Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
MOSCOW (Reuters) - One billion dollars is no longer enough to gain entry to Russia's rich list.
Ten billionaires failed to make Forbes magazine's annual list of the 100 richest Russians that is led by those who built their fortunes on the country's metals resources.
Oleg Deripaska, who controls aluminum producer United Company RUSAL among a host of infrastructure, energy and financial assets, tops the latest Forbes list with a fortune of $28.6 billion -- $11.8 billion more than he was worth last year.
Deripaska replaces Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich, who drops to third. The two are split by Alexei Mordashov, majority owner of Severstal
"After the bankruptcy of YUKOS and the strengthening of the state's position in the energy sector, you can count on one hand the number of oil and gas billionaires," Maxim Kashulinsky, editor of Forbes' Russian edition, said in a statement to accompany the launch of the May edition.
"The main fortunes are concentrated now in metallurgy, finance and property."
Thursday, April 17, 2008
MOSCOW (AFP) — President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday agreed to head Russia's ruling party in a significant shift of the political landscape three weeks before he hands power to successor Dmitry Medvedev.
Putin, who leaves the Kremlin after two terms on May 7, also confirmed he would become prime minister under Medvedev.
"With gratitude I accept the proposal of the party members and their leadership.... I am ready to take on the additional responsibility and head United Russia," he told a party congress in Moscow after being urged to take the post.
The 55-year-old ex-KGB officer's announcement, carried live on state-run television, signalled a reordering of Russia's political mix on the eve of Medvedev's presidential debut.
During his eight years in the Kremlin, Putin has steadily centralised power, with United Russia his tool for ensuring loyalty of an increasingly emasculated parliament.
Becoming head of the party, which won a constitutional majority with 63 percent of the vote in controversial December elections, will now hugely strengthen Putin's status as prime minister.
But the development added to questions raised in Moscow and foreign capitals over who will really be in charge from next month -- the untested Medvedev or powerful ex-president, turned prime minister and parliament leader Putin.
"Analysts and those in the media are still trying to figure out whose portrait will end up hanging in government offices across the country," commentator Konstantin Sonin wrote in Tuesday's Moscow Times daily.
Andrei Ryabov, an analyst at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, told AFP that Putin's position had been bolstered for now, but that Medvedev might not always tolerate the competition.
"As a result of fights between interest groups, pressures and conflicts, the system could again become based on one person. Who will that be? The chances are equal. You'd have to be an astrologer to say," Ryabov commented.
Recruiting Putin was the logical next step for United Russia, a party that has always been seen as a Kremlin creation tasked with turning the once combative parliament of the 1990s into a rubber stamp.
Late Monday the party voted changes to its charter that would allow Putin to become chairman without actually holding membership. Delegates also decided to split the leadership, with Putin taking the chairmanship and Gryzlov the more technical ruling council.
Gryzlov, whose pleading that Putin take his job is only the latest expression of loyalty, explained Monday just how close the outgoing president and dominant party were to each other.
"The eight presidential annual addresses delivered by Vladimir Putin are what define the 'Putin course' -- the course toward becoming a great power, a great Russia. And this is the programme of our party," he said.
The head of the central elections commission, Vladimir Churov, told Interfax news agency that Putin's embracing of United Russia was "another step on the development of democracy, a wholly natural step for many states where party leaders become heads of government."
But Mark Urnov, an analyst at the Expertise think tank, told AFP that the manoeuvre was "the victory of part of the political elite that did not want, or feared to see the departure of Putin."
"All of Putin's entourage will remain in the key posts.... There will be no separation of the state from the economy, no real fight against corruption," he said. "Stagnation lies ahead."
Natalia Leschenko at the London-based Global Insight group said United Russia now bore comparison with the Soviet Communist Party in that it pretended to defend "democratic interests" but in fact was "a vehicle of party leadership and elite instead."
Friday, April 11, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
It reads.. " equality of the sexs" go figure... looks pretty equal to me what do you think?
And how is this for an alcoholic society... "booze" and " Gin" in a soda can! so convenient :)
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I dont really know what goes on during the service but the people useaully walk around and kiss icons, say prayers, and light candles. They are very strict about the way you carry yourself, for example women must wear coverings over their heads, men cannot wear hats, and nobody is allowed to have their hands in their pockets. If you break one of these rules watch out for the babushki! But overall the Russian Orthodox Church is a definite must see if you ever have the chance to go to Russia.
Monday, April 7, 2008
This is a very popular self serve cafe that offers a wide selection of entrees. A total of six locations allows you to find one near by whenever the mood strikes. A standard meal costs about $5, whereas a more extravagant one runs you closer to $10.
This is a more high end restaurant but the reviews include "best meal ever" and "my favorite restaurant in town". Meals run $50 per person, but the food, service, atmosphere and environment cause it to be well worth it.
This is very similar to Mu-Mu but a little bit more expensive. With over 55 meals to choose from, there is always somthing new to try. In Moscow there are four locations to pick from.
While natively Armenian, Aram Khachaturian was born in Imperial Russia, and lived most of his life a supporter of the idea of communism, a proud Soviet citizen and a distinguished composer. He combined traditional Armenian folk music with the classical senses of past European and Russian composers, creating several pieces notable to Russians and abroad during the soviet era. Khachaturian had an on-off relationship with communism, which he supported all his life, despite some conflicts with the party and with national officials.
A well known piece of Khachaturian's is his 'Sabre Dance'. From the ballet 'Gayane', the sabre dance has become a popular piece in much of the western world. You may recognize it as the music used in every movie trailer and TV show, ever, to indicate zaniness/tension or to introduce a crazy character (tied alongside Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" for most overused classical composition ever) -
Sergei Prokofiev, while born in Ukraine, was raised and lived as a Russian (Soviet) citizen, and became a well-known composer, especially of virtuoso piano pieces. Unrestrained by most musical conventions, Prokofiev's compositions made use of strange tonalities, harmonic unrest and dissonance to create an unusual, sometimes unsettling musical atmosphere. Some of his more interesting works were his operas; Love for Three Oranges is quite famous, and also of interest is his operatic adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace.
The March from Love for Three Oranges was a popular period piece, gaining recognition in the west; it was used in a number of radio broadcasts around the time, and I recall seeing it accompanying some of those old-timey documentary type films. It's an interesting piece.
The internet tells me that rarely does one encounter that yellow line down the middle of the road. Some drivers take that as license to ignore the concept of lanes in some cases.
It's all about budget. Paint costs money, so why use it to draw lines on a road? The people in this video ignore them anyway.
Plus, it costs money to have traffic cops. (Quite frankly, I think we should ship some of the ones in Polk County over there. They're very concerned about meeting their monthly ticket quota.)
Here's a passage from the article I read:
One GAI officer explained it this way: "Russian law requires us to find witnesses in order to issue a citation. With illegal passing, the only witnesses are the motorists themselves, all of whom are long gone moments after the violation has occurred." Others offer the rationale that it's too dangerous to chase every offending motorist through narrow city streets. "Better to let them get away with minor infractions than to needlessly endanger others," one source contended. "The GAI chase the serious offenders, and that's enough."
On February 5th, 1792, Empress Elisaveta Petrovna declared that Russians would drive on the right side of the road. Of course, that doesn't make LHD cars less expensive than imported RHD vehicles. Although Russians drive on the right side of the road, many drive cars suited for the left side of the road. Wikipedia claims that in the far eastern regions, such as Vladivostok or Khabarovsk, RHD vehicles make up to 90% of the total. This includes not only private cars, but also police cars, ambulances, and many other municipal and governmental vehicles. When talks of banning RHD vehicles from the road bubbled up in 2005, car owners blocked the streets of major cities in protest.
Here's a video of crashes in Russia. Some of them are pretty crazy.
In my quest to find the perfect traffic video, I also found this little doodle. I found it amusing....
Sunday, April 6, 2008
In the beginning...
Man didn't know 'bout a rock n' roll show...and all that jive
The white man had the schmaltz...
The black man had the blues...
And no one knew what they was gonna do...
But Tchaikovsky had the news...
Let there be sound
...there was sound
Let there be light
...there was light
Let there be drums
...there was DRUMS
Let there be guitar
...there was guitar
Video Testimony To Tchaikovsky's Actions