Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sochi Games: Politics, Not Sport, Tops Western Media Agenda

Finian CUNNINGHAM | 07.02.2014

 No other sporting event has attracted so much lurid and negative media coverage, emanating largely from the Western corporate news outlets…

The Sochi Winter Olympic Games open amid a flurry of superlatives. They are the most expensive Games to date – at a cost of $50 billion; they are the first ever Winter Olympics to be hosted by Russia; and the official torch relay to start to event is the longest in history, covering over 40,000 miles and involving the participation of some 14,000 torch bearers.
Another superlative is that no other sporting event has attracted so much lurid and negative media coverage, emanating largely from the Western corporate news outlets…
Over the past weeks, Western media have sought to highlight all manner of alleged problems awaiting the Sochi Games, ranging from the grimly serious to the sublimely ridiculous. This week, ahead of the Games’ official opening, under the auspices of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Western media carried reports that the US government was warning airlines heading to the Black Sea resort on the risk of explosives being secreted by terrorists in toothpaste tubes. 
A US warship has entered the waters of the Black Sea, without official explanation, with a second missile-bearing US vessel on the way. American and French Special Forces have also said that they have contingency plans in hand to evacuate their nationals in the event of a terrorist attack. 
Only weeks after the deadly double bombing in Volgograd – some 400 miles from Sochi – which killed more than 30 people, the threat of a terror assault on the Games is real enough. Some 40,000 Russian army and police have been deployed in and around Sochi to ensure security. Nevertheless, there is more than a hint that Western media and government sources are playing up the threat in a way that adds to anxiety of visitors and participating teams, rather than alleviating. 
There have also been numerous Western media news stories and supposedly investigative pieces about alleged corruption among Russian officials involved in the construction of the Olympic facilities; articles and television programs about alleged pollution problems from shoddy engineering; about families being displaced from their homes to make way for stadiums and infrastructure; about state-of-the-art accommodation for the athletes from more than 80 countries having faulty plumbing and contaminated water supplies. The list goes on and on.
Then there is the issue of «gay rights» given prominence by the British Guardian which published a lengthy article on the eve of the opening of the Games, along with an open letter from more than 200 international authors and activists, who claimed that Russia’s new law last year banning homosexual literature is a «violation of free speech». The issue was amplified by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who is attending the opening ceremony. The hapless UN figure head, who slavishly follows political orders from Washington on every issue, from Syria to North Korea, from Iran to Afghanistan, called on the International Olympic Committee to «defend the rights of gays and lesbians». 
This gender issue is why US President Barack Obama and a few other prominent Western leaders have decided to, in effect, boycott the Sochi Games, in what is seen by many observers as an unprecedented snub to Russia. 
But it was this week’s article in the New York Times – also on the eve of the Games’ opening – about the plight of stray dogs in Sochi that gave away the political agenda of the Western media’s coverage. The Times’ top three foreign news stories were on Egyptian jihadists, the political problems facing Ukraine, and, no kidding, «Racing to Save the Stray Dogs of Sochi». 
In more than 1,100 words, America’s so-called paper of record described in harrowing detail how hundreds of stray animals in the vicinity of the Sochi venue were «facing a death sentence before the Winter Olympics begin». The article claimed that the feral dogs were being lined up for «systematic slaughter» by exterminators «hired by the [Russian] government». Wooed by the purple prose of «squealing puppies» leaping up to kiss the faces of shelter workers, the reader could have been forgiven for thinking that Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB, had hired hitmen to conduct a ghastly pogrom against canines in Sochi. 
The New York Times claimed that the issue of dog control in Sochi «cast a gruesome specter over the traditionally cheery atmosphere of the Games» and that it «also sharply undercut the image of a friendlier, welcoming Russia that President Vladimir V. Putin has sought to cultivate in recent months.»
Talk about a shaggy-dog story! Never mind the Pulitzer Prize, this story deserves the Pull-the-other-one Prize. 
Reading the article one was almost expecting to hear how the dogs, if they were not put down by lethal injection, were going to be herded onto trains to be transported to gulags in Siberia.
Elsewhere, of far more disturbing human interest – but given a fraction of the Western media coverage – was the story of Susan Basso, the American female death row prisoner who was executed on the same day this week in the state of Texas. Basso was put to death by lethal injection. She was the 510th prisoner – and fifth woman – to have had her live terminated by Texas authorities since 1976. Her execution was only three weeks after the scandal of another American death row prisoner who was executed also by lethal injection and whose agonizing death took 26 minutes because the administered drugs were an experimental cocktail owing to shortages of the official prison toxin, Phenobarbital. 
However, with perverse priority, the New York Times opted to cover the «feared» extermination of stray dogs in Sochi rather than the barbaric fate of Ms Basso, and what her legalized killing says about contemporary American society. 
The pathetic misplaced priorities of the Western media in their saturation negative coverage of Russia’s Winter Olympics clearly points to a politically driven agenda, not an agenda based on objective journalistic value. Or, in other words, Western media are serving as propaganda functionaries with the obvious objective of undermining the Russian authorities. So much for free-thinking independent Western journalism, and so much for the Olympic spirit. 
It is no coincidence that the hysterical Western media hype over Sochi chimes closely with Western government political interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine. At every step over the past three months since the Ukrainian government rejected a European Union trade agreement, Western capitals have sought to inflame internal political problems in that country and between its Russian neighbour. 
Western political leaders and media have descended on Ukraine en masse to lionize and agitate pro-EU protesters even though the latter have behaved like an insurgency vandalizing public property, rather than constitutional peaceful dissenters. This week, we had US vice president Joe Biden phoning Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych telling him to «take immediate steps to compromise»; we also saw the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton coming to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to act as an uninvited «political broker»; and once again the American assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, flew in to rally the mobs in Kiev’s Maidan Square.
The relentless negative Western media coverage over the Sochi Games is not motivated by the alleged ostensible concerns that have been raised, whether gay rights or animal rights, faulty plumbing or the Olympic Torch blowing out. It is all part of a political agenda of low-intensity interference in Ukrainian and Russian affairs. This agenda is consonant with the wider creeping military aggression of the US and its NATO allies towards Moscow, from the expansion of missile systems around Russia’s border, to the covert support for extremists in the Caucasus to carry out acts of terrorism.
But what is galling is that conceited Western news outlets, with grandiose self-regarding titles like the New York Times, BBC, France 24, call this information «journalism» – when in fact it is nothing more than state-sponsored propaganda.
The saying goes: don’t mix sport with politics. From Western media and their governments’ point of view, Sochi is evidently all about politics and very little about sport.
Tags: Russia US
source: strategic culture foundation online journal

Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

  1. Winter Olympics seem to be a non event in Germany. Click here, to see cartoon:

    Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games | Wii U
    Get all of the official details on Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games for Wii U. Watch video trailers, see the gameplay features, and more.

Pentagon to boost missile defense spending by over $4 billion

February th 2014 by Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department plans to ask Congress for $4.5 billion in extra missile defense funding over the next five years as part of the fiscal 2015 budget request, say congressional sources and an expert.
Nearly $1 billion of that sum will pay for a new homeland defense radar to be placed in Alaska, with an additional $560 million to fund work on a new interceptor after several failed flight tests, said Riki Ellison, founder of the nonprofit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, and two of the congressional sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly.
The Pentagon's request for added funding comes despite continued pressure on military spending and cuts in other arms programs, a sign of Washington's growing concern about missile development efforts by North Korea and Iran, the sources said.
The White House plans to send its fiscal 2015 budget request to Congress on March 4.
Missile defense is one of the biggest items in the Pentagon's annual budget, although Republicans have faulted the Obama administration for scaling back funding in recent years.
The request is expected to garner bipartisan support in Congress, but it may also spark questions about billions of dollars spent over the past two decades on a "kill vehicle" built by the Raytheon Co that is used to hit enemy missiles and destroy them on impact.
The kill vehicle is part of the larger ground-based missile defense system managed by Boeing Co. Orbital Sciences Corp builds the rockets used by the system.
Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department's chief weapons tester, last week questioned the robustness of the Raytheon kill vehicle after a series of test failures, and said the Pentagon should consider a redesign.
"We need a new interceptor that actually works," said one of the congressional sources, adding that both of the existing kill vehicle models also needed to be fixed and tested since the replacement would need about five years to be made ready.
Ellison said the issue needed to be addressed quickly, given the Obama administration's push to buy 14 additional ground-based interceptors to beef up U.S. defenses against a potential missile strike from North Korea.
"We need to have this thing as soon as possible," Ellison said. He said some lawmakers might balk at paying for new interceptors that carried the current troubled kill vehicle, since a replacement would not be ready for about five years.
Twenty of the existing 30 ground-based interceptors carry the CE-1 version of the kill vehicle which failed to separate from the rest of the rocket in a flight test last July, said one of the congressional sources.
The other ten interceptors are equipped with a newer CE-2 kill vehicle, which has also suffered several problems and flight test failures, said the source.
The Missile Defense Agency aims to test fixes developed for the CE-2 kill vehicle this summer, after it wraps up its review of the July flight test failure, said agency spokesman Rick Lehner. That is months later than initially planned.
The agency's investigation into the July failure pinpointed the cause as a power fluctuation in the kill vehicle's battery, which caused the flight control computer to reset itself, according to two of the congressional sources.
"That battery had been in that interceptor for 10 years," said one of the sources, adding that it remained uncertain what caused the power fluctuation in the battery.
It was not immediately clear if or when an additional test of the CE-1 kill vehicle was planned.
John Patterson, a spokesman for Raytheon, said his company was working closely with Boeing and the Pentagon "to improve this program's kill vehicle capability."
Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp have already begun early conceptual work on a simpler and smaller "common kill vehicle." That program aims to build on the successes of Lockheed's Aegis missile system, which uses the SM-3 missile built by Raytheon, and the propulsion system used on the current kill vehicle. The effort also hopes to reduce costs by achieving more commonality.
Lehner said the approved fiscal 2014 budget included $70 million for initial work on the common kill vehicle, or a total of about $350 million over the five years through fiscal 2018.
He said he had no information on how the program would be designated or incorporated in future budget requests, or what future funding might be.
One of the congressional sources said the Pentagon now planned to transition its current concept work on a common kill vehicle into a full-fledged acquisition program, after a competition among the three companies working on the program.
Later the Pentagon also hopes to develop an interceptor that could carry multiple kill vehicles, the source said.

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Deutsche Olympiaberichterstattung schlicht bösartig, halten wir dagegen!

"Die Pannen in Sotschi werden gefährlich für Putin"
Dreckige Hotels, Umweltzerstörung, Zwangsumsiedlungen: Selten gab es so viele schlechte Nachrichten zu Beginn der Olympischen Spielen. Doch die Athleten sind zufrieden mit den Bedingungen. "DIE WELT
"Ein unvergleichlicher Männerchor, Selbstironie im Vorprogramm - und eine Panne, die wie ein Propagandatrick wirkt" DIE Süddeutsche
Foto: REUTERS In Sotschi gibt es noch immer einige Baustellen – auch wenn diese schön verkleidet werden. Die Liste der Mängel bleibt aber ..

"Die XXII. Olympischen Winterspiele sind mit viel Pathos, Pomp und einer Panne eröffnet worden. Einer der olympischen Ringe blieb bei einer aufwendigen Licht-Show dunkel. Auch sonst wollte der Funke nicht so recht überspringen." Kölner Stadtanzeiger

"Spott und "falsches Lob" für deutsche Olympiakleidung

Die deutsche Mannschaft war der Farbtupfer bei der Eröffnung der Olympischen Winterspiele. Die einen wollten den Regenbogenlook politisch deuten. Andere fühlten sich an einen Karnevalsumzug erinnert." DIE WELT
In diesem Tenor schreiben  sie fast  alle, das ist der von unseren Medien vorgegebene, gefährlich falsche Ton.
Wer die Eröffnungsfeier im Fernsehen gesehen hat, wer die russischen Nachrichtenkanäle verfolgt und wer die weltpolitische Lage betrachtet, der kann nicht umhin, diesen deutschen Medientenor, im Zusammenhang mit dem Boykott durch unsere politische Klasse als bedrohlich zu empfinden.

Gleichwohl aber geht von diesem olympischen Winterereignis im russischen Sotschi eine Friedensbotschaft aus. Ein versöhnlicher, völkerverbindender Ton wurde dort gesucht und und gefunden.  Ein Ton, der hierzulande im Moment ganz unerwünscht ist.

Präsident Putin saß neben dem deutschen  IOC Präsidenten Thomas Bach und neben diesem der UN Generalsekretär Ban Ki Moon.
 Bach fand den auch den richtigen, den brückenschlagenden Ton und der deutsche Sportbund berichtet einigermaßen objektiv:


Die 22. Olympischen Winterspiele sind am Freitagabend in Sotschi eröffnet worden. IOC-Präsident Thomas Bach fordert Sportler, Offizielle, Zuschauer und die Fans in aller Welt auf, "die Spiele zu genießen"

Die Olympische Flamme brennt außerhalb des Olympiastadions.

Die Deutsche Olympiamannschaft beim Einmarsch angeführt von Fahnenträgerin Maria Höfl-Riesch.
IOC-Präsident Thomas Bach forderte dazu auf, Konflikte nicht auf dem Rücken der Sportler auszutragen. 
Ein Kind namens Liebe, die gewaltige Stimme von Anna Netrebko und eine gelungene Änderung beim sonst so zähen Einmarsch der Nationen: Mit einer kurzweiligen, leichten und eher "kleinen" Show haben am Freitagabend im russischen Sotschi die 22. Olympischen Winterspiele offiziell begonnen. Der russische Staatspräsident Wladimir Putin, die treibende Kraft hinter der Vergabe und Ausrichtung der Spiele, sprach um 22.26 Uhr Ortszeit die traditionelle Eröffnungsformel.
Neben Putin saß Thomas Bach, für den diese viel kritisierten Spiele die ersten seiner Amtszeit als Präsident des Internationalen Olympischen Komitees (IOC) sind. Er forderte in seiner engagierten Ansprache die Politiker dazu auf, ihre Konflikte "nicht auf dem Rücken der Sportler auszutragen". Dann rief er Sportler, Offizielle, Zuschauer und die Fans in aller Welt dazu auf, "die Spiele zu genießen". (Der von Bach artikulierte Friedensgedanke und die Möglichkeit Olympia zum Brückenschlages zu nutzen wird einfach weggelassen! Bloggerin)
Eröffnungs-Show als Kontrast zum Gigantismus
Die Eröffnung war ein Kontrast zum sonstigen Gigantismus der Spiele. Die Entzündung des Olympische Feuers als Schlusspunkt vor einem dann wieder gewaltigen Feuerwerk fand außerhalb des Olympiastadions statt. Die frühere Eiskunstläuferin Irina Rodnina, dreimalige Olympiasiegerin im Paarlauf, und der legendäre ehemalige Eishockey-Torhüter Wladislaw Tretjak schickten die Flamme mit einer kleinen Fackel an die Spitze einer großen.
"Der IOC-Präsident Thomas Bach hat in seinen Worten die aktuellen Diskussionen nochmal auf den Punkt gebracht und zugleich die Athleten eindrucksvoll in den Mittelpunkt gestellt", lobte DOSB-Präsident Alfons Hörmann, der mit der Mannschaft einlief. Die Stimmung im Stadion war aber zwischenzeitlich ein wenig bedrückt, (????? - keine Rede davon!) nachdem das Publikum davon erfahren hatte, dass ein angeblich mit einer Bombe bewaffneter Entführer ein Flugzeug nach Sotschi hatte umleiten wollen. Die Maschine aus dem ukrainischen Charkow landete allerdings sicher in Istanbul. (ahah!)
Bemerkenswert war auch der Einmarsch der Athleten: Die Sportler kamen aus einem doppelten Boden im Innenraum des Stadions. Nach zehn Minuten gab es zunächst eine Panne, als sich von fünf gewaltigen Schneeflocken unter dem Hallendach nur vier in die Olympischen Ringe verwandelten. Durch die Show unter dem Titel "Dreams of Russia" (Russlands Träume) führte zunächst ein Mädchen namens Lubow ("Liebe"), das zu Beginn an Seilen vom Stadiondach hängend zwischen "fliegenden" Inseln umherschwebte.
Die deutsche Delegation kam als 21. in das Stadion und wurde eher verhalten empfangen.  (????) Angeführt wurde sie von Ski-Rennläuferin Maria Höfl-Riesch, die als eine der großen Medaillenhoffnungen gilt. "Ich hatte selbst unter der dicken Jacke eine Gänsehaut", sagte die 29-Jährige im ZDF: "Das war von den Emotionen her unbeschreiblich."

Olympische Rekorde bereits vor den Wettbewerben
Insgesamt erschien die Rekordzahl von 88 Delegationen - Rekord. Sieben Nationen sind in Sotschi erstmals bei Olympischen Winterspielen vertreten, darunter Malta, Osttimor oder Tonga. Bis 23. Februar treten 2873 gemeldete Sportler in 98 Wettbewerben an - ebenfalls Rekord. Zwölf Disziplinen sind neu, etwa Skispringen der Frauen. Die Russen hoffen auf Großtaten der Eiskunstläufer vor allem auf der Eishockey-Nationalmannschaft.
Nach der Präsentation der Teilnehmer zeichnete die "russische Odyssee" den Weg des Landes hin zur Moderne nach. Themen der Show waren auch Leo Tolstojs literarisches Mammutwerk "Krieg und Frieden", das von Stars des russischen Balletts dargestellt wurde, und die Oktoberrevolution, die das Ende des Zarentums markierte. "Das war ein lockerer und unterhaltsamer Streifzug durch die russische Geschiche, gewürzt mit selbstironischen Elementen", lobte DOSB-Generalsekretär Michael Vesper. ….