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Curated by Kenneth Weene
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Iraqi Kurdistan-Russia oil deal could have major implications for region

Iraqi Kurdistan-Russia oil deal could have major implications for region | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The Kurdistan Regional Government quietly signed a major deal June 2 with Russian oil giant Rosneft, allowing Russia its first entry to the Kurdish oil market, which was dominated by the United States and Turkey.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I have long thought that the Kurds should have their own homeland, just one more ethnic group that was divided up at the end of the First World War. Of course when the great powers were haggling in Versailles, nobody realized that someday those backward people in their funny clothes and riding donkeys would someday not only be sitting on great pools of oil but that they would also prove to be among the bravest fighters in the Middle East. Now, as the Kurds of Iraq battle ISIS and strive to unite with their compatriots in Turkey and Syria, they are also proving to be canny players on the international stage. And Russia, always looking to expand her influence in the region, is eager to do business with the Kurds. Will this irritate Turkey and the US? Probably a little, but the oil will end up going to Europe and we want the European economy humming. In the background to this story is, however, yet another interesting point. Where in Europe will that oil go? To Germany. Recognizing that they can no longer rely on America under Trump, Berlin is already moving forward on a path less tied to us. 

I do love watching the machinations of world affairs. I wish we had somebody at the helm in Washington who could play the great game. Somehow building golf courses in Scotland isn't the same level of scheming as dealing in oil with the Kurds, Turkey, Russia, and Germany. 
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China pledges more than $100 billion to global development - The Boston Globe

China pledges more than $100 billion to global development - The Boston Globe | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
President Xi Jinping of China delivered a sweeping vision of a new economic global order.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Is China making a play for world domination? Of course it is. Is Putin playing along? Sure he is. Why not? China will make a fortune selling infrastructure projects against debt just as the US sells weapons systems, which of course garner much less love form the recipients, and Beijing will get valuable leases on all kinds of raw materials in return. Of course, finding countries that are stable and sane enough to enter into a working "partnership" with China will be a problem for President Xi. I can't, for one, see investing in Pakistan, but the rest of the "Stans" are sitting there waiting for fiscal support. 

Russia has to be part of that Asian development and Moscow hasn't the wherewithal to fuel development east of the Urals. They can, however, hope to enter into a political/economic alliance with Beijing; at least that will be better for Moscow than the attempts of the Clintons to take over the oil of the region. A much bigger possibility for Chinese economic hegemony is Africa, where they have already become major players. With Russia bogged down in issues of Islamic terrorism and Syrian civil war, Mr. Putin may have to pick up the spareribs left by the Chinese hogs. Meanwhile, the US will still be selling weapons to warlords—at least until the people in Africa figure they can do better buying from North Korea. And, honestly, do you think Beijing doesn't want their satrap being the big weapons dealer? 
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A Perfect Storm in Central Asia

A Perfect Storm in Central Asia | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it

For years, the five ex-Soviet republics have enjoyed surprising stability. But Russia’s economic crisis is shaking their foundations.

Kenneth Weene's insight:

I feel for the people the region of the stans. These five countries have had little chance to emerge from the Soviet days and I see upheaval in their futures as their economies fail. Does Mr. Putin care? I doubt it. Therein is his greatest weakness; he can't see beyond his fantasies of a greater Putinized Russia. 

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U.S. Begins Military Talks With Russia on Syria

U.S. Begins Military Talks With Russia on Syria | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The diplomatic initiative amounted to a pivot for the Obama administration, which seemed to acknowledge that Russia’s moves, like sending combat aircraft to Syria, had effectively changed the calculus in the civil war.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Long overdue. My biggest critique of the Obama administration's foreign policy and of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has been the failure to recognize that Russia is a great power with legitimate spheres of influence. It is sad that Russia has had to resort to such gambits to get the U.S. to actually start discussing how to fight ISIS and how to deal with Syria. Making enemies is easy, dealing with friends is easy, but the real work of diplomacy takes negotiation and is difficult. Sadly, Congress has effectively militarized our foreign affairs by downsizing the diplomatic corps and pushing the growth of DOD. To learn more on that, you might want to catch the end of my discussion with Lt. Col. Ron Capps on It Matters Radio, Thurs., Sept 17,. Go to the show website and click on the podcast.

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Russia Burns Dutch Flowers Amid Netherlands’ Inquiry Into Malaysia Airlines Crash

Russia Burns Dutch Flowers Amid Netherlands’ Inquiry Into Malaysia Airlines Crash | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
A Russian crackdown on Dutch flower imports is seen by some as a response to an investigation into the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

I wonder where Russian flower lovers would get their blooms were Dutch flowers unavailable. Perhaps the Dutch importers should require the Russian importers to pay insurance on shipments to Russia thereby raising the cost to those consumers. While cut flowers are certainly not essential to the Russian people, every little sanction helps if the Putin bear is to be brought to bay.

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Islamic Battalions, Stocked With Chechens, Aid Ukraine in War With Rebels

Islamic Battalions, Stocked With Chechens, Aid Ukraine in War With Rebels | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Acknowledging Moscow as an enemy shared with Kiev, one leader from Chechnya said, “We never ran from our war with Russia, and we never will.”
Kenneth Weene's insight:

We have the beginnings of a great novel or screen play. Just how connected will the warring factions of the world become? What happens when ISIS tries to gain traction is Chechnya? Will Al Qaeda and the Taliban join together to fight ISIS in Afghanistan? Will Tony and Maria meet and fall in love. Seriously, the entire world as musical theater—you got to love it. 

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Syrian Rebels Seize Russian Spy Station Near Israeli Border

Syrian Rebels Seize Russian Spy Station Near Israeli Border | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
When the Free Syrian Army pushed Assad’s soldiers out of a town south of Damascus, the last thing they expected to find was a Russian spy post, a few miles from the Golan Heights.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

As I have said all along, the Russians consider Syria part of their sphere of influence and nothing good will be accomplished there without the Bear's cooperation.

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How I Helped Save the World From Nuclear War | Opinion - Bertie will be on It Matters Radio Jan 31

How I Helped Save the World From Nuclear War | Opinion - Bertie will be on It Matters Radio Jan 31 | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Much has been written about those perilous 13 days in October 1962 when the world was closer to nuclear extinction than it has ever been.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Bertie Mac will be a return guest on It Matters Radio on Thursday, Jan 31. Don't miss the show.

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Russian Subbotniks dream of coming to Israel

Russian Subbotniks dream of coming to Israel | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
After joining the Jewish people two centuries ago, the Subbotnik community feels that Israel should recognize them as Jews and enable them to immigrate.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The Cossacks had reduced the shtetl to ashes. An old man, one of the few survivors or this latest pogrom, limped and crawled through the death-littered streets until he reached the place where the synagog, now destroyed, had stood. Making his painful way through the smoldering embers he went to where the bema had been, where the ark which had held the holy of holies had stood. 

"God of our fathers," the old man began to pray, "for four thousand years we have been your chosen people. Couldn't you give somebody else a chance?"

If these people want to make the aliyah, if they want to offer their young to the Israeli military and to take their chances against the waves of Arabs hoping to destroy the Jewish state, how perverse it seems to me to be for the rabbis to object. 

Beyond that, have the people of Israel forgotten the tale of Ruth the convert who chooses her commitment to Israel over returning to her own people? 

I don'g go Biblical very often, but I surly think that this is a story of great emotional force. For another religion based story, you can check out my novel Widow's Walk, the story of one woman's faith and questioning. 
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Mutual Respect or Mutual Assured Destruction: Reversing Steps to Nuclear Brink

Mutual Respect or Mutual Assured Destruction: Reversing Steps to Nuclear Brink | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
On passing occasions this year, voters in the United States have continued to dip their toes into nuclear weapons policy questions with a cursory debate. Yet these sporadic glances at the details of nuclear first-strike or often biased perspectives on who should be trusted with the nuclear keys distract from a far more consequential issue.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Okay. Here's where I go out on a limb and say that for the most part I agree with this piece by a former Trump advisor. The US has failed to find a good mutual working relationship with Russia. However, the seeds of this problem are not in the Obama administration but proceeded that with our commitment to being the world's policeman and in the grandiosity of the European Union, which armed with American nukes, figured that all of Eastern Europe should join in their common market. As a result, Russia's great power interests in Ukraine and Syria were ignored. Ukraine, besides having a large Russian population, was the key to the Black Sea, and Syria has for a long time been Russia's post in the Middle East. America should have been working much harder to find common cause with the great bear instead of poking her and messing with her cubs. Now, just like we missed the time with Mao, we've made Putin an opponent instead of a difficult ally. I certainly don't give Obama or Bush much credit for allowing our relationship to so deteriorate. Would Trump do better? Not really. His business approach would reduce this delicate relationship to a reluctant truce between rival mobs. Given the frequency of bankruptcies in his business ventures, I can see a string of failed US allies dropping into the Russian orbit with each negotiation. Turkey and Greece would be first just as Harry Truman foresaw back in the 1940s. On foreign policy, I give the edge to neither Trump or Clinton. Can anybody find us another Harry S., somebody willing to build real coalitions but also willing to accept realities? How about a Metternich or a Castlereigh or even a Kissinger; can we find a great Secretary of State?  
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Russia Surprises U.S. With Accord on Battling ISIS

Russia Surprises U.S. With Accord on Battling ISIS | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
Russia left the United States scrambling by reaching an understanding with Iraq, Syria and Iran to share intelligence about the Islamic State militants.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

The sweet side of this, Russia and Iran are going to be spending their energies fighting the Islamic State. The sour side is that the United States has to face its loss of hegemony in the Middle East. Wait, maybe that's sweet too. Maybe it's time for the U.S. to stop trying to be the policeman of the world.

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Russian police bust $30 million contraband cheese ring

Russian police bust $30 million contraband cheese ring | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian police said Tuesday they have busted an international ring involved in producing contraband cheese worth about 2 billion rubles ($30 million), arresting six people. The arrests are part of a government…
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Glad to know that the Russian government is depriving its people of one of life's greatest pleasures. Take away my Camembert and you'd have one unhappy camper. 

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Russia to Host World Military Games: China Brought its Own Tank

Russia to Host World Military Games: China Brought its Own Tank | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The ‘World Championship Tank Biathlon 2015’ will kick off on August 1 near Moscow.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

As long as there are boys in the world, there will be war games. So have at it you warriors of August, may Mars make sport of your efforts.

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What Russian Literature Tells Us About Vladimir Putin’s World

What Russian Literature Tells Us About Vladimir Putin’s World | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The country's great authors put Russia’s aggression in context better than any intel briefing can.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Literature can take us inside the soul or the nation or the individual.

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During Cold War, CIA used ‘Doctor Zhivago’ as a tool to undermine Soviet Union

During Cold War, CIA used ‘Doctor Zhivago’ as a tool to undermine Soviet Union | enjoy yourself | Scoop.it
The spy agency labored long and hard to bring the novel’s humanistic message to the Russian people.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

In today's money driven world, it is easy to forget how important literature can be. We should celebrate and encourage the arts because they not only enrich our lives but help to remind us the purpose for our existence, and (IMHO) that isn't just to accumulate wealth.

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