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2022/24 Russian-Ukrainian War

McDonald's who? Russian fast-food chain trademarks oddly similar logo

From link.


McDonald’s may have closed its Russian locations, but the country is making do with its own version of McD’s, and it bears a striking resemblance to the ubiquitous golden arches.

On March 8, McDonald’s announced that it was suspending operations at all 847 restaurants in Russia as a response to its assault on Ukraine. And, boy, did everybody hate that.

A 31-year-old pianist in Moscow even handcuffed himself to a McDonald’s entrance to protest the closures, and police had to intervene, according to local Russian media.

Though reports suggest that several McDonald’s locations are still open in the country, local Russian fast-food chain Uncle Vanya saw the opportunity and pounced on it ASAP.

Government documents show that Uncle Vanya filed their trademark application just four days after McDonald’s announced temporary closures in Russia.

Before the trademark application was filed, Vyacheslav Volodin, Russia’s State Duma speaker, said that McDonald’s should be replaced by Uncle Vanya.

What’s even more mind-boggling is that Uncle Vanya is the name of a critically acclaimed play by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. When he penned it in 1899, we doubt he thought he’d be selling fries someday.

People are talking about how mindlessly copied the logo is. It looks kind of like the McDonald’s golden arches had a little fall.

“Hit me up with some UncNuggets and a Large Unc with fries,” said one Twitter user.
A parody account of the restaurant has already surfaced on Instagram. The bio is a riff on McDonald’s melodious tagline “Ba da ba ba ba, I’m lovin’ it” and reads, “Ba da da da da I’m ok with it….”

McDonald’s has not made an official statement about Uncle Vanya, but it might be because they consider it… small fry.
The fact that Russia (or China) blatantly highjacks real and intellectual property rights should surprise no one. When McD first went into Soviet Russia, they found that the supply chain couldn't handle their needs, and bought/built their own. I suspect UncVs, and any other western brand that the state tries to mimic, will struggle to fill the gap until the poverty level makes them fine dining.

How the West is breaking through Russia's propaganda wall

From link.


A funeral procession carrying the casket of two Ukrainian soldiers makes its way through the streets of Starychi, Ukraine, on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. The men were killed at the International Training Center by a Russian missile. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS) (LAT)
An international resistance of computer programmers and volunteer "information warriors" is racing to pierce Kremlin propaganda and expose ordinary Russians to the uncensored truth of a brutal war.

They've built tools that allow anyone to surprise Russian citizens with text messages detailing the war's civilian death toll. They've published antiwar videos and news sites built to evade Russian government bans. They've even cobbled together databases with the personal details of Russian military personnel - all in the hopes of fomenting rebellion across the new Iron Curtain.

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Since the days of the Cold War, when U.S.-government-funded stations such as Radio Free Europe broadcast anti-communist messaging across the airwaves of Soviet states, the West has tried, often futilely, to pierce the propaganda bubble that surrounds and isolates the Russian populace.

But the Internet has sent those information-war efforts into overdrive, allowing everyday people to pitch in on imaginative efforts designed to reach strangers thousands of miles away.
The volunteers behind today's efforts say they hope to help overcome the Russian government's suppression of the war's devastated cities, bombed hospitals and humanitarian catastrophes. The human rights group OVD-Info says thousands of Russians have been arrested in antiwar protests since the invasion began.

But some of the initiatives also could backfire due to their reliance on the personal data of Russians, many of whom are disconnected from the war effort and face grave risks for public protest. They could also prove ineffective due to the force and speed with which the Kremlin has worked to sever millions of Russians from the open Internet.

The Russian government, decrying Western censorship, has blocked or restricted access to the social networks Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; the websites of publicly funded broadcasters such as the United Kingdom's BBC, Germany's Deutsche Welle and the United States' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America; and independent news sites appealing to Russian audiences.

A new "fake news" law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened 15 years in prison for journalists who contradict state propaganda, including by calling the war a war, leading The Washington Post and other news organizations to pause reporting inside the country. Popular independent TV and radio outlets in Russia have been shut down or banned.

But the Internet has helped reveal how porous such traditional blockades can be - and how quickly political messages can spread. After a Russian state TV producer named Marina Ovsyannikova burst onto a government news broadcast with a "No War" sign, the moment went viral almost immediately on the Russian Internet, and her Facebook page exploded with thousands of celebratory comments, some of which were in Russian.

In a video message posted to Telegram before her arrest - which has since been widely copied and shared - she said, "I am ashamed that I've allowed the lies to be said on the TV screens . . . that I let the Russian people be zombified." Meduza, an independent Russian-language news site recently banned by Russia, reported on Tuesday that employees at Ovsyannikova's state-run network routinely watch Western news to understand the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has recorded videos appealing directly to citizens of the country invading his own, saying in Russian, "As long as your country has not completely closed itself off from the whole world, turning into a very large North Korea, you must fight."

Ukrainian officials have promoted highly produced videos attempting to drive home the visceral shock of war. They also run a Telegram channel showing videos of killed or captured Russian soldiers as a way to alert their family members and stoke anti-military anger back home.

Social media companies and media outlets in the West have also started helping Russians circumvent that censorship by using the special software Tor, which routes Internet traffic through a scattered network of servers, effectively neutralizing the website blockade.

The BBC, Deutsche Welle and Twitter have published links to their Tor sites - accessible with a free browser - as well as Russian-language guides on how to view them. Some were first launched on the "dark web" years ago but were used only sparingly before the war.

"Our mission is to maintain a dialogue with the people of Russia," Peter Limbourg, a director at Deutsche Welle, wrote in one reader guide. "A dialogue sometimes also includes unpleasant truths."

VPN - or virtual private network - apps, which allow Russians to access otherwise-banned sites, have been downloaded millions of times in recent weeks on the Apple and Google app stores, market research data shows.

And internal data from Tor, which began as a U.S. government project but now operates as a nonprofit, shows that use of the system inside Russia has soared, with thousands more computers connecting to its network since the invasion began.

The U.S. government has also sought to protect the continued presence of companies such as Cloudflare, a cybersecurity company used by much of the Internet to keep their websites online. The company has faced calls to drop sites that echo Kremlin propaganda, but it has resisted due to concerns that could lead to its other clients - including independent media reaching Russians - falling offline, too.

The State Department has supported them in that balancing act, with a spokesperson telling The Washington Post, "It is critical to maintain the flow of information to the people of Russia to the fullest extent possible."

The New York Times and The Post have launched channels on Telegram, the uncensored group-chat service popular in Russia, and made some war coverage free to access in Russia and Ukraine.
The BBC, which also uses Telegram, says traffic to its Russian-language digital platforms has exploded, including breaking a record of nearly 17 million people in the first week of the war. But the British news giant has also turned to one of media's earliest marvels, shortwave radio, to reach Russian listeners, saying this month it would start broadcasting on new frequencies that "can be received clearly in Kyiv and parts of Russia."

Four hours of daily news reports are now broadcast in the early evening and just before midnight Ukraine time on the frequencies of 15735 kHz and 5875 kHz, the BBC said. In one of the BBC World Service's first shortwave broadcasts, in 1932, King George V said it would connect those throughout the British Empire "so cut off by the snow, the desert or the sea that only voices out of the air can reach them." Its last shortwave broadcast before the Ukraine war was in 2008.

The U.S. Agency for Global Media, which runs Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is not transmitting over shortwave. But the owners of a shortwave station in Okeechobee, Fla., whose radio antennas tower over a cow pasture, told reporters that they have started beaming Voice of America broadcasts over the airwaves to Russia. (An online fundraiser for the operation has raised more than $12,000.)

Thomas Kent, a former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, wrote in an essay last week that Western strategists should consider more imaginative options for fomenting internal dissent in Russia, including organizing campaigns to email audio files, holding closed discussions on small social networks and smuggling flash drives.

"Kremlin leaders cannot eternally ignore public discontent, even if they are willing for now to brutalize anyone who dares protest in the streets," Kent wrote. "The Western world must demonstrate it respects Russia's population, even if the regime doesn't. That means showing commitment to the principle that Russians deserve to be informed."

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the BBC say they've seen audiences for their Russian-language offerings grow dramatically since Russia's invasion and crackdown on independent media.

The RFE/RL website saw its number of unique visitors from Russia spike by 86% in the first two weeks of the war; on YouTube, many of its latest videos have surpassed 1 million views. People are also evading Russian censors by sending the stories over Telegram and email newsletters, said Jamie Fly, president and chief executive of RFE/RL.

"Certainly it is becoming more difficult if you are Russian sitting inside Russia to get independent news and information, but people are still looking to that content, whether they're using VPNs or mirror sites," Fly said. "As we saw throughout the Cold War, in a variety of countries, people always find a way no matter what the jamming tactics are."

Beyond the official efforts, teams of computer programmers have also begun striking out to stir up Russian rage. One group, squad303, named for an air squadron that tore through Nazi warplanes during World War II, has built a website that shows a randomly selected Russian citizen's email address, phone or WhatsApp number - as well as a pre-written message a visitor can send to strike up a conversation from their own accounts.

"Hello, my Russian friend," one text says, roughly translated. "We don't know each other. I live abroad. I know that Russia invaded Ukraine and many soldiers and civilians died there. How do you live in Russia? How is it going?"

One of the group's programmers in Poland - using the name of Jan Zumbach, one of the squadron's ace fighter pilots - said he now works alongside more than 100 volunteers from Estonia, France, Germany, the United States and other countries, broken into teams devoted to software development, cyberdefense, social media and a "help desk" to get new messengers onboard.

Millions of messages, some of which have showed photos of the war or tallies of civilian deaths, have been sent in less than two weeks to the Russian numbers, according to the programmer, who said their database includes tens of millions of phone numbers and email addresses taken from hacked Russian databases. The team has raced to expand its infrastructure, growing from one server earlier this month to 16 servers today. Other mass-distribution operations are currently in the works, he said.

The project is all-consuming, he said, and he's getting about three hours of sleep a night. But he said he remembers how important outside information from Radio Free Europe was to his parents during the 1980s, when they took part in the Solidarity labor movement that shook the Soviet Union. He hopes his work today will have a similar impact.

"We do not expect instant rewards or instant replies. It's a process," he said. "Every single text message sent to a person in Russia is a tiny bridge between two people."

Dey Correa, a volunteer messenger in Panama, said she has sent hundreds of messages to Russians with help from the site, including 50 while she was at home breastfeeding her infant son.

She shared screenshots with The Washington Post showing dozens of messages and conversations, including one in which a respondent said Russians were shocked by the war but afraid to protest due to police crackdowns.

Correa doesn't know if it will have any impact, and she has worried about retaliation. But she said she felt motivated to do something when she saw photos of a devastated maternity ward in Mariupol, Ukraine.

"When I saw the hospital, it became personal," she said. "I think how horrible the nights are for those mothers - the cold. Not all of them have the opportunity to hold their babies, like I do."

Another group has created a search engine, called Rusleaks, that aggregates more than a dozen databases purported to feature the personal information of Russian military personnel, including tens of thousands of people's names, addresses, phone numbers and passport details.

The data have not been fully verified and some of the records have been released by the Ukrainian government, raising the risks of false information.

But one of the group's members, a software developer formerly in Kyiv, said the data could be used to alert the Russian public to what their government is doing or help investigate war crimes.

"I don't know how soon it will happen. I don't know that it will happen at all. But I am doing what I've been training for," he said. "We are fighting on too many frontiers now. And this is clearly one of them. . . . Whatever it takes to make our voice louder."
Ballsy - from CP24:

Ballsy - from CP24:

The Russian launch pad is in neighbouring Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan to deliver over 28 tonnes of humanitarian cargoes to Ukraine

Humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians will be sent by two flights from Almaty to Poland’s Katowice

From link.

Kazakhstan plans to send more than 28 tonnes of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine on March 14-15, the country’s health ministry said on Sunday.

"The issue of sending humanitarian cargoes from Almaty to Poland’s Katowice has been settled. Humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians will be sent by two flights from Almaty airport on March 14 and 15," it said.

According to the ministry, the overall weight of humanitarian cargoes in 28.2 tonnes.

In a telephone conversation with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on March 7, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that his country was ready to send humanitarian assistance, including medicines, to Ukraine. The press service of the Kazakh prime minister said on March 9 that Kazakhstan would donate 25 medicines to a some of more than two million US dollars.

Ukrainian invention finally sheds its Russian label

The Russian Arm film rig, which revolutionized moviemaking, renamed the U-Crane
From link.

Colby Cosh
Publishing date:
Mar 20, 2022


The Russo-Ukrainian war was an enormous surprise to almost everyone, including Russians and Ukrainians. One of the subsidiary surprises, for someone born in a city where a single factory makes a billion perogies a year, is how poorly Russians and Ukrainians have been distinguished until now on much of this continent. A marvellous example is provided by the “Russian arm,” a ubiquitous piece of moviemaking equipment that’s now considered essential for anyone filming the humblest chase scene in a Hollywood picture.
The “Russian arm,” actually devised at the Dovzhenko Studios in Kiev by a company called Filmotechnic, is now officially being rebranded as the “U-Crane” by its international suppliers. We have pleaded in these page against blind gestures of hateful Russophobia, but this is one that involves the correction of a historic error. Anatoliy Kokush, the Crimean-born genius who was given two Oscars in 2006 for his camera-rig technology, told the story to the Ukrainian press at around that time.

Kokush was a product of the Leningrad Film School who was, like all great inventors, dissatisfied by realities other people took for granted. In his case, it was the necessity for the “primitive” physical relationship between cameraman and lens. With an imagination that anticipated a world of ubiquitous drones, Kokush dreamed of giving the camera total three-dimensional freedom of movement.

That led him to consult with what were then still Soviet engineers and physicists on bringing military and police gyroscopic technology to the world of film. Kokush was inspired by the Western state of the art, which at that time was the Hamilton-based camera-rig manufacturer Wesscam, a Westinghouse Canada spinoff since rebranded as L3Harris Wescam. (The firm’s still a market leader in selling gyro-controlled cameras to armies and cops worldwide.)
By the time of the Soviet collapse, which saw Kokush’s crane business more or less swallow the Dovzhenko Studios from within, Kokush had a whole filming system which was completely beyond the ken of Hollywood filmmakers. He brought it to New York for an exhibition in 1991, and, well, you can imagine how things worked out. “Everyone called it Russian space technology,” Kokush remembered. “For them, Ukraine was still ‘Russian’ territory.”

Kokush preferred his own name for his technological leap, calling it the Avtorobot (Autorobot), but he was outvoted by his own supply chain. The lingering dark glamour of Russian technological achievement was simply too strong a selling point in Hollywood and other film colonies. But Kokush himself was careful to note that the Avtorobot was a synthesis of Russian and Ukrainian technologies. The connection to Russian aerospace technology was real, even though it resulted in unfairness to a Ukrainian designer and his Ukrainian invention that Ukrainian personnel brought to life.
Again, to me, this is just an unbelievable story. My social circle growing up in northern Alberta was never less than half Ukrainian. My father, who is no more Ukrainian personally than a haggis, was a regular listener of the (to him) unintelligible “Ukrainian Hour” of high-octane folk music on CFCW radio. My grade school had Ukrainian culture classes before it had French.

I’d have called myself a grilled cheese sandwich before it would have occurred to me to refer to anything Ukrainian as “Russian,” especially an actual person. I’m naturally not displeased to see the world catching up, but I never pictured what it would cost.

Analysis: Ukraine invasion splits Orthodox Church, isolates Russian patriarch

From link.

Russian Patriarch Kirill's full-throated blessing for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has splintered the worldwide Orthodox Church and unleashed an internal rebellion that experts say is unprecedented.

Kirill, 75, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, sees the war as a bulwark against a West he considers decadent, particularly over the acceptance of homosexuality.

He and Putin share a vision of the "Russkiy Mir", or "Russian World", linking spiritual unity and territorial expansion aimed at parts of the ex-Soviet Union, experts told Reuters.

What Putin sees as a political restoration, Kirill sees as a crusade.

But the patriarch has sparked a backlash at home as well as among Churches abroad linked to the Moscow Patriarchate.

In Russia, nearly 300 Orthodox members of a group called Russian Priests for Peace signed a letter condemning the "murderous orders" carried out in Ukraine.

"The people of Ukraine should make their choice on their own, not at gunpoint, without pressure from the West or the East," it read, referring to millions in Ukraine now split between Moscow and Kyiv.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour's military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

Reuters has put in an email request to Kirill's office for comment.

Of 260 million Orthodox Christians in the world, about 100 million are in Russia itself and some of those abroad are in unity with Moscow. But the war has strained those relations.

In Amsterdam, the war convinced priests at St. Nicholas Orthodox parish to stop commemorating Kirill in services.

A Russian bishop in Western Europe visited to try to change their minds but the parish severed ties with the Moscow Patriarchate, calling the decision a "very difficult step (taken) with pain in our hearts".

"Kirill has simply discredited the Church," said Rev. Taras Khomych, a senior lecturer in theology at Liverpool Hope University and member of Ukraine's Byzantine-rite Catholic Church. "More people want to speak out in Russia but are afraid," he told Reuters in telephone interview.

Ukraine has about 30 million Orthodox believers, divided between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) and two other Orthodox Churches, one of which is the autocephalous, or independent, Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Ukraine is of visceral significance to the Russian Orthodox Church because it is seen as the cradle of the Rus' civilisation, a medieval entity where in the 10th century Byzantine Orthodox missionaries converted the pagan Prince Volodymyr.

Kyiv Metropolitan (Archbishop) Onufry Berezovsky of the UOC-MP appealed to Putin for "an immediate end to the fratricidal war", and another UOC-MP Metropolitan, Evology, from the eastern city of Sumy, told his priests to stop praying for Kirill.

Kirill, who claims Ukraine as an indivisible part of his spiritual jurisdiction, had already severed ties with Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch who acts as a first among equals in the Orthodox world and backs the autonomy of Ukraine's Orthodox Church.

"Some Churches are so angry with Kirill over his position on war that we are facing an upheaval in world Orthodoxy," Tamara Grdzelidze, professor of Religious Studies at Ilia State University in Georgia and a former Georgian ambassador to the Vatican, told Reuters.

In a joint statement, Orthodox theologians from institutions including the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University in New York and the Volos Academy for Theological Studies in Greece condemned those Church leaders "directing their communities to pray in ways that actively encourage hostility".

Other Orthodox leaders who have criticised the war include Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and all Africa, Patriarch Daniel of Romania and Archbishop Leo of Finland.

Kirill's stand has also created a chasm between the Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian churches.

The acting Secretary General of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Ian Sauca, wrote to Kirill asking him to "intervene and mediate with the authorities to stop this war".

Kirill responded that "forces overtly considering Russia to be their enemy came close to its borders" and that the West was involved in a "large-scale geopolitical strategy" to weaken Russia. The WCC released both letters.

After the 1917 Russian revolution, Soviet leaders began liquidating the Russian Orthodox Church. Stalin revived it after Hitler's invasion of Russia in World War Two to rally society.

"This same idea is being revived now by Putin," said Olenka Pevny, professor of Slavonic and Ukrainian Studies at the University of Cambridge in the UK and an American of Ukrainian origin.

"As the Russian position in the world and Russian identity began faltering, Putin once again enlisted the Church to help him gather the Russian people under his control and attempted to tie the peoples of independent nations such as Ukraine to Russia by pushing the notion of a unified Russia Orthodox Church so as to deny any religious diversity," she told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Kirill's pro-Putin stand also has upended relations with the Vatican.

In 2016, Pope Francis became the first Roman Catholic pontiff to meet a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since the great schism that split Christianity into Eastern and Western branches in 1054.

A second meeting that both Francis and Kirill said they wanted to hold this year is now virtually impossible, the experts said.
Saying we stand with Ukraine as long as it isn't putting us at risk is shameful. I believe NATO should intervene directly, and yes, I know what it would mean.
Saying we stand with Ukraine as long as it isn't putting us at risk is shameful. I believe NATO should intervene directly, and yes, I know what it would mean.
I agree. Allowing Ukraine to be the sacrificial lamb for the West merely delays the inevitable. Best we get involved now when Russia isn't as prepared for it, than wait until they deliberately provoke a conflict with NATO.
Saying we stand with Ukraine as long as it isn't putting us at risk is shameful. I believe NATO should intervene directly, and yes, I know what it would mean.

As someone who has family in Hungary and lives in a NATO Member Country I prefer we not do that.

If WW3 breaks out because NATO went into Ukraine you can bet that conscription will take place in Canada to fight in Europe. It is easy to say we should get involved but actions have consequences and I don't get the sense you want to fight a war.
Saying we stand with Ukraine as long as it isn't putting us at risk is shameful. I believe NATO should intervene directly, and yes, I know what it would mean.

I'm not so sure I'm as cavalier about provoking a potentially nuclear war that would likely kill millions. I'm sure Toronto would be a juicy target for at least one such bomb.