Putin and The Destruction of A Worker’s State

Below is an exclusive video from Russia, with English subtitles, exposing the existence of a palace owned by Russian premiere Vladimir Putin on the coast of the Black Sea. According to the New York Times, this opulent, crime-as-substance cost somewhere around $1 billion dollars. What does this all include?

The ground floor includes a spa, a movie theater, a wine cellar and an outdoor area with fountains described as an “aqua disco.” The next floor up, according to the report, has a larger theater, a casino hall and a windowless hookah lounge with a pole-dancing stage. The report also describes an underground hockey rink, a church, a tunnel to the seaside and a 260-foot-long bridge leading to a teahouse.

And in the text version of the investigation, which you can translate from Russian, you can take a virtual look-around Putin’s classy hookah lounge/private strip club which is beyond sleazy.

This ostentatious temple built to one mans avarice and megalomania is maybe one of the sickest shows that can be conceived by the radical left.

This work of investigative journalism is hosted, and produced by top Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and his associates. The AP describes Mr. Nalvany as…

Navalny, 44, is an anti-corruption campaigner and the Kremlin’s fiercest critic. He has outlasted many opposition figures and is undeterred by incessant attempts to stop his work.

He has released scores of damning reports exposing corruption in Putin’s Russia. He has been a galvanizing figure in mass protests, including unprecedented 2011-12 demonstrations sparked by reports of widespread rigging of a parliamentary election.

And there is another great profile of Mr. Navalny here in the NYT here.

Today, as further reported by the AP, an estimated 15,000 demonstrators gathered in and around Pushkin Square in Moscow to protest the unjust incarceration of Mr. Navalny. They were joined by other protesters across the country standing outside in sometimes -58 F weather. Navalny’s being held on trumped up charges of financial crimes clearly levelled against him as a political hit and and an excuse to imprison him. (The charges brought against him and his brother the European Court of Human Rights have declared unwarranted.) Further, these protests have led to the arrests of more than 3,000 peaceful protesters, many more beaten, by the Russian authorities.

Watch the beatings here:

The breadth and depth of the above investigation is unbelievably expansive. Just scroll through the text, as I did, if you can stomach it, and observe the images , 3-D models, and linked .pdf files of floor plans. Remarkable. This video/text also shows one of the many cases of theft (by the “believed” richest man in the world, according to a Fortune report) from the Russian people by Putin, his cronies, and fellow oligarchs.

Why do I find this so upsetting? Because from the momentous days of the October Revolution of 1917, to the fall of the U.S.S.R. in 1989-1991, there was so much work, sacrifice, and eventual loss of dreams for the creation of a true workers’ state. Now look what it has turned into. A plutocracy where the man with more money than Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates has the people beaten in the streets when peacefully protesting. And just over false charges against a rival who wants the best for everyone.

If I were not Kentucky White Trash, I would like to have the money to visit Russia some day and see all of the great sites: St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Winter Palace, Lenin’s Mausoleum. But I swear to you now and to the day of my death, I would never spend a single kopek in the Russian state because, more than likely, it would end up in one of the chests belonging to Vladimir Putin.

“No!” to Corrupt Voting System, “Yes!”to Taking It to The Streets

The official stance of Sparking The Left is that voting in so-called democratic elections is useless. It is taking part in a corrupt system.

This opinion is based upon the fact that I would never waste my vote for either of the two dominating political parties out of respect for my own personal dignity.

You probably miss it in the media because it is so common that the media does not report it: Candidates host fundraisers at places like Goldman Sachs and/or JP Morgan Chase all of the time for campaign contributions. They also raise money from special lobbying groups, too, like the pharmaceutical industry and automaker groups. This is every presidential candidate, every leader in Congress, and both the Democratic and Republican party in whole. It’s just the nature of the corrupt beast. They get ridiculous amounts of cash from Wall St so they remain too big to fail. Pharmaceutical prices remain sky high. The auto industry makes cars in the cheapest way by doing the bare minimum to keep cars safe and reduce the amount of pollution they omit. And deregulation is at the center of it all.

Wall St. and special interest groups are not concerned with the well-being of the country. Don’t get that wrong. They are capitalists. They are insuring their financial and/or cultural interests. This is a way of keeping the working class under control. You may think that you are first in the minds of our leaders, but you’re not. This system puts in politicians who are funded and lobbied by individuals and business groups so as to keep their interests first and foremost.

And remember this: One party doesn’t care about the poor; the other party pretends to care about the poor. Don’t think candidates of either party has not sold their soul to Wall St. They hold huge debts to big business and use it as a trade-off: they rule in the interest of those donating large campaign fund amounts.

Therefore, the official stance of STL is to abstain from voting.

If you consider voting a good vehicle for change, go ahead. I’m not here to force my opinion on you. But STL believes in protests, occupations, direct action, mass actions, strikes, and general strikes. The effectiveness of street politics through solidarity is more powerful than participating in our voting system when such a radical change is needed. Voting is just crumbs thrown to us by the rich and powerful to keep us calm and obedient so we don’t threaten the real decision holders: the elite rich.

Kill Credit Suisse!

leadIn a great op-ed in The Atlantic by James Kwak, Kwak argues that Credit Suisse, a Swiss bank that plead guilty to helping rich Americans evade income taxes for years in terms of billions of dollars, should be punished by revoking it’s license rather than getting the slap on the wrist it is currently receiving.

He argues that this is not a “too big to fail” situation for Credit Suisse for it is a solvent entity.

This is his three step plan to accomplish such an end:

First, Credit Suisse could simply be allowed to operate for, say, three years—enough time to sell off its assets and close its positions without having to take “fire sale” prices. Second, the bank could create a new, licensed subsidiary. That subsidiary could take over all of Credit Suisse’s current positions that can’t be closed easily, and then authorized to operate solely in runoff mode. Third, the government could create a new entity (roughly like the Resolution Trust Corporation) that would buy Credit Suisse’s more complicated assets and positions and then unwind them over as long a period as necessary, eliminating the pressure to sell quickly at a loss.

After 2008, we cannot allow big financial institutions operate with impunity when they are breaking the law with so much on the line. This insightful argument by Kwak could lead to a new blueprint for dealing with the corruption of Wall Street.

Read Here.

 

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China’s Elite Banks Off-Shore

800px-Flag_of_the_People's_Republic_of_China.svgA good article in The Guardian from Jan. 21st reports that the members of the inner circle of power in China are grossing large sums of money through corruption and then investing it overseas (mainly in the British Virgin Islands [BVI]) to avoid local discovery and taxation.

Rampant corruption is the main problem with communism in large nations, which excludes countries such as Cuba and Vietnam. They’re, in my opinion, are small enough to allow the good guys to keep and eye on everybody and the population seems more loyal to the ideology.

Also, the article has some nifty graphs to take a look at.

Read Here.

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Oppostion Leader in Russia Convicted of Trumped Up Charges

19navalny-articleLargeAleksei A. Navalny, an opposition anti-corruption blogger and leader of street protests running for Mayor of Moscow, was tried on trumped up embezzlement charges today receiving a five year sentence and $15,000 fine. Both the EU and the United States have criticized the verdict harshly.

This case, along with recent others, have shown that in Russia, with Vladimir Putin’s “soft”-dictatorship active, that the legal system may be used to silence  popular opposition leaders there.

Read Here. 

Indifferent Indian Police Address Sex Crimes Against Women

indexA good article in the NYT on how the Indian police forces are poorly equipped and even less motivated to address sex crimes against women. And what is even more woeful is none of the discussed problems are easily or quickly solved.

Read here.