Hijabs and Fertility

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On September 16th, Mahsa Amini, a 22 y/o woman of Kurdish origin, was detained in Tehran by the Morality Police, an outfit dedicated to enforcing strict adherence to the religious mandate of wearing head scarves and robes. She was visiting the city with her family. She died later that day while in custody. Physical abuse while in detention is suspected.
Long repressed resentment has led to protests and many dead across Iran.
Women have seized the moment to go on the offensive and reject the religious strictures aimed at suppressing their femininity. They have taken to publicly burning their hijabs or head scarves. Many have been incarcerated.
Yesterday, a NYT article reported that Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech at a police academy graduation, blamed foreign interference for the disturbances. He cited the US and Israel, along with paid Iranian traitors as the main culprits. Videos on Twitter show scenes of people shot and of protesters at Sharif university, a technology center in Tehran.
But he never mentioned the effect the battle for freedom in Ukraine is having on Iranian women. Never mentioned the drones that Iran is selling Russia so they can more effectively kill Ukrainians.
Iranian women, long fed up with the regime’s repression, want freedom too.
They want their freedom to be women. Why should the gifts that nature gave them be covered up?
Why? To suppress their sexuality? Yes. To hide their looks and the power they have over men? Yes.
Women have reason to be angry that they are denied the option of showing their bodies. Apparently, the regime believes that would be too unsettling for Iranian men.
Allowing women to show their bodies is seen as too disruptive by the theocracy in power.
What will they want next? Political power? NO!
They must be kept in their places, under the control of men. Doing what religion says they ought to do. Bear children and be quiet.
And in a city square somewhere in Iran, I can hear the cry of a proud Iranian woman addressing a crowd of supporters, both women and men, as a bonfire sparkles and crackles before her.
‘It is up to us to change the rules that govern us, up to us women, because we are the most oppressed.’
She has her hijab in one hand as she steps forward and throws it into the bonfire.
Cheers rise from the audience. Some of the women in the audience step up to the bonfire and toss their hijabs into it also.
‘This fight is just starting… so what can we do to make our statement and improve our condition?’ continues the speaker.
And all the women raise their fists and start chanting, ‘Free Iranian women!’
And the speaker says, ‘We need to do something radical to gain our freedom… so let us all stop having sex!’
People in the audience laugh, at first incredulous, asking themselves, is she serious?
‘Yes’, resumes the speaker, ‘Let us stop having sex, even if you’re married. Stop. In the name of freedom. Stop. All women should say, we will not have sex and will not bear children until we are free to be who we are!’
‘Woman power!’ resume the chant from the audience, now more vigorous.
Some of the men in attendance laugh at first, but then slowly start joining in.
‘It has come to that point…’ restarts the speaker, ‘that we have to deny our nation a new generation… until such time as all of us women are granted our freedom.
To control us is unacceptable. The profound disregard for us have shown the ayatollahs to be inept. They should go back to their temples, get on their knees and ask god where was it that they went wrong.
So as difficult as it may seem, I ask that all Iranian women choose chastity… and deny our nation the option of fertility… for it is not a given.
For a woman to be fertile she must be respected… and we are not respected in our land.’
‘Woman power!’ resumes the chant from the audience. ‘Woman power!’
‘Long live Iran!’ cries the speaker, ‘and long live Ukraine… blessed nation and inspirer of people all over the world.’
Applause.
Then a gun shot rings in the night.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Putin on the Progress of the War

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He is in one of his vacation homes, a hilly, secluded area heavily guarded by a top security team.
He strolls in the open field behind it accompanied by his faithful dog. Putin carries a short stick in his hands.
In the near distance, a small lake glistens invitingly. It’s early morning.
Much has been happening in the battlefields of Ukraine and he needed to step back.
They walk by a small stable with three horses that lies to their left.
A short distance past they reach the lake. He sits on a rock, facing the water, and looks off pensively into the distance. It’s a bit cold and windy and he’s wearing a heavy jacket. The dog has a thick fur coat.

Putin – It’s not going well. I underestimated the West. Overestimated the resolve of my forces.
But it’s not over.

The dog lies down on the ground.

Putin – I’ve been surprised by the reaction to my calling up the reservists. People leaving Russia every way they can. But I’m putting a stop to it. Three hundred thousand men should help in the short run. I worry, though, that many will die, that they won’t be a match for the battle-hardened Ukrainians, which is why I’ve started to talk about using nuclear weapons.
It unnerves the West.
Would I use them? Not if Russia’s territorial integrity is not breached. I’m not including occupied Ukrainian land, even from 2014 on.
I still have the support of my people, but I won’t deceive myself about a growing resistance. Like the car explosion that blew up Aleksandr Dugin’s daughter… and now the bombing of the Nordstream pipeline. We put a lot of money into it. Those bombs were set off by insiders who want me out. But we’re investigating and we’ll get them.
I need time. I am hoping the results of the mid term elections in America will help. If enough supporters of Trump get in, then the aid Congress has authorized to help Ukraine could be blocked. And Biden’s allies in Europe will complain. I’m not sure Biden can keep them together.

The dog whimpers and Putin pats him.

Putin – Winter is almost here, the rains are coming and that’ll slow things on the battlefield, which buys me time.
The assault on the Capitol on January 6th (2021) was my signal to invade. I’d been thinking about it all along but that clinched it. I thought, look how weak they are… how divided. I already knew how decadent they are… how they shoot each other all the time… how they rip each other apart over abortion and immigration… how so many of their people die from drug overdoses… and they pretend to be the leader of the world. They love to glorify themselves, ‘exceptionalism’ they call it. Ha!
And yet… they managed to surprise me… managed to pull themselves together when I threatened to invade Ukraine, a far away land. Now, that is exceptional.
I never imagined that someone, who I thought was a second rate politician who couldn’t stop talking, had the nerve to pull Europe together. I should’ve taken the hint when he chose to pull out of Afghanistan against fierce criticism. I missed that.
But I’m still hopeful that I can beat back Ukraine. Bomb all their energy producing facilities… leave them without any electricity… without any potable water… destroy all their dams… their hospitals… everything… bomb and bomb… until they get on their knees and beg to surrender.

The dog whimpers again, looks up at Putin, who rubs his head.

Putin – I need Republicans to win back both houses… not just any Republicans but those who take instructions from Mar-A-Lago. That’s what will make a difference in supporting Ukraine. They’ll protest that Ukraine is too far away and they need those funds to battle immigration… to help their own… and get back to finishing the wall facing Mexico. Those are my allies in America, the Right. The farther right the better. And I will have my cyber security experts do everything possible to inflame the immigration issue… make clear how those devils are harming America, how it’s the immigrants who are responsible for the country’s decadence. Ha! If they only could get rid of them they would be wholesome again. And inflation, that too, even though theirs is lower than England’s and Europe’s, that could be worked up, blame it on the incompetence of a senile president who’s leading them to destruction.
If I can get congress to reduce their support of Ukraine, that will be the signal for Europe to back off and push Ukraine to negotiate instead. And we’ll get Erdogan from Turkey to moderate the talks.

Thinking aloud has made him feel better.

Putin – Yes, there’s hope. I won’t be defeated. I mustn’t forget that I have friends in the West, people who like autocrats… who are tired of democracy and its constant fights… people who prefer to have permanence… prefer to have one president who can stay in power until he dies… like I’d like to… and like Xi Jinping would like to… and like Modi in India would like to, also. It simplifies our existence. Permanence, stability, they are beautiful.
As far as the nuclear weapons is concerned… if you don’t violate my territorial integrity, I’ll never fire them. They have weapons too… and once the firing starts, anything could go wrong… and my dear Russia could be burned to a crisp. Me included.

His dog stands.

Putin – Washington, you want some exercise?

The dog licks his hand. Putin stands and throws the stick far into the lake.

Putin – Go get it! Go!

And the dog runs off, jumping into the cold waters and paddling away in search of the stick.

Putin – As to Biden, I wish I’d had the chance to shine like he has. What a moment he’s living. To have pulled together Europe against the invasion. Now that’s glorious. But in a sign of their growing decadence, Americans are not giving him credit. They can’t see it. Instead, they want to defeat him in the mid term elections on account of inflation… and immigration.
On that they’re showing little imagination… showing their decadence… which is great for me.

And he shouts out to his dog, ‘Go Washington, go!’

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Dear Russian Military

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The time is now.
Now that Putin is scared of Ukraine’s mounting offensive and growing desperate that the exodus of Russians cries out loudly, ‘we don’t trust you, you’re destroying our nation, do not sacrifice our lives for your lies.’
If he had been sleeping well at night, that has changed.
That cry is haunting him and has opened a precious opportunity for you to act.
Russia has been underperforming as a nation for a long time. You know that.
And you can make a difference.
The world knows of Russia’s economic, intellectual and artistic capacities but yet the nation remains on the margins. There are various reasons for it but lack of sound leadership has been a key factor. It takes a little luck for nations to have good leaders. You have not had such luck.
After being dominated by the czars, the communists took over.
There was a very brief period in the late 1980s until 1991 when Gorbachev brightened your heavens, but then his star dimmed. Boris Yeltsin, who had the distinction of leading the protests that stopped the coup against Gorbachev, went on to make the horrible mistake of appointing Putin as prime minister in 1999.
But opportunities return. There is today a great opening for a courageous Russian military officer to lead the effort to depose Putin.
Your nation cannot and must not allow itself to be degraded the way Putin does.
Think of why you joined the military. If you joined to get a pension then stop reading this and go back to your crossword puzzle. But if you joined because you wanted to do something for your country then this is for you.
To seize the opportunity that is now before you, a great deal of courage is needed. It will not be easy. You will be risking your life and will need fellow officers to work in concert with you.
But the rewards will be enormous, for you will change the world.
You will have a chance to free millions of people, to change the present geopolitical balance and to remind the oppressed everywhere, that men and women of courage are here today and willing to step up in the hour of need.
Putin must be stopped. The West has done an excellent job forming a united front and supporting Ukraine. But it is not enough. We need you now.
Dear Russian military, we know you exist. There was the bombing death of a spokesperson for Russia’s Far Right a few weeks ago and just this last Monday, 9/26, the Nordstream pipeline was damaged by explosions that created 4 gas leaks. Maybe it came from you or maybe it didn’t, but both actions required very specific information.
I do not advocate violence against anyone, not even against Putin, for there are other ways that can be used to neutralize him.
But for you to remain passive in the face of the atrocities committed in the name of Russia, does not make any sense. It makes you a de facto accomplice. I am sure that was not why you joined the military.
Mikhail Gorbachev’s actions had a resoundingly positive worldwide impact. Germany is united today because of him. And though he subsequently ran into much resistance at home, I don’t think he should have chosen to voluntarily cede power to Yeltsin in 1991.
Such decisions can have enormous consequences.
And yet, the spirit of Gorbachev lives on. The light that he shone on the world can still be seen and is there to guide Russia and its courageous soldiers in the effort to remove Putin.
Open your hearts and minds and step up.
Now is the time to join with Ukraine in the quest for freedom.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Vasily!

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The mass of protesters surged forward, some of them with their faces covered, some not. Men and women of various ages, arms interlocked, a look of fierce determination.
‘We won’t fight Ukraine! We won’t fight Ukraine!’ They chanted vigorously. ‘Long live Russia!’
A block and a half away a unit of riot police in full gear, four lines deep, waited silently to stop them, their shields and batons at the ready, their faces covered by balaclavas. Behind them three vehicles with water cannons stood vigilantly along with 2 empty buses.
The march was taking place near the center of St Petersburg along a wide avenue lined with tall apartment buildings, from which balconies people looked down as they snapped photos and took videos.
The protesters kept advancing, undeterred by the riot police staring back at them.
More than a thousand men and women made up the advancing mass.
‘We won’t fight Ukraine! Long live Russia!’
Moments later the protesters came to a stop about 15 feet or so from the riot police. They continued their chanting, which grew louder and more defiant.
An officer stepped out from behind the riot police and to one side. Bull horn in hand, he said to the protesters, ‘Disband! You’re in violation of the law. This is an illegal demonstration. Disband immediately or face the consequences!’
The protesters paused for an instant before resuming their chanting. ‘We won’t fight Ukraine! Long live Russia!’
Then the officer addressed his troops. ‘Proceed to disband!’
And the troops charged the protesters, batons held up high ready to strike the defenseless men and women. And the batons came down hard on the heads and arms of the protesters.
Cries of pain filled the air as the protesters were furiously bludgeoned. A woman and a man fell to the ground from the impact of the clubs.
A woman called out, ‘Vasily!’
She broke off from her companions attempting to reach the man who’d fallen but was blocked by the riot police and shoved back.
‘Vasily!’ she cried again, frantically.
The first cry had sounded vaguely familiar to a riot policeman in the front line but now the second cry made him cringe with fear. He knew that voice. He immediately ceased swinging his baton and yelled, ‘Irina!’
The woman looked in his direction, ‘Igor!’
‘Yes!’ answered Igor with alarm.
‘Vasily went down!’ she replied, signaling to her right.
‘What?’ His face went pale.
The riot police kept pushing the protesters back.
Urgently, Igor began to move toward where Irina had signaled.
‘Vasily!’ shouted Igor loudly, in desperation, ‘Vasily!’
He was trying to wind his way through the advancing officers, but he couldn’t get through the tight formation.
Igor pressed on and reached the fallen man, then threw himself immediately over him, his fellow officers stomping on by.
Igor felt the warmth of the body that now lay under him. But was it him? He wasn’t sure. Reaching up with one hand he then pulled off his mask. And it was him. Vasily. His son.
Irina could no longer see Igor but kept moving in their direction when a club crashed hard over her head and she,too, fell to the ground.
‘Vasily! Talk to me!’ cried Igor to his son, but Vasily couldn’t answer.
The rest of the riot police had advanced past them as they pushed back the demonstrators, the vehicles with water cannons now shooting their hard streams at them.
The officer with the bull horn strode up to where Igor covered Vasily.
‘What are you doing?’ said the officer.
‘This is my son,’ said Igor as he looked up at the officer, the expression confused, bewildered, ‘My son… I thought he was at the university… I didn’t know he was with the protesters… it’s my fault…’
The officer with the bullhorn looked down at Igor.
‘You’re a police officer. Join your fellow officers. Your son will be taken care of.’
And Igor’s expression seemed to freeze.
‘I can’t… I can’t…’ answered Igor as he looked helplessly up at the officer. And then he looked to the side where just a few yards away lay the body of the woman who had called to him. It had to be Irina. He went to her and it was she. A big clot was forming on her bloodied forehead but otherwise she was conscious. She smiled at him. “How is he?’
‘I don’t know, he won’t respond,’ said Igor.
Irina’s expression changed. ‘Help me up, Igor, I need to see him… he needs me.’
And Igor started to lift her but then the commanding officer appeared again at his side.
‘We have people to do that, now join your fellow officers, we’ll take care of your son and this woman.’
And Igor stared back at the commanding officer. He called him by his first name, Ilya. ‘Ilya… I can’t… I can’t do it anymore… these are my children… I can’t do it.’
‘Join your fellow officers now!’ insisted the man, ‘or I will charge you with insubordination.’
Igor didn’t move, just stared back, puzzled.
Two medics, a man and a woman, came up to where Irina lay and started to lift her but she said, pointing in Vasily’s direction, ‘he needs more help than I do, go to him first.’
The medics ignored her, pulled her up and took her to the side of the avenue where other injured people were being gathered.
‘Stay with Vasily, Igor, please!’ were the last words he heard from her.
Igor moved back quickly to where Vasily still lay. He was unresponsive.
‘Vasily, my child, speak to me!’ cried Igor in anguish. ‘Vasily!’
The commanding officer followed Igor and stood over him. Now he was joined by two other men.
The commanding officer stared down at Igor. ‘I will have to charge you with insubordination, do you hear me, Igor?’
Igor had been on his knees, holding Vasily’s hand in his but now appeared transfixed.
‘Do you hear me?’ pressed the commanding officer.
And Igor began to shake his head slowly, horror coming over him as tears rolled down his face. He had been taking his son’s pulse and now there was no pulse.
‘Are you deaf?’ insisted the commanding officer as he hovered over Igor.
And Igor started to slowly look up at the officer, eyes wide open, glaring in disbelief.
‘Ilya… he’s dead… my son… Vasily… he’s dead.’
And the commanding officer stood up straight, aghast.
And Igor, reacting, immediately positioned himself astride his son and started to do chest compressions. And one of the other officers joined him, alternating with Igor to give mouth to mouth respirations… and two medics came to their side with a cardio converter and they tried it. And it didn’t work. So Igor and the other officers went back to compressing Vasily’s heart and breathing for him. And they tried again the heart converter. And they repeated the cycles. Again and again. And again. With no response.
The protesters had been driven back, prisoners taken while others had dispersed, yet still they chanted, ‘We won’t fight Ukraine! Long live Russia!’
From one of the balconies in an adjacent building, a woman had video recorded the entire affair. After all was over, she would upload it and it would go viral.
Igor lay a long time next to Vasily’s body, sometimes covering him with his own, sometimes simply touching his face, remembering when his son was a child, and how he liked playing checkers, and then basketball and video games, and then the guitar, and how he later enjoyed solving math problems. He was going to school to become an engineer.
He remembered that Vasily dreamed of one day visiting the West, maybe working there for a while before returning to Russia, which he loved.
But none of that would happen now, thought Igor. None of it.
Now everything was gone.
And what would he say to his mother?
Her only child.
What would he say to her?

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Biden and Putin Talk

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Biden is in the White House, Putin is in his bunker.
They talk via a special channel using advanced Zoom technology and they both fill their respective screens.
While not visible, in the room with Biden are Kamala Harris, Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan.
Two unnamed assistants sit near Putin.

Biden – It’s time to end this.
Putin – Are you speaking for Zelensky?
Biden – No… he speaks for himself.
Putin – What do you propose?
Biden – You pull back to behind your borders… and agree to pay reparations.
Putin – You’re mad.
Biden – You’ve just mobilized 300 thousand Russians to fight in Ukraine… 300 thousand men not well trained, and vulnerable to getting killed or maimed because they’re no match for Ukrainians… and for what?
Putin – I have a dream of a greater Russia… a Russia that will be respected everywhere… consulted in all important decisions…
Biden – You’ve had more than 20 years to do that… and you didn’t do it.

Putin lowers his eyes.

Biden – In those 20 years, China rose to become the second most important economy in the world… even though they were still denying their people the freedom of speech… but they let them create, invent, copy from the West which they were clever to invite in. But all the while in Russia, the power stayed concentrated on you and your oligarch friends. Now China is running into other problems which will limit their growth, but we won’t talk about that this moment.
Putin – I admit they have done better than us… but they’re not better than us… like you’re not better than us.
Biden – I agree… but we work hard to assure the freedom of all our people… citizens and residents… immigrants from all over the world who come in search of liberty and opportunity.
Putin – You’re a racist country.
Biden – We have been… and maybe still are… but we keep working on it.

The two men look at each other directly.

Biden – You started this war… not because you were being threatened… but because of envy… envy of all the nations which have surpassed you during the time you’ve been in power. So you invented this dream of a greater Russia to make up for all your blunders… and chose to sacrifice your fellow Russians. That is unforgivable.
Putin – Unforgivable?
Biden – There’s no way back.
Putin – I know that.

They pause.

Biden – You can’t bring back the dead, the maimed… the tears for whom will never dry.
And yet you go on TV the other day to say that representatives of NATO nations are threatening Russia with nuclear weapons. No one has said that. You invented it to justify calling for another 300 thousand people to join in your madness.
Putin – I am not mad.
Biden – I know… which gives me hope.
Putin – Hope?
Biden – Yes, hope that you announce to the world that this is over.

Putin laughs.

Biden – Admit that you made a colossal mistake out of envy… and that you deeply regret you have not made Russia a leading nation in the world… as your nation would have become… if they had been free.
Putin (to himself)- My dear Russia…
Biden – There is still time… time to act to redeem yourself.
Putin (pulling his head back as he closes his eyes) – That time has passed… I’ve killed too many people… destroyed too many things…
Biden – You could ask all the oligarchs you’ve made rich… to contribute four fifths of their wealth toward a fund to rebuild Ukraine.
Putin (shaking his head slowly) – They’ll kill me.
Biden – … and you could start by surrendering four fifths of your own wealth to set the example.
Putin (smiling) – You’re mad, Biden.
Biden – I’m sure there are better ideas to act on… but what is clear to me is that this is over. You can still insist on causing more damage, but it will get you nothing… and because it will be at the expense of your people, they will become less forgiving. Russia needs to breathe… you need to take your boot off their throats.
Putin – I still have my nuclear weapons…
Biden – What good will they do?

Putin lowers his head.

Biden – The West will never submit to you, or to China… or anyone. We will die for our freedom, like Ukraine is doing.
Putin – Ukraine is now part of the West?
Biden – Yes. You wouldn’t let them in, so they fought their way into it.
Putin – I won’t surrender.

Biden is silent.

Putin – There’s still a chance we could beat Ukrainians. Why won’t they let me keep Crimea, the Donbas?
Biden – Because it’s their land.
Putin – You didn’t say anything when I first took it…
Biden – It was another president… another time.
Putin – I’m not envious of America. You’re a mess… violent… racist…
Biden – … and free. The nation chose Trump as president in 2016… but didn’t like what they saw and didn’t reelect him. That’s choice. If Americans had reelected Trump in 2020, then you would’ve had no problem taking over Ukraine. Trump would’ve gone to your inauguration in Kyiv. But we didn’t reelect him and we won’t again.

Putin nods slowly.

Putin – I liked him… I should’ve invaded while he was president.
Biden – Missed your chance.
Putin – I won’t surrender.
Biden – Then the dead and the destruction will keep climbing… for what?
As destructive as you’ve been, you are still a human being… better die as a human being who acknowledged his humanity, than as one who never did.

Putin shakes his head.

Putin – I will not surrender. Russians love me. I am not envious. Russia will be great again.
Biden – Putin… Russians are scared of you… and that feeling is just sinking in in all those Russians you’ve just called to enlist. They’re now learning that because they didn’t stand up to you before… you own them.
Putin – I have more nuclear weapons than you do, more than anyone on this earth.
Biden – You can’t win a nuclear war.
Putin – That’s what they say but I will… and we’ll pick up the pieces… and we’ll be the greatest nation on earth.
Biden – Russians will stop you.
Putin – No, they won’t. Russians love me.

Putin pauses, looks tired.

Putin – I’ve had enough for today.
Biden – Should we meet again?
Putin – Maybe… I’m not sure… I’ll let you know… but maybe this will be our last meeting.
Biden – Please do what is right. If not, we will stop you. No matter how much pain we must endure.

Putin looks directly at Biden for a moment, then his screen goes dark.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Why a Nuclear Deal with Iran?

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Iran is not a good actor.
They’ve gone ahead with selling drones to Russia so it can kill more Ukrainians.
They have bombed our positions in Iraq.
They are strengthening their economic ties with Putin which aids in his aggression.
They’re in constant cyber warfare with Israel and recently launched destructive cyberattacks on Albania, a NATO nation.
They assist Assad in Syria with the brutal repression of its people.
They are violent participants in the strife in Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen.
Yet talks have resumed in an attempt to revive the nuclear deal that Trump had quit in 2018.
When that happened, sanctions were reinstated and that dampened significantly their economy.
The purpose behind the original agreement, drawn up with the US, France, Germany and other nations, was to delay Iran’s effort to enrich uranium so that such heavy metal would not reach the grade needed to produce a nuclear bomb.
Iran’s nuclear research was being closely monitored by international specialists who could certify the degree of uranium enrichment remained in compliance with the terms of the treaty.
But Trump didn’t trust them and pulled out of the deal. On that he was right.
When Biden became president, he opened talks to reinstate the agreement in the belief that diplomacy would work. (before the war started)
Sadly, it doesn’t look that way. The US, France, Germany and other nations have returned to the negotiating table willing to find a solution but Iran has not been cooperative. Given that, in the interim, Iran may have advanced toward their goal of obtaining the uranium they need to make the bomb, the West has insisted on inspection of their facilities to verify the level of uranium’s enrichment. Iran has declined. I can see why. They are likely very close to where they need to be but still want the benefits of reinstating the deal.
I used to think that while Israel was Israel, Iran would not have the bomb. I think differently now. Iran will get its bomb. They have been very diligent and creative about it. And while having the bomb would significantly raise the possibility of a confrontation with the Jewish state, we should also ask if having the bomb would act as a deterrent to avoid MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. It could.
The fact that with a renewed deal Iran would again be able to sell its oil on the open market does not now appear to be a big incentive anymore. They have found ways to bypass the restrictions. For a while, in concert with Russia, they were helping the dictatorship in Venezuela sell their oil. And they now assist Russia in circumventing sanctions by taking deliveries of their crude on the Caspian Sea, then reselling it to other nations to the south.
There is another reason Iran returned to the bargaining table, perhaps the most important. The possibility that if the nuclear deal is reinstated, they would be eligible for a sizeable cash payment, likely in the order of billions of dollars, something apparently specified in the original deal.
But in light of their alliance with Russia, is that the right thing to do?
How can the West be paying Iran anything when they are selling drones to Russia to then kill Ukrainians?
Likewise with oil. It is immoral to be buying oil from a nation that uses those moneys to support Putin.
There will be voices who say, ‘well, with Iran selling us oil, we’ll have less of an energy shortage this winter, and who knows when the war will end? So, let’s deal.’
But they are wrong.
A big part of what has renewed our commitment to freedom in the West has been the morality of the Ukrainian cause. The strength of their heroism.
Putting up with some pain is part of the deal. Part of what gives strength to morality. An incentive to end this war as soon as possible and do so honorably.
‘No, you shall not tread on us,’ have said the Ukrainians, and that is a deeply moral cry.
We were not deaf to that cry and responded.
Iran’s alliance with Russia and their willingness to join in the massacring of Ukrainians is deeply immoral.
We should not count on Iranian oil to alleviate our problems. It is tainted oil.
There may be other reasons we have no knowledge of which may still lead to a deal.
But those reasons should be made public before anything is signed. And if there is outrage, let the outrage be heard.
Greater availability of oil should not be the driver of a new agreement. There is oil elsewhere.
We should pay nothing to Iranians, regardless of what was agreed to before, for they have become allies of Putin’s brutal regime and its actions to enslave another nation.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Yesterday, I saw a clip of Putin speaking to his country. He was angry. He said that representatives of NATO nations were threatening to use nuclear weapons on Russia and that’s why they had to be ready to fire their own nuclear weapons. And he reminded his audience, that their weapons were better. ‘More modern,’ he said. I played the clip back to make sure I heard it right. I had. No one has threatened Putin but inventing a threat will aid in recruiting the next 300 thousand soldiers he needs. Innocent men and women he will use as cannon fodder.
When will it stop?

Dear Russian

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Just learned that Putin has authorized that 300 thousand Russians be conscripted into the army. In other words, he’s giving you no choice. Just do as Putin says.
He’s ordering the mass enlistment because he’s losing the war in Ukraine. A war he started because he didn’t give a damn about Ukrainians and thought they would kneel before him and kiss his feet when he asked them to join a new and greater Russia.
Something like the Soviet Union but even bigger. Maybe to include all of Europe.
And as you know, or maybe don’t know, if you only watch television and avoid the internet, Russians are losing in Ukraine.
One estimate has it that there have been 80 thousand plus Russian casualties so far, from a total of 200 thousand he sent in starting on February 24th, hoping to quickly take Kyiv, the capital, and then march all the way to the West and South and celebrate a grand victory.
But Ukrainians didn’t cooperate. Instead, they put up a heroic fight in defense of their land, a feat we haven’t seen since World War II.
You see, contrary to what the television is telling you, Ukrainians don’t want to be Russian. They want to be Ukrainians and rule their own land.
Would you want China to invade you and tell you how to live your life?
Of course not. (although it could happen one day if you don’t keep your guard up)
The war has been a colossal tragedy.
Putin is getting beat by the Ukrainians but he’s saying, ‘Wait, I have more Russians willing to die for my dream of a great Russian empire. And after I use these next 300 thousand, I’ll enlist another 300 thousand if I need to.’
You get what I’m saying? That’s right. Your life means nothing to Putin. He’ll put a helmet on you, give you a gun and tell you, straight ahead, and kill as many Ukrainians as you can.’
You might want to ask, ‘what am I fighting for?’ And he’ll likely answer, ‘for a greater Russia.’
Eighty plus years ago Russia fought bravely against the Germans in World War II and helped turn around that war. Twenty million Russians died in that disaster. And you showed enormous courage, but you were fighting for your land. You weren’t taking another people’s territory (at least not at first, then Stalin decided to conquer parts of Europe).
There is a similarity between that war and this one in Ukraine. They were started by one man. One man who convinced millions of other people that they needed to offer their lives for his dream. Yes, Hitler and Putin have much in common.
But dear Russian, you do have a choice.
You can rebel. You can say ‘No! I won’t go into Ukraine to kill people who are fighting for the freedom to be who they want.’ You could say that. And say it loud so others can hear you. And Putin will put you in prison for not giving him your life to play with. But you will be alive. And if all Russians say ‘No! I won’t go fight Ukrainians,’ then Putin will have to back off.
That’s why it’s so important that you listen to your conscience. Do not believe what the government’s television is telling you.
You do have an enemy to deal with but it’s not Ukrainian.
Your enemy is Putin. The man you didn’t think you had surrendered to until he came asking for your life.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

The West to Putin

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The recent advances by the Ukrainian army have shown that they can push back your soldiers.
Push them back all the way to behind your borders, handing you a defeat that you will not be able to explain to your people.
Ukraine is now committed to driving all Russians out from the eastern section which you illegally appropriated some years before and from Crimea also.
Quite different than what you expected, isn’t it, when you made a great show of surrounding the north and eastern section of Ukraine in the weeks and months prior to the invasion this last February.
Now Ukraine needs longer range weaponry, so it can bring this war to an end.
They have shown far more courage than your troops have. Far more commitment than you ever imagined.
There is presently division in the West as to how to proceed. A side arguing that such longer range weaponry would be very dangerous since it could make possible attacks within Russia, even near Moscow. The other side countering that there are ways to manage such risks and so bring this war to an end more quickly.
You have responded by saying that such longer range weapons would make the West a co combatant, implying that you would make the West a direct target.
President Biden has said that the West will put no troops on the ground in Ukraine and he’s sticking to it. That is what would make us a co combatant, not giving Ukraine the weapons they need to stop the loss of life.
It is you who is the single culprit of this tragedy.
You who started decimating the Ukrainian people and their cities, men, women, children, schools, theatres, hospitals, places of industry and so on. You who chose a path from which there is no way back.
You have no right to tell us what to give or not give to Ukraine when not doing so is to prolong their agony and suffering.
You have lost this war.
There is no way for you to reclaim your prior standing, when you could meet with world leaders, even as you had allied yourself with ruthless dictators like Assad in Syria and the oppressive governing elite in Iran, shamelessly trampling on their people in the name of God.
Mr Putin, you are done as a world leader. You will govern Russia for as long as they allow you to do so, but the likelihood is that they will tire of you and remove you from office.
But back to the use of longer range weapons. The West should give Ukraine everything they need to bring this war to an end as quickly as possible. Everything short of nuclear weapons.
The end is in sight.
Your depravity has caught up with you.
You will be welcome nowhere in the West.
We will not forget.
Still, if you have any decency left in you, there is a way out.
Commit suicide.
That way you will open the door for Russians to begin to emerge from their long sleep, and to start to reengineer their country so it can become the strong and prosperous nation it has the potential to become.
Russia cannot be Russia with you onboard. You just killed too many people.
Suicide is an honorable option.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Immigration and the Upcoming Elections

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It was the Arizona governor – Ducey – who started it, then came Abbott from Texas and now DeSantis from Florida. Gathering up undocumented immigrants who, having crossed the border, detained and released pending a hearing of their case, were put in a bus (DeSantis uses planes) and sent to a different state willing to provide assistance until the time of their hearing.
The governors reasoned they would be endearing themselves to the voters in the upcoming elections by stressing their loyalty to Trump.
DeSantis recently put a group of undocumented Venezuelans, fleeing the communist dictatorship in their country, on a plane to Martha’s Vineyard, the elegant island resort in Massachusetts.
DeSantis’ choice of destination had an added punch. ‘You’re well off over there, aren’t you, in your privileged island, so you deal with it.’
Those bused or flown may or may not have valid reasons to seek asylum in this country, but the governors are saying, ‘we don’t have to go into all that, we’re just not going to feed or lodge you or provide any assistance whatsoever.’
The governors’ actions, however, won’t make much of a difference. Trump’s standing is slowly eroding and there’s no stopping the decline.
From the undocumented’s perspective, better to be in a place where they understand their plight and are willing to provide assistance, than to be in a place where they are unwelcome.
I can imagine a phone conversation between a recent arrival in Martha’s Vineyard, and his relatives back in Venezuela, ‘Where are you, Pepe?’, ‘Martha’s Vineyard…’ ‘What?’ ‘It’s very nice, a lot of rich people live here…’, ‘Not a bad start, brother…’, ‘Agree. I’m sure a lot of Trump’s people would like to be here, too.’ They laugh.
Immigration is a thorny issue. It needs mending.
For that, the ideal would be to have a national dialogue. A dialogue that is filled with data showing just how much immigrants contribute to this country.
Labor economists who are knowledgeable on the matter would provide the figures.
I am sure business would want a seat at the table where decisions were to be made and I don’t doubt they would speak clearly on behalf of allowing immigration to continue, with whatever modifications were necessary.
But should immigration be severely restricted simply to satisfy Trump’s base? No.
No, because we need the labor and the creativity and the dynamism that immigration offers.
The browning of America is inevitable. And immigration has played a role in lessening the antiblack sentiment in this country and helped heal those wounds.
The midterms are near and Republicans are worried.
Many Republicans are upset with the overturning of Roe vs Wade. Particularly women.
Biden has shown exemplary leadership to assist the enormous heroism of the Ukrainian people.
As a result, Ukraine is starting to turn the war around.
Many Republicans are also seething with envy that it wasn’t them doing the leading, making it hard to stomach that their man, in Mar-a-Lago, cannot hide his admiration for Putin. Talk about going against the tide of history.
Biden has eliminated a large portion of student debt, freeing resources and minds who are most grateful and will show up at the ballot box.
Covid is still sidelining people which adds to our labor shortages, so whatever immigration can bring, is most welcome.
Inflation has proven difficult to deal with but progress has been made and the price of gasoline has steadily gone down. With interest rates rising globally we may see a recession but there is no consensus on how severe it will be.
So, the busing shenanigans is a side show, with no relevance in the wide spectrum of things.
With added weaponry, Ukraine is likely to push Russia back to behind its borders and a stronger West will better organize its efforts to neutralize the influence of the China-Russia alliance.
To get a little ahead of myself, in the next presidential elections, Americans will reelect a democrat, whether Biden chooses to run or not.
The Republican side is now confused and will remain so for a while, unable to provide an attractive alternative.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Why Putin Won’t Go Nuclear

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The recent advances by Ukrainian troops and their recapturing of territory has further raised the possibility that they may defeat the Russian army.
If so, how will Putin respond?
Some speculate that without a face saving outcome, without his having something to show Russians to justify the loss of life and resources, his political standing would be in jeopardy and he will be inclined to use nuclear weapons.
I disagree. I believe Putin has intimidated his countrymen so thoroughly that they will accept the losses. And if internal forces unite to remove him from power he will outsmart them and send them to prison with long sentences, like Alexei Navalny, if not underground.
He’s determined to die while in power and, barring some unmanageable illness, he’ll live for another 30 years. Sad for Russians but that’s who they’re choosing.
There’s another reason Putin won’t go nuclear.
China. Xi Jinping.
The chairman, who also wants to die in power, doesn’t want to get caught in the crossfire should Putin wish to go nuclear.
Xi, who’s closely following the recent developments, would be the first to remind Putin that Ukrainian flesh has become Western flesh.
The chairman will tell Putin, ‘because of their heroism in the battlefield, which your troops have not shown, Ukrainians have conquered the hearts and minds of the western world. They are now part of them. So, to put it bluntly, Vladimir, if you choose to use nuclear weapons on Ukrainians because you’re despairing that your soldiers can’t stop running back, and abandoning valuable armament in the process, it will not just be Ukrainian flesh burning with radioactivity, but western flesh. And the west will hit back hard… and they will tell me, Chairman, screw you, you’re an accomplice of Putin, you’ve had a hand in supporting him and his henchmen, so we’re going after you, too. So it won’t be only Russian flesh burning with radioactivity but Chinese flesh also… and how will I be able to explain that to my people?
And they’ll lose confidence in me and I won’t be able to rule until I die, like Mao did. I won’t be able to see China become the foremost power in the world, ten times superior to the Americans.’
Putin will hear this, if he hasn’t already, and decide to either militarize his entire nation, announcing that a new Hitler has appeared in Ukraine and Russia’s existence is in danger, so they must all remember their great WWII hero, Stalin, and fight again with the same tenacity they once did, or say to his people that the setback Russia has suffered is temporary and they now must regroup and plan their next assault.
Putin is a determined man. He will kill whoever gets in his way.
His nation has abundant resources but the West will need to learn to live without them. That is our challenge. Live without them so we can isolate him. And hope that Russians will one day awaken from their long sleep and retire their leader. Give him a pension and, as punishment, force him to watch video replays of all the destruction he’s caused. Roll by him the names of all the people who’ve died because of his actions. Russians and Ukrainians. Watch in the morning and in the afternoon. One hour break for lunch.
In the meantime, the recent Ukrainian advances tell us exactly what must be done.
Give those brave soldiers every weapon they need and let them drive Russia back to behind its borders.
We’re almost there.
We can win.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com