Russian To Judgment: Bullets in One Hand, A Bullhorn in The Other
MOSCOW, Oct. 7 -- Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist whose byline defined the fading craft of investigative and crusading reporting in President Vladimir Putin's Russia, was fatally gunned down Saturday in the lobby of her apartment building in central Moscow.
Politkovskaya, 48, was renowned for her probes of the brutality of Russia's military campaign in Chechnya as well as the banality of corruption permeating Russian life, from the remote provinces to the bright lights of Moscow.
She was a harsh critic of Putin's rule and was working on a story about torture in Chechnya, where a Kremlin-backed strongman has all but routed a separatist movement that sparked two bloody wars, at a cost to Russia that has yet to be measured.
The article was to be published Monday, according to her newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, one of the few independent media outlets in a country where much of the press is timid if not directly controlled by central authorities or regional power brokers.
From former Soviet premier Mikahil Gorbachev, who owns part stock in the Novaya Gazeta:
"It is a savage crime against a professional and serious journalist and a courageous woman," Gorbachev told the Russian news agency Interfax. "It is a blow to the entire democratic, independent press. It is a grave crime against the country, against all of us."
But don't bother asking ol' Vlad about this...he's too busy shaking his pom-poms for this little sis-boom-bah:
MOSCOW - Russia's defense minister said Monday that North Korea's nuclear test was equivalent to 5,000 tons to 15,000 tons of TNT.
That would be far greater than the force given by South Korea's geological institute, which estimated it at just 550 tons of TNT.
The U.S. Geological Survey said it recorded a magnitude-4.2 seismic event in northeastern North Korea. Asian neighbors also said they registered a seismic event, but only Russia said its monitoring services had detected a nuclear explosion.
No one has reported detecting any radiation.
Captain Ed is not impressed by the boom -- or Putin's grandstanding about it:
Even a 5000-ton-yield nuke would have a questionable deterrent level, considering the inventory in the arsenals of the world's declared nuclear powers. It might have some value as a terrorist weapon, but it would do no more damage than a Stealth bombing run can do, and the latter has a lot more accuracy than the former. No one would shrug at a bomb that has one-third of the power of the bomb that leveled Hiroshima, but we expected more than that -- and right now, it looks like Kim only has a bomb one-tenth of that size.
So why is Russia insisting on overstating Kim's success? Other than sheer bloody-mindedness, it's hard to say. If we take them at their word, then we'd have to insist that Russia join in sanctions immediately, which they have so far refused to do. They may want to make the argument that Kim has enough of a nuclear deterrent that we should leave him alone, but that won't fly either.
So here we have a journalist who makes a living exposing Russian corruption mysteriously shot dead while getting off the elevator in her apartment building on one hand...and at the same time, we have a Russian president issuing atta-boys to a North Korean nuclear nut-ball with delusions of grandeur on the other.
I don't know where Putin thinks he's taking his country right now, but I'd hate to be the guy riding shotgun.