Archive for the 'news' Category

Polish up the gray

Vladimir Putin started his rule in 2000 from getting his businessman friends to take over the biggest independent Russian newspapers and TV stations, most notably NTV. Initially it continued working as usual, but gradually it became an utterly pro-Putin propaganda station, even worse than the major Russian state channels.

It seemed like the Internet was much more free to criticize the Russian government, but everybody who cared about free press in Russia guessed that the Putin regime knows it, doesn’t like it, and plans to act on it. What happened in 2000 with TV and printed media is happening now with online Russian media. The biggest independent Russian news sources, Gazeta.ru and Lenta.ru, were taken over by SUP, a Russian media company owned by a Putin ally. They initially carried on, but lately their editors in chief were fired, and most of staff resigned as well.

In addition, the popular private cable TV channel Dozhd (a.k.a. tvrain), is being essentially shut down – Russian cable operators stop transmitting it because it carried an “unpatriotic” poll a few weeks ago. It was obviously just an excuse; in fact, lots of people were surprised that it survived for so long despite consistent anti-Putin criticism.

SUP also owns LiveJournal—a pioneering free blogging service, which lost its popularity in the west to WordPress and tumblr long ago, but which is still the leading blogs service in Russia. It’s only a matter of time until it becomes censored as well.

And you know, I could be dramatic about this and say that Russia is in trouble and all that, but actually it’s a very personal problem for me. I left that country for good many years ago, and I call only Israel my home, but I still care about Russia and read news from it every day. I don’t have any reasonable source for Russian news anymore. Radio Free Europe is too anti-Putin to my taste; not in the sense that I like something about Putin (I don’t), but in the sense that it hardly talks about anything else. Pretty much all other independent Russian news sources are weird in some not-so-useful way; mostly Stalinist. I used to read Russian “patriotic”—i.e. antisemitic—sites as a hobby for years, but it became too repetitive to be entertaining. Lenta.ru wasn’t nice to Putin at all, but it also gave me other news from Russia. I don’t want to give up and succumb to reading nothing but Putin propaganda or anti-Putin propaganda. Russia is so much more than that; Life is so much more than that. But I don’t know what to do.

With great sadness I removed Lenta.ru from my RSS reader. I don’t want my brain to melt gradually. I need to find a new source for Russian news, although it may take time.

Here’s to hoping that at least wordpress.com won’t be taken over by a Russian company.

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Bad News From My Old Neighborhood

I was born in Moscow. Moscow is a very important city, but I lived in an unimportant industrial neighborhood—Biryulyovo. Don’t bother too hard to try to pronounce it.

It’s in the headline news now for sad reasons: A young man was murdered there by an immigrant, and now the locals are rioting and shouting racist slogans.

I don’t have much more to say about it. I haven’t lived there since 1991. My sister kept living there, and I visited her at my old apartment in 2005, but she moved since then, so nothing is tying me to that place except childhood memories. Still, it’s kinda upsetting that that’s the reason why I hear about it in the news. I wish that I’d hear about it in a happier context. For example, if a Metro station would be open there. But it’s unlikely that it will have one any time soon.

People Speaking – Do

— “No! It can’t be true! What a disgrace. Did you hear who received the Nobel Peace Prize?”

— “No. Who? Abu-Mazen?”

— “No, but the letters are almost the same.”

— “Eh… I don’t know.”

— “Obama.”

— “But what did he do?”

— “Exactly.”

Sex

Have i ever told you how much i love some BBC headlines? For example: Sex smell lures ‘vampire’ to doom.

Livingstone

Don’t believe media lies, Ken Livingstone is an evil cunt.

(Mogwai, All Tomorrow’s Parties 2000)

No Nukes, part 5 – Scientist

The Israelis have never confirmed they have nuclear weapons, but this has been widely assumed since a scientist leaked details in the 1980s.

(Israel ‘has 150 nuclear weapons’, BBC News, 26 May 2008)

BBC is very careful about quoting—they put ‘has 150 nuclear weapons’ in quotes because they don’t claim that this is true, but because it’s just something that Jimmy Carter said. I’m not sure that all BBC readers actually understand this subtlety, but it’s good that they do it.

However, they say that ‘a scientist leaked details in the 1980s.’ Obviously, they refer to Mordechai Vanunu, but he wasn’t a scientist, just a technician. According to vanunu.org, a website that supports Vanunu, it is an “important point often misunderstood or forgotten”; quoting that site, “Vanunu was not an advanced scientist, but a subordinate technical assistant.” But BBC misunderstood and forgot.

I don’t strongly support Vanunu, because he makes too much of a joke out of himself, but i do support nuclear disarmament.


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