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Conflict Returns to the Caucasus

Helmut Sorge | Posted : October 27, 2020

War has started again in the Caucasus, a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea consisting of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. It is a kind of mountainous border between Asia and Europe, in a region with vast oil resources that was conquered by Russia a few hundred years ago. The fighting that has erupted is over an enclave known as Nagorno-Karabakh, a remote territory without strategic value that is nevertheless, as writer Andrew Higgins concluded in the New York Times (October 4), “the center of the most enduring and venomous of the ‘frozen conflicts’ left by the collapse of the Soviet Union”. Nagorno-Karabakh has 100,000 inhabitants, predominantly Armenians, and is located within the borders of Azerbaijan and controlled by factions with close ties to Armenia’s capital Yerevan. Relations between the two former Soviet republics, which together have fewer than 13 million people, have been tense since 1991, when Armenian military forces occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally-recognized as a territory of Azerbaijan, a mainly Muslim nation.

QAnon and Creeping Conspiracy Theories

Helmut Sorge | Posted : October 08, 2020

The so-called QAnon conspiracy theory has inspired groups with millions of members on Facebook and is considered by some observers to be “a new American religion”. For the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, however, the conspiracy theorists could pose a domestic terrorist threat. Q followers believe the baseless messages of their faceless leader(s) that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles is running a global child-trafficking ring and plotting against Donald Trump, who is battling them, leading to a day of reckoning that will involve the mass arrest of journalists and politicians, the enemies of the people. QAnon supported Trump’s early opinion that COVID-19 was a hoax, that face masks are not needed, and that infected lungs could be cleared with industrial bleach. Q’s followers have also been informed that North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-Un is a puppet ruler installed by the CIA, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a granddaughter of Adolf Hitler. Other outlandish ideas about extraterrestrials and the British Royal family also proliferate, while members of the Hollywood elite are suspected of so-called adrenochrome harvesting, in which adrenaline is extracted from children’s blood to be oxidized into the psychoactive drug adrenochrome.

The American People, Not Vladimir Putin Should Decide Who is President of the United States

Helmut Sorge | Posted : September 28, 2020

Bank robbers are now and then caught because banks, insurance companies, or robbed personalities promise rewards for the arrest of criminals. In the past, Hollywood took the lead in dreaming up such scenarios. But in early August, the U.S. State Department offered a $10 million reward for information leading “to the identification or location of any person, who works with or for a foreign government for the purpose of interfering with U.S. elections through certain illegal cyber activities”.

Turkish Muscle Flexing in the Mediterranean

Helmut Sorge | Posted : September 25, 2020

Turkey is flexing its muscles in the Eastern Mediterranean in a dispute ostensibly about energy resources. The dispute has triggered fears of conflict between old rivals Turkey (80 million inhabitants) and Greece (10 million inhabitants). The situation is serious enough for German foreign secretary Heiko Maas to warn that “the least spark can lead to catastrophe”—even war between NATO partners and neighbors. Ankara seems ready to impose its growing naval power, while Athens is ready to defend its maritime rights and several thousand islands against Turkish intrusion.

Not a Good Loser

Helmut Sorge | Posted : September 16, 2020

If America votes Donald Trump out of office in November, will he go? Just a few days ago (Sept. 13), one of Trump’s closest political friends, Roger Stone, publicly suggested to the President that if the votes should go against him, he should alert the military, ready to defend his power, and arrest opponents including the Clintons or Microsoft boss Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame. Stone was sentenced in February 2020 to 40 months in jail for witness tampering, making false statements and obstruction, but Trump pardoned his buddy, and to thank his savior Stone now pushes Trump to call martial law. It seems unthinkable but the President has declared repeatedly in public that he might not accept the result of the November 3 election. Trump has argued that only fraud, the manipulation of votes sent by mail, could result in his loss.

Anthem Protest

Helmut Sorge | Posted : August 24, 2020

During the medal ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City on October 16, 1968, two Black American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, each raised a gloved fist during the playing of the U.S. national anthem. The two Americans received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to present black pride. Carlos, who won a bronze medal, wore a necklace of beads, which he said “were for those individuals that were lynched or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown of the side of the boats in the Middle Passage”.

A Shadow Over the Generous Spending

Helmut Sorge | Posted : August 11, 2020

Possibly Roger Federer would have been ready to play the match against the socialite, who was willing to pay (in 2014) £160,000 for a celebrity match of tennis. But Russian tennis fan Lubov Chernukhin, 48, chose two different partners to be her opponents: David Cameron, then British prime minister, and Boris Johnson, then mayor of London. Chernukhin, who settled in Britain in 2003 and is a British passport holder, like her husband Vladimir, 50, a former Russian deputy finance minister and former chairman of the Russian state bank Vnesekonom, played her British opponents after an auction to benefit the Conservative Party. Mrs Chernukhin never really made a secret out of her interest in really getting to know the power players of Her Majesty’s government: in 2019, the Russian dished out £135,000 for a dinner with prime minister Theresa May and six of her female cabinet ministers at the Goring Hotel in plush Belgravia. The year before, she paid £35,000 at a Conservative Party fund-raising auction to have a private dinner with the then secretary of state for defense, Gavin Williamson. Since 2012, the Russian-born lady has given the Conservative Party £1,765,804, the highest female donor in the party’s history.

It’s Pretty Tough Walking a Tightrope

Helmut Sorge | Posted : August 03, 2020

It was notthe way you would expect a scientist to be celebrated. InStyle, an American fashion magazine showed on its cover Anthony Fauci, America’s frontline warrior against the COVID-19 virus. Fauci has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, and has been honored by presidents since Ronald Reagan, battling against HIV/Aids, SARS, swine flu, MERS, and Ebola. He is, BBC News stated, “the face of America’s fight against COVID-19”. The virologist, wrote online magazine The Daily Beast (July 16), has spent most of this year as an avuncular figurehead for many Americans desperate for facts and dealing with a truth-adverse administration. InStyle portrayed him sitting by a pool, button-down shirt, dark sunglasses, relaxed, a touch of Hollywood—without face mask though. “Whatever Fauci may lack in outright glamour, he makes up in ubiquity”, observed the Daily Beast. “For much of 2020, his celebrity remains unparalleled … Without trying—only by showing up to work and sharing facts—Dr Fauci has reached the type of all-out idolization Trump so desperately craves”.

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