Dystopian fiction – from Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange to Russell T Davies’s spectacular recent BBC1 series Years and Years – is usually intended to take elements of the present and then imagine a future in which they have become inescapable, so as to warn us of what might already be in our midst.
But the 21st century is challenging this technique in one bracing sense: the way the world now seems to race beyond the wildest aspects of our collective imagination before we have even started to think about what might come next. Consider last week’s news about Facebook, and the fact that three years of corporate disgrace – and rising noise from legislators about bringing the tech giant to heel – have yet to slow its terrifying quest to insinuate its workings into every area of our lives. Now, in a move that could have been taken from a futuristic novel, it wants to create nothing less than a new global currency.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are teaming up to ask important questions about Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s role in the collapse of retail empire Sears. More than 175,000 Sears employees lost their jobs while a handful of billionaires, including Mnuchin, walked away with billions. And Warren and Ocasio-Cortez want answers.
The opinion editors back home in Kentucky are not really thrilled with the idea of the Russians getting an economic hold on the state. Not just the Russians, but the Russian mob. At the LouisvilleCourier Journal, Joseph Gerth is not too excited at the prospect that “by the middle of the year, we’ll be in business with Oleg Deripaska, a buddy of Vladimir Putin.” Kentucky is looking for $200 million from the Russian to invest in a $1.7 billion aluminum plant there. He goes on to describe Deripaska’s “deep ties to Russian organized crime,” and the allegations of Deripaska’s violent, ruthless, criminal past in Russia.
For two years, in the early 1990s, Richard Palmer served as the CIA station chief in the United States’ Moscow embassy. The events unfolding around him—the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rise of Russia—were so chaotic, so traumatic and exhilarating, that they mostly eluded clearheaded analysis. But from all the intelligence that washed over his desk, Palmer acquired a crystalline understanding of the deeper narrative of those times.
Much of the rest of the world wanted to shout for joy about the trajectory of history, and how it pointed in the direction of free markets and liberal democracy. Palmer’s account of events in Russia, however, was pure bummer. In the fall of 1999, he testified before a congressional committee to disabuse members of Congress of their optimism and to warn them of what was to come.
Hypocrisy is a favorite charge in American politics — arguably because it’s the only one that seems to consistently stick — but this series of scandals shows that Republicans are something worse than hypocrites. They are political nihilists, who use scandals like this to further their agenda of emptying politics of any morality, hope or substance, clearing the path for a naked power grab.
“A Christian charity with ties to the National Prayer Breakfast reported unspecified expenses associated with having Russian guests attend the event in 2017 and possibly other years, federal tax documents show.
The guests may have included people picked by convicted Russian agent Maria Butina as part of a plan to create back-channel connections with U.S. policy-makers, many of whom attend the breakfast. One leader of the charity appears to match details the FBI has given about an unnamed breakfast organizer who aided Butina.
In her plea agreement, Butina admitted to acting as an agent of the Russian government without registering with the Justice Department.
The FBI says that Butina and her handler — widely reported to be Alexander Torshin, a Russian official said to be close to President Vladimir Putin — attended the breakfast to influence U.S politics. The tax records reviewed by TYT represent the first indication they may have received direct financial support in their efforts.”