Putin’s war on the West

[T]he contest he (Putin) insists on can no longer be dodged. It did not begin in poor Ukraine and will not end there. Prevailing will require far more resolve than Western leaders have so far mustered.

via The view from the Kremlin: Putin’s war on the West | The Economist.

Putin has held power in Russia for 15 years.  What has he gained?

From his tantrums over the Middle East to his invasion of Georgia and multiple misadventures in Ukraine, Mr Putin has sometimes seemed to stumble into accidental disputes with the West, driven by a paranoid fear of encirclement. In hindsight it seems that, given his outlook, confrontation may have been inevitable.

Putin has driven a wedge between the US and Europe over how to deal with him, and thus weakened both.

For Mr Putin the only good neighbour is a weak one; vassals are better than allies. Only the wilfully blind would think his revanchism has been sated. Sooner or later it may encompass the Baltic states—members of both the European Union and NATO, and home to Russian minorities of the kind he pledges to “protect”.

So what is the West to do?  Options include arming Ukraine,which some Americans but no Europeans want.  Putin wins.

Or, provide Ukraine with foreign aid that allows it to build a better state, which will then side with Western powers.  Putin loses.

Which way will the US and Europe chose?

What If Europe Never Colonized Africa?

Africa, Uncolonized: A Detailed Look at an Alternate Continent | Big Think | Strange Maps.

What if Europeans had never colonized Africa?  What would the “state” boundaries look like?

The map – upside down, to skew our traditional eurocentric point of view – shows an Africa dominated by Islamic states, and native kingdoms and federations. All have at least some basis in history, linguistics or ethnography. None of their borders is concurrent with any of the straight lines imposed on the continent by European powers, during the 1884-85 Berlin Conference and in the subsequent Scramble for Africa.

Much different than the current boundaries, of course.  Would it be more peaceful and prosperous?

Illegal Immigration

BBC News – Illegal EU migration surges as thousands flock to Italy.

There has been a huge surge in migrants flocking to Europe.

At least a third of the latest arrivals are Syrians, fleeing that country’s civil war. But other significant numbers are coming from Afghanistan and Eritrea.

Also, the Libyan route was shut down for along time, but now is flowing again.

Much depends on the chaotic political and security situation in Libya, where a BBC team has recently seen evidence that large numbers of migrants are still waiting to cross. Some estimates put the figure as high as 300,000.

Both Italy and Spain spend a lot of money patrolling and rescuing migrants, money not reimbursed by the European Union, nor shared among countries.  And of course once in the EU migrants can move freely, since there are no internal border controls.

So as the number of illegal migrants to the US declines, the number in Europe is growing.

While the shrinking European population may need workers, the immigrants face discrimination, low-paying jobs, and a hard life.

Istanbul, Turkey : Image of the Day

Istanbul, Turkey : Image of the Day.

Istanbul has grown by more than 11 million people in the last 50 years, and the city has expanded to accommodate its new population.

NASA’s Image of the Day contrasts the city’s extent in 1975 with it’s current size.  A new bridge across the Bosporus strait opened in 1988 (the first was completed in 1975) and the city grew north east towards the newest bridge.

Istanbul is the only city to occupy two continents -Europe to the north, and Asia to the south.  It was founded in 330 CE, and served as a trading center and gateway between the 3 continents of the “Old World” for many centuries.

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