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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
"The biggest topic in British political circles on Monday wasn’t the country’s impending departure from the European Union. It was milkshakes..."
"I often disagree with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., but I've been disturbed by the idea that he should be run out of the Republican Party just because he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses."
"The Icelandic band Hatari, whose members are quite vocal in their animosity towards Israel, held up Palestinian flags... Madonna, likewise, had two of her performers wear Israeli and Palestinian flags on their costumes."
"To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, I turn to movie critic Roger Ebert's old review of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." (Trust me on this one.)"
"The money is already here—and has been for years. In the midst of a housing crisis, an injection of cash into the superheated real-estate market seems likely to cause an uptick in evictions and displacement."
"Parents concerned about YouTube debate whether to let their children have their own channels; some forbid it, others send them to summer camp..."
"‘I Had Completely Lost the Knack for Staying Alive..." Warmer weather brings daffodils, rhubarb at the farmer’s market — and, for some, despair."
"With his new book, Howard Stern proves that his rightful place is among the prophets and moral visionaries, not the ‘shock jocks’"
"I’m terrified of parenting in the anti-vaxxer age: Anti-vaccine propaganda isn’t just harmful to children. It threatens to erode our entire sense of community."
"...doctors are starting to think more about specific nutrients that feed tumor cells. That is, how what we eat affects how cancers grow..."
"...it represents an impressive achievement: a victory of humankind against the chaos that pervades the universe."
"If trends continue, in 20 years the majority of the world’s Jews will be living in Israel. The United States will see a continuing decline in overall numbers, with a growing observant Jewish population..."