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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Perhaps There Is a Reason for the UN Vote

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In response to "U.S. to Pay UN Dues When Seat Is Restored," May 14.

Many U.S. citizens are saying, "We won't be kicked again" by the United Nations after getting booted from the UN Human Rights Commission. I think they are wrong. Many Americans have insisted that we "send a message" when our diplomats call on other nations.

Let's examine what's been going on with the U.S. record on human rights. A submarine loaded with "good public relations" riders comes up fast and sinks a Japanese fishing boat full of high school kids. Some were killed, and the submarine captain got half an early retirement as punishment. What do you think the parents of the dead children think? Do you think other countries respect our human rights views?

An airplane carrying a family of missionaries flies into what is called a "known drug traffic zone." They get shot at, downed into a river and shot at some more. A bullet goes through the mother's body and into her baby, killing them both. The CIA was reported to be flying surveillance while Peruvian personnel did the shooting. Human rights?

Why is it that surveillance planes like the EP3, which is reputed to see people walking around from thousands of feet in the air, can't see airplanes leaving Colombia with cocaine loads? A U.S. satellite photographed our captured airplane sitting in China, but I've never been shown an airplane on the ground in Colombia waiting to take off with a load of cocaine destined for the United States. According to the U.S. government, 480 tons of cocaine enters the United States every year.

The latest billion-dollar deal in the so-called war on drugs is "civil asset forfeiture." Local police keep 80 percent of the auctioned value and the feds get 20 percent. So, a kid gets busted while driving mom's car, and the cops seize her car for being involved in a drug deal, even though the owner knows nothing about it. This is human rights?

When Madeleine Albright went to China, one of her duties was to report that the United States doesn't like the abuses going on in China. At that time, we had 1 million people in prison. Now, we have 2,000,000 in prison. Congress has passed legislation that considers "crack," the least expensive form of cocaine, worse than powdered cocaine, and giving longer prison sentences for crack-related crimes. Is it just coincidence that crack is widely used among poor blacks, while powder cocaine is used in white-color circles? Is this human rights?

The countries that are putting up with the annual U.S "Most Favored Nation" reviews and those that must prove that they "are doing enough to fight drugs" have feelings too. It is hard to be a U.S. whipping boy when you know that the Big Guy might come bomb you at any minute. Since World War II, the United States has bombed at least 26 sovereign nations.

Maybe the UN vote will help us take a look at ourselves. We will see that we have a government that needs to be controlled.

Marty Riske
Fargo, North Dakota

More Space Tourism

In response to "NASA Is Shocked, Shocked!" an editorial, May 7.

In your editorial you rightly comment upon the impression that NASA may not be entirely straight-faced in its complaints regarding the first paying guest of the international space station. However, I feel that you missed the key issue.

Dennis Tito originally booked his flight on Mir. The Mir mission was terminated because of pressure from NASA, which felt that it was interfering with Russia's commitment to the ISS (this question is debatable). Tito was later passed onto the next possible option, the ISS, incidentally paying more.

The ISS represents a huge investment for all the governments involved. I am glad that at least one independent taxpayer, an American one at that, had the chance to see how his money was spent. Tito is most definitely an advocate of the manned space program and one who NASA should welcome rather than criticize.

Tito trained as an engineer and was hardly going to be trying to open any doors or turn on any switches without permission. That he was a distraction, I am certain — but probably not a significant one.

The commercialization of space flight is inevitable. It is a credit to the Russians that they helped make the flight possible. At least Tito's money will be used to benefit others through the Russian space program.

Hugh Kennedy,
Frankfurt, Germany

Reserve Now

In response to "Tito Triumphantly Returns to Earth," May 7.

So Dennis Tito has become a space tourist, breaking a taboo that has held back popular human space flight for so long. Tito will one day be seen as more than just an eccentric hobbyist with a dream.

Consider the following. Russia, whose incentive was strictly commercial, is already looking ahead. An adapted Vozdushny air-launched rocket could launch tourists for less than ?3 million, while vehicles such as the U.K.'s Ascender could do even better within 10 years. Within 10 years, we will see the first "Joe Public" space flight courtesy of a television game show.

The first generation of custom-built space hotels will follow soon enough, given Russia's strong desire for commercial success. Inflatable modules will allow large volume facilities for new sports and arts. In time, we will have competition from the commercially minded Chinese and others.

It is fitting that the nation of Tsiolkovsky, Korolyov and Gagarin should now be pioneering the next steps in cosmonautics. The evolutionary path toward the humanization of space seems clear enough. Necessity will be served by commerce.

Dr. Michael Martin-Smith
Hull, England

Way to Go, Russia!

Congratulations to everybody in Russia for being first yet again with developments in space travel. As an Australian with an intense dislike of the effects that U.S. "culture" has on our way of life, it is heartening to see another superpower demonstrating its superiority in a peaceful way.

Hopefully we will all live to see the day when the United States stops trying to be the global policeman and simply goes about putting its own very disorderly and often highly immoral house in order. To Russians everywhere, congratulations once again. The world needs you to keep moving in your current direction.

Michael Schneider
Adelaide, Australia

Is China a Threat?

In response to "China Poses Bigger Threat Than Chechnya," a letter to the editor by Brian Murphy, May 14.

Murphy's letter really nailed it. Russia's problem is indeed — and always has been — China. Americans have no animosity toward Russia. Other than perhaps a talented power-forward for the Sacramento Kings, Russia has nothing we need very badly.

China's well-publicized and generally silly confrontation with the United States is a ruse, an old-fashioned "red herring." China is clearly not in a position to follow through on its threats to the United States. However, they might well decide to walk north and east in very large numbers.

How do you spell Vladivostok in Chinese?

J.S. Rapp
Placerville, California

... Or the United States?

If Russia did not already know its enemy, arrogant letters like Murphy's printed in a foreign-owned newspaper, should make it clear. Russia should know by now that it has far more to fear from the United States than from China.

Why? Maybe because of NATO expansion. Maybe because there have been an estimated 400 CIA agents working in Russia since 1992? Maybe it has to do with the 1972 ABM Treaty or Kosovo?

Murphy's arrogance and deceit is abhorrent, especially since he is trying to use the tried-and-true practice of "divide and conquer." China is an ally of Russia in their jointly stated goal of creating a multipolar world. I hope that the people of the world are not taken in by this American propaganda. Long live Russia and its great people. Under President Vladimir Putin, I think it has at least a chance of retaining its greatness.

John Jureidini
Sydney, Australia

Ashamed for Russia

In response to "Foreign Students: 'We Want to Live in Peace,'" a group of letters to the editor, April 27.

I was appalled reading your readers' accounts of the mistreatment that people of color endure in my home country. I never imagined that there are racists among Russians. It is extremely sad to learn such abominable news.

I have lived in the United States for more than 10 years. When I was relocating, I thought that I should be prepared to experience animosity from Americans after so many years of the Cold War. Many Americans still remember soviet nuclear attack drills conducted in their schools.

But for all those years, I have not experienced even a single case of mistreatment or any offensive attitudes toward me as a Russian. Not a single time! Quite the opposite — Americans constantly express warmth and friendly interest as soon as they learn I am Russian. Even now, after so many events pushed Russian-American relationship back to Cold War atmosphere, this has not changed.

I am deeply ashamed of the aggressiveness that some Russians express toward people of color. I would like to apologize to all African and Asian students for this shameful attitude and for the offenses they experience in my country. By coming to study in Russian schools, they expressed respect for Russian science and education, and this respect should be appreciated and encouraged. Racism hurts both the individuals involved and the host country, too.

Physical attacks and violence must not be forgiven. People who attack innocent people, regardless of the motives, belong in jail.

Natalie Kalinina
Doraville, Georgia

Proud of Jordan

In response to "Jordan's Roots," a letter to the editor by Alex Lupis, April 27.

I read Lupis' letter and once more came to the conclusion that our compatriots abroad have the wrong impression about freedom of the press in Russia. Nobody here will say that the press is completely free, because, as everywhere, it depends on the person who's paying. But even more, nobody in Russia, including your fairly objective newspaper, is saying that NTV was an independent television station.

Of course, Lupis can't know that, but let him answer one very simple question: Would any American monopoly company owned by the state give a loan to, or pay the debts of, an independent TV station to different foreign banks?

In fact, NTV was the most pro-government television station, and its owner, Vladimir Gusinsky, was a master of the information racket, using it to buy hugely expensive properties abroad. After Vladimir Putin was elected president, Gusinsky and his Media-MOST outlets suddenly turned anti-government, because the information racket wasn't paying anymore. So NTV started complaining about press freedom and accusing Putin of harming it without any proof.

Unfortunately, some gullible people like Lupis believe such propaganda. Lupis even rebukes Boris Jordan for his attempt to save NTV and make it truly independent from the state.

I live in St. Petersburg, but my relatives live in the Vologda region. I visit my 82-year-old mother almost every month in the small town of Sokol, near Vologda, and have seen with my own eyes how much better life has become since Boris Jordan became owner of a wood-processing plant there. Everyone in the Vologda region considers him a savior because he managed to give new life to the forest industry in this vast region.

So Alex Lupis should not believe the false accusations against Boris Jordan. Russia needs patriots like Jordan, people who were born in countries where capitalism was well-developed, but who still feel close to the motherland of their ancestors, who dreamed about the kind of Russia that Jordan is now helping to build.

Vyacheslav Sheetov,
St. Petersburg

Manson's a Joke

In response to "Scaredy Manson," in the Beat, May 11.

I had the displeasure of reading the article about what the American shock rock star Marilyn Manson had to say about Russia and his fears of this wonderful country.

I am an American, and I am engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world. She is Russian, living in Kazan. I traveled to Russia back in January, and I found out for myself that this country is deeply misunderstood. I blame much of this on the past relationship between our governments.

I admit that I do not care for the way the politics between our two countries are being conducted. But we have a new president, who in my opinion is testing the foreign affairs waters, and Russia has a president who has been proving himself to be a true "world leader" in every respect.

Of course, Russia seemed like a very different place to me when I was there. I could see the effects of the country's poor economy on many people. But average people in Russia and the United States have more in common than you might think. Both are hard-working, decent people who love their countries. Although there are many Americans I do not like, I did not meet any Russians that I disliked during my visit.

Anyway, nobody in America gives a damn what Manson thinks. Nobody in Russia should either. Manson is a joke and so is his fear of Russia.

Mark Phipps

Odds and Ends

I visit Moscow often on business trips and I have also begun reading The Moscow Times through your web site. This is just a quick note to say how much I enjoy your paper and your writers. I particularly enjoy Anna Badkhen's column and her sense of irony. Please keep up the great work.

Roger Richer
Vancouver, Canada

I think your coverage is great and enjoy reading your viewpoints on most subjects that are part of the relationship between Russia and the United States.

Tom Kulaga
Palm Harbor, Florida