Friday, August 27, 2010

Real life for women in the countryside

RFE/RL recently posted a find article on the reality of village life for most Azerbaijani women. It fit with what I saw when I was traveling around that country a couple of years ago.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Governance as a family business

Here's an excellent article from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The Aliyev family is essentially shameless as it methodically wrings profit from Azerbaijan.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Life in Azerbaijan today

Here's a brief clip that sums up the situation in Azerbaijan.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The problems in Russia

The Washington Post has an article this morning that is relevant to my previous post. Russians have legendary patience, but nothing is infinite. And the sham of their "democracy" becomes more obvious every year.

The marvelous aspect of democracy is that it allows for the population to make a commitment to their government. Even though the people may not agree with everything about the government, they are committed to it at a fundamental level. If the government does not rule with the consent of the populace, governments tend to rely on fear as the means of obtaining the necessary compliance from the population.

Relying on this tool, however, has many drawbacks.

Russia will probably make it through this crisis and probably the government will not fall. But clearly the powers there are relying increasingly on the tool of fear. This tool will only make them weaker in the long run.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Russia on fire

Tonight I was chatting with a friend living outside of Moscow. He described horrific fires and devastating heat. The windows cannot be opened without letting in the smoke, but the heat is enervating. The Russian people again are confronting a government that is not performing the most basic of functions - protecting public safety. Thousands of dachas - the summer refuge for Russians - are in imminent danger of being incinerated by the quickly spreading fires.

The fires spread all the way from the Northeast to Siberia. Another friend of mine, who lives in a Siberian oil town, says thousands of wells are at risk.

This is what global warming looks like. Temperatures that have never been experienced in the historical record, and the terrible environmental consequences that follow. Even a democratic and stable government would be stressed by the demands created by such a situation. When the government is weak, the situation is even more chaotic.

More work from dissident journalists in Russia

Thursday, August 5, 2010