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Bode Miller: Russia’s Gay Rights Issue Is ’embarrassing’


In his address to the United Nations last week , Obama stressed that he does not regard the Middle East or the conflict in Syria as an arena of competition with Washingtons bygone foe. This is not a zero-sum endeavor. We are no longer in a Cold War. Theres no Great Game to be won, Obama said, referring to an earlier period of big-power rivalry in which the British Empire and Russias czars vied for influence across Central Asia. Whether Russia is equally determined not to compete with the United States in the strategically vital region is in question, however, Arab analysts say. Saudi Arabia, the regions strongest Arab power and Washingtons staunchest Arab ally, is deeply suspicious of Russias maneuvering and is convinced that Moscow is engaged in an effort to outwit the United States at Riyadhs expense, said Mustafa Alani of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center. The overtures between the United States and Iran , a close Moscow ally, further reinforce anxieties in Riyadh and other Persian Gulf capitals that Russia is seeking to eclipse the U.S. role in the region, Alani said. The view is that Russia is looking at the whole problem in the Middle East from the old position of the Cold War, he said. Wherever America is, they have to spoil the game. They dont have any principles.

Russia seeks to fill vacuum in the Middle East

At first her voice quivered a bit. “For me, I have gay family members, and I have a lot of friends in the LBGT community. I’m even so nervous to talk about this,” she said with a small laugh. Then with heartfelt eloquence, she found her footing. “I have such a firm stance on this that we should all have equal rights,” the two-time national champion said. Alpine skier Bode Miller also attacked the issue. “I think it’s so embarrassing that there’s countries and people who are that ignorant. As a human being, I think it’s embarrassing,” the four-time Olympian said. When the USA’s top Winter Olympic hopefuls kicked off the first of a three-day media summit Monday, Wagner and Miller were the exceptions. Most athletes treated the topic as if it were an Olympic flame too hot to handle. Wagner’s position certainly wasn’t strident, but compared to the five other figure skaters who sat alongside her, it was as if she’d wrapped herself in a rainbow flag.

Russia charges five Greenpeace activists with piracy

Greenpeace called the charges “extreme and disproportionate.” “This is an outrage and represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest,” Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said. “Any claim that these activists are pirates is as absurd as it is abominable. It is utterly irrational, it is designed to intimidate and silence us, but we will not be cowed.” He said the charges represented the “most serious threat” to peaceful environmental activism since the group’s Rainbow Warrior was bombed and sunk by French special services in New Zealand in 1985. One of the 30 detained is Peter Willcox, a US citizen and the captain of the Arctic Sunrise who was also the captain of the Rainbow Warrior. Among those already charged on Wednesday were Brazil’s Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel, a crew member from Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise icebreaker, freelance videographer Kieron Bryan from the UK, and Finnish activist Sini Saarela, who was one of the climbers who attempted to scale an oil rig. The other two charged were spokesman Dima Litvinov, a dual US and Swedish citizen, and Russian activist Roman Dolgov, Greenpeace on Twitter. Russian investigators accused the activists of piracy after several of them tried to scale state energy giant Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the northern Barents Sea last month. The group has denied the charges and accuses Russia of illegally boarding its ship in international waters. The 30 activists from 18 countries are being held in pre-trial detention centres in the cities of Murmansk and Apatity, which are nearly 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) north of Moscow and above the Arctic Circle. All but four of them are non-Russians from countries including Britain, the United States, Finland and Argentina. The Arctic Sunrise crew members detained in Russian jails for two months over their protest are “close to shock” over their conditions, a rights activist said Tuesday. They have complained of cold cells and a lack of suitable clothing and food, Irina Paikacheva, the head of a state-connected regional prisoners’ rights watchdog, told AFP. “They had never expected that they would face such consequences for their peaceful protest in a democratic state.” The foreign detainees are struggling to make themselves understood since virtually none of the prison staff speaks English, she added. The Dutch government has called on Moscow to release the activists immediately and said it was considering legal action.

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