Month: February 2008

Putin’s legacy: a massacre

The Independent‘s Shaun Walker, from Beslan, North Ossetia:

As Mr Putin prepares to hand over power, Beslan is still suffocating in a pall of tears and anger. For Mr Nazarov, as for many in this town of 35,000 people, voting for Mr Medvedev on Sunday is unthinkable. “I would not vote for anyone who was recommended by Putin,” he says. Hanging the picture of Mr Putin and his heir among the photographs of victims is his way of saying what he believes the political course of Mr Putin and his heir-apparent leads to.

Nur-Pashi Kulayev, the sole surviving hostage-taker, was jailed for life in 2006 but, for Mr Nazarov and other victims’ relatives, many questions about the events of 2004 remain unanswered. How were the terrorists able to take School No 1 hostage without any resistance, who ordered the special forces to storm the building, and was the blaze which engulfed the gymnasium and killed so many started by rockets fired by the Russian troops?

NY Philharmonic Arrives in North Korea

CNN reports the arrival of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in North Korea:

The visit comes as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended Monday’s inauguration of South Korea’s new president, Lee Myung-bak. She said before leaving Washington that she had no plans to stop in Pyongyang during a trip that also takes her to China and Japan.

“I don’t think we should get carried away with what listening to Dvorak is going to do in North Korea,” Rice, a classical pianist herself, said Friday, while also conceding the benefit of the event in giving North Koreans a window to the outside world.

The concert will feature Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 and “An American in Paris” by George Gershwin. Among the encores planned is the Korean folk song “Arirang,” beloved in both the North and South.

The performance will begin with the orchestra playing the national anthems of both countries and the U.S. and North Korean flags will stand together on stage, said the Philharmonic’s president and executive director, Zarin Mehta.

Ahead of their arrival, North Korea was even tearing down the anti-U.S. posters that line the streets of Pyongyang, Mehta said Sunday. He cited a diplomat based there who briefed the orchestra before its departure from Beijing, the last stop on a tour of the greater China region.

Full Hearts – 2

It looks as though Friday Night Lights, which because of the Writers’ Strike came to a standstill with episode 15 of Season 2, may survive and flourish after all, with the possibility of a Season 3. San Diego media blogger Kristin Dos Santos writes that

Inside sources confirm to me that NBC Universal (the studio that makes FNL) is currently talking to various networks about the idea of sharing the show’s third season among more than one channel in an effort to save the series from cancellation and broaden its audience.

Those channels in discussion include the CW, TNT, DirecTV and a place called Comcast Entertainment Group, which, hmmm, sounds familiar because, oh yeah, they sign my checks. Both E! and G4 fall under the Comcast umbrella.

This would be good news, as FNL is probably one of the most inventive American TV series to have aired in the past decade, and has the potential to become a hit worldwide. It certainly deserves to.

See also: Full Hearts

Watching Russia

Via AP:

…U.S. diplomat Nicholas Burns called on Serbia’s main ally Russia to repudiate a suggestion by one of its officials [Dmitry Rogozin] that it may need to use military force to earn respect after the U.S. and other countries recognized the independence of Kosovo, which is mainly ethnic Albanian, over strong Serb and Russian protests.

“We strongly advise Russia to be more responsible in its public comments toward Kosovo,” Burns said, responding to questions in an online written discussion. “Russia is isolated this week — very few countries are supporting its position.”

Serbs Attack US Embassy – 3

Via CNN:

Richard Holbrooke, a former negotiator in the Balkans under President Clinton, said: “The fact that (independence has) not happened as peacefully as people had hoped is the direct result of the incitement to violence by extremist elements in Belgrade, implicitly and privately supported by the Russians.”

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Serbs Attack US Embassy – 2

From RFE/RL:

As night fell, parts of the crowd broke away and marched to the U.S. Embassy. Black smoke and flames were soon billowing out a front window.

The same group also vandalized the neighboring Croatian Embassy, a McDonald’s restaurant, and several other stores. Elsewhere in the city, police beat back crowds who tried to attack the Turkish and British embassies.

Television images showed hundreds of people surging through the streets as anti-riot police arrived and fired tear gas canisters as crowd control.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns had telephoned Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic to convey the message that they had not adequately protected the U.S. Embassy.

——

On February 17 and 18, crowds threw stones at the U.S. and Turkish embassies in Belgrade and damaged the mission of Slovenia, which currently heads the rotating EU Presidency.

Infrastructure Minister Velimir Ilic, who heads the New Serbia party, said on February 20 that the action was “just Serbian youth expressing their protest” over the “dismembering of Serbia,” adding that such incidents are part of “democracy.”