Entries tagged with “Vladimir Putin”.

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Betty Grinshtein, a Ukrainian immigrant as a child now living in Point Reyes Station, on Thursday in the town library, told about conditions in her former country and showed photos from her refugee-relief trip to the Ukraine and Poland last year.. She said she wants to go back. Pictured with her is an aunt still living in Ukraine. Her aunt holds up the three-finger (with thumb and little finger pressed together) pro-democracy gesture used in Ukrainian greetings.


Thursday’s gathering also featured artist Maddy Sobel’s illustrations. Seen with her is Flynn Nichols, known for dancing and chanting in the street downtown. Maddy contributed part of the proceeds from the sale of her works to a couple of Ukrainian-relief organizations.

The talk and art reception had been rescheduled after a power outage two weeks ago blacked everyone out just as the event was starting. It was well worth another date.

Meanwhile back in Europe, the International Criminal Court Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes in Ukraine. He’s accused of responsibility for the abduction of children, who have been transferred from occupied areas to Russia.

“The moral condemnation will likely stain the Russian leader for the rest of his life,” according to the Associated Press, “and in the more immediate future whenever he seeks to attend an international summit in a nation bound to arrest him.

“The court also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Lvova-Belova, the commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation.” The AP last October reported on her involvement in the abduction of Ukrainian orphans.












Flynn gives the newly learned Ukrainian pro-democracy gesture.

“Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia doesn’t recognize the ICC and considers its decisions ‘legally void,'” the AP reported. “He called the court’s move ‘outrageous and unacceptable.’”

It’s a fight that’s being closely watched here half a world away.


Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

Vladimir Putin likes to be photographed without a shirt, and this picture of him horseback riding barechested in Siberia in 2009 circulated worldwide. 
Perhaps it inspired this well-publicized spoof showing Putin riding a bear. “I have seen ‘photos’ of me riding a bear,” the Russian president has said. “I have not ridden a bear yet, but there are such photos already.” Is yet the operative word here?

In his apparent quest for Russia to regain its Soviet Union hegemony over much of Eastern Europe, Putin may yet be gobbled by a bear, for not even all Russians are happy with his invasion of Ukraine.


Who’s waffling?

I bought a pint of “Organic Maple Syrup” to go with my daily waffle, but when I brought it home, I noticed it didn’t taste quite as I expected, so I examined the tub it came in.

Printed on a label atop the tub is a “California Proposition 65 WARNING: Consuming this product can expose you to chemicals including lead, which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/food.” I checked the warning and found: “Lead and lead compounds are on the Proposition 65 list because they can cause cancer.  Exposure to lead and lead compounds may increase cancer risk.”

Yet the syrup is promoted as “organic” and “non-GMO” (without genetically modified organisms). How can something that sounds so healthy also be dangerous?

It’s all craziness.


Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

Standing with Putin.

During Donald Trump’s controversial presidency, it was never a secret how much he admired Russia’s strongman President Vladimir Putin, whom he described as a friend. Amazingly, Trump’s fawning admiration only grew when Putin this week sent troops into the Ukraine, and Russia fired missiles into its cities.

Putin’s strategy has been for two political districts (oblasts) of the Ukraine, which are dominated by separatists, to become independent statelets friendly to and dependent upon Russia. On Tuesday, members of Russia’s parliament officially adopted Putin’s plan and recognized the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent of the Ukranian [sic] government.

“Russian MPs Greenlight Putin’s Recognition of Rebel Ukranian Regions,” A Moscow Times headline noted.

Russia meanwhile claims its troops in the Ukraine are only there as “peacekeepers” to defend Donetsk and Luhansk from the Ukrainian government.

Numerous people have been killed, and several Ukranian cities have been struck by Russian missiles this week. Putin’s imperialism offends much of the world, but Trump on Tuesday praised it as “genius” and “very savvy…. Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?”

By Saturday, however, Trump had decided Putin may not have been so smart when he directed an invasion of the Ukraine. “I just think it’s a shame that this is going on. It’s something that should not be going on,” Trump said. “Thousands of people, I mean, this can lead to much bigger than this one area,” Trump warned.

“This could lead to a lot of other countries and can lead to world war…. You never know how it starts, in a world war.”

Trump, meanwhile continues to portray public events as all about himself. Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, he claimed, “all happened because of a rigged election.” If Trump had been declared the winner of the 2020 national election, he told Fox News, “this would have never happened.”


Trump toadying up to Putin on a 2020 political pin.

When Russia appeared to be preparing for an amphibious landing in the Ukraine, Trump mistakenly commented on Fox News that US troops had carried out an amphibious landing and criticized Fox correspondent Laura Ingraham for reporting on this supposedly top secret US military action.

“You shouldn’t be saying that because you and everybody else shouldn’t know about it. They should do that secretly, not be doing that through the great Laura Ingraham,” he said sarcastically.

“No. Those were the Russians,” Ingraham corrected him. “Oh, I thought you said that we were sending people in,” Trump responded. “That’ll be next.”

Putin’s charm offensives seem to work.  In 2010, for example, he promoted himself as a good guy by singing Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill (click to watch) for a charity fundraiser. This Russian Television video of the event shows how he charmed celebrities like Kevin Costner, Goldie Hawn, and Gérard Depardieu, all of whom are a clearly more sophisticated than “the Donald,” as his first wife, Ivana, called him.

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

The president isn’t just two-faced (Huffington Post graphic).

 You may recall the violence when white nationalists including the Ku Klux Klan held a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, NC, in 2017.  They were protesting the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.  As The New York Times then reported, “Groups such as the Neo-Nazi movement and the KKK have felt emboldened since the election of Donald J. Trump as president.” 

David Duke, former imperial wizard of the KKK, told the rally they were “going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump to take back our country.”  However, a peaceful counter-demonstration then followed, and this prompted one of the white nationalists, James Alex Fields, 20, of Ohio, to speed his car into the group, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 34 others.

Fields was quickly charged with second-degree murder and three counts of malicious wounding, but Trump refused to publicly criticize the white nationalist and instead falsely claimed there had been “violence on many sides.” In fact, Trump often amazes us by sticking up for disreputable public figures, such as Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, whom he says is “smart” and whom he credits with having “done an amazing job.” The result can make for some strange alliances.

From within Russia, US citizen Rinaldo Nazzaro runs an American Neo-Nazi group. He “left New York for St. Petersburg less than two years ago,” the British Broadcasting Company reported on Jan. 24.

“The American founder of a US-based, militant Neo-Nazi group, The Base, is directing the organization from Russia, a BBC investigation has found…. The Base is a major counter-terrorism focus for the FBI. Seven alleged members were charged this month with various offenses, including conspiracy to commit murder.

“Court documents prepared by the FBI describe The Base as a ‘racially motivated violent extremist group’ that ‘seeks to accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war, and establish a white ethnographies-state,'” the BBC added.

Perhaps Putin’s hosting one of our domestic terrorists is yet another international “favor” our president wants.

First Lady Melania Trump previously modeled for the British ‘Gentleman’s Quarterly’ magazine. Obviously Trump considers her “hot” since he has made a point of prizing “hot” women. Two decades ago, he went so far as to openly promote his teenaged daughter’s sexiness.

In 1997 when his daughter Ivanka was 16, she hosted the Miss Teen USA pageant, and while she was on-stage, Trump turned to the then-Miss Universe and asked, “Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right?” 

Never before in this country’s history has there been such a bizarre administration, and hopefully there’ll never be another. 

Candidate Bill Bailey (at far right) listening to jazz in Sausalito’s No Name Bar last Friday.

Thankfully, American politics on the local level are generally more traditional and draw more reasonable candidates, at least in this county. In West Marin, Supervisor Dennis Rodoni is currently running for reelection against challenger Alex Easton Brown. In Southern Marin, the Board of Supervisors seat is open, and Bill Bailey is one of the candidates for it. He’s a technical engineer running on a platform of fiscal reform.

Bailey frequently shows up for the Friday jazz performances at the No Name, just as I do. I’m not familiar with his campaign, but I’ve come to recognize him. Even when he’s squinting into my camera’s flash, his low-key, movie-star looks are unmistakeable.

Joining Lynn and me and our homeless friend Billy Hobbs at the No Name Friday was another friend, Guido Hennig of Switzerland, an engineer who visits San Francisco annually for business conferences. Given our nation’s political turmoil, I asked him about Europe’s impression of Trump and was told that it’s generally not very good. No surprise there.

Three months ago, I resumed updating this blog weekly after a 14-month hiatus caused by eye problems. My renewed blogging seemed to be going well when almost a month ago, I suddenly found myself unable to post new material. Thanks to diligent work by webmasters Janine Warner, who used to be a reporter at The Point Reyes Light, and her husband, Dave LaFontaine, an online-journalism prof at USC, the problem has now been corrected.

What had gone wrong? In trying to figure out what had sabotaged this blog, I took note of what else was getting hacked and who appeared to be doing the hacking. When I looked at what the news media were reporting, the likely culprit became clear. Based on timing alone, I’d have to say this blog had been targeted by the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin (upper left) was no doubt miffed by the coverage he’s been receiving in SparselySageAndTimely.com. You may be skeptical because you think Putin is unlikely to be reading this blog, but bear in mind Kremlin computer systems scan the entire Internet for him.

And that’s the whole post-truth explanation for why much of this posting is a week or two late.

Our fact checker nose.

This year’s yuletide in Point Reyes Station has been colorful, cold and wet. The annual Lights of Life celebration was held Dec. 2 and was highlighted by the lighting of the town Christmas tree, which is located between the Wells Fargo Bank and Palace Market parking lots.

As always it was a festive event, but this year it also had a somewhat sad cast, for the old tree will be cut down next month.

The tree is on Wells Fargo property, and people at the bank told me it is dying and that they’re worried about dead limbs falling on the public. The pine looks basically sound to me, but I’m no arborist.

Harmony Grisman, played a guitar as usual, and led a crowd beneath the tree in singing Christmas carols.

A few blocks away, the Dance Palace Community Center  held its annual Holiday Crafts Fair from Dec. 2 to 4. Dozens of craftsmen showed off their work. Women at two tables sold holiday-themed treats to raise money for Tomales High student scholarships.

Fairgoers inspected bowls and vases by Inverness ceramicist Molly Prier (right).

At a nearby booth, Point Reyes Station jeweler Kathy Hunting offered an array of pins, necklaces, and other jewelry.

Elsewhere in West Marin, a Holiday Art Fair and silent auction was held in the San Geronimo Valley Community Center on Saturday on Dec. 2.

The Bolinas Winter Faire was held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Dec. 2 to 4.




When Sarah Palin said in a Nov. 24 radio interview, “Obviously, we gotta stand by our North Korean allies,” it was impossible to say who was more surprised: the US government, Korean War vets, South Korea, or…. North Korea?”

If General MacArthur were still alive, he’d be rolling over in his grave, so to speak.

This week, however, another politician surprised the world even more. At a fundraiser in St. Petersburg for children with eye diseases and cancer, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sang in English Fats Domino’s signature ditty Blueberry Hill.

If you haven’t watched Putin’s performance, I urge you to do so. It’s pure opera buffa. Although he pronounced it “Blueberry Heeel,” Putin managed to stay on key and delighted his audience, which included a host of Hollywood celebrities.

Meanwhile, my efforts to negotiate peace among this hill’s foxes and raccoons have run into a bit of a snag. Although there have been no outbreaks of hostility, each has taken to stealing the other’s food.

This initially caused me to leave bread for the foxes just inside my kitchen door, where the raccoons couldn’t see it, but the stratagem worked only briefly.

It didn’t take the raccoons long to figure out what was going on, and they began grabbing the bread before the foxes could get to it.

This left the foxes sadly contemplating the disappearance of their dinner.

Then I remembered what the late Jerry Friedman once demonstrated. Friedman, a Marin County planning commissioner, was also co-founder of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin.

Back when I edited The Point Reyes Light, Friedman showed up one day with a photo, which we published, of his hand-feeding a fox that lived near him. If the EAC co-founder could hand food to a fox, I figured, I could too, thereby making sure the food was distributed evenly.

So far, Friedman’s system is working, and I’m feeding three foxes a night, along with three or four raccoons. The foxes and raccoons remain a bit wary of each other, and they all consider me as much a danger as a benefactor.

As for Putin, the US remains wary of him, but whether he constitutes a danger to this country is unclear. Also unclear is whether Palin is dumb like a fox or just plain dumb.