Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Russia may ban Halloween

Russia's State Duma is currently considering a package of laws aimed at protecting the morality of its children and preventing youth suicide and alcoholism. Some of the ideas kind of seem like overkill:
Together with proposals to combat child alcoholism and pornography, the policy project outlines a raft of draconian measures such as a 10 p.m. curfew for all school-age children and a ban on tattoos and body-piercings.Under the new measures, schools would be prohibited from celebrating Western holidays like Halloween and St. Valentine's Day, which are deemed inappropriate to "Russian culture." Toys in the shape of monsters or skeletons would be banned as "provoking aggression."
The proposal also sets its sights on teenage subcultures such as emo, a style of hardcore punk, and goth, which lawmakers accuse of "cultivating bisexuality." Both styles, the legislation implies, are social scourges on a par with the skinhead movement, and must be eliminated from the social landscape.

Model Ruslana Korshunova's 'suicide' conspiracy theories
Police have ruled that catwalk model Ruslana Korshunova's death was a suicide as conspiracy theories as to why she ended her life flood the internet.
The 20-year-old was found dead outside her downtown Manhattan building on Saturday afternoon after eyewitnesses described seeing a body plunge nine floors from a balcony.
Friends have since cast doubts that the successful Kazakh would have had reason to end her life however.
"There's no way she would have killed herself," Kira Titeneva, a friend from Korshunova's home town, told the New York Daily News. "She loved life so much".
Investigators have reportedly found no signs of a struggle inside Korshunova's apartment and a spokeswoman for New York's medical examiner said that Korshunova died from blunt impact injuries.
Theories blaming the Russian mafia for the model's death have swept the web.
It has been suggested that the model may have been desperate to get out of the fashion industry but been prevented from doing so by murky underworld bosses who manage the Eastern European models.
There is more to suggest that the model may have been depressed though, with recent blog posts hinting at hidden angst.
In one message three months ago she wrote: "I'm so lost. Will I ever find myself?"
The New York Post quoted a friend of Korshunova claiming she had just returned from a modeling gig in Paris and seemed to be "on top of the world."
"There were no signs," he said. "That's what's driving me crazy. I don't see one reason why she would do that."

Russia warns Lithuania on US missile defense
Russian lawmakers warned Lithuania against agreeing to place U.S. missile defense sites in the Baltic country, saying Wednesday that such a move could trigger a Russian military buildup in the region.
Russia could deploy more troops to its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad if Lithuania offers its soil for the deployment of U.S. missile interceptors, said a statement approved unanimously by the Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma.
Lithuania's Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas was in Washington on Wednesday for talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said he did not know if the two were discussing the possibility of placing missile-defense components in the former Soviet country on Russia's northern border.
But on Tuesday, the Pentagon had said Lithuania would be a "good alternative" to Poland if negotiations with Warsaw collapse. Poland has demanded increased U.S. military aid in exchange for approving the deal.
Russia is fiercely against the U.S. plans to deploy components of a missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying the move would undermine its nuclear deterrent.
The Duma statement said that placing U.S. interceptors in Lithuania would "lead to a change of the Russian Federation's approach to military security in the Baltics, which is currently based on the principle of minimal sufficient military presence."
The lawmakers said using Lithuania in the missile-defense plan "will lead to an adequate modernization and strengthening of a grouping of Russian forces deployed to the Kaliningrad region."
Kaliningrad, Russia's westernmost region, is located on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania.
The Duma statement also criticized a Lithuanian law passed last month banning the public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols. It said the law insulted the memory of the Soviet soldiers who fought the Nazis in the World War II and amounted to an attempt to "rewrite history."
The Soviet Union annexed independent Lithuania in 1940. Nazi Germany quickly seized the Baltics after invading the Soviet Union in 1941, and the Soviet army drove Nazi troops back in 1944.

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