Vladimir Putin 2016 Calendar

Prior to the Sochi winter Olympics, shirtless Vladamir Putin wasn’t a matter of global scrutiny. Sochi  introduced bare chested Putin in gob smacking splendor. Images of stripped down Putin photo shopped atop exotic animals ambushed unsuspecting hotel guests. Shirtless Putin became the face of modern Russia.

Vladimir Putin’s official 2016 calendar tempers bare skin with representations of a man for the people. Dough eyed Putin sniffing a flower, suited Putin snuggling a puppy, rugged camouflage Putin with fish (perhaps after shirtless fishing rod Putin caught a chill ), tough guy sweat pants Putin working out – a publication one must see to believe.

What compels the leader of global super-power Russia to strut his stuff is anyone’s guess. On the cusp of 2016, as I hang a northern lights calendar on my kitchen wall – millions of Russians nail Putin’s surreal calendar to theirs.


Passionate Eye on Putin’s Games

Putin can wait a moment while I ponder Passionate Eye. As a Canadian growing up in the bossom of CBC television and radio, my countrymen and I came to expect honest investigative reporting and “facts” rather than conjecture or speculation. When CNN and Fox News forever changed news programming and format; Canadians couldn’t be fooled for long – we like our news in plain brown wrap, securely tied with a sturdy string – we value the content, not glossy paper or glittering bows.

This is why CBC’s (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) voice is where I turn for stories like the one that aired on Passionate Eye. No prime time hype, snippets of glossy sensationalism interrupting regular programming; simply a quiet little documentary, packing a big story. A story shattering the integrity of the International Olympic Committee; one that has me pondering why we would expose innocent athletes to political games.

I have a hard time deciding how to even put this gong show into words; from a “Passionate Eye” perspective, I’ll start at the very beginning. Russia is a vast country, one you would have to search long and hard to find a place without any snow in winter. A tiny little sliver  is considered “sub-tropical”, a resort destination, complete with sandy beaches and palm trees – Sochi – a place that never dips below 10 degrees Celsius in winter. Sochi’s mayor heads the local organization for “beach sports”, the area is surrounded by nature preserves catering to summer activities. Olympic village is 50 Kms from Sochi, and Krasnaya Polyana where alpine events are supposed to take place – another 50 Kms from the village.

Not insurmountable obstacles for an earnest country without many options, or perhaps some infrastructure in place. Putin cares little for such things – he liked the area, thought it was “comfortable and friendly”, liked skiing at Krasnaya and said money be damned. However hair-brained or bat shit crazy it seemed, his mind was set; he would have his Olympics at Sochi.

I couldn’t start to explain all the allegations from this point – only by watching the link below could anyone begin to grasp the farce of this black comedy. From Putin wining and dining each and every Olympic committee member before announcing his bid, flying ice to Guatemala for a “gala” prior to the Olympic committee announcing  the bid winner, involving wealthy Russian businessmen as “partners” in attempts to soothe citizens dismay at the 50 billion dollar and climbing price tag, building facilities like the ski jump and luge venues on land best described as “quicksand” prone to landslides, or allegations of contractor bribes and pay-offs.


For an abbreviated over view….


I just had a lengthy discussion with someone who reminded me of the controversy swirling about prior to the 2010 games in Vancouver. It all came rushing back – concerns over destroying the habitat of a rare frog by widening the highway to Whistler, pushing low income residents out of affordable housing, and messing with our already messy commute times. Sorry – not even close to Sochi shenanigans; nothing worthy of a documentary crew producing a film deemed scandalous enough by a government, as to offer 600,000 Euros not to show it.

I can’t say Passionate Eye has all the facts, or isn’t putting a particular “slant” on the story. I can say that I believe the Sochi situation stinks. Ponder the documentary, terrorist attacks in Russia, Russian military on “high alert”, and America’s announcement it has planes ready to evacuate athletes should Sochi hit the fan. Ponder Putin’s logic – or lack of – in an Olympics that simply doesn’t make sense. Ponder the IOC, sitting in an ivory tower or perched untouchable atop Mount Olympus.

I take media – even Canadian media – with a grain of salt. That said, CBC has more integrity in its little finger than all American networks combined. I can’t shake the feeling we’re being sold swampland in Florida. In my opinion – Sochi smells like week old fish.

Sochi – image from naharmet.com

Space – The Final Frontier

OK – So who owns space? According to a United Nations Treaty signed in 1967 by the Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States of America – no one. Called the “Treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies

  • the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
  • outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States;
  • outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means;
  • States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
  • the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
  • astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind;
  • States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities;
  • States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and
  • States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.

Pardon me if I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry. While tipping my hat to an extremely sensible set of rules, especially when considering the Cold War era of the authors – I’m laughing for exactly the same reason, a holy crap moment if ever there was one.

Almost 50 years ago, at arguably the pinnacle of paranoia and calamity; fingers poised on nuclear annihilation – a polite little agreement set terms for the final frontier. A practical approach – sensible, and designed for the benefit of all mankind. Principles too fantastic to ever consider applying right here at home.

Stuffy, mistrustful politicians crafted a masterful piece of science fiction, yet failed to catch the irony. I’m not so naive as to think any of them stuck to the deal, yet blissfully embrace the notion of a clean slate somewhere beyond our closed minds. I enjoy fantasy; the thought of a place existing free of earthly shackles, is as good a premise as any.

Until I hear differently – space is Shangri La. A place where all people are equal, liberated from war, matters of God, and any principles other than those that benefit mankind.