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from The Great Debate:

NSA as ‘Big Brother’? Not even close

Reader holding a copy of George Orwell's 1984, June 9, 2013.  REUTERS/Toby Melville

When the Guardian and the Washington Post revealed details about the National Security Agency collecting phone data from telecommunications companies and U.S. government programs pulling in emails and photographs from internet businesses, suddenly “George Orwell” was leading the news.

The British essayist predicted it all, commentators asserted, and the United States now seems straight out of 1984, Orwell’s novel about a dystopian future. “Big Brother” had arrived.

This is ridiculous.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden might claim that America is under the Big Brother’s glare, but he does not understand what this really means. I grew up in the Soviet Union. I knew Big Brother. This is not even close.

from The Great Debate:

The great paradox of Hobsbawm’s choice

The words “communist” and “socialist” are now used so recklessly in the United States that their meaning has been devalued. But Eric Hobsbawm, the British historian who died Oct. 1, was the real deal.

Born in 1917, the year of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Hobsbawm used Karl Marx as the inspiration for both his personal politics and his successful transformation of our understanding of history. He was an unabashed and unwavering supporter of communism in theory and practice, who only let his party membership lapse at the final moment, when the Berlin Wall fell.

from Fan Fare:

Daytime therapist, nighttime filmmaker captures Soviet life

Photo by Daniel Bases

He's a physiotherapist by day and a filmmaker by nights, weekends and everything in between. Semyon Pinkhasov has captured facets of Soviet life that rarely get shared beyond Russia's borders, even after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

(For story, click on http://r.reuters.com/qac34m)

The self-taught, self-financed, award-winning amateur documentary filmmaker has seen his films shown worldwide at festivals and on Russian and English-language television channels. Focused on the arts and the sport of fencing (U.S. Olympic Team Coach in 1984), he tells stories about Grigory Fried, who has run a music appreciation club in Moscow for 45 years without taking a kopeck; Tikhon Khrennikov, the first and last secretary of the Union of Soviet Composers; and Boris Efimov, perhaps Stalin's favorite cartoonist.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Gramps was a big fat poopy-head!

RUSSIA/ You have to respect people who defend the proud name of their ancestors. It's all too easy to take cheap shots at folks who are no longer around to defend themselves. So, hats off to Yevgeny Dzhugashvili for suing a radio station for negative comments about his grandfather, who was, let's see  just a minute here, Josef Stalin....Wait a second. Did I read that right?

RUSSIA/Well I'll be damned, that's what he's doing. It seems it's the second libel action Dzhugashvili has taken against the media for unkind remarks about the late dictator, blamed for killing millions in gulags, mass executions, famines, etc.
Yikes. If  this guy succeeds, what next? A class action on behalf of the descendants of Vlad the Impaler, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Pol Pot and Idi Amin, against anybody who ever bad-mouthed those guys?
I'm sorry, Mrs. Impaler... I must advise you and the little Impalers that it could take some time to restore Great-Grandpa Vlad's good name, but we'll get there....

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from Global News Journal:

Death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn – dissident and writer

Writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn talks to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin after receiving a State Prize for his achievements in the humanitarian field at his home in Troitse-Lykovo outside Moscow June 12, 2007.Tributes have been pouring in for Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian author, former Soviet dissident and Nobel Literature prize laureate who died on Sunday aged 89.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, described the author of "The Gulag Archipelago" and "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" as a man of unique destiny and said: "He was one of the first people who spoke up about the inhumanity of Stalin's regime with a full voice, and about the people who lived through this but were not broken."

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