Mês: agosto 2016

Washington’s challenge to Turkey and Russia

Can Russia survive Washington’s challenge in the wake of Turkey’s failed coup? Paul Craig Roberts 22/08/2016 A critical opinion about the Turkish-Russian relations amid the ongoing gelopolitical standoff.   News services abroad ask me if President Erdogan of Turkey will, as a result of the coup attempt, realign Turkey with Russia. At this time, there is not enough information for me to answer. Speculation in advance of information is not my forte. Moreover, I do not know if it is true that Moscow warned the President of Turkey of the coup, and I do not know if Washington was behind the coup. Therefore, I do not know how to weigh the scales.  As I see it, whether Turkey stays with Washington or realigns with Moscow depends first of all on whether or not Moscow warned Turkey and whether or not Washington was behind the coup.  If this is what Erdogan believes, whether true or false, Erdogan is likely to align with Russia.  However, other factors will also influence Erdogan’s decision.  For example, Erdogan’s belief about how resolute Putin is to standing up to Washington. Erdogan will not want to align with Russia if he thinks Russia is not up to Washington’s challenge.  Erdogan sees Putin endlessly asking for Washington’s cooperation, and Erdogan understands that Washington sees this as a sign of Russian weakness.  Washington slaps Putin in the face, and Putin replies...

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Dreaming Up Rio

Benjamin Moser Aug. 11, 2016   Some old views of cities—the citrus grove in Los Angeles, the horse-drawn cart in a muddy lane in downtown Buenos Aires—are intriguing because the places they show are so unrecognizable. But old images of Rio de Janeiro are intriguing because the place they show is so recognizable. This has something to do with the landscape, and even more with the way it is depicted. This continuity appears in Rio, a new collection of Marc Ferrez’s photographs of the Rio of the belle époque. With its great forests blanketing its granite-and-crystal mountains, its bright beaches lining its glittering bay, Ferrez’s Rio is a pristine modern capital in a setting that offers a nearly religious vision of paradise. This city is so glorious that it seems calculated to induce belief in the Creator as a benevolent gardener. To some Olympic tourists—those not frightened off by the reports of raw sewage and mosquito-borne disease—Ferrez’s Rio will seem unspeakably distant from the huge graffitied metropolis of today. But a closer look will reveal that, despite the changes over the last century, some similarities remain, less in the city than in the highly aestheticized view being held up for their admiration. * It is a city that seems, then as now, to encourage the photographer, and Ferrez was among the first to take the hint. Over his long career, Ferrez photographed it with...

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Atomic Light

Akademgorodok José Manuel Prieto Illustrated by Pablo Ortiz Monasterio The gas-dynamic plasma trap, used by scientists of Institute of Nuclear Physics to hold and heat the plasma in a magnetic field, Akademgorodok, 2014 – Pablo Ortiz Monasterio   As so often in Mexico, as in so many other countries, there are cities in Russia that at first might seem frozen in time, immobilized at the instant they were imagined, at the moment of their greatest splendor, with the traces of that bygone age perfectly visible on the façades of buildings, in the layout of the streets. They are like those gentlemen who wear the same suit for years, the same impossible spectacles, without seeming to notice, installed in the past. Akademgorodok, the celebrated city of scientists, on the outskirts of Novosibirsk, seems to have stepped right out of the 1960s, when the utopia of communism still seemed possible; its triumph just around the corner. Soviet science had put the earth’s first artificial satellite in orbit in 1957, the very year in which Akademgorodok was founded, a sort of hippie colony avant la lettre—as I am tempted to call it—whose principal aim was total dedication to science. Organic Chemistry Lab, Akademgorodok, 2014 – Pablo Ortiz Monasterio The site chosen, on the right bank of the stately Ob, in a virgin forest of conifers and birches, corresponded to this idea of spiritual retreat. The original idea, the...

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Asma al-Assad: a “desert rose” crushed by Syria’s strife

Maria Golovnina 19/03/2012     She was supposed to be the gentler face of a would-be reformist regime. Now Asma al-Assad has become a hate figure for many. Syria’s London-born first lady, once breathlessly described as a “rose in the desert”, is ensconced at the heart of the shadowy inner circle of President Bashar al-Assad. As Syria slides towards civil war and foreign powers watch for cracks within the ruling clan, understanding Asma could prove vital to understanding the Assads and the future of the Syrian crisis. A British-educated former investment banker, Asma cultivated the image of a glamorous yet serious-minded woman with strong Western-inspired values who was meant to humanize the increasingly secretive and isolated Assad family. That image crumbled when her husband responded to an anti-government rebellion with extreme violence a year ago. Asma had clearly decided to stand by her man despite international revulsion at his actions. Assad himself says he is fighting an insurrection, involving foreign-backed “terrorists”. Asma’s ancestral home is the city of Homs, now a symbol of the revolt which has been subjected to particularly fierce attack by her husband’s tanks to become ground zero in the year-long conflict. With her penchant for crystal-encrusted Christian Louboutin shoes and Chanel dresses, Asma is a puzzle for many. The opposition roundly rejects suggestions that she is effectively a prisoner of conscience in the presidential palace....

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Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert

Joan Juliet Buck – FLASHBACK (March 2011) 09/06/2013 (gawker.com)   Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies. Her style is not the couture-and-bling dazzle of Middle Eastern power but a deliberate lack of adornment. She’s a rare combination: a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement. Paris Match calls her “the element of light in a country full of shadow zones.” She is the first lady of Syria. Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department’s Web site says, “the Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors.” It’s a secular country where women earn as much as men and the Muslim veil is forbidden in universities, a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings, but its shadow zones are deep and dark. Asma’s husband, Bashar al-Assad, was elected president in 2000, after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, with a startling 97 percent of the vote. In Syria, power is hereditary. The country’s alliances are murky. How close are they to Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah? There are souvenir Hezbollah ashtrays in the souk, and you can spot the Hamas leadership racing through the bar of the Four Seasons. Its number-one enmity is clear: Israel. But that might not always be...

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