Putin to Annex Alaska?

Putin's growing real estate empire eyes RussianHow do you say “annex Alaska,” comrade?  Is this the next invasion point for Russian President Vladimir Putin?  (Photo, Wikimedia Commons)

In his four-hour press conference earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked if he had designs on annexing Alaska?

Imperial Russian sold the area in 1867 for $7.2 million to the Americans, a move it has since come to regret. But to annex it now?

While the idea seems rather farfetched at first, after what happened in Crimea, we cannot be sure of anything anymore. So we asked our political experts to weigh in on the matter and here’s what they say:

1.  Well, if it’s true that Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and one-time double to Tina Fey‘s Vice-Presidential campaign, is in a rocky marriage, perhaps this may be Putin’s way of getting closer to the once bright Republican star.  Here’s the “Tonight Show” video to show the twosome in action.*

2.  Oil.  Alaska has lots of oil and unlike the United States, it won’t be bothered by any environmental laws.

3.  It would allow Russian’s Kontinental Hockey League to expand to North America, putting it closer to some mouth-watering matches with Canadian teams.

4.  U.S. President Barack Obama has his “Asian pivot,” or military shift towards containing China, and with Alaska in tow, Putin will have his “North American pivot.”

5.  Putin would like nothing better than to embarrass his arch enemy, Obama and Alaska is the perfect place to do it. Would anybody notice if Russia invades the state anyway?

6.  There is a growing secessionist movement in Alaska; Putin can exploit this and really become a global kingmaker.

7.  Taking over Alaska will give new meaning to the Cold War.

8.  Putin has always fancied the Alaska Iditarod Race.    Taking over Alaska will give him a chance to race in it. Now that’s manhood!

9.  Would anyone in the U.S. really miss Alaska if it was annexed by Russia?

10.  Just think, if Russia invades Alaska, it would mean the Americans would have to grant Puerto Rico statehood in order to keep the flag with 50 stars on it.  That’s the most important reason of all!

*Palin predicted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine back in 2008 on the vice-presidential campaign trail.

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Clinton as UN Sec’y General?

A new world leader risesFuture UN General Secretary?  If reports are true, than if Hillary Rodham Clinton loses a run to the White House in 2016 she will opt to head the UN.  (Photo, Wikimedia Commons)

Unnamed administration sources under U.S. President Barack Obama claim that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has her eyes both on a run at the presidency as well as Secretary General of the United Nations in 2016.

The officials claim that if Clinton loses her goal of becoming the first female American president, she will opt to become the UN’s first female Secretary General.

The current  term of office ends for current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, ends in 2016.  He has been in office since 1 January 2007.  Each term runs for 5 years.

For many, the coincidence that Mr. Ban’s term expires in the same year of the U.S. presidential election is an opportunity too rich to pass up, according to the administration officials.

Her appointment as UN Secretary General in 2016 may be a way to save face if she loses the presidential election, or simply decides not to run for president, which many political analysts believe is unlikely.

Should Clinton win the  election ion 2016, she would be the first woman president in America’s history.  She follows the footsteps of the historic election of Barack Obama as the first African-American to hold the office.

There has been no official comment from Clinton or her staff over the claims of taking her over the UN leadership.

Recently her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, announced that she is expecting her first child.

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Phoney War to Phoney Peace?

The agitators remain in place!Agreement?  What agreement?!  Tell that to the squatters in there, who show no sign of returning government buildings to Ukraine. (Photo, Guardian/AP)

The Associated Press photo published in The Guardian today tells it all:  whatever agreement signed between the United States, Russia and the European Union to de-escalate the tense stand-off between Ukraine government forces and pro-Russian agitators on the country’s eastern does not match reality on the ground.

The pro-Russian agitators still occupy the buildings and the stand-off remains.  This is progress?

For some, it is only Russia’s right to defend itself.  Read John Pilger‘s article in today’s Guardian for his version of events, in which the blame is laid at the doorstep of the United States.

I don’t agree.  There is plenty of blame to go around – the U.S., Russia and the European Union.

The handing out of leaflets asking Jews in Donetsk recently to register at a local building shows the extent to the malignant idiocy unleashed since the agitators (paid and guided by Russia?) rose in defiance recently.

There has been a long strain of antisemitism in Russia lately so it seems natural that it would spread into Ukraine as a result of the nation’s move to annex Ukraine territory.

This antisemitism flies under the banner of nationalism and couches in historical antipathy to Jews from Christians.  It was gays a few months ago that have suffered under new Russian edicts; now it may be Jews. Who is next?

Knowing this, I wonder how Hillary Rodham Clinton can reflect on how she tried to re-set U.S. relations with Russia during her tenure as Secretary of State under U.S. president Barack Obama?  Does she think it was a mistake now?

There are plenty of bullies in the world.  Syrian President Bashar al-Assaid heads the list but Russian President Vladimir Putin is not far behind, it seems.

A Phoney War has turned into a Phoney Peace, and we can only wonder what happens next.

Who needs the “House of Cards” when we have the real thing?!

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What Putin Teaches Us

And what will the west do?Does this remind you of the Ukrainian military in the field?  It’s not funny but neither is real estate developer Vladimir Putin’s eyes on eastern Ukraine.   (Photo, Wikimedia Commons)

Now that Russian President Vladimir Putin has annexed Crimea in Ukraine and about to do the same for the country’s southeastern region, let’s celebrate this real estate magnate’s secrets to success:

1.  Incite local populations to grievances against their state, send in troops in unmarked uniforms who just stare and don’t speak, and proclaim the horrors the state’s treatment of its citizens.

2.  Agitate fora referendum to let the people decide if they want to secede from their state and join your nation.

3.  Make sure to secretly rig the vote but always with western inspectors around to verify that it was a “clean” election.  Have plenty of good-looking poll workers to distract the western inspectors so you can stuff the ballot.

4.  With the referendum in your favor, tell those democracy-drunk westerners that, “Look, see, these people voted to join our country.  Fair and square!”

5.  Let the local people proclaim you as their hero (in a world starved for heroes, it’s easier than ever!).

6.  Repeat anywhere and at any time.  It works and its fail-safe, since the western powers are loath to do anything about it and ruin their precious vacations.  As the Europeans like to say:  we’ve never met a peace we didn’t like.  After you’ve taken over some territory, proclaim yourself the ‘Peaceful One’ (as a reference to the ‘Chosen One’ for football fans).

7. Possible places to annex territory;  Florida, northeastern Brazil, just about any country in equatorial Africa, parts of northern India and even Australia offers some intriguing possibilities.

8.  There is a catch, however:  if a Republican wins the White House in 2016, the land grabbing may be over. So do it now while there’s time!

9.  Always, always, always speak that you are helping people – it’s not a land grab!

10.  Smile for the cameras, look magisterial and presidential (notice how Putin’s shoes are always shined!) and accuse the west of hypocrisy and murdering innocent children.

Next up, why Germany should annex Greece.

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My De-Addiction to Man United

I'm on the Man United wagon!Sorry, Mr. Moyes, but it’s on to a new football club for me, but which one?  Ukraine may flair up, but I’m thinking of more important matters.  Manchester United, photo,  in more innocent days.  (Wikimedia Commons)

It’s not the first time I’ve revealed that I am addicted to Manchester United football club.

I told this to my wife last night and she chuckled.  “There’re worse things to be addicted to,” she offered.

True enough, but it’s still painful to realize that I cannot go a day without checking on what’s going on with the club. I find myself typing, “David Moyes News” on Google all the time.

It’s bad.

So I contacted a sports psychologist to see if I can be cured.  i met him in his office in downtown Seattle on a typically blustery, windy day.

“So what can I do?” I asked him, meekly.

He smiled.  “Well, you have done a lot already just to admit you have a problem.”

I was not comforted, but I listened anyway.

“Most sports addicts never admit it to themselves. They just think it’s having fun!”

“How can it be fun,” I retorted, “when Man U has gone from Stalin to Mr. Bean in the space of one season.”

“Okay, you’re justifying your addiction right now,” he shoved back to me. “Let’s stick with the main issue here – your addiction, not the performance of the team.”

I fell into a painful silence, like some school-boy being punished for stealing a classmate’s sandwich.

“Addiction starts from feeling a lack of something in one’s life. It’s like a hole that you have that you’ve filled with sports but which in the end don’t leave you satisfied.  Do you have any idea what the hole might be about?” he asked me, matter-of-factly.

I thought about it some.  “Well, I’m doing better in my life than I’ve ever done before,” I replied.  “Unless you mean something I can’t really understand or am blind to.”

“Well, maybe.  Are you generally happy in your life?”

“Most of the time, yes.”

“But you get sweaty in anticipation of how Man U plays in a particular game, right?”

“Yes.  I get nervous and worried about the team losing, then when they do I am sad for a few days.  I also know that Liverpool will win the championship in England this year and that makes me sad.  The team’s fans taunt  Man United fans over the teams tragic loss in Munich in the air disaster in 1958.  It sickens me that they will revel in glory this year.”

“Hmm, I understand. They’re the enemy.  Maybe something inside of you has externalized some hostility.  Liverpool represents some long-suppressed hatred that you can’t face or deal with.”

“Really?”

“It’s something you have to explore. Liverpool is just a symbol for you.  For somebody else, that symbol is Man United.  They’re the enemy. It never ends.  It’s not supposed to end.  Entire lives pass and people still cling to false symbols.”

It was not pleasant to hear this but I tried not to be judgmental about it.  “But how do I stop, that’s what I want to know?”

“Well, that’s a bigger question. If you understood the root causes of your addiction, it’d be easier to quit. Right now, you’re battling demons and it’s not a battle you can easily win.”

“I can’t go cold turkey and just stop?” I demanded to know.

“Hard to do.  Rarely succeeds although it does take a strong personality.  Do you think you are such a person?”

It’s not what I wanted to hear.  He put the whole problem right back into my lap.  If I can’t quit, what does it say about my character?  We chatted a bit more and he asked me if I wanted to come back for another appointment.

I said I would think about it and let him know.  So I’m thinking about it now and I still don’t know.

(To be continued)

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Remember the Sochi Games?

Sochi not supposed to look like this!$50 billion dollars spent and we get this?  My how times can change quickly!  (Photo, BBC News)

How much did Russian President Vladimir Putin bribe Olympic officials to win his bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi?  And what was the final bill to prepare the former farm village into a world-class ski resort into the Games hosting city?  $50 billion?  $60 billion?

It wasn’t cheap, let’s say.  And now, barely two months later, how many of us still remember the Sochi Games?

Maybe they do in the Russophile world, but for the rest of us, Sochi has been replaced by Crimea and now Donetsk.  It didn’t long, did it?!

Pop quiz:  who hosted the 2012 Summer Games?

Maybe you forgot it was London, but you can be forgiven – it’s been almost two years.  But two months is a new record to forget an Olympics, despite the hundreds of hours of coverage of the Sochi events by western media.

So was it money well spent by Putin, the spark behind the Sochi Games?  Obviously not, since the hotels and resorts – brand new! – sit idle now.  And who’s going to pay the final bill – Putin or his rich oligarchic friends?

I hate to be in the room when the oligarchs get the final bill.

Meanwhile, we watch with growing horror as Ukraine is torn to bits by internal strife.  U.S. President Barack Obama blames Putin and Putin blames the Obama and the west.

Makes for an interesting reality TV show. But without the humor.

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Start of World War III?

Ah, can we take a little break here?Big bang?  Maybe World War III will start less dramatically.  Is that what Ukraine is about?  (Photo, Wikimedia Commons)

If you google “World War III,” you get 148 million responses.  By way of comparison, the number for “United States of America”is 18 trillion.  So it’s not the most common thought on people’s minds these days.

But as the phony war in eastern Ukraine looks more and more like the start of a real conflict, the only question remains is this:  how long before the U.S. or Europe gets involved?

The Ukrainian crisis of the past few months reveals the weakness of Ukraine’s military.  If you paid close attention to the news reports of the stand-off in the Crimea between the Russian commandos and Ukraine’s military, there were a lot of  pot-bellied Ukrainian military men.

Ukrainian military, what Ukrainian military we might say?!

Russian President Vladimir Putin knows this and his little land grab certainly provides some excitement on the international stage.  We haven’t had this much ‘entertainment’ since Gulf Wars I and II.  And the west does little to stop it. Read David Frum’s interesting take on this.

But is this really the start of WWIII?

Ukraine yesterday asked for the help of United Nation troops to halt the growing imbroglio in its eastern front with Russia.  Is that code for really asking for western help?

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had a vast, well-trained military complex to call upon in his civil war with rebels, but Ukraine has neither a reliable military nor for the matter the will to take on the Russophiles in its eastern front.

But WWIII?

It’s seems inconceivable.  Putin may be puppettering the entire conflict in eastern Ukraine as a way to divert attention from his own internal political weakness in Russia, but he has little to gain in an actual war with the west.

Only if Turkey sees an opportunity to battle Syria might we see a serious slide towards serious international war, as in WWIII.

Until then, we watch with growing concern.  Even the Cold War now seems like a peaceful era.

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