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“While the Western media were focused on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s violent escalation of his conflict with Ukraine, another nation on Russia’s border, Georgia, voted in a run-off presidential election on Wednesday that will help determine its own geopolitical direction: Moscow, or the West.
Though the Georgian election got far less attention, both events were critical tests of the Russian leader’s relentless efforts to resurrect, as best he can, a sphere of influence over the former Soviet republics—and with a dazzling array of methods such as creeping annexation, stealthy assassination, and digitally undermining democracy everywhere.
In the case of Georgia, which is already doing Putin’s bidding by and large, those methods have included outright coercion, bribery and vote-buying, hate-speech, and voter fraud, according to Transparency International and other nongovernmental organizations. These efforts are intended to wrangle support for the Russia-favored candidate, Salome Zurabishvili, and weaken her opponent, Grigol Vashadze, the heir to the exiled pro-Western former president Mikheil Saakashvili.
In effect, Putin is trying to do more successfully in Georgia what he ultimately failed to do in Ukraine: rigging the electoral system to install a Moscow-friendly government. He appears perfectly willing to use violence when necessary, as he did by invading parts of Georgia in 2008 and in annexing Crimea after his Ukrainian stooge, President Viktor Yanukovych, fled in the face an anti-government uprising in 2014.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"Political leaders from all French parties, including former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, joined Jews and non-Jews in Paris’s Place de la Republique to condemn antisemitic acts."
"Eighty years ago tonight, thousands of Americans gathered in New York to rally behind the Nazi Party and its ideals. An Oscar-nominated short documentary retrieves footage of the event, but leaves out the context that gives it meaning."
"The PM has persuaded the religious-Zionist Jewish Home to partner with the Kahanists of Otzma Yehudit. It makes cynical political sense for his interests, but what of Israel’s?"
"IFC’s series Documentary Now! began as an affectionately parodic tribute to the classics of nonfiction cinema. Its first episode, “Sandy Passage,” was a note-perfect evocation of the Maysles brothers’ Grey Gardens..."
"Making our choices count is, however, far from straightforward, and this is the subject of Martin Hägglund’s book This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom."
"Teens in the United States are coming of age at a time when digital technology is truly ubiquitous, where smartphones are all of our “constant companions.”"
"...the Smollett story, if the “trajectory” leads to evidence of fakery, would actually reveal something else modern America is about: victimhood chic."
"Cool in the humanities isn’t that different from cool in other areas of cultural life, like planking, hotdog-legs photography, mason jar rehabilitation, and novels whose main character is a city."
"It’s true that high-octane, hardworking child-rearing has some pointless excesses, and it doesn’t spark joy for parents. But done right, it works for kids..."
"Cape Town in South Africa is a foodie destination. Some people in its renowned restaurant industry are trying to spread the food wealth citywide."
"...for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing astronomical amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something resembling utopia. "
"After facing persecution in the former Soviet Union and a new wave of antisemitism in the United States, Marya Zilberberg decides to put her Jewishness on display."