Russia

The Velvet Surrender
September 17, 2010

Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, is legendary for his lack of manners. When his country assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2009, Klaus—a stocky and vigorous man with close-cropped white hair and a fastidiously trimmed moustache—got into a scrap with a group of European politicians because he had refused to fly the EU flag above his office in Prague Castle. Nicolas Sarkozy pronounced the snub “hurtful,” yet Klaus was anything but contrite. Instead, he used his first address to the European Parliament to compare the EU to the Soviet Union.

Barney Frank Vs. The Dining Room Table
September 16, 2010

“Birth of a political career” was not the first phrase that came to mind when Lyndon LaRouche disciple Rachel Brown got upbraided by Barney Frank last year. Brown, you’ll remember, became briefly Internet-famous thanks to her performance at a town hall meeting in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, where she held up a photo of Obama with a Hitler moustache and harangued Frank about Obamacare. “Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy, as Obama has expressly supported this policy,” she asked Frank.

The Revisionaries
September 02, 2010

It seemed unthinkable that Vaughn Ward wouldn’t, someday, be a U.S. congressman. The decorated Iraq war vet had been handpicked by national Republicans to run against endangered Democrat Walt Minnick for Idaho’s first congressional district. Although he was somewhat gaffe-prone (he had an unfortunate tendency to plagiarize campaign speeches from sources like Barack Obama, for instance), Ward had the boyish good looks, the résumé, and—best of all, for one of the reddest states in the country—Sarah Palin’s blessing.

The Nowhere Bomb
August 18, 2010

Should Jerusalem bring its bomb out of the basement? Israel, for at least the moment, is the sole possessor of atomic weapons in the Middle East, with an arsenal that now includes approximately 200 warheads. But it is also the only nuclear-armed nation to hide its cache behind a façade of official silence–neither confirming nor denying its existence. Iran’s mounting nuclear capability arguably demands a reconsideration of this stance. Explicitly announcing its nuclear status would have its advantages. It would upgrade Israel’s deterrent.

The Start Treaty And Republican Path Dependency
August 10, 2010

Walter Pincus reports that Republicans overwhelmingly favored the previous Start Treaty before changing their tune on the current one: "This treaty is a masterstroke. . . . It is shorn of the tortured bench marks, sub-limits, arcane definitions and monitoring provisions that weighed down past arms control treaties," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). "It assumes a degree of trust between nations that are no longer on the precipice of war." Those were words from Kyl's floor speech on March 6, 2003, in support of ratification of the Moscow Treaty, signed nine months earlier by President George W.

Red Hot Disaster In Russia
August 05, 2010

Now and again you hear Russian officials sound pretty blithe about global warming. In 2003, Vladimir Putin joked that a little extra heat would help Russians "save on fur coats and other warm things." More recently, a spokesman in the Natural Resources Ministry put it this way: "We are not panicking. Global warming is not as catastrophic for us as it might be for some other countries.

Fossil-Fuel Subsidies Still Dominate
August 03, 2010

Quick, which gets subsidized more heavily around the world, fossil fuels or renewable energy? Bloomberg crunches the numbers and finds that it's not even close—oil, gas, and coal get a whopping twelve times as much total government support: Governments last year gave $43 billion to $46 billion of support to renewable energy through tax credits, guaranteed electricity prices known as feed-in tariffs and alternative energy credits, the London-based research group said today in a statement.

Liberal Apathy, the National Security Story
August 03, 2010

Heather Hurlburt is executive director of the National Security Network. She wrote this in response to last week's item about liberal apathy. Jonathan Cohn falls into the same trap as his apathetic Netroots liberals as far as national security is concerned.

Look Who Thinks America Is Cool Again
July 30, 2010

It’s been a long time since foreign leaders arrived on our shores saying that America is the future—so long, in fact, that when it does happen, we don’t know what to make of it. For me this was the most interesting subtext of Russian president Dmitri Medvedev’s visit to the States last month. He and Barack Obama had a familiar discussion of shared national interests, from arms control to ethnic peace in Kyrgyzstan. Their lunch outing to an Arlington burger joint reflected the search for good visuals that we often see when a summit itself isn’t generating much real news.

Infinite Life
July 21, 2010

Naming Infinity: A True Story of Religious Mysticism And Mathematical Creativity By Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor (Belknap Press, 239 pp., $25.95) A starry firmament, or sand cascading through one’s open fingers, or weeds springing up time after time: the first conception of infinity, of the uncountable and the unending, is not recorded, but it must have been stimulated by experiences such as these. It may have merged in the mind of an ancient progenitor with thoughts of a God, a possessor of unlimited might, an infinite being itself.

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