Voices from Russia

Saturday, 6 July 2013

VOR Asks: Is Zimmerman Lying in the Trayvon Martin Case?

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Today, America’s following one of its most controversial murder cases… the killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, shot by George Zimmerman back in February 2012. Zimmerman, 29, is on trial for second-degree murder, but he plead not guilty, claiming he acted in self-defence after Martin attacked him. Zimmerman faces life imprisonment if convicted. Trayvon’s death sparked racial controversy around the country and the prosecutor keeps pushing that Zimmerman profiled Martin because he was black. VOR host Kim Brown offered her analysis of the trial up until this point. She’s closely followed the case; she believes that Zimmerman is lying. Kim’s two major points are:

  • The injuries to Zimmerman on the night Trayvon Martin died were “insignificant”
  • Zimmerman studied Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in college, although he denied it

The case triggered a real “pendulum of opinion”; some left-leaning media think that the prosecution is doing a good job, some rightwingers don’t even understand why Zimmerman faces any charges at all. Considering this situation, Kim dished out the facts… Zimmerman was caught in several lies, which some prefer to call “inconsistencies”. She said, “First of all, Zimmerman told the police that Martin ‘bashed his head repeatedly against the sidewalk’, but the Medical Examiner, Dr Rao, testified that Zimmerman’s head might’ve been bashed against concrete one or two times, but these were insignificant injuries. It wasn’t like his head exploded… he received superficial injuries, and we don’t even know how he got them”. Kim added the important point that the DNA expert testified that Trayvon had no foreign DNA under his hands, his fingernails, or even on the sleeve of his hoodie.

Zimmerman told the police that Martin bounced him in the face and that’s how Zimmerman ended on the ground. Zimmerman also claimed Martin used his hands to attempt to suffocate him, placing his hands over his mouth and nose. Kim wondered, “If Zimmerman’s asserting self-defence, how could Martin have whooped him without having DNA on his hands or sleeve? The witness testimony is conflicting, one of the neighbours testified that he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, beating him up mixed martial arts style, whilst other neighbours gave conflicting testimonies, ‘It was dark, it was raining, and nobody knew who was who’”. Kim suggests that the jury should completely disregard this testimony due to its contradictory nature.

The second inconsistency is Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Last summer, in an exclusive interview, Zimmerman told Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel that he’d never heard of the Florida law that allows people to respond with deadly force, even if they have an opportunity to retreat, so long as they have a reasonable belief it’ll prevent great bodily harm or death. However, Zimmerman’s Professor of Criminal Justice testified that Zimmerman was familiar with the law, as it was repeatedly covered during class, for which Zimmerman received an A. Kim also assumed that Zimmerman took the class, as he aspired to be a police officer and even applied for a police job in North Virginia, but was rejected for “bad credit”. This didn’t slow down Zimmerman’s cop aspirations; he became a neighbourhood watchman, calling 911 and other emergency-related numbers to report suspicious activity. Kim said that he did this over 40 times; he once reported a black male behaving suspiciously, but it was only a boy between the age of 7 and 9.

The VOR host admits that, indeed, she’s biased concerning this case as she was “shaken with the picture of Trayvon Marin dead, although she knows that American society is violent and that people see dead bodies regularly. Martin didn’t deserve what he got; it’s obvious that Zimmerman overreached and overreacted”. The jury is all female; all except for one are mothers and white. Therefore, Kim urged them not to see all black people as a threat, saying, “Black young men, no matter how threatening you perceive them to be, are just minding their own business”. She was also impressed with Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel, 19, who had the “tremendous courage to stand in court” and testify that Trayvon was the only one who didn’t tease her at school, and that she was on the phone with him that night and that Martin told her that he was being followed. Kim will be following the trial; meanwhile, she expressed hope for objectivity and urged people to broaden their horizons and get some experience of interacting with other people of other nationalities and cultures to avoid fatal prejudices.

6 July 2013

Voice of Russia World Service



Thursday, 22 November 2012

President Obama Pardons Turkeys as the USA Marks Thanksgiving


As millions of Americans sit down to turkey dinner today, US President Barack Obama pardoned two birds in an annual White House Thanksgiving ceremony to mark the national holiday. Now, the birds will live at George Washington’s restored Mount Vernon estate. Two 40-pound turkeys, named Cobbler and Gobbler, came from Virginia. Gobbler’s role was to replace Cobbler, should the latter be unable to fulfil his duties. Obama pardoned both birds. Whilst granting his ‘presidential’ pardon, Obama joked about his recent re-election, saying, “You know, they say that life is all about second chances. This November, I couldn’t agree more. So, in the spirit of the season, I have one more gift to give. It goes to a pair of turkeys named Cobbler and Gobbler. The American people have spoken, and these birds are moving forward”. Americans chose the turkeys through an online vote.

According to the White House website, the traditional pardon dates back to President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s son Tad begged his father to write out a presidential pardon for the bird meant to be the main dish in the First Family’s Christmas feast. The young boy argued that the turkey had as much right to live as anyone. However, not all US Presidents followed this tradition. Some didn’t pardon their gift turkeys; they ate them. In November 1963, just four days before his assassination, President John F Kennedy spontaneously spared a turkey. The bird he was presented wore a sign reading, “Good Eatin’, Mr President”. Kennedy responded, “Let’s just keep him”. Since 1989, the tradition was formalised.

The estimated number of turkeys that Americans will eat on Thanksgiving 2012 exceeds 46 million. Some 13 percent of Americans won’t be feasting on turkeys this Thanksgiving season, as they’re dependent of food stamps. Officials say the figure will only increase, given the economic slump and the devastation in the Northeastern USA caused by the recent Hurricane Sandy. According to a new report by the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit government watchdog group, today, as many as 42.2 million Americans, which equal the population of California and Connecticut combined, are in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to the report, SNAP estimates that a meal costs 1.00 to 1.25 USD (31 to 38 Roubles. 0.80 to 1.00 Euros. 0.65 to 0.80 UK Pounds) per person.

The number of Americans dependent on SNAP has increased by 70 percent since 2007. Last year, it involved approximately 44.7 million Americans and cost the US government a record 72 billion USD (2.25 trillion Roubles. 56 billion Euros. 45 billion UK Pounds). Meanwhile, due to past summer’s drought food prices have skyrocketed while supplies remain low. For some low-income families, a turkey for Thanksgiving is an unaffordable luxury.

22 November 2012

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

The main cause of the increase in SNAP cases is the meltdown caused by Republican deregulation and crackbrained giveaways to the Affluent Effluent (coupled with inordinate spending on unnecessary warfare in foreign parts). Another reason is the “givebacks” demanded by management as they increase their own pay and bonuses (case in point being Hostess, where the management gave themselves an 80 percent pay hike and demanded “concessions” of the workers). Many of those “employed” at Wal-Mart are on SNAP… bear that in mind as you hear fatcat investors bleat about the cost of the ACA. I find that reprehensible and vile. Yet, they’re going to sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner without a care and with the lunatic notion that they’re the oppressed in this nation. If nothing’s done, there’ll be an explosion… and they’ll have no one else to blame but themselves (the same was true in 1917… ponder that).

By the way, the cost of SNAP is only some 10 percent of the bloated war budget. If there are 42.2 million people on SNAP, and the entire programme costs 72 billion USD, that means, if all monies were spent on benefits (and they’re not, for there’s administrative overhead in that figure), each individual on SNAP would receive 1,707 USD (53,300 Roubles. 1,325 Euros. 1,070 UK Pounds) a year, which works out to 142.25 USD (4.440 Roubles. 110 Euros. 90 UK Pounds) a month. That’s not a princely sum; all the bloviating that you hear about “welfare queens” and “welfare Cadillacs” is lies, and what’s more, those who spread such falsehood, do so knowingly. That’s called evil, kids.

The cost to taxpayers is 240 USD (7,500 Roubles. 186 Euros. 150 UK Pounds) a year per person… the US war budget eats up 2,500 USD (78,000 Roubles. 1,941 Euros. 1,566 UK Pounds) per person per year (much of that is kickbacks to corrupt pols and bloated management compensation)… now, can you tell me where the fat in the budget is? It’s NOT in “entitlements!” It’s not quite what the rightwing fanatics are telling you, is it? Reflect on that as you hear such unrepentant greedy cretins as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity scream about “entitlements”. They spend more than that on their country club dues or on one meal out. Let God see and judge…


Friday, 16 November 2012

USA Awaits Possible Russian Retaliation for Magnitsky Act


The White House was less than enthusiastic about proposed legislation in the US Congress linking normalised trade relations with Russia to the so-called “Magnitsky Act,” a bill aimed at punishing Russian officials suspected of corruption. However, with the US House of Representatives expected to pass the combined bill on Friday… and the US Senate likely to give its stamp of approval after that… most anticipate that President Barack Obama will sign it into law anyway. The question in Washington now is… “What’s Russia going to do about it?”

American officials, lawmakers, and business lobbies have a broad and united consensus that enacting Permanent Normalised Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia would provide a boost for American exporters. However, the decision to link PNTR to the Magnitsky Act, named for Sergei Magnitsky, a whistle-blowing lawyer who died in a Moscow jail three years ago, angered top Russian officials, who accuse the USA of meddling in their country’s internal affairs. On Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs vowed to “react toughly” to this “this unfriendly provocative act”, but it remains unclear exactly what this reaction will be and what impact it might have on bilateral ties.

Cliff Kupchan, head of the Russia and CIS team at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy in New York City, said, “The most unfortunate outcome would be a Russian response that disrupts American-Russian economic relations. If Russia responds with some proportionate blacklist of its own, my view is that the issue will be contained. If Russia responds with an extremely-expansive bill based on multiple criteria, it’d negatively affect relations”.

The bill to go before the House of Representatives on Friday would deny visas to… and freeze the assets of… officials suspected of involvement in Magnitsky’s death and other alleged human rights abuses. The Obama administration maintained that the American government already has mechanisms in place to punish such individuals, and has tried in vain to keep the Magnitsky bill separate from the PNTR issues. Russia joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in August, and, as a fellow WTO member, the USA must normalise trade relations with Russia in order to allow American businesses to capitalise on opportunities in the Russian market.

Carroll Colley, a Washington-based analyst for Eurasia Group, wrote in an essay published Thursday on the Foreign Policy website, “These advantages could be diminished by punitive bureaucratic measures targeting American companies doing business in Russia as a response to the Magnitsky Act. The measures could include unannounced tax inspections of American companies, delayed or denied licensing or registration procedures, and other bureaucratic complications”. James Collins, a former US ambassador to Russia under President Clinton, told RIA-Novosti, “Human rights have long been an issue in American relations with the USSR and Russia, and it’d be unrealistic for anyone to expect this to change anytime soon. The real question is whether the two governments can find reasonably effective ways to manage both the places where we agree and where we disagree. Or, they don’t, and, instead, let this become a disruptive part of the relationship”.

16 November 2012

Carl Schreck



Editor’s Note:

What do you think would happen if Russia made a list of the American states where labour organisers are routinely brutalised and killed? What do you think that the Republican Party would do if Russia blacklisted Texas, Arizona, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas for their racially-based efforts to restrict voting by blacks and Mexican-Americans? What do think that the USA would do if Russia barred Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Joe Arapaio, and Sean Hannity from Russia on the grounds that they foment and spread extremism (although they DO such and aren’t ashamed of it, no siree)? (Orthodox people… what do you think would happen if Russia banned JP, Potapov, Rod Dreher, and Josiah Trenham for supporting Hard Right causes and for being religious kooks?) Why, there’d be a hellacious stink! You could smell it all the way from the banks of the Potomac to the Arbat!

In short, this is arrogant Anglo posturing. The people who brought you Wounded Knee, Hiroshima, and Guantánamo should know better. THIS is why the world despises the USA. It isn’t envy… its disgust. We should grow up and act like adults… but shall we?


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Obama’s Economic Policy: The Rich Should Pay Too


There’ll be no more tax cuts for wealthy Americans… President Barack Obama signalled that after his re-election, he sees this as the best way to prevent a “budget catastrophe”. Delivering his first speech after re-election, Mr Obama outlined his economic strategy for the years to come. A budget deficit could cause the catastrophe Mr Obama was talking about. A “fiscal cliff”, which is likely to happen in January of 2013, could plunge the American economy back into recession. Spending cuts were approved as part of a strategy to avoid budget deficit. Mr Obama cited experts to say that by September of 2013 the budget deficit will decrease by 503 billion USD (15.9 trillion Roubles. 400 billion Euros. 320 billion UK Pounds). However, the USA would have to pay a high price for this… mass unemployment and a 0.5 percent decline in American economic growth. It means that rich Americans won’t avoid higher taxes. Mr Obama emphasised that he’d veto any bill suggesting more tax benefits to those earning more than 250,000 USD (7.9 million Roubles. 197,000 Euros. 157,000 UK Pounds) a year.

Some analysts believe that Obama overdramatized on purpose, trying to provoke a reaction from the Republicans who control the House of Representatives. Konstantin Sonin, Pro-rector at the Russian School of Economics {a pro-oligarch mouthpiece: editor}, said, “Obama’s just bargaining, since the sides have different approaches to the issue. To avoid a serious conflict they should achieve a kind of a compromise”. Yakov Mirkin, expert at the Russian Institute of Global Economy, said, “Evidently, there’ll be no budget catastrophe. Republicans and Democrats will definitely agree on raising the debt ceiling. Both parties focused on reducing budget deficit, although they offer different approaches to the issue. If Romney had won the election, there’d have been a decline in taxes with numerous benefits offered by the American tax code removed. I mean tax loans related to education, and the money spent on healthcare and insurance policies, as well as small businesses”.

Obama offers a different approach… the affluent, which comprise some 2 percent of the American population, should pay more taxes, whilst the rest, some 98 percent, could enjoy lower taxes. The Senate has already approved a bill, and the president is ready to sign it at any moment. To reduce negative consequences, Mr Obama is ready to look for a compromise with Republicans. In any case, he won`t be able to avoid debates on the economy with the House of Representatives. Generally, Russian experts think that Obama’s re-election is a good sign for the US economy, since he’s already a proven and successful leader in terms of handling the financial crisis. Despite strong opposition from the Congress, he managed to attract huge investments into the American economy, which resulted in moderate economic growth. If Mr Obama sticks to this policy, it’d only do good to both domestic and global markets.

10 November 2012

Andrei Smirnov

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

The American electorate rejected the tripartite emphasis of the Romney/Ryan non-plan:

  • Massive tax cuts for the rich, coupled with drastic cuts to all government social programmes
  • Unrestrained warfare in foreign parts and a return to torture and imprisonment at black sites abroad
  • Turning a blind eye to racism and white supremacy (“Keep the White House white”)

That is why white women rejected the Grand Olde Phony candidate. They saw their families hurt by Republican cudgelling of ordinary folks to aid the grasping Affluent Effluent, they saw their kids coming home in body-bags or maimed from the wars, and the Republicans’ unfeigned racism disgusted them (the “legitimate rape” comments weren’t so influential… all women know that the Grand Olde Perverts are like that). The Republicans needed to win big with white women, but their greedy and cruel platform ensured a massive gender gap in white voters (mainly, they lost white women whilst winning white men). Yet, its telling defeat didn’t lead the Republican Party to reject any of these rancid points. It’s poised to break into two, if not three, blocs, which would cement Democratic power for the next generation. The Republican Party is paying dearly for such heeding greedster RINOs as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Grover Norquist, and Paul Ryan… it’s rejected its true legacy from Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Ike, Rocky, Jake Javits, Nixon, and Gerald Ford. As it’s done that, it deserves to die… the sooner, the better. They’re just shills for the rich and whores for the military-industrial complex… do remember what Ike said of that.

The Republican Party turned its back on its past with Slobberin’ Ronnie Reagan, with his shameless whoring for the Affluent Effluent and his mindless juvenile hatred of “big government”. No society of 300 million can be run as though it were a rural Ozark backwater. In 2012, the Republican Party shot itself in the head with full malice aforethought. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put them back together again…


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