.

The mooted retreat will delight the White House which has been relentlessly campaigning against Huawei, but is likely to provoke a hostile reaction from Beijing, which has believed the UK was open to inward investment until now.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/may/22/boris-johnson-forced-to-reduce-huaweis-role-in-uks-5g-networks

These are the people that are going to get most of us killed.

Moldova's Orthodox Church Lashes Out At 'Anti-Christ Plot' To Develop Virus Vaccine

The Moscow-affiliated Moldovan Orthodox Church has called on the country's leadership to ensure that a potential future anti-coronavirus vaccine will not be made compulsory, claiming conspiracy by a "world anti-Christ system" that will allegedly insert microchips into humans to control them via 5G technology.

snip

Some of the theories promoting false claims that billionaire U.S. philanthropist Bill Gates is the alleged mastermind behind the pandemic have been gaining traction online since the beginning of the outbreak, with experts warning they could hamper efforts to curb the virus.

Such accusations are also present in the Moldovan church's statement, which says that "Bill Gates is considered the man responsible for the creation of a technology allowing people to be microchipped through a vaccine that would insert in their bodies nanoparticles that interact with 5G waves and allow people to be remotely controlled."

snip

Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros has also been blamed for creating the virus, which has infected almost 5 million people and killed more than 323,000 around the world.


https://www.rferl.org/a/moldova-s-orthodox-church-lashes-out-at-anti-christ-plot-to-develop-virus-vaccine/30624250.html

They, the anti-vaxers, the conspiracy theorists, etc get a foothold and find enough adherents.

Pre-Soviet Uzbekistan Captured In Perfect Color (11 pics)

I found this group of photos hard to choose from. So, I posted most of them.

https://www.rferl.org/a/pre-soviet-uzbekistan-in-perfect-color-photos/30608080.html


Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky (second from left) waiting in vain for a break in the clouds to observe a solar eclipse from Central Asia’s Tien-Shan mountains on January 1, 1907.

Several years before he was famously commissioned by the tsar to photograph the Russian Empire in color, chemist Prokudin-Gorsky set off on an expedition to what is now Uzbekistan to observe a solar eclipse.


A carpenter strips bark from fresh timber on a back road in Samarkand.


An Islamic shrine stands inside the Bahoutdin Architectural Complex on the outskirts of Bukhara. The heavily-restored shrine still stands


A man pauses a moment from grilling meat over hot coals at a restaurant in Samarkand.


A view over central Samarkand from Registan Square


Men sell medicinal products in Samarkand.


A bureaucrat stands outside the emir's palace in Bukhara.


It’s unclear when the more than 200 photos Prokudin-Gorsky shot in Central Asia were taken, but photos like this -- of Bukhara's interior minister with a ceremonial sword, which required access to government buildings -- were probably made during the 1911 expeditions, when the photographer had a letter of recommendation from the tsar.


Two shackled prisoners from Bukhara’s notorious dungeon

The photo was taken just a few meters from the "bug pit" where two British officers were tortured before eventually being beheaded in 1842 by the emir of Bukhara.


Men are held in the "debtors prison" inside the Bukhara dungeon.

Bukharans who owed either taxes to the government or money to other people were held in the prison but allowed out to work until they had repaid their debts.


A building inside the emir's palace in Bukhara

Five Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Belarus Pushes Aside COVID-19 Fears To Hold Victory Day Parade

Thousands of people jammed the center of the Belarusian capital to watch soldiers and military units march as part of celebrations marking the defeat of Nazi Germany, celebrations that took place despite serious concerns about the coronavirus.

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who brushed aside warnings from the World Health Organization and criticism from many Belarusian political figures, made passing reference to the coronavirus in his public address during the May 9 events.

“Belarus celebrates this significant date at a difficult time," he said. "However, our current difficulties are dimmed by the hardships and losses that befell the heroic generation that saved the world from the brown plague” -- a reference to the Nazis.

Victory Day has long been a major secular holiday in Belarus, as in Russia and some other former Soviet republics. Fading memories, however, have changed the way the war's end is marked from country to country. Ill will among Russia's neighbors following Moscow's interference in Ukraine in 2014 has also changed how countries mark the day.

https://www.rferl.org/a/belarus-pushes-aside-covid-19-fears-to-hold-victory-day-parade/30602550.html

2. Poland's top politician defends policy after election crisis

The leader of Poland’s ruling coalition has defended the government amid questions of how it plans to handle a political crisis over the country's postponed presidential election, according to excerpts of an interview published Sunday.

The election set to take place Sunday was suspended following debate over how and when voting could be done safely during the coronavirus pandemic. The government had proposed an all-postal vote, but criticism of the plan and infighting complicated preparations and led to the postponement announced late Wednesday.

In excerpts from an interview with a weekly newspaper, Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Poland was “changing for the better” under the coalition government led by his party and two smaller parties. At the same time, Kaczynski said it was no secret the coalition was divided.

snip

One of the junior parties in the coalition wanted the election delayed and warned last week that it would vote against the legislation authorizing the postal vote. Under pressure, the ruling coalition said the election would be declared void and new date set.

https://www.euronews.com/2020/05/10/poland-s-top-politician-defends-policy-after-election-crisis


3. Viktor Orban provokes neighbours with historical map of Hungary

Viktor Orbán has generated fresh controversy by posting a historical map of 'Greater Hungary' on Facebook.

Hungary's prime minister posted his support for students taking their examinations on Wednesday, accompanying the message with an image of Hungary's former territory before the end of the First World War.

This historical territory included large parts of modern Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Slovakia – which were all lost under the Treaty of Trianon of 1920 following the collapse of the joint Austro-Hungarian state.

snip

Romania remains home to a large ethnic Hungarian community, but on Wednesday, the country's parliament rejected an initiative to declare the Hungarian language official in Transylvania.

The decision had generated an angry response from the Democratic Union of the Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), who are closely related to Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party.

https://www.euronews.com/2020/05/08/viktor-orban-provokes-neighbours-with-historical-map-of-hungary-thecube


4. Coronavirus: Three bears kept in cages for tourism rescued after Covid-19 shuts business

Three bears that were being kept in cages as a tourist spectacle at a restaurant have been rescued after coronavirus forced the business to close.

The owner of the restaurant, in Armenia, said he no longer had any use for the animals and could not afford to feed them.

The mother bear and her two five-year-old sons are part of a series of rescue missions of wild bears held captive for “entertainment” in the country, after a government crackdown.

It is not uncommon to see bears in cages at restaurants or shopping centres in Armenia. They are often caught as cubs and spend their lives in captivity to attract tourists.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/bears-armenia-coronavirus-cage-animal-rescue-saved-covid19-restaurant-a9506211.html


5. Armenian Parliamentarians Exchange Blows After Coronavirus Aid Criticism
YEREVAN -- Armenian parliamentarians from opposing parties exchanged blows amid a disagreement over the government’s economic response to the coronavirus crisis.

During a debate on May 8, Edmon Marukian, the leader of the Bright Armenia opposition faction, accused the ruling My Step faction loyal to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian of failing to help ordinary citizens amid the economic shutdown.

The opposition has called for larger cash payments to citizens.

Marukian's criticism triggered angry remarks from My Step lawmakers, including Sasun Mikaelian. Displeased by what he heard, Marukian stepped down from the podium midway through his speech and approached Mikaelian, who stood up from this seat. The two threw punches at each other before it was broken up by other members of parliament.

https://www.rferl.org/a/armenian-parliamentarians-exchange-blows-after-coronavirus-aid-criticism/30601694.html

I never in my wildest imaginings ever thought I would say/think this

Please do not die or resign Clarence Thomas (at least until February 2021)

I will consider the position of those who say don't vote Biden. But I require a few things

1. You have to prove that AJ RBG will not have to leave the bench (either as the result of death or some illness)
2. You have to prove that AJ Thomas will not resign or die
3. You have to be able to prove that il douce will not continue to place wholly unqualified hacks onto the bench
4. You have to prove that he won't continue damaging the environment
5. You have to prove that he won't keep marginalizing the LGBT community
6. You have to prove that he will get rid of the worst Attorney General in U.S. history
7. You have to prove that il douche-bag will act presidential
8. You have to prove the he'll stop spending huge amounts of tax dollars enriching himself, his family and his friends
9. You have to prove that he'll stop undermining the medical community
10. You have to prove that he'll listen to the advice of people who actually know what they're talking about
11. You have to prove he will stop acting like an insane, narcissistic, petulant, obnoxious, psychotic three year old.
12. You have to prove he'll stop eroding women's rights
13. You'll have to prove he will stop making excuses for racists and other bigots
14. You have to prove he'll stop listening to people like Falwell, Jeffries and Graham
15. You have to prove he'll stop watching TV and actually work
16. You have to prove he'll read the daily briefings, instead of winging it
17. You have to prove he'll stop picking fights with our allies/strategic partners
18. You have to prove he'll actually take responsibility for his mistakes
19. You have to prove he'll stop lying
20. You have to prove he'll stop taking advice from Hannity, Dobbs and the couch sitters.

If you can prove to me that these few things will happen (all of them, not some), then we can talk

Largest-ever hole in the ozone layer above Arctic finally closes

The largest hole ever observed in the ozone layer over the Arctic has closed, says Copernicus' Atmospheric Monitoring Service.

Scientists spotted signs in late March of a rare hole forming and it was thought to be the result of low temperatures at the north pole.

The ozone layer shields the Earth from most of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation, which is a major cause of skin cancer.

The record-breaking hole would only have posed a direct threat to humans if it had of moved further south to populated areas.

https://www.euronews.com/2020/04/24/largest-ever-hole-in-the-ozone-layer-above-arctic-finally-closes

Interesting read. The article makes it clear this has to do with the polar vortex and not anything related to Covid

5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Czechs See Signs Of Russian Role In Cyberattacks As Tensions Seethe

A recent wave of coordinated cyberattacks in the Czech Republic is likely tied to malware linked to Russia, Czech Internet security experts say.

Earlier this month, Czech officials said information-technology (IT) systems at Prague's international airport, several hospitals, and the Health Ministry were targeted in the attacks, which sparked outrage in Prague -- and Washington, as well.

On April 22, the Czech Interior Ministry said its IT systems were also targeted in the attacks, all of which were thwarted and were preceded by warnings from the country's cybersecurity watchdog of expected cyberattacks on critical infrastructure.

snip

"It's impossible to pinpoint where the attacks originated, but the tool MBR Locker, with which it was created, is in the Russian language. So are the instructions for using it, and they can be found on forums used by Russian hackers," Dvorak said in comments sent to RFE/RL.

He added that the digital trail also led to IP addresses in China.


https://www.rferl.org/a/czechs-see-signs-of-russian-role-in-cyberattacks-as-tensions-remain-high/30574658.html


2. Ukraine’s Job Offer To Saakashvili Angers Georgia

TBILISI/KYIV -- The government of Georgia, led by former President Mikheil Saakashvili's longtime foes, has voiced objection to his possible appointment to the post of deputy prime minister of Ukraine, saying such a move would negatively affect relations between the two countries.​

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said in Tbilisi on April 24 that it was "absolutely unacceptable" for Ukraine to appoint to a top post a person who has been convicted in his native Georgia and is wanted on charges of abuse of power.​

snip

In Kyiv, Ukrainian lawmakers representing the ruling Servant of the People party said they were divided over the government's proposal to give Saakashvili the post of deputy prime minister in charge of reforms.​

Saakashvili, whose appointment needs to be approved by parliament, told reporters that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had asked him to conduct talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).​

https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-job-offer-to-saakashvili-angers-georgia/30575149.html


3. Michel Barnier: 'UK cannot refuse Brexit transition extension and slow down talks at the same time'

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has accused the UK of dragging its feet over post-Brexit negotiations, at the end of the second round of talks on the future relationship.

He described this week's talks, which resumed this week by videoconference after a six-week standstill amid the coronavirus pandemic, as "disappointing" -- adding that no progress had been made in key areas.

The UK had failed to engage or provide texts on crucial topics such as fishing, Barnier said. Yet "more than ever, the clock is ticking," he added, ahead of crucial deadlines this year.

https://www.euronews.com/2020/04/24/watch-live-eu-negotiator-michel-barnier-gives-update-on-post-brexit-talks-with-uk


4. Lenin At 150: Even Without COVID-19, Russia Was Set To Snub The Soviet Union's Founder

When the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birth rolled around in 1970, the Soviet Union pulled out all the stops to mark the occasion. Commemorative stamps were printed; coins were minted; medals were struck. A vast new wing was opened at the Lenin museum in Ulyanovsk, the Volga River city where he was born and raised. In Kurgan Oblast, a vast grove of trees was planted to spell out “Lenin 100,” a living monument that can be seen from space 50 years later.

The country, and the entire Soviet bloc for that matter, capped off two years of preparations with a Communist Party meeting in the Kremlin addressed by General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev. Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Nikolai Podgorny opened the event by saying: “What Lenin did during his spectacular life is not something for 100 years, but for the ages, for millennia.”

Yet on Lenin’s sesquicentennial, April 22, the country he created no longer exists and its successor state -- Russia -- seems decidedly uninterested in marking 150 years since his birth. Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, only the most diehard Communists remaining in Russia seemed even to have noticed the anniversary. By contrast with the past, the silence seems deafening.

In Russia today, under President Vladimir Putin, Lenin’s memory is caught between what analysts say are two primary ideological currents of the ruling elite: the lionization of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin -- whom Lenin described as “too coarse” in his final political testament, urging Stalin’s removal as general secretary -- and nostalgia for Russia’s pre-Soviet tsarist past, which Lenin despised and sought to destroy.

https://www.rferl.org/a/lenin-at-150-even-without-covid-19-russia-was-set-to-snub-the-soviet-union-s-founder/30568383.html


5. Sweden queries basis of lockdowns as Germany keeps its guard up

Sweden questioned the scientific basis of other EU countries’ strict coronavirus lockdowns as Germany said its number of cases needed to fall from about 2,000 to a few hundred a day before it could ease restrictions further.

As several European countries continued to cautiously lift lockdowns, sending children back to school and reopening some shops and businesses, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said their original measures looked difficult to justify.

Sweden has favoured civic responsibility over mandatory rules, closing senior high schools and banning gatherings of more than 50 people, but asking rather than ordering people to avoid non-essential travel, work from home and stay indoors if they are over 70 or feeling ill. Shops, restaurants and junior schools have stayed open.

Polls show many Swedes support the policy, although the interior minister, Mikael Damberg, and the mayor of Stockholm, Anna König Jerlmyr, urged people not to relax as the weather turned warmer, warning that bars and restaurants that did not follow physical distancing recommendations risked being shut down.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/24/sweden-queries-basis-of-lockdowns-as-germany-keeps-its-guard-up
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