Cheerful or not

Aug 22

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Aug 20

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Aug 19

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Aug 14

Maddie the Coton de Tulear (via Daily Puppy)

Maddie the Coton de Tulear (via Daily Puppy)

Aug 06

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Amur Leopard cubs at Twycross Zoo, Atherstone, Warwickshire, UK (via ZooBorns)

Amur Leopard cubs at Twycross Zoo, Atherstone, Warwickshire, UK (via ZooBorns)

Aug 05

AV Mediopadana train station in Reggio Emilia, Italy (by Davide U; via National Geographic)

AV Mediopadana train station in Reggio Emilia, Italy (by Davide U; via National Geographic)

April 1956. “Bill Haley and the Comets and Laverne Baker performing at the Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania.” (by Ed Feingersh for the Look magazine article “The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Controversy”; via Shorpy)

April 1956. “Bill Haley and the Comets and Laverne Baker performing at the Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania.” (by Ed Feingersh for the Look magazine article “The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Controversy”; via Shorpy)

July 1940. “Migratory agricultural worker from Florida waiting to leave Belcross, N.C., to another job at Onley, Va. It is Sunday and she is wearing her best clothes.” (by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration; via Shorpy)

July 1940. “Migratory agricultural worker from Florida waiting to leave Belcross, N.C., to another job at Onley, Va. It is Sunday and she is wearing her best clothes.” (by Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration; via Shorpy)

A F-22 Raptor performs a high-speed pass during the Arctic Thunder Open House on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 26, 2014.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt Joel Cooke)

A F-22 Raptor performs a high-speed pass during the Arctic Thunder Open House on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 26, 2014. 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Capt Joel Cooke)

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Jul 22

The Malaysia Airlines crash is the end of Russia’s fairy tale || Anne Applebaum (Washington Post) -

Before there is any further discussion of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, it’s important that one point be made absolutely clear: This plane crash is a result of the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine, an operation deliberately designed to create legal, political and military chaos. Without this chaos, a surface-to-air missile would not have been fired at a passenger plane.

From the beginning, the Russian government did not send regular soldiers to Ukraine. Instead, it sent Russian mercenaries and security service operatives such as Igor Strelkov — the commander in chief in Donetsk and a Russian secret police colonel who fought in both Chechen wars — and Vladimir Antyufeyev, the Donetsk “deputy prime minister” who led the Latvian KGB’s attempt to overthrow the independent Latvian government in 1991.

With the help of local thugs, these Russian security men besieged police stations, government offices and other symbols of political authority to delegitimize the Ukrainian state. In this task, they were assisted by the Russian government and by Russia’s state-controlled mass media, both of which still constantly denigrate Ukraine and its “Nazi” government. Just in the past week, Russian reporting on Ukraine reached a new pitch of hysteria, with fake stories about the supposed crucifixion of a child and an extraordinary documentary comparing the Ukrainian army’s defense of its own country with the Rwandan genocide.

Into this ambiguous and unstable situation, the Russians cynically funneled a stream of heavy weapons: machine guns and artillery and, eventually, tanks, armed personnel carriers and anti-aircraft missiles. In recent days, the separatist forces were openly using man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) and boasting of having taken down large Ukrainian transport planes, clearly with Russian specialist assistance. Indeed, Strelkov on Thursday afternoon reportedly boasted online of having taken down another military plane before realizing that the plane in question was MH17. The blog post was removed. In late June, several different Russian media sources published photographs of Buk anti-aircraft missiles that they said had been captured by the separatists — though they were probably outright gifts from Russia. These posts have also been removed.

This is the context within which a surface-to-air missile was aimed at a passenger plane: a lawless environment; irregular soldiers who might not be so good at reading radar; a nihilistic disregard for human life; scorn for international norms, rules or standards. Just for the record: There weren’t any Ukrainian government-controlled anti-aircraft missiles in eastern Ukraine because the separatists were not flying airplanes….

If it has done nothing else, the crash of Flight 17 has just put an end to the “it’s not a real war” fairy tale, both for the Russians and for the West. Tragically, this unconventional non-war war just killed 298 people, mostly Europeans. We can’t pretend it isn’t happening any longer or that it doesn’t affect anyone outside of Donetsk. The Russians can’t pretend either.

Nemophila or baby blue eyes (by Megu; via Colossal)

Nemophila or baby blue eyes (by Megu; via Colossal)

Hong Kong (by Simon Kwan; via National Geographic)

Hong Kong (by Simon Kwan; via National Geographic)