Wednesday, April 05, 2023

5: Putin

Woke the plank! Were pirate ships actually beacons of diversity and democracy? In September 1695, the Plymouth-born “king of pirates”, Henry Avery, seized treasure worth £600,000 (in today’s terms, nearly £100m) from the Grand Mughal fleet in the Red Sea. ........ Avery sailed for Madagascar where he established a pirate republic with his henchmen called Libertalia, a proto-communist utopia where all goods were held common. ........ the so-called golden age of piracy between 1650 and 1730 in the Atlantic and Indian oceans. ........ 1881, when Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the first half of Treasure Island. ....... there is a chasm deeper than the Mariana Trench between piratical reality and fiction. ........ Somali pirates plying the same waters as Avery did centuries earlier ........ “Pirates existed in the shadows, in the margins of society – overthrowing societal conventions and creating their own counterculture.” ......... “The toothless or peg-legged buccaneer hoisting a flag of defiance against the world … is, perhaps, as much a figure of the Enlightenment as Adam Smith or Voltaire, but he also represents a profoundly proletarian liberation, necessarily violent and ephemeral.” ......... pirates lasted on average two years at their illegal trade before being hanged, drowned or sensibly retiring. ........ “It wasn’t as hierarchical as the Royal Navy,” says Slade. “Captains were elected. And they lived according to a code.” The exhibition sets out the code that prevailed on Black Bart’s ship. According to article one: “Every man has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure.” ......... Stevenson, whose Treasure Island created many of the enduring emblems of the pirate genre: the one-legged rogue, the cabin boy hiding in an apple barrel, the map to the buried treasure marked by an X ......... The golden age of piracy came to a bloody end in the 1730s as governments decided pirates were too much of a liability to trade and stamped them out.

Russian defector sheds light on Putin paranoia and his secret train network Former security officer tells of president’s strict quarantine and says he has ‘lost touch with the world’ .......... a secret train network, identical offices in different cities, a strict personal quarantine and escalating security protocols. ............ “pathologically afraid for his life” ....... the train was used because it “cannot be tracked on any information resource .......... a secret railway network including parallel lines and stations near Putin’s residences in the Valdai national park in Novo-Ogaryovo, and near his Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. ........ “Our president has lost touch with the world,” he said. “He has been living in an information cocoon for the past couple of years, spending most of his time in his residences, which the media very fittingly call bunkers. He is pathologically afraid for his life. He surrounds himself with an impenetrable barrier of quarantines and an information vacuum. He only values his own life and the lives of his family and friends.” ......... a virtual state within a state that includes firefighters, food testers and other engineers who travel with Putin on his trips abroad, providing a rare first-hand insight into the levels of paranoia and sheltered lifestyle of the Russian president. “They call him the Boss, worship him in every way and only ever talk of him in those terms” ......... Putin relies heavily for information on reports provided by his security services. Putin did not use a mobile phone or the internet .......... and did not even bring an internet specialist with him on foreign trips. “He only receives information from his closest circle, which means that he lives in an information vacuum” ......... Putin is still in quarantine and requires all staff working in the same room as him to also undergo a two-week quarantine, severely limiting the number of people who have personal contact with him. ............ Putin used identical offices in St Petersburg, Sochi and Novo-Ogaryovo, and that the secret services used fake motorcades and decoy planes to pretend he was leaving. “This is a ruse to confuse foreign intelligence, in the first place, and secondly, to prevent any attempts on his life” ........... “He has shut himself off from the world,” Karakulov said. “His take on reality has become distorted.” .......... until nearly the end of the trip, when Karakulov told his fellow officers he was feeling unwell and then fled with his family to the airport

No phone, no internet, no power, no money – it was like being sent back to the Victorian era After five unplugged hours, my dog and the house were pristine. I needed distraction

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