Voices from Russia

Thursday, 28 November 2013

No Flat Earth Theories, Thanks



Editor’s Foreword:

This punchy editorial encapsulates my editorial philosophy. It illustrates how I view criticism from certain quarters. Of course, reasoned well-founded criticism is quite good; I don’t mind that (it does keep me out of the bog and on the straight n’ narrow)… but the hyperclericalist cheering section (and the konvertsy peanut gallery) can kiss my arse. I like the “attitude” conveyed here… God willing, I hope that I can do likewise…



I think, by now, everyone knows that this newspaper has its share of detractors. Editorials and opinion pages in this publication are under constant attack, particularly in certain quarters. Most of our sworn enemies are of the nattering nabob set of so-called Liberal Oppositionists. There’s hardly a need to elaborate. If one can recognise ducks by their bills… one can size up these folks by their biliousness. One might also add that, often, this sub-set is anyway not difficult to recognise as they fall into a distinct type; it’s hackneyed, perhaps, but it’s worth saying… even though we might repeat ourselves… that if they walk like ducks and quack like ducks, they’re ducks. This caravan moves on despite the curs or other wildlife that we might agitate on the wayside, but it’s also worth considering what separates us ideologically from our detractors. This can be edifying, because it’d show up the qualitative difference between what we seek to do, and what they do.

We, here in these pages, whatever others may accuse us of, don’t offer an echo chamber for the pundits of international media or the purveyors of conventional wisdom. Our credo is that we question things. In the process, we come up with what one might call alternative journalism, almost. In that way, some here at the Daily News were proud when a reader described us recently as being “niche”. Despite our being very mainstream, this means that we aren’t “lamestream”, as progressives in some developed countries refer to their own media. Whatever we do, one thing’s very clear, and it’s that we don’t follow the [prevailing] orthodoxy at all.

This holds true in our approach to local as well as international news. For instance, look at the way many newspapers treated the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. Most carried articles that either romanticised the so-called Kennedy era in the USA, or treated the issue in a rather airy-fairy scholarly fashion differentiating the Kennedy era positives from the contemporary negatives in US politics. However, in the Daily News, we gave you new “mind-blowing” facts about who might’ve killed Kennedy. Currently, the article is running as a serial in our pages. It goes to the root of many issues other than the simple “who killed Kennedy?” It goes into such matters asking how they affected global politics then and now. In the same way, we’ve sought to challenge those who give us bald statistics, who want us desperately to arrive at certain pre-agreed conclusions about this country, for instance. Take the canard about the 25 Sri Lankan journalists dead since 2005. We deconstructed that and showed that only a very few of these were real journalists, most were LTTE cadres killed in battle.

It isn’t simply a matter of contradicting the facts, however. That’s the easy part. In these pages, we try to keep questioning the unquestioned and probe what so many take for granted. Sometimes, as a result, we might come up with a startling new vision, albeit almost accidentally, besides sometimes presenting startling facts, even though we say this ourselves! For example, we took on the silly notion that one couldn’t call a spade a spade when journalists write about world leaders such as David Cameron. We observed that the Premier’s conduct was buffoonish when he was here in Sri Lanka; then, we proceeded to substantiate minutely the extent of his hypocrisy. Now, we know that there are enough English language writers who’re willing to fairly fall over each other after the fact, saying that Cameron behaved ridiculously and was either rude or bordering on the rude in the general way he treated our leadership, and, by extension, our people.

The result of that was that we might’ve forced some people to remove their blinkers about the “benign coloniser” that could do no wrong, that they considered a force for good! All that our detractors seem to be able to do is to make loud sucking sounds and other snappy noises in response. We may not be faultless, and if anybody points to any mistakes we make, we’d be the first to admit them. However, in contrast to our detractors, who form a chorus line for the tired and effete opinion makers and sundry pundits of the world, we daresay that we don’t accept flat earth theories here in these spaces… and are the happier for it!

28 November 2013

Daily News (Sri Lanka)


Editor’s Afterword:

Note this:

Whatever we do, one thing’s very clear, and it’s that we don’t follow the [prevailing] orthodoxy at all.

That’s what I do here, especially, as far as Church news is concerned. I challenge the “orthodoxy” (with a small “o”) of the OCA/ROCOR First Family narrative, and I’d argue that it isn’t very Orthodox (with a large “O”) at all. Indeed, I only insist they stick to “whole truth and nothing but the truth”… and they don’t. I won’t mince my words… expediency and opportunism reigns amongst us in the American Russian Orthodox diaspora. We need to clear this away… it’s the only way for us to survive, let alone move forward. The conclusion to the above editorial illustrates my own editorial philosophy to a tee:

We may not be faultless, and if anybody points to any mistakes we make, we’d be the first to admit them. However, in contrast to our detractors, who form a chorus line for the tired and effete opinion makers and sundry pundits of the world, we daresay that we don’t accept flat earth theories here in these spaces… and are the happier for it!

We must clear away the First Family lies or we won’t survive here… and that’s that.




RAN Fibre-Optics Researcher Predicts Petabit-Per-Second Data Transfer in Decade

01 hands typing on a computer


On Tuesday, Yevgeni Dianov, head of a fibre-optics institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN), said that fibre-optic networks would be able to send data at speeds of up to one petabit (1 quadrillion bits) per second within a decade, which would be at least 100 times faster than current networks using quartz-glass cables. He told the RAN presidium that multicore cables are faster; Dianov noted that researchers already reached one petabit per second using a 12-core cable in an experiment last year.

26 November 2013



Case Closed: Kremlin Sends Louis Vuitton Packing from Red Square

00 Louis Vuitton pavillion Red Square. Moscow RUSSIA. 28.11.13


On Wednesday, Moscow municipal authorities said that they’re dismantling a giant designer suitcase-shaped pavilion installed in the middle of Red Square, following a wave of public outrage and many demands for its removal. The city’s media and advertising department said that the sponsors of the Louis Vuitton-backed installation were preparing to take it down on Wednesday afternoon, after the Kremlin and the landmark GUM department store asked for the removal of their new neighbour. On Wednesday afternoon, GUM confirmed that work began to dismantle the titanic trunk. Measuring 30 metres (99 feet) long and nine metres (30 feet) high, and adorned with the Louis Vuitton logo, the oversized travel case was due to house a “Soul of Travel” exhibition organised by the famed French fashion house from 2 December to 19 January. Consisting of historical suitcases and video installations, the display was one of several events scheduled to commemorate GUM’s 120th anniversary.

However, public ire over the litigious luggage reached a fever pitch in recent days as people criticised the suitcase’s placement in Red Square… a UNESCO Heritage Site and the first port of call for most visitors to the Russian capital… as well as the display’s timing over the New Year holiday period. Lawmakers in the RF Gosduma, based just across the road from Red Square, complained that the “obscenity” denigrated the landmark, which they called a sacred symbol of Russian government. On Wednesday, a GUM spokesman said that the department store decided to send the suitcase packing after an overwhelmingly negative public reaction, and a Kremlin source told journalists that the presidential administration hadn’t agreed to the pavilion’s construction. Presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that the Kremlin issued no official orders to remove the pavilion. He said that there was nothing wrong with the suitcase, although he noted that those who designed it “obviously lacked a sense of proportion”. However, the lost luggage may yet find a new place to stay in the capital. Spokesmen from both Gorky Park (TsPKiO) and the all-Russia Exhibition Centre (VVTs), two of Moscow’s largest parks, told RIA-Novosti that they were ready to consider taking in the trunk, but that they haven’t yet received any requests to host the pavilion.

The fate of the “Soul of Travel” exhibition, a non-profit show to raise funds for supermodel Natalia Vodianova’s charity project, the Naked Heart Foundation, remains unclear. Vodianova, who founded the children’s charity in 2004, expressed hope that the exhibition wouldn’t face cancellation and that they could move the trunk to a new site. She wrote on her Facebook page, “If the exhibition doesn’t take place, not only will we be deprived of an exciting journey into history and beauty, but the charitable funds from ticket sales… which Louis Vuitton originally proposed to transfer to the Naked Heart Foundation… won’t be generated”. Louis Vuitton said that it planned to give the entire proceeds from the exhibition’s 200-rouble (6 USD. 6.40 CAD. 6.70 AUD. 4.50 Euros. 3.70 UK Pounds) admission charge to Vodianova’s charity. On Wednesday, repeated calls to the fashion house’s head office in London went unanswered.

27 November 2013




Pope Francisco Called Unfettered Capitalism “Tyranny”

00 Pope Francisco. 27.11.13


Editor’s Note:

HH agrees with Pope Francisco down-the-line on social issues. That means that we have many, both clergy and lay, who’re in contempt of their teachings. Let’s not be coy. Such people spit on Christ and His Church, full stop. Do have a care with so-called Ancient Faith Radio… it’s full of rightwing konvertsy who’ve no idea of the real social teaching of the REAL Church. You’d think that contraception was against the Church, if you listened to these demented toddlers. Well, I listen to real-deal people like Fr Vsevolod Chaplin, and he says that contraception is A-OK with the Church. You pays your money and you takes your choice… I’ve paid, and I’ve chosen… what about you? Oh… Fr Vsevolod’s only the closest confidant to HH… I do think that makes him a bit more privy to what’s truly Orthodox than the dribbling shake n’ bakes on AFR.



Earlier this month, Laurie Goodstein reported for the New York Times that Pope Francisco’s softer rhetoric on hot-button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage were causing conservative Catholics no small amount of chagrin. It looks like they can expect more cognitive dissonanceaccording to this report in The Guardian:

Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he authored as pontiff. The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March. In it, Francisco went further than earlier comments criticising the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education, and healthcare”. He also called on rich people to share their wealth. Francisco wrote in the document issued on Tuesday, “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it isn’t a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure but its news when the stock market loses two points?”

In a sense, the new pope is just grappling with the reality he faces. Polls show that American Catholics, at least, agree with the pontiff’s position that the church focuses too much on social issues. Moreover, Francisco recently commissioned a survey of Catholics around the world to see where they fall on these questions. Meanwhile, Dominic Barton, the Managing Director of McKinsey & Co.writes in today’s Wall Street Journal:

In 2012, the top 1 percent of earners in the USA collected 19.3 percent of the country’s total household income… an all-time high… The disparity is growing rapidly as well. Incomes of the top 1 percent grew by 31.4 percent from 2009 to 2012, compared to just 0.4 percent for the remaining 99 percent.

26 November 2013

Joshua Holland

Moyers & Company



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