Could America Collapse Like the USSR

There was no doubt Americans were split over the November Presidential election, but one Russian writer believes this is exactly how some Russians wanted it.  Following the election Republicans, Tea Party members, and other anti-Obama supporters signed petitions to secede from the United States. More than 500,000 people signed the secession movement from nearly every state.  Many Russians who still are sour about the Soviet Union collapse in the 1990’s would like to see the same from the U.S.A.

Even some public figures in Russia are jumping on board to see America separate. One TV personality, Maxim Shevchenko, wanted Russia to give grants to the “separatists” leaders.

A former Russian national security analyst wrote a book in 2008 about the collapse of America.  He argued the states would collapse into six parts by 2010. He was wrong, but argues if the United States does collapse Russia would get Alaska back and become a world superpower again, causing many Russians to root against America.

Comment on Russia’s Misery Loves U.S. Company

This comment on the article depicts how America relates to the USSR.  Brezhnev (Obama) was Russia’s General Secretary equivalent to America’s president until 1982.  He expanded the military and made Russia a world power, but ignored huge economic problems at home.  Gorbachev (The next president) came into a mess and was unable to save it.  He was the USSR’s General Secretary when it collapsed in 1991. Yeltsin (Possibly Jeb Bush) came to try and save the day. His transition to a free market economy and failed social programs ended up putting most of the wealth in Russia into the hands of a few people now called oligarchs.

That scenario definitely does not look good for the U.S.A, but many Russians forget that if America collapses so does the entire world economy.  This commenter did not.

Comments on Russia’s Misery Loves U.S. Company

Bottom line is we are all in this together.  The world has become smaller and more interconnected than ever before.  When one country fails, Greece, we all fail.

I know people who shared the sentiment of the people who signed the secession petitions and for the first time since the civil war I can see where they are coming from.  Washington is broke and is going to take a lot to fix, if its not past that point already, but having other countries root against the U.S. will definitely not help.

 

Links:

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/russias-misery-loves-us-company/472207.html

Olympic Games Displace Russians

The slogan and logo are set, but now the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are trying to prepare the infrastructure and venues needed for the games. This task is proving to be more challenging than previously expected and is causing as many as 1,5000 Russians to be evicted from their homes in some cases with no compensation. This blatant mistreatment of people is causing many to take to social media to voice their concerns.

One Facebook group was made called “No Sochi 2014.”  As of today there are 5,600 members and many members of the group live in the Sochi area. Here are some comments on a post of a news article talking about the forced evictions.

 

Comments from Facebook group “No Sochi 2014.”

The Human Rights Watch sent letters dating back until 2009 to the Sochi Olympic Committee calling for better treatment of the Russia people. It has documented countless families losing their homes. Here is an excerpt from one story it told.

                        “Aleksei Kravets, 39, has been living in a three-story home he built himself in Sochi on the shore of the Black Sea for nine years, together with his thirteen-year-old son. The Sochi authorities claim that Kravets has no right to compensation for the house and are threatening to evict the family and demolish the home in the coming days. Guards on the road construction site have threatened Kravets with beatings and destruction of his property.”

Alexei Kravets in front of his home on the Black Sea in Sochi.
Credit: Mikhail Mordasov, Sochinskie Novosti

Kravets has paid property taxes to the Russian government the entire time while living inthe home.  His story is like countless other Russians, who like Kravets, are left helpless against the Russian government and Olympic committee.

So how is this happening?

During Soviet Russia land deeds and property records were not kept up to date.  Kravets got his piece of land in the 60’s from his parents and just went on like a normal person. He improved his home, paid his taxes, and raised a son. In 2003 and 2010 Kravets tried to privatize or legalize his home.  Both attempts failed. In 2011 Kravets had his house assessed to make sure it was up to the local building codes and it was. In May 2012 Kravets requested local authorities to legally recognize his house, but his property rights were refused.

Kravet’s home is destroyed to make way for new road for Olympic games.
Credit: 2012 Mikhail Mordasov

Like so many other Russian families Kravets was forced to watch his house be destroyed. Currently there are 180 cases in court concerning wrongful evictions. Most of these cases are dealing with improper compensation.

This problem of not having enough room to build the infrastructure for the Olympic games is not unique to Russia. China displaced 1.5 million people to make way for the 2008 games. London evicted people as well for the 2012 games.

Currently Brazil is preparing for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics and like its predecessors are evicting people from their homes.  Brazil is clearing out a slum area and is evicting around 170,000 people.

I believe these evictions are a result of poor planning by the host countries and the International Olympic Committee.  The host countries need to have a more realistic understanding of the amount of space and resources needed to hold such large sporting events.  The stories coming out of Brazil and Russia are tragic and will continue unless the IOC and host countries change the way they do business.

I think the IOC should start to examine possible Olympic cities more carefully and really investigate if the city has the resources to provide a safe environment for the games.  Construction and planning for the 2018 games in South Korea should be in place to displace as few Koreans as possible.  I hope the evictions of good citizens factors into the IOC’s decision where to hold the 2020 summer Olympics.

The Sochi games will be here before we know it and more than likely all the infrastructure and venues will be complete and unfortunately these evictions will be forgot about when the games start….

Links:

http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-national/37647-russia-halt-forced-eviction-for-olympics-road.html

 

http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/12/09/letter-international-olympic-committee-update-human-rights-concerns-related-sochi-ga

 

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/17/russia-olympics-launch-sochi-abuses-loom

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/04/sochi-olympics-2014_n_2070784.html

Olympic Slogan or Katy Perry’s Next Album?

To create buzz 500 days before the 2014 winter games Russia announced the slogan for the Sochi games, “Hot.Cold.Yours.”  I would present two sides to this topic, but except for the Olympic committee everyone seems to be against the new slogan. The USA Today interviewed Sochi 2014 president and CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko and he explained the slogan like this:

“‘Hot’ indicates sports passions and the Games’ venue. ‘Cool’ stands for the time of the year and for how Russia is perceived by the rest of the world, and ‘Yours’ means shorter distances and the inclusive nature of the event.”

The USA Today blogger says the slogan sounds more like;

1. A failed Stuart Scott catchphrase.

2, Rejected marketing campaign for McDonald’s 1980s flop, the McDLT. (“Keep the hot side hot, and the cool side cool,” was the actual one.)

3. The title of Katy Perry’s next album.

Here a YouTube link to the McDonald commercial referenced.

The slogan was not taken well on Twitter in Russia either.  The Atlantic explains translation is not as clear as the committee originally announced to the English media.  It says the more literal translation is “Hot. Wintry. Yours.” He also says the term, ‘hot’, is more than just temperature.  In its context its meaning is closer to passionate, fervent, or sultry. This different meaning has had Russians running to Twitter with sexual jokes.  Here are some examples of of the Twitter sexual references:

Tweets from The Atlantic

 

All joking aside… the slogan sucks!  Its not like it even had a lot to live up to. London’s slogan was “Inspire a Generation.”  Not much better if you ask me.  The best thing for the Sochi Olympics is that people are talking about this slogan rather than delayed construction or other problems that will arise along the way.

Come the times of the games no one will be talking about how bad the slogan is.  Most people don’t even know there is an Olympic slogan… and Sochi better hope it stays that way.

 

Links:

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2012/09/Sochi-releases-Olympic-slogan-that-is-neither-hot-nor-cool-70001112/sochi-olympic-slogan-hot-cool-yours/70001112/1#.UHJILmhhI20

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=A_IVEdu

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/10/worst-olympic-slogan-ever/3471/

 

NHL Lockout Open Floodgates to KHL

The NHL lockout is barely a week old, yet many players are jumping ship to the second best hockey league in the world, the KHL. 20 of the KHL’s teams are located in Russia and two thirds of the players are from Russia.

Hockey’s Future previewed the upcoming KHL season.  They point out that each KHL team may only sign three NHL players for this season and only one of those players can be foreign in the team is located in Russia.

So that means the six teams located outside of Russia can sign whomever they want from the NHL.  These regulations are one factor contributing to the exodus of NHL players to the KHL.

Another factor is that the last NHL lockout ended in a lost season. Many players do not want to take a chance and find out if an agreement is made.

A Yahoo Sports blogger said 2012 is different than previous lockouts because of the rate at which players are heading overseas.

“The floodgates are open in Europe; previous predictions that NHL players may not leave with the same frequency as in the 2004-05 lockout may no longer hold true.  We’re just over a week into the lockout, and three of the NHL’s top four offensive stars — Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and Evgeni Malkin — are overseas or, in the case of Stamkos, nearly there.”

A Bleacher Report blogger said he believes if the NHL is locked out this year it will deteriorate the chances of future lockouts due to the outpour of players to Russia.  The Russian league’s salaries are becoming more competitive and the quality of play is also increasing. If there is another viable location for top quality players to play at he believes future lockouts will be less likely.

I hope the NHL gets its act together and ends the lockout.  The league will survive it in the end and the top players will still get paid this year.  The ones who are really hurt by this are the broadcaster who will have to find a college team to announce for, or the concession worker out of work who used the extra income for their child’s Christmas.

If you would like a list of the players heading to the KHL click here.

Links:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1347462-nhl-lockout-rise-of-the-khl-will-prevent-future-lockouts

http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/donald-fehr-nhlpa-exodus-europe-anybody-else-locked-142445414–nhl.html

http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/78681/2012-13-khl-preview/

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/feature/?id=75388

 

Zenit St. Petersburg Spends Big Bucks for Big Names

 

Dropping roughly $100 million in a day is no big deal if you are the world’s largest natural gas provider.  Gazprom, the owner of Zenit St. Petersburg, bought football players Hulk and Witsel in hopes of winning the Champions League this year.  The team has won the Russian Premier League the last two years, but was knocked out in the early stages of the Champions League each of those years. The team hopes these two players who got about $50 million each for five-year contract will bring home a Champions League title.

Zenit has been spending boatloads of money the past few years and a writer for International Business Time says these moves were solely based on the amount of money offered. “This transfer is definitely wrong turns for both Witsel and Hulk, incredibly silly choices for them. Money talks in football and this deal proves that statement more than any other deal in history.”  He goes on to say that the players would have fit in better with English Premier teams Chelsea or Tottenham. Both clubs were interested, but could not find the money in time.

Others say Hulk and Witsel will fit in great at Zenit. These additions make them the clear favorite to win the Russian Premier League and much more of a threat in Champions League play.

Russia’s Rio Novosti quotes Zenit’s goalie Vyacheslav Malafeev saying, “It’ll be nothing surprising if Zenit win the Champions League in two years’ time.”

Weighing all the factors with the addition of two big names to Zenit, overall the pickups will be a good thing for the Russian Premier League. With Gazprom putting more and more money into the club more Russian owners will likely follow suit and the