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MarcoFromHouston

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MarcoFromHouston last won the day on August 5 2018

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  1. Sharing something one of my journalism mentors posted on FB: "Kiev and Ukraine hold a special place in Russian cultural identification. The Kievan Rus. The Vikings who came through and settled the region. The descendants who survived the Mongol purge. The badasses who would found the Russian Empire. People keep going on and on about the USSR, but Putin harkens back to Peter, Catherine, Ivan. Putin doesn't think in terms of Communism versus Capitalism, although he was educated and indoctrinated in a system that did. He thinks in terms of values. He sees the West as decadent and dying. Russian literature, especially modern Russian literature, is fascinating in the way it portrays Russians versus the West. Russians are seen as stoic, suffering, but holding on to traditional values. Westerners, and Americans in particular, are seen as chaotic, decadent, with no values whatsoever. Putin constantly makes comments about men being demeaned, trans and homosexual groups being granted greater freedoms, the loss of religious values (which is interesting since Communism disavows religion explicitly, but Russian identity is bound intrinsically to the Orthodox Church). as dangerous shifts for the human race. He literally sees Russia, with himself at the head, as practically a savior for the human race in some ways. He feels like men have very specific proscribed roles to play. To be a man is to act in very specific ways, and the same goes for women. He very much believes in what we'd call stereotyped masculine and feminine roles in society. What does all this have to do with Ukraine? Well, as far as Putin is concerned, Ukraine is a part of Russia, even more than Crimea. He doesn't even think of them as two separate entities. As he says, the separation of the two is an artificial historical accident. Since the fall of the USSR, Ukraine has always been a country divided by language. Ukraine, spoken by 67% in the western two thirds, has always been the language of people who leaned towards Europe. There is also the emphasis among Russian speakers regarding the Ukrainian cooperation with Nazi Germany (in an effort to gain independence from the USSR), the atrocities the Ukrainian forces aligned with Germany perpetuated during WWII, and what they perceive as the continued Naziism among the people who lean towards Europe. As you can imagine given the bloodshed and devastation wrought by the Germans in WWII, all of this is loaded language. Hence Putin speaks about the demilitarization and "denazification" of Ukraine. For Putin, any support for Europe and European values is akin to proof of Naziism. It's all one and the same to him. The Orange Revolution in 2004/5 came before Putin had secured his power base. Nonetheless, he was able to support President Yanukovych, who won the election in 2010 as a Russian speaker. I'm not going to go into everything that led up to the Maidan Revolution of 2014, other than to say Yanukovych eventually fled, in part because he wasn't willing to do what Assad did in Syria. The Maidan Revolution made Putin feel like he was losing his control over Ukraine, which is when he took over Crimea to secure that territory with its major naval base. After he had Crimea secured he sent in special forces to the Donbas region to destabilize it and created protected zones, going so far as to send in the Russian military to wipe out the Ukrainian forces who were sweeping the separation forces easily. There has never been a time when Putin hasn't considered bringing Ukraine back under the Russian aegis as foreign policy priority #1. Georgia, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, much less Finland, just don't have anything resembling the same emotional or geopolitical importance of Ukraine. Economic, either, for that matter. The only one that comes close is Belarus, but Putin feels like he has Belarus firmly in the Russian SOI as long as Lukashenko is in charge. Which also has had its own share of protests, but Lukashenko is no Yanukovych, either in terms of control over his country, or ruthlessness. He's more on the Assad spectrum. I do not see this turning into a wider conflict unless Putin lives for 20 more years. Ukraine will be a lot to swallow. I don't see it becoming Iraq or Afghanistan (Russian or US), or Vietnam. It won't even be a Chechnya. Ukraine lacks the religious differences which pushes people to extremes, and frankly, the cultural differences between Ukrainians and Russians aren't that large in the context of those other countries. Pro-Russian politicians have enjoyed popular support in Ukraine since the breakup of the USSR. What it will be is entirely dysfunctional, ruled by corrupt oligarchs who are basically crime bosses with fancy titles, with the richest being the head of state (don't know if anyone has seen the palace that Yanukovych built while he was in power - expect more of the same when Putin puts a puppet leader in charge of Ukraine). Putin will continue to do more to destabilize any countries on its border, especially any politicians or movements that are opposed to Russian interests, whether it's Finland, the Baltic states, or Georgia. I could even see Russia basically taking over Georgia if Putin decides it's moved too far to the West. He has to be feeling his own mortality the same way every 70 year old does. Making this move regarding Ukraine is simply completing a process he felt never should have gotten away from him back in 2014 in the first place if Yanukovych had simply been a more ruthless ruler. What I will say is that the West's biggest mistakes have always involved giving Ukrainian's false hope that they wouldn't be left to dry if push came to shove. This started with the Budapest Memorandum where Ukraine was promised protection for its sovereignty in return for giving up its possession of nuclear weapons, all the way through the two major protests in 2005 and 2014 supported and in part financed by western interests, and in the years since then, with all the mixed messages regarding what to do about Russia's annexation of Crimea and their involvement in Donbas. The West was never going to give Ukraine advanced weaponry. They were never going to station troops to support Ukrainian forces. And they were never going to declare war on Russia in case of military action. And that's the only thing that ever had any hope of deterring what we're seeing today. This invasion of Ukraine has always been inevitable. Didn't matter who was president. On the other hand, for the states who have been accepted into NATO, basically until NATO truly breaks up, the members are safe from Russian direct military invasion like we're seeing right now in Ukraine. They're not safe from other destabilization techniques, but Russia/Putin isn't going to go that far. Which is why he's been so adamant about NATO promises not to expand in the first place. Of course, Trump has made noises in the past about breaking up NATO, so maybe a president in the future truly does progress along those lines. I think it would be a mistake of the highest order, but that's a different discussion."
  2. I'm around. Taking flicks, eating tacos. https://marcofromhouston.myportfolio.com/portfolio
  3. More photos from the game and post game taco street party: VID_24810710_155740_364.mp4 VID_24810710_155740_364.mp4
  4. Wanted to catch an Astros game, so I flew to LA. World Series rematch! LAX. Pre-game. #42 Chilling in my cheap seats. Friends Tommy. Mood. To be continued....
  5. Going to try this on mobile.... Photos from a recent trip to CDMX, with bonus pix from Cancun & Tulum: One of the oldest & most famous cantinas in Mexico: Respect to all the taco vendors. That's me trying to look cool for the gram. #TacosRuleEverythingAroundMe Museo Sumaya:  El Fin.
  6. Color (Houston Graffiti) by Marco From Houston, on Flickr Machine (Houston Graffiti) by Marco From Houston, on Flickr
  7. It was something called Comicpalooza here in Houston. Danny and Esai were there, so was Edward James Olmos. Signing autographs and taking photos. I went to say hi to Danny and get his info/email. I'm gonna interview him soon since Machete Kills comes out in September.
  8. That's my homie Slim Thugga! Where did you shoot this?
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