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PARIS, THE NEW NORMAL? — Diana Johnstone files an in-depth report from Paris on the political reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings; The Treachery of the Black Political Class: Margaret Kimberley charts the rise and fall of the Congressional Black Caucus; The New Great Game: Pepe Escobar assays the game-changing new alliance between Russia and Turkey; Will the Frackers Go Bust? Joshua Frank reports on how the collapse of global oil prices might spell the end of the fracking frenzy in the Bakken Shale; The Future of the Giraffe: Ecologist Monica Bond reports from Tanzania on the frantic efforts to save one of the world’s most iconic species. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on Satire in the Service of Power; Chris Floyd on the Age of Terrorism and Absurdity; Mike Whitney on the Drop Dead Fed; John Wight on the rampant racism of Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper;” John Walsh on Hillary Clinton and Lee Ballinger on the Gift of Anger.
A couple of years ago Vladimir Putin journeyed to the American Southwest to take his natural son on an initiation ritual. The boy’s mother is now an American citizen. First stop was a big game ranch in Texas, where Putin and Jr blasted zebras, antelopes and bison. Apparently, Putin, reenacting a scene out of Mailer’s […]

Down the River With Vladimir Putin

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

A couple of years ago Vladimir Putin journeyed to the American Southwest to take his natural son on an initiation ritual. The boy’s mother is now an American citizen. First stop was a big game ranch in Texas, where Putin and Jr blasted zebras, antelopes and bison. Apparently, Putin, reenacting a scene out of Mailer’s Why Are We In Vietnam, marked his son’s forehead in the blood of one of these hapless creatures.

Then it was on to Moab, Utah, for a raft trip down Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River, one of the world’s most demanding stretches of whitewater. The Moab river guide community is still shaking its head from its close encounter with the Russian president and former KGB man. “We get a lot of whacked-out people coming down the river, but Putin really is a dangerous guy, a real mobster,” a guide told CounterPunch in late March.

“His packs were loaded with guns, vodka and tens of thousands of dollars in cash,” the guide said. “He seemed to be a little on edge. It was during a time when it was unclear what was going to happen to the Yeltsin government. He was a real bully. He was drunk much of the time and bossed people around as if they were his personal slaves. His son caught a channel catfish and they slapped it down in front of the guide and demanded that it be cooked up immediately.”

Cataract Canyon is in the heart of Canyonlands National Park, one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. But Putin and son were soon bored with the redrock canyons and class five rapids. “By the third day, Putin was demanding that the guides call in a helicopter to have his party picked up and flown out. Then he got drunk and started bragging about how many people he had personally killed. More than 40.”

The rafts finally exited Cataract and motored across 30 miles of Lake Powell’s flat water to the marina complex known as Hite. The old town of Hite now lies submerged under 200 feet of water. The next step on the Putins’ tour was supposed to be a four-wheeler excursion tearing up the desert in the bizarre Needles District of Canyonlands Park. But Putin opted for a more traditional form of initiation for his son, straight out of Notes from the Underground. From the Hite marina, he placed a call to Las Vegas.

“We want some whores,” Putin shouted into his cellphone. “Price is no object.” CP