Indian girl’s finish 4th in Asian Rugby 7s        

by Shrutee K/DNS
Mumbai, August 7: The Indian Girls’ Under-20 rugby team performed creditably well to clinch the fourth position at the Asia Rugby U-20 Girls Sevens Series which was held at the Kings Park Stadium, Hong Kong, China on August 4 & 5, 2017. The team participated under the aegis of the Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU), the governing body for the sport of Rugby in India and was supported by Societe Generale, the financial partner of Rugby India. The tournament was played on a round-robin league basis.
Playing against heavyweights, the Indian girl’s put up some impressive performances winning three of the six matches and finished among the top 4 from out of the 7 participating countries, namely China, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, India and hosts Hong Kong. The formidable and more experienced Chinese girls were crowned champions.
The Rugby India Girls played well but came up short against some stiff competition on the first day. They lost the opening match against Thailand (0-36) but won the second defeating Malaysia (10-0). The Indian girls suffered two more defeats, losing to China (0-32) and Hong Kong 0-39).
After a tough start to the tournament, the girls turned things around on the second day, registering two successive victories. Both matches went down to the wire but the girls handled the pressure well. First the Indian girls overcame Singapore 10-5 and later beat Uzbekistan 22-15.
We are extremely proud of the team’s performance at this tournament. It just goes to show that the future of women’s rugby in India is in safe hands.
The India team: RuchiShetty – Captain (Maharashtra), GargeeWalekar (Maharashtra), NeelamPatil (Maharashtra), RiaBisht (Delhi), Rajani Sabar (Odisha), BasantiPangi (Odisha), Manjulata Pradhan (Odisha), KabitaKasturi (Odisha), Chanda Oraon (West Bengal), Swapna Oraon (West Bengal), Suman Oraon (West Bengal), Punam Oraon (West Bengal).
The final Rankings: 1. China, 2. Thailand, 3. Hong Kong, 4. India, 5. Singapore, 6. Malaysia, 7. Uzbekistan
Performance of the Indian U20 Girls Rugby Team
Day One –4th August, 2017
Day Two- 5th August, 2017


Rugby India
Rugby India
Rugby India
Rugby India
Rugby India

Rugby India
Hong Kong

About Rugby India : Rugby India, founded in 1998, is the sole governing body for the sport of Rugby in India. Recognized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sport, Govt. of India, Rugby India is a full member of World Rugby, Asia Rugby and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). The body is responsible for the growth & development of the sport of Rugby across the country from the grassroots to the high performance level.
IRFU is the sole governing body of all formats of the sport of Rugby in India for all genders and ages. The formats included are as follows: Rugby Union, Fifteen-a-Side Rugby, Seven-a-Side Rugby, 10-a-Side Rugby, 12-a-Side Rugby, Touch Rugby, Non-Contact Rugby - Tag Rugby, Flag Rugby, Beach Rugby, Snow Rugby, Wheelchair Rugby, Underwater Rugby.
Rugby has been included in the School Games Federation of India (SGFI) for all age-groups (U14, U17 & U19 boys & girls) and the National University Games for both Men & Women, under the aegis of the Associationof Indian Universities (AIU), The sport is also a part of the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) and played by the Paramilitary & Police Forces.
Rugby in India has a rich history and heritage and dates back to 1872. However, only over the last decade has the sport seen a major rise in following and Rugby India has been instrumental in garnering this interest across the country. There has been a significant growth and increase in participation numbers and currently, within India, over 120 Rugby Clubs are affiliated to our State and Districts Associations with competitive Rugby, for both Men & Women, being actively played across 24 States in India.

          Yurt Life         
We are moving into my mom's charming little yurt today!

While waiting for our permanent home to be renovated (which, as it turns out, takes even longer than building a new home) - we've been living semi-nomadic life for close to four months now, about three of them in a yurt.

Life in the yurt is different. There is no way around it (pun intended). For one thing, it provides a round space, that encompasses most of life's functions in one area: cooking, eating, reading, puzzling, snuggling, cat-feeding (an extra duty we've picked up on the way to freedom - not unlike an unwanted pregnancy that you just can't get herself to terminate), office work (whenever my MacBook Air has enough power to work for me - not to mention its battered battery now needs replacement, which turns out to be a HUGE ordeal in the land of milk and honey), Pilates practice, and even occasional entertaining (when it rains even my dear family avoids it like the plague). It's not truly all in one space, because it actually has an annex to the north, with the washroom (including a shower and a compost toilet - a killer combination for dirt and cleanliness), as well as a sleeping den which has beautiful greenery all around it, as it is built from old wooden windows.

That beauty comes with the price of this space being as cold as the outdoors in the winter. In the summer this room is actually a lifesaver, because the yurt collects way too much heat, although it is much better insulated than the sleeping den - even when its skylight is open. We don't have an oven, but were able to pull together delicious and nourishing meals from the two-flamed gas stove, and have even prepared some raw treats for our daily tea parties. To be perfectly frank - mostly, we've been lazy and buying baklava and cookies whenever we are in the vicinity of a bakery - so I am now in the know of where to get good baked goods. I'm sure this knowledge will come in handy in the not so far future, even after we're back to our productive baking life. When it comes to baking, it's always good to have a good back-up plan.

Of course, that did not stop us from being experimental in the kitchen, trying new ingredients such as nigella seed spread and authentic freekeh, which is an amazing way of preparing green wheatberries by burning them off the wheat chaff. The result is a smoky, nutty grain that is delicious and easy to cook (and digest) and really gives unmistakable character to dishes (the one I bought in Canada was actually stale wheat dyed green). More on that in another post!

To sum it up - living in a yurt is "an experience". Just like camping is an experience. In camping terms this is a five star facility. I'm sure with its running water and gas-operated refrigerator it is also considered a luxury in comparison to straw huts in Africa or yurts in the Mongolian steppes. You get the picture. It's an experience. And we're three months into it and can't wait to experience something else.

To lift the edge off the nervous anticipation for proper housing, I've decided to compile a little list of fragrances (both mundane and wearable) that will let you into this experience, even if just a little... This compilation is a random array of fragrance fit for yurt life, even though I imagine most people who choose to live in this humble abode would rather dab some animal fat and cooked cabbage juice behind their ear than any designer's fragrance. Nevertheless, I find the task amusing, and I hope it will make for a fun read.

We are moving into my mom's charming little yurt today! Here is a view of the inside.

I also hope that my mom does not get hurt because apparently in our parts of the world, patience ("Savlanut") is considered a virtue (which very few uphold), and also belongs grammatical to the same root as the word suffering ("Sevel"). And in this part of the world, stating the facts is considered complaining... I'm sure those who choose to live in a yurt or even just stay in it for a short amount of time will thoroughly enjoy it - it is cute, rustic, pretty, calm and completely in tune with nature. You get to experience all the elements - fire (sun), air (wind), water (we have running water, and thankfully also very little of water leakage despite its very temporary feel); and last but not least - you can't get any closer to earth than this. It is a very, very earthy dwelling and you really feel Mother earth's belly as you tickle it with your slippers walking to and fro. Last but not least: nothing compares to coming out of the yurt at night and seeing the clear black skies dotted with bright stars.

Muscs Kublai Khan - for the obvious body odour effect - musk-enhanced unwashed hair and sweaty armpits with hints of rose and aldehydes.

Kiehl's Fig Leaf & Sage - milky herbacous weirdness. It's unusual yet very easy to wear and has a freshness without being boring. It also goes well with the cucumber and parsley scented products we currently have in the house - hand wash, shampoo and conditioner. Something green and clear-smelling yet non pretentious.

Aromatics Elixir - an earthy, big sage scent that is sophisticated yet at the same time rustic enough to wear in the wilderness. Especially grateful for it on cold wintry days.

Arabie - the spice market, sweat and dusty cobblestones - and all the spices I have in storage (and don't have in my kitchen) kvetched into one bottle. Awesome.

Coco Noir - the opposite of yurt life: polished, elegant, artificial and urban. Jasmine, berries and plums, rose, patchouli, musk and vetiver with a a dusting of cocoa.

Poivre Samarkand - because I heard that there are also yurts in Samarkand (Uzbekistan). Can't find any perfume inspired by Mongolia (which is where the yurts supposedly originate). Besides, it's a perfect sprinkle of heat on those chilly nights when the shower runs only boiling water or ice cold ones, and when you step out of the shower it's the same temperatures as outside (not as extreme as in Canada, but 5-11c is cold enough to feel like real winter).

Musc Nomade (Annick Goutal) - I'm picking this one because of the name alone. I remember smelling it very vaguely and that is was vegetal and delicate... Admittedly I'm also too lazy to go digging in my shipping container now and find the little box where I "filed" all my music samples but I'm pretty sure I've only tried it once when I was in Paris.

Tam Dao - if you've ever encountered compost toilet, you know that it's the human equivalent of hamster cage. pine or cedar shavings are used to cover up the mess, and the result is a more subdued version of human waste, that eventually turns into a nice scent of the forest floor. Anyway, this explanation made me think of Tam Dao, which is a fine sandalwood and cedar fragrance and also has some clean smelling musks underneath, to make you forget all the other business.

Tea for Two - We've been enjoying my limited selection of teas that I make a point of finishing off. True to form, we've been brewing lots of chai, which I've been already giving you plenty of recipes for... And of course Hulnejan - the wonderful root brew of galangal, dried ginger and cassia bark.
Zangvil also reminds me of this "witch brew" with its notes of fresh and dried ginger, honey, amber, jasmine and ginger lily.

Finjan - we've been drinking lots of espresso on the stove top mocha machine, and lots of Arabic/Druze/Turkish coffee (each nationality claims it as their own - but essentially this is very dark roasted coffee with cardamom that is brewed on the stove). The latter is well represented in the perfuem I created titled Finjan (the name of the little porcelain "shot" cups that you sip the coffee from; mistakenly, most Israelis refer to the little pot used to brew it as "finjan" - but its real name is "Ralai").

Mastic - Whenever it rains or gets really chilly, the mastica bushes and wild ivy behind the yurt release their fresh, green-balsamic scent. Grin's smell encompasses this verdant freshness with its notes of galbanum, violet, oakmoss and a classic floral bouquet.

Geranium and Wild Oranges - My citrus orchard was overcome by wild orange shoots, and I've really let it go. We finally pruned the orchard this fall, which mean an overwhelming amount of wild oranges that had to be put into use somehow. The result? An orange cello with a touch of herbs from the yurt's garden, among them rose geranium. One sip of this liquor is enough to uplift the spirits.

          Carpet sellers        
Istanbul's carpet salesmen are legendary.  But when you know you are likely to be moving to work in a different continent within the next six months (where home could be any style of house or apartment in who-knows-what style and colour scheme) - or, if not, that you may be off back-packing round the world whilst deciding what to do next - then the temptation to buy an expensive carpet is pretty easily resisted.

So on my initial transit through Istanbul (on the way to Kyrgyzstan) I let myself be led into a carpet shop to have a look at what they had to offer.  "Just looking".  I was shown carpet after carpet - from Turkey, from India, from Afghanistan, in wool, in yak hair and in silk, and in every colour under the sun.  But sadly I gleaned very little information on carpets, as the salesman was more keen to impress on me how big a discount he would give me if I would go somewhere with him in his car so that he could "show me how he loved me"(!).  No thank you.

However in Uzbekistan, in a carpet-making workshop in the old city of Khiva, I saw a collection of silk carpets and totally fell in love with one.  If only I had somewhere settled to put it, and a spare $2,000...

Back in transit in Istanbul again, thinking no more about carpets (other than the lingering regrets over not being able to buy the one in Khiva), I was walking through a park when I found myself in conversation with a friendly Australian woman, who told me she was in Istanbul for a few months doing some jewellery design.  We chatted a little, and she pointed out a few interesting historical things that we were walking past (that I would otherwise have missed), and then she asked if I'd like to see her jewellery.  Well it seemed a little rude to say no.  But would you believe it, her jewellery was on display in the front part of a carpet shop ... and when she invited me to sit down for a glass of apple tea it was in the carpet showroom.

Whilst I had had no idea that undercover carpet sellers were now roaming the parks disguised as friendly Australians, I have to say that the man in the shop (the Australian rapidly disappeared - presumably to hunt down more victims) was very informative, and totally agreed, when I explained my situation, that now was not the time for me to buy a carpet.

Having listened to his explanations of single -v- double knots, and the significance of the number of knots per inch, I finally asked him about prices.  A very nice wool carpet, about the same size as "my" silk one in Khiva, was worth €1,600, he said.  I told him about the carpet I had fallen in love with and he expressed total disbelief at the price - showed me a much smaller silk one in his collection priced at $11,000...  He wondered if mine might have been made of cheap Chinese silk although even then it couldn't be that cheap (in fact all the silk used in the Khiva workshop is grown in Uzbekistan).  I began to wonder if my guide had mis-translated 20 into 2, or if perhaps I had missed the bargain of a lifetime...

          The Silk Road        

Aside from my close encounter with a golden eagle, my ten days in Kyrgyzstan involved a lot of walking in the mountains and a lot of layers of clothing as I tried to keep warm at night. The tour mostly involved sleeping in yurts set up on bleak hillsides or in remote valleys. Yurts have been used by the indigenous nomads for many centuries, and the thick layers of felt that cover them do keep out the worst of the cold, but with my relatively skinny frame I needed to wear all the clothes I had packed at the same time to stay warm in the evenings before I burrowed under the layers of blankets they provided for us.

We experienced other aspects of local culture too, from the food (warming meals with lots of meat and fat) and drink (a mildly fermented mare’s milk which tasted of sheep’s cheese), to the famous horsemanship skills. The latter included leaning from their saddles and picking a small (golf-ball-sized) object off the ground as they galloped past – not always successfully but this skill comes from a game using a decapitated goat which, to be fair, is rather larger than a golf ball. Horses are an integral part of the life of the nomads in Kyrgyzstan and on our walks we came across several young boys on horseback driving flocks of sheep and goats around the mountain-sides.

We also saw the ancient (restored) caravanserai of Tash Rabat, an atmospheric stone building in the middle of a remote valley – our first introduction to the Silk Route.

From Kyrgyzstan we travelled to Uzbekistan, only next-door but so very different. We went from green mountains to dry, flat desert, and from moveable felt yurts to solid ancient monuments.

The name Samarkand evoked for me the same kind of exotic image as Zanzibar and Timbuktu; an almost mythical place.  & it didn't disappoint.  Mosques, mausoleums and madrassas, all magnificently restored with their dazzling blue tiles, competed for my attention with the stories of the famous men who had passed through here: Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane...  the Shah -e- Zindar (street of the dead) was especially impressive, full of intricately tiled mausoleums still being visited by pilgrims.

After Samarkand we visited Bokhara - more mosques and madrassas, but somehow on a smaller, more human scale.  This was a very relaxed place where I felt I could just wander about, or stop in one of its many cafes for a green tea, or even sit on a bench and read my book.  I was working my way through Hopkirk's "The Great Game" - to learn more about the history of the region - and this was brought to life in Bokhara when I visited the 'bug pit' where British officers Connolly and Stoddard were held by the khan for many months before being executed in the square outside the Ark.

There were some good shopping opportunities here too, with the old madrassas and market domes filled with stalls selling ceramics, carpets, miniature paintings, silk scarves and wonderful embroidered jackets that would unfortunately be totally unsuitable for the hot climate of Dakar.

In Bokhara I said goodbye to the rest of the group, and continued further west.  A long day's drive through the Kyzyl Kum desert, crossing the great Oxus River, took me to Khiva.  Although the wall is older, most of the buildings within the old city here date on the from the 19th century, but the effect is of somewhere much more ancient.  My hotel was actually in one of the old (or not so old) madrassas, with a wonderful minaret forming a part of it - see photo.

An interesting practice here was to build tombs on the sloping sides of the city wall.  This meant that the body could not be buried in the ground but had to be laid in the tomb itself, and I was quite surprised when looking into one crumbling old tomb, as I climbed up the wall, to see what appeared very much to be a human thigh-bone, amongst other fragments of broken bone!

As with the other Silk Road cities, I was surprised to see virtually no other Western tourists.  I was told that this was because most prefer to avoid the August heat and that their numbers would rise in September.  There were plenty of local tourists though, and strangely I was as much of an attraction for them as the monuments, many wanting to be photographed with me.  Then on my final day in the country - in a museum in Tashkent - I was even interviewed for Uzbekistan television, asked my views on Tashkent ceramics (on which I'm a great expert, as you can imagine) and the local way of serving green tea.

If you're interested, the latter involves only filling the bowl half-full, so when the guest asks for more the host gets the pleasure of serving them a second time.

          FIDE Newsletter July 2017        

official logo

FIDE Grand Prix Series was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 5th to 16th of July 2017

Teimour Radjabov emerged clear winner of the FIDE World Chess Grand Prix in Geneva after sharing the point with his nearest follower Ian Nepomniachtchi in the final round. Radjabov earned 20.000 EUR and 170 Grand Prix points for the clear first place. Nepomniachtchi and Grischuk took 13.500 EUR and 105 GP points each.

Radjabov gp2017

In the overall Grand Prix standings Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is leading with 340 points, while Grischuk is second with 316,4. They have completed three events each and will cautiously await the results from the final 4th leg.


Radjabov jumped through to the third place with 241,4 points. Ding Liren on 240 and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on 211,4 can also hope to earn one of the two qualifying spots for the Candidates Tournament.

Official website

Photo gallery

European Senior Team Chess Championship 2017 took place in Novi Sad, Serbia from 24th of June till 4th of July 2017.

The Serbian team became European champion in the "50+" section European Championships for seniors. The title was brought by the grandmasters Miloš Pavlović, Goran M. Todorović, Siniša Dražić and Nenad Ristić and international master Zoran Arsović.

European Senior Team Chess Championship

Second place get to the team of Italy, which had three grandmasters in their team composition, and the third place went to team of Sweden. Particularly interesting is the fact that for the Swedish team successfully played the Swedish ambassador in Serbia, His Excellency Jan Lundin.

In the 65+ section the team of Russia, for which are playing the legendary grandmasters Sveshnikov, Vasyukov and Balashov made amazing result of all eight victories, and took the first place. The Danish team was the second, and Belgium, after they lost match in the last round against Russia, took third place.

Official website

Panamerican Youth Championship 2017 took place in Costa Rica from 30 June 2017 till 7th of July 2017.

Panamerican Youth Championship 2017

Total medal counts at PanAm Youth Championships:

USA 4 Gold, 5 Silver, 6 Bronze = 15 medals
Peru 2 Gold, 3 Silver, 2 Bronze = 7 medals
Canada 2 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze = 5 medals
Venezuela 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze = 3 medals
Colombia 1 Gold, 1 Bronze = 2 medals
Argentina 1 Gold
Chile 1 Gold
Mexico 1 Silver
Bolivia 1 Bronze

Lopez Rayo Santiago COL
Mishra Abhimanyu USA
Prestia Sebastian USA

U8 girls
Vidyarthi Omya USA
Maravi Ceron Ayme PER
Qu Greta CAN

Li Eric USA
Atanasov Anthony CAN
Gao Marvin USA

U10 Girls
Contreras Fiorella PER
Wong Allyson USA
Wang Ellen USA

Chasin Nico Werner USA
Galaviz Medina Sion Radam MEX
Flores Quillas Diego Saul Rod PER

U12 Girls
Perez Hernandez Vicmary C. VEN
Yellamraju Ambica USA
Matute Escobar Roxanny VEN

Liu Aristo S USA
Nakada Akira W USA
Titichoca Daza Daniel BOL

U14 Girls
He Emma CAN
Zeng Sheena USA
Ehsani Yassamin L USA

Varacalli Francisco ARG
Ramirez Gonzalez Mauricio VEN
Liang Albert USA

U16 Girls
Gomez Barrera Javiera Belen CHI
Mostacero Velarde Isabella PER
Caballero Quijano Mitzy Mishe PER

Song Michael CAN
Cori Quispe Kevin Joel PER
Quinonez Garcia Santiago COL

U18 Girls
Cosme Contreras Trilce PER
Wang Constance CAN
Cervantes Landeiro Thalia USA

Panamerican Youth Championship 2017 2

Official website


North American Youth Championship 2017 was held in Morristown, NJ, USA from 12th to 16th of July 2017.

North American Youth Championship 2017 2

A record-breaking 357 players from the United States, Canada and Mexico descended on the historic American Revolution town of Morristown, NJ, to compete in the North American Youth Chess Championships from July 12th to 16th. Sponsored by the Chess Tech, Continental Chess Association’s Darcy Lima, the International Chess School’s Michael Khodarkovsky and in Association with New Jersey Chess Federation and United States Chess Federation, the tournament had 12 sections with girls and open sections from under 8 to under 18. International Arbiters Steve Doyle, Eduard Duchovny and Ken Ballou have a staff of New Jersey State Chess Federation officers and staff: Hal Sprechman, Jim Mullanaphy, Jabari McGreen and Noreen Davisson. IA Steve Doyle, a legend on the chess scene, former President of USCF and Vice President of FIDE conducted the Tournament together with Tournament Directors GM Darcy Lima and Michael Khodarkovsky.

Final Standings 

Asian Zonal 3.1 took place in Tehran, Iran from 29th of June till 8th of July 2017

20 players (18 from Iran, 1 from Syria, 1 from Iraq) took part in the women`s section. Mobina Alinasab, a youth player from North of Iran, won the golden medal; Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and Mitra Hejazipour were second and third.

Asian Zonal 3.1

30 players (28 from Iran, 1 from Syria, 1 from Iraq) took part in the Open section. GM Amirreza Pourramezanali achieved Gold Medal. IM Aryan Gholami and GM Pouya Idani took silver and bronze medals.

Sponsor of Federation and this championship is MCI (Mobile Telecommunication Company).

Official website

African Individual Chess Championships 2017, African Rapid and Blitz Championships took place in Oran, Algeria from 1st till 13th of July 2017

45 players (and 18 players) among which the best African players, including a member of the top 100 the Egyptian GM Bassem Amin (Elo 2684) and Ahmed Adly, ex-junior world champion Elo on 2598. All the participants representing 8 countries (Algeria, Egypt, Zambia, Angola, Tunisia, Republic Centers African, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast) greeted the perfect organization and the good conditions of play in the international hotel "Assala" situated in the city center.

African Individual Chess Championships 2017

GM Amin Bassem from Egypt won the African Individual Championship. Daniel Cawdery from South Africa shared the first place but came second on the tie-break. Adly Ahmed from Egypt finished on the third place. 3 Egyptian players occupied the stage in women's section: WGM Mona Khaled won the championship, while Wafa Shrook and Wafa Shahenda took silver and bronze medals.

Amin Bassem

Rapid Championships: Amin Bassem (Egypt) won another golden medal, Adly Ahmed (Egypt) came second and Hesham Abdelrahman (Egypt) was third.

Amin Bassem 2

Wafa Shahenda (Egypt) was the best one in blitz, Esperance Caxita (Angola) and Amina Mezioud (Algeria) came third.

Blitz championships:
Adly Ahmed (Egypt) won blitz championship, Mohamed Haddouche (Algeria) was second and Phiri Richmond from Zambia was third.
Wafa Shrook (Egypt) was the strongest in blitz. Amina Mezioud (Algeria) took the silver medal, while Mona Khaled (Egypt) came third.

Commonwealth Chess Championship 2017 took place in New Delhi, India from 2nd till 10th of July 2017.

Commonwealth Chess Championship 2017 2

Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta (india) came up with an inspired performance in the final round to crush Aleksander Wohl of Australia and annexed the gold medal in the Commonwealth Chess Championship 2017. GM Vaibhav Suri (India) won the silver while the bronze medal went to GM Tejas Bakre (India). WGM Swati Ghate (India) became the Women Champion.

Commonwealth Chess Championship 2017 3

Players from 15 countries including some from South Africa and Kenya have registered for the nine-day long events. The championship had over 550 registered players in various categories spanning from under-8 till open. There were 16 Grandmasters and 13 International Masters in the fray apart from five more Woman Grandmasters.

Official website

Asian Schools Chess Championship 2017 and Asian Schools Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships were held in Panjin Lianoing, China from 20th till 30th of July 2017.

Chinese Chess Association under the auspices of the Asian Chess Federation and World Chess Federation, organized the event in high-standard playing hall and hotel, earning unanimous acclaims from more than 700 participants from 23 countries and regions in Asia.

Asian Schools Chess Championship 2017 3

China won 10 gold medals, Uzbekistan won 8 gold medals and Philippines won 7 gold medals.

Yuruultei Batbaatar MGL
Nurgaliyev Sauat KAZ
Kiaan Agrawal IND

U7 Girls
Tselmuun Dorjsuren MGL
Ruzimatova Afruzabonu UZB
Zhumagali Raian KAZ

Xie Kaifan CHN
Chen Muye CHN
Huang Yishi CHN

U9 Girls
Chen Yining CHN
Dela Cruz Daren PHI
Azzaya Amarbat MGL

Wei Yaqing CHN
Rakhmatullaev Almas UZB
Zhou Xiangru CHN

U11 Girls
Omonova Umida UZB
Kriti Mayur Patel IND
Withanarachchi W A Vinoli One SRI

Peng Shunkai CHN
Wang Zideng CHN
Arfan Aditya Bagus INA

U13 Girls
Cai Boheng CHN
Khegay Yuliya UZB
Liuviann Cecilia Natalie INA

Nanayakkara J A K Saranath SRI
Lin Yi CHN
Tan Jun Ying MAS

U15 Girls
Rasyid Nur Aini INA
Mordido Kylen Joy PHI
Saparova Sitora UZB

Pangilinan Stephen Rome PHI
Sagita Catur Adi INA
Min Po-Yen TRE

U17 Girls
Doroy Allaney Jia G PHI
Edithso Samantha INA
Men JiaYi CHN

All results

          The World Team wins the Match of the Millennials        


The World Team wins the Match of the Millennials

The USA vs. The World match was held in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, July 26th to 29th, 2017. It was a great success for the World, winning by a huge margin of 30½ to 17½ in total. The U.17 team was the underdog as per ratings, but still won with an overwhelming 19:13 total score, winning 3 matches and drawing 5 out of the 8 scheduled. The U.14 team also won with a good margin of 11½:4½, winning 3 matches and drawing 1 out of the 4 scheduled. Although the USA teams were fighting well, the World team showed that still is in charge.

The World Team was represented by the Head of Delegation Jorge Vega, the Captain of the World U.17 team Efstratios Grivas, the U.14 Captain Alexander Beliavsky and the players Haik Martirosyan (Armenia, 4 out of 7), Andreai Esipenko (Russia, 4 out of 7), Anton Smirnov (Australia, 3,5 out of 7), Aryan Chopra (India, 3,5 out of 7), Alexey Sarana (Russia, 4 out of 7), Praggnanandhaa Ramesh Babu (India, 3 out of 4)), Nordibek Abdusattorov (Uzbekistan, 2,5 out of 4), Bibisara Assaubayeva (Russia, 4 out of 4) and Nurgyul Salimova (Bulgaria, 2 out of 4) .

The USA team: Xiong Jeffrey (4 out of 8), Sevian Samuel (4,5 out of 8), Burke John (0,5 out of 4), Checa Nicolas (1 out of 5), Li Ruifeng (3 out of 7), Liang Awonder (2 out of 4), Hong Andrew (0,5 out of 4), Yip Carissa (1 out of 4), Samadashvili Martha (1 out of 4).

According to regulations the winning team will receive $20,000, while the runner-up will receive $10,000.

Former World Champion Viswanathan Anand visited the closing ceremony and awarded the prizes to the winners.

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Round 1 Results U17 - 2 : 2  
The World Results USA
Martirosyan Haik ½:½ Xiong Jeffery
Esipenko Andrey 0:1 Sevian Sam
Chopra Aryan 1:0 Burke John
Smirnon Anton ½:½ Ruifeng Li
Round 2 Results U17 - 2 : 2  
The World Results USA
Martirosyan Haik 0:1 Sevian Sam
Smirnon Anton ½:½ Xiong Jeffery
Chopra Aryan 1:0 Checa Nicolas
Sarana Alexey ½:½ Ruifeng Li
Round 3 Results U17 - 2 : 2  
The World Results USA
Smirnon Anton ½:½ Burke John
Esipenko Andrey 1:0 Ruifeng Li
Chopra Aryan 0:1 Xiong Jeffery
Sarana Alexey ½:½ Sevian Sam
Round 4 Results U17 - 2½ : 1½  
The World Results USA
Martirosyan Haik 0:1 Checa Nicolas
Esipenko Andrey 1:0 Burke John
Smirnon Anton 1:0 Sevian Sam
Sarana Alexey ½:½ Xiong Jeffery
Round 5 Results U17 - 3 : 1  
The World Results USA
Martirosyan Haik 1:0 Xiong Jeffery
Esipenko Andrey ½:½ Sevian Sam
Chopra Aryan ½:½ Ruifeng Li
Sarana Alexey 1:0 Checa Nicolas
Round 6 Results U17 - 3½ : ½  
The World Results USA
Esipenko Andrey ½:½ Xiong Jeffery
Martirosyan Haik 1:0 Sevian Sam
Sarana Alexey 1:0 Burke John
Smirnon Anton 1:0 Ruifeng Li
Round 7 Results U17 - 2 : 2  
The World Results USA
Chopra Aryan ½:½ Xiong Jeffery
Smirnon Anton 0:1 Sevian Sam
Martirosyan Haik ½:½ Ruifeng Li
Esipenko Andrey 1:0 Checa Nicolas
Round 8 Results U17 - 2 : 2  
The World Results USA
Sarana Alexey ½:½ Xiong Jeffery
Chopra Aryan ½:½ Sevian Sam
Esipenko Andrey 0:1 Ruifeng Li
Martirosyan Haik 1:0 Checa Nicolas
Round 1 Results U14 - 2½ : 1½  
The World Results USA
Ramesh Babu ½:½ Liang Awonder
Abdusattorov Nodirbek 1:0 Hong Andrew
Assaubayeva Bibisara 1:0 Yip Carissa
Salimova Nurgyul 0:1 Samadashvilli Martha
Round 2 Results U14 - 2 :2  
The World Results USA
Ramesh Babu ½:½ Hong Andrew
Abdusattorov Nodirbek ½:½ Liang Awonder
Assaubayeva Bibisara 1:0 Samadashvilli Martha
Salimova Nurgyul 0:1 Yip Carissa
Round 3 Results U14 - 4 : 0  
The World Results USA
Ramesh Babu 1:0 Liang Awonder
Abdusattorov Nodirbek 1:0 Hong Andrew
Assaubayeva Bibisara 1:0 Yip Carissa
Salimova Nurgyul 1:0 Samadashvilli Martha
Round 4 Results U14 - 3 : 1
The World Results USA
Ramesh Babu 1:0 Hong Andrew
Abdusattorov Nodirbek 0:1 Liang Awonder
Assaubayeva Bibisara 1:0 Samadashvilli Martha
Salimova Nurgyul 1:0 Yip Carissa


Day 2

Under 17 Section

The players kept things consistent by keeping the score 2-2. Sam Sevian, who was unstoppable yesterday, for some reason played a very unambitious game and drew Alexey Sarana with the white pieces in 18 moves.
In a team event, this a huge advantage, as it leaves the opposing team with two whites. His teammate, World Junior Champion Jeffery Xiong, defeated Aryan Chopra’s Najdorf in a very clean game after outplaying his opponent in a positional manner then delivering a tactical blow.
Unfortunately for the U.S. team, Ruifeng Li chose a very unsound opening against Andrey Esipenko and was punished convincingly.
Anton Smirnov and John Burke drew after giving each other several winning chances but failing to take advantage of them.
In the fourth round, the U.S. team suffered its first loss. Things were really looking good for the American team as the Armenian Haik Martirosyan blundered against Nicolas Checa and was forced to resign several moves later.
Sam Sevian decided to return the favor by blundering a pawn, which was enough for Anton Smirnov to bring home the point.
Alexey Saran had to suffer and defend against Jeffery Xiong for most of the game.
The American superstar did not make the most out of his extra pawn in the rook ending allowing his opponent to find enough counterplay to draw. John Burke had a big advantage in the middle game and the only mistake in the game was enough for Andrey Esipenko to turn the tide, which allowed the World team to win their first match.

Under 14 Section

After suffering a loss yesterday, the U.S. team drew the match against the higher rated World team.
Andrew Hong and Praggnanandhaa Ramesh Babu played a sharp theoretical line where the American had to be quite careful not to find himself in trouble. He handled the complications masterfully and made a comfortable draw.
Martha Samadashvili out-prepared her much higher rated opponent, Bibisara Assaubayeva and got the advantage out of the opening. However, as the game went on, the Russian player demonstrated her strength and experience by not allowing her position to collapse and giving her opponent opportunities to error in an extremely complicated position. Once out of book and on her own, Samadashvili found herself in an unknown territory and made one crucial mistake, which was enough for her opponent to capitalize on and deliver the full point.
The newly crowned U.S. Junior Champion, Awonder Liang, once again found himself in an uncomfortable position but defended tenaciously until his opponent, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, had to settle for a draw.
The score was now 2-1 in favor for the World team and it was up to Carissa Yip and Nurgyul Salimova to decide the fate of the match. This was an epic 112 move battle where first Carissa had the material advantage, then her opponent refused to repeat the position to try to go for checkmate but missed a checkmate in two moves. This, in turn, left Carissa with the material advantage away but her king was still in trouble which allowed her opponent to force a draw, an opportunity that was not spotted. Towards the very end, with reduced amount of material on the board, Salimova once again had a great opportunity to make a draw but after a five-hour of play and no time on the clock, it was yet another missed opportunity. With this win, the score of the match is now a tie.

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Match of the Millennials Opening

The opening ceremony of the Match of the Millennials took place on 25th of July. During the press conference devoted to the start of the Match, Jorge Vega, Continental President for America, took part in the procedure of drawing of lots.

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Match of The Millennials

USA vs The World

26-29 July, 2017

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, in cooperation with the Kasparov Chess Foundation, U.S. Chess Federation, World Chess Federation and FIDE Trainers’ Commission will organize the Match of the Millennials. Eight American players will face some of the best juniors from around the world.
Teams consist of five players under 17, two boys under 14 and two girls under 14 years old. The five players under 17 years old will face each member of the opposing team in two game matches, while the under 14 players will similarly play two-game matches against their two corresponding opponents.
The prize fund of the match is $30,000. The winning team will receive $20,000, while the runner-up will receive $10,000. Prizes will be split evenly should the match end in a tie.



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Captain Michael Khodarkovsky Captain Armen Ambartsumian Coach Alexander Onischuk
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Jeffery Xiong (USA) Samuel Sevian (USA) Ruifeng Li (USA)
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John Michael Burke (USA) Nicolas Checa (USA) Awonder Liang (USA)
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Andrew Hong (USA) Carissa Yip (USA) Martha Samadashvili (USA)


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Captain Efstratios Grivas Captain Alexander Beliavsky Head of Delegation Jorge Vega
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Haik Martirosyan (ARM) Andrey Esipenko (RUS) Alexey Sarana (RUS)
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Anton Smirnov (AUS) Aryan Chopra (IND) Praggnanandhaa R.B. (IND)
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Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB) Bibisara Assaubayeva (RUS) Nurgyul Salimova (BUL)

          Ð£Ð·Ð±ÐµÐºÐ¸ÑÑ‚ан. В поиске колора, колорита и резины. Часть 5        
Наутро с рассветом выдвинулись дальше. Решили, несмотря на «не верить больше никому», все же перестраховаться и залить всю тару цивилизованным бензином. Я долго сопротивлялся…

… и канистры отдал быстро обсыхающему батюшкиному КТМ (ох уж мне этот тюнинг на туристах)

Серега вообще под бензовоз заделался — с таким запасом он может проехать 900-1000 км. Как потом выяснилось и здесь уже бензин совсем не ахти — пахнет как-то странно и почти не горит.

Поехали в сторону Афгана по дороге на Термез (откуда выводили наши войска) к родине Тимура Шахрисабзу. Была мысль доехать и до Термеза сфотографироваться на фоне того самого моста, но оставили эту идею за малыми шансами ее выполнения (это же мост, да и говорят, туда возят только на автобусах). Потом посмотрим фото у Витаса — он как раз туда потом собирался после «Солнца Ташкента»

Снова горы. Почувствуй утреннюю свежесть.

На небольшом перевале стела и торговцы орехами. Все же серпантины и горы — не сравнятся с однообразной пустыней. Да и запахи здесь какие — аж голову кружит.

Совсем скоро, вдоволь насладившись мелкими и извилистыми дорожками, по которым то тут, то там идут школьники и пастухи, прилетели в Шахрисабз. Сколько Тимуру нужно было времени на путешествие до Самарканда, сложно предположить. Для нас сейчас это легкая и приятная прогулка, а в те времена на конях, да еще и без дорог.

Город очень колоритный. Восточная толчея, везде сигналы машин, торговля, ослики.
Центральную площадь ремонтируют.

Как ни старались мы подъехать к мечетям, так ничего и не вышло. Подъезжали с трех разных сторон, но везде все перекрыто — видимо какой-то праздник. Мы не стали упорствовать и двинулись к выезду, так как уже изрядно надоело на жаре толкаться среди повозок, грузовиков и осликов. Да и Серега начал свою добрую традицию — в каждой поездке что-то терять — посеял одну перчатку. Выручили мои запасные.

Уже перед Бухарой пообедали в местной придорожной кафешке. Счет за довольно богатый стол был раза в три меньше вчерашнего, причем я уверен, что и этот ценник был, как для туристов, а прайса все равно нигде нет. Очень вкусно и душевно. Если б я здесь жил, наверное уже ездил бы на чоппере и складывал бы живот на бак — не возможно остановиться, все хочется попробовать, да побольше. Да и люди настолько душевные, что уезжать не хочется — хоть плачь.

Порции тут, что надо.

Батюшка верен себе — сидит.

Перед самой Бухарой опять пустыня, причем самая настоящая — песок, колючки, жара. Жара, как мы потом узнаем, около 50 — реально обдувает горячий ветер. Опять меня посетили мысли про древние времена — как, интересно, караваны тут ходили. Мы проехали по такой жаре буквально пару часов, и сил совсем не осталось, а караваны шли днями, месяцами. В общем, не тот путешественник пошел…

В Бухаре мы поселились в душевную гостинку в национальном стиле. Нас передали по эстафете из Самарканда. Судя по всему она не из самых дешевых, но в переводе на русские цены почти даром. Да и тусовка в ней душевная — много туристов.

Бухара оказалась не менее современный городом, чем Самарканд, но почти все достопримечательности здесь собраны в одном месте, все можно обойти пешком. Мне город показался уж очень туристическим, совсем не видно местных — одни интуристы, кока-кола и песни Ирины Аллегровой в кафе. Архитектура колоритная, правда мы все это уже видели в Самарканде и внутри всех медресе все также торгуют тряпками, посудой, магнитами и картинками.

Гуляя по городу, увидели одну интересную дверь. Вот примерно такая

Батюшка в нее постучал специальным молоточком — открыл местный житель довольно почтенного возраста. Он сразу начал нас приглашать зайти и посмотреть его жилище — мы не смогли отказать.
Дед рассказал нам, что дом построил его пра-пра-и еще несколько раз пра-дед, и с тех пор здесь были только косметические ремонты.

Сначала зашли в прихожую — по нашему сени — ничего особенного, но потолок традиционный для этих мест.

А вот внутри просто дворец. Обеденный зал, как у английского лорда: огромный стол, высота потолка около 5 метров. Обалдеть!

Дед нам порекомендовал заглянуть и в соседнюю дверь — там пивбар для местных — туда я наведаюсь вечером.

А пока поблагодарили деда за небольшую экскурсию и пошли гулять по достопримечательностям дальше. Гида брать не стали, т.к. скоро уже стемнеет.

Опять руссо туристо

заглянул в еще одну дверь, но там деда не оказалось и вообще вроде ничего не оказалось — не понятно для чего закрыли

Серега все рвался на минарет (вот не отпускает его страсть подняться куда-нить повыше, на работе по своим телемачтам не налазился), но там оказалась какая-то сложная коррупционная система прохода, так что просто погуляли по мечети. Мне кажется, что минарет снаружи красивее, чем изнутри.

Восстановленная крепостная стена. Родного очень мало, но разглядеть при желании можно. Внутрь мы уже опоздали и завтра откроется, когда мы уже будем в пути.

В футбол играет вся страна. В Ташкенте, кстати, очень много частных мини-стадионов и все они постоянно заняты.

Еще один дедок дал нам разной травы в чай заварить — я нюхал и балдел, и снова нюхал, и снова балдел. Вирага не опускался до моих «литературных» замашек.
Сижу, кстати, опять в мечети с минаретом, но мы снова так и не поняли систему прохода — не судьба.

Вечером я все же настоял на возлияниях. Посетили местную пивнушку — это было довольно интересно: кругом местные, ни одного туриста, и атмосфера очень дружелюбная, дым коромыслом, шум, гам. Серега взял сок, на что официант сильно удивился, но сбегал в соседний магазин. Странно, но никто на нас особого внимания не обращал, хотя мы были единственные славянской внешности — представляю вот так зайти в какой-нибудь бар на окраине Тагила…

Потом переместились в неформальное кафе для туристов — там было уже совсем не интересно и никакого колорита. А затем, уже изрядно напробовавшись разного пива (вернее пробовал только я, Вирага — ни-ни), вернулись в центральную зону, где тусят все туристы: дети катаются на машинках, родители за столами, надрывается Аллегрова.

В вечерней толчее потеряли батюшку, или может он сам потерялся — надоело ему слушать наш хомячий смех. Нам повезло, что поймали местные напевы. Все остальное время играла русская попса.

Вот еще видео не лучшего качества с тусовочного места в Бухаре.

Бухара, как весь Узбекистан в целом, очень объевропеилась. Все переведено с кириллицы на латиницу, дети клянчат деньги на английском и вообще всегда обращаются Хелло (мы им в ответ обычно — здорово, коль не шутишь), местные ходят в европейской одежде. Мои мечты о колорите разбились в пух и прах, правда может быть нам просто не хватило времени и мы не нашли самое вкусное. Нельзя по Азии ехать так быстро — торопиться не надо.

Завтра Хива. Она реально заслуживает посещения, хотя и стоит в удалении от туристических маршрутов. Это мы узнаем завтра. Я буду жалеть, что нет времени побыть там еще хотя бы день, но это завтра.

Ссылки на другие части:

Часть 1. До Аральска

Часть 2. До Шимкента

Часть 3. Ташкент, Чимган

Часть 4. Самарканд

Часть 6. Хива. Дорога домой

Постоянный адрес публикации:
          Ð£Ð·Ð±ÐµÐºÐ¸ÑÑ‚ан 2014. В поиске колора, колорита и резины. Часть 1        
Да простят меня читатели за выкладывание старых поездок, но надеюсь, что немного воды утекло, и все еще актуально.

Пару лет запрягали, обсасывали эту тему и вот вечером 1 мая внезапно собрались завтра выехать на майские праздники в Узбекистан.

Планов было громадье -там куда ни плюнь, все названия из «Тысячи и одной ночи»: Самарканд, Бухара — прямо сказка.
В процессе подготовки маршрута вычитали про Хиву, Шахрисабз, неплохо было бы заскочить посмотреть остатки Аральского моря, также очень хотелось на Памир на перевал Ак-Байтал на четыре с половиной тысячи метров, но изначально решили успеть, что успеть с обязательным заездом на пару-тройку дней в Самарканд и Бухару.

Я всю дорогу грезил прикоснуться к местному колориту: увидеть халаты, тюбетейки, подносы на головах, чайханы на свежем воздухе с разными восточными сладостями и яствами. Ну и особенно мечтал подъехать эдак с заносом к местным старикам в халатах, тюбетейках и с бородами и произнести сакраментальное: «Здорово, отцы!» — правда это немного западнее у Сухова было, но мои мечты это не смущало.

Вот, собственно, итоговый трек

Коллектив у нас подобрался… как бы это выразится… полярный что ли… но дружный и интересный

Серега Вирага (почему-то на каких-то ресурсах Pofigist, хотя нифига таковым не является)
Именно он не позволил мне упасть в традиционную туристическую синюю яму и назвать наш трип «в Бухару бухать», ибо сам не пьет, не курит и вообще ведет ортодоксально-спортивный образ жизни, зараза.

Еще один ортодокс, но уже в хорошем смысле слова — Батюшка, он же Отец Дмитрий, он же Северный Цвет. Хоть он составлял мне компанию, чтоб я вкус вина не забыл, кагор у него был припасен просто волшебный. Человек большой во всех смыслах, а значит непременно хороший. Как-то сразу со старта он взял послушание следить за задним номером Вираги (чтоб не отпал стервец — болячка это у тенеры), вот так всю дорогу в послушании безропотно и ехал следил.

Я шел типа за Сусанина. Зовут Женя, в простонародии John, в интернете Koven66.
Вообще так повелось, что Вирага у нас фоторепортер, наловчился он на ходу всякие виды и селфи шлепать, но в этот раз видать рука-то дернулась у него — засветил немного.

Традиционно старт в 7 утра.

С батюшкой встречаемся на тагильской объездной в кафе. Погода обычная для Урала — непонятная хмарь, и явный намек на езду в дождевике. Мы с Серегой, как всегда, одеваем дождевик, когда уже поздно. Батюшка приехал в заранее одетом дождевике, за что получил от нас нагоняй, но снимать не стал.

Где-то под Челябинском небо прояснилось и больше мы облаков за всю поездку не видели

Также за пару километров до этой бензоколонки выяснилось, что мотик у батюшки сильно затюнен, так что запас хода на баке максимум 300 км, что сильно меньше тенеровских 400 + 5 литров доп.канистра. Так что может оно вам и не надо прямотоки и прошитые мозги.

Уже к этому моменту батюшке мы промыли кости в переговорки (а у него ее нет). Серега не унимался, дескать ща батюшка раздвинет облака, выровняет дорогу и полетим мы, как у Христа за пазухой. Я поддакивал и плакал в микрофон. Все последующие дни мы так и не унимались, поттыкивая батюшку по-доброму на эту тему игрой слов про бога и черта. И надо сказать, что всегда наши язвы сбывались — и небо прояснялось, и дорога ровнялась, и погранцы по зеленой пропускали. В общем луч света в темном царстве, а мы с Сегой — хомячки. Красной нитью прошла моя фраза «сам черт не брат», после которой батюшка посмотрел на меня так смиренно и сурово, как на иконах рисуют, что я тут же смутившись пролепетал: «дык сказал же, что не брат...»

Как всегда суровый Монтана с включенными грунтовками вел козьими тропами к границе. Держим курс на Орск-Актюбинск. Перед границей увидели хай-вей с Челябинска, а мы плутали как-то странно, уже не забывая про батюшкин лимит в 300 км.

Долго ли коротко ли (если честно, то долго — таможенный союз не сильно ускорил прохождение границы), уже ночью мы пересекли границу в солнечный Казахстан. Правда он оказался совсем не солнечным, а наоборот даже каким-то хмурым и намекающим на ливень. Как это ни смешно, а в СОЛНЕЧНОМ Казахстане я второй раз, и опять дождь (прошлый раз был неделю в Боровом — дождь не прекращался). Чуть выше по тексту обманул про синее небо, и дождик немного покапал, но реально этот-то уж точно был последним за все путешествие. На этот дождь нам было уже пополам, т.к. темно, не видно ни зги, и дорога от границы до Актюбинска отсутствует.

Актюбинск оказался давно уже Актобэ, город довольно крупный по нашим меркам. Придорожную гостинку не нашли и поехали искать в центр. На местном подобии Арбата я заприметил степенно прогуливающихся девченок и сразу завернул к ним спросить ближайшую гостинку, но тут же нас окружили местные гаишники и давай наперебой спрашивать откуда-куда-скокапрет-скокажрет-скокастоит. Главный жестами показал 17 поворотов и 30 перекрестков до гостинки, и мы видимо так уже прониклись, что сразу нашли.

Заселились, уговорили персонал приготовить нам поесть, я с батюшкой метнулся на такси в обменник. Гостинка вполне приличная, но долго рассиживать уже не было сил, да и соратников-алкоголиков у меня не было. Спать. Подъем уже через пару-тройку часов.


Наутро начались приключения. Я вышел к мотикам и заметил, что на тенерах резина стерлась просто в хлам. При выезде она была не новой (около 7-10 тысяч), но на такой же я уже проходил под 20, поэтому поехали на этой. И за пройденную тысячу она превратилась почти в слик, и скоро пойдет корд. Поискали в Актюбинске и приняли решение двигаться вперед с низкой скоростью и параллельно искать по мотобратьям любой аналог нашей резины. Правда очень быстро выяснилось, что задача это совсем не простая, т.к. мотомагазинов в стране почти нет, а те что есть, совсем не по пути, да и нет там ничего. Начали совсем сложные заходы: звонили и искали контакты местных через Москву, озадачили ребят в Тагиле искать по инету, напрягли дофига народа, многие из которых тоже были в пути. В общем тема резины еще долго будет лейтмотивом нашего трипа.

Начали движение примерно под 90, что совсем не реально против вчерашних 130-140 и по ровному столу Казахстана вообще на такой скорости засыпаешь. Уже через час скорость вернули на вчерашние показатели и батюшка временами даже роптал, дескать быстро идем — последний всегда едет гораздо быстрее остальных, постоянно догоняя.

Кафе с гостинкой где-то перед Хромтау

Отдельная песня — это дороги. Почти везде они отличного качества, очень много уже сделано, и много делается. Казахи делают дороги просто тысячами километров. Дорога везде просто бесконечная.

Ходит по социальным сетям среди байкеров вот такая картинка с обязательной подписью: «Наверное, это мой РАЙ!»

Дак вот с уверенностью заявляю, что это не рай, это АД. Хотел бы я взглянуть на того чела, кто написал это. Едешь, и до горизонта глазу не за что зацепиться, доезжаешь, а там… опять та же картинка, еще раз — и снова тот же пейзаж, вернее его отсутствие, и так сотнями, тысячами километров. Может я, конечно, избалован видами лесов и рек, серпантинами и просто башкирскими зелеными холмиками с рабочего стола Windows, но это реально АД, да еще и постоянный сильнейший боковой ветер. Здесь надо Бусу, чтобы телепортироваться из точки А в точку Б.

Еще одна фишка, хотя это актуально пожалуй, для нашего участка от Актюбэ до Аральска. Дорога построена, как стрела — можно триста лететь, но нет никакой инфраструктуры и цивилизации. Ни кафе, ни бензоколонок, вообще ничего. Только перекатиполе и песчаные своротки в никуда. Примерно 450 км перед Аральском без заправок. Батюшкин КТМ высосал обе наши пятерки. Мы на резерве прошли около 120 км, а батюшка все равно заглох за 15 метров до АЗС, прямо как положено по правилам.




Мы привыкли останавливаться отдохнуть в живописных местах. Так сказать приятное с полезным. Здесь можно останавливаться в любом месте без смены пейзажа. Просто тормозишь и наблюдаешь бескрайние степи или пески. И ВЕТЕР!!!

Или вот так возле кафе у Аральска.

Борясь с боковым ветром и просто кайфуя, когда ветер в спину или в лицо, и наблюдая статичный горизонт и пейзаж, прибыли в Аральск.

Жара под 30, дома — что-то около 0 с дождем.

Сразу все не написать, да и не прочесть, так что все дальнейшее чуть позже.

Ссылки на другие части:

Часть 2. До Шимкента

Постоянный адрес публикации:
          Nowe rynki otwierają się na polskich eksporterów żywności        
Polskie firmy spożywcze coraz uważniej przyglądają się dalekim rynkom. O atrakcyjności takiego kraju, jak Chiny, niemal powszechnie już wiadomo, jednak do świadomości producentów żywności stopniowo przebijają się także inne ciekawe rynki, jak Uzbekistan, Azerbejdżan, Wietnam, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana czy wiele innych. Na ten temat serwis rozmawiał ze Sławomirem Majmanem, prezesem Polskiej Agencji Informacji i Inwestycji Zagranicznych.
From Jenna Orkin

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Senator Bob Graham

GI and AI are going to turbocharge 'fake news' and make it far harder to tell what's real

Uzbekistan jails ex-president's daughter, socialite Gulnara Karimova, under massive fraud charges
Trump is looking for dirt on Iran, and it looks like the run up to the Iraq war

Vietnam pushes back after threats from Beijing over drilling in the South China Sea

Romans are about to go eight hours a day without water

Gauntlet Thrown: House Judiciary Demands Special Counsel To Investigate Comey, Lynch, And Clinton

Imran Awan Subscribed To Pedo-Centric YouTube Channel Exposed By Tosh.0

The Globalist One World Currency Will Look A Lot Like Bitcoin

Silicon Valley Censorship

Rents Across The US Hit A New All Time High

Study: Sperm Count In Western Men Cut In Half Over Last 40 Years ...

          Rio Team Summary: Uzbekistan Tops Cuba, Makes HUGE Splash        
          Killing us softly         

A recent public outcry in China, sparked by a damning documentary about air pollution, was based on well-founded fear:

Of the 100 million people who viewed the film on the first day of its online release, 172,000 are likely to die each year from air pollution-related diseases, according to regional trends.* 

Worldwide, pollution kills twice as many people each year as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined,** but aid policy has consistently neglected it as a health risk, donors and experts say. 

Air pollution alone killed seven million people in 2012, according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures released last year, most of them in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) in the Asia Pacific region.*** 

In a self-critical report released late last month the World Bank acknowledged that it had treated air pollution as an afterthought, resulting in a dearth of analysis of the problem and spending on solutions. 

“We now need to step up our game and adopt a more comprehensive approach to fixing air quality,” the authors wrote in Clean Air and Healthy Lungs. “If left unaddressed, these problems are expected to grow worse over time, as the world continues to urbanise at an unprecedented and challenging speed.”

A second report released last month by several organisations – including the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, an international consortium of UN organisations, governments, development banks, NGOs and academics – also called for more funding towards reducing pollution. 

“Rich countries, multilateral agencies and organisations have forgotten the crippling impacts of pollution and fail to make it a priority in their foreign assistance,” the authors wrote. 

Housebound in China 

A dense haze obstructs visibility more often than not across China’s northern Hua Bei plain and two of its major river deltas. Less than one percent of the 500 largest cities in China meet WHO’s air quality guidelines. Anger over air pollution is a hot topic among China’s increasingly outspoken citizenry.  

“Half of the days in 2014, I had to confine my daughter to my home like a prisoner because the air quality in Beijing was so poor,” China’s well-known journalist Chai Jing said in Under the Dome, the independent documentary she released last month, which investigated the causes of China’s air pollution.

The film was shared on the Chinese social media portal Weibo more than 580,000 times before officials ordered websites to delete it. 

Beyond the silo

Traditionally left to environmental experts to tackle, the fight against pollution is increasingly recognised as requiring attention from health and development specialists too. 

“Air pollution is the top environmental health risk and among the top modifiable health risks in the world,” said Professor Michael Brauer, a public health expert at the University of British Columbia in Canada and a member of the scientific advisory panel for the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a consortium of governments and the UN Environment Programme. “Air pollution has been under-funded and its health impacts under-appreciated.”

Pollution – especially outdoor or “ambient” air pollution – is also a major drag on economic performance and limits the opportunities of the poor, according to Ilmi Granoff, an environmental policy expert at the Overseas Development Institute, a London-based think tank. It causes premature death, illness, lost earnings and medical costs – all of which take their toll on both individual and national productivity.

“Donors need to get out of the siloed thinking of pollution as an environmental problem distinct from economic development and poverty reduction,” Granoff said. 

Pollution cleanup is indeed underfunded, he added, but pollution prevention is even more poorly prioritised: “It’s underfunded in much of the developed world, in aid, and in developing country priorities, so this isn’t just an aid problem.”

Mounting evidence 

Pollution kills in a variety of ways, according to relatively recent studies; air pollution is by far the most lethal form compared to soil and water pollution. 

Microscopic particulate matter (PM) suspended in polluted air is the chief culprit in these deaths: the smaller the particles’ size, the deeper they are able to penetrate into the lungs.  Particles of less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5) are small enough to reach the alveoli, the deepest part of the lungs, and to enter the blood stream.  

From there, PM2.5 causes inflammation and changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood clotting processes - the precursors to fatal stroke and heart disease.  PM2.5 irritates and corrodes the alveoli, which impairs lung function - a major precursor to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also acts as a carcinogen.

Most research looks at long-term exposure to PM2.5 but even studies looking at the hours immediately following bursts of especially high ambient PM2.5 (in developed countries) show a corresponding spike in life-threatening heart attacks, heart arrhythmias and stroke.

Asia worst affected

The overwhelming majority - 70 percent - of global air pollution deaths occur in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia regions.  South Asia has eight of the top 10 and 33 of the top 50 cities with the worst PM concentrations in the world.  


WHO says a city’s average annual PM levels should be 20 micrograms per cubic meter.  But cities such as Karachi, Gaborone, and Delhi have yearly PM averages above 200 micrograms per cubic meter. 

The main source of PM2.5 in indoor air, or household air, is burning solid fuels for cooking and heating, using wood, coal, dung or crop leftovers - a common practice in rural areas of low and middle-income countries that lack electricity.  

Almost three billion people live this way, the majority in the densely populated Asia Pacific region: India and China each hold about one quarter of all people who rely on solid fuels. For these people, the daily average dose of PM2.5 is often in the hundreds of micrograms per cubic meter. 

Filling the gaps

Unlike many other health risks air pollution is very cost-effective to address, Brauer said. Analysis of air quality interventions in the US suggests a return on investment of up to $30 for every dollar spent. 

“We already know how to reduce these risks, as we have done exactly that in high income countries, so this is not a matter of searching for a cure - we know what works,” he said.

But the World Bank report said that unless it starts gathering better data on local air quality in LMICs, the amounts and sources of air pollution and the full gamut of its health impacts, “it is not possible to appropriately target interventions in a cost-effective manner.”

Granoff said there are also gaps in government capacity to monitor, regulate and enforce pollution policy. 

Beijing hopes to bring PM2.5 concentrations down to safe levels by 2030, and has said it will fine big polluters. 

The World Bank report said China is also charging all enterprises fees for the pollutants they discharge; establishing a nationwide PM2.5 monitoring network; instituting pollution control measures on motor vehicles; and controlling urban dust pollution.

But enforcing environmental protections has been a longstanding problem in China.

“Pollution policy will only succeed if citizens are aware of the harm, able to organise their concern [through advocacy campaigns], and have a responsive government that prioritises public welfare over the narrower interests of polluting sectors,” Granoff said. 

While more people die from household air pollution than from ambient air pollution, the latter – through vehicles, smokestacks and open burning – still accounted for 3.7 million deaths in 2012, according to the WHO. 

A change in the air

Kaye Patdu, an air quality expert at Clean Air Asia, a Manila-based think tank - and the secretariat for the UN-backed Clean Air Asia Partnership, comprising more than 250 government, civil, academic, business and development organisations - said the aid community is finally starting to recognise the importance of tackling air pollution.  

• Last year’s inaugural UN Environment Assembly adopted a resolution calling for strengthened action on air pollution.  
• WHO Member States are planning to adopt a resolution on health and air quality at the upcoming World Health Assembly in May. 
• The proposed Sustainable Development Goals, which will set the post-2015 international development agenda, address city air quality and air, soil and water pollution. 

None of the experts IRIN contacted could provide a breakdown of total aid spending on all forms of toxic pollution (air, water and soil pollution that is harmful to human health).  So IRIN asked each of the major global donors for their figures.  

Three responded.  

A back-of-envelope calculation of all reported spending on toxic pollution by USAID, the European Commission and the World Bank suggests that between them they committed about US$10 billion over 10 years. This does not include aid spending on the diseases that pollution causes. The World Bank’s spending figures eclipsed those of other the other donors. 

By very rough comparison, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, with half the death toll of air pollution, received $28 billion via public sector commitments to the Global Fund – the world’s largest financier of programs that tackle these diseases – over the same period, a fraction of total spending on these diseases. 


*Based on WHO statistics for per capita mortality rates in the Western Pacific region in 2012. 

**The mortality figures for air pollution come from 2012 statistics and were released by WHO in 2014, while the figures for the infectious diseases come from 2013 statistics and were released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in 2014 (the Global Burden of Disease study).

***Includes deaths from both household air pollution (4.3 million) and ambient air pollution (3.7 million): the combined death toll is less than the sum of the parts because many people are exposed to both. 

For more: 

The relationship between household air pollution and disease

Ambient air pollution and the risk of acute ischemic stroke 

Cardiovascular effects of exposure to ambient air pollution 

Particulate air pollution and lung function  

Long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and incidence of cerebrovascular events: Results from 11 European cohorts within the ESCAPE Project  

OECD's The Cost of Air Pollution report

101285 200901271.jpg Analysis Health Killing us softly Gabrielle Babbington IRIN HONG KONG Congo, Republic of Djibouti DRC Eritrea Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Somalia Sudan Tanzania Uganda Angola Botswana Lesotho Madagascar Malawi Mauritius Mozambique Namibia Seychelles South Africa Swaziland Zambia Zimbabwe Benin Burkina Faso Cameroon Cape Verde Chad Côte d’Ivoire Equatorial Guinea Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Liberia Mali Mauritania Niger Nigeria Sao Tome and Principe Senegal Sierra Leone Togo Colombia Haiti United States Bangladesh Cambodia Indonesia Iran Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Lao Peoples Democratic Republic Myanmar Pakistan Papua New Guinea Philippines Samoa Sri Lanka Tajikistan Thailand Timor-Leste Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vietnam
          Scale of Vanuatu cyclone disaster complicates aid response        

The scale of Vanuatu’s cyclone disaster is matched only by the complexity of the required humanitarian response, according to both the government and aid workers arriving on the battered Pacific islands.

“The problem is absolutely massive,” Alice Clements, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Vanuatu, told IRIN. “We have simultaneous emergencies in 65 islands, with no telecoms, accessible only by boat or helicopter, in an archipelago stretching 1,300 km.”

Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale was reported by the BBC as saying the 13 March storm had "wiped out" all recent development and the country would have to rebuild "everything".

Half the population - 132,000 people - are estimated to have been affected by cyclone Pam, including 60,000 children, according to UNICEF. Initial assessments indicate 90 percent of houses have been damaged in the capital, Port Vila, with destruction on the southern island of Tanna “significantly worse”, Care Australia reported.

Twitter accounts to follow
Hanna Butler - Red Cross @hannarosebutler
OCHA - Asia Pacific             @OCHAAsiaPac
Tom Perry - CARE Australia     @thomasmperry
UNICEF - Australia       @unicefaustralia
Liam Fox - ABC News       @liamfoxabc
Radio Australia Pacific Beat     @RAPacificBeat
Tess Newton Cain             @CainTess

More than 3,300 people are sheltering in 37 evacuation centres on the islands of Torba and Penama, and the main island of Efate. But the National Disaster Management Office will need help if people remain displaced for a prolonged period. 

The humanitarian response “is almost going to be like applying a medical triage, to work out which is the most urgent”, said Clements. Aerial assessments have been carried out so far by military aircraft from Australia, New Zealand and France, with more flights scheduled for Tuesday. Commercial flights have resumed to Port Vila despite damage to the airport.

“There is need for logistics experts and light reconnaissance planes/helicopters, pilots, and fuel to deliver supplies and conduct assessments. There is also a need for sea shipping to transport food, water and rebuilding materials,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported. The main hospital in Port Vila is badly damaged, patients have been transferred to a newer part of the building, “but there is an urgent need for medical supplies” and “the morgue is unserviceable”.

Twenty-four people are confirmed dead so far, but the toll is expected to rise as assessment teams reach the more remote islands.

Providing clean water for survivors is a priority. There is a risk of waterborne diseases, especially dangerous for pregnant mothers and young children, and food is also likely to be a problem in the coming days with fruit trees uprooted, root crops inundated, and animal pens destroyed by the 270 km/h winds and flooding.

“Eighty percent of Vanuatu’s population engage in subsistence agriculture as a primary economic activity. It is anticipated that emergency food relief could be needed for up to a month, plus longer term recovery support,” OCHA noted.

Vanuatu has “3,000 years of experience dealing with an incredible mind-boggling range of disasters, from earthquakes to volcanos. People have great coping mechanisms, but this was a category 5 storm," Clements said.


101239 Vanuatu aftermath of Cyclone Pam, 13 March 2015 News Migration Environment and Disasters Scale of cyclone Pam disaster staggering IRIN NAIROBI Bangladesh Indonesia Iran Kyrgyzstan Cambodia Kazakhstan Lao Peoples Democratic Republic Sri Lanka Myanmar Papua New Guinea Philippines Pakistan Thailand Tajikistan Timor-Leste Uzbekistan Vietnam Vanuatu
          Vanuatu reeling from impact of cyclone Pam        

The closure of the main airport in Vanuatu is hampering the humanitarian response to cyclone Pam, which tore through the Pacific island archipelago yesterday, causing colossal damage.

The airport in the capital, Port Vila, is still flooded and trees are blocking the runway, Vincent Omuga, deputy head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Regional Office for the Pacific, said on Saturday.

“There are lots of plans to provide regional humanitarian support, but the challenge is that the airport is not open at the moment. There are indications the government will open the airport to military flights: Australia and New Zealand have plans to move in, and UNDAC [UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination] have a nine-member team on standby, but all flights are currently suspended,” Omuga told IRIN.

Reports describe the tropical cyclone packing winds of up to 270 km/h as “devastating” and potentially one of the worst weather disasters in the region. There are unconfirmed reports of casualties, but aid agencies are warning it will take several days before there is a full picture of the storm’s impact.

Omuga said the government’s priorities are to open the airport, repair damage to hospitals, and clear the roads closed by the category 5 cyclone. It is expected to declare a state of emergency to facilitate the humanitarian response.

“Power lines are still down, there is lots of damage to infrastructure and lots of houses have been destroyed. Many provinces are flooded and inaccessible, and the islands on the eastern side [of the archipelago] were especially affected,” Omuga said.

Even a temporary damage assessment in Port Vila is constrained by the extent of the flooding and the trees and debris blocking the roads. Aid workers on the ground “have not gone out of the capital, and not even all of the capital [has been surveyed]. What they are reporting is what they can see from leaving their vehicles and walking around,” said Omuga.


101235 Port Vila, Vanuatu, aftermath of cyclone Pam, 14 March 2015 News Environment and Disasters Aid and Policy Vanuatu reeling from cyclone Pam IRIN NAIROBI Bangladesh Indonesia Iran Kyrgyzstan Cambodia Kazakhstan Lao Peoples Democratic Republic Sri Lanka Myanmar Papua New Guinea Philippines Pakistan Thailand Tajikistan Timor-Leste Uzbekistan Vietnam Vanuatu
          Clap! Clap! – DIG! DELVE! DAMN! (Dutch Archive Edition)        

Clap! Clap!

“DIG! DELVE! DAMN! (Dutch Archive Edition)”

“To have the honour of digging through the Dutch audio archives was like a dream come true! I was very excited to delve in and explore the vast differences between those countries. It was also an important responsibility to approach the project with respect for the sources of recordings, as many were from the ex-Colonies of the Netherlands.” -Clap! Clap!

Unlocking Sounds revives Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum audio collection which features thousands of original field recordings from around the globe dating back to the 1920s. This collection was started by Dutch conservationist J.C. Lamster and Jaap Kunst, who would eventually coin the term ‘ethnomusicology’.

To connect with the source material and explore the multitude of intricacies that accompany topics like ethnomusicology, anthropology and cultural appropriation, all the artists visited the Netherlands where they conferred with leading researchers from the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Leiden University, and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies.

Much like the sampled source material, each artist translates the world sounds through their individual styles. Clap! Clap! – DIG! DELVE! DAMN! (Dutch Archive Edition) strips down his bombastic, multilayered take on global rhythms, jazz, and footwork, letting the samples take center stage. Drawing on the archive’s recordings from Afghanistan, Suriname, Zambia, Bali, Libya, India, Uzbekistan & Morocco, accompanying and accentuating them with his singular voice.

released July 28, 2017

Sampled sounds provided by the Tropenmuseum

          Tok Ku Paloh Al-Aidrus         

Tok Ku Paloh Al-Aidrus pejuang Islam dan bangsa Melayu

Oleh Wan Mohd. Shaghir Abdullah

Pahlawan Datuk Bahaman pernah meminta perlindungan daripada Tok Ku Paloh Al-Aidrus.

DALAM halaman Agama Utusan Malaysia keluaran Isnin lalu, nama Tok Ku Paloh ada disebutkan. Peranan penting ayah beliau, Saiyid Muhammad bin Saiyid Zainal Abidin al-Aidrus atau Tok Ku Tuan Besar di Terengganu, dilanjutkan pula oleh Tok Ku Paloh.

Beberapa riwayat tulisan yang terdahulu daripada ini, termasuk percakapan lisan, ada memperkatakan tentang sumbangan tersebut. Bagaimanapun, saya menemui beberapa dokumen yang menunjukkan Tok Ku Paloh bukan berpengaruh di Terengganu saja, tetapi juga di Patani.

Hubungan beliau sangat erat dengan Haji Wan Ismail bin Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani, iaitu Kadi Jambu. Walau bagaimanapun, Haji Wan Ismail al-Fathani (lahir 2 Jamadilawal 1304 H/27 Januari 1887 M) dari segi perbandingan umur adalah peringkat cucu kepada Tok Ku Paloh (lahir 1233 H/1818 M).

Tahun lahir Tok Ku Paloh itu sama dengan tahun lahir Syeikh Wan Muhammad Zain al-Fathani (lahir 1233 H/1817 M). Beliau ini ialah datuk kepada Haji Wan Ismail al-Fathani. Hubungan antara Haji Wan Ismail al-Fathani, Kadi Jambu, dengan Tok Ku Paloh hanyalah kesinambungan hubungan yang terjalin sejak zaman datuknya itu, dan meneruskan hubungan antara Tok Ku Paloh dengan ayah beliau, iaitu Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani.

Darah perjuangan Tok Ku Paloh dalam memperjuangkan Islam dan bangsa Melayu tidak dapat dinafikan mempunyai kesan tersendiri dalam tubuh Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani. Isu kemaslahatan Islam dan bangsa Melayu yang menghadapi pelbagai masalah penjajah pada zaman itu perlu dilihat dalam konteks hubungan antara Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani, Tok Ku Paloh dan Sultan Zainal Abidin III, Terengganu.

Tok Ku Paloh dirahmati berumur panjang. Beliau meninggal dunia pada bulan Zulhijjah 1335 H/September 1917 M. Bererti ketika meninggal dunia Tok Ku Paloh berusia sekitar 102 tahun menurut perhitungan tahun hijrah atau 100 tahun menurut tahun masihi.

Nama penuh beliau ialah Saiyid Abdur Rahman bin Saiyid Muhammad bin Saiyid Zainal Abidin al-Aidrus. Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus mempunyai beberapa nama gelaran, yang paling popular ialah Tok Ku Paloh. Gelaran lain ialah Engku Saiyid Paloh, Engku Cik, Tuan Cik dan Syaikh al-Islam Terengganu. Tok Ku Paloh mempunyai beberapa orang adik-beradik. Ada yang seibu sebapa dan ada juga yang berlainan ibu. Adik-beradik kandung Tok Ku Paloh ialah Saiyid Zainal Abidin al-Aidrus yang digelar dengan Engku Saiyid Seri Perdana, Saiyid Ahmad al-Aidrus digelar Tok Ku Tuan Ngah Seberang Baruh dan Saiyid Mustafa al-Aidrus yang digelar Tok Ku Tuan Dalam.

Beliau ialah seorang ulama dan Ahli Majlis Mesyuarat Negeri semasa pemerintahan Sultan Zainal Abidin III. Adik-beradiknya selain yang disebut itu ialah Tuan Embung Abu Bakar atau digelar dengan nama Tuan Embung Solok atau Tok Ku Tuan Kecik, Tuan Nik (Senik). Antara nama-nama tersebut, ramai yang memegang peranan penting dalam Kerajaan Terengganu tetapi nama yang paling masyhur ialah Tok Ku Paloh.


Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus atau Tok Ku Paloh berketurunan ‘Saiyid’. Oleh itu sudah menjadi tradisi keturunan itu untuk lebih mengutamakan usaha mempelajari ilmu-ilmu daripada orang yang terdekat dengan mereka. Ayah beliau, Saiyid Muhammad al-Aidrus atau Tok Ku Tuan Besar, pula merupakan seorang ulama besar yang mempunyai kedudukan tertinggi dalam urusan Islam di Terengganu. Dapat dipastikan Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus telah belajar pelbagai bidang ilmu daripada orang tuanya sendiri.

Hampir semua orang yang menjadi ulama di Terengganu pada zaman itu memperoleh ilmu melalui jalur daripada ulama-ulama yang berasal dari Patani. Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus, selain belajar daripada ayahnya, juga berguru dengan Syeikh Wan Abdullah bin Muhammad Amin al-Fathani atau Tok Syeikh Duyung (lihat Utusan Malaysia, Isnin, 6 Mac 2006).

Saiyid Muhammad al-Aidrus atau Tok Ku Tuan Besar dan Tok Syeikh Duyung bersahabat baik dan sama-sama belajar daripada Syeikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdur Rahim al-Fathani di Bukit Bayas, Terengganu. Mereka juga sama-sama belajar dengan Syeikh Daud bin Abdullah al-Fathani di Mekah.

Dalam artikel ini saya terpaksa menjawab satu e-mel dari Brunei Darussalam yang bertanyakan apakah Syeikh Daud bin Abdullah al-Fathani berketurunan Nabi Muhammad s.a.w.? Sepanjang dokumen yang ditemui ada tulisan meletakkan nama ‘Wan’ pada awal nama beliau. Ada saudara pupu saya di Mekah memberi maklumat bahawa beliau menemui satu catatan Syeikh Ismail al-Fathani (Pak De ‘El al-Fathani) bahawa ulama Patani itu juga berketurunan marga ‘al-Aidrus’.

Sejak dulu saya mengetahui ada catatan lain menyebut hal yang sama bahawa Syeikh Daud bin Abdullah al-Fathani dan Syeikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdur Rahim al-Fathani di Bukit Bayas, Terengganu juga termasuk marga ‘al-Aidrus’. Dengan keterangan ini bererti antara ulama Patani dengan ulama Terengganu yang diriwayatkan ini selain ada hubungan keilmuan mereka juga ada perhubungan nasab.


Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus (Tok Ku Paloh) melanjutkan pelajarannya di Mekah. Di sana beliau bersahabat dengan Syeikh Muhammad Zain bin Mustafa al-Fathani, Syeikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdur Rahman al-Fathani, Syeikh Nawawi al-Bantani, Syeikh Nik Mat Kecik al-Fathani (kelahiran Sungai Duyung Kecil, Terengganu) dan ramai lagi. Antara orang yang menjadi guru mereka di Mekah ialah Saiyid Ahmad bin Zaini Dahlan dan Syeikh Muhammad bin Sulaiman Hasbullah al-Makki.

Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus setelah pulang dari Mekah memusatkan aktivitinya di Kampung Paloh, Terengganu. Menurut Muhammad Abu Bakar, Kampung Paloh didatangi orang daripada pelbagai jurusan, bukan saja dari sekitar Kuala Terengganu, tetapi juga dari Kelantan, Pahang dan Patani (Ulama Terengganu, hlm. 181). Diriwayatkan bahawa salah seorang murid Tok Ku Paloh ialah Sultan Zainal Abidin III. Riwayat lain pula mengatakan antara muridnya yang terkenal dan menjadi pejuang antipenjajah ialah Haji Abdur Rahman Limbung dan Tok Janggut.

Tok Ku Paloh ialah ulama yang tidak takut menanggung risiko tinggi dalam perjuangan demi mempertahankan Islam dan bangsa Melayu. Beliau melindungi pejuang-pejuang Islam dan Melayu yang bermusuh dengan penjajah Inggeris pada zaman itu. Semangat jihadnya sungguh indah, menarik dan ada hembusan segar seperti yang diriwayatkan oleh Muhammad Abu Bakar.

Katanya: “Dalam Perang Pahang, penentang-penentang British yang dipimpin oleh Datuk Bahaman, Tok Gajah dan Mat Kilau hampir-hampir menyerah diri setelah mengalami tekanan daripada kerajaan.

“ Pada Mei 1894, mereka menghubungi Tok Ku Paloh, dan mendapat simpati daripada ulama tersebut. Ini bukan sahaja memberi nafas baru kepada perjuangan mereka, tetapi mereka juga diberi perlindungan di Paloh serta diajar ilmu untuk menentang musuh mereka di Pahang. Hugh Clifford dalam pemerhatiannya mengatakan Tok Ku Paloh telah menyeru pahlawan-pahlawan itu melancarkan perang jihad.

“Hasil semangat baru yang diperoleh daripada Tok Ku Paloh, serta penambahan kekuatan, pasukan pahlawan menjadi lebih besar dan tersusun.” (Ulama Terengganu, hlm. 184)

Daripada riwayat ini, kita dapat mengambil iktibar berdasarkan peristiwa dunia terkini bahawa ramai tokoh Islam menjadi pejuang Islam dan bangsanya, dan ramai pula yang menjadi pengkhianat. Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestin dan Lebanon menjadi sasaran bom yang dilancarkan oleh bangsa-bangsa bukan Islam. Ada ramai pejuang Islam di sana. Pengkhianat pun banyak. Bangsa kita, bangsa Melayu yang beragama Islam, patut mencontohi perjuangan bijak Tok Ku Paloh. Janganlah ada manusia Melayu yang khianat terhadap agama Islam dan bangsanya.

Tok Ku Paloh sangat berpengaruh terhadap murid dan saudara ipar beliau iaitu Sultan Zainal Abidin III. Beberapa pandangan dan nasihat Tok Ku Paloh kepada Sultan Zainal Abidin III tentang pentadbiran kerajaan banyak persamaan dengan surat-surat dan puisi Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani kepada Sultan Terengganu itu. Semasa Tok Ku Paloh dan Sultan Zainal Abidin III masih hidup, Inggeris tidak berhasil mencampuri pentadbiran negeri Terengganu.

Tok Ku Paloh wafat pada bulan Zulhijjah 1335 H/September 1917 M dan Sultan Zainal Abidin III mangkat pada 22 Safar 1337 H/26 November 1918 M. Sesudah itu, tepat pada 24 Mei 1919 M barulah Inggeris dapat mencampuri kerajaan Terengganu.


Ahli sejarah, Datuk Misbaha ada menyebut bahawa risalah ‘Uqud ad-Durratain adalah karya Tok Ku Tuan Besar, berdasarkan cetakan tahun 1950 oleh ahli-ahli Al-Khair dan cetakan pada tahun 1978 oleh Yayasan Islam Terengganu (Pesaka, hlm. 91). Tetapi pada cetakan yang jauh lebih awal berupa selembaran dalam ukuran besar yang diberi judul Dhiya’ ‘Uqud ad-Durratain, ia merupakan karya Tok Ku Paloh. Tertulis pada cetakan itu, “Telah mengeluar dan mengecapkan terjemah ini oleh kita as-Saiyid Abdur Rahman bin Muhammad bin Zain bin Husein bin Mustafa al-Aidrus….”

Di bawah doa dalam risalah itu dinyatakan kalimat, “Tiada dibenarkan sekali-kali siapa-siapa mengecapkan terjemah ini melainkan dengan izin Muallifnya dan Multazimnya Ismail Fathani. Tercap kepada 22 Ramadan sanah 1335 (bersamaan dengan 11 Julai 1917 M).”

Yang dimaksudkan Ismail Fathani pada kalimat ini ialah Kadi Haji Wan Ismail bin Syeikh Ahmad al-Fathani. Risalah cetakan ini saya terima daripada salah seorang murid Haji Wan Ismail Fathani.

Beliau menjelaskan bahawa risalah itu diajarkan di Jambu, Patani secara hafalan. Orang yang menyerahkan risalah itu bernama Nik Wan Halimah yang berusia lebih kurang 78 tahun (Oktober 2000). Ketika beliau menyerahkan risalah itu kepada saya, beliau masih hafal apa yang termaktub dalam risalah itu.

Kemuncak penulisan Tok Ku Paloh yang sering diperkatakan orang ialah kitab yang diberi judul Ma’arij al-Lahfan. Sungguhpun kitab ini sangat terkenal dalam kalangan masyarakat sufi sekitar Terengganu, Kelantan dan Pahang namun ia belum dijumpai dalam bentuk cetakan.

Saya hanya sempat membaca tiga buah salinan manuskrip kitab itu. Ilmu yang terkandung di dalamnya adalah mengenai tasawuf.

Sebagaimana telah disebutkan, Tok Ku Paloh ialah seorang pejuang Islam dan bangsa. Beliau ialah penganut Thariqat Naqsyabandiyah.

Antara anak Tokku Paloh ialah Saiyid Aqil bin Saiyid Abdur Rahman al-Aidrus. Beliau inilah yang bertanggungjawab mentashhih dan menerbitkan kitab nazam Kanz al-Ula karya datuknya, Tok Ku Tuan Besar, terbitan Mathba’ah al-Ahliyah Terengganu, 1347 H.

sumber :

Syahadat Tokku

Merupakan perincian maksud Dua Kalimah Shahadat

Selaku pembawa amalan Tareqat Naqsyabandiah, Tukku Paloh terkenal sebagai orang yang kuat mengamalkan zikir2 yang disusun oleh Syeikh Bahauddin, Syeikhul Tareqat Naqsyabandiah yang susur galurnya sampai kepada Sayidina Abu Bakar As Siddiq [makam Syeikh Bahauddin terdapat di Uzbekistan]. Begitu pula dengan amalan ibadah yang asas seperti sembahyang, puasa dan membaca Al Quran dan lain2 amalan sunat. Dengan kata lain Tukku Paloh sangat warak dan berhalus dalam beribadah.Selain mengamalkan zikir Tareqat Naqsyabandiah secara istiqamah, Tukku Paloh juga mengamalkan dan mengembangkan amalan yang disusun oleh ayahnya iaitu ‘Syahadat Tukku’. Amalan ini terus popular dan hingga kini masih diamalkan di banyak tempat di negeri Terengganu secara berjemaah dan bersendirian.Syahadat Tukku ini diwariskan kepada murid2nya. Pengikut kanan beliau Haji Abdul Rahman Limbong mengembangkan amalan ini kepada murid2 dan anak cucunya pula. Ini diakui oleh Pak Cik Ali Haji Yusof, cicit Haji Abdul Rahman Limbong. Beliau berkata, “Saya dapat mengamalkan syahadat ini semasa datuk [menantu Haji Abdul Rahman Limbong] dan ayah saya lagi.”Menurut beliau, amalan itu masih kekal sebagaimana dilakukan pada zaman Haji Abdul Rahman Limbong iaitu bermula dengan ratib Al Hadad dan diakhiri dengan Syahadat Tukku, sekali-sekala disusuli dengan burdah pula.
Syahadat Tukku dituduh SESAT!

Amalan Syahadat Tukku ini pernah menjadi kontroversi apabila salah seorang pembawa amalan ini dihadapkan ke mahkamah kerana dituduh sesat. Peristiwa ini berlaku kepada Tuan Hj. Hussein Hj. Mat yang mengembangkan amalan ini di Kampung Gong Ubi Keling, Besut di mana dalam masa yang singkat saja sudah meriah dengan ramai pengikut.Tuan Hj. Hussein tidak menolak kemungkinan tidakan yang dikenakan ke atas dirinya itu didorong oleh iri hati dan hasad dengki orang2 tertentu kerana surau yang baru beliau bangunkan lebih meriah berbanding dengan surau2 lain. Mereka mendesak pihak berkuasa mengambil tindakan ke atas beliau atas alasan yang batil dan fitnah.Mengenang peristiwa pahit yang berlaku pada sekitar tahun1950 itu, Hj. Hussein bercerita :“Hampir seribu orang yang berada di Mahkamah Kadhi Besut untuk mendengar keputusan perbicaraan saya yang dituduh sesat kerana mengamalkan Syahadat Tukku ini.”Orang ramai nampak cemas kerana peristiwa ini besar dan kali pertama berlaku di Besut. Menurut Hj. Hussein sewaktu perbicaraan, beliau disuruh membaca segala amalan yang diamalkannya selama ini. “Saya pun membaca habis satu persatu bermula dengan ratib Al Hadad, Burdah dan akhirnya Syahadat Tukku. Selesai saya membaca semuanya, Hakim Cik Awing yang juga Kadhi Besut itu berkata ; ‘Apa yang Tuan Hj. baca itu ada pada saya.’“Rupa2nya Tuan Hakim Cik Awing juga mengamalkan ratib Al Hadad dan Syahadat Tukku.“Kemudian saya dibebaskan tanpa sebarang tindakan yang dikenakan malah nampaknya tuan hakim itu pula yang seolah2nya mengalakkan amalan ini diteruskan. Mendengarkan keputusan yang benar itu maka orang ramai di luar mahkamah turut bersyukur dan ada yang menitiskan air mata gembira,” cerita Hj. Hussein lagi.Sehingga kini Hj. Hussein terus mengamalkan Syahadat Tukku bersama2 sahabat2nya, amalan pada setengah orang jahil dikatakan ‘syhadat tambahan’.Syahadat Tukku yang disusun oleh wali Allah itu terus popular di kalangan orang yang arif di banyak tempat dalam negeri Terengganu. Amalan yang menjelaskan unsur2 tauhid dan pembersihan hati yang amat diperlukan oleh seorang hamba terhadap Tuhannya, ALLAH SWT.
          Challenging innovators to find new ways to make disaster risk information accessible to all        
Mapping damage after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines. GFDRR

Sometimes the impacts of disasters seem difficult to predict, such as when the heavy snow that set off deadly avalanches in Afghanistan this winter also damaged transmission lines, disrupting the flow of electricity imported from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and resulting in power outages in Kabul. Other times the consequences seem almost inevitable, for example the likelihood of a devastating earthquake in the Ganges Basin of India, Nepal and Bangladesh within our lifetime.

There are, however, tools and models that allow us to determine the potential impacts of a disaster before they happen, and provide decision-makers with information they can use to reduce the potential impact.

          CHP-169-The Mongol Yuan Dynasty Part 1        

In this long overdue episode with a deceiving title we don't actually get around to the Yuan Dynasty.  However a nice handy and confusing overview tracing the rise of the Mongol nation is presented which includes a bio on Genghis Khan.  We'll get to rise of Kublai Khan this time and look at the Yuan Dynasty next episode.  


Terms from this Episode

numero ciento sesenta y nueve Number 169

Qin Shihuang 秦始皇 Qin Dynasty founder

Da Yuanchao 大元朝 The Great Mongol Dynasty

Parthians 帕提亚  Iranian nomadic people

Scythians   斯基泰人 Iranian nomadic people

Yuezhi 月氏 Originally from Xinjiang and Gansu, defeated by the Xiongnu

Goths 哥特 West central Asian power, the scourge of the Roman Empire

Magyars   马扎儿人 West central Asian power. Today they are known as Hungarians.

Huns 匈奴 More from the western part of the steppe, often confused with Xiongnu

Xiongnu 匈奴 Often called Huns, they were an early northern tribe who kept invading China

Slavs   斯拉夫人 People from central Europe and the West Asian steppe

Xianbei 鲜卑   So-called "proto-Mongols" who lived around the Qin and Han dynasties and founded the Northern Wei.

Shatuo Turks  沙陀突厥  Power in north China late 9th and 10th century. Founded several short-lived dynasties in the north of China.

Khitans 契丹 The people who founded the Liao Dynasty 907-1125

Tatars 鞑靼人 Mongol tribe defeated by Genghis Khan who later moved westward towards Russia and Europe

Kazakhs   哈萨克人 North-Central Asian people, Turkic, found mostly in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Kyrgyz  吉尔吉斯  Central Asian people, Turkic, found mostly in Kyrgyzstan

Uighurs   维吾尔人   Turkic people who today mostly live in Xinjiang

The Hakkas 客家人 The Hakka People

Fujian 福建   Province on the east coast of China

Huizong   徽宗 Last emperor of the Northern Song

Aguda 阿骨打 Also known as Emperor Taizu of Jin, founder of the Jin Dynasty

Wuqimai 吴乞买 Aguda's brother, second emperor of the Jin

Kaifeng 开封 Capital of the Northern Song Dynasty

Jin Dynasty  金朝 Jürchen Dynasty 1115-1234, founded by Aguda

Zhao Gou   赵构 Escaped Zhao royal family member, launched Southern Song

Gaozong 高宗 First emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty

Lin'an 临安 Southern Song capital, present day Hangzhou

Merkits  蔑儿乞人 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Keraits  怯烈亦 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Ongüts  汪古部 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Ongirats  One of many tribes of the Mongols

Naimans 乃蛮 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Temüjin 铁木真 Genghis Khan's name

Dobun Known as Dobun the Clever, married to Alan the Fair, early ancestors of Temujin

Ah-Lan the Fair married to Dobun, early ancestors of Temujin

Khaidu 海都 c. 1040-1100 Great-grandfather of Khabul Khan

Khabul Khan  合不勒  Early great khan and great -grandfather of Genghis Khan

Yesugei the Brave 孛儿只斤Ÿ也速该 Father of Genghis Khan

Yuanchao Mi Shi 元朝秘史 The Secret History of the Mongols

Börte 孛儿帖 Wife of Temüjin and later Grand Empress of the Mongol Empire

Ulaan Bator 乌兰巴托 Capital of Mongolia

Jochi 术赤 Oldest son of Börte and maybe Genghis Khan

Golden Horde 金帐汗国  Originally the northwest portion of the Mongol Empire. Also known as the Kipchak Khanate. Lasted till 1502.

Xinjiang   新疆 Northwest autonomous region in China

Mongol Yasa (Jasagh)   A Mongol Codified law introduced by Genghis Khan

Khuriltai 忽里勒台   A Mongol congress of all elders and leaders

Kara Khitai 喀喇契丹 Also known as the Western Liao 1124-1218

Xixia  西夏 The Western Xia, an empire established by the Tanguts

Khwarizmian Empire 花剌子模王国 Lasted 1077-1231. Khwarazmia covered All of Iran and parts of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan.

Batu 拔都 Founder of Golden Horde, son of Jochi, grandson of Genghis Khan

Chaghadai 蔡合台 Second son of Genghis Khan, founder of Khanate of Chaghadai

Khanate of Chaghadai 蔡合台汗国 Covered most of Central Asia

Ogedai Khan 窝阔台 or 斡歌歹 Third son of Genghis Khan, second Khan of the Mongol Empire

Tolui 拖雷 Fourth Son of Genghis Khan, father of Kublai Khan

Möngke 蒙哥 Eldest son of Tolui, elder brother to Kublai Khan

Kublai 忽必烈 1215-1294, Great Khan and founder of the Yuan Dynasty. Reigned 1271-1294.

Hulagu 旭烈兀 grandson of Genghis Khan, son of Tolui

Arigh Boke 阿里不哥 Youngest son of Tolui, fought civil war with Kublai

Subotei 速不台 Genghis Khan's number one guy (and Ogedai's too!). Great Mongol general.

Dzungaria 准噶尔 Northern half of Xinjiang with Tianshan Mountains south and the Altai north.

Karakorum 喀喇昆仑 Mongol capital 1235-1260

Guyuk 贵由 Eldest son of Ogedai Khan, reigned only two years as the 3rd Great Khan

Mamluks 马木留克 Originally slave soldiers, they were a powerful "caste" of warriors who operated from the 9th to 19th centuries. Not to be messed with.

Il-khanate 伊儿汗国  The southwestern portion of the Mongol Empire. Ruled by Hülagü's branch of the family - centered around Iran

Dali Kingdom 大理国 Kingdom that lasted 937-1253. Mostly located in Yunnan.

Owen Lattimore 欧文Ÿ拉铁摩尔 American scholar and Central Asian specialist


Isaac Meyer:  “History of Japan Podcast”


Nina Xiang: "China Money Network"


          Limited by Love and Friendship        
[Smile friend! You are loved.]

As human beings we constantly try to capture and classify our experiences in familiar words and the conceptual clouds associated with particular terminology. The experiences are reworked to fit into a narrative with which we are familiar, and likewise, our use of words becomes limited by how we think we are supposed to experience the world.

Simple, right?

Take the word love. It has a large conceptual cloud of anticipated meaning and nuance hovering around it, including implications of attraction, affection, inspiration, passion, and desired intimacy.

While technically love can be erotic or platonic, familial or divine, in contemporary Western societies it mostly suggests the erotic form, which tends to claim romance and intimacy as part of a triad of sexuality, which itself is reduced to a lusty physicality. And while it's OK to use the familial notion of love for close relatives and some deeply committed friends who are essentially fictive kin, the use of the word is pretty much exhausted at this point except for crude references to a supposedly but often not so intense desire for some object or experience. Such as, "Yes, I'd love a hot chocolate" as an expression of enthusiasm and appreciation.

The latter usage, the hot chocolate love, doesn't take the word too seriously, and the familial variety may or may not. In a social, sexual coupling, particularly of the long term variety, a fuller range of the implications of the word are not only possible but even expected, so that it can be an appreciation of the beauty and connection with the other, the sexual attraction and passion experienced, the familial bond anticipated or realized, and the appreciation of the invitation to greater intimacy (which is not just a synonym for sexual activity but any kind of baring a part of one's nature that is normally reserved or hidden).

These expected and accepted uses limit our ability to name and explore our broader range of experiences, experiences that might otherwise be referred to as encounters with or expressions of love. Is a person you feel a strong connection to, share fragile or timid aspects of yourself with, and feel inspired around also your spouse, close kin, or someone you've known since childhood? If so, you can say you love them. At least if you identify as a woman. Otherwise that childhood friend thing is shaky. Might want to find a euphemism for that one. Maybe for that relative, too.

What about someone who is relatively new to your life, or isn't the object of sexual desire, or isn't a close family member? You must be impulsive, needy, or hyperbolic to use that word for your experience of and sense of connection to such a person! And while you're at it, don't forget to cheapen the word, to wear it translucently thin and make it a redundant echo, by using it regularly out of obligation to identify and reify the kinds of relationships where it's usage is not only accepted but expected. Don't give it time to rest, recharge, or renew. Don't acknowledge it where it isn't permitted unless you just plan to use it everywhere without restraint.

Speaking of draining the vitality of important words, make sure that while you overuse the word love in highly confined social space, you are referring to everyone you've ever met or connected to through in person contacts and social media as a friend. But only if you are planning on using them as a convenient contrivance for practicing hollow politeness, as an audience to hide the fact that you are talking to yourself (from yourself), or as an ego massage. If you are truly going to try to cultivate relationships of significance, if not always depth, with such people, offering them respect and sincere affection, that's just lame. Or Pollyannaish. Or -- wait, did I already say lame?

Love and friendship. Simple terms belying a deep vein of potential and complexity of experience with other people, yet bound fraudulently by conventional usage and expectation. Especially for those identifying with masculine gender forms. What depths and mysteries of the heart await those who push past such convention to express and explore experiences befitting the full range of such terms rather than their limited contemporary confines through our unquestioned social constructions?

Don't think words have power? Violate their safe boundaries and follow them into a place you haven't been before. Love. Friendship. Spirit. Intimate. Passion. Glory. Fear. Help. Divine.

Then drop me a line, let me know how it went.
          The Federal Administration of Military Violence        
On 15 June – one week after the attack on Karachi’s international airport by the Pakistan Taliban (Tehrik-i-Taliban or TTP) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (UMI) – the Pakistan military announced its ‘comprehensive’ Operation Zarb-i-Azb in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).  From their bases in North Waziristan, the statement announced, militants had ‘waged a war […]
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          My Bucket List        
I despise the word ‘bucket list’. It’s a common, overused word that extracts away the sense of wonder and intrigue from travelling the very destination that corroborates that feeling. On the other hand, I want to abstain from using a word filled with awe and marvel– it makes my list seem unachievable. At the end of the day, this is a list of places that I would give my left arm to visit! I realised its good to have pegged down a definite list and work towards it. So here goes, my ‘Bucket List’, for the next few years. Would love to find friends to crash with, work to fund the trips and a great reason that I don’t know of, to visit these. So if you know something that I don’t (or have extra cash to donate), mail away. Meanwhile, you will see many posts on the blog as I tick these off.

My favourite city in the world - Varanasi

Pet a Husky – That hardly seems to be the kind of thing that one puts on a bucket list. But I want to pet a Husky - by a fireplace - of a wooden cottage (or preferably an igloo) - on a Monday Alaskan morning. And you thought this was going to be a simple one. With that, throw in the Northern lights, and then I’m done with Alaska.

Stay in Varanasi for a Year - I truly find the spirit of Varanasi to be that of one that is unshakable, unique and altogether ridiculous. While I’ve ticked off many of the ‘Varanasi’ experiences over the last few years, I would really like to stay there to document the festivals in each month – and there are plenty! One year on Meer Ghat in a room overlooking the river is all I ask for.

Petra & Wadi Rum at Night – I read about Petra and Wadi Rum just when I started travelling actively in 2004. Money, time and most importantly lack of travel vision are reasons why I never thought I would ever get here. The boundaries have blurred. This is happening soon!

Swimming in the Dead Sea - Because I’ve done nothing about learning how to swim properly! No, actually this has been on my list forever. It’s high time that I get it done with. There are some things that just stick in your brain and a niggling thought persists until they are done – well, the Dead Sea is one of those for me.

Galápagos Islands– Having read about the islands in blogs and books, this seems like one of the most unachievable on my list. Yet, I want to keep it, be persistent and let it hang here  - even if it means many many many years before I do this!

Pakistan - My folks (as kids) and older family members witnessed the partition in 1947. I’ve always viewed that life-changing period for them as just a story.  That, and the fact that the ‘other side’ was once part of the same land are reasons why I am intrigued to visit the country. Ofcourse, socially, politically and religiously there are differences that everyone knows of – I want to look a little beyond that and view the similarities.

Japan – A heavy dose of Murakami does that to you. Japan has been on the list for its bizarre blend of modern and traditional. This is one place I believe will disrupt my thinking.     No doubt that its wildly expensive, but there will be simpler experiences – like standing in a road full of cherry blossoms, roaming the streets of Kyoto and sleeping in one of those crazy capsule pods.

Mangrovy Sundarbans from Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Myanmar and a month is Greece is what’s coming up next on the list. Clearly I need 56 hours in a day, 23 days in a week and 154 weeks in a year!

          Uzbek Authorities Say Visa Reform To Simplify Travel Abroad        
Uzbekistan’s government says its plan to abandon a requirement for Uzbek citizens to seek the authorities’ permission to leave the country will make it much easier for them to travel abroad.
          Moscow Court Halts Journalist's Deportation To Uzbekistan        
A Russian appeals court has halted the deportation of journalist Ali Feruz to Uzbekistan, where rights groups fear he could face torture, imprisonment, or death at the hands of the authorities.
          Lawyer: Strasbourg Court Freezes Deportation Of Novaya Gazeta Journalist        
The European Court of Human Rights has issued an extraordinary order barring the transfer of a journalist in Russia to the tightly controlled Central Asian county of Uzbekistan, the journalist's defense lawyer said in a statement on Facebook.
          Karimov's Last Supper        
On the evening of July 27, the high and mighty of Uzbekistan gathered for a dinner in Tashkent to honor the memory of the country’s first president, Islam Karimov, who died last year. The next day, they started to tear Karimov’s legacy apart. (The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL.)
          Support Mounts For Journalist In Russia Facing Deportation To Uzbekistan        
A growing campaign in Russia and abroad has emerged to support Novaya Gazeta journalist Ali Feruz, who has been ordered deported to Uzbekistan. Friends and activists are convinced it is very likely Feruz would be tortured, imprisoned, or even killed in the authoritarian Central Asian country.
          Russian Activists Protest Near Putin's Office Against Reporter's Deportation        
Russian activists picketed the presidential office building in Moscow to protest a court decision to deport a Russian-born journalist to Uzbekistan.
          First Public Criticism Of Late Uzbek President Aired        
Uzbekistan's recently launched 24-hour television news channel has expressed rare criticism of the policies of the late President Islam Karimov on its analytical program.
          Uzbekistan Launches 24-Hour News Channel        
Uzbekistan has launched a 24-hour television news channel that officials say marks a step away from isolation for the Central Asian country.
          Human Rights Watch Delegation To Visit Uzbekistan        
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) delegation will visit Uzbekistan for the first time since its office was suspended in the Central Asian country in July 2011.
          EU, Uzbekistan Meet Amid Some Signs Of Change        
The European Union and Uzbekistan are to hold the highest-level political meeting in Brussels since the death of longtime Uzbek autocrat Islam Karimov in 2016.
          Majlis Podcast: Is This The 'Uzbek Spring'?        
This week’s Majlis looks at recent moves in Uzbekistan. Hopeful signs continue to come from Tashkent, most recently statements from Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov about possibly revoking the exit-visa requirement for Uzbek citizens and raising the possibility of the return of Human Rights Watch and BBC to the country.
          Uzbekistan Moves Forward On Possible New Foreign-Travel Documents        
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev has signed an executive order on the possible introduction of new passports for citizens traveling abroad.
          Pankaj Mishra : The East was Red        
[from The Guardian: February 4, 2006],,1700618,00.html

In 1980, shortly before my 11th birthday, I wrote my first essay in English. The subject was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan - or the Soviet "intervention", as I termed it, in a "fraternal communist country threatened by imperialism". I had followed events in Afghanistan anxiously if somewhat fitfully; we had no television, and the newspapers, arriving in Jhansi, our small Indian town, from Delhi a day late, reported American threats to boycott the Moscow Olympics but said little about what was going on inside Afghanistan. Nevertheless, I boldly predicted that the Soviets would modernise a backward and feudal country, revolutionise its relations of production, and set it on the path of prosperity and peace, inflicting, in the process, another crushing defeat on the forces of reaction and imperialism.

In December 2004, I travelled on the road from Uzbekistan across the Oxus River on which the first Soviet convoys had rolled into Afghanistan 25 years before. Fearful of ambushes, the Soviets had mined the surrounding desert right up to the verges; and venturing out of the car for a pee I walked into a minefield - one of the many across Afghanistan that had killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of people - and then had to learn, for some long minutes, how hard it is literally to retrace one's steps.

What goes around comes around, even if the intense fear of losing one's life, or a limb or two, seems a very severe karmic punishment for some youthful cliché-mongering. Later that evening, drinking alone and hard in my gloomy hotel room in Mazar-i-Sharif, for the first time in many years I remembered my essay, and I couldn't help but wonder: what the hell had I been thinking? Perhaps I was no more deluded than people in Europe and America who thought that the Soviets wanted to conquer the world and who had made elaborate plans to fight, and survive, a nuclear war. At least I'd had the excuse of being 10 years old. But it was still odd to remember how during my childhood and adolescence I was an admirer and supporter - unpaid and thus very sincere - of the Soviet Union. For much of this time, I wasn't quite sure what such words as socialism, capitalism, reaction, and imperialism really meant; but I was ready to believe in the superiority of socialism over capitalism simply because this was the official ideology of the Soviet Union. A framed photograph of Lenin stood on my desk, and I possessed, if I did not actually work my way through, the complete works of Plekhanov. And self-consciously I'd prepared myself for adult life in the Soviet Union.

This was by no means a merely natural consequence of my straitened lower-middle-class circumstances. Genteel poverty of the kind we knew had drawn most people in my Brahmin family closer to the Hindu nationalists and to a politics of resentment. My father denounced as hypocrites and frauds the communists he encountered in his work as a trade unionist in Indian Railways, and he took a sceptical view of my Soviet-ophilia. But he had grown up in another time. For boys like me, in north Indian railway towns in the 70s and 80s, where nothing much happened apart from the arrival and departure of trains from big cities, the Soviet Union alone appeared to promise an escape from our limited, dusty world.

It is hard now, in these days of visual excess, to recall the sensuous poverty of the towns I lived in: the white light falling all day from the sky upon a flat land only slightly relieved by bare rock and the occasional tree, and houses of mud or grimy brick, among which any trace of colour - shop signs, painted government posters for family planning, or garish posters for Bollywood films - could provoke a sense of wonder. It explains the eagerness with which I awaited Soviet Life, the first magazine I subscribed to, which was really an illustrated press release boasting of Soviet achievements in science, agriculture, industrial production, sports, and literature.

When a new issue slipped through the mail slot, I would smell its glossy pages and run my fingers across them. Alone in my room, I gazed for a long time at colour pictures of young Soviet women raising production levels on the Ukrainian steppe, in the Fergana valley and Siberian oilfields. I lingered longest over the pages with pictures of Young Pioneers, and then cut them out carefully and wrapped them around my school notebooks, obscuring the calendar-art images of the young Lord Krishna. I did not outgrow Soviet Life even after I got my parents to subscribe to Soviet Literature, and cajoled my younger sister, who had won a small school scholarship, into giving me a subscription to the news magazine New Times. The magazines cost less than the stamps on the brown envelopes in which they arrived - indeed, my parents declined to support my pen pal-ship with a Young Pioneer girl because airmail letters were too expensive.

The Soviet Union had helped set up and then subsidise publishing houses and bookshops across much of what was then known as the developing world. America seems to have barely participated in this subtle campaign of the cold war that the Soviet Union, with its books, magazines and films, waged in the remotest Indian towns. The Soviets had made India a major beneficiary of their cultural philanthropy because it had strong communist parties that ruled states in the south and the west, was constitutionally committed to a form of socialism, and was also a leader of the third world non-aligned movement, which tilted towards the Soviets. Houses of Soviet Culture existed in all the big and some small cities, competing strongly with the cultural outposts of the so-called free world, the British Council, the United States Information Service-run American Center, and the German Max Mueller Bhavan. Mobile bookshops toured the towns offering subscriptions to Soviet magazines and organising book fairs where you could buy two hardback editions of Russian classics for five rupees (at a time when one dollar equalled 18 rupees).

The mobile bookshops came to our town without warning, often appearing in a field where gypsies from Rajasthan set up their black tents. Inside the long truck, books stood in open dusty shelves, monitored by thin young men in glasses. There were many Soviet translations of Russian classics, in addition to the works of Marx, Lenin and Plekhanov. I recall seeing nothing by either Stalin or Khrushchev, although the speeches of Brezhnev and Suslov were always available. My earliest purchases were collections of Russian fairy tales, and I now wish I still had, or could recall the titles of, the beautifully illustrated volumes that enlivened much of my childhood.

Though dedicated to advancing the cause of socialism, the Soviet-made books afforded best of all the satisfaction of private ownership. I tended to buy more books than I could read, such as that set of Plekhanov. I moved quickly through Tolstoy 's Childhood , Adolescence, Youth and then stumbled badly in Crime and Punishment, whose Christian themes did not become comprehensible to me until my 20s. But the Soviet books came at the right time, when I was ready to move on from my childhood lingering in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and was reading more and more in English, which, unknown to me, was becoming the language of global capitalism.

Some of the Russian classics carried introductions from such approved critics as Belinsky and Chernyshevsky, whom some years later I was mortified to see ridiculed at length in Nabokov's novel The Gift

I can see now that cultural commissars dictated the offerings of Raduga and Progress Publishers, the two imprints that published most of the translations I saw in the Soviet-subsidised bookshops. There was no Nabokov - and I am surprised to see among the few books that remain with me a volume of stories by Bunin. Gorky and Mayakovsky were much preferred, and Soviet pride in the Nobel Laureate Sholokhov was expressed through multiple editions of Quiet Flows the Don

Much of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Leskov could be published without much difficulty. But several of Dostoevsky 's novels would have posed problems, and Gogol's rants and Tolstoy's Christian writings must not have appeared to the commissars as the best examples of the Soviet Union's revolutionary literary heritage. Herzen's novel Who Is to Blame? was present everywhere, but his memoir and letters were nowhere to be seen. As for post-1917 literature, you couldn't have known, reading the products of Raduga and Progress Publishers, who Bulgakov or Mandelstam were; I read them, along with Akhmatova and Pasternak, only in my early 20s, in British and American editions. A book titled How the Steel Was Tempered was very conspicuous. There were novels by a writer called Aleksey Tolstoy. Was he related to Leo? I couldn't know.

Though sturdily bound and on thick paper, the books provided little biographical information and did not even name the translators. However, they often included pictures from the lives of the more famous writers. I had read First Love and Spring Torrents, and already fantasised about pursuing romance and intellectual conversation in arbours in overgrown gardens, when one day I saw a photograph of Turgenev walking down a long straight path though tall birch trees. The picture, suggesting days spent in work and reflection, captivated me for a long time and gave urgency to my desire to emigrate to the Soviet Union. On hellishly hot days, I imagined myself walking along snowbound Nevsky Prospekt in an overcoat. On other days, I saw myself studying to become an engineer in Leningrad and then settling down with one of the pretty Young Pioneers in Turkmen costume and helping to boost production levels in a little corner of that vast land. As I grew older, this fantasy even seemed possible to realise. Many students wishing to put Indian deprivations behind them chose the Soviet Union and its engineering and medical scholarships over the much harder route - via GRE and Gmat tests - to America.

It's strange to recall that America animated none of my youthful daydreams. I did not see a Hollywood film until my late teens. The only non- Indian pop stars I knew were European - the Beatles, Abba, and Cliff Richard - and I have yet to see a copy of Quest, the Encounter-style intellectual magazine that the CIA funded in Bombay. I did long to own old copies of Time and Life that I saw being sold on the pavements of the big cities. But they were too pricey, and so was the magazine Span, the closest the Americans came to producing their own version of Soviet Life. American books were out of the question. Once, an uncle of mine who had emigrated to the United States in the mid-1960s and had since lived, improbably, in Montana, sent me some comic books, and for a brief season I was intrigued by Archie, Veronica, Betty, Richie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and Dennis the Menace.

In any case, America was not only beyond my means. It was also an imperialist bully, the malicious antagonist of socialist and non-aligned countries - and it wasn't just the New Times that told me so. Anti-Americanism flourished among Indian politicians and journalists, who never tired of mentioning how Nixon and Kissinger had not only supported Pakistan in its war with India over Bangladesh but had also tried to intimidate India by ordering the 7th Fleet into the Indian Ocean; and how the Soviet Union had proved to be India's most valuable friend by vetoing the anti-Indian resolution moved by the US at the UN Security Council. I had no trouble believing Indira Gandhi when she claimed that the CIA was working hard to undermine our country because of its principled non-aligned stance. At the same time, it was impossible to take Americans seriously. I remember being shocked by a picture of Jimmy Carter in the White House with his feet on his desk. And later I was equally shocked to know that Americans had elected a film actor as their president. Could such men be trusted? In contrast, the pictures of Soviet leaders radiated benign power and knowledge. I examined these as closely as a Kremlinologist, but for signs and portents of my own future. Those brows of Brezhnev; the melancholy of Gromyko; the steely seriousness of Suslov - how eloquently they spoke of a selfless dedication to social and economic justice! Of a feeling for those of us in the poor, invisible places of the world! It was easy, if you knew nothing else, to draw a larger sense of belonging, even a personal sense of security, from the pictures of Brezhnev hugging Indira Gandhi, and Soviet leaders exchanging toasts with Honecker and Husak and Castro.

In 1982 I was in Bombay with my parents, who were arranging the marriage of my eldest sister, when I heard of Brezhnev's death. I went immediately to the House of Soviet Culture, where a condolence book lay open underneath a framed poster of the departed leader. I asked for a copy of the poster at the reception. They didn't have one. My elder cousin in Bombay, who visited the American Center more frequently than the House of Soviet Culture, and would later work for Coca-Cola, joked that they were waiting to see if the new Soviet leaders would declare Brezhnev a good or a bad guy.

My mood was grim. What would happen to the Soviet Union? And to the developing and underdeveloped countries it had supported? I began looking especially closely at pictures of Andropov and Chernenko, hoping to figure out their world view. The following year, when New Delhi hosted the summit meeting of the non-aligned movement against a backdrop of growing unrest in Poland, and photos appeared in all the newspapers of handsome Castro bear-hugging Mrs Gandhi, I felt somewhat relieved. Here was proof that the small, besieged socialist nations of the world could stick together.

But time was running out for both the Soviet Union and my Soviet-ophilia. I proved to be an indifferent student of science and mathematics at high school, in no position to travel to Russia as a student of engineering or medicine. At my provincial undergraduate university, I drifted into a communist student outfit which held Marx study groups, organised demonstrations, and also stood candidates for elections to the student union. Here I met students from similar backgrounds, who possessed the same translations I had read and could recite Mayakovsky's poems and certain passages in Gorky's revolutionary novel, Mother, from memory. But my heart was not in student activism: I was a reader, therefore a daydreamer. I knew that I wanted to be a writer, and the desire led me, in Delhi in the late 80s, to spend more time at the British Council and American Center than at the House of Soviet Culture. (Daydreams may turn out to be the most practical things of all.) Arduously acquired Pelicans and Penguins started to jostle with the cheap hardbacks of Raduga and Progress Publishers on my bookshelves, and I began to imagine my name on such a glossy spine.

I also remember reading Edmund Wilson's self-critical introduction to the 1971 edition of To the Finland Station and beginning to think of Lenin in another way. Soon afterward, I lost the framed photograph of Lenin in one of my many moves, and left the collected Plekhanov standing in a room I vacated at university. But I still followed Soviet affairs through New Times. The communist activists I knew at university claimed that a reformer like Gorbachev was proof of the self-renewing potential of the Soviet system, but I didn't know what to make of him.
He made me uneasy with his frank confessions of Soviet stagnation and decline, and I was bewildered by his frequent public appearances with Reagan. Things, I feared, would end badly. And, by confirming my premonitions, the collapse of the Berlin wall left me cold.

I had left my university in Delhi and was living in a village in the Himalayas when the Soviet Union imploded. By then its landmarks in India had already faded. Perestroika and glasnost had brought down the shutters on Soviet-subsidised culture in India. And India itself seemed to be turning away from its socialist and non-aligned friends. After years of protectionism and virtuous austerity, it had started to globalise its economy and to embrace unselfconsciously the culture of consumption.

By the late 80s, television had arrived in Indian small towns and, with its images of the wealthier cultures of the west, begun to diversify our fantasies. A shop selling greeting cards replaced a communist bookshop. One day in a pavement bazaar of Old Delhi, I saw the collected works of Plekhanov being sold as scrap paper. I stopped, briefly tempted to re-acquire them. And then I moved on down the street.

Soviet Life ceased publication in 1991. My subscription to New Times had ended by then, and I had not opened the renewal notices.

So many years had passed since I wrote my essay endorsing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Moving away from thoughts of escape, I became interested, for the first time, in my own world. India gave me the subjects that, trying to write, I had often despaired of finding. In the meantime, I also learned a bit more, if reluctantly, about the former Soviet Union's cruelties and absurdities - the knowledge carefully concealed from me by New Times .

As the 90s wore on, Russia's quick descent into gangster capitalism and colonialist brutality in Chechnya further muddied and finally dissolved the image that I had cherished for much of my life. In the late 1990s I began to travel in Asia, Europe and America. But I resisted visiting Russia. There remained enough of the apparatchik-lover inside me to mourn the break-up of the Soviet Union and to conceive a strong dislike for Boris Yeltsin - never did he appear a greater boor and bully to me than during what western journalists called his finest moment, the failed coup attempt in 1991, when he sat with a megaphone atop a tank in front of the Russian parliament. Reading Tatyana Tolstoya's denunciation of him in the New York Review of Books gave me profound satisfaction. It was with something close to glee that I read Stephen F Cohen's book about the deluded western attempt to export free-market democracy to Russia, and I am still not above a certain perverse pleasure when the Economist wonders, confusion breaking through its silkily arrogant tone, what the west ought to do with the increasingly unpredictable Putin.

Occasionally I meet someone with similar memories of underdevelopment. In Lahore, Pakistan, some years ago, I walked into a living-room - and into my childhood: the bookshelves showed the same Soviet spines my eyes had rested on for years. In London, an old Egyptian cabdriver recalled using Soviet Life as wallpaper in his home in Cairo, and reminisced about the days of Nasser and Arab socialism.

More recently, I met the Cuban writer José Manuel Prieto and his Russian wife at a convivial dinner party in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It turned out that Prieto had done what I had only fantasised about: he travelled from Cuba to the Soviet Union as a student, and there, in a small town in Siberia, he fell in love with a beautiful Russian woman and married her, and helped boost, briefly, the Soviet Union's production levels in literature if not oil and gas. He knew of Raduga and Progress Publishers, for he had worked as a translator of Soviet literature. Not only that, but at the same time that I sought escape from the north Indian plains by reading Turgenev, he and his wife relieved their Siberian solitude through Bollywood films - among the few foreign films allowed into the Soviet Union.

A different kind of internationalism, called globalisation, had now brought us to the country that had been the nemesis of socialism, indeed of much of what we once knew and believed in. The English language that the Soviets helped teach me had made possible my life and writing career in a world very different from their own. Our futures were now bound to America, although I couldn't bear to look too closely or long at pictures of George W Bush. Were Prieto and I content? Had we finally arrived at happiness? It is always hard to tell, and history may spring yet more of its ironies on us. But when we got drunk, and raised a toast to socialism and non-alignment, I couldn't suppress a pang of affection for our vanished past, for the austere worlds in which we had to find our small joys, and in which the solidarities that now seem merely rhetorical had given us consolation and hope.
The US And That 'Other' Axis

by Jephraim P Gundzik [asia Times: June 9, 2005]

Beijing's increasingly close ties with Moscow and Tehran will thwart Washington's foreign policy goal of expanding US security footholds in the Middle East, Central Asia and Asia. However, the primacy of economic stability will most likely prevent a proxy-style military confrontation, in Iran or North Korea, between China and the US.

Threat to 'axis of evil' unwinds in Baghdad

In January 2002 during his State of the Union address to the US congress, President George W Bush outlined his administration's primary foreign policy goal as preventing "regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction". Bush went on to specifically name Iraq, Iran and North Korea as state sponsors of terrorism, infamously dubbing this group the "axis of evil". After failing to gather multilateral support in the United Nation, Bush declared war on Iraq.

Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, Beijing has worked feverishly to strengthen its ties with Moscow and Teheran in an apparent effort to prevent US military action against the remaining "axis of evil" members, Iran and North Korea. In addition to recent massive energy deals with Teheran, which place Iran in China's security web, both Beijing and Moscow have accelerated the transfer of missile technology to Teheran, while selling the Islamic republic increasingly sophisticated military equipment.

Armed with a vast array of anti-ship and long-range missiles, Iran can target US troop positions throughout the Middle East and strike US Navy ships. Iran can also use its weapons to blockade the Straits of Hormuz through which one-third of the world's traded oil is shipped. With the help of Beijing and Moscow, Teheran is becoming an increasingly unappealing military target for the US.

As in the Middle East, the China-Iran-Russia axis is challenging US interests in Central Asia. Washington is working feverishly to gain security footholds in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan to complement existing US military bases in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. China and Russia are working equally hard to assert their influence in Central Asia. A good portion of this work is being done under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO.)

Composed of China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the SCO was created in 1996 and reborn in 2001 when it was bolstered to counter the initial eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The SCO is becoming an increasingly powerful regional mutual security organization. Joint military maneuvers between SCO member states began in 2003. In 2004, the SCO created a rapid reaction anti-terror strike force. According to Igor Rogachev, Russia's ambassador to China, the new force is designed to combat and respond to terrorist attacks in any SCO member nation.

In 2004, Iran made it clear that it was interested in joining the SCO. Iran's mammoth energy deals with China imply that Tehran is now integral to China's national security. A good way to formalize security relations between China and Iran is through the SCO.

The autocratic governments of Central Asia have much more in common with China, Iran and Russia than with the US. At the same time, China and Russia can invest exponentially larger sums of money in Central Asian countries than the US. Almost all of China's and Russia's foreign investment is conducted by state-owned enterprises. Investment by these enterprises is primarily driven by geopolitical expediency.

Foreign investment in the US is controlled by profit-driven private enterprises. While the US government can dole out aid to Central Asian countries, the size of this aid pales in comparison to the money that can be lavished on Central Asian countries by China's and Russia's state-owned enterprises. In 2004, commercial and security ties between Kazakhstan and China were strengthened when Beijing signed a deal with Astana to build a pipeline from the Caspian Sea to western China.

The pipeline deal with Kazakhstan prompted Beijing to pledge increased military and technical assistance to Kyrgyzstan, through which this pipeline passes. Despite its small size and lack of natural resources, the geostrategic importance of Kyrgyzstan, which hosts military bases for both Russia and the US, is enormous. Recent political instability in Kyrgyzstan especially alarmed Washington.

In early April, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Bishkek to ensure that Kyrgyzstan's new government would continue to host US military forces. In addition, Rumsfeld tried to persuade interim President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to allow the US to station AWACS surveillance planes in Kyrgyzstan. At the beginning of 2005, the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry denied this request by Washington, saying that such equipment was beyond the original humanitarian and peace-keeping mission of US. forces in Kyrgyzstan. Bakiyev made it clear that Washington would not be allowed to deploy the AWACS or to establish any more bases or expand existing facilities in Kyrgyzstan.

Bakiyev also stressed that US forces would not be in the country permanently. Deepening economic and security ties between Central Asian countries and China and Russia could eventually reduce Washington's influence in the region to Afghanistan. However, in addition to three operational military bases already in Afghanistan, Washington plans on building another six military bases, further amplifying the US military threat to China, Russia and Iran.

East Asia is another region where the China-Iran-Russia alliance has common interests diametrically opposed to Washington's. The most obvious country where these interests conflict is North Korea. As with Iran, the Bush administration is determined to force North Korea's government to acquiesce to US security demands. Again, like Iran, North Korea poses a strategic threat to Washington's global hegemonic aspirations. The mutual antagonism by Iran and North Korea of the US has naturally brought these two countries together. North Korea has been an integral supplier to Iran's ballistic missile program over the past 15 years.

The US State Department has sanctioned the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation, North Korea's main missile exporter, four times since 2000 for engaging in proliferation activities with Iran. In 2004, US intelligence reported that North Korea was helping Iran build long-range missiles. While Iran's ties to North Korea are strategic, Russia's and China's ties to the country are security driven. Both Russia and China share common borders with North Korea.

The Soviet Union had strong ties with North Korea between 1950 and 1990 punctuated by a mutual security agreement. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia's relations with North Korea weakened sharply. President Boris Yeltsin chose not to renew the mutual security agreement with North Korea in favor of strengthening relations with South Korea.

President Vladimir Putin reestablished the historically close ties between Russia and North Korea. In 2000, Putin traveled to Pyongyang. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, paid return visits to Russia in 2001 and 2002. In addition to official state visits, Moscow and Pyongyang have exchanged several ministry-level visits in the past two years. Pyongyang also enjoys very close relations with Beijing, with which high-level visits have been exchanged regularly in the past several years.

More importantly, Pyongyang and Beijing are tied together by a mutual security agreement. North Korea is an important security buffer for both China and Russia against US military projection in Asia. With Beijing and Moscow clearly in accord about countering Washington's global hegemonic aspirations, neither country is likely to sell out their relations with North Korea and this security buffer. More likely, Beijing and Moscow would like to bolster the security buffer in the light of expanding US militarism. It is extremely unlikely that the US will convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and uranium enrichment program because both Beijing and Moscow need North Korea and the security buffer it provides.

Playing in Washington's backyard

In 2004, Russia and China launched a counter-offensive to the expansion of US militarism in Asia. Beijing and Moscow began to court Latin America's new leftist governments in an unprecedented slap to the US. Both Russia and China have strengthened relations with Washington's arch foe in Latin America - Venezuela. In November 2004, Moscow agreed to sell Caracas as many as 30 combat helicopters and 100,000 automatic rifles. In addition, Venezuela is considering the purchase of up to 50 MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia to replace aging F-16s.

The Russia-Venezuela arms deal was widely criticized in Washington. Both Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have voiced strong opposition to the deal. In late 2004, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez visited Beijing, where he signed several oil sector investment deals with the China National Petroleum Corporation. Chavez has also stated that he would like to give oil export preference to China rather than the US. China also signed significant energy-related investment deals with Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina in 2004. The willingness of Beijing and Moscow to challenge US security so close to home clearly indicates that a geostrategic battle has begun.

Security threat or strategic competitor?

Beijing's expanding foreign relations both within and outside the China-Iran-Russia alliance and China's growing militarism have begun to repaint Washington's perceptions of US-China relations. These perceptions have been echoed by Washington's closest allies in Asia - Taipei and Tokyo. In mid-2004, reports by both the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) and the Pentagon depicted China as a major threat to US national security.

The USCC was created by Congress in 2000 "to monitor, investigate and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action". In June 2004, the USCC released its annual report on China.

This report noted that China was deliberately using economic warfare against Washington by creating a "competitive advantage over US manufacturers". The report specifically referred to the undervaluation of the yuan against the dollar and Beijing's (alleged) disregard for World Trade Organization rules as weapons in China's economic war with the US. The report described China's expanding relations with Iran as countering multilateral efforts to stabilize international oil supplies and prices.

The USCC report also noted that Russia was supplying increasingly sophisticated weapons to China and that these weapons were part of Beijing's strategy for defeating US forces in the event of war with Taiwan. A congressionally mandated report on China by the Pentagon described China's Russia-assisted military buildup as giving China the ability "to cause significant damage to all of Taiwan's airfields and quickly degrade Taiwan's ground based air-defenses and associated command and control". Most alarming, the Pentagon report warned that Chinese military strategists were considering the use of nuclear weapons against US and Taiwanese forces.

The Bush administration's concern over China's growing military power is also depicted in Washington's reaction to the European Union's proposed lifting of its China arms embargo. Washington's greatest concern about renewed arms trade between the EU and China was that this trade would permanently tip the balance of power away from Taiwan and toward China. Even worse, European arms could be used to kill US troops in Asia. Of course, the possibility of Beijing using European weapons to kill US troops presupposes that a war between China and the US will erupt.

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) share Washington's concerns about China's military threat. The Chen government's concern stems from its drive for Taiwan's independence from China and Beijing's forceful reminders that Taiwan is part of China. In the lead up to Taiwan's legislative elections in late 2004, Chen campaigned on a platform of Taiwanese independence. Though Chen's DPP suffered significant losses in these elections, Beijing's response was largely entrained in the form of China's anti-secession law.

The law was meant to firmly warn Chen against seeking Taiwan's independence from China in the event that the DPP won a legislative majority. The DPP's losses to the unification-minded opposition takes much of the bite out of the law. In addition, Chen's opposition, the Nationalist Party, has permanently stalled legislation seeking about $18 billion to bolster Taiwan's missile defense system. The opposition has realized that Taiwan has no hope of defending against a military attack from the mainland, prompting renewed ties between Taiwan's Nationalist Party and Beijing.

Along with Washington and Taipei, Tokyo also demonstrated its growing concern over China's increasing military might. In December 2004, the Japanese Defense Agency issued a defense policy guideline that defined China as a potential security threat. The report noted, "China, which has significant influence on the region's security, has been modernizing its nuclear and missile capabilities as well as naval and air forces, and expanding its area of operation at sea."

In a joint US-Japan security statement issued in February, Tokyo went further, agreeing that Japan would "encourage the peaceful resolution of issues concerning the Taiwan Strait through dialogue". Both the defense policy guideline and Tokyo's concern over tension between China and Taiwan are a dramatic departure from Japan's post-war foreign policy. The change in foreign policy focus from military pacifism to military assertion is being driven by Washington's own security concerns.

These same concerns drove Tokyo to encourage oil exploration in an area of the East China Sea that is claimed by China. Japan's military assertion has accelerated China's defense buildup while contributing to the creation of the China-Iran-Russia alliance. The shift in Tokyo's foreign policy has led to a sharp deterioration in China's relations with Japan. Foreign policies in Beijing, Washington and Tokyo are all characterized by two separate components - geopolitical relations and economic relations.

Cold War redux

Beijing's geopolitical relations with Washington and Tokyo are arguably at their lowest ebb since China established formal relations with the US and Japan in the 1970s. The deterioration in China's relations with the US and Japan and the resultant improvement in relations with Iran and Russia are being driven by Washington's outsized global security concerns. These security concerns are becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy for Washington.

In sharp contrast to geopolitical relations, economic relations between Beijing, Washington and Tokyo remain quite strong. The mutual interdependence of these economies argues strongly against the preeminence of security issues in overall relations. China is the largest trading partner of Japan and third largest trading partner of the US. In addition to substantial trade links, American and Japanese companies have invested tens of billions of dollars in China over the past 15 years. Nonetheless, Beijing, Washington and Tokyo have all elevated the importance of security to overall economic well-being.

While a conflict between the US and China over Iran or North Korea cannot be ruled out, economic interdependence suggests Beijing and Washington have entered a period of geopolitical detente. Beijing's increasingly close relations with Moscow and Tehran will contain Washington's further military projection in the Middle East, Central Asia and Asia and foil the Bush administration's plans for subduing uncooperative governments in Iran and North Korea. Finally, Washington's unilateralist foreign policy will increasingly isolate the US to the benefit of China's foreign economic relations, making Beijing all the stronger.


Jephraim P Gundzik is president of Condor Advisers, Inc. Condor Advisers provides emerging markets investment risk analysis to individuals and institutions globally. Please visit for further information.

(Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us for information on sales, syndication and republishing.)
          Russia halts deportation of gay journalist to Uzbekistan        

The Moscow City Court has temporarily halted the deportation of a gay Uzbek journalist after receiving widespread criticism from human rights advocates, The Moscow Times reports. Khudoberdi Nurmatov, who writes under the pen name Ali Feruz for Novaya Gazeta newspaper, is an Uzbek national who fled his home country in 2008 after he was arrested and tortured […]

The post Russia halts deportation of gay journalist to Uzbekistan appeared first on Metro Weekly.

          Tbilisi Dialogue Highlights Regional HIV Challenges        
30 Oct 2014

​Cooperation between government and civil society is crucial in securing rights for people living with HIV, a UNDP- and IDLO-sponsored meeting was told. Held in Tbilisi, Georgia with support from the European Union, the International Dialogue brought together government and civil society representatives from eleven former Soviet states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia have continued to see a rise in HIV infections. An estimated 1.6 million people live with the virus. Between 2005 and 2012, the AIDS mortality rate climbed by more than a fifth. Levels of treatment are low: no more than a third of those in need of antiretroviral therapy are estimated to be receiving it. The rights of people with HIV are frequently breached in the region: violations range from denial of confidentiality to outright criminalization of the behavior of the populations most at risk.

“HIV is a matter of human rights,” Evgeniy Spevak of the Eurasian and Belarussian Union of People Living with HIV told the meeting. […] states have the obligation to undertake legal, financial and administrative measures to bring these rights as close as possible to the highest standards of health.”


          International Women's Day (8 March)/Dia Internaçional da Mulher (8 de março)        

International Women's Day, 8 March 2010:

Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all


International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. 

Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was the result.

Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women's Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic 'Triangle Fire' in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events. 1911 also saw women's 'Bread and Roses' campaign.

On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Wommen's Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women's solidarity.

On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for "bread and peace" in response to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women's strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.

1918 - 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as 'International Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.

2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

GoogleAnnually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google some years even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as 'Women's History Month'.
So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.


More about International Women's Day from the UN's Women Watch site:
In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women's Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. For the United Nations, International Women's Day has been observed on 8 March since 1975. The Day is traditionally marked with a message from the Secretary-General.

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500th Anniversary of Thailand-Portugal Diplomatic Relations.

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Each stamp also features an element from each country's national flag: a Star of David and a five-pointed star. 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and China. Posted by ...

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March 2012 marks the 400th anniversary of the appearance of the Virgin de Caridad de Cobre (Our Lady of Charity), Cuba's patron saint. Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Cuba starting on March 26 to participate in the ... The United States and Cuba do not have full diplomatic relations, and U.S.-Cuba policy continues to be dominated by U.S. trade sanctions and the travel embargo on Cuba. The detention and March 2011 sentencing of USAID contractor Alan Gross to ...

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11 hours ago ... Singapore, Uzbekistan reaffirm excellent bilateral ties ... countries commemorated the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

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          Singapore, Uzbekistan mark 15th anniversary of diplomatic ties        

Singapore, Uzbekistan mark 15th anniversary of diplomatic ties : Photo Gallery

Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui Attends the Reception Hosted by ...
Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui Attends the Reception Hosted by ...

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Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui Attends the Reception Hosted by ...

Li said Uzbekistan became the

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Singapore and Uzbekistan have

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People's Daily Online News Archive --- Date:
People's Daily Online News Archive --- Date:

People's Daily Online News Archive --- Date:

People's Daily Online News Archive --- Date:

Uzbekistan issues stamps for

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The saddle saga: deported from Uzbekistan - I4U News

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The saddle saga: deported from Uzbekistan - I4U News

Singapore, Uzbekistan mark

The saddle saga: deported from Uzbekistan - I4U News
The saddle saga: deported from Uzbekistan - I4U News

The saddle saga: deported from Uzbekistan - I4U News

The saddle saga: deported from Uzbekistan - I4U News

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Photo: 15th Anniversary of Rwandan Genocide
Photo: 15th Anniversary of Rwandan Genocide

Photo: 15th Anniversary of Rwandan Genocide

Photo: 15th Anniversary of Rwandan Genocide

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Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui Attends the Launch Ceremony of ...

Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui Attends the Launch Ceremony of ...

Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui Attends the Launch Ceremony of ...

of Diplomatic Ties Between




Uzbekistan : 2009 Asian Youth

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2010 December « European Council on International Relations

2010 December « European Council on International Relations

2010 December « European Council on International Relations

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My Little Postcard Corner: April 2011

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diplomatic relations with

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Channel NewsAsia - Singapore News - channelnewsasia.

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Singapore Airlines on Friday

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Pacific Sentinel: October 2011

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In Singapore, I will attend

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malta - Press Releases
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malta - Press Releases

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malta - Press Releases

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malta - Press Releases

It is my pleasure to be with you here today to mark the 15th anniversary of

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malta - Press Releases
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malta - Press Releases

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malta - Press Releases

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malta - Press Releases

Diplomatic relations established with the Republic of Congo




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Singapore, Uzbekistan mark 15th anniversary of diplomatic ties : Videos

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President Obama Meets with Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama
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President Obama Meets with Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama

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10/7/09: White House Press Briefing
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House Session 2011-09-14 (12:00:27-13:05:34)
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House Session 2011-09-14 (12:00:27-13:05:34)

BURMA, CHINA, IRAN, NORTH KOREA, SAUDI ARABIA, SUDAN AND UZBEK STAN AS COUNTRIES OF PARTICULAR -- UZBEKISTAN AS COUNTRIES OF PARTICULAR CONCERN ... Rated: 1     Duration: 3907 seconds     Video type: YouTube     Hosted by: on Wed, 14 Sep 2011 18:16:28 PDT

National Capital Planning Commission Meeting - December 1, 2011
National Capital Planning Commission Meeting - December 1, 2011

National Capital Planning Commission Meeting - December 1, 2011

couched in terms of security. MR. ALDAG: But this has an effect on our diplomatic relations in the world. And you know, especially these ... Rated: -1     Duration: 13956 seconds     Video type: YouTube     Hosted by: on Thu, 01 Dec 2011 17:57:55 PST

Healthy Body = Functional Body. Hollywood Look Side Effect: Healthy Function
Healthy Body = Functional Body. Hollywood Look Side Effect: Healthy Function

Healthy Body = Functional Body. Hollywood Look Side Effect: Healthy Function

2 people, with mains and starter, and a large glass of wine for the bargain price of £15 for 2 people..It was fantastic too.....:-)))Wednesday at ... Rated: 1.7704082     Duration: 167 seconds     Video type: YouTube     Hosted by: on Thu, 22 Sep 2011 09:46:52 PDT

Reshaping the Debate on Climate Change - Mary Robinson
Reshaping the Debate on Climate Change - Mary Robinson

Reshaping the Debate on Climate Change - Mary Robinson

very keen that this Commission on Sustainability and that Conference to mark the 20th anniversary of Rio really takes seriously what we mean now ... Rated: 2.3913043     Duration: 5682 seconds     Video type: YouTube     Hosted by: on Tue, 14 Dec 2010 12:38:40 PST

Tanya Roberts Outrageous Love & Friendship Sam Botta-Live Fearless-Chris Shining,Executive Producer
Tanya Roberts Outrageous Love & Friendship Sam Botta-Live Fearless-Chris Shining,Executive Producer

Tanya Roberts Outrageous Love & Friendship Sam Botta-Live Fearless-Chris Shining,Executive Producer

were divorced before she reached high school. Tanya dropped out of high school at age 15, got married and hitchhiked around the country until her ... Rated: 1.9666137     Duration: 54 seconds     Video type: YouTube     Hosted by: on Fri, 10 Feb 2012 03:34:03 PST

train to belgium
train to belgium

train to belgium

Philippine National Museum ,Singapore,Singapore,Asian Civilisations Museum ,Lee Kong Chian Art Museum at the National University of Singapore ... Rated: 2.1414142     Duration: 73 seconds     Video type: Google     Hosted by: on Thu, 16 Mar 2006 05:35:59 PST

Singapore, Uzbekistan mark 15th anniversary of diplomatic ties : Latest News, Information, Answers and Websites

Singapore, Uzbekistan reaffirm excellent bilateral ties

TASHKENT: Singapore and Uzbekistan have reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral relations as both countries commemorated the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. Both sides will also promote closer ties between their ...

Investments: Is it time Singapore stock market listed, US$ 4 Billion ...

ODNI News Release: ODNI Marks Five-Year Anniversary With Ceremony - DNI Blair Celebrates Achievements, Reflects on Challenges April 21, 2010; DNI Blair Addresses the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Fifth Year .... FOREIGN RELATIONS. Join the Blue Ribbon Online Free Speech Campaign! ... April 12, 2012; Uzbekistan: Human Rights Problems with a Strategic U.S. Partner April 3, 2012; Why Are Police Still Torturing Drug Users in Indonesia?

          Dług i bogactwo        

Widziałem dziś takie pytanie:

Wytłumaczcie mi proszę, bo czegoś tu nie rozumiem. Wszyscy raczej są zgodni, co do tego, że dług publiczny jest zły dla gospodarki. To dlaczego do cholery w pierwszej 20 najbardziej zadłużonych państw znajdują się takie potęgi gospodarcze jak Japonia, Singapur, USA, Kanada czy Wielka Brytania, a w pierwszej 20 najmniej zadłużonych takie gospodarcze miernoty jak Libia, Gwinea Równikowa, Afganistan, Algieria, Suazi, Uzbekistan, Kosowo czy Kuba? To jak to w końcu jest z tym długiem?

Bardzo dobre pytanie. Dlaczego tak...

          FIFA Confederation Ranking Comparison - July 2014        

Comparing FIFA Confederations using the average FIFA ranking of the top 5 teams from each region.

5.2 - EUROPE
1 - Germany
3 - Netherlands
5 - Belgium
8 - Spain
9 - Switzerland

2 - Argentina
4 - Colombia
6 - Uruguay
7 - Brazil
12 - Chile

15 - USA
16 - Costa Rica
18 - Mexico
33 - Panama
40 - Honduras

31.4 - AFRICA
24 - Algeria
25 - Cote d'Ivoire
34 - Nigeria
36 - Egypt
38 - Ghana

51.8 - ASIA
45 - Japan
49 - Iran
52 - Uzbekistan
56 - South Korea
57 - Jordan

154.0 - OCEANIA
101 - New Zealand
136 - New Caledonia
171 - Tahiti
175 - Solomon Islands
187 - Vanuatu

          2014 World Cup: Foreign Born Players        
Players in the final 2014 World Cup squads that were born outside of the country they are representing.



Charles Itandje (France)
Benoît Assou-Ekotto (France)
Allan Nyom (France)
Joël Matip (Germany)
Maxim Choupo-Moting (Germany)

Dejan Lovren (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Vedran Ćorluka (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Nikica Jelavić (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Ivan Rakitić (Switzerland)
Mateo Kovačić (Austria)
Sammir (Brazil)
Eduardo (Brazil)

Miguel Ángel Ponce (USA)
Isaác Brizuela (USA)


Dario Vidošić (Croatia)

Miiko Albornoz (Sweden)
Jorge Valdívia (Venezuela)

Bruno Martins Indi (Portugal)
Jonathan de Guzmán (Canada)

Diego Costa (Brazil)



Cote d'Ivoire
Sol Bamba (France)
Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro (France)
Giovanni Sio (France)
Mathis Bolly (Norway)

Loukas Vyntra (Czech Republic)
José Holebas (Germany)
Panagiotis Kone (Albania)

Gōtoku Sakai (USA)


Costa Rica
Óscar Duarte (Nicaragua)

Raheem Sterling (Jamaica)

Gabriel Paletta (Argentina)
Thiago Motta (Brazil)

Fernando Muslera (Argentina)



Patrice Evra (Senegal)
Rio Mavuba (Born at Sea; link)


Valon Behrami (Kosovo)
Xherdan Shaqiri (Kosovo)
Blerim Džemaili (Macedonia)
Admir Mehmedi (Macedonia)
Gelson Fernandes (Cape Verde)
Johan Djourou (Cote d'Ivoire)


Gonzalo Higuaín (France)

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Emir Spahić (Croatia)
Mensur Mujdža (Croatia)
Sead Kolašinac (Germany)
Zvjezdan Misimović (Germany)
Muhamed Bešić (Germany)
Izet Hajrović (Switzerland)

Daniel Davari (Germany)
Steven Beitashour (USA)

Peter Odemwingie (Uzbekistan)


Miroslav Klose (Poland)
Lukas Podolski (Poland)

Adam Kwarasey (Norway)
Kevin-Prince Boateng (Germany)
André Ayew (France)
Jordan Ayew (France)
Albert Adomah (England)

Pepe (Brazil)
Nani (Cape Verde)
William Carvalho (Angola)
Éder (Guinea-Bissau)

United States
Fabian Johnson (Germany)
Timothy Chandler (Germany)
John Brooks (Germany)
Jermaine Jones (Germany)
Mix Diskerud (Norway)


Raïs M'Bolhi (France)
Cédric Si Mohamed (France)
Carl Medjani (France)
Liassine Cadamuro-Bentaïba (France)
Faouzi Ghoulam (France)
Aïssa Mandi (France)
Medhi Lacen (France)
Hassan Yebda (France)
Mehdi Mostefa (France)
Sofiane Feghouli (France)
Saphir Taïder (France)
Yacine Brahimi (France)
Nabil Bentaleb (France)
Riyad Mahrez (France)
Nabil Ghilas (France)

Anthony Vanden Borre (DR Congo)


South Korea

          2014 World Cup: Foreign-Born Players        
Players in the provisional 2014 World Cup squads that were born outside of the country they are representing.



Charles Itandje (France)
Benoît Assou-Ekotto (France)
Allan Nyom (France)
Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik (France)
Raoul Loé (France)
Joël Matip (Germany)
Maxim Choupo-Moting (Germany)

Dejan Lovren (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Vedran Ćorluka (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Nikica Jelavić (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Ivan Rakitić (Switzerland)
Mateo Kovačić (Austria)
Sammir (Brazil)
Eduardo (Brazil)
Mario Pašalić (Germany)

Miguel Ángel Ponce (USA)
Isaác Brizuela (USA)


Dario Vidošić (Croatia)

Marcos González (Brazil)
Miiko Albornoz (Sweden)
Jorge Valdívia (Venezuela)
Pablo Hernández (Argentina)

Bruno Martins Indi (Portugal)
Jonathan de Guzmán (Canada)

Diego Costa (Brazil)



Cote d'Ivoire
Sol Bamba (France)
Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro (France)
Giovanni Sio (France)
Mathis Bolly (Norway)

Loukas Vyntra (Czech Republic)
José Holebas (Germany)
Panagiotis Kone (Albania)

Gōtoku Sakai (USA)


Costa Rica
Óscar Duarte (Nicaragua)

Raheem Sterling (Jamaica)

Gabriel Paletta (Argentina)
Thiago Motta (Brazil)
Rômulo (Brazil)
Giuseppe Rossi (USA)

Fernando Muslera (Argentina)



Patrice Evra (Senegal)
Rio Mavuba (Born at Sea; link)


Valon Behrami (Kosovo)
Xherdan Shaqiri (Kosovo)
Blerim Džemaili (Macedonia)
Admir Mehmedi (Macedonia)
Gelson Fernandes (Cape Verde)
Johan Djourou (Cote d'Ivoire)


Gonzalo Higuaín (France)

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Emir Spahić (Croatia)
Mensur Mujdža (Croatia)
Sead Kolašinac (Germany)
Zvjezdan Misimović (Germany)
Muhamed Bešić (Germany)
Izet Hajrović (Switzerland)

Daniel Davari (Germany)
Steven Beitashour (USA)

Peter Odemwingie (Uzbekistan)


Miroslav Klose (Poland)
Lukas Podolski (Poland)

Adam Kwarasey (Norway)
Jeff Schlupp (Germany)
Kevin-Prince Boateng (Germany)
André Ayew (France)
Jordan Ayew (France)
Albert Adomah (England)

Pepe (Brazil)
Nani (Cape Verde)
William Carvalho (Angola)
Éder (Guinea-Bissau)

United States
Fabian Johnson (Germany)
Timothy Chandler (Germany)
John Brooks (Germany)
Jermaine Jones (Germany)
Terrence Boyd (Germany)
Mix Diskerud (Norway)


Raïs M'Bolhi (France)
Cédric Si Mohamed (France)
Carl Medjani (France)
Liassine Cadamuro-Bentaïba (France)
Faouzi Ghoulam (France)
Aïssa Mandi (France)
Medhi Lacen (France)
Adlène Guedioura (France)
Hassan Yebda (France)
Foued Kadir (France)
Mehdi Mostefa (France)
Sofiane Feghouli (France)
Ryad Boudebouz (France)
Saphir Taïder (France)
Yacine Brahimi (France)
Nabil Bentaleb (France)
Amir Karaoui (France)
Riyad Mahrez (France)
Rafik Djebbour (France)
Nabil Ghilas (France)

Anthony Vanden Borre (DR Congo)


South Korea

          FIFA Confederation Ranking Comparison - April 2014        
Comparing FIFA Confederations using the average FIFA ranking of the top 5 teams from each region.

Top 5 Avg. - Confederation (+/- February 2013)

4.6 - EUROPE (-0.4)
1 - Spain
2 - Germany
3 - Portugal
8 - Switzerland
9 - Italy

7.0 - SOUTH AMERICA (+0.6)
4 - Colombia
5 - Uruguay
6 - Argentina
6 - Brazil
14 - Chile

26.6 - CONCACAF (+1.6)
13 - USA
19 - Mexico
32 - Honduras
34 - Costa Rica
35 - Panama

30.0 - AFRICA (+0.2)
21 - Cote d'Ivoire
24 - Egypt
25 - Algeria
38 - Ghana
42 - Cape Verde Islands

50.4 - ASIA (+0.8)
37 - Iran
47 - Japan
53 - Uzbekistan
56 - South Korea
59 - Australia

151.4 - OCEANIA (-11.6)
111 - New Zealand
136 - New Caledonia
157 - Tahiti
172 - Solomon Islands
181 - Vanuatu

          9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia        
9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia

Pernah negbayangin apa yang terjadi pada mesin-mesin usang pada saat mereka gak digunain lagi? Kebanyakan dari kita mungkin bakal ngejawab di daur ulang atau dipajang karena mungkin itu kenangan. Namun, sebagian yang lain benar-benar dibuang bahkan ada tempatnya tersendiri. Kayak tempat-tempat berikut, yang jadi kuburan bagi benda-benda yang sudah gak digunain lagi oleh pemiliknya ataupun emang gak layak pakai lagi. Cekidot ke-9 kuburan terunik di dunia bagi benda-benda usang itu di bawah ini.

Kuburan Pesawat Terbang, Amerika

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Pesawat Terbang, Amerika

Nama officialnya adalah “The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group” atau "AMARG)". Lokasi salah satu kuburan terunik di dunia ini tepatnya terletak dekat pangkalan udara Davis Monthan, Arizona. Bagi yang belum pernah melihatnya secara langsung, pasti bakal sangat sulit buat mencernanya. “Kok bisa-bisanya seabrek bangkai pesawat bisa ada di sini?” Sama, ane juga bingung.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Pesawat Terbang, Amerika

Ada satu lagi fakta unik dari salah satu kuburan terunik di dunia ini, bangkai-bangkai pesawat ini ternyata DAPAT dipindahkan seandainya AMARG lagi perlu tambahan pesawat. Nah lo? Gimana caranya tuh?

Kumpulan pesawat ini menjadi pemandangan unik tersendiri bagi para turis yang berkunjung ke sini, dan ya, sangat populer di dunia.

Kuburan Bangkai Kapal, Mauritania

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Bangkai Kapal, Mauritania

Kuburan bangkai kapal ini tepatnya terletak di kota Noudhibou, Maurtania. Salah satu kuburan terunik di dunia ini juga merupakan kuburan bangkai kapal terbesar yang ada sampai saat ini. Agan-agan bisa liat ratusan kapal parkir di lokasi ini.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Bangkai Kapal, Mauritania

Fenomena kapal yang markir di sini sudah terjadi sejak tahun 80an silam. Para petugas pelabuhan pada waktu itulah penyebabnya yang dkarenakan mereka menerima sejumlah uang dari para pemilik kapal yang ingin membuang kapal-kapal mereka karena sudah tak layak digunakan dan akhirnya begini deh jadinya.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Bangkai Kapal, Mauritania

Kuburan Kereta Api, Bolivia

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Kereta Api, Bolivia

Kuburan kereta api ini merupakan salah satu alasan para turis berkunjung ke Bolivia. Kuburan kereta api ini terletak 3 km di luar kota Uyuni dan kuburan ini terhubung dengan rel kereta api yang sudah lama ditinggalkan.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Kereta Api, Bolivia

Dulunya, tempat ini digunakan sebagai aktivitas distribusi mineral oleh industri pertambangan. Lintasan rel kereta api ini pertama kali dibuat pada akhir abad ke-19. Pada tahun 1940, perusahaan tambang itu bangkrut dan kereta-kereta di sini ditinggalkan begitu saja oleh perusahaan itu dan akhirnya jadilah tempat ini menjadi kuburan kereta api yang dikenal sebagai salah satu kuburan terunik di dunia.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Kereta Api, Bolivia

Kuburan Jangkar Kapal, Portugal

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Jangkar Kapal, Portugal

Agan-agan bisa nemuin kuburan jangkar ini di sekitar pesisir pantai kota Tavira, Postugal. Lokasi ini dijadikan sebagai tempat kenang-kenangan bagi para nelayan dulu yang menangkap ikan tuna di daerah ini.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Jangkar Kapal, Portugal

Kuburan Tank Soviet, Afghanistan

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Tank Soviet, Afghanistan

Di luar kota Kabul, Afghanistan agan-agan bisa nemuin pemandangan luar biasa ini. Tank-tank ini ditinggalkan oleh para tentara Uni Soviet karena kegagalan Uni Soviet menginvasi negara Afghanistan pada tahun 70-80an.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Tank Soviet, Afghanistan

Tank-tank itu sekarang jadi tempat yang populer, baik bagi para warga Afghanistan sendiri ataupun para turis yang berkunjung ke situ. Di sisi lain, salah satu kuburan terunik di dunia ini juga bisa menjadi pengingat bahwa dulu Uni Soviet gagal menginvasi Afghanistan.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Tank Soviet, Afghanistan

Kuburan kapal Selam, Rusia

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan kapal Selam, Rusia

Kuburan kapal selam ini terletak di sekitar area teluk Nezametnaya, dekat kota Gadzhityevo. Setelah kapal selam ini digunakan dalam berbagai macam misi pada perang dulu, kapal-kapal ini pun ditinggalkan begitu saja oleh para tentara ke area ini (dulunya area ini terlarang bagi warga biasa). Penduduk lokal di sana mengatakan bahwa beberapa kapal selam di situ masih digunakan sebagai latihan oleh militer Rusia.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan kapal Selam, Rusia

Kuburan Bangkai Kapal Moynaq, Uzbekistan

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia -  Kuburan Bangkai Kapal Moynaq, Uzbekistan

Moynaq merupakan salah satu nama kota di wilayah barat Uzbekistan. Hanya ada beberapa kepala keluarga yang masih ada di sini. Populasi kota Moynaq mulai menurun karena pada tahun 80an ada resesi laut Aral.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia -  Kuburan Bangkai Kapal Moynaq, Uzbekistan

Bagi para turis, alasan utama mereka mengunjungi Moynaq adalah ingin melihat kuburan bangkai-bangkai kapal yang tertinggal di kota ini. Namun, akhir-akhir ini bangkai kapal Moynaq sudah mulai berkurang karena digunakan oleh perusahaan besi sebagai bahan tambahan pembuatan besi mereka.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia -  Kuburan Bangkai Kapal Moynaq, Uzbekistan

Kuburan Taksi, Cina

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Taksi, Cina

Lokasi kuburan bangkai taksi ini terletak di pertengahan kota Chingqing, Cina. Alasan taksi-taksi ini dibuang sebenarnya cukup klasik, yaitu polusi udara serta adanya alternatif mobil yang lebih murah dan ramah lingkungan.

Kuburan Booth Telepon Umum, Inggris

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Booth Telepon Umum, Inggris

Lokasi salah satu kuburan terunik di dunia ini berada di anatara Ripon dan Thirsk, dekat perkampungan Carlton Miniott, Inggris. Alasan penggunaan telepon genggam merupakan salah satu yang paling berpengaruh dalam pembuangan booth-booth telepon ini. Namun, kerajaan Inggris tidak sepenuhnya melupakan telepon umum, pihak kerajaan hanya mengurangi jumlahnya serta menggantinya dengan yang lebih canggih.

9 Kuburan Terunik di Dunia - Kuburan Booth Telepon Umum, Inggris

Nah, itu dia gan 9 kuburan unik yang tersebar di penjuru dunia. Mungkin, tempat-tempat itu bisa jadi salah satu alasan agan-agan mengunjungi negara-negara tersebut.

Sumber: _

          (Un)Fantastic Five: A Remembrance Of Values Voter Summits Past        
Rob Boston
More fun than a trip to Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan! It's the Values Voter Summit!

The Religious Right’s annual “Values Voter Summit” (VVS) takes place this weekend. Americans United staffers Simon Brown, Sarah Jones and I will be there. (Barry Lynn usually pops in too, in case anyone wants to take a selfie with him.)

If you are a religious person, please pray for us. If you’re not religious, please forward some recommendations for stress-relief strategies – favorite liquors, ice-cream brands, yoga positions, etc. – as I suspect we’ll all need some way to unwind when this thing is over.

The Summit is sponsored primarily by the Family Research Council along with the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel and others. I’ve been to a lot of these meetings over the years. Today I’d like to share with you five of my favorite (and by “favorite” I actually mean “most offensive”) speakers from Summits past – with a little information about what makes them so special.

Herman Cain: Does anyone remember Herman Cain? Do the phrases “9-9-9” and “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” ring a bell? Cain, you might recall, is a former pizza magnate who inexplicably became the Republican Party’s presidential front-runner for a brief period in 2011. He appeared at the Summit the same year, and I have to say, he wowed the crowd.

Unfortunately, it was all style, no substance. Cain’s platform consisted of a string of simplistic ideas passed off as homespun wisdom. Virtually no one who looked at his proposals seriously believed they could work. But he presented well, and his speech at VVS was an effective mix of fiery denunciations of President Barack Obama, humor and hubris. At one point he told the crowd, “My challenge to you is stay informed because we are up against a lot of stupid people in America.” (You don’t say!)

Cain had a lot of promise. No one, other than Cain himself, actually believed he was going to be president, but he could have worked the Religious Right’s speaking circuit for years propelled by his incredible bombast. Alas, not long after that speech, he started having trouser-related problems and was soon out of the race. Although he still works the Tea Party crowd, Cain hasn’t been back to the Summit since.

Newt Gingrich: Smug and arrogant, the thrice-married serial adulterer Newt Gingrich is a VVS institution, even though he’s really just a walking sack of chutzpah on legs. Given his own checkered past when it comes to respecting the bonds of marriage, you would think Gingrich would refrain from accusing gays of trying to undermine that institution. But you would be wrong. He does it all of the time.

Gingrich is often lauded as a right-wing intellectual; I’ve never understood why. His grasp on American history and the text of the Constitution he claims to revere have always been tenuous at best. He seems to labor under the delusion that the United States was founded to be a religious state, and the last time I heard him speak he went on and on about his plan, if elected president, to remove federal judges who dare hand down rulings affirming the separation of church and state. He seemed untroubled by the fact that nothing in the Constitution gives the president the power to do that.

Gingrich’s own ethical lapses, of course, are well known. That doesn’t stop him from judging everyone else.

Star Parker: I’ve had the misfortune to hear Star Parker speak perhaps a dozen times. Prior to her appearances at the Summit, she was a regular fixture at the Christian Coalition’s “Road to Victory” events during the 1990s.

Parker’s claim to fame – and it’s a very old, tired story – is that she says she was once a drug addict and welfare mother who lived in a taxpayer-subsidized luxury apartment with a swimming pool, fireplace and sunken living room in California. (Jesus delivered her from all that.) As far as I know, no one has ever bothered to check her implausible story.

Parker doesn’t so much speak as she does scream. She’s frequently incoherent and usually delivers a stream-of-consciousness rant that careens from one Bible verse to another. Also, she really does not like liberals, gay people or atheists.

Bryan Fischer: The American Family Association’s resident extremism czar, Fischer first came to my attention some years ago after he wrote a column suggesting that a killer whale at SeaWorld that had killed a trainer should be executed. You see, that’s what the Bible calls for. (You might have seen this documentary, which explores the issue with considerably more nuance.)

Since then, Fischer has unleashed a string of gems: implying that women’s suffrage was a mistake, asserting that states can ban Islam, demanding religious tests in the military, opining that the lack of mandatory prayer in public schools led to the Newtown, Conn., school shootings and so on.

Fischer’s actually not a very compelling speaker. His main attraction is that you never know what he’s going to say next – but you can be sure that it will be pretty insane. At the 2009 VVS, he informed the crowd that Adolf Hitler had invented the separation of church and state.

Glenn Beck: Listening to Glenn Beck speak is like watching an avant-garde movie. You might not know what’s going on most of the time, but it’s just strange enough that you keep looking.

Beck’s delivery is so dramatic and staged that it’s often easy to overlook the fact that what he’s saying makes no sense. The last time I heard him speak, I was uncertain if I had just heard the ramblings of a madman or a brilliant piece of performance art. He’s a lot like Howard Beale from “Network.” He goes on and on, and you keep waiting for him to tell you to stick your head out the window. But in the end, he’s crying and you feel like it too.

I’m still not convinced that Beck actually believes the things he says – can an entire belief system rest on word salad? – but there’s no denying that it does pay the bills.

* * *

I’m not sure that this year’s event can top any of that, but we’re about to find out.

Although I poke fun, don’t get the wrong idea. These people are scary. There is one thing you can’t deny about the Values Voter Summit: They put it all right out there. Summiteers have a vision for America. It’s a nightmarish theocracy where LGBT Americans, non-Christians, progressive and moderate Christians, women, non-believers and others would find their rights curtailed, if not gone entirely.

Every year, the forces of retrogression and oppression spend two days plotting to knock down the church-state wall and raise the banner for their vision of a “godly” society based on “Christian” values. They outline their plan and vow to bring it about. Onward go the Christian soldiers.

We can’t say we weren’t warned.

P.S. Be sure to visit “The Wall of Separation” on Monday. Simon will have some thoughts on this year’s Summit. For more on what this event is like, here is a personal reflection I wrote about the 2011 confab.


          The First Drone Strike        

On Nov. 14, 2001, five weeks into America’s war against al-Qaida, a small, unmanned, remote-controlled airplane called a Predator took off from a U.S. air base in Uzbekistan, crossed the border into Afghanistan, and—with a video camera attached to its belly—started tracking a convoy of vehicles believed to be carrying jihadi leaders along a road in Kabul. A group of officers and spies, monitoring the streamed footage from inside a trailer in a parking lot at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, watched the convoy stop outside a building. With the push of a button, the Predator fired a Hellfire missile at the building, the back half of which exploded. Seven people, survivors of the blast, were seen fleeing to another nearby structure. A second Hellfire destroyed that shelter, too. Among the dead was Mohammed Atef, al-Qaida’s military chief and Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law. Five weeks earlier, on Oct. 7, a drone strike had been launched against another caravan, this one carrying the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, but the missile missed; doubts about this newfangled technology remained. But now, after the Atef killing, the era of the armed drone—the weapon that has since come to define American-style warfare in the 21st century—had unambiguously begun.*

It’s an unlikely story how this weapon, and this era, came to be. The idea had been hatched all the way back in the early 1970s, the brainchild of the Pentagon’s chief scientist at the time, a nuclear physicist named John S. Foster. A model-airplane enthusiast, Foster envisioned loading a somewhat larger version of his hobbyist toy with a ground-scanning camera that could send back real-time images to a command post and a bomb that could be released by remote control. None of this technology existed yet, but as a crude experiment, Foster commissioned the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to build two “remotely piloted vehicles,” each powered by a lawn-mower engine and capable of staying aloft for two hours while carrying a 28-pound payload.

Foster’s experiment coincided with two developments in the real world. The first was the microprocessor revolution, which created the possibility of what came to be called “smart bombs”—weapons, either fired by missiles or dropped by planes, that could explode within a few feet of a target, thus allowing specific objects to be destroyed without doing much damage to the surroundings.

The second trend was the Soviet Union’s growing military strength. The USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies had long outnumbered American and NATO armies on the ground in Europe, but the United States compensated with nuclear supremacy. By the late 1960s, the Russians had achieved “nuclear parity”: If the United States launched a nuclear attack on Russia, the Russians could respond in kind. In order to deter and repel a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, NATO would need a qualitative edge in non-nuclear weapons. Foster’s souped-up model airplane seemed to fit the bill.

The idea was that, in the event of a invasion, these remotely piloted vehicles (much smaller and thus harder to detect than manned combat planes) could destroy targets well behind enemy lines—knocking out air bases, supply depots, follow-on echelons of tanks and other armored vehicles—and could thus disrupt and delay the Soviet offensive, giving NATO a chance to regroup and fight back, without having to fire back with nukes.

Prototypes were developed in the 1980s but few officers evinced any interest in the project until the 1991 Gulf War, when

U.S. Air Force and Navy planes dropped the first smart bombs, which were guided to their targets by laser beams. There weren’t as many smart bombs as cable-news coverage of that war suggested (they comprised only about 9 percent of all the American bombs dropped), and quite a few of them veered off course (a fact not known till well after the war). But some Pentagon officials began to talk about a “revolution in military affairs” (even calling it by its acronym, RMA), in which the qualitative edge provided by technology—super-accurate weapons, super-fast data transmission, and the ability to connect the two—would transform the nature and pace of warfare. The smart bombs were different from Foster’s vision—for one thing, they were dropped from manned aircraft—but they relied on similar technology, so drones too fell into the discussion of RMA.

In the spring of 1996, William Perry, President Bill Clinton’s secretary of defense, approved production of the first remotely piloted drone, the Predator RQ-1, and placed it in the hands of the Air Force. The “R” in RQ-1 stood for reconnaissance: For the moment, this drone was purely an intelligence tool, transmitting video footage back to base, where a “pilot” would steer its course with a joystick and analysts would scrutinize its images. In 1999, these new weapons provided vital intel about targets and troop movements for NATO’s air war in Kosovo, but the drones didn’t carry, much less fire, any weapons.

Around the same time, al-Qaida started looming as a serious threat. CIA Director George Tenet and White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke argued that Predators should help track down Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. The first flights for this mission occurred in October 2000. The Predators’ video feeds were beamed back to a monitor at CIA headquarters. Clarke recalls his first viewing as something out of science fiction, “this idea that I could tell someone ‘Can you move it a little to the left’ and, halfway around the world, something moved to the left.”

On one of the video feeds, a tall, bearded man could be seen. The image wasn’t sharp; in fact, it was fuzzy, but CIA counterterrorism analysts guessed—though they couldn’t be certain—that this tall man was Bin Laden. This inspired Clarke, then others, to push for putting a missile on the Predators so that the next time they spotted the al-Qaida leader, they could kill him.

This suggestion sparked a debate that, in retrospect, seems quaint. Top Air Force officers didn’t want to use Predators to kill Bin Laden because the United States wasn’t officially at war with Afghanistan or with al-Qaida. Top CIA officials were leery of the notion as well: They felt an intelligence agency shouldn’t take military action.

In January 2001, the final month of Bill Clinton’s presidency, these legal and bureaucratic issues were untangled. Top officials acknowledged the absurdity of legally permitting the U.S. government to kill Bin Laden with a submarine-launched cruise missile, as President Clinton had tried to do, but not with a smaller missile fired from a drone. And so, a modified Predator—carrying not just a camera but also a laser-seeker and a Hellfire air-to-ground missile, which could be fired by the same sort of joystick that guided the drone’s flight path—was successfully tested.

Most Air Force officers were still dubious of the new weapon, some because they doubted it would respond to signals from halfway across the world, others because the weapon’s very nature (a slow, unmanned, hovering aircraft) was anathema to the dominant Air Force culture (which cherished fast, manned jet fighters).

But the Air Force chief of staff at the time, Gen. John Jumper, was more visionary than most and backed the program. The previous May, while the debate was still raging, Jumper wrote an Air Force mission statement for a Hellfire-armed Predator, saying the weapon would be ideal for hitting “fleeting and perishable” targets. During the Cold War, this phrase would have meant Soviet armored vehicles on the plains of Europe. Now it clearly referred to cars that carried, or buildings that sheltered, al-Qaida terrorists in the mountains of Southwest Asia. In a memo to Condoleezza Rice, President-elect George W. Bush’s national security adviser, Clarke spelled out the history of the Hellfire-armed drone and urged “going forward” with new missions exploiting this new feature.

As is now well-known, Rice and the rest of Bush’s team were slow to heed Clarke and Tenet’s warnings about Bin Laden. (The first Cabinet meeting to discuss al-Qaida took place on Sept. 4, one week before the attack on the twin towers and the Pentagon.) But within the Pentagon bureaucracy, the armed drone moved ahead with unusual speed. In February 2001, three Hellfire missiles were fired from Predators at targets on a test range in Nevada. Deployment of the new weapon was scheduled for Sept. 1. Technical problems delayed shipment, but after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, the drones and their missiles were rushed to U.S. air bases near Afghanistan. The U.S. bombing campaign against al-Qaida commenced on Oct. 7. Five weeks later, the Predators were ready, and on Nov. 14, a Hellfire missile tore out of the seemingly empty sky and killed Mohammad Atef and six of his comrades—though it wasn’t known at the time that Atef was among those killed, and it’s still unclear, 15 years later, whether the U.S. officials running the operation even knew Atef was in the building.

A weapons system originally conceived to destroy Soviet tanks in the opening phases of World War III (even the Hellfire missile was designed as an anti-armor weapon) emerged, after a quarter-century’s gestation, as a device to kill specific people—or even a specific person—in a prolonged, global, and often secret war on terror.

Bush was keen to send more drones into action, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, but production was slow, owing in part to deliberate stalling by the Air Force chiefs. (Jumper had retired, and his successor was of a more traditional bent.) Robert Gates, who replaced Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense in Bush’s final two years, ordered a speed-up both in the drones’ production and delivery. By the time Barack Obama entered the White House in January 2009 (and kept Gates on for his first two years in office), drone factories were cranking out Predators and a few follow-on models nearly as fast as the U.S. commanders, mainly in Afghanistan and Iraq, were requesting them.

The new drones were a perfect fit for Obama’s philosophy of military intervention. Obama wasn’t averse to using force, but he was averse to throwing thousands of American troops into battle unless the nation’s vital interests were at stake. If the United States or its allies had a less-than-vital interest in a conflict, or if some less-than-urgent threat were posed, he preferred sending small squads of Special Forces or teams of military advisers—or, the ultimate tool of unrisky warfare, drones.

The upside of drones was that they let a president kill bad guys and ward off potential dangers without putting American troops in danger. The downside was that they made war too easy, so easy that a president, even one as smart as Obama, could convince himself that the nation wasn’t really at war—a perception belied by the people under the drone’s fire, not least the victims’ friends and family, who often started supporting or even joining America’s enemies as a result.

The reliance on drones—and the tendency to regard them as the default tool for taking out jihadi suspects on the battlefield—subsided in Obama’s second term, in part because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were winding down, in part because the drones weren’t having the dramatic effect that they seemed to promise. It turned out that killing a key terrorist or destroying a terrorist hangout—while sometimes fruitful and always tempting—has little impact on the course of the war. Al-Qaida had a seemingly endless line of No. 3–ranking officials to replace the ones just killed. And to the extent terrorist groups have been decimated on the battlefield, it’s been due to a combination of conventional airstrikes and forces on the ground. (When very “high-value targets” have been spotted, such as Ayman al-Zawahiri or Osama Bin Laden himself, the job is considered too important—the accuracy of a target’s ID is too vital—to leave to drones.) And sometimes, in drone strikes, innocent people get killed, not because the Hellfire missile veers off course but because the intelligence was poor, the images were fuzzy, someone has made a mistake about who was (or wasn’t) in the crosshairs. And when innocent people get killed, new terrorists—their husbands, cousins, fathers, sons, or neighbors—are often created.

The future may see more drastic blowback still. In the annals of warfare, no nation has preserved a monopoly on a new weapon for very long, and the armed drone isn’t likely to prove an exception. (It is harder to replicate than most weapons—besides the drone and the missile, you need fast data processing, communications satellites, and an airstrip near the target—but these are impediments, not brick-wall obstacles.) For now, terrorists and other enemies of America still have reason to fear the drone. It’s likely that, someday, the American officers, officials, and even presidents who decide to launch these drones will have reason to fear them too.

*Update, Sept. 14, 2016: The article has been updated to note the unsuccessful strike against Mullah Omar that preceded the successful attack that killed Mohammed Atef. (Return.)

          How to Save Snow Leopards        
The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is one of the rarest and most elusive big cat species with a population of 4,500 to 7,500 spread across a range of 1.2 to 1.6 million kilometers in some of the world's harshest and most desolate landscapes. Found in arid environments and at elevations sometimes reaching 18,000 feet (5,500 meters), the species faces great threats despite its extreme habitat. These threats vary across its range, but in all countries where it is found — Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and possibly Myanmar — the species is at risk. In some countries snow leopard are directly hunted for their pelt, in others they are imperiled by depletion of prey, loss of habitat, and killing as a predator of livestock. These threats, combined with the cat's large habitat requirements, means conservation through the establishment of protected areas alone may not be enough save it from extinction in the wild in many of the countries in which it lives. Working to stave off this fate in half a dozen of its range countries is the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Founded by Dr. Rodney Jackson, a biologist who has been studying snow leopard in the wild for 30 years, the Conservancy seeks to conserve the species by "promoting innovative grassroots measures that lead local people to become better stewards of endangered snow leopards, their prey, and habitat."
          V sovietskej Strednej Ázii (vanovcan)        
[Príspevok je súhrnom e-mailov v pôvodnom znení zaslaných priateľom počas môjho pobytu v Uzbekistane.]
           - Russia: Journalist faces expulsion to Uzbekistan        
Uzbek journalist and asylum-seeker Khodoberdi Nurmatov faces a risk of ill-treatment, including torture, if Russia returns him to Uzbekistan, Human Rights Watch said.
          12 Must-Know Facts about Asia        
Asia is the world's largest continent in world covering 60 percent of Earth's total land area.

1.Asia is the most populous continent in the world with world's populous countries,China and India.It is the land of diversity.

2.Asia can be divided into 6 subcontinents :

  1. Central Asia – Kazakhstan Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
  2. East Asia – China, Japan, Mongolia, Taiwan, North and South Korea.
  3. North Asia – Russia.
  4. India Subcontinent – India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
  5. Southeast Asia – Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar [Burma], Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  6. Southwest Asia – The Middle East including Turkey, Iran, Cyprus, Israel, and Lebanon.

3.Top Ten Tallest Mountains in Asia :

Mount Everest is the highest point on Earth and it is located in Asia.

Mount Everest with group of people
Mount Everest

  1. Everest -Nepal,Tibet
  2. K2 - Pakistan,China
  3. Kangchenjunga - Nepal,Sikkim, India
  4. Lhotse - Nepal,Tibet, China
  5. Makalu - Nepal,Tibet, China
  6. Cho Oyu - Nepal,Tibet, China
  7. Dhaulagiri - Nepal
  8. Manaslu- Nepal
  9. Nanga Parbat-Pakistan
  10. Annapurna- Nepal
4.Top Ten longest rivers in Asia :

  1. Yangtze 
  2. Yellow River 
  3. Lena River 
  4. Mekong River 
  5. Irtysh River 
  6. Yenisei River 
  7. Ob River 
  8. Nizhnyaya Tunguska River 
  9. Indus River
  10. Brahmaputra River
5.Asia is located to the east of the Suez Canal, the Ural river, and the Ural Mountains, and south of the Caucasus Mountains (or the Kuma-Manych Depression) and the Caspian and Black Seas.It is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean.

6.Asia’s most dominant financial centers are Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore.

7.Asia is only continent joined by two other continents,Africa and Europe.

9.China is the world's biggest nation and it is located in Asia.

10.Asia is the only continent where tigers are found in the wild.

11.Caspian Sea is the Largest Salt Lake in Asia.

12.The Dead Sea or The Salt Sea is the lowest place on earth is situated in Asia.

          Countries in Asia        
 Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent in the world with 50 Countries.Here is the list of 50 countries in  Asia and their capitals. 
Bandar Seri Begawan
Phnom Penh
East Timor
New Delhi

Kuwait City
Kuala Lumpur
North Korea
Pyongyang (P'yŏngyang)
The People's Republic of China
The Philippines
The Republic of China
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
The United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi

          Dynaflex appointed authorized representative for TGI ILMADUR gauge & sight glasses in Middle East & Africa        
TGI's factory in Ilmenau

Ilmenau — 22 June 2012 — Dynaflex Corporation, the authorized importer, stockist & representative in India for ILMADUR gauge & sight glasses manufactured by Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau GmbH, has been allotted by TGI the additional territories of the Middle East & Africa to cater to requirements of their ILMADUR branded gauge & sight glasses in the region. With this appointment, Dynaflex Corporation will now export Ilmadur Gauge & Sight Glasses to Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Northern Cyprus, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Djibouti, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan & Sahrawi.

ILMADUR branded gauge & sight glasses are manufactured by Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau GmbH at it's Ilmenau plant. ILMADUR gauge and sight glasses are manufactured from borosilicate “I-420” material developed and patented by TGI particularly to produce high-quality sight glasses.

About TGI
Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau GmbH is a leading manufacturer of laboratory and household glassware, sight and gauge glasses, pressed technical glasses, glass tubes, capillaries & rods in Ilmenau, a town located in the district of Ilm-Kreis, Thuringia, Germany.

About Dynaflex Corporation
Dynaflex Corporation is a leading importer and one of the largest stockists in the world of technical & safety glasses from the leading manufacturers in Europe & the USA. Most of the products are again re-exported to South East Asia, Middle East, Africa, North & South Americas & Europe.

To learn more about this topic, please contact
Dynaflex Corporation, Media Relations
Tek Towers (DOXA)
No.11, Rajiv Gandhi Salai (OMR)
Chennai 600097, INDIA

          Commentaires sur "TRIPVERBISOR"... à la manière de MAHOÏ (32) par TRUCMUCHE        
Il est temps de donner la réponse. D'abord, pardonnez-moi pour mon oubli du "1" dans mon énoncé de la première bulle, puisque je voulais parler de "12 oisillons". Mais cela ne semble pas vous avoir trop perturbé. J'avais aussi donné le nombre d'habitants en... 20212 ! Y'a comme ça des matins où le réveil est difficile ! Autant de becs à nourrir !... Exactement "douze becs" ! Douze becs qui s'tendent au moment de la béquée ! La ville à trouver était "KOUVA", située en OUZBEKISTAN. Bravo aux 6 gagnant(e)s et merci pour votre participation. Je proposerai un nouveau "TRIPVERBISOR" demain matin, vers 07h00. Bonne fin de soirée à toutes et à tous !
          ICTWEEK Uzbekistan 2016: итоги недели        
week_24_09_2016 23 сентября в Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace состоялась торжественная церемония завершения недели ИКТ ICTWEEK Uzbekistan 2016. В рамках церемонии были награждены победители и призеры в номинации «Открытые государственные данные» в органах государственной власти на местах», среди которых первое место занял хокимият Ташкентской области, хокимияты города Ташкента и Джизакской области – второе и третье место соответственно.
          ICTExpo 2016 подвела итоги!        
ict_24_09_2016 В рамках Недели ИКТ ICTWEEK Uzbekistan 2016, в период с 21 по 23 сентября 2016 года одновременно в Ташкенте и Намангане прошла Выставка информационных технологий ICTEXPO 2016. 23 сентября организаторы наградили участников выставки по следующим номинациям.
          Ð¦ÐµÐ½Ñ‚Ñ€ UZINFOCOM на ICTWEEK Uzbekistan 2016        
ict_14_09_2016 19 сентября текущего года в Узбекистане при поддержке Министерства по развитию информационных технологий и коммуникаций Республики Узбекистан, стартует Неделя информационно-коммуникационных технологий ICTWEEK Uzbekistan 2016, главной целью которого является проведение мероприятий, направленных на развитие ИКТ в стране.
          Piala Dunia U 20 Prancis vs Ghana        

Prediksi Perancis U-20 vs Ghana U-20 Semi-Final Piala Dunia U-20 - Informasi Pertandingan - Prediksi Perancis U-20 vs Ghana U-20 - Pada pertandingan tersebut, Perancis terlebih dulu unggul melalui gol Kondogbia, Sanogo, dan juga Bahebeck, Ghana sempat memperkecil keadaan melalui gol Boakye.

Prediksi Bola Skor Prancis vs Ghana

Di lima pertandingan terakhir Perancis, mereka memenangkan tiga pertandingan, satu kali seri, dan satu kali kalah.Sedangkan Ghana sendiri hanya mencatat tiga kemenangan dan dua kali kalah di lima pertandingan terakhir mereka.

Perancis berhasil lolos ke babak berikutnya setelah mereka mengalahkan Uzbekistan dengan skor 4-0.Ghana sendiri berhasil menang atas Cili dengan skor 4-3 melalui babak tambahan.Yaya Sanogo saat ini menjadi topskor bagi Perancis dengan total empat gol, sama seperti Sanogo, Assifuah-Inkoom telah mencetak empat gol bagi Ghana U-20.

Paul Pogba merupakan salah satu pemain timnas senior Perancis yang dipanggil untuk membela Perancis U-20 pada kali ini.Pemenang di pertandingan ini akan menghadapi pemenang di antara pertandingan Irak melawan Uruguay.Ghana U-20 pernah menjadi juara Piala Dunia U-20 sebanyak satu kali pada tahun 2009, sedangkan Perancis U-20 belum pernah menjuarai gelar ini.

          Is Israel singled out for its human rights violations?        

Rochelle Terman is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research examines the consequences of global human rights shaming campaigns, especially around women’s rights in the Muslim World and she is a member of WLUML’s Advisory Council.

With the crisis in the Mideast escalating, I keep hearing the argument that Israel is being “singled out” for its human rights violations. Some people assert that human rights activists and the international community are disproportionately – and unjustifiably – focusing their attention on the Jewish state. They are “ignoring” human rights violations elsewhere — Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Chad, wherever — in order to unfairly vilify Israel. This bias, the argument usually goes, is motivated by anti-Semitism.

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          Today we are introducing the names of the 8 male athletes in 81kgs TWG2017 FIMT ITALIA PRESENTE        
Today we are introducing the names of the 8 male athletes in 81kgs TWG2017 JULY 8TH, 2017 Today we are introducing the names of the 8 male athletes in the 81kgs divison who will be going to The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland!!     Ubbiniyaz Tureniyazov – Uzbekistan – 81kg!! – #ifmamuaythai 🌟 Rafal Korczak – […]
           Modelling the effect of short-course multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan         
Trauer, James M., Achar, Jay, Parpieva, Nargiza, Khamraev, Atadjan, Denholm, Justin T., Falzon, Dennis, Jaramillo, Ernesto, Mesic, Anita, du Cros, Philipp, and McBryde, Emma S. (2016) Modelling the effect of short-course multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan. BMC Medicine, 14. pp. 1-11.
          Pacing tactics for recreational and competitive cyclists        
In my inaugural article at Tour d’Afrique I make my introductions and share some tips, tactics and strategies for athletes riding in the Silk Route Expedition. Tee Silk route is broken into several sections but for those brave athletes that will be riding the whole 12,100 kilometer/3899 miles in 129 days through China, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. These ... Read More
          A Comprehensive Timeline Of The Russia Scandal, 1980 ~ 2017        
The Russian plot to elect Donald Trump by interfering in the 2016 presidential election through sabotaging Hillary Clinton's campaign was an unprecedented assault from America's greatest foe on the bedrock of its democracy.  It is the most explosive scandal since Soviet spies stole atomic bomb secrets over 70 years ago, and may well be considered the crime of the century. 
Although the scandal did not explode into view until the latter stages of the 2016 campaign, its roots date back to 1980 when the first two members of Trump's inner circle who are linked to the scandal got together.  As early as 2007, Trump was making clear his affection for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.  By 2015, U.S. intelligence agencies had become aware of the first tentacles of the plot to interfere in the election, as well as an increasing number of contacts by Trump's inner circle with Russians who had ties to the Kremlin's intelligence services. 
A timeline of the scandal has slowly come into focus.  It remains a work in progress, but this is what is now known:
1980: Roger Stone, future Trump confidante and dirty trickster, founds a lobbying practice with future Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort.  Trump is one of the firm's first clients. 
1984: Russian Ã©migré David Bogatin, a former Soviet Army pilot, pays $6 million for five luxury condos in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City.  Bogatin is not wealthy and is a front for Russian mobsters investing in high-end U.S. real estate to launder money from their criminal enterprises.  Trump personally attends Bogatin's closing.
March 11, 1987: Bogatin pleads guilty in federal court to taking part in a massive gasoline bootlegging scheme with Russian mobsters.  The government seizes his five Trump Tower condos. 
July 1987: Trump and his wife Ivana visit Moscow and St. Petersburg as all-expense paid guests of Intourist.  They sightsee and inspect potential sites for a new Trump Tower in Moscow.   
December 9, 1987: Trump meets and talks with Mikhail Gorbachev at a White House state dinner hosted by President and Mrs. Reagan.  Trump and the Soviet leader are said to have discussed hotel projects. 
Early 1992: Russian mob boss and enforcer Vyachelsav Kirillovich Ivankov is sprung from a Siberian gulag after a judge is bribed and heads to New York where he partners with Felix Komarov, an art dealer and resident of Trump Plaza on Third Avenue, to build the New York branch of the Russian mafia from an extortion racket into a multibillion-dollar criminal enterprise. 
January 29, 1997: Ivankov is sentenced to nine years in prison for extortion in federal court in Brooklyn.
October 15, 1998: Ground is broken for 72-story Trump World Tower, then the tallest residential building in the city, on First Avenue in Manhattan.  A third of the units on the tower's priciest floors are bought by either individual buyers from the former Soviet Union or limited liability companies connected to Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.  Kellyanne Conway, a future Trump campaign manager, also purchases a unit.
2000: Stone serves as chairman of Trump's presidential exploratory advisory committee.  Trump decides not to run. 
2002: Russian Ã©migré Felix H. Stater, a felon and future fixer for Trump, and his Bayrock Group begin working with Trump on a series of U.S. real estate development deals, one of which becomes the Trump SoHo luxury hotel-apartments, and on projects in Russia, Ukraine and Poland. 
2004: Ivankov is extradited to Russia to face murder charges. 
May 20, 2004: Eduard Nektalov, a diamond dealer from Uzbekistan who owned a condo on a top floor of Trump World Tower and was being investigated for money laundering, is shot dead on Sixth Avenue after rumors circulate that he is cooperating with federal authorities. 
2005: Manafort proposes to aluminum magnate Oleg Deripask, a friend of Putin's, that he undertake a consulting assignment to influence politics, business deals and news coverage in the U.S. and Europe to benefit Putin's government. 
February 2006: Two of Trump's children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, travel to Moscow where they are shown around by Sater. 
2007: Trump states in a lawsuit-related deposition that Bayrock brought Russian investors to Trump Tower to discuss deals.  "It's ridiculous that I wouldn't be investing in Russia," he says.  "Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment."
October 15, 2007: Trump, speaking publicly of Putin for the first of many times, tells Larry King on CNN that Putin "is doing a great job . . . he's doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period." 
November 2007: Manafort's consulting firm receives a $455,000 wire transfer from billionaire industrialist and Ukraine Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's political party for a campaign to improve Putin-backed Yanukovych's image in the West. 
2008: An estimated one third of the six Trump-branded condo skyscrapers in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, which is nicknamed "Little Moscow," are owned by Russian speakers.  
2008: Donald Jr. tells a real estate conference in New York, "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. . . . We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia." 
July 2008: Trump sells a Florida residence to Russian potash magnate Dmitry Rybolov for $95 million, believed to be the biggest single-family home sale in U.S. history.  The oligarch never lives in the house, which is later demolished.
July 28, 2009: Ivankov is shot by a sniper in Moscow.  He dies of his wounds 73 days later.  Hundreds of gangsters representing criminal syndicates attend his funeral. 
October 14, 2009: Manafort's firm receives a $750,000 wire transfer from Yanukovych's political party for the image-enhancement campaign. 
January 2010: Sater becomes Trump's "senior adviser." 
February 2010: Yanukovych is elected Ukraine president. 
April 9, 2010: Trump SoHo opens.
August 3, 2010: Trump and the promoters of Trump SoHo are sued by buyers who accuse them of fraudulently touting outsized sales figures to encourage them to buy units. 
June 19, 2012: As President Obama meets with Putin, Trump tweets, "Putin has no respect for our president -- really bad body language." 
April 2013: Viktor Krapunov, a former Kazakh energy minister and mayor of Almaty who has had business dealings with Bayrock, creates three limited liability companies which buy three condo apartments in Trump SoHo. Prosecutors allege the companies are used by Krapunov for his money-laundering network. 
April 8, 2013: Three Russians whom the FBI later accuses of spying on the U.S. discuss recruiting businessman and future Trump campaign aide Carter Page, who has many Russian contacts, to spy for Moscow.
April 16, 2013: Federal agents raid several Trump Tower condos as part of a dragnet of 29 members of a global sports betting ring overseen by Russian mob boss Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, who had been indicted for conspiring to fix the ice-skating competition at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.  The entire 51st floor of Trump Tower was used by the ring. 
July 8, 2013: Trump terminates a BBC interview when asked about Sater's mob ties. 
October 13, 2013: On The Late Show, David Letterman asks Trump if he had any dealings with Russians.  Trump answers, "Well, I've done a lot of business with Russians." 
November 2013: Trump hosts the Miss Universe pageant, then part of the Trump Organization, in Moscow in return for a $20 million licensing fee from the Crocus Group.  It's president is Aras Agalarov, an Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire and close ally of Putin.  The Crocus vice president is Agaralov's pop singer son, Emin.  Among Trump's celebrity guests is Tokhtakhounov, who is a U.S. fugitive because of gambling ring charges. 
Late November 2013: Emin Agaralov releases a music video starring Trump reprising his Apprentice television role. 
December 2013: Putin sends Agaralov's daughter, Sheyla, to deliver a personal note and gift that Trump later describes as "a present, a beautiful present" to him at Trump Tower as a token of apology for their having been unable to meet when Trump was in Moscow for the beauty pageant.
2014: Plans by Trump and the Agalarovs to build a Trump Tower in Moscow collapse because of new Obama administration-imposed sanctions on Russia.  
February 22, 2014: Yanukovych flees Ukraine amidst a popular uprising.  A handwritten ledger left behind purports to show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments to Manafort's firm from the deposed president's political party.  
April 17, 2014: Trump tweets that Obama is a weakling compared to Putin. "America is at a great disadvantage.  Putin is ex-KGB.  Obama is a community organizer.  Unfair." 
March 2015: Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state is made public.  She states she has turned over work-related emails to the government but that 30,000 or so personal emails on the server were deleted.
March 6, 2015: The Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City is fined $10 million -- the highest fine ever levied by the federal government against a casino -- after admitting to having willfully violated anti-money laundering regulations for years.  Ivankov is identified as one of the Russian mobsters who routinely laundered large sums of money there prior to his 2009 assassination. 
Summer of 2015: Future Trump campaign adviser Michael Flynn makes several trips to the Middle East as an adviser on a project to pursue a joint U.S.-Russia-Saudi business venture to develop nuclear facilities in Saudi Arabia. 
June 16, 2015: Trump announces that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination. 
September 2015: An FBI agent calls the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to warn that its computer network had been hacked by "the Dukes," a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government.  A DNC tech-support contractor does not take the call seriously. 
September 2015: A secretive anti-Trump Republican hires Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C. strategic intelligence firm, to compile an opposition research dossier on Trump as the Republican presidential primary campaign heats up.   
October 11, 2015: Speaking on Face the Nation, Trump brags about sharing air time with Putin on 60 Minutes although they were on separate continents. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Trump says there isn't enough proof to blame Russian separatists for shooting down a Malaysian Airlines flight over Ukraine the previous year.
November 5, 2015: Mikhail Lesin, a former top Putin media adviser, is found dead in his Washington hotel room.  A federal prosecutor concludes he died because of a series of drunken falls, while federal law enforcement sources tell BuzzFeed News he was murdered on the eve of a meeting with Justice Department officials.  
Late 2015: Britain's GCHQ, which is equivalent to the U.S.'s NSA, first becomes aware of suspicious interactions between individuals connected to Trump and Russian agents.  This intelligence is passed on to the U.S. as part of a routine exchange of information. 
December 10-12, 2015: Flynn is paid $45,000 by RT, Putin's state propaganda network, for a three-day Moscow trip in which he gives a speech criticizing Obama's Russia policy and sits at Putin's table at a banquet.
December 17, 2015: Putin praises Trump and Trump quickly returns the favor, saying "It's always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected in his own country and beyond." 
Early 2016: Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and his felon father, Charles, give up on a two-ear effort to obtain a half-billion dollar business bailout from Qatar to refinance a white elephant property on New York's Fifth Avenue.  
February 11, 2016: Flynn meets with investigators in a routine meeting to discuss his application to renew his security clearance. When asked about his Moscow trip, he reportedly says, "I didn't take any money from Russia, if that's what you're asking me."  
March 2016: The first wave of fake news stories targeting Clinton voters in swing states is detected.  The source is believed to be Eastern European hackers supervised by the Russian government.
March 19, 2016: John Podesta, chairman of Clinton's presidential campaign, is emailed a link asking that he change his password, which is believed to be the way that Russia-associated hackers later gained access to his email account. 
March 29, 2016: On the recommendation of Stone, Manafort is hired by the Trump campaign to line up convention delegates.
Spring of 2016: Page, a businessman with extensive Russian ties and previous contacts with Russian intelligence agents, is hired by the Trump campaign as a quick fix for its lack of foreign policy expertise. 
April 2016: Hackers believed to be linked to Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) gain access to the DNC computer network.
April 2016: Kushner, accompanied by Flynn, meets with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., the first of several meetings by Trump associates with Russian officials that are monitored by U.S. intelligence. 
April 2016: At about the same time as the Mayflower meeting, U.S. intelligence intercepts the first communications among Russians who discuss aggressively trying to influence the presidential election by sabotaging Clinton. 
Late April 2016: The DNC's IT department notices suspicious computer activity and hires private security firm CrowdStrike to investigate. 
Early May 2016: Manafort meets in New York with Konstantine Kilimnik, a Ukrainian businessman who served in the Russian army and may be working for Russian intelligence. 
May 2016: CrowdStrike determines that highly sophisticated Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries named Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear are responsible for the DNC hack.     
May 2016: An unidentified Democratic client takes over the Fusion GPS contract.  Fusion hires Orbis Business Intelligence, a British intelligence firm co-founded by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, to assist it in investigating Russia-Trump connections.  
June 2016: Russian-Macedonian hackers begin a fake news campaign to energize Bernie Sanders supporters against Clinton by planting stories that, among other things, she murdered former Bill Clinton aide Vince Foster.
Early June 2016: The CIA concludes in an internal report that Russia is actively engaged in interfering in the presidential election, including the goal of getting Trump elected.
June 2, 2016: Clinton gives her first major speech on national security in San Diego and repeatedly calls into question Trump's affection for Putin and his "bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America." 
June 3, 2016: Publicist Rob Goldstone, representing Emin Agaralov, emails Donald Jr. that he had met with "his father Aras this morning and . . . [he] offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary . . . and would be very useful to your father."   Donald Jr. replies "if it's what you say I love it." 
June 7, 2016: Trump promises "big news" on Clinton's "crimes" in a forthcoming "major speech."  
June 9, 2016: As a result of the email exchange with Goldstone, Donald Jr. arranges a meeting of the campaign brain trust at Trump Tower with Goldstone and Natalia Veselnitskata, a Russian lawyer with intelligence agency ties, who through Goldstone has promised damaging material about Clinton. Also attending are Kushner, Manafort, Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist and former counterintelligence agent, and Ike Kaveladze, an official in the Agalarov's real estate company.  The source of the undisclosed dirt on Clinton is believed to be Yuri Y. Chaika, Russia's prosecutor general.
June 12, 2016: WikiLeakers founder Julian Assange states in an interview that his site has a "very big year ahead" and promises the imminent release of emails "related to Hillary Clinton."
June 13, 2016: Trump does not give the promised "major speech" because of a mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub.     
June 15, 2016: A hacker with the online persona Guccifer 2.0 claims credit for the DNC hack and begins posting DNC documents on the Guccifer 2.0 website. 
June 15, 2016: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy tells fellow Republican leaders that "There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump." Dana Rohrabacher is a California Republican.  House Speaker Paul Ryan immediately interjects and swears those present to secrecy. 
June 17, 2015: The Washington Post publishes a story headlined "Inside Trump's Financial Ties to Russia and His Unusual Flattery of Vladimir Putin." 
June 20, 2016: Manafort replaces Corey Lewandowksi as Trump's campaign manager. 
June 20, 2016: Steele delivers the first of a series of reports to Fusion GPS based on several confidential sources.  He identifies "Source A" as "a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure," "Source B" as "a former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin," and "Source E" as "an ethnic Russian" and "close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump." 
June 22, 2016: Trump, speaking in New York, excoriates Clinton for her handling of the Benghazi attacks and warns that emails she deleted from her private server could make her vulnerable to "blackmail" from unspecified countries hostile to the U.S.  
Summer of 2016: U.S. intelligence agencies collect information revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political operatives are discussing how to influence Trump through Flynn and Manafort.
July 2016: Russia escalates a campaign of harassment of American diplomats and intelligence operatives in Russia.  
July 5, 2016: FBI Director James Comey rebukes Clinton for being "extremely careless," but recommends no criminal charges in connection with her handling of classified information as secretary of state, including emails on a private server, ostensibly lifting a cloud from her presidential campaign. 
July 6, 2016: Another batch of hacked DNC documents appears on the Guccifer 2.0 website.
July 10, 2016: DNC staffer Seth Rich is shot to death in what Washington, D.C. police describe as an attempted armed robbery.   
July 14, 2016: Another batch of hacked DNC documents appear on the Guccifer 2.0 website. 
Mid-July 2016: Working behind the scenes, the Trump campaign rewrites the Republican National Convention platform on Ukraine, removing a pledge to provide lethal weapons in its fight with Russia over Crimea and a call for maintaining or increasing sanctions against Russia.   
July 19, 2016: Trump is nominated for president at the convention after he, Flynn and other surrogates declare, in what becomes an oft-repeated campaign theme in the coming weeks, that Clinton should be "in jail" for her use of the private email server. 
July 19, 2016: Trump's debt load has almost doubled from $350 million to $630 million over the past year, reports Bloomberg News.
July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks, which is friendly with Putin, begins releasing 44,000 hacked DNC emails.
July 24, 2016: Donald Jr. tells CNN's Jake Tapper that the Clinton campaign's suggestion that Russia was trying to interfere in the election on behalf of his father is "disgusting" and "phony."  
July 25, 2016: Trump suggests that the Russians were behind the DNC hack because Putin "likes" him. 
July 27, 2016: Trump calls on Russia to hack 30,000 so-called "missing" Clinton emails. 
July 27, 2016: Manafort denies any relationship with the Russians and says it's "absurd" to suggest Russia was working on behalf of the Trump campaign.  
Late July 2016: The FBI opens an investigation to examine possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, but its existence is kept secret even from high ranking members of Congress colloquially known as the Gang of Eight, who by law are to be briefed on important intelligence matters. 
Late July 2016: The FBI obtains and then renews a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court warrant allowing it to monitor Page, whom it believes is in touch with Russian agents and had been used in previous years by Moscow spies to obtain information.   
Early August 2016: The CIA concludes that unnamed Trump campaign advisers might be working with Russia to interfere in the election by sabotaging the Clinton campaign through a multi-pronged attack personally approved by Putin that includes email hacking, disinformation and false news stories. 
Early August 2016: The CIA informs the White House of Putin's campaign to interfere in the election.  For the next five months, the administration secretly debates dozens of options on how to retaliate, including whether to use CIA-gathered material that would be embarrassing to Putin. 
August 2016: CIA Director John Brennan convenes a secret task force with analysts and officers from the CIA, FBI and NSA to keep the White House and senior government officials informed. 
August 2016: Manafort meets again with Kilimnik. 
Early August: Steele begins sharing his memos to Fusion GPS with an FBI agent assigned to the bureau's Eurasian Joint Organized Crime Squad. 
August 4, 2016: Brennan calls Alexander Bortnikov, director of the FSB, the post-Soviet successor to the KGB, to warn him that election interference will not be tolerated. 
August 12, 2016: A batch of hacked Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) documents appear on the Guccifer 2.0 website. 
August 14, 2016: Stone engages in direct messaging with Guccifer 2.0. 
August 15, 2015: Guccifer 2.0 releases hacked DCCC documents on Florida primary elections. 
August 15, 2016: Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson arranges a conference call with dozens of state election officials to enlist their support to shore up voting systems in light of the Russian effort.  He gets no support. 
August 19, 2016: Manafort is forced out as Trump's campaign manager, ostensibly over concerns about his ties with Russian officials.  
August 21, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 releases hacked DCCC documents on Pennsylvania congressional primaries.
Late August 2016: Brennan is so concerned about Trump-Russia links that he initiates urgent, one-on-one briefings with the Gang of Eight. 
Late August 2016: Stone boasts that he has communicated with Assange, who he says has materials including "deleted" Clinton emails that would be embarrassing to her.      
August 25, 2016: Brennan tells Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, then the highest ranking Democrat, that the FBI and not the CIA would have to take the lead in what is a domestic intelligence matter. 
Late August 2016: Reid writes to Comey without mentioning the Brennan briefing. He expresses great concern over what he calls mounting evidence "of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump's presidential campaign." 
August 31, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 releases documents hacked from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's personal computer.     
September 2016: Intelligence shows that although Republican sites are also being hacked by Russians, only DNC emails are being publicized by WikiLeaks. 
September 2016: Aaron Nevins, a Republican political operative with ties to Stone, receives Democratic turnout analyses hacked by Guccifer 2.0 and publishes them online under a pseudonym. 
September 5, 2016: Obama, meeting with Putin at a conference of world leaders in Hangzhou, China, tells him that the U.S. knows about the election interference and "[he] better stop or else."  Putin responds by demanding proof and accuses the U.S. of meddling in Russia's internal affairs. 
September 8, 2016: Trump campaign adviser Jeff Sessions meets with Kislyak in his Senate office. 
September 15, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 releases hacked DCCC documents from New Hampshire, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio. 
September 16, 2016: Stone declares on Boston Herald Radio that "I expect Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks people to drop a payload of new documents on Hillary on a weekly basis fairly soon."  He says he is in touch with Assange "through an intermediary."  
September 22, 2016: Two other Gang of Eight members -- Dianne Feinstein and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the ranking Senate and House Intelligence Committee Democrats -- release a statement stating that Russian intelligence agencies are "making a serious and concerted effort" to influence the election. 
September 23, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 releases hacked documents from DCCC chairman Ben Ray Lujan.
Late September 2016: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, at the behind-the-scenes urging of the Obama administration, is asked to warn state election officials of possible attempts to penetrate their computer systems by Russian hackers.  McConnell resists, questioning the veracity of the intelligence.   
September 25, 2016: McConnell writes to state election officia
          Revealed: Donald Trump's Network Of Russian Sleaze & Mob Money Launderers         
1987: Trump and wife Ivana at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg 
on an all-expense-paid trip to the Soviet Union
Donald Trump has sworn innumerable times since the Russia scandal reared its hydra head that he has no connection to Russia, now or ever.  In fact, Trump is one big Russia connection.   
Beginning in 1984, over 30 years before he ran for president, Trump began tapping into what would become an extensive network of contacts with corrupt businessmen, mobsters and money launderers from the former Soviet Union, Russia and their satellite states to make deals ranging from real-estate sales to beauty pageants sponsorships to bailing out his frequently ailing enterprises.   
It is tempting to say that Trump built that network himself as his business empire grew, but in reality members of the network more often used him as a convenient patsy.  This has been especially true of money launderers.   
In 1991, the Soviet Union fell and President Boris Yeltsin ordered the dramatic shift from a centralized economy of state ownership to a market economy, enabling cash-rich mobsters and corrupt government officials to privatize and loot state-held assets.  After Vladimir Putin succeeded Yeltsin, Russia's feared intelligence agencies joined forces with mobsters and oligarchs, and Putin has given them free hand so long as they help enrich him and strengthen his grip on the country.  
Then in 1998, Russia defaulted on $40 billion in debt, which accelerated the exodus of money.  By one estimate, some $1.3 trillion in illicit capital has poured out of Russia in the last 25 years, including many tens of millions of dollars that flowed into Trump's luxury developments and Atlantic City casinos, which were used as convenient pass-throughs for laundering illicit riches.   
It is not an exaggeration to say that dirty Russian money saved Trump, if only barely.   
By the late 1990s, he owed $4 billion to more than 70 banks, with $800 million of it personally guaranteed.   "But fortunately for Trump, his own economic crisis coincided with one in Russia," writes Craig Unger in "Trump's Russian Laundromat," a recent New Republic story 
Only traces of Trump's network can be found in his financial disclosure statements, and since his businesses are all privately held and he has refused to release his federal tax returns, his business relationships with Russians are not readily apparent. 
But we do know that Trump has ventured aggressively into the former Soviet empire since his financial recovery, frequently cutting deals with bottom feeders, and at one point sought to have his name affixed atop a massive glass tower in Astana, the post-Soviet capital of Kazakhstan.  He also has done business with companies that have violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and applied for a trademark in that country, which he has tried to isolate as president.   
Now, as president and commander in chief, Trump makes policy decisions that have the potential to positively affect his 565 Trump Organization holdings in the U.S. and abroad, and his oft-stated determination to weaken sanctions against America's greatest foe has resulted in a rare bipartisan agreement (by a 98-2 Senate vote, no less) that sanctions should be strengthened, not watered down. 
All of this begs a very big question. 
Trump's layering of lies upon lies in refusing to acknowledge his Russia ties and continued insistence that the Russia scandal is a "hoax," which he yet again reiterated in tweets over the weekend, is a reflection of the frightening fantasy world in which he dwells.  But it also may be a consequence of members of the network being able to leverage Trump's literal and figurative debts to them -- if not blackmail him outright. 
"Without the Russian mafia," says Unger, "it is fair to say Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.   
Indeed.  And the list of people who have the goods on Trump surely includes the ruthless Vladimir Putin, in whose presence the other day he was notably obsequious. This is because of his biggest Russia connection of all -- the cyber plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton and make him president.      

Read more here: of this begs a very big question.All of this begs a very big question: Is Trump's refusal to acknowledge his myriad Russian ties, including his continued insistence that the Russia scandal is an historic "witch hunt," a consequence of Trump being beholden to -- and perhaps vulnerable to blackmail from -- players in the network, including Putin and the Russian government who did the biggest deal of them all, gifting him the presidency through a cyber campaign to sabotage Hillary Clinton with the help of Trump's family and frien.
2016: The future president with wife Melania and son Barron 
in the gilded rococo penthouse at Trump Tower
The crown jewel of Trump's business empire is Trump Tower, a 58-story glass and marble edifice at 721-725 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan that opened in 1983 when Trump was a 38-year-old tabloid celebrity developer. 
According to federal investigators and journalists who have dug into Trump's wheeling and dealing, at least 13 people with known or suspected links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal enterprises out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties.  This has been made easier because Trump has accepted anonymous buyers so long as they have the cash, a practice one former developer who worked with Trump calls "willful obliviousness."  
Mobsters have used Trump's apartments and casinos to launder "untold millions in dirty money," according to Unger, while one mobster ran a global sports betting ring using Unit 63A at Trump Tower, a condo directly below one owned by Trump, and all of the apartments on the 51st floor. 
Unit 63A also served as the headquarters for a sophisticated money-laundering scheme that authorities say moved $100 million out of the former Soviet Union through shell companies in Cyprus and into investments in the U.S.  The scheme operated under the protection of Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, whom the FBI says is a top aide of Semion Mogilevhich, whom it considers the "boss of bosses" of the Russia mafia and brillian creator of innumerable money-laundering schemes.   
Tokhtakhounov, who infamously tried to fix the ice-skating competition at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, fled the U.S. after the sports betting ring was busted, but was a Trump guest of honor at a Moscow beauty pageant seven months later although he was a U.S. fugitive.
David Bogatin, a retired Red Army pilot with no visible signs of income, plunked down $6 million for five Trump Tower units in 1984.  Trump attended his closing. 
Bogatin turned out to be a leading figure in the Russian mob in New York while his brother ran a $150 million stock scam for Mogilevhich.  Bogatin pleaded guilty in 1987 to taking part in a massive gasoline bootlegging scheme with Russian mobsters and fled the country.  The government seized his five Trump Tower condos. 
In 2001, when Trump opened Trump World Tower, then the tallest residential building in the city, on First Avenue in Manhattan, a third of the units on the tower's priciest floors were bought by individual buyers or limited liability companies with connections to the former Soviet Union. 
Among the initial buyers were Kellyanne Conway, a future Trump campaign manager and administration adviser, and Eduard Nektalov, a diamond dealer from Uzbekistan who lived directly below Conway and was being investigated by the Treaury Department for Russian mob-connected money laundering.  When word got out that Nektalov was cooperating with the feds, he was assassinated in broad daylight on Sixth Avenue.   
Yet for all the bad behavior that Trump's shady associates have exhibited, Trump has never been charged with any crime, although there are increasing calls in Congress to investigate how he built his business empire.   
2007:Trump celebrates the launch of Trump SoHo with Tevfik Arif 
and Felix Sater, who were partners in Bayrock Group -- and crime
The most striking aspect of Trump's Russia connections is how many people the man who is now president has sought out and formed long-term business relationships with who have dedicated their lives to sleaze and crime.  In this regard, Felix Henry Sater is at the top of the list. 
Sater is a Russian Ã©migré.  His father, Mikhael Sheferovsky (aka Michael Sater) was a boss in the crime syndicate run by Mogilevich. 
Son Felix has extensive mob ties of his own, and while trying to make it as a stockbroker, ended up doing prison time for stabbing a Wall Street competitor in the face with the broken stem of a margarita glass during a bar fight.  The man needed 110 stitches to close the wound.   
Sater became a federal informant to avoid a 20-year mandatory scheme to defraud elderly victims of $40 million, most of them Holocaust survivors, and stayed out of prison in more recent years ostensibly because of what he has done for the U.S. as opposed to against it.  This includes ratting out mobsters for the FBI in two big Mafia cases, a failed effort to buy stinger missiles in Afghanistan on the black market for the CIA, as well as supposedly trying to obtain Osama bin Laden's cell phone number. 
More recently, Sater tried his hand at "diplomacy" on Trump's behalf to give Russia a fig leaf for its invasion and illegal annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.   
The other players in the scheme were Michael Cohen, who is Trump's personal lawyer (as opposed to his growing roster of criminal lawyers), and Andrii Artemenko, a wealthy oligarch and member of the Ukraine Parliament.  Artemenko told Sater and Cohen that Putin's senior aides had personally blessed the plan, which Cohen delivered to none other than then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn at the White House shortly before Flynn's unceremonious ouster because of his own Russia connections.
The biggest Trump-Sater connection is Bayrock Group, an international real estate and investment company in which Sater was the chief operating officer.  Bayrock was a co-developer of Trump SoHo, a swank 46-story condo-hotel where SoHo meets Tribeca and the West Village in Lower Manhattan, that Trump lent his name to in return for 18 percent of the profits without putting up any of his own money.
Trump SoHo was foreclosed on and resold after Trump and fellow promoters were sued by buyers who accused them of fraudulently inflating sales figures to encourage them to buy units.  Trump has run the building for the new owners and he and daughter Ivanka still are listed as managers of the property. 
Other Bayrock deals didn't work out so well.  International projects in Russia and Poland flopped and a Trump Tower being built in Fort Lauderdale ran out of money before it was completed. 
Tevfik Ariv was a partner with Trump and Sater in Trump Soho and would seem to be an immigrant success story.   
Ariv worked as a Soviet trade and commerce official for 17 years before moving to New York and founding Bayrock.  Practically overnight, he became a hugely successful developer and after meeting Trump in 2002 moved Bayrock's offices to Trump Tower.
It turned out Bayrock was financed by a notoriously corrupt group of Russian oligarchs know as The Trio who used it to develop Trump properties and then used the properties to launder money.  Then in 2010, Arif was arrested by Turkish prosecutors and charged with running a prostitution ring after he was found aboard a boat chartered by one of The Trio with nine young women. 
Joining Bayrock in developing Trump SoHo was the Sapir Organization. 
Tamir Sapir, who introduced Trump to Arif, emigrated from the Soviet Union in the 1970s.  He started out driving a cab in New York City and ended up a billionaire living in Trump Tower.  His partner in the high-tech electronics firm that made him rich was a member of the Russian mob. 
Trump has described Sapir as a "great friend," bought 200 televisions from the electronics firm, and hosted the 2007 wedding of Sapir's daughter at Mar-a-Lago. 
2012: Trump unveils plans with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili
for a luxury apartment tower on the Black Sea coast
Only weeks before his inauguration, Trump allied himself with a company in the former Soviet republic of Georgia that planned to build a 47-story luxury apartment tower in the resort of Batumi. 
"The whole aesthetic of Trump goes very well with Central Asia," Asia expert Alexander Cooley of Columbia University told McClatchy News Service reporters Kevin Hall and Ben Wieder. "The emphasis on 'the personal is political,' the use of personal connections . . . this kind of murky world of transnational relations in real estate, relatively unregulated and unmonitored." 
Hall and Wieder found that Trump's businesses are spread well beyond U.S. borders.  At least 159 of the 565 companies Trump listed in his most recent financial disclosure report were tied to businesses abroad.
The deal for the Batumi tower fell through in January, as had an earlier 2012 deal, but had it not the edifice would have borne Trump's name and he would have received royalties through Silk Road Group, a trading and transportation company that has deals with companies in Russia and Iran, both targets of U.S. sanctions. 
Trump revealed none of this in his financial disclosure statements, nor was it mentioned that Silk Road is a strategic fuel supplier to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and had partnered with two Kazakh oligarchs and their kin who are accused of stealing billions of dollars of Kazakh money and laundering it through luxury U.S. real estate, including Trump SoHo and other Trump-branded condo towers. 
Ukraine has recently asked Switzerland to extradite Ilyas Khrapunov, son of former Kazakh Energy Minister Viktor Khrapunov, for alleged computer hacking.  Switzerland is where Ilyas and his wife secured unusual diplomatic posts representing the Central African Republic, which has enabled them to travel more freely. 
Meanwhile, federal lawsuits have been filed by the city of Almaty against Ilyas and Viktor, who is a former mayor of Almaty, Kazakhistan's largest city.  Both Khrapunovs and Ilyas's father-in-law, Mukhtar Ablyazov, face numerous criminal charges in Kazakhistan.  Ablyazov was owner of BTA Bank until it was seized by regulators in 2009 after $10 billion went missing from the bank. 
Among the dozens of companies lawyers for Almaty say the Khrapunovs created to launder money were three limited liability companies called Soho 3310, Soho 3311 and Soho 3203, all corresponding with units they bought at Trump SoHo. 
(There already is evidence that a consequence of Trump's Russia connections is that Russian money laundering cases are being treated more leniently.  In May, the Justice Department abruptly settled a case against Prevezon Holdings, which was accused of laundering dirty money through Manhattan real estate, for a mere $6 million.  One of Prevezon's lawyers was Natalia Veselnitskaya, who, accompanied by a Russian spy, infamously met with Donald Trump Jr. and the Trump campaign brain trust in Trump Tower in June 2016.)    
Court documents filed in conjunction with the Khrapunov extradition request list Sater as having been involved in some of the Khrapunov's transactions at the same time he was doing deals with Trump.   
But while Sater considers himself a close personal adviser to Trump, likes to say that he's playing his "Trump card" and his business cards list him as "senior adviser to Donald Trump" with an office at Trump Tower, Trump himself has repeatedly said he barely remembers Sater.   
In sworn testimony in 2013, Trump said he wouldn't recognize Sater if they were sitting in the same room.  Kind of like not recognizing his many Russia connections.

Click HERE for a comprehensive timeline of the Russia scandal. 

          Beijing Olympics Swimming Top Five 2008 Female Olympians        
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, much attention was given to the athletes that were breaking records and making history. It was a rare corner of the world where you could turn on the evening news and not hear the latest victory in Michael Phelps quest for a record breaking eight gold medals. The US mens basketball team created a great buzz as their mission to reclaim the gold for the US basketball team unfolded. There were many other magical moments as players from around the world overcame poverty, adversity and other challenges to compete and win, and sometimes even lose, at the most coveted sporting event in the world.

Dara Torres - United States - Swimming

At 41 years old, Dara Torres came back to the pool in Beijing after entering the world of motherhood at age 39. She began her Olympic career at the Los Angeles games in 1984, winning her first gold medal in one of the relay events. She swam again in the 1988 and 1992 games, overcoming bulimia during this phase of her life. After sitting out the Atlanta games in 1996, she returned in 200 to win five medals in the Sydney Olympics. Retiring again, it was only after returning to the pool while trying to stay in shape during her pregnancy that her Olympic drive returned. After setting new American records in the qualifiers and preliminary events, she went on to win three silver medals in individual and relay events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, making her the oldest swimmer ever to win an Olympic medal.

Oksana Chusovitina - Germany - Gymnastics

In the gymnastics world, 33 years of age is considered geriatric. However, someone forgot to pass Oksana Chusovitina the memo. She competed in her first Olympics in 1992, at age 17 as a member of the Unified team. In 1996, 2000 and 2004, she represented her home country of Uzbekistan. In the meantime, she gave birth to a son in 1999, who was found in 2002 to have leukaemia. She moved to Germany to seek treatment for him, later attaining citizenship and in 2008, competed at the Olympics for her new home country. Not only was she the oldest female gymnast at the games, but she also managed to win a sliver medal at the individual vault finals. Retirement does not seem to be on her mind, either. She says she will be back in 2012, reminding everyone she will only be 37!

Zakia Nassar - Palestine - Swimming

One of only four athletes from Palestine to compete in the Olympic games in Beijing, 19-year-old Zakia Nassar has struggled immensely to find a proper place to train to get ready for her own Olympic experience. As the only Olympic-length pools near her are in Israel and virtually unreachable due to roadblocks and travel issues, she has been training in pools that are less than half of that which she will be swimming in the games. Though she was not able to medal in Beijing, posting times well behind others in her 50-meter freestyle event, having the opportunity to represent the war-torn region was a dream come true for her.

Robina Muqimyr - Afghanistan - Track & Field

In a country where women have few rights and are generally not allowed to participate in sporting events, Robina Muqimyr has the distinction of being one of two female athletes to represent the country. Her training takes place in the stadium in Kabul where the Taliban performed its infamous executions. Rather than the high quality tracks that most runners train on, she runs on cement, sometimes in her bare feet. This is her second Olympic games, and she has great hopes that she will continue to improve by the 2012 Olympics in London.

Natalie du Toit - South Africa - Open Water Swimming

Most standard Olympic athletes, male or female, are in tip-top physical condition, with no true handicaps further than injury or strain that is a part of their events. After failing to qualify at the 2000 Sydney games, du Toit lost her leg in a motorcycle accident, seemingly killing her dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete. She pulled herself up and competed as a swimmer in the Paralympics, but for her that was not enough. In 2008, she won a spot on the marathon swim team for her country and placed 16th of 25 athletes in the final. She has showed tremendous strength in overcoming her disability to compete with Olympic caliber athletes, without physical disabilities.

While these are just a handful of the hundreds of inspiring stories of athletes overcoming adversity and challenge to compete at the Olympic Games, they are some of the most inspirational women of the 2008 Olympics. Some won medals, others did not even qualify for contention but all put their heart and soul into their performance, showing the world what women of all ages, races and backgrounds can accomplish, given a fighting chance. These are the role models that future generations should know and emulate.

Martin Reed is the developer and owner of Female Forum - an online community for women. He also blogs about how to develop successful online communities.

beijing olympics swimming: 2008 olympic swimming

beijing olympics swimming: 2008 olympic swimming

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          Could Uzbekistan be Opening Up?        
Scope for change on foreign policy, but domestic reform may be mostly cosmetic.

In the three months since his appointment, Uzbekistan’s new president Shavkat Mirziyoyev has taken a number of measures that appear to show willingness to open up one of the world’s most isolated states.

His predecessor Islam Karimov, who died in September 2016, was an authoritarian and ruthless leader who had ruled with an iron fist for 27 years.

But recently, as well as apparent efforts to cool tensions with neighbouring states and relax visa restrictions, the regime released three long-serving political prisoners.

John MacLeod, senior analyst for Russia and CIS at Oxford Analytica and a former IWPR managing editor, said that these were “early signals” of an intention to change, but warned that substantive domestic reforms remained unlikely.

Uzbekistan’s new president Shavkat Mirziyoyev. (Photo: Press Service of the Uzbek President)
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          10 Keajaiban Alam di Dunia        

10 Keajaiban Alam

alam memang tak pernah habis membuat kita terkagum-kagum, berikut beberapa keajaiban alam yang terdapat di beberapa negara :

1. The Wave. Between Arizona and Utah – USA
Ada di perbatasan arizona dan utah. terbuat dari pasir yang berumur 190 juta tahun yang berubah menjadi batu.

2. Antelope Canyon. Arizona – USA  
berada di Navajo Land, dekat Page, Arizona di Amerika Selatan.Antelope Canyon atau Tebing Antelope adalah sebuah tebing yang menjadi tempat kunjungan favorit para fotografer dan menjadi tempat para wisatawan untuk melihat pemandangan luar biasa. Antelope Canyon terletak di area barat daya Amerika, tepatnya di sebelah utara Arizona. Antelope Canyon adalah keajaiban alam yang terbentuk dari pengikisan batu, air dan angin. Antelope Canyon asal mulanya adalah gunung batu yang terbelah. Kesan pertama ketika melihat tempat ini seperti memasuki gua kecil yang tinggi. Namun ketika masuk, ternyata di dalamnya cukup luas. Di Antelope Canyon dapat terlihat cahaya yang masuk dari celah-celah. Baik dari lekukan, kedalaman, maupun warna yang ada pada bebatuan yang mempunyai bentuk yang berbeda. Cahaya yang masuk memantul ke bebatuan-bebatuan yang ada sehingga menghasilkan warna yang berbeda-beda.
Pemandangan di Antelope Canyon begitu indah. Antelope Canyon mampu memanjakan mata para turis, terutama para fotografer yang giat mengabadikan pemandangan-pemandangan indah. Antelope Canyon adalah surga bagi para fotografer. Perpaduan cahaya yang masuk di antara kawah-kawah ini mampu membuat orang-orang yang melihatnya akan berdecak kagum. Dulu tempat ini tidak begitu ramai dikunjungi karena letaknya cukup terpencil. Bahkan banyak fotografer yang berusaha menyembunyikan tempat-tempat indah di daerah ini. Namun seiring waktu berlalu, tempat ini telah menjadi salah satu objek wisata di Arizona. Silakan mampir ke Antelope Canyon bagi yang ingin memanjakan mata dengan pemandangan-pemandangan indah.

3. Great Blue Hole (Belize)  
Berada di jarak 60 mil dari kota Belize. lingkaran yang berdiameter 0.4 kilometer. tempat yang enak untuk diving. dalamnya sekitar 480 kaki atau 145 meter. karena kedalamannya itulah warna nya jadi biru tua.

4. Crystal Cave of the Giants (Mexico)
Terletak di dalam pertambangan di Chihuahua Mexico. warna dan bentuknya bermacam-macam. warnanya ada yang emas dan silver.

5. Eye of the Sahara (Mauritania)
Berada di baratdaya gurun sahara. berdiameter 30 mil sehingga terlihat jelas dari angkasa.
6. Blue Lake Cave (Brazil)
Mato Grosso do Sul di Brazil ini memiliki banyak sekali danau dan gua bawah tanah yang indah: Gruta do Lago Azul, Gruta do Mimoso, Aquário Natural. Gua Danau Biru “Gruta do Lago Azul” (Blue Lake Cave) adalah monumen alami yang dibentuk dengan indah oleh alam melalui stalaktit, stalagmit dan danau indah biru yang besar. Kecantikan danau ini luar biasa, dan warna biru-nya yang menjadi pusat perhatian dan keindahan danau yang ada.

7. Giants Causeway (Ireland)
Di daerah ini ada sekitar 40.000 tiang batu basalt saling tumpang tindih. Secara geologis, hal ini terjadi karena ledakan gunung berapi, yang terletak di daerah pantai utara Irlandia. Uniknya, hampir semua tiang memiliki enam sisi, walaupun terkadang ditemukan juga tiang dengan sisi empat, atau bahkan lima, tujuh dan delapan. Tiang tertinggi adalah 12 meter dan tebal formasi ini dapat mencapai 28 meter.

8. Hell Gate (Uzbekistan)
Biasa disebutkan “the door to hell”. terletak di dekat kota kecil, Darvaz. 35 tahun yang lalu, tim geologis sedang menggali untuk mencari sumber gas. namun yang mereka temukan adalah sebuah goa besar yang berapi. dikirakan goa ini akan terus membakar gas selamanya.

9. Wave Rock (Australia)
Terbuat alami dengan sendirinya. diberi julukan “Wave Rock” karena bentuknya menyerupai ombak. tingginya bisa mencapai 15 meter dan panjangnya sampai 110 meter.

10. Chocolate Hills (Philippines)
Luasnya mencapai 50 kilometer persegi. terletak di Bohol, Filipina. Diperkirkan terbentuk karena aktifita vulkanik.
sumber :

          News Wrap: Lower August job creation keeps unemployment flat        

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s been a rough day across Northern Florida, thanks to Hurricane Hermine. And now much of the Atlantic Seaboard is under threat.

William Brangham begins our coverage.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Hermine barreled ashore in Florida’s Big Bend region on the Gulf Coast around 1:30 this morning. It battered beaches with winds of 80 miles an hour and flooded towns with storm surge and heavy downpours.

WOMAN: We get out of bed, the water is ankle-deep, and go and open the door. Floodwaters come rushing in. Now the water inside the house is knee-deep.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Adding to the mess, the storm tore up trees and snapped power lines, affecting thousands of people. Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for more than 50 counties.

WOMAN: And evacuate immediately.

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), Florida: The number one thing is to stay safe. Do not drive in standing water. Stay away from downed power lines. Just because it’s clear outside doesn’t mean it’s safe.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: From the Gulf Coast, the storm moved inland and weakened as it pushed across Southern Georgia and the Carolinas. It’s expected to regain some of its power if the storm moves out over warmer water in the Atlantic. That had North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and others waiting and hoping.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), North Carolina: We’re going to see who gets hit the hardest, and hopefully no one will get hard hit at all. Again, our goal is to be overprepared and underwhelmed when it comes to this storm.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Mid-Atlantic states may face the worst of Hermine. It’s projected to stall offshore this weekend, with the potential for historic levels of beach erosion and coastal flooding.

Already, Labor Day weekend events up and down the coast were being canceled or delayed.

But, today, at least, officials in Georgia said the effects were less damaging than feared, and surfers even took advantage of big waves near Savannah.

Back in Florida, there were other concerns. The state has already reported dozens of cases of Zika virus, and the storm’s passage will now leave countless pools of standing water, ideal breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that transmit Zika.

HARI SREENIVASAN: William will be back with what’s behind the recent absence of hurricanes hitting the U.S. mainland after the news summary.

In the day’s other news:  Job creation in August came in lighter than expected.  The Labor Department reports a net gain of 151,000 positions, far below the gains of recent months.  The unemployment rate for August stayed at 4.9 percent for the third month in a row.  The weaker numbers could influence the Federal Reserve to wait until year’s end before raising interest rates again.

The man who ruled Uzbekistan with an iron hand, Islam Karimov, has died of a stroke.  His government confirmed it today.  Karimov took power in the Central Asian nation in 1989, and was widely condemned for brutally repressing all dissent.  Even so, after 9/11, the U.S. used an Uzbek air base for airstrikes on Afghanistan.  The deal collapsed when Karimov’s troops machine-gunned 700 protesters in 2005.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said today he doesn’t know who hacked Democratic Party organizations in the U.S.  The cyber-attack led to the release of thousands of e-mails and documents, and U.S. intelligence agencies have pointed to Russian hackers.

But in a new interview with Bloomberg News, Putin says the culprits could be from anywhere.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through translator):  There are so many hackers nowadays, and they act so meticulously and so precisely.  They camouflage their activity to pretend that they were some other hackers from other territories or others countries.  At a state level, Russia is definitely not involved in this.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Putin also said Moscow has no intention of trying to interfere in the U.S. election.

A gunman who killed a security agent at Los Angeles International Airport will avoid the death penalty.  Instead, Paul Ciancia gets life in prison, under a plea deal on murder and other charges.  In 2013, he shot a federal screening officer a dozen times, and wounded three others.

A former Stanford University swimmer walked out of jail today in a sexual assault case that caused a national outcry.  Brock Turner served half of a six-month sentence for attacking an unconscious woman after heavy drinking at a party.  The victim complained the sentence was far too lenient.  That sparked widespread criticism of the judge and the system, and, this week, state lawmakers approved mandatory prison terms for what Turner did.

Samsung is recalling its brand-new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones because the batteries can explode or catch fire.  Today’s announcement came just two weeks after the product’s launch.  Samsung says there have been 35 cases of Note 7s burning or exploding out of 2.5 million sold worldwide.

And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 72 points to close near 18492.  The Nasdaq rose 22 points, and the S&P 500 added nine.  For the week, all three indexes gained about half-a-percent.

The post News Wrap: Lower August job creation keeps unemployment flat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

          Commentaires sur Occlusions veineuses rétiniennes par MichaelNex        
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          Menengok Kegemilangan Pertanian di Masa Kejayaan Islam        
meratapi nasib - â€œPertanian merupakan sektor utama dalam kehidupan suatu bangsa”
Itulah salah satu  kalimat yang sering kita dengar dari pidato yang dikutip dari tokoh-tokoh besar di Indonesia dan dunia. Hal tersebut benar adanya karena memang pertanianlah yang menjadi penopang kehidupan suatu bangsa. Pertanian menghasilkan bahan makanan bagi manusia. Namun seiring perkembangan zaman kita menyaksikan Indonesia kian menjadi negara yang terus – menerus mengimpor bahan pangan. Bahkan untuk komoditas singkong sekalipun Indonesia masih mengimpor dari China dan Thailand. Sebenarnya di mana letak kesalahan negara ini dalam membangun sektor pertaniannya?
Sebelum kita menjawab pertanyaan tersebut alangkah baiknya kita membandingkan dengan sejarah pertanian yang begitu berkembang pesat di masa kejayaan Islam. Tentu ada rahasia yang terismpan di dalamya yang menjadi sebab pertanian di masa itu sangat berkembang. Agar nantinya kita dapat menentukan di manakah letak kesalahan negara ini dalam membangun sektor pertaniannya?!
Pertanian merupakan sektor yang mendapat perhatian besar dalam Islam. Ada beberapa faktor yang sangat mempengaruhi keberhasilan dalam membangun pertanian di masa kejayaannya kala itu. Faktor tersebut di antaranya :
  1. Faktor Ruhiah
Islam memberikan dorongan ruhiah yang besar untuk bertani atau berladang atau lebih umum menanam bebijian atau pepohonan. Rasulullah saw. bersabda :
“Tidaklah seorang Muslim menanam sebatang pohon atau menanam pohon (berkebun) atau menanam sebutir biji (bertani), lalu sebagian hasilnya dimakan oleh burung, manusia atau binatang, melainkan baginya ada pahala sedekah”
 (HR al-Bukhari, Muslim, at-Tarmidzi dan Ahmad)
Dari hadits tersebut mamacu kaum muslimin berlomba-lomba untuk turut serta menjadi individu yang memberikan manfaat bagi makhluk lainnya. Dorongan keimananlah yang berperan pada aspek ruhiah, sehingga kaum muslimin kala itu tidak hanya mengejar keuntungan semata namun juga membentuk kehidupan yang bermanfaat dengan didasarkan pada keimanan yakni memperoleh pahala.
  1. Peran Kebijakan Negara
Peran negara yang menjalan sistem ekonomi Islam juga amat penting dan berperan besar. Hasilnya kaum muslim berhasil meraih kegemilangan di sektor pertanian serta memberi kontribusi besar bagi kemakmuran dan kesejahteraan umat manusia selama berabad – abad. Semua itu terekam baik dalam sejarah kaum Muslim dan diakui oleh sejarahwan Barat sekalipun.
Kemajuan besar di sektor pertanian itu menunjukkan besarnya peran kebijakan pertanian Khilafah ketika itu. Kebijakan khilafah kala itu dimaksudkan untuk meningkatkan produksi pertanian dan menjamin kelangsungannya. Kebijakan tersebut mencakup :
  1. Kebijakan Intensifikasi
  2. Kebijakan Ekstensifikasi
  3. Pembangunan Infrastruktur
  4. Penelitian dan Pengembangan (Litbang)
  5. Dukungan Kepada Petani

1. Kebijakan Intensifikasi
Kebijakan Intensifikasi dilakukan untuk meningkatkan produktivitas. Di antaranya dalam bentuk penggunaan sarana dan produksi pertanian yang lebih baik seperti bibit unggul, penggunaan pupuk, obat-obatan dan saprotan, dsb. Intensifikasi juga dilakukan dengan jalan penciptaan, penyebarluasan serta penggunaan teknik budidaya dan produksi modern yang lebih efisien di kalangan petani. Pola intensifikasi sudah dilakukan sejak awal. Setidaknya pada awal abad ke-9, sistem pertanian modern telah menjadi pusat kehidupan ekonomi dan organisasi di negeri-negeri Muslim. Pertanian di Timur dekat, Afrika Utara dan Spanyol didukung sistem pertanian yang maju, menggunakan irigasi yang canggih dan pengetahuan yang sangat memadai. Kaum Muslim telah menguasai teknik budidaya modern untuk kebun buah dan sayuran. Mereka juga bagaimana membasmi serangga dan menggunakan dosis pupuk yang tepat.
Umat Islam pun telah mengembangkan teknik pemuliaan tanaman dan hewan yang maju sehingga bisa menghasilkan bibit unggul baik tanaman maupun hewan ternak. Kaum Muslim juga mampu mengembangkan varietas baru dan menambahkan keragaman tanaman yang ada.
Sejumlah jenis tanaman yang sebelumnya tak dikenal berhasil dikembangkan dan diperkenalkan. Contohnya, jeruk “sour orange” dan lemon. Buah asli Asia ini dibawa umat Islam dari India ke Arab sebelum abad ke-10 dan dikembangkan hingga akhirnya juga dikenal di Suriah, Asia Kecil, Palestina, Mesir dan Spanyol. Dari Spanyol lalu menyebar ke seluruh Eropa Selatan dan dikenal sebagai Seville Orange.
Kaum Muslim juga memiliki pengetahuan yang sangat baik tentang tanah, jenisnya, kendungannya dan karakteristiknya; kelembaban, termasuk cuaca dan iklim serta tanaman apa yang cocok. Mereka juga menguasai teknik pembuatan pupuk dan komposisi penggunaannya.
Untuk meningkatkan produktvitas pertanian, kaum Muslim mengembangkan sistem irigasi yang canggih. Dalam hal ini juga diadopsi teknik dan teknologi modern seperti penggunaan kincir untuk mengangkat air dari sungai lalu dialirkan melalui jaringan irigasi. Dengan itu satu lahan bisa dipanen sampai tiga kali setahun dengan jenis tanaman yang berbeda.

2. Kebijakan Ekstensifikasi
Kebijakan Ekstensifikasi untuk menambah luas areal tanam dan luas lahan. Salah satunya dengan ihya’ul mawat(menghidupkan tanah mati), yaitu siapa saja yang menghidupkan tanah mati maka tanah itu menjadi miliknya. Hukum ini selain turut berperan dalam pendistribusian lahan pertanian juga menjamin luas areal tanam. Dengan itu tidak ada lahan yang terlantar. Berbeda dengan sekarang, ada jutaan lahan terlantar, dan pada saat yang sama juga ada jutaan petani tidak punya lahan.
Luas lahan ditingkatkan dengan membuka lahan baru. Misalnya seperti yang dilakukan Khilafah Bani Umayyah dengan mengeringkan lahan daerah rawa-rawa dan daerah aliran sungai di Irak serta menyulapnya menjadi lahan pertanian yang subur. Perluasan juga dilakukan dengan mengubah lahan yang tandus dan subur dengan  jalan dibangun saluran irigasi ke daerah itu. Lahan-lahan baru itu lalu dibagikan kepada petani yang tidak mempunyai lahan atau lahannya sempit.
3. Pembangunan Infrastruktur
al-jazari_water_deviceKemajuan Industri Masa Khilafah kincir air di Granada
Kemajuan pertanian tidak bisa diraih tanpa dukungan infrastruktur yang baik dan memadai. Ini disadari betul oleh para khalifah. Infrastruktur penting adalah irigasi yang canggih di seluruh wilayah yang terkenal di wilayah Irak. Sistem jaringan irigasi ini lalu diintroduksi ke Spanyol pada masa pemerintahan Islam di sana. Pompa-pompa juga dikembangkan untuk mendukung irigasi itu. Awalnya digunakan pompa ungkit. Berikutnya dikembangkan pompa Saqiya yang digerakkan dengan tenaga hewan. Yang fenomenal adalah dikembangkan kincir air sejak abad ke-3 H (9 M) untuk mengangkat air sungai dan diintegrasikan dengan penggilingan . ada ratusan di sepanjang sungai Eufrat dan Tigris. Infrastruktur lainnya adalah jalan. Jalan terus dibangun dan ditingkatkan kualitasnya sejak masa Khilafah Umar bin al-Khaththab.
sungai eufrat
Khilafah juga membiayai pemeliharaan kanal-kanal besar untuk pertanian. Air dari sungai Eufrat dialirkan hampir ke seluruh wilayah Mesopotamia atau Irak sekarang, sedangkan air Tigris dialirkan ke Persia. Negara juga membangun sebuah kanal besar yang menghubungkan dua sungai di Baghdad. Kekhalifahan Abbasiyah memelopori pengeringan rawa-rawa agar digunakan untuk pertanian.
Khilafah juga merehabilitasi desa-desa yang rusak dan memperbaiki ladang yang mengering. Pada abad ke-10, di bawah kepemimpinan sultan dari Bani Samanid, daerah antara Bukhara dan Samarkand, Uzbekistan berkembang pesat dan menjadi satu dari empat surga dunia. Tiga lainnya adalah wilayah Persia Selatan, Irak Selatan, dan di sekitar Damaskus, Suriah.

4. Penelitian dan Pengembangan
pertanian di masa khilafahkitab-al filaha dalam bahasa Perancis
kitab-al filaha dalam bahasa latinKhilafah juga mengembangkan iklim yang kondusif bagi kegiatan penelitian dan pengembangan sains dan teknologi, termasuk di bidang pertanian. Banyak laboratorium dibangun, begitu pula perpustakaan dan lahan-lahan percobaan. Para ilmuwan diberi berbagai dukungan yang diperlukan, termasuk dana penelitian, selain penghargaan ataskarya mereka. Lau lahirlah banyak sekali ilmuwan pelopor di bidang pertanian. Misalnya, Abu Zakaria Yahya bin Muhammad Ibn Al-Awwan, tinggal di Seville. Ia menulis buku Kitab al-Filanah yang menjelaskan tanaman dan budidaya 50 jenis buah-buahan; hama dan penyakit serta penanggulangannya; teknik mengolah tanah; sifat-sifat tanah; karakteristik dan tanaman yang cocok; juga tentang kompos. Ada juga Abu al-Khair, seorang ahli pertanian abad ke-12 di Spanyol. Ia menulis dan menjelaskan empat cara untuk menampung air hujan dan membuat perairan buatan. Khair menegaskan perlunya penggunaan air hujan untuk membantu proses  reproduksi pohon zaitun dengan cara stek. Ia juga menguraikan teknik pembuatan gula dari Tebu.
Ahmad al-Muwairi dalam bukunya Nihayah al-‘Arab fi Funun al-Adab menjelaskan, pada masa itu juga telah berkembang industri gula yang didukung oelh perkebunan Tebu di Faris dan al-Ahwaz, yang kemudian menyebar ke seluruh wilayah Laut Tengah. Ia juga menginfirmasikan penggunaan bajak berat (maharit kibar)yang digunakan sebelum penanaman Tebu.
pompa saqiya
Ada pula ahli pertanian dari Damaskus, Riyad ad-Din al-Ghazzi al-Amiri (935/1529). Dia menulis sebuah buku tentang pertanian yang terperinci. Ibnu Bassal (1038-1075), seorang ilmuwan di Andalusia, memelopori penggunaan teknologi “flywheel” (roda gila) untuk meningkatkan kemampuan Noria atau Na’uria (roda kincir air). Teknologi kincir termasuk kincir angin termasuk al-Hiyal karya Banu Musa bersaudara abad ke-3 H (9 M). Muhammad bin Zakaria ar-Razi dalam kitabnya al-Hawi (abad X M), menggambarkan output dari satu kincir air di Irak yang bisa mengangkat sebanyak 153.000 liter perjam, atau 2.500 liter permenit. Buku ini juga menggambarkan output dari satu kincir air dengan ketinggian 5 meter di Irak dapat mencapai 22.000 liter perjam.

5. Dukungan Kepada Petani
Khilafah juga memberikan dukungan kepada para petani. Di antaranya dukungan permodalan baik dalam bentuk pemberian seperti yang diberikan pada masa Khalifah Umar bin al-Khaththab kepada para petani di Irak, atau dalam bentuk pinjaman tanpabunga seperti pada masa Khalifah Umar bin Abdul Aziz dan utang itu baru dikembalikan dua tahun setelahnya.
Maka dari itu, wajar dengan kebijakan itu dan kebijakan lainnya, tercapai kegemilangan pertanian pada masa Khilafah. Berdasarkan catatan sejarah dan komentar para ilmuwan termasuk dari Barat, sistem pertanian pada era Spanyol Muslim merupakan sistem pertanian yang paling kompleks dan paling ilmiah, yang pernah disusun oelh kecerdikan manusia.
Joseph McCabe, cendekiawan berkebangsaan Inggris, mengungkapkan, di bawah kendali Muslim Arab (pada masa Khilafah), perkebunan di Andalusia jarang dikerjakan oleh budak. Perkebunan dikerjakan oleh para petani sendiri. Saat yang sama, bangsa Eropa masih didukung oleh sistem feodal, saat tanah dikuasai oleh para tuan tanah dari kalangan bangsawan, sedangkan petaninya hanya sebagai buruh tani yang miskin.
Di sepanjang Sungai Guadalquivir Spanyol juga terdapat 12 ribu desa yang berkecukupan, bahkan makmur. Revolusi Pertanian Islam telah diawali pada abad ke-7 yang membuat negeri-negeri Islam berkembang pesat dan memiliki masyarakat makmur dari hasil pertanian. Para ahli geografi awal mengungkapkan, terdapat 360 desa di Fayyum, sebuah provinsi di Kairo, Mesir, yang masing-masing dapat menyediakan kebutuhan makanan bagi penduduk seluruh Msir setiap hari. Ada pula 200 desa di sepanjang Sungai Tigris, Irak, yang pertaniannya juga maju. Sensus yang dilakukan pada abad ke-8 di Mesir mengungkapkan bahwa dari 10 ribu desa di Mseir, tak ada desa yang memilliki bajak kurang dari 500 unit.
Tak aneh, wilayah-wilayah yang sebelumya terbelakang secara pertanian, setelah berada di bawah Khilafah mengalami kemajuan yang pesat. Wilayah Mediteranian yang sebelumnya terbelakang, dengan datangnya Islam, segalanya pun berubah. Kaum Muslim yang datang ke wilayah itu memperkenalkan berbagai macam tanaman baru sehingga garapan pertanian pu kian beragam. Seorang ahli agronomi Andalusia, seperti at-Tignari yang berasal dari Granada, membuat referensi tentang tanaman-tanaman yang memberikan kontribusi besar bagi peningkatan pertanian yang cukup signifikan.
Seorang orientalis dari Prancis, Baron Carra de Vaux, menyebutkan sejumlah tanaman dan hewan yang dibawa umat Islam dari Timur ke Spanyol, di antaranya: tulip, bakung, narcissi, lili, melati, mawar, persik, plum, domba, kambing, kucing Anggora, ayam Persia, sutra, dan katun. Salah satu tanaman penting di antaranya adalah tebu. Kapas mulai dibudidayakan di Andalusia pada akhir abad ke-11 hingga tercapai swasembada kapas bahkan diekspor. Dengan produksi pertanian yang semacam ini, penduduk kosmopolitan di kota-kota Islam, termasuk yang ada di Spanyol, mampu memenuhi kotanya dengan beragam produk buah dan sayuran yang sebelumnya tak dikenal di Eropa.
Masih banyak catatan gemilang di bidang pertanian pada masa Khilafah. Fakta sejarah yang telah dipaparkan dapat menjadi cambukkan nyata bagi bangsa ini yang seharusnya menjadi lebih baik dari sejarah yang pernah ada. Faktor pembangkit sektor pertanian yang ditopang oleh sistem Islam sangatlah berbeda dengan sektor pertanian yang ditopang oleh sistem Demokrasi-Kapitalis.[gaulfresh/[]

Muhammad Rizki  (Kontributor Gaulfresh)
Mahasiswa Jurusan Agribisnis
Fakultas Pertanian Universitas Mulawarman Samarinda

          What Veterans Can Teach Us About Entrepreneurship        
Imagine that you are twenty years old and you have just been deployed to Uzbekistan at a staging area for military incursions into Afghanistan. You are in the most alien environment imaginable and still trying to get your bearings. You have been trained by the Air Force to maintain military [...]
          ACF Deploys Emergency Teams to Meet Needs of Thousands Displaced by Violence in Kyrgyzstan        
An ethnic Uzbek woman cries in a tent in a refugee camp Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov, courtesy

NEW YORK, NY—International humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger | ACF International has launched an emergency response to assist the victims of ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. An estimated 300,000 people have been internally displaced and at least 75,000 people have fled to neighboring Uzbekistan since violent clashes erupted in the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan in mid-June.

Action Against Hunger’s top priority is providing displaced populations in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan with access to food and safe drinking water with a focus on the most vulnerable—children, expecting and nursing mothers, and the elderly. The humanitarian group, which already secured permission to enter an area of Uzbekistan where thousands of refugees have congregated, has deployed emergency response teams to both countries yesterday. Experts in food security and water & sanitation will immediately begin providing clean drinking water to 30,000 people in Osh and carry out rapid assessments in affected areas to determine immediate needs. A cargo plane carrying emergency supplies is scheduled to arrive within the next few days.

Action Against Hunger learned that makeshift refugee camps have been established in Uzbekistan, but the humanitarian situation for the displaced in Kyrgyzstan remains unknown. Tens of thousands of people are caught on the Uzbek side of the border with Kyrgyzstan, where authorities have registered 32,000 refugee families, mostly comprised of women and children. The distribution of basic supplies is extremely limited due to insecurity, continued population displacement, and the closure of the Osh airport.

“The wounded and sick are unable to reach hospitals for fear of being exposed to violence, and there have even been attacks against medical personnel while trying to evacuate patients,” said Olivier Longue, Executive Director for ACF-Spain. “Humanitarian access is still very limited. Very few agencies are on the ground because of ongoing fighting.”

Hospitals and health centers are running out of food and fuel as the number of wounded continues to rise. In the city of Osh, where many grocery stores, markets, and restaurants remain closed, the population faces rising food insecurity. Household food stocks are being rapidly depleted because of looting and restrictions on movement and on the delivery of supplies. With temperatures soaring above 100 degrees, the water supply in some areas of Osh has been disrupted due to power outages. Stocks of bottled water have also run out or been looted.

“We are especially concerned about indiscriminate attacks on civilians, gender violence, looting, the destruction of personal property, and the lack of protection afforded to those displaced by the violence,” said Javier Perez, head of the emergency team for Action Against Hunger.

The organization calls on all parties involved to cease the killings, stop the destruction, and allow humanitarian actors to safely respond to the immediate needs of the affected populations.

          Ethnic Federalism a Reactionary Plan for Iran's Future- Second Version Persian Version متن فارسی        
Align LeftEthnic Federalism a Reactionary Plan for Iran's Future- Second Version

Persian Version متن فارسی

Again although I have repeatedly discussed these issues from a theoretical perspective (1) but I have to clearly state my political position although the political groups I am addressing here try character assassination and attack using pseudonames on the Internet without their leaders inside the remainders of Democratic Party of Iranian Kudistan ( and the remnants of Komala ( and the Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran ( who are at the helm of these destruction programs for Iran to take responsibility for such personal attacks. On one hand in their radio and TV front programs they pretend to be Iran lovers but on the other hand open criticism of their Iran-breaking platforms is met with character assassination under pseudonames so that they would not have to take direct responsibility for their destructive political positions towards Iran. Let me emphasize that my opposition to these groups and their programs to break up Iran in ethnic hatred has nothing to do with nationalism which I oppose as well (2).

The reality is that for decades the Islamist fundamentalist and Stalinist groups have lost any following in the more advanced parts of Iran among the political and human rights activists and nobody in the Iran's civil rights movement or in Iran's new political opposition has any relationship with such groups and noone in a democratic mindset would consider her/himself a sympathizer of such backward sects which still try to find following, just like the Islamic Republic, by boasting the number of martyrs they have had in the last 30 years ago and previous to that. But in some parts of Iran like Kurdistan there are still some civil rights activists who are afraid of these groups. When these groups try to use the civil rights movement of areas like Kurdistan as a front for themselves, and for their ethnic federalist platforms, these activists are intimidated to go along. One of the most recent examples of such efforts by these ethnic sects is the formation of a group called Iran Federal with a clear *ethnic* federalist mind set in facebook which I think should be boycotted because it tries to mislead people by using the word federalism when their platform is nothing more than ethnic division of Iran and their goal is *not* a non-ethnic administrative decentralization like American federalism.

Even Komala and PDKI today are divided into several pieces although they still go by their old names and are just like the Communist Party of Gus Hall in the United States when time and again in any presidential election, again Mr. Gus Hall is a candidate from the that Communist Party USA, for American presidency, a candidacy which is nothing more than a ridiculous game in the eyes of living political forces in the U.S., whether they are conservative or are at the opposite end of the political spectrum. Of course if Iran was a democracy and if these same groups showed up as humorous political realities in the open and were not using the atmosphere of secrecy in Iranian political life, to create the impression of an important force, there would be no need even to write about them as nobody in the US politics even talks about Gus Hall and his Communist Party. But in Iran too, in the 21st Century these sects that only resemble a ridiculous caricature of a historical Stalinist parties with backward programs have long lost any attractions in the regions they claim to have following, as the civil rights movement and modern political thinking is growing in those areas too but these groups try to use the hush hush of secrecy to draw a different picture of political reality of those regions.

Also those in other parts of Iran who do not know about these realities when they visit regions like Kurdistan are like someone who has left the urban areas for the countryside and in the first sight, the facade of strong non-religious organizations when seeing the office and facilities of these groups in the neighboring countries of Iran (in Iraq) impresses them as if these groups are more advanced than the political groups in other parts of Iran and imagine as if they are visiting a modern political party whereas for these sects, these days, only ethnicism has replaced their past Stalinist flag making them the twin of Khomeini's religionist politics, where they are both remnants of Iran's Medieval times, and surely they have nothing to do with Modernism.

Many activists who fled the Islamic Republic from Tehran and see the offices of some of these groups in neighboring country Iraq think that these sects are a powerful force in those regions. These sects by creating lobby groups in the U.S. and Europe and by receiving money from several countries in recent years and by forming relationships with neighboring countries are working just like the Ferghe Democrat of Azerbaijan and of Kurdistan lead by Pishevari and Ghazai Mohammad in the 1940's, when they created similar relations with the northern Azerbaijan Soviet Republic at the time of Stalin and were both destroyed in the aftermath of Stalin's pact with Iran's government in mid 1940's. Although the current remnants of those groups carrying the same name are nothing more thank a caricature of those groups of the 40's withno grassroots following in those regions but they work hard are to fool the honest political and civil rights activists of Iran and also endeavor to misrepresent themselves to some of the advisers of foreign governments who are not familiar with the realities of Iran's Kurdistan and this way they try to fool them to get money and weapons for themselves. Their political platform of these sects are like a Stalinist nightmare which weighs heavily on the body of Iranian political movement as they try to mislead Iran's prodemocracy movement towards ethnic hatred and civil war by advocating the breakup of Iran in an ethnic destruction. They are pushing platforms that, along with dark nightmares of Soviet influence, even among older activists of Iran, have long been discarded, and are looked at as part of a history which brought us nothing more than destruction, and finally an Islamic Republic which today is not much different from Stalin's Soviet Union. Today when our people say we want a secular republic it means we want a government which not only is not Islamic-oriented, but it is not ideology-oriented, and is not ethnicity-oriented. In other word we do not wabt to discard negation of secularism by a religious state, to accept negation of secularism by an ethnic state, which is another version of a nonsecular state, because it approves of ethnic apartheid, just as Soviet Union was another version of a nonsecular state by being ideology-oriented.

But if Khomeini's Islamists brought us the souvenir of a backward religious state in the 21st Century, these ethnicists want to bring back an ethnic state for our people, at the time of demise of Stalinism and Communism, and are dreaming of Iraq's Kurdistan (a wholly different situation in remnants of Ottoman Empire which I have extensively discussed in my book about Kurdistan that is used to mislead Iranian Kurds as a pretext for the so-called Theory of Greater Kurdistan). They are waiting for Iran's situation to change a little bit towards freedom, and instead of helping the prodemocracy movement of Iran, by misusing the efforts of Iran's prodemocracy activists to disintegrate Iran. They are so shameless that they talk as representative of Kurdish people about the post-June 12th demonstrations of Tehran and other parts of Iran and send message as if Kurdistan is a separate country and as if they are the representative of that country instead of participating in the current movement along with other prodemocracy activists as the people of Kemanshah did in the memorial ceremony of Kianoush Asa, in a movement which emphasizes secularism that negates both Islamism and Ethnicism.

Iran is a country which is neither coming out of a war nor is it just a collection of regions wishing to form a modern state to decide whether they want to choose a canton-style confederation model like Switzerland or follow the model of federalism of the former colonies of the America forming the United States. The reason that I have personally even suggested provincial federalism for Iran which resembles US federal system was not based on any ethnic division and was not because of any illusion as to think of country-making (so-called nation-building) but it was solely because the existing Iran has had a modern state, although not a democratic one, for over 100 years, and our provinces that are the result of the 100-year development may be able to use provincial federalism to help the **checks and balances** to further grow democracy in Iran, not to grow ethnic hatred. Basically provincial federalism means that all three branches of government are elected offices in every province and are not appointed offices from the center (3).

Otherwise to resolve issues of the ethnic rights, whether one adopts the provincial federal model or a central state, is related to citizen rights in Iran and has nothing to do with federalism, and thus ethnic state is not a solution to those issues. If we end up sliding in the slope of tribal government, I also like many other Iranian political activists, will drop federalism altogether from my suggested platform, because I do not want federalism to be used as an excuse to break up Iran and turn Iran into another Yugoslavia, which is only the wish of colonialists and reactionaries, and is not the desire of Iran's freedom loving people, and we in the Iran's political movement feel no proximity with such colonial backward schemes and condemn any such endeavors to break up Iran's territorial integrity.

Fundamentally our argument against ethnic federalism is not because of impracticality. The point is that an ethnic state in one province or two or a region or in the whole country is reactionary. Paying attention to the ethnic demands in the areas of language and culture has nothing to do with having an ethnic state (4). The same way that paying attention to the religious demands has nothing to do with accepting a religious government, and in fact, it is the reverse, and ethnic or religious states are themselves the cause of ethnic and religious discrimination.

Any personal insults, threats, etc. is not a response to my discussions. Modern government was formed in Iran for more than a century ago after the Constitutional Revolution and we are not at the beginning of state-making to define our borders, and such issues to become our preoccupation, as some of these sect leaders want to push us that way, is against the interests of Iranian people and no foreign government should help such efforts which are condemned by Iran's pro-democracy movement and is viewed not much different from the wron support of Khomeini by some Western countries in 1979 at the expense of Iran's secular opposition groups. Even if we predict a situation like Yugoslavia in Iran, what we have learned from the experience of Iran's 1979 Revolution is that we made a mistake when we assumed the supporters of a religious government to be progressive, and this time we will not view those who are dreaming of ethnic state for Iran, as progressive, and will clearly draw our line separating ourselves from them, from now.

What is from the distant past of Iran in the Iranian plateau namely countries such as former Soviet Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan if decide to join Iran, in a bigger region, such a union will neither be an ethnic federation nor a provincial federation but it will be a new thing like European Union and has nothing to do with these discussions, or with the ridiculous games of separatists, to justify the disintegration of Iran, when the result will not be the strengthening of democracy, and if not constant civil war, in the best case will be an ethnic state like the state of Ardalans in Kurdistan in Medieval Iran which more resembles the state of Farmanfarmaeian rule in Fars province at the end of Qajar Dynasty, where they both, just like the power of clergy, belong to the old world, and reviving them in any part of Iran, is regressive, and a return to the past, and not progress, the same way Khomeini brought back the rule of clergy 30 years ago, which was a return in history, and was not modernism and progress.

A particular mistake that some Kurdish political friends in Iran makeو is that the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government has become a source of going astray for them, and now they say Shi'ite and Sunni Kurds of Iran should unite or they call for linguistic unity among the Kurds to unite Kurdistan, East Azerbaijan, Ilam and Kermanshah provinces of Iran into one region, planning for a Kurdistan regional government in Iran, similar to Iraq. If Iraqi Kurdistan has now Kurdish new television programs, Soviet Azerbaijan had all these decades ago. The issue of Kurds and Azeri of Iran is not these things, why are these sect leaders trying to mislead people of Kurdistan with these words to separate them from the large pro-democracy movement of people of Iran. If the sect leaders again cause the blood of Iranian people to spill because of these nonsense of ethnic state, there is no difference between them and Khomeini who brought destruction for our people for 30 years, with a retrogressive platform of a non-secular state.

Ethnic makeup of different parts of Iran has been formed the way it is because of the wars with the Ottomans and Russia and in Iran's previous and later history (5). Iran not only now but in the past 100 years has not been in a country-making (nation-making) situation and even during the 1979 Revolution, the movement did not have such a goal in its outlook, which some remnants of Komala and PDKI and together in Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran ( are trying to push by the help of foreign powers, by combining some provinces they want to separate from Iran. Stop these breakup schemes for Iran. Those activists among them, who had some respect in the Iranian movement, were political activists in Aryamehr University in Tehran at the time of the Shah and were not some people trying to create ethnic state in Iran, and were considered as Iranian political activists, because they were prodemocracy activists for Iran, and not because of being after breaking up Iran for ethnicism. Not even anybody knew these friends were Kurdish in those days, let alone to be pro-ethnic separation, when working with them. Moreovere, today Iran's new political movement is not after a revolution and is for peaceful change and the armed operations of the likes of Jundullah and armed groups in Kurdistan only hurt the growth of this movement unless they want to achive their goals by starting a war with Iran which I will discuss below.

Those who are after military attack on Iran, and hope Iran to be attacked to make small countries out of Iran, will only get the wrath of Iranian people, and will be marked for betrayal, even by Kurds and Azeris of Iran, just like those who because of cooperation with Saddam Hussein, got the mark of treason by Iranian people, and have been isolated from the Iranian movement. The Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran ( and remnants of Komala and PDKI better take their shop somewhere else and instead of getting money from foreign countries, join the civil rights movement of Iran. Times of Comintern and the foreign states making decisions for Iran has long passed and this is why Iranian movement after so many years remembers Dr. Mossadegh with such reverence. Don't do something to get the label of treason and betrayal of Iran forever. If the mistake of Pishevari and Ghazi Mohammad in the era of dominance of Stalinism in the international progressive movement, was understandable, the actions of remnants of Komala, PDKI, and Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran ( are not only unjustifiable but will be the mark of shame on the forehead of their leaders.

Forces and individuals belonging to the prodemocracy movement of Iran that are not agents of foreign powers should separate their way from these groups and should clearly state that they are after democratization of Iran. Using the models of provincial federalism in existing country of Iran is not for breaking up Iran, but is to grow democracy in Iran, and that is all. Even if this model of provincial federalism becomes something for separatists to misuse, I personally am ready to remove federalism from my suggested political platform altogether, instead of allowing it to give rise to a civil war in Iran. The leaders of these ethnicists have heard all these several times but again they translate federalism to ethnic federalism. I do not want to have any part in such federalism and if that is what they are looking for, one should vote negative to any proposal for federalism in any founding parliament in any future state for Iran. I personally and specifically until these groups have not been dissolved, or until the majority of supporters of federalism have not distanced themselves from ethnic federalism, will not support the position of federal republic for Iran. Repeating again, the issue for Iran, is not country-making (nation-making), to allow the merging of the four provinces of Kurdistan to create a new Kurdistan, so that it can become part of the Greater Kurdistan schemes of PKK later (6). No we will resist any such schemes that are the start of Iran's breakup.

Such ethnicist views were followed by some people for Azerbaijan, and a generation was destroyed. This is a wrong road, let's not try it again. The problem is not whether it is practical or not, the problem is that it is a wrong way for any force in Iran's democratic movement, which wastes the movement's energy on ethnic hatred, rather than on the growth of democracy. PJAK party is a living example of this error in Turkey, and Iran does not even have the problems of Turkey, when the Iran's branch of PKK, the PJAK, or Komala or PDKI, or Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran ( are prescribing such paths of going astray for our people. Theseactions have nothing to do with the freedom movement of Iran and will only destroy the new secular and democratic movement of Iran.

Hoping for a Democratic and Secular Futurist Republic in Iran,

Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
August 14, 2009



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          What if… Gorbachev had succeeded?        

On 7 October 1989 Mikhail Gorbachev visited Berlin for the celebration of the GDR 40th-anniversary, and said: “History punishes those who come too late” (Childs 2000): the statement criticised Honecker but was best suited as his own epitaph. 

But let’s try and imagine what might have happened if Gorbachev’s perestroika had actually succeeded.  Five years ago I wrote a paper developing this theme and presented it at a Conference in Warsaw. The paper illustrated how Gorbachev might have succeeded in achieving the radical reform of the Soviet political and economic system, the construction of market socialism, the re-structuring and acceleration (uskoreniye) of the Soviet economy, and the possible though unlikely continued existence of the USSR.

I should stress that this was not, or at least was not meant to be, an exercise in 20/20 hindsight. Alternative courses can be formulated without the possession of perfect foresight of the state of the world in 1985-1991.  Nor is a change in Gorbachev’s initial conditions required, of the kind “If only he had come to power in 1974, at the height of the fourfold rise in the oil price ...”. This exercise was meant as a genuine counterfactual alternative. Its purpose is that of damning Gorbachev’s disastrous economic strategy and showing that he and his economic policies, more than anybody else’s doings, are ultimately responsible for the collapse of  socialism in the Soviet Union, for the failure of an alternative design of market socialism, and for the immense human cost of post-socialist Transition.  A similar exercise, considering counter-factual alternatives to the actual course of Transition in Cental-Eastern Europe, is only outlined to suggest that Transition might have been handled at a lesser human cost. 

In order to succeed, Gorbachev would have had to act swiftly, instead of practically wasting his first two years in power (1985-87), and lay down sound economic foundations for perestroika: eliminate repressed inflation, preferably through a confiscatory currency conversion; break state monopoly of foreign trade, introduce rouble convertibility on current account, liberalise trade, foster competition. By 1991 he would have also legalised private ownership and enterprise, given state managers bonuses geared to market performance, implemented small privatisation, commercialised state enterprises, begun some privatisation of large enterprises and banks. On Christmas Day 1991, instead of resigning as President of the Union, he could have celebrated the victory of economic perestroika.

What next? There would have been still thorny choices and therefore possible mistakes to be made, before completing Transition and after. Gorbachev would have needed continued vigilance and sound economic advice, for instance to avoid too rapid dis-inflation at inordinately high real interest rates, as happened in 1994-95, and the consequent recession; to avoid an unsustainable combination of overvalued exchange rate, high interest rate to support it, and a public debt increasing as a result of high debt service, as happened in 1998 under the IMF’s watch; to avoid the unnecessary cost to the budget of switching the pension system from PAYG to a funded system.

As a result of the good economic foundations of economic perestroika, and the avoidance of these kinds of subsequent pitfalls, income losses from the Transition recession would have been lower, and growth would have accelerated earlier and faster than it actually was and did. The welfare of Russians would have improved significantly and continuously as a result. The same reasoning applies to all other Transition economies that to a greater or lesser extent followed stabilisation and Transition paths out of sequence or to excess. It is impossible to have unanimity about whether the measure taken were or were not mistakes, and how serious, let alone quantify the gains. But pretending that there were no serious unnecessary mistakes in the Transition is neither reasonable nor respectable. 

The improved economic performance would have generates political consensus, but not necessarily to the point of providing permanent democratic support for a political regime associated with significantly large state ownership and associated political values (of equality, solidarity, participation, etc.). In some Transition countries post-communist parties were returned to power in democratic elections (e.g. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia) after being defeated,  but only intermittently, not permanently; some party alternation in power is an integral part of democracy. But non-persistent, intermittent market socialism cannot deliver its expected economic and social advantages. When democratic support for an ecomic system is lacking or is not permanent, then its maintenance over time requires necessarily forms of political repression. There is a high political price to pay for an economically successful and persistent market socialism â€“ as confirmed by "market socialist" countries such as China, Vietnam, Belarus, Uzbekistan. 

Would an economically successful Gorbachev have been able to hold together the Soviet Union? There would be economic advantages to be shared out, from holding it together.  A continued Union would maintain and promote intra-Union trade volumes thanks to the single currency, and sustain inter-republic imbalances through transfers within the All-Union budget and inter-republic credits.  An early initiative and widespread economic success, including internal and external convertibility of the rouble, would have lessened centrifugal forces. If some political and administrative autonomy was granted to the 15 republics as well, the chances of retaining the Union would have improved. But the Soviets had seldom solved ethnic conflicts, mostly they had only suppressed them (just as they had done with inflation). Independence aspirations would have made it difficult for Russia to retain close ties even with republics that economically had most to gain from continued integration, like Ukraine. The probability of holding together the Union would have been greater than zero, but not significantly greater. 

Would a successful market-socialist Russia have been able to hold together CMEA/Comecon? Arguments similar to those for holding together the Soviet Union would apply, but would be much weaker. The international socialist division of labour had a bad name, in spite of Soviet subsidisation of its Comecon partners since 1974, by supplying oil and raw materials at below world prices. Memories and accusations of earlier Soviet exploitation through trade were still deeply ingrained. In January 1990 Comecon partners de facto destroyed it by trading freely rather than continue the old trade arrangements, even at the cost of paying higher prices for oil and materials. By September 1991 Comecon was officially dissolved. Comecon Soviet trade partners were already negotiating European Association Agreements and aid programmes with the European Community (now the European Union).

Gorbachev's hypothetical successful perestroika would not have led to Comecon survival.  At most, perhaps, a couple of years earlier he might have been able to extract economic assistance from the West in exchange for his acquiescence to the re-unification of Germany – for which he got nothing at all – and for the Finlandisation of Eastern Europe – a prospect overtaken by events in 1989.   

What difference would Gorbachev’s hypothetical successful perestroika have made in Russia? Only an alleviation of the pains of Transition in the 1990s; there would have been not very much difference in the 2000s, considering that in his second presidential term Putin had already reversed enterprise ownership trends, re-acquiring greater state control in many sectors and a majority stake in energy (Hanson, 2008). By comparison with the sensitivity of Russian performance to the price of oil, probably Gorbachev’s success would have been equivalent to a ten-year-long rise of $10 on the price of a barrel. (According to the Bank of Finland Research Department a $10 permanent increase raises Russia’s growth rate by 1%). The recent implosion of the US and global financial system had a far greater effect on Russia’s prospects.

What difference would Gorbachev's hypothetical successful perestroika have made to modern geopolitics? An earlier economically stronger Russia would have probably contained USA bids for the "American Century", thus sparing them the humiliation of their century ending so soon after it had barely begun.  Certainly Georgia would not have responded to encouragement by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to attack Russia. But the Twin Towers had nothing to do with Russia, and it is impossible to tell whether the major armed conflicts that followed their attack – in Afghanistan and Iraq – would have been prevented by an economically stronger Russia. Most probably not.

Gorbachev’s and the whole Transition’s economic débacle clearly reduced the demand for socialism on a world scale, but his success would have made no difference for European social-democracy, as it would not have prevented the disintegration of the Italian left or the degeneration of British Labour into New Labour, nor favoured Zapatero’s victory in Spain. Probably both the European Union and NATO would have been smaller than they are now.

A Russian economy made stronger by an efficient Transition would have been less vulnerable to the contagion of global financial turmoil, both in the South East Asian crisis of 1997 (that was an important factor in the Russian crisis of 1998), and today. But a stronger Russia would have neither prevented such global financial crises, nor contributed much to their resolution. 

We should leave the future to futurologists. In 1989 Fukuyama’s conjecture  about The End of History was falsified before the ink had dried. All we know for sure, whether Gorbachev had or had not been successful in implementing economic perestroika, is that – as prophesised by a wall graffiti in London in 1991: "The future is not what it used to be".    

I have been asked where the paper referred to above was published and whether it is available on line. "A counter-factual alternative for Russia's post-socialist transition" was presented at an international conference on The Great Transformation, 1989-2029, TIGER at Kozminski University, Warsaw, 3-4 April 2009, published in Conference proceedings, as Grzegorz W. Kolodko and Jacek Tomkiewicz (Eds), 20 years of Transformation Achievements, Problems and Perspectives, Nova Science Publishers, New York, 2011,  
The typescript can be downloaded here.

          Comentario en Yamaha PW-X, Bosch y Brose : motores eMTB 2017. por MichaelRam        
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          Country Wise Production and Distribution of Jute around the World        

Country Wise Production and Distribution of Jute around the World! Jute production is very limited and 66.35 per cent is produced by India and another 24.80 per cent by Bangladesh. Other jute-producing countries are China, Ivory Coast (Kote de Ivory), Thailand, Myanmar, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Nepal and Vietnam. The following table indicates the production of jute […]

The post Country Wise Production and Distribution of Jute around the World appeared first on The Next Generation Library.

          World Notes: Palestine, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Angola, Honduras, Iceland        

Palestine: Amnesty International diagnoses collective punishment Amnesty International reacted to Israel’s decision June 17 to allow more civilian goods into Gaza by condemning that nation’s continuing siege of 1.4 million Gazans as collective punishment. Quoted by IMEMC News, Amnesty spokesperson Malcolm Smart called upon Israel to “comply with its obligations as the occupying power under […]
          Refugees pour into camps in Uzbekistan, escaping Kyrgyz violence        
UNICEF Deputy Representative in Uzbekistan Oyun Saihkan talks about visiting refugee camps for ethnic Uzbeks fleeing violence in Kyrgzstan.
          UNICEF trucks supplies to ethnic Uzbeks fleeing violence in Kyrgyzstan        
UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan Jean-Michel Delmotte gives a firsthand account of the refugee crisis unfolding on the border with Kyrgyzstan.
          Ã¢â‚¬ËœFraming Our World’ workshop trains young photographers in Uzbekistan        
16-year-old Saidazim Fazilov talks about documenting the landscapes and traditions of Uzbekistan.
          Comment #6147        
2nd Amb. Comes Forward EXPLODES CIA Election Claims Says He Knows Where Info Came From Not Russia

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The liberal media have been playing up a report by the Central Intelligence Agency that hackers aligned with the Russian government had allegedly provided Julian Assange with the hacked emails his website WikiLeaks published during the fall, but a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan is going public a... [ More ]
          ICCR's International Seminar on Bedil, Sufi Poet, to Keep Pakistan Out        

First published: November 5, 2016, 6:41 PM IST  Delhi
The Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) is gearing up for a grand international celebration of 17th century Persian-Urdu poet Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil, but the guest list has an obvious exception: Pakistan.
Around 60 scholars from Uzbekistan, Kazakastan, Kyrgystan, Afghanistan and Iran will take part along with their Indian counterparts in celebrating the poet whose birthplace is in Azimabad near Patna and grave Bāġ-e Bīdel (Garden of Bīdel) in Delhi.
"We are organizing academic exchanges of international nature on eminent Asian personalities in India bringing countries, intellectuals and writers together. Bedil is huge in name," Amarendra Khatua, Director-General ICCR, told News18.
Although there is no official mention why Pakistan is kept out of the list, News18 learns it is part of the larger government plan to isolate Islamabad internationally. ICCR comes under the aegis of the Ministry of External Affairs.
"In Central Asia Bidel is as big a rockstar as Michael Jackson. Afghanistan has Bedil Studies in their curriculum. Though in India and Pakistan he is not so much celebrated in popular discourse. Having said that wherever Urdu etymology is taught Bedil makes an entry," writer Rakshanda Jalil said.
Urdu activist Kamana Prasad who has earlier been a cultural coordinator of Tehran Festival by ICCR said Bedil is loved in Afghanistan and countries in Central Asia and is known for his free-thinking.
"Maybe ICCR is concentrating only on Persian speaking countries, which Pakistan is not,” she said,

           Singers to come together for Sufi music festival in Jaipur Baskhar, 26 October 2012

Jaipur: Sufi singers from various parts of the globe are all set to perform in the annual world Sufi music festival 'Jahan-e-Khusrau' to be held here next month.

"The artists performing this year at Jahan e Khusrau in Jaipur on October 27 and 28 are -Abida Parveen (Pakistan), Whirling Dervishes (Turkey), Shafaqat Ali Khan (Pakistan), Zia Nath (Indian modern dancer)," said Muzaffar Ali, director of the festival.

The event is being organised jointly by the tourism department of Rajasthan and Rumi Foundation.

Each year, Jahan-e-Khusrau presents rare lyrics of Sufi mystics in an innovative form.

Over the last decade it has showcased Sufi singers, dancers and musicians from different parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Iran, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy, Sudan, Egypt, Greece, Germany, Japan, USA and Canada, a release said.

          India-Russia cultural fiesta Oct 24-Nov 4        

India-Russia cultural fiesta Oct 24-Nov 4 Times of India, IANS Oct 16, 2012

NEW DELHI: Cultural ties between India and Russia have got a boost with the signing of a protocol between both the countries for a festival to be held Oct 24- Nov 4 in New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai.
The pact was signed by Indian Council For Cultural Relations (ICCR) Director General Suresh Goel and Russian Deputy Minister of Cultural Relations A. Busygin at Azad Bhavan late Monday evening.
"The Russian festival of culture is a response to the Indian artists and officials who visited Russia in 2011 for a similar festival. Russia will host yet another festival of Indian culture in 2013 as a reciprocal gesture," Goel said.
The copy of the pact made available said Russia will bring to India "soloists from the Bolshoi, Marinsky and Mikhailovsky Theatres, St Petersburg folk ensemble 'Barynya'" - the troupe of the Russian Academic Youth Theatre and a photography exhibition.
The festival will end with a ballet gala at Siri Fort Nov 1.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations will provide hospitality to 65 artists during the festival.
"We will get several high quality groups from Russia. An exhibition of art and photographs is an important aspect of the festival because it will connect Russian art to the Roerich estate (in Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh)," Goel told IANS.
The Roerich estate in Himachal Pradesh has 8,000 artifacts, including 37 rare paintings by the Russian painter-thinker, who settled in India to paint Himalayan landscapes.
The ICCR has several international festivals on its agenda this year and the next to bolster cultural ties with countries like Germany, Australia and Canada, the director general said.
"We are trying out several new initiatives in cross-cultural exchanges to create a common language," Goel said.
"At the opening of the Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) Oct 26, we will get Qawaal groups from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan and host them with dervishes (Sufi dancers) from Turkey at the Purana Qila. The two things that India shares with South Asia and West Asia are Sufism and qawaalis," he said.
Sufism has developed in each country in different ways, he said.
The director general said that "the Russian festival was also a similar initiative to explore the connections and commonalities between the cultures of India and Russia, both of which have rich cultural inheritances".

          Whither Kazakhstan?        
Essay Types
Fiona Hill

The Specter of a "Colored Revolution"

Kazakhstan's scheduled December 4, 2005 presidential election brings two major questions into focus for this Central Asian state. First, given the political upheavals at similar junctures in three other post-Soviet countries since 2003, will Kazakhstan avoid a so-called "colored revolution?"[1] And second, can Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev succeed over the long-term in combining regime stability with gradual top-down reform and modernization; or will his model of evolutionary change be either abruptly halted from below, or stagnate and even rot from the top?

The Kazakhstan government is particularly concerned about the answer to the first question, which has also generated a great deal of speculation within the country among opposition parties and key opposition leaders, who have formed a unified coalition movement ("For a Just Kazakhstan") to contest the presidential election. The opposition coalition held its founding meeting on March 20, 2005 in Almaty against the backdrop of the upheavals in Kyrgyzstan, in a move that was clearly inspired by the general perceived contours of the "colored revolutions." At the meeting, opposition speakers made frequent and explicit reference to the earlier events in Georgia and Ukraine, and to the drama that was then unfolding across the border in Kyrgyzstan.[2] Representatives of the youth group, Pora, that played a key organizational role in the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine, and opposition activists from Kyrgyzstan were also present in the audience. The opposition clearly hoped to use the momentum of events elsewhere to rally the population around its presidential candidate and oust President Nazarbayev.

For its part, Nazarbayev's government has responded to the specter of a Kazakh "colored revolution" by trying to squeeze the groups that it sees as having played a decisive role in the other three countries: international NGOs (especially those funded by the United States), who are accused of directly supporting the opposition; the independent Kazakhstan media; and the opposition itself. A range of international NGOs in Almaty, including the Red Cross, were visited by tax inspectors, who poured through their books and hampered their activities, and a controversial bill to limit the operations of foreign NGOs in Kazakhstan was put before the parliament in spring and summer 2005.[3] In September 2005, President Nazarbayev issued a public warning to NGOs to refrain from "interfering" in the Kazakhstan elections and the government announced that it would even go so far as to monitor the activities of the United States Embassy in Kazakhstan.[4] There have also been several legal and physical attacks on leading members of opposition parties, including the opposition coalition's presidential candidate since March 2005; and press reports in Kazakhstan that the government has prepared contingency plans--including the use of force--for dealing with mass protests around the December 2005 election.[5]

Misplaced Fears

The Kazakh government's fears, however, seem misplaced. Kazakhstan is not Georgia, Ukraine, nor Kyrgyzstan. Many factors suggest that President Nazarbayev has a very good chance of both avoiding a "colored revolution" and of maintaining the momentum of reform. Although, of the three, Kazakhstan most resembles Ukraine, Kazakhstan is not at the kind of turning point that Ukraine was in winter 2004. At this juncture, the government of Leonid Kuchma was extremely unpopular and seen to have run its course, in spite of the growth in the Ukrainian economy and the positive trends in the state's political development. Kuchma's government had become mired in scandals domestically--including the 2000 murder of investigative journalist Georgy Gongadze, allegedly at the instigation of the President himself--and tarnished internationally after being implicated in the sale of radar installations to Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq in breach of UN sanctions. Most importantly, Kuchma was also at the end of his constitutionally-mandated term. He could not run for the presidency again.

In the case of all three "colored revolutions," Presidents Kuchma, Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, and Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan, had either reached or were approaching the end of their presidential terms at the critical juncture. In each case their personal popularity had plummeted. There was deep suspicion across the political spectrum (including among many of their supporters) that they intended to prolong their influence, if not their presidencies, through whatever measures they deemed necessary--including blatantly extra-legal measures that went beyond manipulating elections. In contrast, thanks to a referendum and a series of parliamentary votes over the last several years, Nazarbayev has the right to run for a third (now seven-year) term that will extend his presidency to 2012. Indeed, the Kazakhstan government has paid particularly careful attention to the issue of both the acknowledged and the perceived legitimacy of Nazarbayev's presidential term. Initially, the presidential election was slated for some time in 2006, and there was much confusion and disagreement about whether Nazarbayev's current term actually expires at the end of 2005 or 2006 because of all the past extensions and the varying dates of previous elections. Serious questions were raised about Nazarbayev's right to continue his presidency into 2006. The decision to hold the presidential election in December 2005 was thus taken, in part, to eliminate the uncertainty.

A Record of Success

Furthermore, Nazarbayev's popularity, like that of President Putin in Russia, is generally seen as high (around 70-80% in some recent polls conducted by the Kazakh government).[6] He also enjoys the reputation in the region of being the most accomplished of the transitional post-Soviet leaders. In the waning years of the USSR, Nazarbayev was touted as a potential Vice President or Prime Minister for Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.[7] And, in August 2005, after Nazarbayev announced that he would run for president again, Gorbachev commended his former protégé for having "the most successful model of society in the post-Soviet space" and for his achievements in implementing socio-economic reforms.[8]

Gorbachev's praise was not given lightly. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kazakhstan government under Nazarbayev's tutelage has done a lot of things right. On the economic front, Kazakhstan's performance over the last five years has been impressive. Nazarbayev is not in the situation of former Presidents Eduard Shevardnaze of Georgia, or Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan, as they faced election cycles in 2003 and 2005 at the helm of impoverished countries. Between 2000-2004, Kazakhstan recorded an average rate of GDP growth of 10.36% that far exceed neighboring Russia's 6.86% in the same period. Per capita incomes have grown from $1,229 in 2000 to $2,699 in 2004; and there has been significant progress in poverty reduction, with the proportion of the population living below the subsistence minimum now at around 16%, down from just over 30% of the population in 2000.[9] The World Economic Forum's 2005 "Growth Competitiveness Index Rankings" report ranks Kazakhstan as the most competitive of the post-Soviet states, in 61st place out of 117 countries ranked, with the next regional state, Azerbaijan, coming in at 69th, and Russia lagging behind in 75th place.

Admittedly, much of Kazakhstan's good fortune is due to the happy confluence of a rapid increase in world oil prices since 1999 and the steady development of the country's considerable energy resources since the early 1990s. Kazakhstan's energy resources are the largest in the Caspian Sea region, with its offshore Kashagan field alone ranking as the largest new oil field discovered outside the Middle East, and the fifth largest oil field in the world in terms of reserves. Kazakhstan's gas reserves also put it among the top 20 countries in the world, equivalent in size to Canada and Kuwait. Oil production--which stood at 1.22 million barrels per day in 2004--now accounts for about 50% of Kazakhstan's export revenues, and approximately 30% of state budget revenues, and Kazakhstan is poised to become a major world oil exporter with production levels of as much as 3.5 million barrels per day projected by the government for 2015.[10]

More Than Oil and Gas

But oil and gas are not the whole story. Privatization and other important structural reforms like the extensive overhaul of the banking sector have also been accomplished. The private sector now employs 60% of Kazakhstan's workforce and accounts for 85% of economic activity.[11] Kazakhstan has even forged ahead in implementing many of the tough social reforms that have thus far stymied Russian reformers--such as the creation of a national mortgage system to support the development of the private housing market, which Kazakhstan implemented in 1998; and the creation of private pension funds in 1997-1999. Kazakhstan also set up a National Oil Fund in 2001, which Russia did not introduce until 2004.[12] Kazakhstan is now in the process of introducing communal services reform, and unlike Russia, where the monetization of state benefits brought thousands of pensioners out onto the streets across the country in January 2005, Kazakhstan has experienced few social upheavals in response to its reform program. Kazakhstan's successes on these fronts, and the speed in which many of the reforms have been carried out, have earned it glowing and admiring reports in the Russian press.[13] And, during a visit to Astana in March 2004, several senior Kazakh officials made a point of letting me know (with considerable satisfaction) that I had just missed running into Russian presidential advisor, Economist Andrei Illiaronov, who had been on one of his frequent trips to the Kazakh capital to "see what to do and how to do it!"

Economic growth has also been enhanced by careful government attention to the development of Kazakhstan's human resources. Since the 1990s, President Nazarbayev has made it a national priority to nurture a new technocratic elite through education reforms, and a far-sighted, state-funded study-abroad program--the Bolashak ("The Future") program. This program, which was established in 1993, places the best and the brightest from all over Kazakhstan (not just those with family ties to the ruling elite as in many other countries) in degree programs at a range of U.S., European, Russian, and other international universities. Most importantly these young, Western-educated experts are then brought back into the Kazakhstan government, as well as assisted in finding jobs in the Kazakh private sector, or in international institutions and companies operating in Kazakhstan. Over the course of the Bolashak program, it has produced a number of young deputy ministers and ministers including Azamat Abdimomunov, the Deputy Minister for Education and Science, who studied both at Indiana University and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Other young technocratic ministers, like Kairat Kelimbetov, the Minister of Economy and Budget, and Marlen Iskakov the Minister for Taxation, also spent time studying abroad with the encouragement and support of the state; and ministries and government commissions in Astana are full of young experts with impressive international educational experience. Although Kazakhstan still suffers from a shortage of skilled personnel for key government and private positions, it now has a new and growing, educated elite of world-class caliber.[14]

In addition, Kazakhstan under Nazarbayev has not just sent its young people to study abroad, but has also launched a global quest for ideas on reform and modernization, as well as trying to learn from its own past mistakes. Kazakhstan's national strategic plan--Kazakhstan 2030--which was conceived in the late 1990s with the assistance of a team of experts from Harvard University, consciously draws on the experience of the "Asian Tigers" with their state-driven, centralized, and more authoritarian approach to reform. It charts an evolutionary path to becoming a middle-income country--with even greater ambitions. At the same time, specific nationally-prioritized projects on the development of critical transportation routes, infrastructure, and future settlement patterns in this huge and sparsely-populated state have sought to minimize the burdens of the centrally-planned Soviet past, as well as to learn the lessons of development from similarly large states with low population densities and rich natural resources, such as Australia and Canada.

A Balancing Act at Home and Abroad

Equally importantly, on the domestic front, the Kazakh government has managed to avoid a potential north/south split of the country along ethnic lines that was predicted by many regional analysts in the 1990s. As the USSR collapsed, Kazakhstan was left with a majority Slavic population (Russian and Ukrainian) in the northern and eastern steppe regions--the legacy of Khrushchev's "Virgin Lands" campaign of the 1950s to settle and cultivate new agricultural land.[15] In the early 1990s, ethnic Russians in these regions demonstrated in favor of dual citizenship with Russia, and of having Russian established as the second state language, with many leaving for Russia when these demands were not met by the Kazakh government. The situation was also heavily manipulated by nationalist politicians in Moscow, who raised the possibility of the predominantly Slavic regions separating from Kazakhstan and joining the Russian Federation.

President Nazarbayev took a number of steps to head-off this possibility, including moving the capital from its old location in Almaty, in the predominantly ethnic Kazakh south, to Astana in the north to "anchor" the country. In spite of refusing to adopt dual citizenship and enshrine Russian as a second state language, Nazarbayev designated Russian the "language of inter-ethnic communication," and has taken care to ensure that non-ethnic Kazakhs still occupy significant posts in the central and local governments and are not overtly discriminated against in hiring. In addition, the government has maintained the "Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan," an old Soviet-style institution celebrating Kazakhstan's ethnic diversity; played host to numerous international conferences on religious tolerance and a range of multi-cultural issues; and funded the renovation and construction of new churches and synagogues as well as mosques. Combined with Kazakhstan's economic growth, these policies have had some evident success. Inter-ethnic relations in Kazakhstan today present a very different picture from the dire predictions of a decade ago. Although tensions remain--especially given the fact that most ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan still have a poor command of Kazakh, which is an increasingly important skill at the top levels of government and business--the emigration of ethnic Russians and other groups from Kazakhstan has declined sharply from the levels of the 1990s. Instead, the country has become a major recipient of migration, the second largest after Russia in the region. In fact, according to the official figures of the Kazakhstan Migration Agency, 65,000 people--including 15,000 ethnic Russians--who left Kazakhstan in the 1990s, returned in 2003-2004.[16]

This domestic balancing act has been mirrored externally in Eurasia. Kazakhstan has positioned itself proactively, by playing a weak hand strongly, promoting regional integration, and charting a course among the interests of the three main powers active in Central Asia: Russia, China, and the United States. This has involved including the major energy companies of all three states in high-profile oil and gas agreements; forging bilateral military-military ties with the United States and joining NATO's Partnership for Peace agreement, while extending Russia a fifty-year lease for the Baikonur space launch facilities, and pursuing an active membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with Russia and China; and promoting the creation of a single economic space with Russia, while still developing trade relations with the U.S. and China. Kazakhstan has also set its sights more broadly internationally, including initiating the creation of a regional security organization for Asia, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), which held its first summit in Almaty in June 2002; applying to be the first Eurasian state to chair the OSCE in 2009; and courting international economic and political elites by hosting a number of major conferences, such as a Eurasian version of the World Economic Forum, and the Eurasian Media Forum.

Catching "the Russian Disease"?

Beneath the surface, however, Kazakhstan still faces a lot of challenges. These have tended to get far more attention and scrutiny in the West than the positive achievements of the last decade--as the title of Carnegie Endowment scholar Martha Olcott's 2002 book--Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise--might suggest. In part this is the result of the rather gloomy prevailing view of the region that Kazakhstan finds itself in: bordering Russia, China's troubled western province of Xinjiang, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. In the international media, the tendency has been to project the problems of the adjacent countries onto Kazakhstan. In spite of the fact that Kazakhstan was never traditionally considered to be part of Central Asia in the Soviet period, in most Western discourse it has been lumped in with the rest of "the stans" and assigned the same patterns of mismanagement, state weakness or failure, dictatorship, and repression as its neighbors. But Kazakhstan is not just "another stan" and Nazarbayev is not just "another Central Asian dictator." In fact, Kazakhstan is emerging as one of the more advanced and substantial states in post-Soviet Eurasia--more akin, politically and economically, to Russia and Ukraine than to its other Central Asian neighbors--and it should be viewed as such.

Even in the nature of its economic and political problems, Kazakhstan mirrors Russia and Ukraine rather than its Central Asian neighbors. The flip side of the development of Kazakhstan's energy resources underscores this very clearly. As in the case of Russia, where oil and gas are now seen as the country's greatest strategic assets, in Kazakhstan energy resources are viewed as the key to modernization and Kazakhstan's establishment as a future regional power. Currently in Russia, however, soaring world oil prices have led to an unprecedented influx of energy export revenues into the state budget, increasing the role of the state in politics and the economy, and stifling the further development of political pluralism and private-sector innovation as the government begins to drive major investment decisions. The Russian energy industry is also being stripped of revenues that would otherwise be reinvested in its long-term development to diversify the rest of the economy--running the dual risks of a future downturn in the oil and gas sectors if production and energy prices fall, and a broader collapse of the economy if government subsidies for other industries then disappear. [17]

As a major oil producer with a similar post-Soviet economic profile, Kazakhstan runs the risk of catching this new "Russian disease," where heavy-handed centralization and over-bearing statism loom on the horizon. Indeed, just like in Russia, economic nationalism is on the rise in Kazakhstan. Western investors in the oil and gas sector are feeling the squeeze through the stealth repeal (with new taxes and fines rather than canceled contracts) of some of the favorable terms for investment by international energy companies in the 1990s; and the Kazakhstan government has announced that it wants more "strategic control" over the development of its energy resources.[18] In terms of state spending, in President Nazarbayev's addresses to Kazakhstan's people and parliament on both February 18, 2005 and September 1, 2005, he outlined an extensive array of government budgetary expenditures for increasing public sector wages and payments, new public housing programs, and developing small and medium businesses, as well as a whole series of new reforms.[19] One Kazakh official commented to me in a candid moment in March 2005 that he feared that, with the state's coffers bulging with money, the government was now trying to do too much, too fast, and without adequate preparation--risking the quality of reforms in the quantity of spending.

A Victim of its own Success?

Unfortunately, Kazakhstan also runs the risk of becoming, like Russia, a victim of its own success. The World Bank's March 2005 country economic memorandum on Kazakhstan--Getting Competitive, Staying Competitive: The Challenge of Managing Kazakhstan's Oil Boom--encapsulates the dilemma in its title. Kazakhstan's construction, banking, service, and retail sectors are booming. But, as the World Bank's report underscores, most consumer goods are imported, and the manufacturing and agricultural sectors are respectively stagnant and declining. The oil and gas sector accounts for nearly 80% of industrial output, with exports in all other industries holding flat since 1997, defying government efforts to diversify the economy. One of the most precarious sectors is housing construction, which shows every sign of overheating, fueled by the injection of large sums of oil money into the economy, and further encouraged by the massive building project of the new capital in Astana.

Beyond encouraging a construction boom, relocating the capital over 1,000 kilometers north to Astana has had some other downsides. It has moved the focal point of Kazakhstan's population into the geographic region of Western Siberia--a move equivalent to shifting the United States' capital from Washington, DC to Greenbay Wisconsin, or Russia's capital from Moscow to Irkutsk on Lake Baikal in Siberia. Astana is on average 10 degrees Celsius colder than Almaty, which is significant when one considers the additional costs involved in constructing new buildings of glass and steel to withstand the ravages of the elements and of keeping these buildings heated in the winter. Keeping buildings cool in the summer is also an issue. Although Astana holds the distinction of being the world's "coldest" capital city, the region around it experiences dramatic annual temperature swings from minus 30-35 degrees Celsius in the winter to plus 30-35 Celsius in the summer.[20] The plans for Astana envisage growing the city from an initial size of 250,000 (before it was designated as the capital) to 1.2 million over the next several years. Its current population stands officially at around 600,000, and many of the buildings designed for and under construction in the city would not look out of place in the Persian Gulf states like Dubai and Qatar--including a dramatic steel, glass and stone pyramid, designed by world-renowned British architect Sir Norman Foster, to house a new religious and cultural center.[21]

Like many of Russia's Siberian cities, Astana also suffers from problems of remoteness. Travel between Astana and Almaty and the relatively densely populated south of the country is difficult. Almaty remains the natural communications hub for Kazakhstan as well as a hub for the rest of Central Asia because of its location close to the borders with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. It still attracts most international flights, although the government is trying to redirect them toward Astana to the great irritation of the southern elite and many in the international community in Almaty. Flights between Almaty and Astana, although increasing in frequency, are often over-booked, and the only alternative travel option is by rail--a journey that can take as long as 20 hours between the two cities. For now, the technocratic governing elite in Astana is cut-off from rest of country, with much of the country's international presence and civil society (and the main political opposition) still concentrated in Almaty. Astana was created to solve one set of problems, but like Russia--which moved its capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, and then back again--Kazakhstan now has two capitals, Astana and Almaty, with very different profiles.

Central Asia's Migration Magnet

Kazakhstan shares other dilemmas with Russia, including an aging population and the kind of general demographic decline associated with the lower birth rates of developed industrial states. Like Russia, Kazakhstan has lower life expectancy and higher than normal adult mortality rates, which have been linked to the stresses attendant at the collapse of the USSR as well as poor dietary and healthcare practices.[22] In fact, the Slavic population in Kazakhstan's north, shows the same poor health profile and low life expectancy as the Russian population it borders in the Urals and western Siberian, while birthrates have been higher among the ethnic Kazakh in the south. Kazakhstan's government has set ambitious targets for population growth from 15 million in 2005 to 20 million in 2015, including introducing programs for the migration of 4.5 million "Oralmans," or ethnic Kazakhs, from neighboring countries of Central Asia, Turkey, Mongolia, and China. Although 374,000 "Oralmans" have "returned" to Kazakhstan in recent years, the bulk of Kazakhstan's population growth is currently the result of illegal migration into Kazakhstan from the rest of Central Asia as well as China.[23]

Economic migrants are attracted to Kazakhstan by the prospect of low-skilled jobs in the growing construction and service sectors. For example, the Kazakh government itself suggested (during interviews I conducted in Astana on this subject in March 2004) that Kazakhstan may presently have as many as a million illegal migrants, working either temporarily or permanently in the country. Officials from the Migration Agency and the Presidential Administration indicated that, according to their estimates, there are at least 500,000 people from Uzbekistan alone working illegally in Kazakhstan, with most working in the southern agricultural regions on the Kazakh-Uzbek border and in construction in Astana. As a further illustration, the local government in Almaty estimates that as many as 100,000 migrants from neighboring Kyrgyzstan come to work in the region every summer.[24] Shanty towns have sprung up on the outskirts of Astana, Almaty, and other cities, creating social pressures and a new underclass that the Kazakh government has not yet devised policies to deal with. The concentration of new wealth in cities like Astana and Almaty have also exacerbated existing economic disparities among Kazakhstan's far-flung regions, increasing domestic political tensions.

Ensuring New Leadership

In large part, as already noted, many of these issues are a mark of the success of Kazakhstan's post-Soviet transition. Modernization and rapid economic development of the kind that Kazakhstan is experiencing always bring new social problems, as well as demands for more change--especially political change. Although the Bolashak program has been very successful in bringing a new generation of people into positions of power, Nazarbayev's is still an aging regime held in place by what is essentially an old Soviet elite. Nursultan Nazarbayev may have been the most successful of the former Soviet leaders who inherited a new state, but he is still a Soviet holdover. And unlike in many other states, including Russia and Ukraine, there has been no post-Soviet transition of executive power in Kazakhstan. If Nazarbayev completes his third term in 2012, he will have been in power for almost a quarter of a century. All of which raises the question of how to create the mechanisms to bring in an entirely new president and leadership in the near future.

The Kazakh parliament, which is now generally seen as tightly controlled by the executive branch, has not yet emerged as a route to the upper echelons of power. Presidential preference (enlightened as it may be at times) is still seen in Kazakhstan as the way ahead. If Nazarbayev is re-elected in December 2005, the top job will be locked in for the next seven years. And, with decisionmaking authority centralized in the presidential administration, Kazakhstan has all the basic conditions for a ruinous round of infighting over the question of a successor--very similar to the waning days of Boris Yeltsin's regime in Russia, and to the drama unfolding again in Russia as President Putin approaches the end of his term in 2008.

A Growing But Fractious Opposition

Frustration with the Nazarbayev regime is already bubbling up to the surface of politics. There have been numerous splits in the ruling elite over the last several years, illustrated by the defection, ostracizing, and even imprisonment of political figures once close to Nazarbayev, including former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, and Galimzhan Zhakiyanov, the former Governor of Pavlodar, and a sometime protégé  of the Kazakh President. Both were accused of corruption after publicly parting ways with the President and entering the opposition, with Kazhegeldin ending up in exile abroad, and Zhakiyanov jailed for several years.[25] The Zhakiyanov case, although shrouded in a great deal of intrigue, is particularly striking, as Zhakiyanov was, in the late 1990s, viewed within the Kazakh government as a rising star, designated by the President for greater things. He moved rapidly in this period from the head of the Agency for Control Over Strategic Resources to the governorship of Pavlodar, a key province on the Russian border. His equally rapid demise suggests that some of the members of Nazarbayev's "anointed" young generation may have pushed for too much power, too fast and too early for the President's preferences.

The Kazakh opposition is now filled with people who have been in power, or close to the center of power, and have had the opportunity of participating in the running of the country, but who have felt stifled by Nazarbayev's heavy top-down control, or disillusioned with the lack of political and economic opportunity. These include figures like Oraz Zhandosov, the former Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and Chairman of the Central Bank of Kazakhstan, once seen as one of Nazarbayev's "young Turks," spearheading the country's reform program; and Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, a former Nazarbayev loyalist and ruling party member, the former Prosecutor General and Speaker of Parliament, who parted ways with Nazarbayev after accusing the government of manipulating the outcome of Kazakhstan's last round of parliamentary elections.

At the founding congress of the opposition movement "For a Just Kazakhstan" in March 2005, the opposition parties and leaders present selected Tuyakbay as their candidate to contest the presidential election. The opposition leaders at the meeting also paid tribute to Kazhegeldin--who was reported to be funding the new movement from exile--and to Zhakiyanov, who was portrayed as the symbol of the opposition, the outcast martyr, suffering for his convictions.[26] However, the fact that the opposition includes such formerly influential figures, all of whom entertain their own ambitions for the "top job," has also tended to lead to infighting. The various opposition movements have repeatedly split into competing factions and the coalition "For a Just Kazakhstan" is a precarious one.[27]

For Family and Friends

As in Russia and other post-Soviet states, the opposition to Nazarbayev may be fractious, but it is genuine, and it is also complicated by its links to the Nazarbayev "family" and political "clan."Â References to the Nazarbayev family (his actual immediate and extended family) are usually the issue that raise the most direct comparisons with the other Central Asian states--especially Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, where presidential family members have been active in politics and business. In Kyrgyzstan, the corruption and venality of President Askar Akayev's family, and his coterie's attempts to manipulate the 2004 parliamentary elections with a view to enabling Akayev to stay in power longer than the constitution permitted, were the main triggering events for the protest and eventual overthrow of the government.

Civil SocietyDemocracyDomestic PoliticsElectionsPoliticsSociety
MuslimYugoslaviaheads of stateSerbs
Central AsiaEurasia

Essay Types
Francis FukuyamaIan RaineyMike RoskinGary SchmittGeorge ModelskiJohn M. Owen IVEric ChenowethKenneth MinogueMax Singer

Fukuyama Responds

I HAD NOT intended to respond to Charles Krauthammer's "In Defense of Democratic Realism" (Fall 2004), since my aim was to stimulate a debate over the Bush Administration's foreign policy and not to spend time in an extended exegesis of Krauthammer's writings. I am compelled to respond, however, by one thing he wrote.

Krauthammer says I have a "novel way of Judaizing neoconservatism", and that my argument is a more "implicit and subtle" version of things said by Pat Buchanan and Mahathir Mohamad. Since he thinks the latter two are anti-Semites, he is clearly implying that I am one as well. If he really thinks this is so, he should say that openly.

What I said in my critique of his speech was, of course, quite different. I said that there was a very coherent set of strategic ideas that have come out of Israel's experience dealing with the Arabs and the world community, having to do with threat perception, pre-emption, the relative balance of carrots and sticks to be used in dealing with the Arabs, the United Nations, and the like. Anyone who has dealt with the Arab-Israeli conflict understands these ideas, and many people (myself included) believe that they were well suited to Israel's actual situation. You do not have to be Jewish to understand or adopt these ideas as your own, which is why people like Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld share them. And it is not so hard to understand how one's experience of Arab-Israeli politics can come to color one's broader view of the world: The 1975 "Zionism is racism" resolution deeply discredited the UN, in the eyes of Jews and non-Jews alike, on issues having nothing to do with the Middle East. This is not about Judaism; it is about ideas. It would be quite disingenuous of Charles Krauthammer to assert that his view of how Israel needs to deal with the Arabs (that is, the testicular route to hearts and minds) has no impact on the way he thinks the United States should deal with them. And it is perfectly legitimate to ask whether this is the best way for the United States to proceed.

I understand perfectly well that Krauthammer has a narrower interpretation of American interests than William Kristol or Robert Kagan, and that he wants to use democracy promotion primarily as a tool to achieve realist ends. I would say that both of these positions are wrong: What we need is not democratic realism, but a realistic Wilsonianism that matches means to ends better than the Bush Administration has done. Krauthammer should consider that if democracy is merely a means and not an end of our policy, we would never support Israel as strongly as we do.

Now that the partisanship of the election is past, it is important for American policymakers to sit down quietly and reflect a bit on the past four years. A lot of mistakes and poor judgment calls were made; some were by individuals and others were failures of institutions. Charles Krauthammer joins the Bush Administration in doggedly defending everything that has been said and done in U.S. foreign policy over the past three years. Let's hope this doesn't remain the pattern as we move into the first year of the new administration.

Francis Fukuyama
Johns Hopkins University

Friends in Need?

I WOULD LIKE to offer a point of clarification regarding Nikolas K. Gvosdev's and Travis Tanner's "Wagging the Dog" (Fall 2004). The authors stated: "The United States has on many occasions demonstrated its resolve to Beijing through weapons sales, public statements and deployments of the Sixth Fleet." I suspect they actually meant the Seventh Fleet, which is responsible for the Taiwan Straits. The Sixth Fleet is based in Gaeta, Italy. Its area of responsibility is Europe, Africa and Israel.

Ian Rainey
Johns Hopkins University

HANS MORGENTHAU said it in 1948, and it bears repeating here: "Never allow a weak ally to make decisions for you." Those who do "lose their freedom of action by identifying their own national interest completely with those of the weak ally."

Mike Roskin
Chair, Political Science Dept.
Lycoming College

NIKOLAS GVOSDEV and Travis Tanner would have you believe that the tail is "Wagging the Dog"; that reckless leadership by allies in Taiwan and Georgia is putting at risk the larger national security interests of their key benefactor, the United States. However, the evidence they present for this conclusion is scant at best.

They over-dramatize the actions of tiny Taiwan with respect to its enormous neighbor. How irresponsible indeed of the Taiwanese to discuss defending themselves from some 600 PRC missiles pointed their way, and how worse it is to begin amending a constitution written nearly fifty years ago for a one-party dictatorship! These changes will not, as President Chen has promised, touch on any issue that might be construed as changing the status quo in cross-Strait relations. As for Beijing accepting the current situation-China spends enormous amounts on developing a military capability to coerce Taiwan; routinely practices invasion scenarios; publicly states that it reserves the right to settle the dispute militarily if Taiwan does not agree to talks leading to unification in the near future; and works assiduously at denying Taiwan any semblance of international legitimacy.

Nor should Beijing's cooperation with the United States on non-proliferation and the War on Terror be overstated. China's cooperation on these issues has been perfunctory: No serious pressure has been applied to North Korea, Chinese companies continue to assist states like Iran with their weapons program, and the only "terrorists" Beijing sees are those who are opposed to its dictatorial ways, such as the Uighur Muslims.

With regard to Georgia and Russia, it is Putin's increasingly open accretion of authoritarian power that is creating a new rift in U.S.-Russian relations. Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili may have taken steps with which the United States was not comfortable, but no ally should be expected to ignore its own pressing national interests-especially when they involve the neutralization of three large, Russian-supported, criminal pseudo-states within the country's borders. Gvosdev and Tanner cite the tension with Russia over Abkhazia but fail to mention that the Russian government played major role in the Abkhazia problem devolving into its current dangerous state. Ultimately, U.S. national security interests lie not with placating an increasingly anti-democratic and unreliable Russia, but rather with ensuring that a democratic Georgia succeeds in becoming a beacon of hope for the rest of the region. In turn, Russia should be working with the United States and Europe to stabilize Georgia and sustain its territorial integrity, especially after the tragedy in Beslan. Such cooperation will lead to the most realistic benefits in terms of advancing the fight against terror and preventing the deadly disintegration of states in the Caucasus along ethnic lines.

If managed with common sense and a long-term strategy in mind, the United States does not have to choose between having good relations with Russia and China and supporting allies like Taiwan and Georgia. In any case, China will cooperate with the United States when Beijing decides such cooperation is in its interest, even if it is not happy with the approach of the United States toward Taiwan at any given moment. The United States should certainly avoid unnecessary acrimony with Russia, but managing the partnership does not mean always having to yield to Russian demands, especially when they conflict with America's overriding security goal of creating a democratic, stable Eurasia.

America's conception of its own vital interest is shifting. The United States has now placed at the top of its foreign policy agenda the advance of democracy in the broader Middle East and neighboring regions as a bulwark against Islamist radicalism and extremism there. Democracy and realpolitik go hand in hand in the post-9/11 world. The new enemy is transnational and cannot be contained by exclusive reliance on large state actors, especially those that aggravate extremist tensions through repressive policies.

Gvosdev and Tanner end by citing Ronald Reagan, who stated, "I am hardline and will never appease [the Soviets]. But I do want to try to let them see there is a better world if they'll show by deed that they want to get along with the free world." This is indeed the right approach-in dealing with China and Russia.

Gary Schmitt
Executive Director
Project for the New American Century

GVOSDEV & TANNER RESPOND: We would like to thank Gary Schmitt for his thoughtful reply to our essay. For reasons of space, we cannot present a comprehensive response to his points. We would disagree, however, with his assertion that the United States "does not have to choose" between keeping good relations with Russia and China and supporting allies like Taiwan or Georgia. This, to us, seems like wishful thinking. Sometimes we have to choose. And as realists, we feel that our choices must be grounded in a clear assessment of America's foreign policy priorities.

In combatting the new threats of the 21st century-terrorism and WMD proliferation-the United States cannot do it alone, and it cannot do it via cosmetic coalitions where the United States bears almost all of the burden. We do not advocate "exclusive" reliance on large state actors, but their essential contributions cannot be minimized. Beijing, for example, encouraged Islamabad to cooperate with Washington in the run-up to the American offensive against the Taliban, cooperated with the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and allowed an fbi office in Beijing. Certainly, China or Russia can deliver more than they have. But the cooperation we are already receiving from both-including on Afghanistan and North Korea-is not inconsequential. And Schmitt doesn't explain how the United States can ignore vital Chinese or Russian concerns and yet expect a complete and full accommodation of American priorities.

The United States will never abandon its friends, but it should emphasize that it will never risk its relations with major powers by offering unconditional support for optional policies and maximalist agendas that complicate America's foreign policy efforts. The United States is not obligated to back any course of action simply because an ally chooses one preference over others. After all, the United States had little difficulty telling another island democracy facing both internal separatists and a hostile mainland neighbor not to move forward on steps we thought would needlessly inflame a volatile region. In 1998, Washington applied a great deal of pressure to dissuade the Cypriot government from installing the S-300 missile batteries, even though it had legitimate security concerns, on the grounds that this could escalate tensions throughout the eastern Mediterranean. To argue that Georgia should seek to reunify through peaceful means rather than a military campaign fraught with risks of further destabilizing an already explosive region, or that Taiwan should be satisfied with de facto rather than formal sovereignty does not qualify as appeasement of Moscow or Beijing, but as a level-headed approach to managing volatile situations.

Nor did we argue that it was unwise for Taiwan to be concerned about its security. But given that Taiwan's defense budget has declined annually over the past decade-which is certainly not the trend one expects to see from a territory under direct threat-one wonders whether Taipei genuinely feels that the PRC poses an imminent threat. This underscores Taipei's assumption of U.S. military intervention in the event of an unprovoked attack by the mainland. With regard to Abkhazia, we believe that Charles King's essay in this issue helps to illuminate what is a more complex situation than simply a Russian-backed plot to create a criminal pseudo-state on Georgian territory.

In a post-9/11 environment, we believe it is vital for the United States to have a consistent approach to foreign policy, one that is clear to friends and foes alike. Schmitt's logic is difficult to follow. Should democratic governments in Serbia and Cyprus, following his line on Georgia, feel they can take whatever means are necessary to reunify their countries? Or should ethnic separatists in Kosovo and Northern Cyprus take comfort, citing his position on Taiwan? Such conflicting signals give rise to charges about "double standards" in U.S. policy. They also give the appearance that U.S. foreign policy is based on special interests rather than national ones.

We don't harbor illusions about Russia or China (although both today are much more liberal and pluralist than they were twenty years ago). And we recognize the important contributions that smaller states can make in helping to spread zones of stability and prosperity around the world. But we remain committed to the principle that how other states aid American efforts to deal with the core threats that affect our survival should be the principal factor in shaping our foreign policy.

Working in Theory

AS A LIFE-LONG student of international relations with a penchant for theory, I feel challenged to comment on the theoretical portion of Clifford Kupchan's "Real Democratik" (Fall 2004)-in particular the prediction that "the contemporary international order", viewed as both "normatively good" and "empirically inevitable", will be marked for the next several decades by "unprecedented American unipolarity."

Like its cousins, bipolarity and multipolarity, unipolarity has been a key term of international relations. But the time has come to take another look at it. The conventional view equates polarity with raw power-a concentrated distribution of military and economic capacity. (I used this approach in my 1974 monograph, World Power Concentrations, one of the first, if not the first, attempts actually to measure unipolarity.) That is the metric (indexed by military expenses) basically used by Kupchan.

The main reason for taking another look at the "raw power" metric is the rising complexity of contemporary world politics. Most day-to-day international problems are increasingly processed in institutional and multilateral contexts, such as summit meetings, regional bodies, international financial institutions and the like. In this context, institutional power means decisional or voting power. Unipolarity here means control of a "one-party" system, and is measured by the ability to obtain favorable outcomes-and one of the relevant metrics is world public opinion.

I tend to agree with Kupchan that in today's international system, unipolarity probably prevails in terms of raw (military) power, but I do not think it obviously does so in relation to institutional power. In fact, some recent trends point toward the growth of a "bi- or multi-party" system in that area. Multipolarity is a fact in the world economy. Two or three decades ahead, unipolarity is still probable for forces of global reach (commanding sea, air and space) but not for all the aspects of military power.

If unipolarity claims to be the unique source of the public goods of world order, then its exercise labors under all the well-known burdens and criticisms of monopoly power: excessive costs combined with underperformance. Because it yields high profits but deteriorates into incompetence, a monopoly attracts competition and generates serious conflicts.

On such grounds, a monopoly is morally suspect, but there is an exception: when a monopoly naturally emerges from a process of innovation. In public life, the general interest in innovation is usually protected by patent law that grants the inventor a temporary privilege. Similarly, in world politics we might argue that world powers earn a temporary relief from the inevitable pressures and criticisms of monopoly in recognition of their inventive solutions of critical global problems. The early phases of the exercise of global leadership by the United States, Britain (twice), the Dutch republic and Portugal demonstrate that point. But does this hold for the current situation? Claims of benignity or benevolence are not enough.

All in all, Kupchan would be well advised not to use "inevitable" or "entrenched" unipolarity as the principal pillar of his analysis. As for the longevity of unipolarity, he might consider looking into the findings of the theory of long cycles.

George Modelski
Professor Emeritus
University of Washington

CLIFFORD KUPCHAN is to be congratulated for his thoughtful and timely call on his fellow Democrats to attend to the fact, and the desirability, of unipolarity-that is, that the United States has unprecedented international power and that it ought to seek to preserve that power. Indeed, as one of those rare academics who tend to vote Republican, I would like to see a corresponding Real Republikan approach that would recognize the common interest that the United States and its democratic allies have in preserving and extending the post-World War II international order. It would strive to keep the bargain on which that order is based, including the agreement to render U.S. actions predictable by binding America to some extent through international institutions. It would also insist that catastrophic terrorism is a grave threat to that order and the countries that subscribe to it.

Real Republikan would differ from Real Demokratik, however, by recognizing just how difficult unipolarity makes voluntary international cooperation. Unipolarity not only tempts America to act in ways and regions previously off limits, it also causes other countries to worry more about whatever the United States does. When America uses force in Afghanistan or Iraq, more people than ever around the world suspect that we are building a world empire. Most concerned countries have good reasons not to try to form a serious anti-U.S. alliance, but they use various low-cost tools, including diplomacy and passivity, to block perceived expansions in U.S. power. Iraq is where the costs of this resistance are felt most keenly today.

And of course Islamist terrorism is itself partly a product of unipolarity. Absent America's unchallenged military, economic and cultural presence in the Middle East, it is difficult to imagine 9/11. The Real in Real Republikan is an acknowledgment that in an anarchical international system the weak are bound to worry about the powerful. It thus implies that the recent surge in anti-Americanism is by no means entirely the fault of the Bush Administration.

In such a world, where even America's friends try to contain it and its enemies are capable of harming it grievously without defeating it militarily, America has less freedom of action than many understand-less, in fact, than it had during the Cold War. Its dilemma is to keep itself safe and prosperous while reassuring the world that it is not seeking global domination. America must find the correct tradeoff between, on the one hand, vigor in attacking terrorism and WMD proliferation, and on the other, rendering its own future actions predictable. Excessive unilateralism against terror will alienate countries otherwise inclined to help. But excessive self-binding will lead to excessive passivity against terrorism, for even many of its friends are bound to want America to under-invest in its own security.

The frontier along which the right amounts of vigor and self-binding are traded is hard to find. But Real Republikan would insist that the frontier exists, and that America's grand strategy after 9/11 must find it and stay on it.

John M. Owen, IV
Associate Professor
University of Virginia

That Magic Moment

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA'S critique of Charles Krauthammer's doctrine of a unipolar America ("The Neoconserv-ative Moment", Summer 2004), properly scolds Krauthammer for ignoring clearly unfortunate "facts on the ground." For Krauthammer does not just skip over inconvenient facts, he mistakes his judgement for fact-most importantly, the judgement that our transatlantic allies no longer count for much. But does the current "coalition of the willing" (wherein American forces take nearly all the burden) really equal a coherent NATO force willing to take action against radical Islamism? Might it not have been better to take Lord Robertson and nato up on their pledge after 9/11 to stand with the U.S. against terrorism? It was the imprudence of the current foreign policy, consonant with the democratic realism put forward by Krauthammer, that has placed America in the current position of temporal alliances having no common (or lasting) values, when a different diplomatic and ideological approach could have strengthened America's efforts.

The neoconservative argument that I knew during the Cold War was a moral one that reaffirmed the inherent rightness of upholding freedom against totalitarianism. Clearly, the neoconservative argument has gone way off course in trading sound policies of containment using democratic alliances for a doctrine of pre-emption that insisted on war in Iraq. But let this cold warrior state the case plainly: Pre-emption leads nations to unnecessary and therefore immoral wars and the harmful consequences such wars bring, including ruptured alliances and the consequent reduced influence of the United States in world affairs.

That there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, that there are now a thousand American fatalities (and untold numbers of Iraqis), that traditional alliances with nations possessing real military strength have been broken, that there is a breakdown in civil order in Iraq-nothing can dissuade the purveyors of pre-emption that Iraq was a wrong course to take. Thus, Krauthammer's attempts to put limits on democratic idealism begs the question: Where does such reasoning end when it begins with an unnecessary war?

There is no doubt America is the sole superpower. But there is also no doubt that America will not be able to prosecute the War on Terror alone or with ad hoc alliances. Even our current "coalition of the willing" is a bow to this reality that the superpower cannot be the sole policeman. But if America's new foreign policy has alienated such sturdy democratic allies as France and Germany (because, as Fukuyama points out, we have simply lost the capacity to listen), one cannot hope that the perpetuation of that foreign policy will create sturdy (and equally powerful) new ones. Instead, America's allies will have the color of dictatorships like Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, and our antagonists that of a greater number of NATO members and democracies. This is neither prudent nor moral foreign policymaking.

Eric Chenoweth
Washington, DC

Nobody's Fault But Mine

NEIL MCINNES'S remarkable account of the rise and fall of "Australian genocide" ("Requiem for a Genocide", Summer 2004) is a case study in one of the more striking Western pathologies of recent times: that of the volunteer scapegoat. The common, in some ways rational, response when individuals or nations are reproached is to argue, "It's not my fault." In many cases, of course, this response is self-serving. The strange thing in these political cases is that the response of "it is our fault" often turns out to be no less irrational. Similarly, the rational response to being kidnapped or hijacked is resentment and an attempt to frustrate the crime. But the so-called "Stockholm syndrome" is a pathology in which the victims identify with their abductors. Some light is shed on these moral attitudes if we remember Orwell's view that many people (and especially intellectuals) find power hard to resist. They feel they must try to understand why Stalin, Hitler, Bin Laden and the like have the power and the passions they do. In the Australian case, most of the voluntary scapegoats belonged to the academic classes, and they went further. They not only embraced but virtually fabricated the case for national self-accusation. Many of them came to think that Australia must collectively and institutionally say "sorry" in order to sustain its place in the comity of morally acceptable states.

One can only speculate about the thoughts that went into this curious collective enthusiasm. These must include a Christian belief about repentance warranting forgiveness-the illusion that moral immaculacy is possible. Another line of thought was clearly an ill-informed induction from realism. Similar bad things have happened in other encounters between Europeans and indigenous peoples: Who are we in Australia to think that we are better than others? We may also guess that the vanity of liberal elites disposes them easily to think of themselves as honest, frank and sensitive, by contrast with the self-serving civic partialities of what politicians these days call "ordinary people." No doubt many other impulses are at work, but among the lessons we may derive from these strange attitudes is that rationally benevolent dispositions can sometimes lead to a ruthless indulgence in untruth.

Kenneth Minogue
London, UK

Fueling Debate

THE ARTICLE "The New Geopolitics of Oil" (Special Energy Supplement, Winter 2003/04) by Joe Barnes, Amy Jaffe and Edward L. Morse, unfortunately contains a good deal of old, in-the-box thinking, as well as a strange fascination with what they call "neoconservative" policy.

They use the old chestnut that Saudi Arabia has a quarter of global petroleum reserves. This would be a reasonable estimate for "conventional" oil. But conventional oil is an outdated category from the time that unconventional oil, principally Canadian tar sands and Venezuelan heavy oil, could not be produced at competitive costs. Including "unconventional" oil, the Western Hemisphere has more reserves than the Persian Gulf region. While Persian Gulf oil mostly costs much less than $15 per barrel to produce, there is not enough very low cost oil on the market to keep the price below the current cost of unconventional oil.

They stress that the key element of Saudi oil power is the ability to expand production by 1.9 million barrels per day (BPD). But they ignore the fact that the OECD countries also have the possibility of putting an additional 1.9 million BPD into the market from their strategic stockpiles. This can dramatically affect the great fear that the Persian Gulf oil producers might someday shut their spigots and leave the West without the oil on which we have become dependent. OECD storage is enough to enable the world to do without Persian Gulf oil for about half a year. Can the Persian Gulf countries do without the dollars they get from selling oil for six months?

A real "New Geopolitics of Oil" would recognize that dependency in the relationship between buyers and sellers of oil runs in both directions and is much more complex than the old notion of consumers being at the mercy of the Persian Gulf producers.

Also, it is a little hard to understand why Barnes et al. think it is only "neoconservative ideology" that leads to the conclusion that the billions of dollars of Saudi oil money being spent annually to promote the Wahhabi brand of Islamism is playing a "pernicious" role in the world. Do liberals think the madrassas are helping the world?

Although they make a number of sound recommendations and provide some useful information, they seem to need windmills to tilt at, such as the idea that the Bush Administration decision to remove Saddam Hussein was partly motivated by the idea that a grateful Iraq would force oil prices to low levels. Producing a somewhat more pluralistic and free government in Iraq, in order to start the process of making the Middle East less of a source of danger to the world, would amply justify the U.S. removal of Saddam, and there is not and never was any reason to think that a free Iraq would want to pursue very low oil prices.

Max Singer
Hudson Institute

Failed StatesGrand StrategyNuclear ProliferationWMDSecurity
neoconservatismMuslimYugoslaviaheads of stateSerbs
Winter 2004-2005

          EuroIslam: The Jihad Within?        
Essay Types
Olivier Roy

If there were any question as to whether Middle Eastern-born Muslim radicals could wreak massive destruction in Western countries, it was answered on September 11, 2001. An important related question, however, remains on the table. Could future Islamic terror arise from within Western societies, from Muslim radicals born in the West and thoroughly familiar with its ways? What paths might such radicalization take? To answer this question, we must develop and consult a new sociology--that of EuroIslam.

Diasporic and Universalist Islam

Islam in western Europe is in rapid transition from an imported Islam to forms of European or "universal" Islam. The key difference between the two is this: the former is practiced mostly by immigrants who preserve links with their countries of origin, while the latter is adhered to mostly by European-born Muslims who have ceased looking to the "old country" as a reference point and a storehouse of activists and clerics. The extent of the transition from imported to universal Islam varies greatly from one community to another. It is pronounced in recent generations born in Europe, and it applies more to Arabs than to Turks. Once through its transition, Islam in Europe could assume several different forms. One is integration, by which is meant the development of a distinct European, or French or British, "Muslim church." Another is re-communalization along supranational lines, which is defined in essence by European Muslims' identification with a universal umma, or community of the faithful. It is with this latter phenomenon that radicalism and violence become potentially serious issues.

A necessary condition of radicalization is re-Islamization--that is, the socialization of European-born Muslims to Islamic beliefs, or at least beliefs that are presented as Islamic. But this is not a sufficient condition. Clearly, there are modes of conservative and conformist re-Islamization where the primary concerns of individuals are preserving dignity and achieving recognition and respect. This is the case, for example, for many Muslims from the Indian subcontinent living in Great Britain. Re-Islamization can take on a humanist and even a liberal mode, such as that form advocated by the imam of the Ad-Dawa mosque in Paris.

Nevertheless, re-Islamization can also lead to radicalization, and it can do so, theoretically at least, in two ways. There is, first, diasporic radicalization, defined as that linked to and focused on the country of origin, not the European host society. But radical Muslim groups active in Europe that maintain close links with their countries of origin are never primarily Islamist; they are nationalist and often leftist, like the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). The Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), although present in Europe, is no longer involved in militant activity among Algerian-born migrants, and the Turkish Milli Görüs--a European offshoot of the since-banned Refah Party--is, as we shall see, increasingly less involved in Turkish domestic politics even as it remains active among the diaspora.

The second type of radicalization is ideological and takes the form of a transnational Islam divorced from its country of origin. Ideological radicalization typically develops as a result of the alienation of the young, which is common to depressed or socially marginal urban areas. Unmoored from traditional Islam, second- and third-generation jobless males provide fertile ground for recruiters to radical Islam.

Islamic radicalization in Europe since the early 1990s has predominantly taken this second path, oriented toward a supranational community, the Muslim umma. As a constructivist community it is partly imaginary, but once imagined it becomes real in effect--a development much advanced by the advent of the Internet and its associated subculture. Oddly enough, this type of radicalization goes hand in hand with Westernization in France and other European countries. Most radicalized Muslim youth in Europe are Western educated, often in technical or scientific fields. Very few come out of a traditional madrassa, and most experience a period of fully Westernized life, complete with alcohol and girlfriends, before becoming "born-again Muslims" in European mosques or jails. Inversely, conservative groups, whose members practice traditional Islam with strong cultural and linguistic affinities with non-European cultures, can nonetheless develop strong loyalty toward the host European country. Radicalization is thus not directly linked to the level of integration.

Diasporic Radicalism

To understand why transnational, "ideological" Islam is liable to be most dangerous to the security and well-being of European states, it helps to look first at the lesser problem--diasporic radicalization.

A diaspora is formed when a community of migrants maintains close links with its country of origin: continuing to speak the mother tongue; keeping in touch with national events through newspapers and other media; supporting extended family relationships through endogamous practices (the marriage partner is selected from the country of origin, sometimes from the same village); maintaining a juridical link (dual nationality or the nationality of the country of birth); and often preserving the myth of a return to the home country--even if this return is constantly being postponed. The term "diaspora" retains no meaning in reference to those who abandon these behaviors, even if some family and emotional ties remain. Before a Muslim in Europe can become a supranationalized radical, he (or, far less often, she) must lose most if not all connection to the diaspora.

The transition away from the diasporic condition can take three forms. The first of these is assimilation: the loss of all identity-related indicators of existing differences, even if memories or, for those born in the diaspora, awareness of one's origins persist (as, for example, with Italian immigrants to France). In this case, an Arab or Turkish immigrant would blend into a European society and lose all traces of his cultural, linguistic and religious origin. The second form of transition is integration, which is characterized by a reconstituted identity that stresses remaining differences. Thus, one can be simultaneously European and "Arab" without reference to the Arabic language or a particular Arab country; or simply "Muslim", understood as a follower of a religion detached from any specific citizenship. The third form is re-communalization, which combines a physical presence in Europe with a supranational Muslim identity that produces a "virtual ghetto."

Sociologically, west European Muslims are distributed all along this identity scale. Most of the approximately 13 million Muslims living in EU countries are not politically radical. But of those who are, the main pattern in recent years evinces a growing separation of the process of radicalization from the country of origin. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Algerian (FIS), Turkish (Refah/Milli Görüs) and Pakistani Islamic militants concentrated their actions on the country of origin, avoiding confrontations with the authorities of the host European country. They used the diaspora for recruitment and financing, but also as political leverage to influence the host country's policy toward the country of origin--on the same model, more or less, as that of the IRA, the Basque ETA and the PKK. They needed to avoid prosecution and hence kept a low political profile in the host country. A dozen years later, it is clear that this strategy failed.

The FIS provides the best example of that failure. During its meteoric rise beginning in 1989 and culminating in its short-lived victory in the 1991 Algerian elections, the FIS garnered much sympathy from Algerian immigrants in Europe. But its strategy was always centered on the home country: its aim was to mobilize Europe's Muslims in support of the struggle in Algeria. Its networks abjured violence in Europe against Europeans, particularly in France, in order to transform Europe into a base of support for militants on the run and a public relations platform.

For these purposes the FIS mobilized immigrants of North African origin through the Algerian Federation of France. Despite its anti-Western rhetoric, the Federation sought compromise with European authorities in order to isolate the Algerian government. For example, under the aegis of an Italian Catholic community, the Federation was involved in the "San Egidio process", whose objective was to reach an "historical compromise" in Algeria. The FIS was thus an Islamo-nationalist organization whose goal was power in Algeria, not international Islamic revolution; it worked entirely within the framework of the Algerian nation, and rejected the exportation of jihad to Europe or anywhere else.

The FIS' European strategy failed for two reasons. First, a more radical group, the GIA (Groupes Islamiques Armés, or Armed Islamic Groups), entered the political arena of global confrontation and terrorism. Second, European governments (and most of the media and public opinion, as well) aligned themselves with the Algerian government's eradicative stand, refusing to recognize the FIS as a bona fide political player. Ill prepared for clandestine action, the FIS quickly lost the battle at home to the Algerian army and the GIA, and it collapsed in Europe for this and additional reasons. Its members in France felt increasingly less in tune with their native country's politics. Second-generation European Muslims, including those of Algerian descent, were more attracted by the GIA's radical discourse on jihad than by the FIS call to form a political coalition in Algeria. That radical discourse helped European-born Muslims blend with other deracinated radicals to form new transnational Islamist networks.

What happened to the FIS exemplifies a general process: the detachment of the new Islamic radical youth of Europe from the Islamic political parties of their countries of origin. A polarization has resulted: radicalized Muslim youth in Europe become less attracted to the purely political and national approach of any Islamic mother-party, and those parties become even more Islamo-nationalist than internationalist as a result. While many Islamist movements are consolidating a stable constituency within their own countries, they are simultaneously losing appeal beyond their borders.

This polarizing tendency has affected groups other than the Algerian FIS. The 2001 split of the Refah-Fazilet party has partly dissociated Milli Görüs from domestic Turkish politics; the movement is now far more "European" than Middle Eastern, often associating with the Europe-based Arab Muslim Brothers. Its internal debates concentrate on what it means to be a Muslim in Europe. It is also dividing within itself in its European context. On one side is a dominant conservative body; on the other is a liberal wing represented by its Dutch section, headed by Haci Karacaer--of whom more below.

Two Examples

The Salman Rushdie affair exemplifies the shift from a diasporic to a universalist Islam. Pakistani immigrants to Great Britain from the Barelwi current were responsible for the public burning of The Satanic Verses in 1989. The Barelwis are considered moderates by Pakistani standards, but their special devotion to the Prophet rendered Rushdie's "insult" particularly grievous in their eyes. The fact that Rushdie is a renegade in their estimation was also very important. What was at stake was the definition of a new Islamic community in a European context that had nothing to do with possessing a particular passport. The Barelwis were trying to define a community that has no territorial, ethno-linguistic or juridical base. They were trying to pre-emptively determine the definition of a "Western" Muslim, which is a huge existential question for observant Muslims in Europe. Rushdie, of Indian Muslim origin, was targeted precisely because he is a British citizen who writes only in English and disclaims being a practicing Muslim. Had a Christian written The Satanic Verses, the Barelwis would have launched no street demonstrations.

At a deeper level, the objective of the anti-Rushdie campaign in England (before the matter was seized by Imam Khomeini in Iran for his own reasons) was to pass a new British law on blasphemy--to date reserved exclusively for the Church of England--for the benefit of Islam. Thus it was the demand for recognition on the part of Pakistani immigrants to Britain that lay behind the anti-Rushdie campaign, though Western public opinion, naturally enough, was oblivious to this angle. It is, however, interesting to note that two non-Muslim groups lent them an attentive ear: the left wing of the Labour Party, probably for electoral reasons but also in the name of multiculturalism; and a conservative group of Anglican and Catholic priests for whom this was a heaven-sent opportunity to forge a sacred alliance against the profanation of religion in the name of art--the controversy over Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, it should be recalled, was a near-contemporaneous affair.

Finally on this point, it bears noting that the anti-Rushdie campaign flowed more from fear than from aggression. The demand for communal recognition ran parallel to the attempt to define the borders of a community that, as its leaders saw it, was in danger of disintegration through assimilation. The internal vision of a beleaguered Islam in decline is important: many Muslims in the Middle East and outside of it share this vision--a view confirmed, in their eyes, by the Gulf War, the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the sanctions against Iraq and so on. Such motives contrast sharply with those attributed to Muslims in the Western view of an expanding Islam. In any case, it is clear that the European Muslim reaction to The Satanic Verses had nothing to do with importing Islamic radicalization to Europe; on the contrary, it evidenced a sui generis Muslim-European process of ideological radicalization, with the potential of exporting radicalism to, rather than importing it from, the Middle East.

The rise of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Europe also exemplifies the transition from a diasporic to a universalist mode of Islamic identity. Hizb ut-Tahrir ("Liberation Party") is a fundamentalist party based in London that was originally set up as a Palestinian Islamic movement in 1953. Officially non-violent, its ideas are nevertheless very radical. It advocates the immediate re-establishment of the caliphate and the ultimate conversion of the entire world to Islam. Hizb ut-Tahrir is now a genuinely international movement; indeed, it is difficult to identify and locate precisely its controlling authority. Officially, its leader is Sheikh Abdel Qadir Zalum, a Palestinian from Beirut who succeeded Taqiuddin Nabhani, the movement's founding father, in 1977. But Zalum appears to have lost effective control to a group of militants based in London. And it is a movement that is rapidly growing.

Hizb ut-Tahrir's growth is revealed through an analysis of its relationship with the Muhajirun organization of Sheikh Omar Bhakri, a Syrian residing in London who maintains a high profile in the English-language media. Though Bhakri does not make explicit reference to Hizb ut-Tahrir, their pronouncements and website content are often identical. The Muhajirun movement, therefore, is likely a front for Hizb ut-Tahrir in Europe, which developed in the 1980s and 1990s in Great Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands--and to a lesser extent in the United States. Starting in 1997, Hizb ut-Tahrir established new chapters in Muslim countries including Sudan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. The Pakistani branch, led by Dr. Abdul Qayyum, is more recent than the Uzbek branch, set up in 1999, and also more visible, with its meetings announced in the press. It seems to have been set up at the instigation of the London leadership. During a trial for sedition in Lahore in the fall of 2002, the defendants were British-born Muslims who spoke exclusively English with a cockney accent. Hizb ut-Tahrir thus represents another example of a re-communalized European radicalism being deliberately and systematically exported to Muslim countries.

The transition from diasporic to universalist Islam is also illustrated by the fact that very few Muslims in Europe mobilize on the basis of Middle Eastern conflicts. Although the Palestinian cause is popular among European Muslims, their support has never gone further than street demonstrations numbering fewer than 5,000 people in Paris, in company with traditional left-wing and anti-imperialist non-Muslim European sympathizers. Support for the Palestinian cause is generally not expressed in religious terms, and neither is opposition to a U.S.-led war against Iraq.

The Radicalization of the Uprooted

What is the essential nature of supranational, ideological Islam in Europe, and what recruitment patterns does it manifest? Only by understanding these matters can we hazard a guess as to how significant a security problem European states--and the United States--may face in the future from such movements.

Identification with a supranational umma in Europe can be experienced as a purely religious identification. This is often the case among Muslim middle-class populations, but, particularly among disenchanted and alienated youth, such identification can lead to a process of political radicalization. This process varies from place to place, and from one immigrant community to another, but the general trend is clear--as is the reason for it.

When Muslim immigrants live in open, cosmopolitan societies, particularly ones offering economic dynamism and social mobility, efforts by diasporic elders to keep them segregated from the mainstream usually fail, albeit in varying degrees and at varying speeds. As the original culture falls away, it is replaced by new cultural norms--either fully, as with assimilation, or partly, as with integration. When these new norms come from the host country, they can sometimes take the form of a subculture--such as the "suburban" youth culture in France, whose combative nature is Western, not Islamic, in origin. But as we have seen, sometimes a process of identity reconstruction ensues that seeks to preserve the essence of difference. Without the actual anchors of a diasporic community to sustain them, however, they require an imagined community. In the case of European Muslims, this constructivist community is usually based on a transnational religious identity. (Interestingly enough, many European Muslims nonetheless require their host society's freedom and openness to advance the cause of a transnational identity that bypasses both Muslim nations and local European patriotisms. This is illustrated by the creation in Antwerp of a controversial organization, the Arab European League, which lobbies for recognition of minority rights for Muslims at an all-European level.)

The rejection of the culture of origin, together with the refusal to assimilate into the surrounding Western culture, finds perfect expression in neo-fundamentalism (or salafism). Fundamentalism--meaning a return to the "true" tenets of religion--is nearly as old as Islam itself. The contemporary trend, justifiably called neo-fundamentalism, combines technical modernism, de-culturation (rejection of both traditional Muslim and modern Western cultures) and globalization (exemplified by websites like Neo-fundamentalism is particularly appealing to alienated youth because it turns their cultural alienation into a justification for forging a universal Islam stripped of customs and traditions and thus adaptable to all societies. It envisions the whole world as a great potential umma, and it does not require the thousands of hours of study that traditional Islamic piety requires from would-be leaders and community activists. It discards native religious cultures as UN-Islamic and polluted by superstitions, folklore and accretions from non-Islamic sources. Thus, contrary to what many casual observers seem to think, traditional and national culture, even if they are Muslim, are connoted negatively in the neo-fundamentalist vision.

Neo-fundamentalism in Europe does not target communities with ties to a culture of origin, but individuals in doubt about their faith and identity. It appeals to well-educated, but also uprooted and disgruntled, youth. For such individuals, fundamentalism offers a system for regulating behavior in any situation, from Afghan deserts to American college campuses. But this system is both a product and an agent of de-culturation. Islam, as preached by the Taliban, Saudi Wahhabis and bin Laden's radicals, is hostile even to culture that is Islamic in origin. It expresses the same rejection of all material civilization and gladly destroys it--whether it is Muhammad's tomb, the Bamiyan Buddha statues or the World Trade Center.

Yet these movements are not nihilistic. On the contrary, they are determined to restore what they imagine the purity of early Islam to have been, before it was sullied by human constructs. By championing the transnational umma, they address the universalist yearning of Muslims who cannot identify with any specific place or nation. The constructivist umma therefore must span the globe, where it battles the Western political, economic and cultural uniformity that, ironically, it requires to sustain itself. Thus McDonald's and English-as-a-second-language is fought by neo-fundamentalists wearing white robes and beards who also speak English-as-a-second-language (except in Britain, where it has become the new mother tongue) and go for hallal fast food.

The Security Dimension of EuroIslam

The fact that re-Islamization of young Muslims in Europe represents a radical disconnection between the country of origin and the new generations, constituting rather a factor of de-culturation, helps to explain why the dynamic of re-Islamization favors supranational organizations instead of "national" Islamic movements. But the various recruitment strategies of these organizations--the Muslim Brotherhood, Tablighi Jamaat, Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Qaeda--are rather different, and these differences have important implications for the security threats they may pose.

The Muslim Brothers and their sympathizers approach integration on a communal basis: they try to organize Muslims into a visible and active community, with institutions for education and social services. The UOIF (Union of French Islamic Organizations) and Milli Görüs now fit this pattern precisely. They want to be recognized by the authorities and often advocate the "Jewish" model (as they see it) to mobilize the Muslim community. They are legal-minded, stressing the negotiation of their status (whether over the veil, hallal food or consultation on ethical issues). They may evolve into a sort of Muslim church in Europe, which would pose little or no security threat, and would advance a conservative agenda in terms of moral and social values. This would likely put an end to the alliance between the multiculturalist, liberal European Left and the first generation of migrants, itself an interesting and important political development in its own right.

Tablighi Jamaat, a South Asian fundamentalist organization, on the other hand, is opposed to any sort of integration and, along with many salafi or Wahhabi movements, wants to organize the Muslims as separate communities--on a kind of ghetto model--with as little interaction as possible with the non-Muslim European world. Its members look askance at educating females and strongly oppose co-education. They are a font of societal problems, but they are probably not a serious security threat so long as they are allowed to live their segregated communal lives without interference from Western authorities.

This brings us to Al-Qaeda and Hizb ut-Tahrir. If we analyze the violent Islamic militants who have operated in western Europe since the early 1990s, a distinct pattern emerges. These individuals are not linked to or used by any Middle Eastern state, intelligence service or radical movement, as had been the case in the 1980s. With a single, transitional exception, they are part of the de-territorialized, supranational Islamic networks that operate specifically in the West and at the periphery of the Middle East. Their background has nothing to do with Middle Eastern conflicts or traditional religious education (excluding only the Saudis). On the contrary, as noted above, they are Western-educated and often have scientific backgrounds. Their groups are often mixes of educated middle-class leaders and working-class dropouts, a pattern common to most of the West European radicals of the 1970s and 1980s (Germany's Rote Armee Fraktion, Italy's Brigada Rossa, France's Action Directe). Many became "born-again" Muslims or jailhouse converts, sharing a common marginal culture.

The converts from mainstream European societies (whose existence was well known in Europe but only discovered by Americans with the case of John Walker Lindh) fit the same pattern. A few are from the middle class, usually the leaders (like Christophe Caze in France, a medical doctor who was killed "in action" against the police in Roubaix in 1996). Many are working-class dropouts--José Padilla, Richard Reid and the Frenchman Lionel Dumont (who fought in Bosnia)--who joined Islam because "the Muslims are the only ones to fight the system." Twenty years ago such individuals would have joined radical leftist movements, which have now disappeared or become "bourgeois" (like the Revolutionary Communist League in France). Now only two Western movements of radical protest claim to be "internationalist": the anti-globalization movement and the radical Islamists. To convert to Islam today is a way for a European rebel to find a cause; it has little to do with theology. (More than 100,000 converts to Islam live in France, but most converted for practical reasons--to marry a Muslim woman, for example.)

It follows that the second generation of Al-Qaeda militants in Europe (recruited after 1992) is characterized precisely by the breaking of their ties with the "real" Muslim world they claim to represent. All of the September 11 terrorists and their accomplices (except the Saudi "muscle" on the planes) left their country of origin to fight or to study abroad (usually in the West). All broke with their families. They did not belong to a neighborhood or community, not even a religious one in most cases. They were cultural outcasts both in their countries of origin and in their host countries. But they were all Westernized in some way (again, except the Saudis and the Yemenis); none had attended a madrassa, all were trained in technical or scientific fields and spoke a Western language. If we include the logistical networks, some possessed Western citizenship (Zacarias Moussaoui was born in France). All of them (except, once again, the Saudis) became born-again Muslims in Europe after living "normal" lives in their countries of origin. The mosques of Hamburg (Al-Qods), London (Finsbury Park), Marseilles and even Montréal played a far bigger role than any Saudi madrassa in the process of their Islamic radicalization.

Thus, far from representing a traditional religious community or culture, these militants broke with their pasts (and some with traditional Islam altogether). They experienced an individual re-Islamization in a small cell of uprooted fellows, where they forged their own Islam--as illustrated vividly by Mohamed Atta's refusal to be buried according to Egyptian traditions, which he dubbed UN-Islamic. They did not follow any Islamic school or notable cleric, and often lived according to non-Muslim standards. Almost none made an endogamous marriage, but many (Al Mottassadek, Ahmed Ressam, Fateh Kemal, Jemal Beghal, Kamel Daoudi) married "European" wives. They are all far more a product of a Westernized Islam than of traditional Middle Eastern politics. However "old time" their theology may sound to Westerners, and whatever they may think of themselves, radical EuroIslamists are clearly more a post-modern phenomenon than a pre-modern one.

And they are a wholly European phenomenon. Except for a few Pakistanis, no Al-Qaeda member left Europe or the United States to fight for Islam in his country of origin. All the "Algerians" came from Europe (or, like Ressam, became radicalized in Europe), and not one was ever found in the GIA's Algerian strongholds. The foreigners sentenced in Yemen in January 1999 for hostage-taking included six British citizens of Pakistani descent (including the son-in-law of Sheikh Hamza, the Egyptian-born imam of Finsbury Park) and two French Algerians. Sheikh Saïd Omar, convicted in Pakistan for the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl, is a British-born citizen of the United Kingdom. The two young Muslims sentenced in Morocco for firing on tourists in a Marrakesh hotel in 1994 were from French Algerian families.

The peripheral character of Al-Qaeda militants is also reflected in the geography of their chosen battlefields. There is a paradox: most Al-Qaeda fighters are ethnic Arabs, the bulk of them being Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian-Palestinian. But Al-Qaeda has been conspicuously absent from Arab lands (except, probably, for the Khobar Towers attack, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, and perhaps recent small-scale activity in Kuwait). Nor have these militants cared much about Arab conflicts. Bin Laden gave only faint lip service to the Palestinian cause until the end of 2001. Training for the September 11 attacks was initiated before the so-called second intifada; most of the terrorists arrived on U.S. soil in the spring of 2000 and the decision to attack was taken that January. Instead of the Middle East, Al-Qaeda and its likes have been fighting in the West (New York, Paris, London), in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Pakistan, Kashmir, the Philippines, Indonesia and East Africa--but not in Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria or Algeria.

This is not just because Arab states take their own internal security seriously. Rather, the re-communalized Muslims of Europe, logically enough, are fighting at the frontiers of their imaginary umma, and they are doing so because what most agitates them are side effects from their own Westernization. All the literature and websites linked to Al-Qaeda stress the "peripheral" jihad from Bosnia to the Philippines, and that focus has been noticed and criticized by Arab militants like the Saudi Sheikh Abu Ayman al-Hilali. Most of the jihadi websites are based in the West or in Malaysia. This is not only because of censorship; it is because the people behind them live in the West. While Al-Qaeda's campaign against U.S. interests has constantly increased and hundreds of Islamic militants have been arrested or tracked down in Europe, Islamist violence in the Middle East has steadily decreased since the Luxor killings of 1997. Hence the obvious question: Could EU member states be viewed as legitimate battlefields, and be attacked as a result? The answer is "yes, most definitely."

Islam in Europe's Future

Radicalization is a peripheral result of the Westernization of Muslims born and living in Europe. It is linked with a generation gap and a depressed social status, and it perpetuates a pre-existent tradition of leftist, anti-imperialist protest in those communities. Notwithstanding such circumstances, most European Muslims have found a way to conciliate faith and a non-Muslim environment in a practical, if sometimes makeshift, manner. The problem is that what amounts to their de facto liberalism is not expressed in theological terms, and it is not bound into a socialization mechanism that can be transmitted easily to subsequent generations. This suggests that there will be ample raw human material for radicals to proselytize in the future.

This is not to say that Islam in the West is not producing a school of modern Islamic theology; it is, like that of Mohamed Arkoun at Paris University, Khaled Abou al-Fadl at UCLA and others. But this school has too few students. This is not only because of the conservative nature of Muslims. It also has to do with the lower social and educational level of first-generation immigrants, and, more importantly, with the fact that all contemporary forms of vibrant religiosity are usually based on charismatic, pietist and anti-intellectual approaches.

This is not a "Muslim" issue alone, then, but a modern one: modern theologians are not very popular in either the charismatic Christian movements or the Curia in the Vatican. Innovative theologians everywhere are waging uphill battles, whether under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or in the domain of the American-style televangelists. Indeed, contemporary forms of religiosity among second-generation Muslims outside the Middle East are closer to those of their 19th- and 20th-century American Christian counterparts than to medieval Islam: in short, they are examples of revivalism. Religious revivalism, after all, is centered not in family and communal tradition, but on individuals who experience a crisis of identity amid the discontinuity of familial and communal ties. It accords with individualism, the reconstruction of an imagined community (the evangelical church or the umma), a crisis of authority, defiance toward theological formality and religious authorities (bishops as well as ulama). It privileges self-instruction and an insistence on emotional faith rather than theology and traditional rituals.

In our time, religious revivalism is almost always socially conservative, from the American Bible Belt to the Lubavitch movement to John Paul II's defense against liberation theology. Conservative religious leaders rail against corruption and lost values, and in this sense transnational European Islam is becoming a part of the European debate on values. Many imams preach about "regaining happiness", "recovering from destitution", affirming a categorical difference between right and wrong, making a good life and so on-no different, in essence, from what conservative Christian and Jewish clergy say to their congregations.

Preaching such a message is a challenge for all conservative clergy, given the conditions they face in Europe. But it is only one of many challenges for Muslim clergy, for they are confronted head-on with the issue of tolerance. A complex dialectic has been set in motion: many Muslims in Europe define the bounds of their own toleration in relation to how they themselves are tolerated by non-Muslim Europeans--and here a world of mutual misperception spreads before us. Pim Fortuyn's decision to enter Dutch politics was triggered, he said, by the speech of a Moroccan-born imam who called homosexuals "sick people." This was, for the imam, a way to excuse homosexuals and thus to avoid the harsh treatment set down for them in the sharia, but Fortuyn could not have been expected to appreciate this. As some Europeans react against "alien" Muslim elements among them, it makes some Muslims more defensive and intolerant.

But not all Europeans do so, and not all Muslims are turning inward. Thus, Haci Karacaer, the aforementioned head of the Dutch Milli Görüs, has engaged in a dialogue with the Gay and Lesbian Associations, something inconceivable in the Middle East (where, on the contrary, there is a growing hostility toward homosexuality, as illustrated by the Cairo trials of 2002). In other words, matters are in flux, and how they are managed by both sides will go far to determine how much tinder for anger and violence may lie ahead.

In this sense, it is not theological debate but concrete interactions between European Muslims and non-Muslim society that is driving the evolution of EuroIslam. Clearly, the fundamentalist organizations of the different salafi schools try to prevent such an interaction by advocating the maintenance of a "closed" community for devout Muslims. Modernism is spread mainly by community leaders and local preachers who, when confronted by their salafi colleagues, dare to part company with them. September 11 has magnified the "obligation to speak" among moderate mainstream Muslims who are caught between a desire to express solidarity with more conservative fellow-believers and the pressure of European public opinion to denounce the veil and sharia.

Moderate Islam must be elaborated by Muslims themselves over the course of time, and not under political pressure or in a forced theological debate. Such a debate among Muslims in Europe will certainly come to pass, and it may even have an impact in traditional Middle Eastern societies--so much, anyway, we may hope, for reform is not yet making much headway in the authoritarian political cultures of the Muslim Middle East. But whatever the different trends at work--radicalism, liberalism, humanism--it is clear that they are the product of the endogenous evolution of EuroIslam. From a national security perspective, a great deal is riding on the outcome.

Olivier Roy is senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research and author of L'Islam Mondialise' (Le Seuil, 2002), to be published in English in 2003.

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          rejecting one’s identity        
In a Turkish shop Me: Bonjour, un melon Her: 1,95 euro ME: teshekkurler (thanks) Her: Turkmisin? (are you a Turk?) Me: No, I am from Uzbekistan Her: Ah Uzbaekistan, Uzbek? Me: Evet, amma, Tajik (Yes, but Tajik) Her: Tajik? (puzzled) Me: Fors (Persian as language) Her: Fors…? (pause) Non. Turk I smiled. She is sure […]
          La gimnasia artistica a nivel olimpico en la URSS y Rusia        

La gimnasia es el mas antiguo deporte con presencia olimpica, junto con el atletismo, la esgrima y la natacion, dada su presencia en esta competencia desde la celebracion de los primeros Juegos Olimpicos modernos, realizados en 1896 en Atenas. Pero sus vinculos con esta competencia se extienden tambien a los Juegos Olimpicos de la Antigua Grecia, de los cuales formo parte en sus 12 largos siglos de existencia, entre el 776 antes de Cristo y el 392 de nuestra era.

Algunos quieren ver la historia de la gimnasia incluso con vinculos con el Antiguo Egipto (imagenes superiores) a objeto de darle una continuidad historica milenaria que se extiende hasta el presente viendose solo opacada por el ocaso que vivio en epoca medieval de la cual escapo gracias al renovado interes hacia la Grecia clasica propio del Renacimiento de modo que a partir del siglo XVI iniciaria un lento despertar que comenzo a tomar forma mas concreta en el siglo XIX y que ha permitido que en la actualidad la gimnasia abarque, segun su federacion internacional, la mas antigua federacion deportiva en ejercicio, un total de 7 variedades, de las cuales 3* disciplinas forman parte de los Juegos Olimpicos: La gimnasia deportiva, la gimnasia artistica y el salto sobre cama elastica o gimnasia de trampolin (imagen siguiente), que debuto como deporte olimpico en Sidney-2000. Todas estas variedades permiten la participacion de hombres y mujeres con excepcion de la gimnasia artistica, la que junto con el nado sincronizado son los unicos deportes olimpicos exclusivos de mujeres**.
*Aqui se usan las denominaciones de la lengua rusa para estas modalidades, las que no coinciden en terminos literales con las denominaciones usadas en muchos otros paises.
**Si bien la gimnasia artistica a nivel olimpico es un deporte exclusivamente femenino a fines del siglo XX una modalidad semejante, pero combinada con acrobacia y artes marciales, comenzo a ser practicada por hombres, sobre todo en Japon, pais donde se celebro su primer campeonato mundial en noviembre de 2003. Pero la disciplina cuenta tambien con una variedad distinta, nacida en Espan-a, donde los hombres emulan la gimnasia artistica de las chicas. Resta agregar que el nado sincronizado permitio desde fines de 2014 la participacion de parejas combinadas, aunque hasta ahora solo en Campeonatos del Mundo.

Entre los mas de 20 deportes, y mas de 40 disciplinas deportivas, que conforman actualmente los Juegos Olimpicos la gimnasia artistica tiene, ademas, la particularidad de ser la unica originaria de Rusia, teniendo su origen directo en 1934 cuando en el Instituto de cultura fisica, Petr Lesgaft de Leningrado se abre la Escuela superior de movimiento artistico en la cual la asignatura principal de formacion de los estudiantes se denominaba precisamente Gimnasia artistica. Sus primeros egresos se producirian a partir de 1938 lo que permitiria la apertura de escuelas de gimnasia artistica en diversas regiones del pais mientras que la primera competencia en la especialidad seria organizada en Leningrado por los profesores y egresados del Instituto de cultura fisica en marzo de 1939 con la participaciones de estudiantes de esa institucion y miembros de sociedades deportivas.

Edificio principal de la actual Universidad estatal nacional de cultura fisica, deporte y salud Petr Lesgaft, considerada como la primera institucion de educacion superior de Rusia en preparar especialistas en el campo del deporte y la cultura fisica. Fundada en 1893 por el propio Lesgaft comenzaria a partir de 1896 su formacion en cultura fisica. Se conformo en 1919 como Instituto estatal de educacion fisica, adquiriendo de manera postuma el nombre de Petr Lesgaft pues el profesor, quien por largo tiempo encontro todo tipo de dificultades de parte del gobierno para su actividad pedagogica por sus criticas contra el establishment de la epoca, habia muerto en 1909.

Pero el desarrollo de la gimnasia en Rusia tambien se puede rastrear en la Rusia zarista, aunque alli no tenia caracter competitivo sino que se la utilizaba para el desarrollo fisico de las personas, incluso en 1881 se abriria una sala para practicarla en tanto que a fines de siglo se comenzaron a dictar cursos para educadores en desarrollo fisico, Lamentablemente, la Revolucion bolchevique no trajo buenas noticias a la gimnasia al ser calificada como un "deporte burgues" aunque pronto volveria a surgir un interes por ella al organizarse en las fabricas grupos de gimnasia exclusivos para mujeres aunque orientados hacia una mayor productividad laboral. Ademas, aparecerian estudios donde se ensen-aba "Baile y gimnasia armonica". La Guerra (1941-1945) en territorio sovietico detuvo temporalmente la evolucion de esta actividad, sin embargo, en 1945 se creo una Seccion de gimnasia artistica* y la actividad seria reconocida oficialmente como deporte al an-o siguiente.
*18 an-os mas tarde esa "Seccion" pasaria a constituirse en Federacion de gimnasia artistica.

En 1947 se llevo a cabo en la ciudad de Tallin, republica sovietica de Estonia, la primera competencia nacional de gimnasia deportiva mientras que en 1948 se realizarian en Tbilisi, republica sovietica de Georgia, las primeras competencias nacionales, con la participacion de 130 deportistas, donde el primer lugar quedo en manos de la egresada del Instituto Lesgaft, de Leningrado, Ariadna Bashnina, de 38 an-os revelando que no era un deporte para jovencitas, como sucede en el dia de hoy. A partir de 1949 comenzarian a realizarse Campeonatos de la URSS de este deporte.

La gimnasia artistica saldria de las fronteras de la URSS en 1955 pero no en terminos competitivos sino que solo de exhibicion con el fin de dar a conocer esta nueva modalidad deportiva.

El exito de su expansion internacional permitiria la realizacion del primer torneo internacional oficial en 1960, en Bulgaria en tanto que en 1963 se llevo a cabo en Hungria la I Copa de Europa con participacion de 10 paises. Sin embargo, la Federacion Internacional de Gimnasia rebautizaria al an-o siguiente esta competencia, considerandola el I Campeonato del Mundo de gimnasia artistica luego de constatarse que habian tomado parte no solo paises de Europa en la competencia.

El primer Campeonato de Europa se realizaria recien en 1978, en Espan-a, quedando el oro en manos de la 4 veces campeona de la URSS y campeona del mundo, Galima Shugurova (imagen superior).

La gimnasia artistica seria reconocido como deporte olimpico en un congreso realizado por el Comite Olimpico Internacional en 1980, luego de finalizadas las XXII Olimpiadas realizadas en Moscu, Su estreno se llevo a cabo en Los Angeles 1984, aunque no de modo cabal dada la ausencia de las potencias de la epoca en gimnasia artistica, accion que fue una respuesta al boicot de los paises de Occidente a las Olimpiadas de 1980. Por ello habria que esperar hasta Seul-1988 para su debut en pleno.

Si bien los Juegos Olimpicos de verano, de Seul 1988 se vieron nuevamente afectados por el boicot de diversos paises entre ellos no se contaban las potencias mundiales de la gimnasia. La URSS, que no habia asistido a Los Angeles-1984, vivia la Perestroyka, que se considera iniciada en 1985, por lo que no se sumo a una serie de paises que no asistieron por solidaridad con Corea del Norte, que exigia realizar los Juegos en ambas Coreas. 
Estas Olimpiadas serian las ultimas con participacion de la URSS y de Alemania oriental, naciones que ocuparon en 1988 la 1era y 2da posicion, respectivamente, en el medallero general.

En el curso de la existencia de las competencias de gimnasia artistica un estrecho grupo de paises ha ocupado las posiciones lideres en el desarrollo de este deporte. Asi, en el periodo 1960-1991 la lucha por las medallas de oro se dirimia entre la URSS y Bulgaria, con predominio de esta segunda nacion, mientras que las representantes de otros paises aspiraban solo a medallas de platas aisladas o, con mucho mas frecuencia, a una medalla de bronce. El cuadro se modificaria radicalmente con la desintegracion de la URSS, a partir de 1991, dado el surgimiento de nuevos paises independientes. Por ello, el inicio de los ´90 se puede considerar, simultaneamente, tanto como el de la ruptura de las escuelas sovietica y bulgara como el del florecimiento de la gimanasia artistica de Ucrania. Sin embargo, la gimnasia artistica rusa renaceria con nueva fuerza a inicios del siglo XXI mientras que las deportistas bulgaras tendrian un resurgimiento mucho mas complejo. De todos modos, en este deporte  las cosas no han cambiado de manera relevante pues siguen predominando los paises del Este de Europa, sobre todo las ex republicas sovieticas.

En el caso concreto de las competencias olimpicas, con la exclusion de los juegos de Atlanta de 1996, donde Rusia, tras la disolucion de la URSS, tomo parte por primera vez como equipo independiente y donde la campeona fue la ucraniana Yekaterina Serebryankaya (imagen superior) con el inicio del siglo XXI se produciria una serie imparable de victorias olimpicas de las gimnastas rusas, con Yuliya Barsukova en Sidney-2000, Alina Kabayeva en Atenas-2004*, Yevgeniya Kanayeva en Pekin-2008 y en Londres-2012 y Margarita Mamun en Rio-2016.
*A partir de los Juegos Olimpicos de Atenas la gimnasia artistica se presento completamente con 2 categorias: Competencias en ejercicios individuales y en ejercicios grupales. Aqui solo menciono las campeonas de la competencia individual.
El padre de la ultimo Oro olimpico, Margarita Mamun, es el ciudadano de Bangladesh. Abdulla Al-Mamun, ingeniero naval quien estudio en los ´80 en la URSS donde conocio a Anna, la madre de la campeona. Apenas 2 dias tras el regreso a Rusia de su hija desde Rio, en octubre recien pasado, Abdulla falleceria.

Es remarcable, tambien, que desde 2000 resulten victoriosas en los Juegos Olimpicos solo alumnas de la entrenadora Irina Viner-Usmanova (arriba junto a Mamun).

Una precision necesaria

En el caso particular de la lengua rusa existe una diferencia al hablar de gimnasia artistica, modalidad de la cual trata este articulo, pues lo que se entiende como tal en este idioma Художественная гимнастика (Xudoyestvennaya gimnastika) se expresa en espan-ol, como tambien en otras lenguas, como gimnasia ritmica. Aun mas, esta ultima denominacion, Ритмическая гимнастика (Ritmicheskaya gimnastika), se relaciona en lengua rusa mas bien con la gimnasia aerobica o el fitness, de lo cual ha quedado un testimonio en la decada de 1980, en la tv sovietica cuando comenzo a emitirse a partir del 12 de agosto de 1984* un programa de produccion local llamado precisamente Gimnasia ritmica, inspirado en la gimnasia aerobica de moda en Occidente en la epoca pero que se busco transformar en algo mas comprensible para la epoca buscando, en primer lugar, el consejo de especialistas sovieticos en cultura fisica para elaborar las rutinas y, luego, dando una denominacion al programa que fuera mas comprensible que el intringulis que significaba el concepto de Gimnasia aerobica para la sociedad sovietica.

El programa llamaria la atencion de los espectadores de la epoca, junto con provocar la ira de los mas adultos, porque por primera vez se exhibian en las pantallas de television de la conservadora sociedad sovietica cuerpos femeninos mas desvestidos y en poses que, en ocasiones, resultaban mas que sugerentes cautivando a las audiencias masculinas. El programa saldria al aire poco meses antes del inicio de la Perestroyka y culminaria en septiembre de 1990, cerca de un an-o antes de la desintegracion de la URSS.

Pero mas alla del programa televisivo y a diferencia, reitero, de la comprension occidental el concepto de gimnasia ritmica se entiende en terminos mas formales en Rusia como una modalidad de educacion ritmica y musical creada por el compositor y pedagogo Emile Jaques-Dalcroze (Viena, 1865-Ginebra, 1950) a la que se le denominaria Sistema de gimnasia ritmica y que asocia el aprendizaje de la musica con el despliegue de determinados movimientos corporales.

Los cursos de gimnasia ritmica de Dalkroze (imagen superior) se expandieron paulatinamente por Europa llegando a suelo ruso gracias al principe Sergey Volkinski quien habia conocido a Dalcroze en 1909. Seducido por sus ideas Volkinski comenzo a dar conferencias en establecimientos educacionales de teatro y musica como tambien en diversos circulos y sociedades lo que llevo a la apertura de cursos de gimnasia ritmica no solo en San Petersburgo, la entonces capital, sino tambien en Moscu, Saratov, Riga y Kiev. Los cursos se realizaban en diversos establecimientos educacionales, de musica, teatro e incluso de medicina. Su metolodogia, conocida hoy como Metodo o Eurritmica de Dalcroze se mantiene hasta la actualidad y constituye de los mas conocidos y populares metodos de educacion musical junto con otros como el metodo Karl Orff de Alemania o el metodo Suzuki de Japon.

Definicion de gimnasia artistica

Reiterando que aqui me refiero a lo que se comprende en muchos paises fuera de Rusia como gimnasia ritmica, la definicion es la siguiente:

Es una variedad de la gimnasia deportiva en la que se ejecutan, sobre una superficie de 13x13 metros y con acompan-amiento musical, diversos ejercicios de gimnasia y de baile con y sin aparatos (Предмет, predmet en ruso), siendo estos ultimos el aro, el balon, la cinta, la cuerda y las clavas aunque en el ultimo tiempo las competencias de nivel mundial ya no contemplan competiciones sin elementos. Por otra parte, cada 2 an-os se va dejando uno de los aparatos fuera por ese mismo periodo de tiempo lo que ha dejado fuera de las competencias a la cuerda en 2015 y 2016.
*Pueden observar diversas intervenciones del equipo olimpico ruso en Londres-2012 en el siguiente link: 


Los elementos de la gimnasia artistica quedarian establecidos y reglamentados en la decada de 1960. Si bien hubo intentos por utilizarlos tambien en lo que en Rusia se entiende como gimnasia deportiva (la gimnasia artistica del resto del mundo) pronto quedarian descartados porque la gracia y sutileza de los movimientos que requiere no se condecia con la filosofia de la gimnasia deportiva, que requiere una figura fisica un tanto mas masculina. Luego, en 1971 se establecio que no se podia competir en gimnasia artistica sin el uso de elementos.

Las clavas, o mazas, son 2 elementos (Булавы, bulavy en ruso) de 40-50 cm* de largo que en su extremo mas delgado tiene una forma redondeada. Se confeccionan de madera o plastico. Cada clava pesa no menos de 150 gramos. Su dificultad en relacion a los otros aparatos esta dada por ser un par de ellos y no uno como los demas. Ademas, mas que cualquier otro elemento implica un riesgo de golpes o incluso de cortes dada la altura a la cual son arrojadas hacia arriba por las gimnastas, especialmente en las pruebas por equipos.
*Todas las dimensiones referidas a los elementos de la gimnasia artistica tienen relacion en estos parrafos con categoria senior pues en categoria junior se usan dimensiones y pesos inferiores.

La cinta (Лента, lenta en ruso) se confecciona de raso o un material similar y tiene una extension  de 7 metros. Va unida a una vara cilindrica de 50-60 cm de largo. Durante la ejecucion el extremo de la cinta debe estar en movimiento todo el tiempo y no debe tocar el suelo de manera involuntaria. Se consideran invalidos los movimientos si se forma un nudo en la cinta, cualquiera sea su magnitud.

El balon (Мяч, myach en ruso) se confecciona de caucho o de algun plastico blando. Su diametro es de 18-20 cm y su peso no debe ser inferior a los 400 gramos. Es el unico aparato que no se coge con fuerza como los otros sino que solo se sostiene sin presion. No existen restricciones para su color.

El aro (Обруч, óbruch en ruso) se confecciona de madera o plastico. Su diametro interno es de 80-90 cm y su peso no debe ser inferior a los 300 gramos. Se considera un elemento un tanto caprichoso para su control como le sucedio a la gimnasta rusa Alina Kabayeva, favorita para el oro en Sidney-2000, cuando sin realizar un ejercicio complejo dejo escapar el aro de la superficie del tapiz olimpico lo que la rezago a la 9a posicion entre 10 participantes de la competencia dejandola, posteriormente, solo con una medalla de bronce.

La cuerda (Скакалка, skakalka en ruso) se confecciona de can-amo o un material parecido y su extension no tiene una dimension estandar, dependiendo solo de la estatura de cada gimnasta.

Ante solicitud del jurado los aparatos pueden ser revisados tanto antes de que la gimnasta ingrese al tapiz de ejecucion como despues de la realizacion del ejercicio. En caso de no cumplir los estandares requeridos se penaliza la ejecucion (que tiene una evaluacion maxima de 20 puntos) con medio punto.


El sistema de evaluacion de las gimnastas ha cambiado varias veces para subrayar elementos tecnicos y llevar a un minimo posible la subjetividad de las evaluaciones mientras que en terminos de la escala de puntuacion los cambios han sido practicamente la norma en este siglo. Asi, hasta 2001 la evaluacion se realizaba con una escala de 10 puntos que se modifico, primero, por una escala de 30 puntos en 2003 y, luego, por una de 20 en 2005. A partir de 2009 se volvio a la escala de 30 puntos pero en 2013 la evaluacion nuevamente se realiza con una escala de 20 puntos.


En cuanto a la edad para que una nin-a comience su actividad en la gimnasia artistica lo ideal es iniciarse entre 4-6 an-os cuando el aparato locomotor aun no pierde su elasticidad. Sin embargo, existen tambien exclusiones como la 6 veces campeona del mundo Amina Zaripova (imagen siguiente) quien ingreso a la gimnasia artistica a sus 11 an-os.

En relacion a los entrenamientos de gimnastas de corta edad estos se limitan a algunas horas al dia mientras que las de mayor edad practican hasta 14 horas diarias. Como norma, ya a los 14-16 an-os muchas deportistas tienen que despedirse de esta actividad o pasar al ballet deportivo mientras que muy pocas continuan su carrera deportiva hasta los 20-23 an-os siendo excepcional pasar esa barrera de edad.
El italiano Adamasco Cupistu junto a otros colegas realizaria una investigacion sobre lesiones serias de gimnastas considerando un universo de 73 de ellas, de entre 13-19 an-os y pertenecientes a 19 clubes deportivos italianos de gimnasia artistica en un periodo de entrenamiento que se extendio por 8 meses continuos. Como muestra el diagrama superior la mayor parte de las lesiones se producen en las extremidades inferiores, que los autores de la investigacion relacionaron con la gran cantidad de saltos que requiere la practica de la gimnasia artistica. 
Otra investigacion, realizada por Mark Hutchinson con el equipo norteamericano de gimnasia artistica mostro que un 80% de las lesiones fruto de los entrenamientos tenian caracter leve y no influian en el proceso de entrenamiento. 


En cuanto a las competencias, en el caso de las gimnastas seniors* toman parte en competencias individuales y grupales.
*En la actualidad, las nacidas en 2001 o en an-os previos para las competencias de 2017 y manteniendo esa diferencia en los an-os siguientes, es decir: 2002/2018, 2003/2019, etc.

El programa individual comprende 4 ejercicios, con aro, balon, cinta y clavas quedando actualmente la cuerda solo para competencias juniors. Cada ejercicio se extiende entre 75-90 segundos.

En las competencias individuales se compite por aparatos separados o por los 4 en conjunto (all-around* individual).
*Многоборье en ruso

En el programa por equipos, donde los ejercicios se extienden entre 2 minutos 15 segundos y 2 minutos 30 segundos, hay 2 tipos de ejercicios, con 1 y con 2 aparatos, en combinaciones que dependen del reglamento y que para el periodo 2017-2024 seran las siguientes:

Ejercicios con un solo aparato: Aro (2017-2018), balon (2019-2020), clavas (2021-2022) y cinta (2023-2024).

Ejercicios con 2 tipos de aparatos, los que en reglamento 2017-2024 se establecieron en un formato denominado ( 5 / 3+2 ) y del modo siguiente: 3 balones+2 cuerdas (2017-2018), 3 aros +2 pares de clavas (2019-2020), 3 aros+2 cintas (2021-2022) y 3 balones+2 pares de clavas (2023-2024).

En la competencia por equipos, el resultado se calcula sumando los resultados con 1 aparato y con 2 aparatos, lo que se denomina all-around por equipos.

En los ejercicios por equipo toman parte 6 gimnastas pero cada ejercicio es ejecutado solo por 5 de ellas, quedando la 6ta en la zona de competicion y pudiendo actuar como reemplazo de una gimnasta en caso de algun incidente.

En las ejecuciones el tiempo se considera desde el inicio del movimiento de la (s) gimnasta (s) hasta la conclusion del mismo por la unica gimnasta en el suelo o la ultima de ellas. Se permite una introduccion musical sin movimiento pero no superior a 4 segundos. La musica que acompan-a la ejecucion debe tener un fin musical, es decir, no se pueden utilizar fragmentos de una composicion o cancion pero si un arreglo. La musica puede considerar el uso de mas de un instrumento y se permite el uso de la voz en una composicion solo si actua como instrumento musical. En el caso de que exista canto con palabras solo se permite usar en 1 ejercicio grupal y en 2 individuales, lo que debe ser informado con antelacion.

Los ejercicios son evaluados por jueces, que en el caso de los Campeonatos del Mundo y los Juegos Olimpicos se dividen en 2 equipos, uno que evaluan la tecnica de ejecucion (E) y otro la dificultad de los ejercicios (D). La dificultad se divide en Dificultad corporal (BD), Combinacion de pasos de baile (S), Elementos dinamicos con giro (R) y Complejidad del aparato (AD).

Aquellos que evaluan dificultad se dividen en 2 sub-grupos, conformado cada uno por 2 jueces: D1 (juez coordinador que realiza los descuentos) y D2 (ambos evaluan BD y S) ademas de D3 y D4 (evaluan R y AD). En tanto, los que evaluan ejecucion se dividen en 2 sub-grupos, E1 y E2, el primero, que evalua errores artisticos, y E3, E4, E5 y E6, el segundo, que evalua errores tecnicos.

Ademas, existen jueces cronometristas (1 o 2) y jueces de linea (2), estos ultimos levantan una banderilla en caso de que la gimnasta o el aparato salgan del perimeto del tapiz.

El nivel de ejecucion y la Dificultad de los ejercicios, cada una de las cuales tiene una evaluacion maxima de 10 por lo que el maximo posible es de 20 puntos por ejercicio. Ademas, los errores cuentan con penalizaciones (Сбавка en ruso), que van de 0,05 hasta 1,00 punto por ejemplo, fallas en la extension de la musica (0,05 puntos por cada segundo, de menos o de mas), mas de 2 ejercicios individuales o 1 grupal con musica con palabras (1 punto), salida del tapiz con el cuerpo o un aparato y tocando el suelo (0,3 puntos). conversar entre gimnastas en las ejecuciones grupales (0,5 puntos), etc.

Las mas importantes competencias de la gimnasia artistica son los Juegos Olimpicos, los Campeonatos del mundo, los Campeonatos de Europa, la Copa del Mundo y la serie Grand-Prix.

El Campeonato del mundo se realizaria por primera vez en Budapest, Hungria en 1963, donde la triunfadora fue la sovietica Людмила Савинкова (Lyudmila Savinkova. Imagen siguiente). En tanto, que la primera competencia por equipos, establecida en el campeonato de 1967 en Copenhague, Dinamarca quedaria tambien en manos sovieticas.

En nuestros dias los campeonatos del mundo en gimnasia artistica se realizan anualmente, una condicion que tiene lugar desde 1992. Antes, los campeonatos del mundo se realizaban en an-os impares, es decir, cada 2 an-os (desde 1963 hasta 1991, inclusive)

Hasta 2015, inclusive, el medallero por paises en Campeonatos del mundo es el siguiente:

En el listado anterior debe considerarse que en 1975 las naciones de Alemania oriental, Bulgaria, Checoslovaquia y la URSS no asistieron al Campeonato realizado en Espan-a lo que, sin duda, hubiera incrementado aun mas el numero de medallas de estos paises.

Los Campeonatos de Europa comenzaron a desarrollarse a partir de 1978 realizandose en an-os pares hasta 1986 y luego de manera anual. Los campeonatos incluyen desde 1993 un campeonato junior, el cual se comenzo a realizar desde 1987, aunque entonces era un campeonato separado de la competicion adulta. El medallero para el campeonato adulto, considerando la ultima competicion realizada en Holon, Israel, en junio de 2016 es el siguiente:

La Copa del Mundo es una competencia a la que se asiste por invitacion de la Federacion internacional de gimnasia. Comenzo a realizarse a partir de 1975 reuniendo a los mejores gimnastas del mundo en un evento unico aunque no realizado de forma regular. A partir de 1999 paso a constituirse en una serie de competiciones anuales donde, sin embargo, la final se disputaba cada 2 an-os, lo que concluyo en 2009 cuando la final comenzo a realizarse de manera anual pero considerando no un evento unico sino que la suma de puntos del ranking que se iba elaborando anualmente con los resultados de las competencias. Hasta 2008 el listado de medallas obtenidos en la Final de la Copa del Mundo fue el siguiente:

En tanto, la serie Grand Prix es una serie de torneos, que concluye con un evento final, y que esta abierta a todos los gimnastas del mundo realizandose anualmente desde 1994. El listado global de medallas por paises es el siguiente:

En termino de los Juegos Olimpicos, tras 9 de ellos han tomado parte en las competencias de gimnasia artistica un total de 582 deportistas, agrupados en 48 paises, 13 de los cuales han logrado alguna medalla.

Pictograma olimpico de la gimnasia artistica

Del total de 45 medallas que han sido entregadas, 15 de oro, 15 de plata y 15 de bronce, el dominio es realmente abrumador para los rusos, con un total de 10 oros dejando en segundo lugar a un total de 5 naciones, que cuentan cada uno con 1 oro: Espan-a y Canada ademas de la URSS, Ucrania y la CEI, sucesor de la Union Sovietica y que solo tomo parte en una unica Olimpiada, las de Barcelona-1992.

A pesar del dominio ruso la primera medalla de oro olimpica de la gimnasia artistica seria para una gimnasta de nivel menor, la canadiense Lori Fung quien obtuvo el oro en Los Angeles 1984 debido a la ausencia de las potencias de la gimnasia mundial, todas del bloque socialista y que respondieron asi al boicot de paises occidentales  a las Olimpiadas de 1980, en Moscu. Antes de competir en Los Angeles Fung ocupaba la 23a posicion en el ranking mundial y alcanzaria un modesto 9° lugar en el Campeonato mundial de gimnasia del an-o siguiente, el que conto con asistencia completa.

A pesar de su nivel intermedio a nivel mundial Fung (imagen superior) tuvo ocasion de derrotar en Los Angeles a la favorita, la rumana Doina Staiculescu con la cual, a proposito, entrenaba. Los meritos de la joven canadiense tampoco pueden mirarse con justicia sin mencionar que su entrenadora era la bulgara Liliana Dimitrova, nacion lider de la gimnasia en la epoca. Fung intentaria tomar parte en las siguientes Olimpiadas de 1988 pero problemas de salud no solo impidieron su postulacion sino que forzaron su retiro de la gimnasia.

En terminos de la competencia all-around individual los resultados por cada Juego Olimpico, desde 1984, han sido los siguientes:

Cabe destacar que la mencion de Unified Team (Equipo unificado) de la tabla superior se refiere a 12 de las 15 ex republicas que conformaron la Union Sovietica y que son equivalentes a la URSS menos las republicas balticas (Estonia, Letonia y Lituania). El equipo unificado, una especie de sucesor de la URSS, competiria solo en las Olimpiadas de 1992, donde obtuvieron el 1er lugar dejando atras a los Estados Unidos, en 2do lugar y a Alemania (ya unificada), en 3er lugar.

La tabla del All-around individual permite apreciar el dominio abrumador de Rusia y de las naciones vinculadas con ella, tanto historicamente como geograficamente y culturalmente, en este deporte dejando como meramente anecdotico el resultado de 1984, ante la ausencia por razones politicas de las naciones del bloque sovietico.

En cuanto al All-around por equipos, que se realiza desde 1996, los resultados olimpicos han sido los siguientes:

El mas "modesto" 3er lugar de las rusas en 1996 es, sin duda, producto de la profunda crisis que vivio el pais tras la desintegracion de la URSS lo que marco la decada de 1990 en todo el ex territorio sovietico dejando un legado de desintegracion social y economica muy grande.

Competencia Olimpica

De acuerdo a los ultimos Juegos Olimpicos, de Rio-2016 la competencia en gimnasia artistica se organizo del siguiente modo:

Como torneo eliminatorio para acceder a los Juegos Olimpicos se considero el Campeonato Mundial de 2015, en Alemania. Una instancia de calificacion adicional lo fueron competencias de pruebas en las Olimpiadas que permitian agregar 3 agrupaciones para la competencias por equipos ademas de 6 deportistas individuales.

Para Rio-2016 el Comite Olimpico Internacional considero un cupo de 96 deportistas de distintos paises permitiendose que cada nacion aportara con un maximo de 7 representantes, de los cuales 5 tomarian parte en la competencia de equipos y 2 en las individuales. La seleccion debia considerar un criterio olimpico, donde todos los continentes deben estar representados ademas del pais organizador, en este caso Brasil, al que se le garantizo un cupo en la competencia por equipos y otro en la competencia individual.

A pesar de las cifras anteriores tan solo 2 paises pudieron aportar con 7 participantes: Bielorrusia y Rusia. De los restantes paises, 12 de ellos enviaron 6 participantes: Alemania, Brasil, Bulgaria, China, Espan-a, Estados Unidos, Grecia, Israel, Italia, Japon, Ucrania y Uzbekistan.

El resto envio 1 participante por cada uno, competidoras que tomaron parte en el all-around individual: Australia, Austria, Cabo Verde, Corea del Sur, Finlandia, Francia, Georgia, Kazaxstan y Rumania.

Las competencias de gimnasia artistica se extendieron por 3 dias:

19 agosto: Clasificacion individual, donde cada gimnasta realizo 4 ejercicios (1 por cada aparato).

20 agosto: Clasificacion para el all-around por equipos: Primeros 8 equipos pasaron a la Final, clasificando: Espan-a, Rusia, Bielorrusia, Italia, Japon, Israel, Bulgaria y Ucrania.
                  Final del all-around individual.

Las ganadoras del all-around individual, de izquierda a derecha: Yana Kudriatseva (Rusia, plata). Margarita Mamun (Rusia, oro), Ganna Rizatdinova (Ucrania, bronce)

21 agosto: Final por equipos, partiendo de cero (Medallas: Rusia el oro, Espan-a con plata y Bulgaria con el bronce)

El equipo ruso triunfador del all-around por equipos en Rio

Destacadas gimnastas artisticas rusas

Alina Kabayeva 

Nacio en mayo de 1983 en la ciudad de Tashkent, hoy capital de Uzbekistan, en la familia de Marat Kabaev, entonces futbolista y hoy entrenador y una basquetbolista de la seleccion nacional de la Republica socialista sovietica de Uzbekistan, quien deseaba que su hija se dedicara al patinaje artistico pero ante la ausencia de establecimientos especializados en este deporte, en la ciudad donde residian la eleccion fue por la practica de la gimnasia artistica, que su hija comenzo a practicar desde los 3 an-os y medio.

"Como mi papa estaba todo el tiempo fuera de casa nuestra educacion fue tarea de mi mama. Por supuesto a veces ella era estricta y podia regan-ar o castigar por algo y yo se como esto me ayudo en mi futuro, cuando tuve mas edad. Estoy agradecida con ella por su disciplina y los principios que inculco en nuestra educacion. Lo que logre en el deporte y en la vida, ante todo, es merito suyo".

A sus 12 an-os Alina se traslado con su familia a Moscu, donde comenzo a entrenar con Irina Viner que le impuso como primera tarea bajar de peso dado que su figura estaba lejos de las formas requeridas para la gimnasia artistica, de hecho la bautizaron "televisor con patas". Kabayeva, sin embargo, no se resistio: "Era una epoca tan incierta que no sabia si continuaria practicando gimnasia. Mucho dependia de la opinion de los entrenadores con los cuales tenia que discutirse esta cuestion mas adelante. La afamada y perspicaz Irina Aleksandrovna Viner, guru de la gimnasia artistica, supo ver en mi, cualidades para el deporte competitivo asi que nos quedamos en Moscu".

Despues de 1 an-o Kabayeva comenzo a competir por el equipo ruso y a sus 15 an-os conquisto el Campeonato de Europa y a los 16, el Campeonato del Mundo.

En 1998 gano el Campeonato de Europa y luego otras 4 veces se transformo en campeona absoluta del mundo. A los 17 an-os Kabayeva tenia por delante la conquista de la cumbre mas alta, en los Juegos Olimpicos de Sidney 2000, donde nadie dudaba que obtendria el oro, sin embargo, durante su participacion el aro escapo caprichosamente de sus manos y se alejo rodando fuera de la pista de competicion por lo cual solo alcanzo el 3er lugar.

Al an-o siguiente, la gimnasta viviria otro infortunio cuando en 2001 se vio involucrada en un escandalo por dopping. Entonces fue considerada culpable junto a Irina Chashchina de utilizar furosemida, que por si sola no constituye dopping pero se usa en medicina deportiva para eliminar sustancias prohibidas debido a lo cual es equivalente a una sustancia prohibida y se prohibe su uso. Por ello fueron desprovista de sus medallas y descalificadas por 2 an-os.

Durante esa epoca ajena a las competencias Kabayeva se dedico a los medios, tomando parte en una transmision semanal llamada Империя спорта (El imperio del deporte) en el canal 7 TB, participo en el film artistico japones Sombra roja y ademas en el videoclip de una cancion del grupo Игра слов (Juego de palabras), que llevaba su nombre:

En el primer an-o de castigo Alina ni siquiera podia tomar parte en competiciones lo que si se le permitio a partir del an-o siguiente. 

El regreso triunfal de ambas deportista se produjo en 2004, cuando en las Olimpiadas de Atenas Kabayeva logro el anhelado oro mientras que Chashchina conquisto la plata. Es interesante destacar que antes de los Juegos, Alina dejo el Islam y se bautizo como cristiana.

Cuando corrian rumores de que participaria en Pekin-2008 un an-o antes Kabayeva informo de su retiro del deporte, el mismo an-o en que recibio el titulo de gerente deportivo tras estudios realizados a distancia en la Universidad estatal de Moscu en tanto que en 2009 se recibio de cultura fisica en la Universidad de cultura fisica de San Petersburgo, Petr Lesgaft.

Al igual que Chashchina, tras el fin de su carrera deportiva, decidio participar en politica aunque a diferencia de la primera aun continua ejerciendo esta actividad. En 2006 se hizo miembro de la Comision en temas de desarrollo de beneficencia, caridad y voluntariado de la Camara civica de Rusia. En la actualidad, Alina en calidad de diputada de la Duma del Estado y miembro del partido Rusia Unida intenta influir en temas del deporte y de politica juvenil. Ademas de su trabajo en la Duma esta ocupada en la preparacion y realizacion del festival anual Alina, cuya meta es atraer al deporte una nueva generacion de futuras campeonas. Considera su tarea no solo la popularizacion de un estilo de vida saludable y activo entre los nin-os sino tambien el cuidado de los veteranos del deporte y de los campeones olimpicos de an-os previos.

Alina siempre ha evitado referirse a los incontables rumores sobre su vida personal, sobre la que se sabe muy poco pero ha insistido en negar alusiones sobre algun embarazo o hijos fuera del matrimonio.

"No soy una mojigata pero no me gusta cuando se habla de mi vida personal abiertamente, como un producto a la venta. Estoy segura que cada persona debe contar con algo suyo, un espacio sagrado. Ese es el caso de mi vida personal, que es algo nada mas que de mi propio interes".

Y la verdad es que los rumores que corren sobre su vida personal no son algo trivial pues se la vincula con el mismisimo Presidente Putin, que debemos recordar se divorcio an-os atras, hecho del cual se informo publicamente y de manera oficial en marzo de 2014.

Ляйсан Утяшева

Campeona del mundo en equipos, 2 veces campeona de Europa por equipos, multiples veces ganadora de la Copa del mundo, plata en los Juegos mundiales en Akito, Japon, autora de 4 elementos originales en la gimnasia artistica que llevan su nombre (Pirueta en el suelo, parada sobre el pecho, la toma del balon y el llamado elemento Utyasheva) ademas de embajadora internacional del movimiento olimpico en las Olimpiadas de invierno, Sochi-2014 realizadas en Rusia.

Стойка на груди (parada sobre el pecho), una de las 4 posiciones creadas por Utyasheva. 
En el siguiente link pueden observar 3 de las 4 posiciones: En 0:25 se inicia la toma del balon, en 0:54 la pirueta en el suelo y en 1:00 la parada sobre el pecho. 
El elemento Utyasheva pueden observarlo en el siguiente video a partir de 2:54:

Nacio en Bashkiriya y despues de 4 an-os su familia se traslado a Volgograd, ciudad donde precisamente se decidio su destino un dia en que la pequen-a Lyaysan se aburria en una interminable fila de personas frente a una tienda y ella decidio arquear una pierna de puro aburrimiento como suelen hacerlo los nin-os. En ese momento, cerca de ella la observaba una entrenadora de gimnasia artistica, Nadezhda Tatyanova quien la invito a integrarse a esta especialidad. La madre de la nin-a, sin embargo, en un principio se oponia a esta actividad, especialmente por las condiciones espartanas de la sala del gimnasio donde su hija debia entrenarse por largas horas.

"Ahora muchas gimnastas se entrenan en condiciones de elite, de lo cual es responsable sobre todo Irina Viner, una mujer rica pero que no gasta dinero en si misma sino que lo entrega a la gimnasia. Construyo un enorme centro, esta construyendo otro mas, levanto el interes por la gimnasia artistica en toda Rusia", afirmo en una entrevista Lyaysan.

Irina Viner vio a Utyasheva compitiendo cuando tenia solo 11 an-os. Segun Lyaysan, a Viner le gustaron sus piernas y sus ojos bizcos.

En 1997, cuando contaba con 12 an-os, Lyaysan se traslado a vivir a Moscu integrandose al equipo de Rusia de gimnasia artistica. Utyasheva gano innumerables competencias pero sin lograr ninguna medalla olimpica. Segun Viner, todo podria haber sido distinto si su madre hubiese acordado que la chica comenzara a entrenarse con antelacion en vez de oponerse casi todo el tiempo.

Segun la gimnasta para entrenar con Irina Viner no bastan con el talento y la disciplina sino que se requiere un caracter fuerte y mucha tenacidad cualidades que considera que poseia y que la transformaron en una de las favoritas de la entrenadora.

"Una vez ella me levanto la mano y yo le respondi con fuerza d