Voices from Russia

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Toshi Seeger Dies, Wife of Folk Legend Pete Seeger

00 Pete and Toshi Seeger. 11.07.


Toshi Seeger, wife of environmental activist and folk legend Pete Seeger, died Tuesday night. Jeff Rumpf, executive director of Clearwater, said her death is “a huge loss for Clearwater and the world. Toshi’s a real mother, a mother for social justice, a mother for festivals all over the world and people singing. She’s a mother that embodies all the spirit your own mother does and spreads it out over the community. We’re really going to miss Toshi”. Rumpf said Toshi played a pivotal role in the success of the annual Clearwater Festival, which was held last month at Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson. More than 15,000 people attended the festival and there were more than 1,000 volunteers. She was heavily involved in logistics and cooked for hundreds and hundreds of volunteers. Rumpf noted, “She pushed for the festival being a cause, not a concert. She made the festival happen. She’s the mother of the festival. The most important thing for her was making sure the music represented as much diversity as possible. She was always looking for people to open their minds”. Rumpf also said Toshi was a strong proponent of the Clearwater staff and board having a broad representation and she played a critical role in Clearwater’s Green Cities initiative, which brought the group’s message of environmental conservation into urban areas.

10 July 2013

The Journal News




11 July 2013. RIA-Novosti Infographics. Airport “Residents”: Snowden Wasn’t the Only One Stuck in Limbo in the Transit Area

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. Airport 'Residents'. Snowden Wasn’t the Only One Stuck in Limbo in the Transit Area. 2013 – Resized


Edward Snowden, wanted by the US federal government for publicising classified information got “lost” in Sheremetyevo on the way from Hong Kong to Havana. Presumably, he’s in the transit area of ​​the airport. He can’t leave, officially, as he now has no valid passport. Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on 23 June to as a transit passenger. In early June, he made public a secret court order, under which US intelligence agencies have access to all calls made on the largest mobile operator Verizon, as well as leaking information about the NSA’s top-secret PRISM programme to track electronic communication at the largest sites. The US federal government said that the leak caused serious damage to national security.

See more details on RIA-Novosti

Click here and here for more on Snowden

6 July 2013



Editor’s Note:

Don’t forget… PRISM came in under the Bushies, and the Republicans in Congress refused to let it die. It tells you much about them, no? Remember, they’re bought n’ paid for whores for the Affluent Effluent (the Democrats aren’t much better… but they’re not as greedy and nasty, and not as committed to stamping poorer people in the face ruthlessly for the benefit of the rich). THIS is what Paffhausen wanted to ally the Church with… and Potapov, Webster, Dreher, Berzansky, and Mattingly still work at linking us with such evil elements. There ARE “Chekists in riassas”… and they’re all on the Right. Ponder that…


Expat Women in Moscow: When Dating is No Disaster

01 Couple with young cat


At the Moscow News, our theme of the week is single expat women in Moscow… and what’s hampering them in their pursuit of relationships. Whilst the story itself was certainly interesting to do, the initial responses to it online were no less fascinating. One lovely chap from Czechia wrote to me, “Western women are total bitches! That’s why Russian men don’t go near them!” When someone else pointed up that the woman he was tweeting at (i.e. me) is married to a Russian, he couldn’t believe it at first. Then, he wrote, “Clearly, [my] husband must have a problem of some sort”. Another upstanding individual who follows Guardian (soon-to-be BuzzFeed) journalist Miriam Elder on Twitter decided to stand up for Russian men. He tweeted, “Russians aren’t the only ones [who reject American women]! American women are c***s!” I could go on, but I’m sure that you get the point.

Every woman, be she Russian or American or whatever, goes through a phase of desperately not wanting to be That Girl. That Girl is the one who calls people out on sexist stereotypes. That Girl is the one who tells it like it is. She’s mouthy. She isn’t particularly good at being manipulative. She is, quite often, a bitch… and people on Twitter will let her know about it. However, then, sometimes, life chooses for you. You become That Girl because you suddenly find yourself angry… or tired of lying… or in a bad relationship… or worse. Even though I married a Russian, I’m That Girl. It’s why I’m interested in articles about thorny relationship issues. From everything I’ve seen, Western women don’t need to pretend to be someone else to find love in Moscow… however impermanent or strange love may ultimately turn out to be.

In fact, the hate-filled responses to our article prove something I have long-suspected but never quite articulated… Western women getting together with Russian men is a scary concept for a lot of the sexist men who come to Russia to get laid. Such relationships mess with their neat little worldview wherein all Russian men are boorish and uninteresting, and all Western women are evil hags. In my experience, the Russian men who fall for Western women tend to be different. No specific “type” of Russian man does it… I suppose that anyone who dates a foreigner is somewhat open-minded in one way or another. Some are rich, some are poor, some are in the arts, whilst others are hard-nosed businessmen, and so on. The one interesting thing these men tend to have in common is their confidence.

You don’t need to be a pick-up artist to know that confidence is the only “trick” there is… it’s the same for women. My anecdotal evidence suggests that expat women who date in Moscow don’t exactly lack it either. When I told an American friend… let’s call her Jane… about our upcoming article, and the negative experiences of other Western women we describe, she was philosophical about it, saying, “Love is about luck… and there’s no real formula for success, but it’s also true that when I first came to Moscow, I was very intimidated by the whole dating scene. I kept thinking, ‘Well, I’m obviously not as feminine as the local women, so I’ll probably stay single’. For over a year, it was true”.

Then Jane made a new friend… an older Russian man who told her that she needed to stop worrying and start living. She said, “He reminded me that I’m still young, that I need to get out more. Expat social circles can be stifling, it’s true, so, I began to hang out with groups of new people. Suddenly, I was dating again”. Later, when I messaged Jane, copying and pasting some of the more ridiculous responses to our article, she had a good laugh, posting, “Bitches and c***s, sure, whatever! When people talk like that, they’re ultimately saying more about themselves than anyone else”.

9 July 2013

Natalia Antonova



Does Being a Rubbish President Invalidate Democracy?

00 Egypt. Coup 2013. Anti-Morsi. 07.07.13


I haven’t smoked enough crack in my life to believe that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is a force for good in this world. Call me crazy, but I just can’t get down with that whole Jew/gay/woman/Christian/etc-oppressing vibe. Unlike the Brothers, I like the separation of religion and politics… I think that it’s one of the great ideas of Western civilisation. Even so, I felt a bit sorry for Mohamed Morsi last week, as he suddenly discovered, much to his surprise, that he wasn’t only an ex-president, but under arrest. I understand why the army locked him up… it’d be very dangerous to have the rightfully-elected President of Egypt running around, denouncing their coup. Nevertheless, try as I might, I couldn’t think of anything he’d done wrong… other than being a rubbish president, of course. Yet, that isn’t a crime.

There was always something hapless about Morsi. He wasn’t even the Brotherhood’s first choice, but rather a back-up president they wheeled out when their favoured candidate was disqualified from running for election. Once he was in power, he ruled like a back-up president, ham-fisted and stupid, doing all the usual authoritarian things… putting comedians on trial and banging on about ideology when millions of his people had no money, no work, and little food. Morsi didn’t seem to grasp that money matters, and that Egypt gets much of its cash from infidels coming over to lie half-naked on beaches, ride camels, and stare at triangular piles of bricks containing dead people. He was so oblivious… or indifferent… to this fact that, last month, he appointed a member of the political arm of a terrorist group responsible for the murder of 58 tourists in the popular tourist destination of Luxor in 1997 as governor… of Luxor. This was political incompetence as performance art.

It was obvious, then, that neither Morsi nor his advisors in the Brotherhood were very wise. Their goal was to Islamise Egypt, but they were going about it entirely the wrong way. They’d read too much Sayyid Qutb, and not enough Lenin. The Bolsheviks didn’t leap to collectivism overnight; they lied, obfuscated, and advanced gradually. Lenin even allowed limited capitalism for a few years; he knew that if you boil a frog slowly enough, it wouldn’t jump out of the water. The Brothers, they just blundered about, pushing for a massive cultural revolution overnight, but without the requisite willingness to butcher their opponents and terrify the masses into submission. Indeed, it was almost as if… as if they really meant to give this democracy thing a go, as if Morsi really did believe that the most important qualification in a governor was his devotion to God, and, after that, the rest would take care of itself.

Meanwhile, his supporters are justifiably appalled… the Brotherhood won the vote honestly, and, now, men with tanks cancelled the results. Morsi really was a duffer, but so was Jimmy Carter, so was Britain’s Gordon Brown, and they were only ever overthrown at the ballot box. That’s how you do it in a democracy. Of course, the USA under Carter and the UK under Brown weren’t tumbling into the abyss as Egypt is today, so, the comparison’s moot. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, but there’s no saying that these particular extraordinary measures will fix Egypt’s problems. The army’s already talking about holding new elections soon, but what if a sadist wins next time instead of an incompetent? On the other hand, what if he’s a raving lunatic? Germany was a democracy, yet, the Nazis came to power.

When I was a student, I’d get angry when I read economists argue that some countries aren’t ready for democracy. They were usually talking about China. The simple fairness of allowing people to choose their own leaders was self-evident to me. Twenty years later, and increasingly uncertain about many things I used to know for sure, I see their point. After all, it’s not as if democracy appeared in Europe overnight. It emerged over a couple of thousand years, mixed up with lots of other good ideas such as freedom of speech, the separation of church and state, the rights of man, etc. Therefore, I wonder if extracting one of these ideas and inserting it suddenly into a radically different context is really all that clever. I mean, Egypt is about 5,000 years old, and until last June the country never had a freely-elected leader. Maybe, it would’ve been good to think and plan a bit first, rather than rush into a vote when the only functioning organisations in the impoverished country were the army and a few groups of radical beardy types.

I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers. Nevertheless, although he was clearly wrong about many things, I still can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Morsi. He played the game, he tried his best; he just wasn’t any good… we’ve all been there. However, very few of us wound up under house arrest as a result.

10 July 2013

Daniel Kalder



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