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‘Like prisoners of war’: North Korean labour behind Russia 2018 World Cup 

A test opening of St Petersburg’s Zenit Arena in February treated 10,000 spectators to car racing, motorcycle tricks, dancers and a performing bear introduced as “Russia’s greatest hero”. But the patriotic ceremony failed to note that the stadium, in which Russia kick off the Confederations Cup in a fortnight in preparation for next year’s World Cup, was built mostly by immigrant workers from Asia, including from one of the world’s most repressive countries, North Korea.

A subcontractor who asked to remain anonymous said at least 190 “downtrodden” North Koreans had worked long hours with no days off between August and November last year and that one, a 47-year-old, had died on site. “These guys are afraid to speak to people. They don’t look at anyone. They’re like prisoners of war,” the subcontractor said.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jun/04/like-prisoners-of-war-north-korean-labour-russia-world-cup-st-petersburg-stadium-zenit-arena

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2017 in Asia, Europe

 

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Blood on the Tracks of the New Silk Roads

China’s cardinal foreign policy imperative is to refrain from interfering abroad while advancing the proverbial good relations with key political actors – even when they may be at each other’s throats.Still, it’s nothing but gut-wrenching for Beijing to watch the current, unpredictable, Saudi-Qatari standoff. There’s no endgame in sight, as plausible scenarios include even regime change and a seismic geopolitical shift in Southwest Asia – what a Western-centric view calls the Middle East.And blood on the tracks in Southwest Asia cannot but translate into major trouble ahead for the New Silk Roads, now rebranded Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Source: Blood on the Tracks of the New Silk Roads

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Asia, Europe, Middle East, North America

 

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Top-Secret NSA report details Russian hacking effort days before 2016 election

RUSSIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept.

The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.

https://theintercept.com/2017/06/05/top-secret-nsa-report-details-russian-hacking-effort-days-before-2016-election/

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2017 in Europe, North America

 

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Why There Will be no Russophobia Reset

In the end, there was hardly a reset; rather a sort of tentative pause on Cold War 2.0. Interminable days of sound and fury were trudging along when President Trump finally decided NATO is “no longer obsolete”; still, he wants to “get along” with Russia.

Just ahead of meeting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin had stressed on Russian TV that trust (between Russia and the US) is “at a workable level, especially in the military dimension, but it hasn’t improved. On the contrary, it has degraded.” Emphasis on a pedestrian “workable,” but most of all “degraded” – as in the National Security Council releasing a report essentially accusing Moscow of spreading fake news.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/01/why-there-will-be-no-russophobia-reset/

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Europe, North America

 

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Let’s answer Chechen brutality with a global uprising against homophobia

The persecutors of Chechnya’s gay citizens now feel strong, untouchable, invincible. Their victims, who they arrest, beat and torture, are at their mercy. They are protected by many things: by the tinpot tyrants who rule a republic violently subjugated by Vladimir Putin; by the den of reactionary views that is the Moscow regime; and by the acquiescence – support even – of a society soaked in homophobic hatred.Their consciences will not trouble them. It is always comforting to imagine that those who commit atrocities against fellow human beings are sociopaths or evil. But that does not explain the great horrors of human history, from fascism to colonialism. Inhumanity is only made possible by stripping a group of its humanity. You only feel empathy, after all, for those you feel are human beings like you. That’s how human beings who in other contexts feel compassion and love and warmth can become capable of the most unspeakable horrors.

Source: Let’s answer Chechen brutality with a global uprising against homophobia | Owen Jones | Opinion | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Europe

 

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Activists Are Scrambling to End Chechnya’s Persecution of Gay Men

By all accounts, what’s been happening to gay men over the last few weeks in Chechnya is absolutely chilling: reports detail authorities rounding up large numbers of gay men, illegally imprisoning them, and carrying out beatings and murders. Human rights groups, from Human Rights Watch to Outright Action International, are now sounding urgent alarms, with numerous international organizations pressuring Russian officials to act while others are poised to evacuate queer citizens.

Source: Activists Are Scrambling to End Chechnya’s Persecution of Gay Men – Vice

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2017 in Europe

 

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Chechnya Authorities Reportedly Detained and Tortured 100 Gay Men

Earlier in April, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published a startling report: that police in Chechnya had detained over 100 gay men and killed three in a state-sponsored anti-gay campaign. Now, human rights groups and the U.S. State Department are calling for a full investigation.

Source: Emma Niles: Chechnya Authorities Reportedly Detained and Tortured 100 Gay Men – Truthdig

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2017 in Europe

 

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Donald Trump feels he had no choice but to launch air strikes on Syria – but the balance of power on the ground has not changed

President Donald Trump had little option but to order a missile strike against a Syrian airbase after holding Syria responsible for that poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 80 civilians. He had criticised President Obama for being weak, slow and indecisive when facing similar challenges, so he could scarcely do nothing when President Bashar al-Assad appeared to breach the agreement in 2013 to hand over all his chemical weapons to be destroyed.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-syria-air-strike-missile-airbase-chemical-attack-russia-no-choice-balance-power-bashar-a7673051.html

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Russia has many enemies – but its actions in Syria may have contributed to events in St Petersburg

The Russian government was careful in the hours after the murderous attack on St Petersburg’s underground system. Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the “cause was being ascertained” while Andrei Przhezdomsky, the head of the country’s anti-terrorist committee, stated it was an “an unidentified explosive device”. The prosecutor-general added later that it “was a terrorist act”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/russia-attack-isis-putin-st-petersburg-syria-chechnya-metro-a7665146.html

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2017 in Europe

 

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Pleistocene Park

Nikita Zimov’s nickname for the vehicle seemed odd at first. It didn’t look like a baby mammoth. It looked like a small tank, with armored wheels and a pit bull’s center of gravity. Only after he smashed us into the first tree did the connection become clear.We were driving through a remote forest in Eastern Siberia, just north of the Arctic Circle, when it happened. The summer thaw was in full swing. The undergrowth glowed green, and the air hung heavy with mosquitoes. We had just splashed through a series of deep ponds when, without a word of warning, Nikita veered off the trail and into the trees, ramming us into the trunk of a young 20-foot larch. The wheels spun for a moment, and then surged us forward. A dry crack rang out from under the fender as the larch snapped cleanly at its base and toppled over, falling in the quiet, dignified way that trees do.

Source: Pleistocene Park – The Atlantic

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2017 in Europe

 

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