Monday, October 6, 2014

The ‘Hunted’ Gays of Putin’s Russia: Vicious Vigilantes and State Bigotry Close Up

The ‘Hunted’ Gays of Putin’s Russia: Vicious Vigilantes and State Bigotry Close Up

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Targeted on all sides by thugs, the Kremlin, and the Orthodox Church, Russian LGBTs face a desperate situation that is graphically evoked in HBO’s new documentary.
What is the sound of a man terrified for his life? The sound of a man surrounded by 13 bullies who are desperate to beat him up, maybe worse, for being gay? Well, it is a horrible sound. A whimpering, half-growl and curdled scream, a cornered-animal cry of a sound. 
The man is held down and taunted and asked questions on a video camera for footage that will later be released to destroy his life — just in case the vigilantes surrounding him, wanting to pour urine over him, haven't made him feel so lousy that he might commit suicide, as they hope he will. They laugh as they imagine gays doing that.
It is the sound of this gentleman's whimpering you may not be able to expunge from your mind after watching Ben Steele’s brilliant, if thoroughly disturbing, HBO documentary, Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia, which premieres tonight (Monday). 
This harrowing film, narrated by Matt Bomer, takes the viewer into modern-day Russia and the state of siege its LGBT citizens exist under. Sanctioned by the State and carried out most viciously — in physical terms — by vigilante squads who torture and beat gay men, these despicable attacks are then posted online to fully destroy the victims’ professional and personal lives and sense of selves.
At the heart of Steele's film is the scene described above, featuring the gay man who has been inveigled to a St. Petersburg apartment where a bunch of cowardly, moronic, violence-loving vigilantes from the group "Occupy Pedophilia" trap gay men — after making contact on social media on the pretext of arranging a sexual hook-up.
"Don't fuck with us. Stay down," the man is told, as the thugs encircle him.
This brilliant and extremely upsetting documentary was originally shown in Britain at the time of the Sochi Olympics, and helped focus attention on Russia's appalling treatment of LGBTs. Now its American premiere will again place a much-needed international spotlight on Putin and his state-sanctioned homophobia. LGBTs in Russia have "never been so under siege," says Steele, "and so hunted." Attacks on LGBT have risen; public feeling — encouraged by Putin and the authorities — is hostile towards them.
Homosexuality may have been decriminalized in Russia 21 years ago, and it may have been removed from the country's list of mental illnesses, but religious institutions and social attitudes are long frozen in antipathy. A third of Russians believe gay people should be medically or psychologically treated.
As well as by the vigilante gangs, and a generally hostile public, LGBTs are being targeted in terms of discriminatory legislation; the most iniquitous being a "propaganda" law, which forbids the dissemination of material of a positive or neutral nature around homosexuality to those under 18 years old. 
Putin and the thugs on the street — like homegrown bigots — freely conflate homosexuality and pedophilia to exacerbate public fear and prejudice towards gay people.
Steele's film opens in the middle-class home in St Petersburg of a man named Timor. He seems so gentle with his 7-year-old son, that it comes as a surprise to discover he is a ringleader of a group of vicious bigots called Parents of Russia who "expose" gay people on the Internet, with banners across their faces to have them fired from their jobs. His particular focus is lesbian and gay teachers, and their supporters, who he does not want near children.
Timor's homophobia is virulent. We watch as he and his friend Dimitri head off to a lesbian and gay film festival. There, they hand out shiny bags to participants: these are decoy pretty gifts, because inside are messages saying, "Kill yourself and cleanse the earth of your wickedness." The men laugh as they opine that, "Filth like them should not exist. Instead of pushing them out of Russia, we should make them take their own lives."
"We offer heterosexual therapy, we offer beautiful friendship," they shout at two lesbians walking into the film festival.
There is so little for LGBTs in Russia anyway — they cannot demonstrate together, any gathering can be disrupted like this, hook-ups online could be vigilantes looking to beat you up — that it comes as little surprise when a fake bomb threat, called in to the film festival, destroys that evening's meager opportunity for gathering together and entertainment.
Timor is overjoyed at the malign trouble he and his friends have caused. The security guards at the festival only turn on him and his mates when the men insult their own masculinity. "This is Russia, this is hell for homosexuals," says Timor, and he is extremely happy about that.
We see snatches of the vigilante films you may have seen before online: men kicked in the face, punched, beaten, insulted, laughed at as they are humiliated. As with most bullies, it's never one-on-one: these supposedly big, butch straight Russian men need a group of accomplices to torture just one gay man. In one video, a Human Rights Watch researcher tells us, they force a gay man to rape himself with a bottle.
One gay man is interviewed after he was attacked by a group of homophobes at a discreet party at a community center. He has been left blind in one eye. "A hunting season is open, and we are the hunted," he says. Successful prosecutions of homophobic attacks are rare (they are not classified as hate crimes); the attackers go free. The police and authorities are on their side, after all.
A Russian Orthodox churchman is interviewed. Is he preaching tolerance, offering LGBTs a safe space? No, for him gay marriage is "a sign of the apocalypse.”
"We are a family. If they come to take my children, they will have to shoot me first."
"Even cattle don't engage in this," he says of gay sex. Like most bigots (in Russia, and elsewhere) he is obsessed, as Steele puts it, "with what gays put where in the sex act. They never focus on gays as people." LGBTs are spiritually and morally ill, says the churchman.  
The extremely dark heart of Steele's film comes when he makes contact with Katya, the head of the St. Petersburg branch of Occupy Pedophilia. She looks cool, trendy, young and then she starts talking about entrapping two gay men and laughing of one, "We'll destroy his life as usual." 
You cheer when their nasty plan to get one man to come to the apartment where she and her group of male accomplices lie in wait is scuppered when the man doesn't take their bait.
But, like the most determined cop in a public restroom, the male bigot-bait goes outside and picks the man up, and brings him to the apartment. He is obviously terrified. "Sit down, stop wriggling, I'll piss on you," is sneered at him by various members of the group. 
They laugh at the man, and — filming his humiliation — Katya, smirking and warning him he'd be getting much worse if Steele (who blurs the man's face) wasn't there filming, asks him deeply personal questions about his sex life (is he active or passive, is he gay, has he told his parents?). The man is crying, answers in one-word terrified bursts. One of the bigots still wants to pour piss on him. After an hour, he is released. The vigilantes have made their film to destroy him.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Steele told me he had gained the vigilantes' trust by saying he was objective, that he simply wanted to observe what they did. Before making the film, he had discussed with colleagues "the moral complexities of filming to ensure I was on the right side of that ethical line. At no time did I say to the vigilante group, 'Oh yeah, I hate gays too,'" says Steele. "For me this was about bearing witness, to properly record what is happening in Russia, and to bring that to as many people's attention as possible."
Steele says he didn't believe it was for him to challenge the vigilantes, but film their actions, and let the viewers decide what to make of it. He did not feel complicit with them. 
Even if he had wanted to intervene, he couldn't have as he is "no Arnold Schwarzenegger," as he says. But it is also his strongly felt view that we must watch, should watch, such things — no matter how violent and disturbing — because the images convey a reality that must be confronted and acknowledged.
The group try to push Steele out of the room as they target the man, but Steele pushes back to continue filming. He believes, probably rightly, that his presence meant the beating and taunting that man received was less extreme because of his presence.
Afterwards, Steele followed the man and offered to help him go home or do whatever he needed to do. The man declined Steele's offer of assistance, and also did not want to report what had happened to the police.
When Steele returned to the apartment the vigilantes were angry with him ("Their blood was up, the mood was not good"), asking why he had gone after the man: Steele insisted he was just doing his job, and giving the man the same right to speak and be represented as he was according to the vigilantes.
"The most surprising and terrifying thing was to be in that room at the moment they surrounded the man," Steele tells me. "I couldn't believe it was happening, right there, right in the moment." Filming it through his own camera's viewfinder kept him steady: it was a necessary mediating tool. "The scene is the most important scene in the film: it makes clear, graphically, the violence LGBT people face in Russia on a much larger scale."
Steele's film also follows the unbelievably brave gays trying to take a stand. Protesters are not allowed to protest in pairs, yet even if they do it singly the cops harass them, as we see. They cannot use the word "gay" on their placards. 
We follow Dimitri, Timor's friend, as he goes to court, charged with assaulting Vasily, a gay man, holding a rainbow flag (Steele tells me that Dimitri was found guilty, though escaped a custodial sentence). Katya and her cronies laugh at and taunt Vasily as he leaves court.
LGBTs do have straight allies, Steele says. Yekaterina, a teacher, says she feels compelled to fight for gay rights and equality because of the stoking of fears and hatred she sees the authorities indulging in, igniting hatred and making scapegoats of LGBTs to divert people's attention from the grave economic and social problems Russia faces. 
Next, the camera switches to Timor's apartment: he is doing all he can online to destroy Yekaterina, writing "Fire Her," and "Gay Activist To Fire" over images of her face. "Look at her, she is smiling," he says, outraged. "And I will find out who this is, her friend," he says pointing at someone standing next to Yekaterina in a photograph.
The extremity of Timor and Katya's homophobia is shocking and intriguing, and worthy of a documentary in itself. One thing we do not discover is why they hate gay people so much and so actively. Timor's views are not seen as extreme in Russia, says Steele. "The climate of hate is all-pervasive."
This makes the bravery of Julia and Sveta, a lesbian couple, to appear in the documentary that much more moving. They have three children from previous marriages, who they fear the authorities would take away from them if the proposed — and still mercifully unsanctioned — law which would give the authorities the right to remove children from same-sex couple parents, was ever passed. 
Sveta shows her face in the documentary: she doesn't want to hide any more. Julia says, "We are a family. If they come to take my children, they will have to shoot me first."
Steele, who is presently working on a documentary on the Romany gypsy community (as well as another project for HBO he declines to talk about), says he would like to know how the participants of the documentary have fared. However, he has no plans presently to return to Russia to find out.
The international community, says Steele, has registered its own emphatic condemnation of Russian actions towards LGBT people — but to what practical effect? And does Putin care? Not at all, it seems. Standing up to international criticism he thinks makes him seem big in his own country. A few days ago, Russia ended an international student exchange program after claiming a US gay couple had persuaded a student to seek asylum in the US. 
And so, the attack on Russian LGBT people, and their fragile right to live freely, continues. It is a desperate situation — and Hunted is deeply uncomfortable but necessary viewing.
Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia is on HBO tonight (Monday, October 6), at 9 p.m.
Read the whole story
 
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Putin Foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky Aims to Remake Russia - Wall Street Journal

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Wall Street Journal

Putin Foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky Aims to Remake Russia
Wall Street Journal
NEW YORK—Russian tycoon and Vladimir Putin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky said he is aiming to bring about a constitutional conference that would shift power away from the Russian presidency and toward the legislature and judiciary. Mr. Khodorkovsky, a ... 
Russian Tycoon: We Must Prepare For Putin?s Inevitable DownfallDaily Beast

Khodorkovsky Vows to Give Voice to 'European-Oriented' RussiansVoice of America 
Khodorkovsky: Putin Is Driving Russia Toward Repeat of 1917 RevolutionThe Moscow Times
Kyiv Post
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Russia to reopen missile warning station on Crimea - Al-Arabiya

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Russia to reopen missile warning station on Crimea
Al-Arabiya
Russia will modernize and relaunch a Soviet-era radar station on the Crimean peninsula annexed from Ukraine to provide early warning of missile strikes, a senior defence official said Saturday. The radar station in the port city of Sevastopol will ...

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Russian Tycoon: We Must Prepare For Putins Inevitable Downfall - Daily Beast

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Daily Beast

Russian Tycoon: We Must Prepare For Putins Inevitable Downfall
Daily Beast
Khodorkovsky has resurrected his foundation, Open Russia, which was established in 2001 by shareholders of Yukos, his former company. It was shuttered in 2006, though, when Putin's government seized its assets following Khodorkovsky's conviction in two ...
Khodorkovsky Vows to Give Voice to 'European-Oriented' RussiansVoice of America
Khodorkovsky: Putin Is Driving Russia Toward Repeat of 1917 RevolutionThe Moscow Times

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Украинские силовики провели ротацию в аэропорту Донецка - ТВ Центр - Официальный сайт телеканала

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ТВ Центр - Официальный сайт телеканала

Украинские силовики провели ротацию в аэропорту Донецка
ТВ Центр - Официальный сайт телеканала
Силовики провели частичную ротацию в донецком аэропорту, где до сих пор продолжаются бои с ополченцами. Как сообщил советник министра обороны Украины Александр Данилюк, на территорию воздушной гавани завезено большое количество оружия и спецсредств. Украинские ...
ДНР: В донецком аэропорту под контролем сил АТО находится два ангараРоссийский Диалог

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Ukraine ambassador: Ready to reboot Russia relations - USA TODAY

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USA TODAY

Ukraine ambassador: Ready to reboot Russia relations
USA TODAY
Today Russia tries in vain to convince everyone that there's a civil war in Ukraine. Luckily, the world has well realized the price of words and promises of the Russian leadership. There's no doubt that the conflict was brought to Ukraine from the ...
UN Praises Russia's Efforts to Host Refugees from Ukraine: Russian Foreign ...RIA Novosti

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Nuke deal: Russians push charm button - Mail & Guardian Online

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RT (blog)

Nuke deal: Russians push charm button
Mail & Guardian Online
In the days immediately after what turned out to be a disastrous (and subsequently repudiated) statement from Vienna that Russia will be building South Africa's new nuclear reactors, Russianstate nuclear company Rosatom appointed top local reputation ...
Russia in global nuclear energy marketRT (blog)

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Last German state abolishes university fees

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Lower Saxony has become the last German state to abolish tuition fees for university students – even for international students.

Window on Eurasia: Chinese Migration to Kazakhstan isn’t Chinese, Moscow Expert Says

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Paul Goble
 
            Staunton, October 4 – Most “Chinese” immigrants to Kazakhstan are in fact members of non-Han ethnic groups from Xinjiang, including not a few ethnic Kazakhs known as “Oralmany,” and the largest share of Kazakhs going to China are students attending Chinese universities and colleges.
 
            These are just some of the unexpected trends reported by Elena Sadovskaya, a specialist on international migration at the Moscow Institute for Economic Forecasting, in an interview she gave to Zhanar Kanafina which is published in the current issue of Kazakhstan’s “Karavan” weekly (caravan.kz/article/93343).
 
            Not only is “Chinese migration to Kazakhstan not especially ‘Chinese,’” Sadovskaya says, it includes “not only ethnic Chinese (Hans) but also Kazakhs, Uyghurs, Dungans, Uzbeks, Koreans and even [ethnic] Russians.”  But what is especially interesting is that different ethnic groups dominate different parts of the flow.
 
            Hans predominate among those seeking work, but those interested in business include both Hans and Dungans, Uyghurs, and Kazakhs. And those seeking permanent residence status are “primarily ethnic Kazakhs,” known as “Oralmany,” who have been living in China for some time but now are returning to their historical homeland.
 
            The number of Chinese workers coming into Kazakhstan in fact peaked six years ago, when 10,140 did so, Sadovskaya continues. Now, their number has fallen to about 6,000 to 7,000 a year. More important, the Chinese form only about a quarter of all the gastarbeiters coming into Kazakhstan, despite widespread beliefs that they are a far larger group.
 
            At the same time, she says, “the migration of [Kazakhstan] students to China is much larger than that in the opposite direction.” In the current academic year, “about 10,000” Kazakhstani students are studying in China, “eight to ten times” the number of young people from China studying in Kazakhstan – and most of those are ethnic Kazakhs.
 
            One disturbing pattern, Sadovskaya says, connected with migration from China is that “according to the 2009 [Kazakhstan] census, 39,000 Oralmans have not become citizens of Kazakhstan.” Indeed, only about half of those ethnic Kazakhs returning from abroad in general and China in particular have done so.
 
            There are several reasons for this, she suggests. On the one hand, many of these people do not want to give up the special benefits Oralmans can receive from the government.  But on the other, they have real language problems: Their Kazakh is different, and they are used to the Arabic script rather than the Cyrillic one used in Kazakhstan.
 
                Despite the relatively small number of immigrants from China and the fact that many of them are Kazakhs rather than Han, polls show that Kazakhstan residents are increasingly hostile to immigrants as such, Sadovskaya says. Between 2007 and 2012, the share of Kazakhstan residents expressing hostility toward Chinese immigrants increased from 18 to 33 percent.
 
            Sadovskaya sums up the situation in the following way: “It is possible to call Chinese migration a mirror image of the problems which exist in Kazakhstan.” Were Kazakh officials not corrupt, there wouldn’t be many illegal immigrants, and were the quality of higher education in Kazakhstan higher, there would not be as many Kazakhs going to study in China.
 
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Russia Cancels Exchange Program After a Student Seeks US Asylum - New York Times

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Russia Cancels Exchange Program After a Student Seeks US Asylum
New York Times
MOSCOW — Russia has pulled out of a longstanding American high-school exchange program after a teenage Russian boy who befriended a gay couple sought asylum in the United States on the grounds that he faced persecution at home as a homosexual.

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Rebels in Eastern Ukraine Dream of Reviving Soviet Heyday

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In the relative lull of a cease-fire, separatist leaders have set about building neo-Soviet states like those created in other pro-Russian enclaves.






In Ukraine, Civilians in Crossfire 

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Civilian casualties have soared as separatist rebels with heavy artillery attack the airport in Donetsk and Ukrainian forces respond with often ill-directed fire.






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Window on Eurasia: Putin Feigns Madness to Frighten West but is a ‘Cowardly Leningrad Hooligan,’ Venclova Says

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Paul Goble


Staunton, October 5 – Vladimir Putin feigns madness to intimidate the West, but he is a more rational actor than Hitler and will, if the West stands up to him, stand revealed as ”a cowardly Leningrad hooligan” who seeks to get his way by making threats, according to Tomas Venclova, a leading Lithuanian dissident in Soviet times who now lives in the West.


Venclova told Poland’s „Gazeta Wyborcza” at the end of last week that Putin presents himself as someone who might do anything in order to frighten others but in fact is „a more rational dictator” than many others and carefully calculates what he in fact does depending on its costs and benefits (wyborcza.pl/1,135424,16748269,Tomas_Venclova__Nie_bojmy_sie.html).


„Unpredictability,” the Lithuanian poet says, works to Putin’s benefit, but only if outsiders accept it as genuine rather than an act. Once they recognize that he is using it as a tactic, they can take action in response to him. If they do, then as ugly as the current situation appears to be, „everything will end well.”


According to Venclova, the three Baltic countries are within Putin’s sights, but they are not equally targets. Lithuania has only a few percent of ethnic Russians while Latvia and  Estonia have many more. What the latter must do, Venclova says, is continue to „integrate rather than isolate” those communities. Then, they won’t look to Putin.


Venclova said that „if Putin bombed Vilnius, [he] would die on the spot or take up arms to kill. Life would no longer have any meaning for [him].”But he doesn’t expect that to happen because „Putin in the depths of his soul is a cowardly Leningrad hooligan who won’t do that because he knows that as a result, he would die ... and lose his money.”


Moreover, he continues, Putin is surrounded by people who may owe their wealth to the Kremlin dictator but who are not fundamentally irrational either.Many of them,Venclova says, are „probably” thinking already that „Putin has gotten into a blind alley,” and they must „do something about it.”


That explains, the poet says, „why Putin is so afraid of poisoning or other misfortunes.” In some respects, the current situation recalls that of the reign of Tsar Paul, who appeared to become „so crazy that he was eventually killed by those around him [when] they no longer could put up with” the results of his statements and actions.
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Window on Eurasia: Suggesting Kyiv Preparing Provocation in Transdniestria May Presage a Russian Attack on Ukraine from There 

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Paul Goble

 

            Staunton, October 5 – One of the characteristics of Vladimir Putin’s behavior just as has been the case with other dictators in the past is that he has often signaled what he intends to do by blaming those he intends to attack for something they have not done and have no intention of doing -- or even describing their motivations and calculations in terms that better fit himself.

 

            That makes an article that appeared yesterday on the often aggressively Russian nationalist portal, IARex.ru, a matter of concern because in it, that agency’s Modest Kolerov says that “Kyiv is preparing a provocation in Transdniestria,” the breakaway portion of Moldova that is aligned with Moscow (iarex.ru/news/51062.html).

 

            If Putin remains true to form, that suggests Moscow may be setting the stage for launching an attack on Ukraine from that base – or at the very least, that the Kremlin leader wants to remind the Ukrainian authorities that he has the capacity to do so and thus force them to keep their forces divided against his attacks.

 

            According to Yevgeny Shevchuk, the president of the self-proclaimed Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic, Ukraine is already “blocking the transit of supplies for the Rsusian peacekeeping contingent” located in his breakaway republic. IARex’s Kolerov commented on this declaration yesterday.

 

            According to Kolerov, “Ukraine is hardly a newcomer to the imposition of blockade actions against Transdniestria in which it together with Moldova has been taking part since 2006. Over this period … the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic, a third of whose population by the way consists of Ukrainians has suffered significant economic losses.”

 

            “After the coming to power in Kyiv of a new government, the economic blockade of the TMR by Ukraine was supplemented by a military-political one because the Kyiv regime began to consider Transdniestria as part of the Russian Federation,” Kolerov said.

 

            And now, he continued, that campaign has reached its “culmination” with the blockade now being directed against Russian forces there and “in particular against the peacekeeping contingent of Russia.”  That action “will not remain without a reaction by Russia,” he suggests, possibly by the establishment of “an ‘air bridge’” between Russia and the TMR.

 

            Because Kyiv considers that it is now in a state of war with Russia, Kolerov went on to say, “one must not exclude the possibility of provocations from its side,” including possible attacks on this air bridge.  “More than that, there is reason to suppose” that Ukrainian forces are already preparing to do so.

 

            But the Russian commentator continued, the Ukrainian authorities must recognize the consequences that they would bring on themselves by “an attempt at blockading Russian forces. And if they do understand those but go ahead anyway, they are counting on a completely defined result.”

 

                That they should do so now, according to Kolerov, reflects the fact that there has been “a partial stabilization” in eastern Ukraine “to a large extent thanks to the efforts of Russia.” He says that the American backers of Ukraine aren’t pleased about that and that it is likely that “namely they have ordered the junta to exacerbate the situation around Transdniestria.”

 

 
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Талибан и «Исламское государство» объединятся в военный союз - The Russian Times

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The Russian Times

Талибан и «Исламское государство» объединятся в военный союз
The Russian Times
Террористы «Талибана» вышли с предложением к «Исламскому государству Ирака и Леванта» объединиться во имя создания «всемирного исламского халифата» и общими силами бороться с созданной США западной коалицией. Как передает агентство Reuters, заявление ...

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Investors Shun Russian Stocks as Ruble's Value Plummets

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Russia's beaten-down stocks may have tempted U.S. fund giant Franklin Templeton but few other investors are following, as the country's economic meltdown fuels a nosedive in its currency.

Силовики заявили об отражении всех атак ополченцев в аэропорту Донецка - Интерфакс

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Forbes Ukraine

Силовики заявили об отражении всех атак ополченцев в аэропорту Донецка
Интерфакс
Москва. 5 октября. INTERFAX.RU - Украинские военные утверждают, что в течение минувших суток дважды отбивали нападения ополченцев в Донецком аэропорту. Ополченцы сообщают об обстрелах украинскими военными Донецка. Заместитель руководителя ...
СНБО: обстрелы с установок "Град" зафиксированы в районе ЛисичанскаУНИАН
СНБО Украины заявил о гибели двух военных в Донбассе за суткиРИА Новости
Боевики подтвердили, что обстреливали Дебальцево - СНБОЛІГА.net
РБК -Комсомольская Правда в Украине -Газета.Ru
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Скончался «пожизненный президент» Гаити Жан-Клод Дювалье - Федеральное агентство новостей No.1

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Федеральное агентство новостей No.1

Скончался «пожизненный президент» Гаити Жан-Клод Дювалье
Федеральное агентство новостей No.1
Порт-о-Пренс, 4 октября. На 64-м году жизни умер бывший президент Гаити Жан-Клод Дювалье, известный также под прозвищем Бэби Док. О его смерти объявил ​​министр здравоохранения Гаити и адвокат экс-лидера Рейнольд Жорж. Последний подтвердил, что Дювалье умер у ...

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Kasparov Urges West to Pose 'Credible' Threat to Putin

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Former world chess champion and pro-democracy activist Garry Kasparov grabbed headlines earlier this week when he described Russian President Vladimir Putin as "the most dangerous man in the world." He made the remark during an interview with Yahoo News, adding that Putin is "a greater threat to the United States than the Islamic State." Later, Kasparov explained his characterizations during an interview with the host of VOA's Press Conference USA, Carol Castiel, in New York. "It's a permanent threat," Kasparov told VOA. 'Cannot be defeated militarily' Unlike the current outbreak of Ebola, Syria or even al-Qaida, Kasparov said, those crises can in the end be defeated, no matter how costly. "When you look at Putin, he cannot be defeated militarily. Russia is second nuclear power in the world," he said. "So that's why the moment that you recognize that Putin is a threat, you have to deal with a very different kind of dilemma because now you have to look for a very comprehensive solution that will engage Russia, potentially China, and  that puts the problem to a very, very different level." To Kasparov, Putin is a dictator who is defiling "the fundamental values of the free world." "The same way we call Saddam Hussein or General Pinochet or North Korean dictators, he [Putin] is a dictator who has no way out," he said. "He must stay in power." The chess pro also had some tough words for the Obama administration's response to Putin's annexation of Crimea and the backing of separatists who are roiling eastern Ukraine. 'Sanctions increased Both the United States and the European Union have steadily ratcheted up sanctions on Russia. "The policies imposed by the Western countries today, it's better than nothing," he said. "But it's still far from enough to prevent Putin from further aggression." To stop Putin or any other problematic leader, Kasparov said he believes the U.S. president must strike a delicate balance: pose a credible threat without using force. And he said the failure of both the Bush and Obama administrations to do that has created a dangerous vacuum by destroying "the credibility of the Oval Office." "One wanted to use force all the time, the other one doesn't want to use force," Kasparov said. "Obama has been drawing red lines, one after another, and reneging on them. History shows that weakness eventually leads to a much bigger disaster." How to deal with Putin? So how would he deal with Putin? Exploit what Putin believes is the Russian public's growing distaste for the war Ukraine, Kasparov said. And if the "price of Crimea" becomes too steep and begins to bite ordinary Russians, Kasparov believes Putin might face a very serious - and new - domestic challenge. "This challenge, as in the 1980's, cannot be cannot be successful without mounting pressure from the outside," he said. "If sanctions in this format can be sustained until March [2015], that will be the most serious challenge to Vladimir Putin's power and maybe still will offer  a glimpse of hope that the change in Russia will not be as bloody as before," Kasparov said.

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Ukraine's Month-old Cease-fire Marked by Fighting

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Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatist fighters on Sunday marked one month since the signing of a Kremlin-backed truce with one the most heated battles of the six-month war in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's military accused Russian-backed separatists of fresh violations of the cease-fire, saying their forces came under attack in several parts of the east including the airport at Donetsk. Artillery blasts rocked Donetsk on Sunday morning. Ukraine said 75 soldiers and civilians have been killed since the cease-fire took effect September 5. Airport assault On Sunday, military spokesman Volodymyr Polyovy said rebels had launched two more airport attacks "with support of tanks" over the past 24 hours, but were repelled. Two Ukrainian service staff were killed in the past 24 hours and six others were wounded, Polyovy said in the capital Kyiv, adding: “The terrorists are violating the terms of the cease-fire.” However, both sides have stopped short of declaring the truce null, despite the continuing carnage, which has killed more than 3,500 people in eastern Ukraine, according to U.N. figures. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is hoping the cease-fire, cornerstone of a peace plan signed September 5 to end the conflict, will generally hold together for parliamentary elections on Oct. 26. Poroshenko called the cease-fire after government troops suffered heavy losses that Kyiv attributed to Russian troops reinforcing the separatists who want to break away from pro-Western Kyiv's rule. Moscow denies its troops have been directly involved in the fighting despite what Kyiv and Western government say is incontrovertible proof. Truce under pressure But the truce has come under great pressure this past week. Last Monday, seven Ukrainian troops were killed in a single missile strike from a separatist tank and at least 10 people were killed on Wednesday when mortar bombs hit a school playground and a public transit van nearby. In Donetsk on Sunday, where strategic buildings are controlled by separatists, a senior rebel official, Eduard Basulin, said three separatist fighters were killed and another 32 wounded in the past 24 hours, mainly in fighting around Donetsk airport. Rebels have been trying for weeks to dislodge government troops from the airport, which, with a modernized runway capable of taking heavy transporters, has strategic value. “The airport is a springboard for the city,” Basulin told Reuters. “Our main task is to push them (government forces) away from the city so that they can no longer shell residential districts. “ Polyovy said there was also fighting around the towns of Debaltseve and Shchastye both farther east toward the border with Russia. Civilian deaths Basulin said three civilians had also been killed in Donetsk area in the past 24 hours and he blamed Ukrainian forces for shelling the city's outskirts from positions adjacent to the airport. The Ukrainian military denies firing on civilian targets and said it only replies to fire when it is attacked by separatists.The cease-fire called for both Ukrainian forces and the separatists to pull back from their front lines to create a 30-kilometer buffer. But Kyiv said it will not retreat until the rebels stop firing on its positions, including at the airport, while the rebels have shown no interest in yielding control of strategic buildings they hold near the transportation hub. Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have even created a monitoring contact group together with the OSCE to patrol the frontline. Some material for this report came from Reuters and AFP.

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Latvia Expands Its Armored Forces by 4100%--Watch Out Russia - Motley Fool

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Motley Fool

Latvia Expands Its Armored Forces by 4100%--Watch Out Russia
Motley Fool
According to the analysts at GlobalFirepower.com, the Russian Army boasts an armored force of 15,500 tanks. But across the border in Latvia, Russia's tiny Baltic neighbor has a somewhat smaller arsenal with which to oppose it: three tanks. Tanks that ...

Yuri Lyubimov obituary 

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One of Russia's great radical directors and founder of the Taganka theatre in Moscow, he was stripped of his Soviet citizenship after visiting Britain in 1983
The great Russian theatre director Yuri Lyubimov, who has died aged 97, was both a living history of his country's theatre and one of its most radical exponents. His Taganka theatre, which he opened in Moscow on Shakespeare's birthday in 1964, was the city's most popular theatre, founded with his drama students, and a focus of artistic rebellion in a repressive cultural climate.
The authorities first allowed the Taganka to travel abroad in 1976 I saw it at an international festival in Belgrade but Lyubimov was always fighting for survival. Shortly after visiting Britain for the first time, in 1983, and directing a sensational version of Crime and Punishment at the Lyric, Hammersmith, he was stripped of his Soviet citizenship. For most of that decade he worked abroad, in America, and in Europe's opera houses, before being reinstated at the Taganka in 1989 during the period of perestroika.
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What Russia is learning from Frank Sinatra - BBC News

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BBC News

What Russia is learning from Frank Sinatra
BBC News
These are difficult times in Russia. The rouble is falling, inflation is rising, and capital is fleeing. There are fears of recession. But not everyone here is required to tighten their belt. Russia's new state news agency has just received a huge ...

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FBI Chief: China Leader in Cyber Crime

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U.S. FBI chief James Comey says China is at the top of the list of countries waging cyber warfare against American industry, with damages measured in the billions of dollars per year. Comey told CBS television's 60 Minutes Sunday that China’s efforts are extremely aggressive and widespread in stealing secrets benefitting its own business and industry. He said the annual losses to U.S. companies are "impossible to count," but would be in the billions of dollars. Online theft of patents and trade secrets from U.S. companies often results in large job and revenue losses to industry. Comey said the number of daily attacks from hackers and cyber-terrorists are too many to count, and that Americans underestimate the danger of cybercrime. The U.S. indicted five Chinese military experts for cybertheft in May, outraging China, which denies computer hacking and accuses the United States of industrial spying.

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Stoltenberg Says NATO Can Deploy Its Troops Wherever It Wants 

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New NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance can deploy its forces wherever it wants, apparently calling into question post-Cold War agreements that have been shaken by Russia's actions in Crimea and Ukraine.

France and Germany to Jointly Monitor Ukrainian Cease-Fire

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France expects to launch a joint operation with Germany "in the coming days" to monitor a cease-fire between the Ukrainian army and separatists in the east of the country, the French defense minister has said.

Who Was Behind The Grozny Suicide Bombing?

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A young man blew himself up late on October 5 in the center of Grozny, killing himself and four police officers and injuring a further 12 people. The question is, why?

Новый генсек заявил о возможности размещения сил НАТО где угодно - Полит.ру

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Вести.Ru

Новый генсек заявил о возможности размещения сил НАТО где угодно
Полит.ру
Вступивший в должность генерального секретаря НАТО 1 октября бывший премьер-министр Норвегии Йенс Столтенберг заявил в ходе своего визита в Варшаву, что Североатлантический альянс имеет право расквартировывать свои силы где угодно. Об этом сообщает РИА Новости со ...
Новый генсек НАТО: мы можем развернуть войска там, где мы захотимNEWSru.com
Генсек НАТО допустил возможность размещения сил альянса в любом местеРБК
Новый генсек НАТО: Альянс разместит свою армию где захочетГазета Труд
Маяк -Вести.Ru -Regions.ru
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U.S. Dollar Passes 40-Ruble Mark as Russian Currency-Tumble Continues 

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The ruble fell further Monday as it passed the psychologically important 40 ruble mark for the first time since the currency was restructured after the 1998 default.

New NATO chief says wants constructive ties with Russia - Reuters

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Reuters

New NATO chief says wants constructive ties with Russia
Reuters
"That stems from my political experience. Norway is a small country that neighbors Russia, yet despite that, probably even in the coldest periods of the Cold War, we were able to cooperate on questions of energy, fisheries and demarcation of maritime ...
NATO chief Stoltenberg: Better ties with Russia possibleBarentsObserver
Russia-NATO: Anticipating a New StartRIA Novosti
New NATO chief touts relationship with Russia as he takes officeCNN (blog)
The Hill -Military Times
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Work on brain’s ‘GPS’ wins Nobel Prize

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UCL professor and two Norwegians win gong for medicine

FBI director on threat of ISIS, cybercrime - CBS News

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CBS News

FBI director on threat of ISIS, cybercrime
CBS News
The following is a script of "The Director" which aired on Oct. 5, 2014. Scott Pelley is the correspondent. Robert Anderson and Pat Milton, producers. Do you know the name of the director of the FBI? Probably not. James Comey has been America's top cop for ...

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ISIS’ Ammunition Is Shown to Have Origins in U.S. and China

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An analysis suggests that ammunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists.

Center-Right Coalition Leads in Latvian Parliament Vote

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Alarmed by Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, the governing parties back closer ties to the West, while the opposition looks to Moscow for balance.

Islamic State Proves Resilient

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U.S.-led airstrikes designed to serve notice on Islamist extremists in Iraq and Syria have also delivered a sobering message to Washington and its allies: Breaking the militants’ grip will be every bit as difficult as they feared.

Tensions Surge in Estonia Amid a Russian Replay of Cold War Tactics 

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Questions mounted over whether Estonia and the NATO alliance to which it belongs faced the danger of a Russian push to reprise in the Baltics some of the tactics it used to dismember Ukraine.
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In Poland, Unearthing a Barbarous Past 

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The dead here were not only victims of the Soviets and the Nazis, but also victims of Poland’s own postwar, Communist-era security forces.

Mexico security officials likely conspired in massacre: state government

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IGUALA Mexico (Reuters) - Missing students were likely among charred corpses found in mass graves in southwest Mexico and local security officials are suspected of conspiring with gang members to kill them, authorities said on Sunday.






  

The 100 best novels: No 55 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930) 

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The influence of William Faulkners immersive tale of raw Mississippi rural life can be felt to this day
This is the first, and probably the most popular, of Faulkners Yoknapatawpha County stories, a short, dark and compelling novel set in what he called my apocryphal county, a fictional rendering of Lafayette County in his native Mississippi. It was his ambition, he said, after the comparative failure ofThe Sound and the Fury, deliberately to write a tour de force. Apart from Mark Twain (No 23 in this series), no other American writer before Faulkner had ever immersed his readers so completely in the vernacular language and culture of a society that was, and perhaps still is, so deeply foreign to mainstream American experience.
The death and burial of a southern matriarch, Addie Bundren, is told from some 15 viewpoints, including that of the dying woman herself. The Bundren familys demanding stream-of-consciousness narrative (Faulkner was a modernist pioneer) is intercut with the voices of the local doctor and preacher, together with neighbours and friends. From the first line, the reader is pitched into the deep south: Jewel and I come up from the field, following the path in single file anyone watching us from the cotton-house can see Jewels frayed and broken straw hat a full head above my own. Welcome to a brutal, backwoods community of impoverished cotton farmers in 1920s Mississippi.
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Any biblical objection to gay marriage is nonsense. The C of E must admit this 

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Pretending that the churchs present stance is biblical is not going to fool anyone who doesnt want to be fooled, and fewer and fewer people do
The burden of arguments about gay people being allowed to marry has always been carried disproportionately by them, because it is their relationships that are under the microscope. An ancient quip describes the levels of commitment required for bacon and eggs. The chicken gives all she has, but for the pig its personal. He has to give what he is. This disproportionality needs to be borne in mind when the subject is discussed.
Estimates indicate that about one in 10 Church of England bishops could be secretly gay. By definition, these men are outstanding priests who have managed to navigate the complexities of a structurally homophobic institution well enough to become its foremost representatives. They may well have a bigger investment than others in keeping the closet door tightly shut. Their existence sometimes causes resentment and anger among other gay people.
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Haitians react to 'Baby Doc' Duvalier's death

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Port-au-Prince residents react to the death of Haiti's former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. Duration: 01:06.
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Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters face threat from criminal triads - Fox News

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Fox News

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters face threat from criminal triads
Fox News
Peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are facing a new threat from violent factions associated with organized crime syndicates. On Friday protesters were attacked by counter-protestors belonging to Hong Kong's criminal triads. Protest leaders ...
Singapore's Consul-General in Hong Kong issues warningAsiaOne

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Medvedev Wishes Happy Birthday To Chechen Leader

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Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has sent congratulations to the pro-Moscow Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Kadyrov's mother.

Israeli Prime Minister: ISIS and Nuclear Iran Are ‘Twin Challenges’ 

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed support for President Barack Obama’s goal of defeating ISIS but said curbing Iran’s nuclear program is also top priority during a recent interview.
Netanyahu told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in a segment airing Sunday that while ISIS is “growing by day,” its power lies not in its numbers, but in “the strength of terror and fear.” Natanyahu reaffirmed previous remarks to the United Nations that “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas” and said that he would never negotiate with Hamas as long as it “remains committed to [Israel's] destruction.”
In addition to combatting ISIS, Netanyahu said Israel and other moderate Arab states see Iran’s nuclear program as a “twin” challenge that goes hand-in-hand with stopping the spread of radical Islam.
“They all want to get rid of Israel on their way to the Great Satan,” he said. “We’re just the little Satan. The Great Satan is the United States.”
Netanyahu said the biggest security threat in the Middle East is not border disputes but “what lies on the other side,” saying that militant Islam is “walking into the cracks” of Middle Eastern states and citing Hamas and Hezbollah presence in Gaza and Lebanon, respectively, as examples.
The prime minister said that he trusts Obama “to do what is important for the United States” but that “the jury is out on all of us” to combat these threats.
“We’re going to be tested, all of us,” Netanyahu said. “Ultimately, it’s not what we intended to do, it’s what we end up doing, especially what we end up preventing.”
Netanyahu also reaffirmed his hope for a two-state solution with Israelis and Palestinians after a summer of violent conflict between the Israeli military and Hamas forces in Gaza that saw more than 2,000 Palestinians killed.
“I remain committed to a vision of peace, of two states for two peoples, two nation-states, one for the Palestinian people, one for the Jewish people living in mutual recognition with solid security arrangements on the ground to defend Israel, to keep the peace and to defend Israel in case the peace unravels,” he said.
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Suicide Bomber Reportedly Kills Four Police in Russia's Chechnya 

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A suicide bomber killed four police officers and injured four more on Sunday during festivities for a local holiday in Grozny, the capital of Russia's troubled North Caucasus region of Chechnya, Russian news agencies reported. The site of two separatist wars and a festering Islamic insurgency, Chechnya has seen a period of relative calm under the strong-arm rule of Moscow-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov, and suicide bombings have been a rare occurrence in recent years. The attack took...

Ukraine military says separatists violate month-old ceasefire

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DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukraine's military accused Russian-backed separatists of fresh violations of a month-old ceasefire on Sunday, saying their forces came under attack in several parts of the east including the airport at the big city of Donetsk.
  

Russian Director Lyubimov Dies At Age 97

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Yuri Lyubimov, who founded Moscow's Taganka Theater and won worldwide renown for his hugely inventive shows, has died at age 97.

The woman who legally sells cannabis bouquets to wedding parties 

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Denver florist Bec Koop has launched a business called Buds and Blossoms, selling cannabis to her clients as part of bouquets

British drugs survey 2014: drug use is rising in the UK but we're not addicted

Britain divided: how we really feel about drugs

'I like the way ecstasy gives you a deep sense of connection to your friends'
When Colorado legalised cannabis for recreational use in January, enterprising Denver florist Bec Koop launched a business called Buds and Blossoms, which incorporates cannabis into wedding floral displays.
I used to work at a medicinal cannabis dispensary, and I have a floral business, so I thought Buds and Blossoms would be a fun way to bring cannabis into the wedding scene. Guests could take the bud from their bouquet or boutonniere and enjoy their wedding weed on the wedding night.
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