Friday, June 30, 2023

30: Ukraine


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Thursday, June 29, 2023

29: Russia

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The Mediterranean Diet Really Is That Good for You. Here’s Why. It has become the bedrock of virtuous eating. Experts answer common questions about how it leads to better health. .

Reshape your marketing with GPT In this webinar, discover the true potential of GPT for marketing.......... While AI can assist in drafting marketing materials and offering prompt responses to customer inquiries, its capabilities extend far beyond these basic functions. .

काठमाडौँबाट पाकिस्तान लागे चिनियाँ अर्बपति ज्याक मा

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

28: Putin

Russian General Knew About Mercenary Chief’s Rebellion Plans, U.S. Officials Say Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner, may have believed he had support in Russia’s military. ........ The officials said they are trying to learn if Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the former top Russian commander in Ukraine, helped plan Mr. Prigozhin’s actions last weekend, which posed the most dramatic threat to President Vladimir V. Putin in his 23 years in power. ........ there are signs that other Russian generals may also have supported Mr. Prigozhin’s attempt to change the leadership of the Defense Ministry by force. ......... Mr. Putin must now decide, officials say, whether he believes that General Surovikin helped Mr. Prigozhin and how he should respond. .......... “Think of how easy it was to take Rostov,” Mr. McFaul said. “There are armed guards everywhere in Russia, and suddenly, there’s no one around to do anything?” ........ Prigozhin seemed to believe that large parts of Russia’s army would rally to his side as his convoy moved on Moscow. .......... Mr. Prigozhin had worked with General Surovikin during Russia’s military intervention in Syria, and had described him as the most capable commander in the Russian army. Former officials said General Surovikin did not support pushing Mr. Putin from power but appears to have agreed with Mr. Prigozhin that Mr. Shoigu and General Gerasimov needed to be relieved of duty. ......... General Surovikin and Mr. Prigozhin have both brushed up against Mr. Shoigu and General Gerasimov over tactics used in Ukraine. ......... a frustrated General Surovikin represented a hard-line faction of generals intent on using the toughest tactics against Ukrainians. ......... Russia’s entire military campaign in Ukraine has been characterized by a musical chairs of changing generals. .

In Kremlin Stagecraft, Putin Tries to Rewrite the Mutiny in Russia President Vladimir V. Putin appeared only once during a mercenary’s daylong mutiny against the military. He was all over Russian TV on Tuesday, seeking to project an image of control. ........ Mr. Putin on Tuesday thanked the military for having “essentially stopped a civil war” .......... The speech finally showed Mr. Putin outside of a nondescript room, and in an identifiable place: Cathedral Square in the Kremlin, the historic seat of power. Mr. Putin has often used the palatial buildings and rooms of the Kremlin, a fortified complex in the heart of Moscow, to project the image of a singular Russian leader, flanked by loyal officers and resembling the generations of czars who ruled from inside the Kremlin’s walls. ......... The triumphant imagery and heroic rhetoric stood in contrast to the weekend’s photos and videos in which it seemed no one was in charge: Wagner fighters breezing into a major city with armored vehicles, Mr. Prigozhin chatting with military officers in a command center he had just seized. ........... A statue of Peter the Great, the 18th-century czar who Mr. Putin compared himself to last summer, stood behind him. ........ He also said that Wagner was entirely financed through the state. In doing so, he essentially asserted that the mercenary force was always just a tool of the Kremlin and never beyond his control, despite the fact that Mr. Prigozhin’s fighters took over a major city in hours and reached within 125 miles of Moscow. ........... He claimed that Ukraine’s counteroffensive was failing badly, and that Kyiv had lost dozens of tanks and more than 100 armored vehicles over the last seven days. .

Putin, Prigozhin and the Danger of Disorder They meet so little resistance that the internet is full of pictures of his mercenaries waiting patiently in line to buy coffee: “Hey, could you put a lid on that? I don’t want it to spill on my tank!” ........... But then, just as suddenly, as Prigozhin’s men got within 120 miles of Moscow, he apparently caught wind that his convoy on the open highway would be sitting ducks to a determined air attack. So Prigozhin opted for a plea bargain, arranged by the president of Belarus, and called off his revolution — sorry, didn’t mean it, I was just trying to point out some problems with the Russian Army — and everyone called it a day. ........... the Russian president told him that he wanted to kill his traitorous mercenary commander, to “squash him like a bug.” .......... a script that is still playing out, as the analog Putin tries to keep pace on state-run Russian TV while the digitally savvy Prigozhin continues to run circles around him on Telegram. .......... It was the broad and sustained coalition Biden assembled to confront Putin in Ukraine that ripped the facade off Putin’s Potemkin village. .......... Biden understood from the start that Putin “is the epicenter of an anti-American, antidemocratic, fascist constellation that needs to be defeated, not negotiated with.” ........ Putin has long ruled with two instruments: fear and money, covered with a cloak of nationalism. ........... fear has now left the building in Moscow. With Putin’s aura of invincibility having at least taken a hit, others could soon challenge him ......... the deep fears of Russians about any return to the early 1990s chaos after the fall of the Soviet Union and how grateful many still are for the order that Putin restored. ........... we in the West have as much to fear from Putin’s weakness as his strength.......... U.S. officials argue that Putin’s strategy is to exhaust the Ukrainian Army of its 155-millimeter howitzer artillery shells, the mainstay of its ground forces, as well as of its antiaircraft interceptors, so its ground forces would be naked to Russian airpower and then try to hold on until the Western allies are exhausted or Donald Trump gets re-elected and Putin can get a dirty deal where he saves face in Ukraine. .......... offense is harder and the Russians are now really dug in and have laid mines all across their defense lines, which is why the Ukrainian counteroffensive has been off to a slow start. .......... “In the first year of this war, when Russia was on the offensive, every day that it was not winning, it was losing. In the second year, every day that Ukraine is not winning it, it is losing.” ............ Putin’s army has gotten better at pushing authority down to the officers on the front lines and using drones extensively .............. “When Putin came in, he bulldozed or subverted all political and social structures outside the Kremlin.” .......... “Longer term, historically, successors to Russia’s reactionary rulers are often more liberal, especially early in their term: Alexander I after Paul I, Alexander II after Nicholas I, Khrushchev after Stalin, Gorbachev after Andropov. So if we can get through a transition from Putin, there is some hope.” ............ As much as I detest Putin, I detest disorder even more, because when a big state cracks apart, it is very hard to put it back together. The nuclear weapons and criminality that could spill out of a disintegrated Russia would change the world......... a ticking time bomb spread across 11 time zones. Putin has taken the whole world hostage. ........ If he wins, the Russian people lose. But if he loses and his successor is disorder, the whole world loses. .

Yesterday’s Putin Is Gone On the day of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s ill-fated uprising in Russia, Moscow fell silent. Traffic was sparse on Saturday, and there were few people on the streets. Events were canceled, and parks were closed as virtually everyone stayed inside, glued to the internet as Mr. Prigozhin’s private army convoy headed toward the Russian capital. ........... More than anything, modern Muscovites, like residents of Russia’s other major cities, fear a radical change to their comfortable way of life, particularly a change that might bring martial law or, worse, a widespread draft and border closures. .......... It poked a hole in the Kremlin’s campaign to assure Russians that everything is fine — that the economy is booming, that the war in Ukraine won’t come for them, that the military is focused on winning. .......... His statements about the war in Ukraine, for instance, have been wildly contradictory in recent weeks. First, he said that to defeat the enemy in Ukraine, Russians should tighten their belts and be ready to live like North Koreans. Not long after, he took an altogether different tack: There was no need for an invasion of Ukraine at all, he argued. ........... What did Mr. Prigozhin want to do? Replace Mr. Putin, his teacher in the profession of gaining power? Too ambitious. Unseat his recent nemesis, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu? Too petty and certainly not worth a civil war in Russia’s capital. .......... the revolt gave the world a rare window into the Russian state’s slow decline. No state with functioning institutions can thrive while in pursuit of senseless military expansionism that contradicts the meaning of democratic and civic values, the most important of which is human life .......... During Russia’s transition from democracy to authoritarianism to hybrid totalitarianism, Mr. Putin and his elite inner circle have colonized civil society and built a system of repression. This is not a sign of strength but of desperation. And the outsourcing of critical government functions, like the military role handed to Mr. Prigozhin and his Wagner force, is a glaring manifestation of that weakness. ........... showed Russians that the system could produce a different future — one without Mr. Putin. ......... Populism, finally. Mr. Prigozhin has embodied the voice of populism, sending an anti-elitist message despite being a product of the elite himself. .......... This is why he called the mutiny a “stab in the back.” It took the ultimate insider to show the cracks in the system. ......... Not once has he mentioned Mr. Prigozhin’s name in his speeches since the threat of the coup emerged. What’s the other name Mr. Putin never mentions? The opposition leader who posed such a threat, he threw him in jail: Aleksei Navalny. .

The Terror of Threes in the Heavens and on Earth Physicists have long explored how phenomena in groups of three can sow chaos. A new three-body problem, they warn, could lead to not only global races for new armaments but also thermonuclear war. ......... Isaac Newton was baffled. He was already famous for discovering how gravity holds the universe together and for using that knowledge to predict the movements of celestial bodies, such as the moon’s path around the Earth. Now, by taking the sun’s gravitational tugs into account, he sought to improve his lunar predictions. Instead, it made them worse. ............. As Beijing rapidly expands its nuclear arsenal, they warn that the world of atomic superpowers is about to escalate to three from two. The outcome, they add, compared with the Moscow-Washington standoff, now 70 years old, could represent a dangerous new kind of unthinkable. ........... The looming era could encourage “states to resort to nuclear weapons in a crisis” ........ He cited the natural instabilities observed by physicists and astronomers as a portent. ......... The world’s nuclear thinkers are finding the knotty topic to be as intractable as it was for Newton. ......... the interval from two to three can produce a counterintuitive jump in complexity, as Newton found to his dismay. ........... “Threes are inherently problematic. Things get tricky.” ......... Atoms illustrate the complexity jump. Hydrogen, the simplest, has two main parts — a nucleus and a single circling electron. Physicists can predict with great accuracy the future states of the subatomic particle ............ But helium — the next larger atom — has two electrons. The interplay of those two particles with the element’s nucleus throws them into a complicated state beyond the comprehension of science. “There’s no exact solution,” Dr. Lubell said. “You can’t find out what’s happening to their behavior, their location or anything else. It doesn’t scale. Things get chaotic.” ......... Surprisingly, the jump in disorganization also shows up in the world’s oceans and atmosphere — in whirlpools and maelstroms, tornadoes and hurricanes. ......... Notably, the jump also shows up in human life as groups of three cause social complexities to soar — markedly in young families. Two siblings have one relationship. But a third child results in seven kinds of ties among the siblings — .............. In the cosmos, stars also come in chaotic threesomes. The celebrated science fiction novel “The Three-Body Problem,” by Liu Cixin, features three stars that whirl around one another in unruly orbits. As a result, the planet Trisolaris suffers cycles of blistering heat and icy cold that can reverse in minutes, producing an alien civilization obsessed with survival. ........... The Cold War — for all its terrors and crises — avoided nuclear war in part because its mature structures echoed the binary stability that astronomers see in the heavens and that young families see in the relatively simple play of two children. ........... The looming departure is Beijing’s plan to produce 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035, as the Pentagon estimates. If achieved, the rise would represent a fivefold increase from the “minimum deterrent” that Beijing possessed for more than a half-century and would make it a nuclear peer of Moscow and Washington. ........... Moscow could fade into economic and strategic insignificance, leaving a strong Beijing and Washington to “navigate their way to a new bipolar equilibrium.” ............. “I don’t see Russia and China getting together” on atomic strategies, he said. “I see it as two bipolars.” As the Ukraine war rages and Washington has little interaction with Moscow, Dr. Hecker added, now is a good time “to work with the Chinese” in building a two-body relationship. .......... The main worry of military planners is that Beijing will not only achieve weapons parity with Washington but also form a military pact with Moscow. ......... Rather than weapon equivalence, they see endless arms races whose moves and countermoves could raise the risk of miscalculation and war......... an object suspended over three magnets makes unpredictable moves. ...... keeping an uneasy peace among nuclear foes required them to talk, to share concerns and to take modest steps at confidence-building. “We have to keep the lines of communication open and interacting” ........ After all, he added, “None of these nations want to wipe each other off the face of the earth.” .

28: Modi

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Tuesday, June 27, 2023

27: Russia

Opinion: Victory for Ukraine could be closer than we thought Both President Vladimir Putin, and Russia itself, have been shown to be far weaker than they would like to pretend to be. The sight of Wagner columns apparently being waved through on their way to Moscow, and calmly breezing in to occupy a key military headquarters while holding coffees, has exploded the idea that Putin has a firm and unchallenged grip on power throughout his own country........ the ability of a group of armed insurrectionists to roam southern Russia unchallenged has highlighted the Russian state’s lack of capacity to deal with challenges beyond the front line of its war on Ukraine. ........ The opportunity for Ukraine lies, instead, in the effect this should have on its coalition of Western backers. .

Wagner leader Prigozhin begins Belarus exile Prigozhin is a creation of the Kremlin. Since he formed the Wagner mercenary group in 2014, he has become a key tool of Putin's desire to reimpose Russian influence across the globe. ....... Shoigu has had a plan he hoped would reduce his adversary's influence for good, announcing that "volunteer formations" would be asked to sign contracts directly with the ministry of defence.

Tesla May Have Already Won the Charging Wars Deals with Ford and G.M. will make it easier to find a charger but could give Elon Musk control of critical infrastructure. ........... In addition to selling more electric cars in the United States than all other automakers put together, Tesla operates the country’s largest fast-charging network. ............ Tesla has 19,700 charging ports across the United States at about 1,800 stations

AI is killing the old web, and the new web struggles to be born ChatGPT is being used to generate whole spam sites. Etsy is flooded with “AI-generated junk.” Chatbots cite one another in a misinformation ouroboros. LinkedIn is using AI to stimulate tired users. Snapchat and Instagram hope bots will talk to you when your friends don’t. Redditors are staging blackouts. Stack Overflow mods are on strike. The Internet Archive is fighting off data scrapers, and “AI is tearing Wikipedia apart.” ............ Given money and compute, AI systems — particularly the generative models currently in vogue — scale effortlessly. They produce text and images in abundance, and soon, music and video, too............ Reddit’s moderators are staging blackouts after the company said it would steeply increase charges to access its API, with the company’s execs saying the changes are (in part) a response to AI firms scraping its data. “The Reddit corpus of data is really valuable,” Reddit founder and CEO Steve Huffman told The New York Times. “But we don’t need to give all of that value to some of the largest companies in the world for free.” .............. Wikipedia is familiar with being scraped in this way. The company’s information has long been repurposed by Google to furnish “knowledge panels,” and in recent years, the search giant has started paying for this information. But Wikipedia’s moderators are debating how to use newly capable AI language models to write articles for the site itself. ............ Google Search underwrites the economy of the modern web, distributing attention and revenue to much of the internet. Google has been spurred into action by the popularity of Bing AI and ChatGPT as alternative search engines, and it’s experimenting with replacing its traditional 10 blue links with AI-generated summaries. But if the company goes ahead with this plan, then the changes would be seismic. ........... Google’s new system is essentially a “plagiarism engine.” Its AI-generated summaries often copy text from websites word-for-word but place this content above source links, starving them of traffic. ............... Revenue-strapped sites would likely be pushed out of business and Google itself would run out of human-generated content to repackage. ............ for all AI’s vaunted ability to recombine text, it’s people who ultimately create the underlying data — whether that’s journalists picking up the phone and checking facts or Reddit users who have had exactly that battery issue with the new DeWalt cordless ratchet and are happy to tell you how they fixed it ............. It’s fluent but not grounded in real-world experience, and so it takes time and expertise to unpick. ............ There’s a famous essay in the field of machine learning known as “The Bitter Lesson,” which notes that decades of research prove that the best way to improve AI systems is not by trying to engineer intelligence but by simply throwing more computer power and data at the problem. The lesson is bitter because it shows that machine scale beats human curation. And the same might be true of the web. .............. the web itself killed what came before it, and often for the better. Printed encyclopedias are all but extinct, for example, but I prefer the breadth and accessibility of Wikipedia to the heft and reassurance of Encyclopedia Britannica.

If Biden Wanted to Ease U.S.-China Tensions, Would Americans Let Him? In polls, Americans’ views of China are starting to resemble their views of the Soviet Union decades ago. That could make it harder to mend ties. ........ Polls show striking similarities between the hostility, pessimism and militarism in Americans’ views of the Soviet Union during the late 1940s run-up to the Cold War, and how they view China today. While the parallels remain limited and the contexts different, this could complicate attempts to avert a Cold War-like clash. ........ By 1946, three-quarters of Americans disapproved of Soviet foreign policy. ......... In 1948, as the Soviets blockaded West Berlin, most Americans thought the U.S. should keep troops there even if it risked war. Today, most prioritize preventing an invasion of Taiwan over maintaining good relations with China, sending it weapons if China invades and using the U.S. Navy to thwart a blockade. By 1949, nearly half of Americans thought it was “just a matter of time” before the U.S. went to war with the Soviets. Today, two-thirds see Chinese military power as a “critical threat” to the U.S. over the next decade. ......... Chinese public opinion — which has become similarly negative and hawkish toward the U.S. under Mr. Xi — may also impede de-escalation. Academic research suggests that public opinion can drive leaders’ decision-making even in countries where politicians aren’t democratically elected. “There’s this public outcry for leaders to do something,” Mr. Kertzer said. “And then you end up in a situation where escalation on one side leads to escalation on the other.”......... “The conception at the macro level is that we are really in a serious competition,” Mr. Herrmann said. “Now the public has followed. And it’s not like you can turn this ship around overnight.”

Indian minister scoffs at Obama comment on protecting Muslims "He was commenting on Indian Muslims ... having bombed Muslim-majority countries from Syria to Yemen ... during his presidency," Sitharaman told a press conference on Sunday.

How To Write Effective Prompts For ChatGPT: 7 Essential Steps For Best Results . Without knowing how to prompt ChatGPT effectively it will remain a novelty tool with no real value. You’ll create generic mediocrity, not masterpieces worthy of sharing. You’ll waste more time than you save. The novelty factor will soon wear off and you’ll be back at the drawing board running your business the manual way. ......... “creating good prompts is easy when you follow the right framework and take out the guesswork” ........ “creating good prompts is easy when you follow the right framework and take out the guesswork” ........ Assign a role ....... Give a clear, descriptive, and accurate task ......... Provide context......... Large language models are capable of processing copious amounts of data. Unlike a human, who might make notes and forget about most of them, a model will process requests and handle every bit of information. Make the most of this power in your prompts. .......... Create rules ....... Garbage in, garbage out. Genius in, genius out. Learn how to prompt ChatGPT effectively to unlock a new level of output and stop wasting your time.

‘All bets are off’: An uncertain future after Wagner mutiny Speculation abounds on social media, but experts warn against drawing conclusions on the fate of the Wagner Group. ....... Prigozhin’s deal with Belarus does not necessarily guarantee his safety........ “It’s not possible for the Kremlin to marginalise Wagner,” he said. “Russia and Vladimir Putin depend on and, in fact, need the Wagner Group to carry out Russian foreign policy, not just in Ukraine, but around the world, in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali and elsewhere.”

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Monday, June 26, 2023

26: Prigozhin, Navalny, Putin

Putin looked into the abyss Saturday — and blinked . After vowing revenge for what he called an “armed mutiny,” he settled for a compromise. The speed with which Putin backed down suggests that his sense of vulnerability might be higher even than analysts believed. Putin might have saved his regime Saturday, but this day will be remembered as part of the unraveling of Russia as a great power — which will be Putin’s true legacy. ........ Putin’s deal with renegade militia leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin is likely to be a momentary truce, at best. The bombastic rebel will head for Belarus, in a deal brokered by his pal President Alexander Lukashenko, in exchange for Putin dropping charges against him and his mutinous soldiers .......... This was a real coup, until it wasn’t. For much of Saturday, Prigozhin was marching units of his 25,000-man Wagner militia toward the gates of Moscow, rolling through Russia’s Ukrainian command headquarters at Rostov-on-Don and north to Voronezh. Sources tell me the Russian FSB put up roadblocks along the way, to little effect. Putin called up the National Guard to defend Moscow. ........... As Putin said in a blood-curdling address Saturday, this was becoming a 1917 moment, when the nation was reeling from another misbegotten war and, in Putin’s words, “Russians were killing Russians, brothers killing brothers.” ........... as the Wagner forces moved north, the regular army neither followed nor hindered them. .......... This was like a game of chicken where both cars swerve in the end, or a duel where both fighters shoot in the air, to fight another day. ......... Putin had only bad choices, and he knew it. Chechen forces commanded by Ramzan Kadyrov would have been the vanguard of his attack on Wagner in Rostov; that would have been a savage mess. Putin couldn’t be sure whether regular army units would obey his orders. He was walking into a situation he couldn’t control. Putin doesn’t do that — with the exception of his insane miscalculation invading Ukraine. ........... With his ice-blue eyes, he embodies the phrase “never let them see you sweat.” He lets others feud beneath him, refusing to intervene over the past year as Prigozhin lobbed almost daily insults at Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Putin acts as if it’s beneath him to dirty his hands in such petty quarrels........... Now as then, he said, the enemy was external. “Against us, the whole military, economical and information machines of the West are turned,” he said. That toxic mixture of Russian insecurity and national pride continues to be Putin’s fuel as a leader........... What comes next, surely, is more trouble for Putin in Ukraine. Prigozhin told the truth flat out in the days before his march on Moscow. Ukraine didn’t threaten Russia, and Russia’s invasion was unnecessary — a mistake of epic proportions. Even Putin, the ice man, can’t freeze the burning truth of his Ukraine disaster.

Alexei Navalny: This is what a post-Putin Russia should look like The strategy should be to ensure that Russia and its government naturally, without coercion, do not want to start wars and do not find them attractive. This is undoubtedly possible. Right now the urge for aggression is coming from a minority in Russian society. ......... the problem with the West’s current tactics lies not just in the vagueness of their aim, but in the fact that they ignore the question: What does Russia look like after the tactical goals have been achieved? Even if success is achieved, where is the guarantee that the world will not find itself confronting an even more aggressive regime, tormented by resentment and imperial ideas that have little to do with reality? With a sanctions-stricken but still big economy in a state of permanent military mobilization? And with nuclear weapons that guarantee impunity for all manner of international provocations and adventures? ........ It is easy to predict that even in the case of a painful military defeat, Putin will still declare that he lost not to Ukraine but to the “collective West and NATO,” whose aggression was unleashed to destroy Russia. .......... he will vow to create an army so strong and weapons of such unprecedented power that the West will rue the day it defied us, and the honor of our great ancestors will be avenged. ......... And then we will see a fresh cycle of hybrid warfare and provocations, eventually escalating into new wars. ........... Russia must cease to be an instigator of aggression and instability. That is possible, and that is what should be seen as a strategic victory in this war.......... First, jealousy of Ukraine and its possible successes is an innate feature of post-Soviet power in Russia; it was also characteristic of the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin. But since the beginning of Putin’s rule, and especially after the Orange Revolution that began in 2004, hatred of Ukraine’s European choice, and the desire to turn it into a failed state, have become a lasting obsession not only for Putin but also for all politicians of his generation. ........... Control over Ukraine is the most important article of faith for all Russians with imperial views, from officials to ordinary people. In their opinion, Russia combined with a subordinate Ukraine amounts to a “reborn U.S.S.R. and empire.” Without Ukraine, in this view, Russia is just a country with no chance of world domination. Everything that Ukraine acquires is something taken away from Russia............ Second, the view of war not as a catastrophe but as an amazing means of solving all problems is not just a philosophy of Putin’s top brass, but a practice confirmed by life and evolution. Since the Second Chechen War, which made the little-known Putin the country’s most popular politician, through the war in Georgia, the annexation of Crimea, the war in Donbas and the war in Syria, the Russian elite over the past 23 years has learned rules that have never failed: War is not that expensive, it solves all domestic political problems, it raises public approval sky-high, it does not particularly harm the economy, and — most importantly — winners face no accountability. Sooner or later, one of the constantly changing Western leaders will come to us to negotiate. It does not matter what motives will lead him — the will of the voters or the desire to receive the Nobel Peace Prize — but if you show proper persistence and determination, the West will come to make peace. ................ there are many in the United States, Britain and other Western countries in politics who have been defeated and lost ground due to their support for one war or another.

In Russia, there is simply no such thing.

Here, war is always about profit and success. ........... The elites simply know from experience that war works — better than anything else. ............ The war raises Putin’s approval rating by super-mobilizing the imperially minded part of society. The news agenda is fully consumed by the war; internal problems recede into the background: “Hurray, we’re back in the game, we are great, they’re reckoning with us!” Yet the aggressive imperialists do not have absolute dominance. They do not make up a solid majority of voters, and even they still require a steady supply of propaganda to sustain their beliefs....... (Several people were “drafted to the front” directly from the penal colony where I am.)........

(Several people were “drafted to the front” directly from the penal colony where I am.)

Wagner leader Prigozhin will move to Belarus following the mercenary group's uprising against Putin, Kremlin spokesman says The reported agreement comes after a paramilitary rebellion on Saturday in which the Wagner Group marched across Russia before suddenly turning around just 120 miles from Moscow. Prigozhin said he didn't want to shed Russian blood. ........ Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko, a close Putin ally who has also long known Prigozhin, spent all day Saturday negotiating with Prigozhin ........ "The war wasn't needed to return Russian citizens to our bosom, nor to demilitarize or denazify Ukraine," Prigozhin said. "The war was needed so that a bunch of animals could simply exult in glory."

Narendra Modi Is Not Who America Thinks He Is Of the 180 nations surveyed in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index, India sits at 161, a scant three places above Russia. Its position on the Academic Freedom Index has nose-dived since Mr. Modi took office, putting it on a course that sharply resembles those of other electoral autocracies. The Freedom in the World index has tracked a steady erosion of Indian citizens’ political rights and civil liberties. On the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, India has tumbled squarely into the ranks of “flawed democracies.” ........ the government systematically harasses its critics by raiding the offices of think tanks, NGOs and media organizations, restricting freedom of entry and exit, and pressing nuisance lawsuits — most conspicuously against the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, who was recently ejected from Parliament after his conviction on a ludicrous charge of having defamed everybody named “Modi.” It is no “perception” that Muslim history has been torn from national textbooks, cities with Islamic eponyms renamed and India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, stripped of its autonomy. ........... The share of women in the formal work force stands at around a paltry 20 percent and has shrunk during Mr. Modi’s tenure. The share of wealth held by the top 1 percent has grown since he took office and is now 40.5 percent, thanks to crony capitalism resembling the Russian oligarchy’s. ........ In Edison, N.J., marchers in the annual India Day parade last August drove a wheel loader, which resembles a bulldozer, bedecked with images of Mr. Modi and a far-right Indian government minister who has ordered the razing of Muslims’ homes and businesses, rendering such vehicles symbols of hate as provocative as a noose or a burning cross at a Klan rally. ........... Across America there are now more than 200 chapters of the overseas arm of India’s fascist-inspired Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or R.S.S., of which Mr. Modi is a longtime associate. .......... Healthier ways to engage with India begin with understanding that Mr. Modi’s version of India is no less skewed than Donald Trump’s of the United States

Our Milky Way Is Somewhat Of An Oddball Galaxy, New Study Confirms

How to Turn Your Chatbot Into a Life Coach A chatbot can be an effective motivator that helps you set goals and organize your schedule to achieve them.

Inside Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Money-Making Machine The man who led a rebellion against President Vladimir Putin built a multinational commercial enterprise that helped fund his military operations. ...... experts expect the Kremlin to squeeze the man who launched the biggest challenge to Mr. Putin’s authority in his 23 years in power ....... Europe and the United States have been trying to shut down Prigozhin’s sprawling business operations for years. On the F.B.I.’s most wanted list, Mr. Prigozhin rose quickly in Putin’s Russia — from being the president’s favored caterer to winning major contracts that bankrolled Wagner Group, his private mercenary operation. Founded in 2014, Wagner fights wars and trains militias in politically restive countries, and it has been Mr. Putin’s go-to force when military campaigns go awry, such as in Syria and Ukraine. And Wagner’s internet troll farms target Western democracies and elections, including the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. ....... Wagner is a “brutal” transnational criminal organization, according to the Treasury Department. Evro Polis, a Prigozhin-linked company, that won energy concessions in Syria in return for military support. In Sudan and the Central African Republic, Wagner has muscled in on mining operations to help bankroll its operations. ......... To avoid sanctions and conceal its finances, Wagner often demands payment in gold, diamonds and shipments of oil and gas. The Financial Times estimated that between 2018 and 2021, revenues from Wagner’s holdings in natural resources were roughly $250 million. ............

Mr. Prigozhin also relies on a global network of corporate lawyers to fend off Western authorities

.......... “Unless he can show he’s so brutal that everyone needs to deal with him, this is the beginning of the end. Recovery will require a huge crackdown” ......... “This might be another demonstration of dysfunctionality, but he’s very good at finding a way to adapt and survive. His major talent is staying in power.”

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