Tag Archives: Czar Nicholas II

DOGS AND CATS AND SUPER-POWERS

Dog food, cleverly disguised as human food!

Today, I ate a can of dog food.

Not by informed choice, you understand.

As the house is now dog free, I did not expect to find a can of dog meat and certainly was not looking for one.   I was not wearing my glasses when I pulled it off the shelf at Kroger.   It looked like a promising can of soup, with the word “Organic” prominently displayed on the label.   The words “dog food” were in small print and not noticed until my daughter pulled it out of the trash.

It’s my own fault, really.

Our local Kroger grocery store has a “Reduced for quick sale” section, which I often check out for bargains.   That’s where I bought this half-price can.

Now, I may be barking up the wrong tree (sorry!), but I do feel that stores have a responsibility to separate human food from pet food, if only to discourage people from switching to the healthier, cheaper canine options.

This could lead to a serious shortage of dog food, forcing dog owners to feed their pets human food.   While this would be a boon to vets and would encourage entrepreneurs to open doggie weight loss centers on every block, it’s probably best not to blur the thin line that separates animals from humans.

I will continue to write, even though that dog food has made me a little queasy.   My youngest made the observation that my body is in shock from eating healthy food!!!

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Enough of dogs.  Cats have been a big part of my life recently.

After living in an animal free home for almost a year, our youngest daughter brought a cat into the house, thinking that our grandchildren would benefit from the new arrival.   A few weeks later, a second cat suddenly appeared.

The two do not get along.  Cat fights have been a nightly occurrence. So, in a couple of days, we will be taking the “new” cat to our eldest daughter’s home. This will cost over $100 in gas. I suggested it might be cheaper to send the cat by UPS or FedEx, but was over-ruled.

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To more serious matters, the Chinese Communist Party just held its “once-every-five-years” big congress.   Foreign observers would notice that, whenever the delegates had to vote, the vote was always unanimous, with nobody voting against Mr. Xi, the President of the People’s Republic.

I’m surprised that any foreign delegates were there.   Mr. Xi’s speech was 3 and a half hours long, “short” by Chinese standards.   Come to think of it, I would have voted “for” just to get the speech over with.

As few westerners were likely to have listened, it should be noted that President Xi wants to offer the world an alternative to American leadership.   The first Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party was Chairman Mao.   He is credited with unifying the country. His successor, Chairman Deng, turned the country’s back on socialism and made it the second biggest economy in the world, after the United States.  Now, President Xi vows to build on his predecessor’s accomplishments and make the country “stronger.”   History shows he’s likely to succeed – economic success leads to military success.

China isn’t the only power center that wants to offer the world an alternative to the US.   The EU is promising the same.   The EU is the world’s biggest single market. It is effectively the world’s biggest economy, but with 27 member countries it’s not ranked at the top, with each country listed separately.   That will change if Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have their way. Immediately after Brexit takes place, they want to move full steam ahead with their plans to turn Europe into the world’s number one superpower.

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Russia was in the news today.

Exactly a century after the Russian Revolution overthrew the country’s monarchy, the last Czar, Nicholas II, was in the news again.

A new movie on “Niki’s” relationship with a popular ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet, is proving so controversial the lead actor decided not to attend the premiere of “Matilda” in St. Petersburg.   Cinemas have been attacked and at least one was burned to the ground.

The contention is due to the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Nicholas and his wife Alexandra after the end of the communist dictatorship.   Russian nationalists consider the movie “blasphemous.”

Clearly, only 26 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the church and the monarchy both have a substantial following in post-communist Russia.

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Perhaps one reason for a revival of both Russian and Chinese nationalism is American democracy.   US divisions make democracy look really bad. Mass shootings like the recent one in Las Vegas don’t help, either.   Street interviews with the Chinese public during the Communist Party Congress showed that most people do not want to be like the West.   They feel that the US and other western democracies have too much freedom.

We seem to be living through a time that’s reminiscent of ancient Israel.   “There was no king in Israel in those days.   Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

 

 

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75 YEARS LATER

Merkel and Putin

75 years ago today Great Britain declared war on Germany.

Two days earlier, Germany had invaded Poland and Hitler’s geopolitical ambitions had become clear.

Within months, Germany conquered other countries in Europe. Eventually, Britain stood alone in Europe against the Third Reich.

It was to be almost two years before Hitler made his fatal mistake, invading Russia.   The month before the declaration of war, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the two countries’ foreign ministers had pledged non-aggression and divided up Poland. Less than two years later, in June 1941, emboldened by success elsewhere, Hitler thought he could succeed where Napoleon failed and conquer Russia. Like Napoleon, he failed.

75 years ago Germany and Russia were the two greatest powers on the continent of Europe. That remains the case today.

This time, of course, it’s Russia’s leader that is the aggressor, invading the Crimea and now trying to take eastern Ukraine. The Europeans, led by Germany, are desperately trying to get Russia to back down, so far without success. Russia’s leader shows no remorse and certainly is not ready to do a strategic rethink. This could be 1939 all over again.

As Gerard Baker put it in yesterday’s Wall St Journal: “In a letter to the rebels, Mr. Putin has resurrected the term ‘Nororossiva,’ or New Russia, the czarist-era name for modern-day Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeast, a telling indication of his expanding objectives.”

It’s not the first time Putin has shown czarist credentials. He is frequently shown on television walking vigorously down a long corridor and through an impressive eighteenth century doorway of a czarist palace, in true czarist style.

What will surprise many is that, like the last Czar, Nicholas II, Putin is a devoted Bible reader. He even has a Bible on his private plane, the Russian equivalent of Air Force One. (Accounts of the final captivity of the Romanovs show that the Imperial Family were reading through the minor prophets before they were all assassinated.) One day after the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines plane, Putin was shown lighting candles in an Orthodox cathedral. Was this an example of executive penance?

However, first and foremost, Putin is a Russian nationalist who once described the fall of the Soviet Union as the greatest catastrophe of the twentieth century. His recent actions in Ukraine suggest he is trying to resurrect the old Soviet Union (without communism — Putin has done quite well out of Russia’s crony capitalism!).

The question is:  will anybody try to stop him?

Could the world once again be taken by surprise by another pact between Moscow and Berlin? Putin clearly wants Ukraine for his revived Russian Empire. He would also like to see the end of NATO, a very real possibility if he can do a private deal with Germany.